Wednesday, April 29, 2020

EZ Yoga Thoughts

At the end of my morning yoga routine, I was cooling off in the ‘corpse’ pose. While there I found myself pondering death for some reason. Was I influenced by the latest pandemic scare, perhaps? May be.

It occurred to me that someday in the not-too-distant future (I will be 70 next month) my body will be assuming that position for real; when any movement is beyond my control. I will enter into eternal rest.

When that happens, when the body becomes a shell and the pose is not posing – where, if anywhere, will I be? My being? My consciousness? My memories? My self? Me?

It’s OK to have a belief in life after death. It’s OK to have faith. I have some. Many have more. But the fact is that none of us KNOW. To avoid insanity, it is important to make peace with death.

What we do know is that pandemic or not, death will come for us all at some point. More important than making peace with death, I think, is to make peace with life. Now. While we can.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

EZ promises

He made her three promises;
only three promises.
I will never lie to you.
I will never hurt you on purpose.
I will never forget you.
They were all she needed.
He kept two of the three

An EZ Quote from a Master

“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all, I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.”  Agatha Christie

Monday, April 20, 2020

Baking in the time of Corona - More EZ Than I Thought

Twenty-four days ago, the 13th day of mandated social distancing here in Arizona, I found that I had turned in my man-card and turned to the act of baking to fill the time (and my enlarging tummy.)  On that day, I posted to FaceBook about my first-ever attempt at a quick-bread from scratch. 

A sliced home-made loaf of beer bread.
Beer Bread - Photo by Dan Moyes

This is a beer-bread, where the carbonation of the beer, along with a little baking powder, replace the yeast. It's a quick-bread because it doesn't have to raise and be kneaded. You just mix it all up in a bowl, pour it into a greased baking pan and throw it into a 350-degree (F) oven for an hour. My first attempts were made using Michelob Ultra (left in my garage fridge by visitors a few weeks ago). I made several loaves over a week or two and they were all quite good. 

I shared a loaf with our cross-street neighbors and got thankful raves!!

But now, the Michelob is all gone...No problem, there are other things that have been left in that garage refrigerator. And I'm an experimenter anyway.

First, I tried a can of raspberry-flavored seltzer water from Kroger's. It worked -- the texture was good and the flavor was OK. The berry didn't come through and the bread lacked a certain degree of bitter which probably comes from the hops in the Michelob Ultra. I probably won't try that again. 

The next thing I found in the refrigerator was a bottle of Hop Knot IPA from Four Peaks Brewing in Scottsdale. Well, if the berry-seltzer mix lacked the hops bitter, this IPA should fix that, right? In mixing the dough, I found that the Hop Knot presented a prominent fragrance of citrus (grapefruit?) with a touch of pineapple. "Well," I thought, "This should be good!" As in the case of the berry-seltzer loaf, it baked well and exhibited a good texture. The first heel piece, plated while still, warm soaked up a pat of melting butter attractively. My mouth watered. 

About then, my beloved Glenda asked for a moment's help with her iPhone. I can't say no to her! Finishing the tech task, I turned to find our bichon-frise dog, Dak, walking out of the room with MY slice of buttered bread in his mouth. Damn! Four stars from the dog! Oh, well, back to the bread knife.

Once I got the second piece buttered, I found the flavor of the bread made from the hoppy IPA to be fine, but not outstanding. The fragrance of the citrus carried through to the finished bread. I did not notice a citrus flavor. The hoppy bitter was there -- and perhaps just a touch too strong. The bread didn't have the sweet wheat finish of other breads; providing a light bitter after taste. Like the berry-seltzer recipe, I probably won't try this one again. But, like the berry-seltzer loaf, we certainly will eat all of this one!

What to do in this time of quarantine? I know, for my next loaf I think I'll try Corona --  without the lime.

Here's the basic recipe:

Quick and easy beer bread

One and one-half hours
Prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 1 hour
Cooling: 20 minutes

NOTE:   Not intended for the gluten intolerant or those on carbohydrate-restricted diets


2 cups all-purpose flour (or bread flour -- NOT self-rising)
1 cup whole-wheat flour
¼ cup granulated white sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
*¼ cup old-fashioned oatmeal (optional)
*¼ cup cracked wheat (optional)
*1 TBSP powdered milk (optional)
¼ cup melted butter
1 egg
1-12 ounce can or bottle of beer


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly grease or non-stick spray a standard loaf pan (glass or metal)
In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients ensuring a complete mix
Add egg and beer and mix well but don’t over-stir – don’t “beat” the mix
                A proper dough mix should be thoroughly “wet” but not “creamy.” It will be heavy and sticky
Pour/scrape dough mix into loaf pan
Drizzle melted butter over top of loaf
Bake at 350 F. for one hour - when done, a table knife inserted to the loaf will come out clean
Cool on a rack – slice - enjoy

As this is not a yeast bread, it will be somewhat heavy, but with the CO2 from the beer and the added baking powder, it should raise nicely while baking and have a chewy, bubbled interior and a crunchy crust.

