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One company is working on figuring out how to turn the cellulose from vegetables into strong, sustainable building materials
The future of the automobile industry might begin at the farm, if these scientists have anything to do with it.
A Scottish material company called CelluComp is working on ways to turn vegetables into the manufacturing materials of the future.
The company has been working on an impressive substance called Curran that depends on the extraction of cellulose, a structural component of the primary cell wall in green plants that is now used to produce paperboard, paper, and can be converted into a biofuel — from vegetables like carrots, sugar beets, and turnips.
Unlike other cellulose-based compounds, Curran can be cleanly and easily separated from its source (carrots at the moment), and boasts “supernatural strength,” according to Modern Farmer.
So far, Curran, which is roughly twice as strong as carbon fiber, has been used in skateboards and fishing rods, “and someday maybe even cars.”
Dr. David Hedworth, CelluComp’s co-founder and material scientist, told the BBC, “the potential of Curran is enormous and if we can replace just a small percentage of carbon fiber in products the effects on the environment could be significant and wide ranging.”
CelluComp brand story from Christian Kemp-Griffin on Vimeo.
Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.
4 Jersey-Friendly Recipe Hacks for Non-Ride Food
Mac &lsquon&rsquo cheese in the middle of a climb? You betcha. Here&rsquos how to carry some real food on your next long ride.
You desperately want to pack that pizza in your jersey pocket for a mid-ride boost, but after that one failed foil-wrapped day, you've accepted some foods just aren't ride foods.
Think again. You can turn your favorite comfort foods into portable mood-lifting, energy-providing, on-the-go sustenance providers. Here&rsquos how.
Savory and salty with equal parts carbs, protein, and fat, pizza is just what many a depleted cyclist craves midway through a long day on the bike. But last night&rsquos leftover slice is a mess to fold, and the day-old crust is tough to gnaw. These neat pizza wraps fit perfectly in your center jersey pocket and will fill you up when you need them most.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, cut into rings
1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
2 ounces low-fat turkey pepperoni slices
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1 whole wheat or white flour tortilla (10" diameter)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded part-skim mozzarella
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Warm the oil in a medium skillet (we like this cast iron skillet from Lodge) over medium heat. When hot, add the onion and mushrooms and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, or until tender and slightly golden. Add the turkey pepperoni and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, or until warm.
Meanwhile, place the sauce in a microwaveable bowl and microwave on high power, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute, or until warm.
Spread the sauce evenly over the tortilla. Top with the onion mixture, the mozzarella, and the Parmesan. Roll up the wrap, folding the ends toward the center as you go, and slice diagonally in half.
Wrap in foil, pocket, and go.
It&rsquos hard to find a cyclist who doesn&rsquot love burritos. But let&rsquos face it: Burritos are tough to get down without half of them ending up your face, and throwing a bike into the mix makes things even more messy. That&rsquos why we love Bicycling Test Editor Mike Yozell&rsquos Tortilla Fiesta Roll-Ups. They have all the spicy sustenance we want in neatly wrapped, eat-on-the-fly packaging.
&ldquoI love these winter or summer,&rdquo says Yozell. &ldquoThe hit of hot peppers are warming or cooling depending on the season. The vinegar is a great blast of flavor and an energizing jolt. The fat from the cheese and the avocado will give slow-burning energy, while the sugars from the peppers and broth provide an immediate burst of energy. The tortillas themselves round out the snack with a bit of easily digestible carbs.&rdquo
3 flour tortillas 6-7" round size.
3 slices cheddar cheese
1 can Chiles en Escabeche
Heat a skillet over medium flame until warm, then turn down the heat to prep the tortillas.
Prep your tortillas: Place tortillas one at a time on the skillet for 30-45 seconds until they just get soft, you don't want them to brown or crisp yet.
Place a slice of sharp cheese, one Jalapeño (quartered lengthwise), some onions and carrots from the Escabeche, and a slice of avocado in the center of the tortilla. Don't overfill it.
Roll the tortilla around the filling making a tube. Set aside.
