Mushroom Hunting

Posted: May 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’ve been wanting to go hunting for morels for years, but I never had anyone to take me.

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

I mentioned this to a friend a while back, and she said her mother goes every spring. I got her number, and after a little back-and-forth on scheduling, we’d booked a trip to the woods.

First off, I was expecting to have to go mushroom hunting way out in the middle of nowhere on some farm in eastern Oklahoma. That wasn’t the case at all. In fact, the place we went was about a 10-minute drive from my house. We never even left the city. That’s one of the (few) advantages to OKC’s massive urban sprawl. You’ve still got a number of undeveloped wooded lots scattered around the city.

I was warned in advance to do three things:

1. Wear bug spray. Ticks are rampant in the woods, and you don’t want catch lyme disease. I saw that episode of House. No thanks.
2. Bring a cloth bag to carry your morels in, not paper or plastic. Turns out there are a crazy number of brambles and thorns where morels grow, and only a cloth bag will survive the encounter. It is because of these brambles that…
3. Bring pruning shears. It isn’t just the bag that will get caught in the thorns. You will have to cut yourself loose or risk some fairly painful cuts. Even with the pruning shears, you’re going to get some scratches.

I arrived early in the morning to find my guides already in the woods. In fact, my main guide had already located a couple of morels.

Morels are pretty hard to spot in the wild. They blend in quite well, and I didn’t notice any discernible pattern to where they were located. Nevertheless, I soon picked up the knack of spotting the little buggers.

Here are a few of the ones I found.

20140516-193710.jpg

It was fairly dry, not ideal conditions for mushrooms. Nevertheless, we were able to find a few. My guides were quite generous, giving me the ones they found as well. In the end, I had enough to make a family meal.

I prepped the morels by first splitting and washing them. I then soaked them for about a half hour in salt water. This drove out any bugs still living inside.

You can find a number of morel recipes online, but I don’t think you can beat fried mushrooms. I treated mine like a chicken-fried steak, with an egg wash and a milk wash before a roll in flour and a final egg wash.

Morels don’t taste like the mushrooms you get at your local grocery. The texture is spongier, and the flavor is much meatier. They reminded me a lot of chicken livers without the blood taste. Since I like chicken livers, that’s a good thing.

The final product was incredibly popular with the entire household. If you get the chance to go hunting for morels with someone experienced, don’t pass it up.

20140516-193623.jpg

 

If you look on the cover of the Oklahoma Gazette this week Odd Oklahoma will be splashed across the front, but not because of this website.

The Gazette decided to feature the weird side of the state with an article that covers “Oklahoma obscura”.

The article is pretty interesting, covering a lot of the whackier stuff around the state. None of it was covered in depth, and of the things we’ve also written about, like the Spiro Mounds and the Holy City of the Wichitas, this site had the time and print space to go into a lot more detail. Nevertheless, writer Devon Green turned me onto several things I’d never even heard of, and several others I’d forgotten about or just never gotten around to. I plan to save this article and refer back to it when I’m looking for something to write about in the future.

Good stuff.

I have another piece up over at OKC.net. This one looks at HB2625 and it’s potential impact on the Oklahoma Governor’s race.

HB2625 is the bill that would address the controversial law that requires third graders to pass a high stakes reading test to advance to the next grade.

I have a piece up for OKC.net looking at the strengths and weaknesses of contacting your representatives through social media.

In it, I have a couple of links to some useful tools. I’ve created a spreadsheet of Oklahoma politicians on Twitter and I created an easily subscribable list so that people can with one click see a Twitter feed of what Oklahoma’s politicians are talking about.

In the piece, I also mention that I’m working on a similar set of resources listing candidates on the Oklahoma City ballots this year. That list and feed are currently being developed, and should be published either late this week or early next week.

Back from the dead.

Posted: April 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

After some prompting from a couple of former readers, I’ve decided it is time to start writing again intermittently. Posts will only show up when I have something interesting to talk about. No more trying to meet some self-imposed quota. That just leads to burnout.

Since my last post, my family and I have bought a house and moved into Oklahoma City.

I’ve got a few story ideas written down, including a few follow-ups to topics I’ve written about in the past.

I’m also currently working on a couple of useful tools for those interested in being active/informed about Oklahoma politics. Expect to hear about those as they become publicly available.

A long time ago, I wrote about the Oklahoma Capitol Ten Commandments monument. Yeah, the one carved by people who couldn’t spell and the subject of an ACLU lawsuit.

