Friday, February 27, 2009


Friday night for many people is a night out. After a hard weeks work, a restaurant meal, time with friends. For some it's a noisy bar, laughter and ringing sound. I'm all for some fun on Saturdays or Sunday afternoon but on Friday nights, I just want to decompress. No phone, no noise. Just a nice home made meal and a book and a comfy bed to curl up in.

There's a lot of speculation in the comments about what exactly I do during the week. My favorite was "Medical Examiner, Personal Protection and Contract Killer."

It's probably a lot more boring than you think, but I can tell you it's sensitive enough I'd best not talk about it. I can say simply that it pays OK and that I have a Dr. in front of my name, but it's not a "Dr. your patient is here" kind of doctor. My job has many hats, some fun for an adventuresome sort, and some simply involving massive books and piles of paper.
Potential disaster, death and terror. Not typical dinner subjects, yet ones that often come up in my social group. People who spend part of their time dealing with the mechanisms of disaster gravitate towards people who, like us, have a job that sometimes consists of nothing more than waiting for someone to have a really bad day. I worry about fate less; yes sometimes you are simply the bug on the windshield by being at the wrong place at the right time but I've also found that a good portion of our misfortunes arise, not from fate or ill health or the vagrancies of the winds, but from human rancor, fueled by innate stupidity, and those ever present justifications of the same, hell bent idealism and proselytizing mania for the sake of religious or political effigies. I'm required to be dispassionate and get into a routine. Empathy is a great quality in a person, but so is efficacy.
Like others who do what I do, I've seen a lot, learning the hard way that there is danger and dangerous souls in the world and I'm not one to shy away from it because maybe I can do something about it. It's not a glamorous job, but for me there is hope in it, there is order. I've never had the sense of clockwork conspiracies, or some kind of imposing order of evil. There's simply a sense of things falling apart. That's my sense of how most bad things happen, that it's not usually some kind of calculated evil driven by karma, but simply control disintegrating. Most times, things fall apart and happen out of stupidity and carelessness, not any one's personal jihad. And I'm there to either prevent it, or if I can't, pick up the pieces.

But it carries with it a load and by Friday night, I simply wish to be alone for a few hours, to savor that which affirms that I am alive.


  1. You are not alone when it comes to wanting to simply unwind on Friday nights. I have done it this way for many years, no going out, wether it be dinner, parties or being the designated driver. Friday is my night to get lost in myself.

  2. Thanks, I will add "Ship of Ghosts" to my reading list. You make it sound very worthy of my time.

  3. I've always imagined you as a sort of distaff Buckaroo Banzai - plying your art with a Calphalon rather than a Stratocaster, but a similarly world hopping, adventurous polymath.

  4. This filling recipe would be GREAT with just plain soft tortillas, but I wanted to try the fry bread so here it is.

    Navajo Fry Bread

    Mix in medium sized bowl:
    1 cup all purpose flour
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 tbsp powdered milk (DO NOT leave this out)
    1 tsp baking powder

    Pour 1/2 cup water over the dry ingredients. Mix with a fork until it forms a large ball that is well floured on the outside and sticky on the inside. Cut dough into 4 equal portions.

    Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in a large cast iron skillet. Using your floured hands, shape, stretch, pat, and form a disk of about 5 to 7 inches in diameter. NOTE: Don’t worry about it being perfectly round, it's not going to roll into your mouth :-)

    The oil should be about 350 degrees. You can check by either dropping a small piece of dough in the hot oil and seeing if it begins to fry, or by dipping the end of a wooden spoon in and seeing if that bubbles. Your oil should be about 1-inch deep in a large cast-iron skillet.

    Gently place the pieces of formed dough in the oil, being careful not to splatter the hot oil. Press down gently with a wooden spoon on the dough as it fries so the top is submersed into the hot oil. Fry until brown, and then flip to fry the other side. Each side will take about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain in paper towels.

    Potato Chorizo Taco Filling

    1/2 pound chorizo (optional)
    3 large poblano chilies
    1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    2 large baking potatoes, peeled, cooked and cubed (a use for the last of the bag of hash browns in the freezer if you don't have potatoes).
    1/2 cup cooked corn kernels
    1/2 - 3/4 cup cooked pinto or black beans (more if you are leaving out the sausage)
    1 cup crema (or crème fraîche or sour cream)
    green salsa to taste

    1. Over a flame, in a broiler, on a grill or in a cast iron skillet on high heat, char skins of chilies until completely black on all sides. Put in a paper or plastic bag and close up to steam for 15 minutes. Remove, then peel or rinse away skin; remove seeds and veins and slice into strips 1/2 inch wide by 2 inches long.