You can get a less crunchy crust by stirring the melted butter into the dough mix rather than drizzling it over the un-baked loaf.

*The optional grains and dry milk add character to the loaf and may be omitted if you don’t care for them. If you do add the optional extra grains, you may need to add a tablespoon or two of room-temperature water to the dough mixture for your desired consistency.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Modern Ethical Dilemma of COVID-19

As anyone who has ever spent more than five minutes considering it knows, economics is an extremely complicated matter. It's been called the dismal science. Maybe the most simple rule of the economy is that any transaction that leaves both participants happy is a positive thing and enriches the overall economy.

Some hold out that we should now open the economy fully to stanch the financial bleeding. Yes, they say, some will die, but mostly the old and ill anyway.

The loss to society of illness and premature death has been studied and written about in great detail. I'll give you just a couple of links, later, so you can ponder this question.

But, first -- even if all the deaths were those receiving social security -- do you think those recipients stuff the money in their sofa cushions? No. As a retiree, I can tell you that the money gets spent on housing, utilities, food, clothing, transportation, medical care, and recreation (to include gifts for children and grandchildren). Every dollar they spend is good for the economy. All the vacation travel canceled due to COVID-19? Much of it by seniors. Ask any airline executive what that's worth to the economy.

But the elderly and sick won't be all of those taken. When a person in mid-life (20 to 45) is taken, there are somewhere between 1/2 and 2 million dollars of value lost, forever, to the economy. They won't fill a job. They won't raise a family. They won't spend their earnings. They won't pay taxes. They won't invent the next big thing. Imagine if the cancer that took Steve Jobs life had done that when he was in his 20s, or if Alexander Fleming had died young.

But, wait, there's more! Even if this illness killed nobody, even if the illness didn't close a single business, there is a horrendous cost from the illness. I've read that COVID-19 runs 8 to 16 days from onset to death or recovery. What does that illness cost? My most recent 3-day hospital stay for surgery cost nearly $150,000.00; so $50K a day. Maybe that's high. Maybe the average is more like $20K a day--and that does not include the loss to the economy from that person being off the job. Every dollar spent on health care that could be prevented is a dollar that isn't spent in restaurants, stores, bars, and entertainment venues.

In the 1918 flu epidemic, 20% of Americans were stricken. Let's be conservative and work with only 1/4th of that as possibly needing hospital care -- if only 5% of our populace of 300,000,000 is stricken by COVID-19, that's fifteen million people. If their average hospital stay is half the sixteen days, 8 days at $20K a day, that's 2.4x10^12 dollars--$2.4 TRILLION. Pure, direct cost to the economy, not including the loss of their productivity. The total, true cost is much higher and beyond the scope of this discussion to calculate. If 2% of the fifteen million ill will die, that's 300,000 deaths -- news flash, we are already over 100,000 world-wide -- how long till just the U.S. reaches that.

So if by closing and quarantining we can reduce the illness by only half, that's a savings of at least $1.2 Trillion just from the avoidance of the illness.

It has been said that those who will not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. OK, look at history: Again, in 1918, the jurisdictions that quarantined early, stayed long, and enforced it suffered MUCH, MUCH less than the jurisdictions that did a poor job of quarantining. They had lower mortality, lower morbidity, less overall impact to their economies and recovered MUCH, MUCH faster and fully. Minneapolis tightened early and long: 388 deaths per 100,000 people. Pittsburgh didn't: 1,244 deaths per 100,000 people. And the financial recovery was strikingly different. Minneapolis tightened early and long: Growth in employment in 1919 over double the rate Pittsburgh saw in 1919.

Pittsburgh: 1,244 dead per 100,000. That same rate would mean 3,732,000 deaths in the U.S.; nearly 25,000 deaths in just the San Antonio, TX area. 25,000 fewer to work, spend and live in one city. About half of COVID-19 deaths have been people younger than 65. What would the loss of 12,500 full-time employed do, long-term, to the economy of San Antonio? And the human cost – are we ready to allow this kind of carnage without doing all within our power to fight it? I believe we have a moral imperative to do all we can to prevent illness and death. This is our real-life ethical dilemma of the trolley problem (see:

The illness, the cost of care, the deaths, the lost productivity has the potential to impact the economy in a much more negative fashion than the quarantine. And for much longer -- literally, forever.

There is something called the parable of the broken window, introduced by Bastiat in 1850, that considers the impact of negative events on the economy. A broken window in a storefront, good or bad? Good for the glazier, bad for the storekeeper. No, in the long run, it is bad for everyone because it causes resources to be expended just to maintain the status quo -- there is no advancement when the window is repaired -- things are simply returned to their earlier status.

For further reading: