The Walking Dead: Deanna’s Final Choice

Who's Deanna?

Who’s Deanna?

It was the mid-season finale on The Walking Dead last night, and for a bit it looked like Deanna was going to be a victim of a zombie-related suicide. You know, where someone gets bit by a zombie and they decide since they are dying anyway they might as well check out early  with a bullet to the brain.

I hate zombie-related suicides because they are part and parcel of the culture of death, which teaches that when the end of your life is in site you might as well be ‘brave’ and commit autohomicide. We are expected to ignore the life that person might have had left and also the fact that other people may be applauding the act due to selfish reasons.

But Deanna, though she had planned to self-murder, changed her mind and used her gun to blow away some nearby Walkers. Her aim improved considerably in her final moments.

Deanna wasn’t perfect— she was probably a Democrat given her community’s absurd gun-control law— but in the end she showed us that even when you are dying, you can still do things that are a benefit to other people. And that’s a good thing to know, even if there isn’t currently a zombie apocalypse.

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Keto/Low-Carb Recipe: Cheese Pancakes

Blintz step 1Sometimes eating healthy can be a real pain first thing in the morning. All those traditional breakfast things— toast, French toast, Pop-Tarts, Cheerios, hot oatmeal— all now on our Not For Us foods list.

But how about some pancakes? Tasty pancakes smothered in butter, perhaps with some sugar-free syrup? We can do that. Here is my favorite pancake recipe, which makes one serving of pancakes.

Cheese Pancakes

2 T (tablespoons) full-fat cottage cheese or cream cheese (or 1 T each)

1 egg

1/2 T ground flaxseed

1/2 T melted butter or melted coconut oil

1/8 t (teaspoon) sea salt or seasoned salt

Put all your ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Yes, even the butter/coconut oil, it’s part of the batter. Use a hand blender or mixer to blend the ingredients until smooth. You can also use a hand-crank egg beater/mixer if you are off the grid, but this will be harder work if you’ve used cream cheese.

Heat up your frying pan for about 5 or 6 minutes. Then add the butter or cooking oil you will be using to fry your pancakes.

Add the batter to the pan. I have used this recipe to make a large pancake of the crepe/blintz variety, but for breakfast pancakes I used to make three pancakes. These pancakes are thin and hard to flip, so you might do 6 or so little ‘silver dollar’ pancakes.

Since I fry my pancakes in butter, I pour leftover melted butter from the pan onto the pancakes once they have been put on my dish. Easier than putting cold butter on them and hoping for it to melt.

You can use this pancake recipe for a variety of purposes. I’ve made a filled low-carb blintz with it. I’m thinking of making a hamburger/cheese filling and making a blintz version of my mom’s cheeseburger turnovers.



Notes on ingredients

Cottage cheese, cream cheese: don’t use low-fat versions of these. You need the fat to make you feel full, and to keep you in a state of ketosis. Most people on ketogenic or strict low-carb diets will find their cholesterol numbers improving on the diet, so don’t worry about the fat.

If you are worried about the dairy— well, it is possible to make a yogurt out of coconut milk (the kind you buy in cans). Don’t use a low-fat variety of coconut milk, and check the labels of different varieties, some have added ingredients you don’t want in your coconut milk. If the coconut yogurt doesn’t work so well in the recipe, perhaps you could make coconut yogurt cheese— you put yogurt in a strainer lined with a coffee filter overnight, letting the whey (or whatever that stuff is) drain off. I have done this with home-made dairy-milk yogurt, but haven’t tried it with coconut milk yogurt. Dana Carpender’s recipe book 200 Low-Carb High-Fat Recipes has a recipe for coconut yogurt on page 51. I find her recipe books VERY useful, so I’d suggest giving her a try.

Ground flaxseed: In the original recipe I adapted for these pancakes, it called for soy flour. I don’t care to put soy in my diet, except for soy sauce, so I have tried alternatives. Ground almond, pecan or walnut is nice but the batter will be thinner. Ground flaxseed plumps up the batter a bit. A little bit.

Butter/Coconut Oil: You may have read old-fashioned recommendations to avoid butter at all costs. The up-to-date science says otherwise. And coconut oil is very good for a ketogenic diet— a diet which is proven to be good for your heart.

Salt: When you stopped eating a processed food diet and started eating a healthy low-carb/ketogenic/Paleo diet, you cut out most of the sources of salt in your diet. Many of us when we start cooking healthy omit the salt. Don’t do this. Salt makes food taste better, and tasty low-carb food helps you resist the temptation to have ‘just a little’ processed food. Also, you can actually feel sick after a rapid switch from salty processed food to very-low-salt home-cooked low carb food. And your blood tests can show that your sodium is low.

 

Avoid generic fantasy/sci-fi settings with description

It seems that in writing circles there is an increasing war against the process of description. Description is boring, they say. Get to the action! Modern readers skim over all the non-action bits anyway.

I must confess that when I read, I am a skimmer myself. But the thing is, just because I skim a description doesn’t mean that some of the details of that description don’t enter into my brain. I can visualize the setting because the author bothered to describe it, even though I didn’t read the description as attentively as I read the swordfight bit with the giant talking sewer rats.

Lately I’ve run across a couple of books in which description has been wholly banished in favor of dialog and action sequences. And reading that made me feel that I’d gone blind.

The genres of fantasy and science fiction, being set in worlds unlike ours, have the most need of description. If the writer does not give us the setting through description, we the readers tend to place the story into a generic-fantasy or generic science fiction setting.

Now, an author who actually uses a generic setting tends to be seen as a hack writer. Such things are not admired. But what about the clueless author who spends hours on world-building and then doesn’t give us enough information to visualize the world they created? The reader is in the generic setting all the same.

I find that when a setting detail is important to the story, I need to have it mentioned more than once in a novel-length work. However, writers who avoid any description of the setting will have a hard time fitting that more-than-one mention in without feeling awkward.

I think it is about time for the war against description— which is also a war against unique story-settings— to end. We have gone as far as we can in the no-descriptions-allowed direction. We need to have authors with the courage to buck the trends and give us some images of the story world.

I don’t promise to read these descriptions carefully. I skim. That’s just the way I read. But a story without any descriptions— a book of dialog taking place in a mystery setting that is never revealed— is a lot more boring than a book with an ‘old-fashioned’ level of description.

Exercise:

Take a book in your favorite genre that you know to be well-written— perhaps an award-winner from a few decades back. Get out a colored pencil and start reading. Underline anything in the way of description that helps you picture the story. Or hear it or smell it.

Now— when you first read the book— without the colored pencil— did you realize there was that much description in it? Did it help you picture the unique story world? What would the book have been like if someone had taken all the description OUT?

 

Don’t make race or gender identity your special interest.

A couple years back in a bookstore I leafed through a book by Temple Grandin. She suggested that people with Asperger’s Syndrome (high functioning autism) should not make their Asperger’s Syndrome their special interest.

A ‘special interest’ is an obsessive interest that people with Asperger’s Syndrome have. I have seen a trend for people with Asperger’s to join Asperger-related Facebook groups, make accusations that people with Asperger’s are discrimination victims, and make vows not to have ‘neurotypical’ friends.

But our society is really plagued these days by people who make their other differences into their special interests— whether they have Asperger’s Syndrome or not. Like the students who created a racial incident in a university library, howling at students of a certain race who wouldn’t quit studying to join their protest. Or like the people who demand that we call a person with transgender feelings by a new name and the biologically incorrect pronoun.

I think we are missing out on most of real life when we take one aspect of ourselves and make it into the center of our lives. We not only are ignoring the rest of our complex selves. We are ignoring the fact that there are other people in the world.

Centering our lives around our selves— or a part of ourselves— used to have a name. It was called ‘selfishness’ or ‘being self-centered’. Now, this is an occupational hazard for us Aspies. When we are cut off from the world of other people by the poor social skills that are a part of Asperger’s Syndrome, we are left alone with ourselves. It can make us seem self-centered, and in time we can come to be somewhat self-centered.

But, really, we don’t have to understand other people to start being more other-centered. We can just make a point of doing little things for others. Donating two bucks to the town homeless shelter. Giving a couple cans of food to the food bank. Going to a  local church even though the sermon or service is boring to you.

The point is to stop having a one-dimensional life, centered around our Asperger’s Syndrome or our skin color or our gender dysphoria. There is more to our lives than that. Or there should be.

Thanksgiving means thanking GOD

Don’t call it ‘Turkey Day’. It is and has been a day for giving thanks to Almighty God. While Thankgiving Day culture looks back to a day of thanks for the harvest in 1623, the official national celebration had to wait until our American colonies began to be a nation.

The Continental Congress in 1777 set aside the third Thursday in December “…for solemn thanksgiving and praise. That with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor;… and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them (their manifold sins) out of remembrance… That it may please Him… to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety under His nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth of ‘righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost’…”

George Washington in 1795 also set aside a day of thanksgiving to God— this one in February. The annual day of thanksgiving was made by act of Congress and signed into law by Abraham Lincoln. This proclamation says that it is “…announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord… But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, by the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own… It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people…”

To give thanks implies the existence of a unified One to whom we are thankful. Without that belief, the concept of a day of thanksgiving has little meaning. For the atheist and agnostic who reject belief in that One, the best they can manage is a feeling of gladness about certain good things in their lives. There is no one for them to thank.

We who are Christians, along with others who are believers in God, need to fight back against the forces who are taking the concept of thanking God out of thanksgiving. It is not a day that honors overeating turkey and dressing. It is not a day to prepare for a massive bout of overspending— or a day to start doing that massive overspending. It is most certainly not a day to try to argue reluctant family members into supporting the politics of the president, as Obama has been encouraging the last few years.

It is a day for thanking God and for praying for His blessing on the nation and the world. If your family’s Thanksgiving doesn’t include prayer, you are not doing it right.

 

Ding, Dong, Our Glenn’s NOT Dead!!!

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Glenn’s not being killed, he’s just grossed out over what the walkers are doing with Nicholas.

Last night we finally found out the truth about Glenn Rhee’s ‘death’ on The Walking Dead— he survived after all. The guts that the walkers were pulling out in front of Glenn came from Nicholas. And Glenn managed to crawl under the dumpster and stayed there until the walkers got bored and wandered off. Because walkers have an even shorter attention span than millennials.

OK, it’s kind of silly to get caught up in the fate of a fictional character from a show that’s famous for manipulating the emotions of the fans. But that’s how I work. I love my fictional friends and it hurts when they die, or seem to die.

Glenn is a character that’s close to my heart, in spite of his moral flaws. (Moral flaws— he was the one that fetched the abortion pills that Laurie used to try to kill baby Judith before she was born.) Glenn is a man who changed from his weaker, pre-apocalypse self into a warrior who has not sold out his soul and his ethics due to the circumstances.

Some people said Glenn was for sure dead because his comic book character died. But the comic book and the TV series are not the same. Baby Judith died in the comic books. Also, in the comic books Carol died, but her daughter Sophia lived, and after her mother’s death was adopted by Glenn and Maggie. Somehow I don’t think the TV show is going to be able to do that story line.

Walking Dead fans: how do you feel about Glenn’s survival story? Of all the character deaths in TWD, which one hit you the hardest?

The Walking Dead: Is Showing Mercy a Weakness?

glennTWDRecently I’ve been visiting a number of fan sites for The Walking Dead, reading opinions on the ‘What really happened to Glenn’ issue. And I was saddened to see that a widespread interpretation, not only to do with Glenn and Nicholas but also about Morgan’s failure to kill Wolves, was that ‘in this world’ showing mercy to anyone, giving anyone a second chance, is an unforgivable act of weakness.

But this idea cannot be applied universally in the world of The Walking Dead. From the first episode major characters survived due to the mercy of others. Rick, helpless and uninformed, was shown mercy by Morgan in the first season. To keep himself and his son safe, Morgan could have chosen to kill Rick.

Daryl seemed like somewhat of a loose cannon at first. The other characters might have feared that he was more attached to his bad-guy brother Merle than to the group. But they decided not to kill Daryl or banish him from the group and he proved to be a good man to have around.

Carol chose to kill two sick people, one of them the girlfriend of Tyreese, to prevent them from spreading their illness. The illness spread anyway. Rick, when he learned of it, banished her from the group. But later she met up with Tyreese, and after a tragic event Tyreese forgave Carol. When she rejoined the group she proved to be a major asset— not only because she’s good at killing Walkers but because of her cookie-baking skills.

The fact is that we are all here in the world because someone showed mercy to us. As infants, when we could contribute nothing to society or to our families and we caused our families to do a lot of work just to keep us alive. But we were shown mercy— we were not killed or abandoned to our fate. We all have made mistakes, done wrong to other people, lost our tempers— but we’ve also experienced being forgiven for our mistakes and wrongdoing.

The fact is that human beings need one another— we need other people even more during the zombie apocalypse. But since no one of us is perfect— we all have flaws— we cannot become part of any survival community without being willing to do some degree of forgiving.

Of course, we cannot forgive everything. When young Lizzie stabbed her sister to death in order to prove that Walkers were not evil, just different, Carol concluded that there was no way to keep this dangerous child alive without endangering others. When the people of Terminus were revealed to be cannibals preying on those they offered sanctuary, Rick and the others killed them for their crimes.

In the zombie apocalypse as in the real world, there is a time to forgive and a time to get tough on others. And without God-like levels of knowledge we will never know 100% what a given situation really calls for. Which is why calls to always reject the idea of showing mercy are not the right way to go.


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