    2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook about 1/2 pound Mexican chorizo, squeezed from its skin, until its fat is rendered. Add onions, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes, or until translucent and tender. (if you are doing a chorizo free version, cook the onions in a tablespoon or two of good oil). Add chili strips and salt, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, another 3 to 4 minutes.

    3. Add cooked potatoes, corn and beans and continue cooking for a few minutes, until veggies are heated through. Add green (or red) salsa to taste, I used about 1/4 cup. Stir in the crema at the last minute or so of cooking.

    This recipe makes enough for 12 small tacos, or 4-5 fry breads.


  6. Nice recipe! A little green chile and I'm there.

    Best regards and a safe weekend,


  7. You and I appear to share the same feature of dropping into a book and losing all track of time. If I could pull an Aziraphale and read until I gather a fine coat of dust, I probably would, too. Thank you for writing.


  8. I think you must be a sheepdog, Brigid.

  9. My dad is a mostly retired, though he still teaches some and works some, pathologist among other degrees, with a Dr. in front of his name.

    Did the "quincy" bit under duress more than once as he prefers clinical path, works as an expert witness in cases you don't want to think about, but is really sort of a chemist/biochemist and teacher at heart.

    I've got my own guesses as to what you might do for a living but I also wouldn't make one any more than I put my face on the internet. Some things are best left at campfires amongst colleagues and friends.

    Books and unwinding with a decent meal and a good book works for me. I've friends pushing 40 like I am that get dressed up and go play the mating game every Friday night and that sort of thing never held appeal to me for long.

    Odd thing about my dad, he has plenty of autopsies and worse under his belt, as a physician and a military physician over his years but he likes weekends to be peaceful. Dislikes gory movies or arguments before bedtime, and sticks his nose in a book or goes to see a play or opera that's uplifting instead of representative of the dregs of society and strife on occasion when there isn't piles of paper left to sort.

    Enjoy your decompression. No need to explain it. Just enjoy it.

    I accidentally read a 212 page book in one night earlier in the week, sorta screwed up my scheduling the next day but I needed a break and I don't have a "boss" just customers.

  10. Hmmm, I just recently started reading your blog and initially would have said Medical Examiner (especially with the recipes, name one ME that doesn't eat great food) however now I'm going to have to go with victim advocate/forensic interviewer. I'm not sure which, however I must say that your approach towards taco filling looks pretty good.

  11. For all you farm people a buddy sent me this.

    Carnation Milk - 65 YEARS AGO ..

    This is priceless.

    A little old lady from Wisconsin had worked in and around her family dairy farms since she
    was old enough to walk, with hours of hard work and little compensation.
    When canned Carnation Milk became available in grocery stores in approximately the 1940s,
    She read an advertisement offering $5,000 for the best slogan. The producers wanted a rhyme
    beginning with 'Carnation Milk is best of all.'
    She thought to herself, I know all about milk and dairy farms. I can do this!

    She sent in her entry, and several weeks later, a black limo pulled up in front of her house.
    A man got out and said, 'Carnation LOVED your entry so much, we are here to award you
    $2,000 even though we will not be able to use it!'

    This is what she wrote,
    "Carnation milk is best of all, no tits to pull, no hay to haul, no buckets to wash, no shit to pitch, just poke a hole in the son-of-a-bitch."

    Regarding books I just received a book called, "Neither Predator Nor Prey" by Mark Spungin. I heard his interview with JFPO. If his book is anything like his interview it should be a really good book. I will let you know after I finish. See this website and scroll down to the authors name for the interview.

  12. Now I find out that we read the same kind of books? If I wasn't positive you'd beat me to a pulp, I'd kidnap you and run off to some deserted island, LOL.

  13. There are a lot of candles in that post.

    What is it about women and tiny flames, anyway?

    Men are always keen for a blaze, a good hot conflaguration outside where meat can be grilled, and people can sit around it afterwards and be sure that the smoke would be heavy enough to keep the bugs away. If we have to, we'll settle for a blazing log in the fireplace.

    I once had a girlfriend who liked to really light em' up when she took baths. Her goal was to get good and soaked without ever turning on the electric light, which meant she had about 50 candles going at once. I never could figure out how she managed to move fast enough to light the last one before the first one burned down into a puddle.

    Every week I'd be in the loo with an exacto knife, scraping away at the waxy buildup on the tub. At first I thought I had gotten the better end of the deal when she insisted that she'd take responsibility to keep the kitchen clean if I'd agree to swab out the bathroom. Little did I know that she was playing me like a Kansas City pool shark.

    So, anyway.

    Men: Big blaze = Good!

    Women: Candles = Good!

    Can anyone shed any light as to why?


  14. I'm sitting here with an empty stomach, and you post this culinary pornography right in front of my nose?

    Have you no compassion, lady?