Turn the heat under the skillet back up to medium and place the rolled tortillas (cheese side down) on the skillet. Heat for 60 seconds then flip over and continue heating another 60 seconds. You want the tortilla to crisp a bit and get a tiny bit of char or browning.
Remove the roll-ups from the skillet and let cool for about a minute. Place roll-ups in a sandwich-size baggie and slip into your jersey pocket.
Rich in slow-burning complex carbohydrates, oatmeal is the ultimate cycling fuel. But who can balance a bowl on their bars? Now you can get all that oat-y goodness on the go.
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup no-carb protein powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup packed brown sugar Pinch of salt (optional)
1/2 cup raisins
1 tablespoon trans-free margarine, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons 1% milk
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Stir together the oats, protein powder, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, raisins, and margarine in a medium bowl. Stir in the vanilla and egg. Add the milk and stir with a large spoon until the mixture sticks together to form a dough. Add more milk if necessary, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough is just sticky.
Scoop 2 tablespoons of the dough and roll by hand into a ball. Place on the baking sheet and press flat to 1/4" thick. Repeat, making 8 large cookies.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are dry and lightly browned. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes before removing from the baking sheet. Place cooled cookies in snack bag. Slip into jersey pocket and roll out.
Pasta has fueled hungry cyclists for as long as there have been hungry cyclists to feed. Pasta dishes are usually reserved for before and/or after the ride for obvious reasons&mdashobvious reasons these amazing little morsels of macaroni just obliterated. &ldquoThe trick to pulling these off is to make them more cheesy than saucy,&rdquo says recipe developer Joanne Ozug of FifteenSpatulas.com. &ldquoThat way they hold together.&rdquo
8 oz elbow macaroni
2 tbsp butter
¼ tsp paprika
2 tbsp flour
½ cup milk
8 oz Cracker Barrel aged reserve, grated*
4 oz Cracker Barrel sharp cheese, grated*
*Or substitute your favorite cheeses here.
Grease a nonstick mini muffin pan very well with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat, then cook the pasta for 2 minutes less than the package says. After you&rsquove cooked and drained the pasta, return the empty pasta pot to the heat and turn the heat down to medium. Melt the butter and add the paprika. Add the flour and stir the mixture around for 2 minutes. While whisking, add the milk. The mixture will be very thick, but that&rsquos intentional. Just make sure you have stirred out any lumps. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cheeses and drained pasta, stirring it all together until the cheese and sauce are well distributed.
Portion your mac and cheese into the muffin cups, either with a spoon or a 3-tbsp cookie scoop. Pack the mac and cheese into the muffin cups with your fingers really well. If you don&rsquot pack the mac and cheese down, they won&rsquot hold their shape when you take them out after baking, and you certainly don&rsquot want them to fall apart.
Bake the mac and cheese cups for 15 minutes until bubbling and gooey. Remove them to a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes, then carefully run a plastic knife or toothpick around the edges to loosen. Remove the mac and cheese cups from the pan. Slip a few cooled bites into a sandwich baggie and you&rsquore good to go.
Studies Suggest Blood Type As Have a Higher Risk of Infection
In March, medical researchers from the Centre for Evidence-Based and Translational Medicine at Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University in China published the preliminary results of their investigation into the blood type patterns of more than 2,000 patients infected with COVID-19 in Wuhan and Shenzhen. After comparing COVID-positive patients to local healthy populations, they found that Blood Type A patients not only showed a higher rate of infection, but also tended to develop more severe symptoms.
“Sars-CoV-2-infected patients with blood group A might need to receive more vigilant surveillance and aggressive treatment,” said Lead Researcher Wang Xinghuan.
Echoing the Wuhan University study, according to findings published in DailyMail, a group of German researchers at the University of Kiel came to similar conclusions. They found that patients with Blood Type A were “50 percent more likely to need oxygen support or to be put on mechanical ventilators compared to those with other blood types.”
While it’s true that these studies are preliminary, over the years Dr. Peter D'Adamo has written about blood type and the role that it plays in whether or not your body produces certain sets of proteins and is more susceptible to a wide range of infectious illnesses.
Preventing and Treating Diaper Rash Through Diet
Many babies try plenty of new foods when they start solids, which makes it hard to discern exactly what&aposs causing the negative reaction. Here’s a solution: Introduce new foods one at a time, then watch your baby for three to four days as her digestive system adapts. If you notice any negative reaction to the food, such as diaper rash, she might have a sensitivity. Consult your doctor regarding next steps if the reaction is small, he might suggest re-introducing the food at a later date.
If your baby does develop diaper rash, feed her starchy foods that digest easily. Reliable options include pasta, bread, rice, whole grain cereal, and crackers. These will ward of diarrhea (which makes diaper rash worse) and bulk up your baby’s stool.
You can also help diaper rash in other ways besides changing your baby’s diet. For example, you should keep the area clean and dry through frequent diaper changes, cleanse with neutral pH non-soap cleansers, and use zinc oxide-based pastes. Visit your doctor for severe diaper rash that spreads, develops blisters, or accompanies a fever.
Real Estate Investing Could Be Your Key to Financial Freedom
Investing in real estate could be your missing link to creating financial security. Here's what you need to know before getting started.
Plenty of us have heard (and/or been) a jaded millennial talking about how they will never be able to own a home𠅋ut that&aposs hardly the case any longer. In fact, a 2021 report by the National Association of Realtors studying generational real estate trends found that millennials (both young and old) are currently the largest group of home buyers at 37 percent. And while a 2020 survey by Apartment List found 18 percent of millennials do not expect to own a home, half of the millennials in the U.S. are also looking to invest in real estate instead of the stock market, according to a 2017 report by Harris Interactive. Gen Z is also looking to get in on the action, with 83 percent of Gen Zers looking to buy a home in the next five years, according to a survey conducted by real estate research blog PropertyShark in 2018.
So why all the interest in real estate? Monick Halm, founder of Real Estate Investor Goddesses, a program dedicated to educating women on real estate investing, says it is the key to true financial stability. "I think of financial stability like a table. And income is the legs of the table. Most people are taught to have a table with one leg, and that&aposs your job," says Halm. "True financial stability is when you have multiple legs on your table. Real estate is one of the best ways to give you that because you&aposre getting these passive income streams that are not connected to your time."
Low interest rates as well as the financial setbacks people have faced this past year have actually increased opportunities in real estate. "I think that all of this stress on all of the people who have lost jobs and aren&apost able to pay their mortgages that&aposs actually going to provide a lot of opportunity to get properties at a severe discount. help people get out of situations that they&aposre in and get in at a good time," says Halm. Here are ways to set yourself up for success in real estate investing to create financial stability and freedom.
Before you get started in real estate, make sure your finances are in good shape. A good credit score and low debt will help you get approved for loans faster. "Keep your FICO scores up," says Vera Barnes, a realtor of 16 years at Urban Nest Realty in Las Vegas. "A lot of people don't understand how important the credit is. Your credit is the key to actually acquiring property. Unless you have a lot of money in the bank and you can go pay cash."
But since that's not the case with most people who are just starting out in real estate, a good credit score will help get you better financing options that require little to none of your own cash. "Most people are familiar with bank loans as a strategy," says Halm. "There is seller financing where the seller is essentially the bank, or there are hard money lenders. Those types of institutions are a lot more flexible than banks, they tend to have higher interest rates and shorter terms, but they move faster."
Keeping your debt low is also important to qualify for properties and financing options. "You want to have as little debt as possible. Many people are in credit card debt. Credit card debt is just not a powerful tool to build wealth," says Barnes. "When you have a lot of debt-to-income ratio, which means the amount of income you have coming in to the amount of debt you have going out, all your payables, which include credit cards, car notes, house notes that has to be fairly low so that you can qualify for a property. And you can qualify for a larger amount of money if your debt-to-income ratio is low and your income of course supports that."
Another tip? File your taxes. Barnes also recommends spending two years or more at a job before trying to invest in real estate. "If you can't show you make any money on your taxes, then you're not going to qualify for a property with a reasonable interest rate," says Barnes. "There are companies that can qualify you, but the interest rates can be really high. Hard money loans can have 10, 15 percent interest rates."
When it comes to choosing the type of property you want to invest in, there are a lot of options depending on the time and money you want to put in, as well as your long-term goals. "It could be that you want passive income. so figuring out what that number needs to be. Either replacing your work income or getting enough passive income to replace your expenses."
Others have a goal to set themselves up for retirement. "People can use a retirement fund to invest in real estate," says Halm. "They would have to put it in a type of retirement account called a self-directed retirement account so that they're not limited to the mutual funds and stocks that we often have. You can self-direct it and put it into real estate and other types of assets."
After you figure out your goals, think about the type of property or asset class, you want to invest in. Single family or multifamily homes, retail or office buildings, industrial or commercial properties, mobile homes, land, student housing, and short-term rentals are all types of assets you could potentially invest in.
"You just do one project at a time or one purchase at a time. It could be a small townhouse or a condo," says Barnes. "And then you get that financed. Then of course the objective would be to put a tenant in it, or if you're going to live in it yourself, you can live in it for a few years and build your credit score higher and any finances you want to save. You want to save as much as you can during this period."
Once you have an idea of the type of asset you want to invest in, think about the location. When Halm first got started in real estate investing, she used to think she could only invest where she lived. "One of the things that I learned, I live in a very expensive market and that was very limiting to me at the beginning," says Halm. Then a mentor told her, you live where you want to live, you invest where the numbers make sense, which allowed her to "quantum leap" with real estate investing. "For the price of one house in L.A., I could get 20 houses in Jackson, Miss.," says Halm. "Find the right property market where the numbers will make sense for what you're trying to do."
Barnes suggests looking at growing cities, too—unless you don't have a property, in which case she recommends doing what you can to secure a property even if you have to pay a little bit more at first.
"Smaller cities where the property prices are lower, it might be a good investment to invest in those areas," says Barnes. "If you're considering somewhere like California, Las Vegas, New York. where they're getting over market value in most instances, I don't know that that would be a wise time to start investing. Unless, of course, you don't have a property. Then I always advocate that you buy yourself a property. Even if you have to pay little bit over."
Myth 5: Sugar makes kids hyperactive
"Studies have found no such effect on children," says Scott Sicherer, M.D., an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, in New York City. "In fact, lab animals that are fed high-sugar diets become less active." Where did this myth come from? It&aposs possible that when a parent sees a child becoming energetic after consuming sweets like chocolate or soda, both of which contain caffeine, the stimulant may be the overlooked culprit behind a child&aposs hyperactivity, Dr. Sicherer says.
Selena Gomez Could Be Your Next Scream Queen
Plus, Demi Lovato releases an anti-Trump song, Sandra Bullock gets back into rom-coms, and the Legendary Stardust Cowboy gets the documentary treatment.
It’s been nearly a decade since Selena Gomez last dabbled in the dark arts, when the end of Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place finally released the Grand Prairie star from the binding spell of child stardom. She’s had a few dances with evil since then: playing a vampire’s daughter in the Hotel Transylvania franchise grappling with zombies in Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die dating Justin Bieber. But now she’s set to make her first genuine foray into horror as the producer and likely star of Dollhouse , a thriller that could tap into a side of Gomez not seen since she last called upon the Outer Gods to rain pestilence and ash upon those mewling souls of Waverly Place. [ Note: I’ve never seen that show .]
Deadline describes Dollhouse , a psychodrama set in “the upper echelon of New York City’s fashion scene,” as being in the spirit of Darren Aronofsky’s phantasmagoric ballet drama Black Swan . According to those who have seen the script , it’s about a mysterious Parisian designer who chooses a struggling fashion model as his new muse, forcing her to “decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice for beauty and recognition.” Presumably Gomez would play the model, which would mark a significantly dark new direction for an acting career that, Spring Breakers aside, has largely been dominated by romantic comedies and pretend ing to eat ice cream .