    PS. And why were we not invited? My dogs are especially jealous that Barkley gets leftovers, and they had to make do with dog food.

  15. Brigid,

    If you ever get a chance to go see the actual Burma Railroad you should.

    I was over searching for oil and we came across some of the old POW day camps that were made while they built the RR. Very impressive to see the place and consider the history. These spots are rare because in the jungle any breach is exploited by the slash and burn farmers and settlers.

    We were clearing lines for operations and came across the camp. By the end of the job it was a "town" of new settlement. I have often wondered about how many of the "towns" started out this way along the Railroad.

    Another place to go explore is central Sumatra. Very interesting up in the northern Aceh area. A little unsafe politcally but the history and the jungle is neat.

  16. The blending of life, personal, intellectual and gastronomic which you do so effortlessly, continues to impress. The recipe looks incredible as well today, but I gained five pounds just by looking at the picture and I'm already significantly beyond my fighting weight.

    Prepared for the apocalypse this week with a new DPMS "Sportical" with EOTech sight and a small truck load of ammo.

    Hope that one day you get to read my books during one of your fireplace relaxation period. Simply query Amazon on my last name.

  17. Good post B, brings back memories of friends that survived the wars, some now gone...

    Did you have to mention fry bread? I sure miss it. One of the tings I miss about the time living down that way, and visiting on the rez. Once in a while some friends come up for the pow-wow, and I get a treat.


  18. Best place to hide can often be in plain sight. Well done.

  19. Like Maddog, I spend most of my time on the road. Listening to audiobooks has replaced much of my reading. Both of those books are available in unabridged audio versions, so I have added them to list. They do sound quite good.

  20. Thanks for the tip on the book, I'm off to the library to see if they have a copy.

    As for Brigid's occupation, I'd guess gourmet chef by day, contract killer on weekends. You know, just for some spending money.

    Mike ;)

  21. Neither Predator Nor Prey is a good read. Consider it a mini-version of Unintended Consequences by John Ross in it's own way as they have similar themes but distinctly different plots. I say mini-version as It's only about 200 pages vs the over 800 of the Ross book. Was a two evening read for me. Resistance against civilian disarmament minus a lot of the actual gun culture history Ross put in his book and the characters are simpler as well as fewer. I found it enjoyable.

    Happy Reading (about shooting),

  22. Oh, I'd be remiss in saying it also differs as a book as in it has absolutely no hotrodded Stearmans in it, for Brigid's sake. Shame about that. All books can use good biplane stories mixed in somewhere.


  23. I learned how to make Indian fry bread when I was stationed on an Indian reservation (Paiute) in Nevada when I first went into the Public Health Service. Our old cook at the hospital gave me a recipe. The first time that I tried to make it, they would puff up when I put them in the grease and I just couldnt get the flat bread that she used to make. The next day, I asked Agnes why the fry bread puffed up like it did, she told me that I was making soapapillas (Little pillows). She then told me that after flatening the dough, you had to poke a hole in it before frying. The little secrets are the key to production.
    After learning the secret, we invited a couple of friends from the hospital over one Saturday. I started making the fry bread at 10 A.M and finally finished about 7-8 P.M. The whole compound where we lived eventually showed up when they heard what we were doing.

    We have a lady here in Farmersburg that has a cart and in the summer and fall she makes the Navajo tacos and sells them by the hardware store. She always has a line by the trailer. I dont like her fry bread as much because she makes it too sweet. The sweeter fry bread is good with a little powdered sugar for desert, After the Navajo tacos

  24. " My favorite was "Medical Examiner, Personal Protection and Contract Killer." "

    You kill contracts?

    Now that's just cold-blooded.

  25. Hmm...contract killer...? I always thought you were freelance. I second the book Tin Can Sailors; it is terrific. Here's another good one, The War Journal of major Damon "Rocky" Gause. He escapes from the Phillipines just before the death march, and makes it to Australia, a 3200 mile journey in a twenty foot boat with two others. Reporting to MacArthur in bare feet, (he's been barefooted too long to wear shoes just yet) MacArthur, amazed, mutters, "Well I'll be damned." Sadly he was later killed in Europe in the crash of a P-47. His son found the diaries which became the book more than 50 years later. Read the whole thing. Also, any books by Alex Kershaw.

  26. I look forward to your posts every day. Brigid, you are thoughtful and thought provoking. I thank you for the respect you show to those of us who are old soldiers. I am sad to say 38 years after, I once again find the need to arm myself 24/7 This time the stakes are much higher, the war is in our country, our cities and my neighborhood.

    Keep the faith

  27. Brigid - I just found your blog recently and was so enthralled by your writing that I've been reading your archives. When I saw that you, too, are a fan of frybread and indian tacos, I had to say hi! Especially since you posted the recipe :)


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