Demi Lovato Releases Trump Protest Song
Selena Gomez’s old Barney the Dinosaur buddy Demi Lovato has been wrestling her own, far less cuddly monsters of late—both the vindictive “ Commander in Chief ” she lambasts in her new protest song of the same name, as well as the specter of conservative backlash the track has already unleashed. Lovato’s single, which the Dallas-bred artist performed during last weekend’s Billboard Music Awards, finds her channeling her pandemic frustration into this blistering refrain, which certainly pulls no punches: “If I did the things you do / I couldn’t sleep, seriously / Do you even know the truth? / We’re in a state of crisis, people are dyin’ / While you line your pockets deep / Commander in Chief, how does it feel to still / Be able to breathe?”
Unsurprisingly, “Commander in Chief” was met with near instant criticism from her conservative fans who, as Lovato sniped , expected “a queer Hispanic woman to silence my views / beliefs in order to please my audience.” But as Lovato declared, “I literally don’t care if this ruins my career .” And although she never actually mentions Donald Trump by name—really, it could be about any commander in chief who’s selfishly profited while allowing his constituents to die!—Lovato made it clear in an interview with CNN exactly who she was talking to, even urging Trump to “bring it on” and attack her for it on Twitter. “ Prove to them you’re exactly who I said you are in the song,” she added. “Just do it, go for it.” So far, Trump hasn’t taken the bait. But given that the bridge finds Lovato singing about being “in the streets while you’re bunkering down,” it’s not hard to imagine him soon officially declaring her the leader of Antifa.
Sandra Bullock Readies for Adventure (and Romance)
With her Netflix deal keeping Sandra Bullock mired in dystopian thrillers and heart-wrenching family dramas, it seemed that we—much like the heroine of a Sandra Bullock movie—had all but given up on seeing her fall in love again. But this week, Variety brings the welcome news that the Austin star is plotting her return not only to the big screen but to the romantic-comedy genre that put her there. Bullock is set to produce and star in The Lost City of D , a comic adventure about a romance author who “discovers that a fictional city she had written about is real, prompting her to embark on a risky journey to find the city.” Paramount Pictures is said to be angling to reteam Bullock with her The Proposal costar Ryan Reynolds, whom we’re guessing would play the sarcastic jungle guide who initially chides Bullock about her mollycoddled ways, before adrenaline and circumstance inevitably thrust them together. Then they’ll fall in love and probably settle down somewhere in the lost suburbs of D. There are some excellent schools in F.
Joshua Jackson Takes Over Lead Role on Dr. Death
Peacock’s long-in-the-making drama Dr. Death has traded its original lead Jamie Dornan for Joshua Jackson, who will now step in to play disgraced Dallas neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch in the limited series. According to Deadline , Dornan was forced to bow out because of COVID-sparked production delays (and not, it turns out, because producers finally pulled up a photo of Duntsch ). With Jackson on board, production is finally set to begin this fall on the tale of Duntsch’s reign of medical terror throughout the Metroplex in the early 2010s, with Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater playing the fellow surgeons who finally raised the alarm over Duntsch’s mounting record of dead or disfigured patients. This is, of course, an absolutely horrifying story, but now that it’s got the Dawson’s Creek star, you could probably just pretend like this deadly malpractice is just one of Pacey’s many go-nowhere jobs.
Bryan Washington’s Debut Novel Already Has a TV Deal
Houston author Bryan Washington’s debut novel Memorial isn’t even out until October 27, but it’s already been picked up for a movie adaptation by A24, the indie production house behind Uncut Gems , Midsommar , and the Best Picture–winning Moonlight . Deadline reports that the book has been optioned by A24’s TV division, which currently produces the buzzy HBO series Euphoria , for an adaptation that Washington will write himself—another milestone for the rising literary star. Like many of Washington’s acclaimed short stories, Memorial is set in Houston, following a couple, Benson and Mike, whose lives are upended after Mike flies off to see his ailing father in Osaka, leaving Benson at home with Mike’s just-arrived, tart-tongued Japanese mother. It’s described as “a funny and profound story about family in all its strange forms,” and—what with its culture clashes, odd-couple roommate pairings, and late-in-life epiphanies—certainly sounds like it’s made for television already. Provided it stays true to the material, it could also join the surprisingly small pantheon of Houston-set TV shows . (And although it hasn’t even been shot yet, we’re pretty confident in saying that it could be the best.)
The Legendary Stardust Cowboy Gets His Own Documentary
Jeff Feuerzeig and Henry Rosenthal, the team behind 2005’s acclaimed The Devil and Daniel Johnston , are turning their attention to another Texan cult music hero with a documentary on the Legendary Stardust Cowboy , otherwise known as Norman Carl Odam. Lubbock’s unlikely claim to art-rock history got his start in 1968 with the single “Paralyzed,” a feverish, whooping cacophony of hollers, bugle bleats, and (somehow) T Bone Burnett on drums that became an early novelty hit for the fledgling Mercury Records. Its success earned the Legendary Stardust Cowboy an appearance on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and, in a cosmic coincidence, the devoted fandom of his labelmate David Bowie. As Bowie himself said, it was Odam who inspired his Ziggy Stardust surname, and he would continue to sing his praises in interviews over the years, even covering Odam’s song “I Took a Trip on a Gemini Spaceship” on his Heathen album.
This company microchips employees. Could your ailing relative be next?
The technology company Three Square Market made headlines last year for implanting microchips in the arms of nearly 100 employees, enabling them to open doors, log on to their computers and purchase snacks from company vending machines with a swipe of their arm.
The chips were initially little more than an innovative novelty, but now the Wisconsin firm — which designs software for vending machines — has a more ambitious plan, according to Chief Executive Todd Westby. During an appearance on CNBC, Westby said his company is working on a more sophisticated microchip that is powered by human body heat and includes GPS tracking capabilities and voice activation.
Microchips with GPS tracking may strike some as the first step toward handing our autonomy over to Skynet-like government overlords, and Three Square Market officials admit that the chips will offer a convenient way to track people — especially those suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Patrick McMullan, president of Three Square Market and chip technology business Three Square Chip, told CNBC the goal is a “worthy cause.”
“It’s not only GPS, it’s not only voice activation, it’s working on monitoring your vital signs,” McMullan said. “And there are different medical institutions that obviously want that.
“It’s going to tell my . doctor’s office I have an issue,” he added.
Proponents of medical microchips point out that the devices could contain someone’s entire medical history. If a patient were unconscious or suffered from memory loss, for example, those records could prove invaluable for emergency room doctors who might be unfamiliar with the person’s prescribed medications or history of illness.
Critics say the practice raises serious privacy concerns, especially when considering who would be responsible for the mountains of personal data that microchips are capable of producing about an individual’s movement, behaviors and health.
Westby told CNBC that 92 of the company’s 196 employees have accepted chips and only one person has had the rice-sized device removed.
“What we’ve really done is made it acceptable, or brought it to the forefront, where people are now talking about it and looking at the benefits it can do for a person,” he said.
Microchips aren’t exactly new they have been used to tag pets and livestock and track deliveries.
BioHax, a Swedish company, has implanted its microchip in several thousand customers, allowing them to ride trains without using tickets and turn on the lights in their apartments, according to the company. The company claims the microchips are used only to enhance systems that are “completely under your control.”
But microchips have been even more widely discussed since Three Square Market began placing radio-frequency identification tags, which cost about $300, into the flesh between employees’ index fingers and thumbs.
Noelle Chesley, 49, associate professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, told USA Today that microchipped humans are an inevitability, but not for several decades. Some experts believe it will take that long for the stigma associated with the practice to wear off.
“It will happen to everybody,” Chesley told the paper. “But not this year, and not in 2018. Maybe not my generation, but certainly that of my kids.”
May 28: Flash Fiction Challenge
This article is for parents of young children. In the old days, and even in the not-so-long-ago days, we used maps, verbal directions, or journey&hellip
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Fog thick as chainmail hides the Quincy No. 2 Shaft-Rockhouse from view. Earlier, temperatures rose to summer peak levels, and I planted most of my seedlings, sweating and swatting mosquitos. Lady Lake Superior must have fussed in some way because now I’m in a cloak of moisture I need a sword to cut through. Too hot, too fast, I’m thinking, and the Lake’s cold waters rebelled. It’s both disconcerting and fascinating to think that the lake controls the weather, not the other way around.
As a writer, I seek contradictions.
Driving past the Quincy Mine, I lose all concept of time and season. My radio says it’s “top of the hour, 3 p.m.” My head thinks nightfall. I’m dressed for summer but have a chill. I begin to play a word association game as I drive out to Boston Location where my daughter lives (because I also seek more seedlings). The game goes like this — pair two things that don’t go together. Champagne and hard-rock. Rosemary and sewage. Duck down and firecrackers. Sleep and square-dancing.
Contradictions make us pause. In writing, they can lead somewhere. Where, well, I don’t know, you have to follow. That’s the fun of exploring opposition — it’s new territory you get to make up. You can create sensory contradictions based on touch, taste, smell, or sound. It’s like clashing colors. What can you make of the awful pairing lavender and sewage? Maybe a story begins with receding sewage after a flood, and an old woman recovers her prized lavender bush. Or maybe a street chef introduces a new rosemary delight on the streets of NYC and sales rise despite the wafting smell of city sewage below.
Or you can mix it up — pair something hard to something that tastes sweet like a two-by-four and cotton candy, concrete, and peppermint ice cream, or a steel door and licorice. You can pair actions — waltzing and milking cows, yachting and digging ditches, or weaving and kite-running. Do you notice your mind pondering the differences, trying to find connections? That’s the key. Your mind might say these things don’t go together,, but it will also try to figure out how they could. Your task as a writer is to find a story to tell who did what somewhere. Contrast gives you clues.
This word game I play started out as a cliche buster. Back in the s, I set up the challenge to eradicate cliches in my writing. The idea was to rethink a cliche. For example, if a character was as excited as a kid in a candy shop, how could I deconstruct the cliche and rebuild a fresh analogy? That’s when I began to take notice that I could come up with clever ideas by finding contrasts rather than comparisons. What contrasts with kid? A hummingbird, a hermit crab, a gangster. What would excite each? Like a hummingbird in a petunia a hermit crab in a bronze shell a gangster in a Coupé de Ville.
You can do the reverse finding something that doesn’t go with a candy shop. A mall, a mineshaft, a root cellar. Who would be excited to be in such places? Like a shoe addict in a mall a spelunker in a mineshaft a raccoon in a root cellar. Playing the contrast word game gives you an endless supply of possibilities.
Go ahead and write cliches when you draft because they point to emotions. Later, read through and flag them for revision, clarifying the purpose of each cliche (to show excitement, for example). Think about the situation your character is in and fit the tone. A kid in a candy shop is lighthearted. A raccoon in a root cellar might be destructive. A spelunker in a mineshaft might signal an adrenaline rush. Better yet, try to fit your setting. A raccoon in a root cellar would fit a country setting, but it could also produce humor in a cityscape. A spelunker in a mineshaft fits particular regions.
Cliches came up this week in my studies. We are going into finals already, and my thesis submission of 15,000 words is due in two weeks. I have to get my current Contemporary Fiction course professor to sign off on my readiness. He’s been rapid-firing different craft elements at us for eight weeks, along with a few extra optional lessons. He’s tough (and determined I learn perfect past tense and). Nothing slides past him. When he gave the optional cliche assignment, I thought of my cliche buster trick.
That’s how I came to be driving to Boston Location pairing words that don’t match up. Like fog thick as chainmail. What else could be thick (other than the cliched pea soup)? Poor-rock, cowboy coffee, cast-iron, a Harry Potter Book. Some of those words don’t feel right. Pea soup has a murkiness too it. A Harry Potter Book creates no connection. Interestingly, cast iron and chain mail fit the metallic feel I wanted to impart to the fog.
Wordsmithing is part of what we do. This week we are going to create our own prompts by pairing two contradictions. I’ve held similar challenges in the past, and it’s one we will do again.
A few ranching updates — on Mondays, D. Avery’s Ranch Yarns have come to life at the Saddle Up Saloon. It’s like one of those places where everyone knows your name with a western flair. It’s also a place where characters get to have their say. If you want Kid and Pal to converse with you in a skit, or interact with one of your characters, send her an email: [email protected]. It’s meant to be a fun gathering place for writers.
On Tuesdays, we have a line up of eight columnists who have varying topics of interest. Follow H.R.R. Gorman for history, Anne Goodwin for what to read, Bill Engleson for what old films to watch, Ann Edall-Robson for recalling the pioneers of the past, Susan Sleggs for veteran stories, Norah Colvin for activities to do with young children, Sherri Matthews for a memoirist’s look at those who help others, and Ruchira Khanna for healing through writing.
If you want to hang out with other Carrot Ranchers from the virtual community and from World Headquarters in Hancock, Michigan, join me on Facebook in a private group. I’ve been excited (as a blue heron in frog pond) to connect writers from the Keweenaw to writers from around the world. You can participate as little or as much as you’d like. On Mondays, we set goals Tuesdays we share anything of interest to the group Wednesdays we open up to questions and answers Thursdays have been intermittent video readings Fridays is game day. Because it’s a private group, you do need to ask to join and answer one question (so I know you are affiliated with Carrot Ranch as a writer, reader or lurker). Join up at Carrot Ranchers.
The idea for these new features and a FB group at Carrot Ranch came from a need to keep the writing community engaged during the uncertainties of a global pandemic. I hope you will interact with the columnists and reach out to D. to be counted at the Saloon. We don’t know what the future holds, but we know we will be writing into it. Stay connected, stay creative, and stay safe!
May 28, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using two words that contradict. Examples include champagne and hard-rock rosemary and sewage duck down and firecrackers sleep and square-dancing. Use one of these or make up your own. Go where the prompt leads!
Respond by June 2, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. Rules & Guidelines.
Submissions closed. Find our most current weekly Flash Fiction Challenge to enter.
Moon Dust and Boat Wood by Charli Mills
Two young star-gazers giggle, floating on boat wood lashed into a stationary raft. Papa salvaged the lumber from a shipwreck on the beach, tethered it to the edge of the pond. On his one night off, he’d settle with them, tracing stars in the sky. A full lunar light beams overhead, dimming the Milky Way and illuminating the rock house that towers above the miners’ homes and woods. The girls wait for Papa to emerge from the trail to the mines, repeating constellations he taught them. They open their mouths to moon dust floating downward. It tastes like copper.
Could Your Next Car Be Made Out of Carrots? - Recipes
Makes 4 servings
I’m actually not a huge fan of carrots unless they are mixed into things. Shocking, I know, since we all know I LOVE vegetables. However, I am a huge fan of honey and ginger and so are my kids, so when I make these glazed carrots we all lick our plates clean. These are so ridiculously good that Matt and I secretly hope the boys don't want to finish all of theirs so that we can eat the leftovers, LOL. I never thought cooked carrots would become my favorite side dish of all time but these are seriously that delicious :)
- 1 16-oz. bag of baby carrots, cleaned and trimmed (or 4 big carrots, peeled and cut into baby-carrot-sized pieces)
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1Tbsp lemon juice
- Dash of salt
- ½ tsp ground ginger
TWO: Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat 2 minutes. Stir in honey, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring constantly, until it has dissolved. Add the lemon juice, salt, and ginger and stir to combine.
THREE: Add the steamed carrots to the skillet and stir gently to coat. Increase the heat to medium and cook another 2 or 3 minutes until carrots are heated through.
Freeze leftovers using the medium/large portion method to feed your freezer stash.
Per serving - 162 Calories (91 Calories from Fat), 10g Fat, 1g Saturated Fat, 0mg Cholesterol, 113mg Sodium , 18g Total Carbohydrates, 3g Dietary Fiber , 14g Sugars, 1g Protein, 309% DV Vitamin A , 7% DV Vitamin C, 4% DV Calcium, 6% DV Iron