Since then, a number of groups, including Satanists, Hindus, Animal Rights Activists and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, have contacted the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission about putting up monuments of their own. This left the Oklahoma legislators shitting a brick, and hilarity ensued in the local media.

Now, there is a new development. Yesterday, the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission unanimously voted to impose a moratorium on any new monuments being built on the capitol grounds.

This is banana crazypants for two reasons.

First, it means that the people in charge at the Oklahoma State Capitol know they are in deep trouble legally. They simply cannot come up with a legal criteria for denying Satanists et al (and if a little birdy I know is correct, possibly atheists soon) a monument that will pass muster with the courts.

Second, it is going to make the ACLU lawsuit even more of a slam dunk than it is already. I can’t wait to see the Hindus and Satanists fill friend of the court briefs claiming they are currently being denied the opportunity to place a monument while the Ten Commandments are prominently on display, and now with correct spelling.

Right now, the Satanists have an IndieGoGo page up to take donations for their proposed monument. No word yet on what will happen now that it looks like it won’t be happening.

For more details on this story, and frequent updates, keep track of Hehmant Mehta’s Friendly Atheist blog.

To celebrate the return of my laptop from the doctor, I decided to make a Saturday trip to the Oklahoma State Fair in search of blog fodder.

Between wine, beer, and going to Disney on Ice with my wife and daughter, I was able to make a run through of the Cox Pavilion in search of health scams. They weren’t very hard to find.

The first thing I ran across was a chiropractor diagnosing people using a bogus device called the MyoVision Static Graphic. Basically, his assistant would place these two things on each side of your vertebrae and click them. After moving up and down your back, a printout would display the misalignment of your back.

This is a total scam, for a number of reasons. First, chiropractic itself is a scam. It is to America what homeopathy is to Europe. The entire theoretical concept behind chiropractic is that subluxations of one’s spine accounts for a whole variety of ailments, and that by cracking the back into place a chiropractor can solve these ailments. The inventor of chiropractic claimed to have cured blindness in his first patient just with spine manipulation.

Chiropractic is nothing more than very invasive, and potentially life-threatening, placebo. In my opinion, it shouldn’t even be legal. At best, it is no more therapeutic than a strong massage. At worst, it can cause strokes.This product the chiropractor was using also can’t do what its manufacturers claim. If you look on the Myvision website, you’ll find plenty of pretty pictures and testimonials. What you won’t find is clinical research. The reason is that, clinical research has shown that Myovision isn’t effective. Since it can’t meet the criteria for being a useful medical device, it is aiming its product at people who aren’t real medical professionals…namely chiropractors. The fact that these people were using Myovision to diagnose potential patients and get them to come in to their clinic, shows that they aren’t trustworthy or they’re incompetent.

The second health scam booth I visited was hawking Foot Relief Insoles. Insoles are fine and all. Dr. Scholes never hurt anybody, but these guys were making health claims that were bonkers. They had this chart…

chart

Here is a link to a less blurry version of a similar chart that conveys the same idea in more detail.foot-reflexology-chart1

This is a very common chart in the reflexology world. Reflexology is basically the chiropractic of foot massage, with a little acupuncture theory thrown in for good measure. Just as chiropractors claim that back manipulation can cure a variety of ailments, Reflexologists claim that massaging specific places on the feet can help things like kidney function and thyroid problems. This is complete hogwash. Don’t buy your insoles from people claiming they can help your kidneys work better. Their claims are full of piss.

The next booth on the list was selling Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulations (TENS).

Blurry scam is blurry

Blurry scam is blurry

This is a very fancy way of saying things that electrocute you through your skin. The idea is that by electrocuting yourself, you can relieve pain. While this on its face isn’t completely ludicrous, we do have electroshock therapy for brain disorders after all, they “HOW DOES IT WORK?” section on their website gives away just how bs this product really is.According to the website, TENS makes use of qi and ‘traditional Chinese medicine’ as the theoretical explanation for how it relieves pain.

Word of advice, if a website selling a medical device has a testimonials tab, a ‘how it works’ section that mentions Chinese medicine, and includes vague references to studies or ‘research shows’ without ever actually citing a paper in a reputable medical journal, you’ve got a health scam on your hands. Run away.

Our next product is the Euro Body Shaper.

body shakebody shake2

Yes, it does what it looks like. It is a weight loss machine that claims to exercise you by shaking the weight off. That anyone would actually fall for this makes me die a little on the inside. The only possible response to this silliness is…
fat belt

It was a scam then and it is a scam now.

Finally, for nostalgia sake, I include the handwriting analysis machine. This machine is great because it isn’t even pretending to be real. It has this massive bank of what is supposed to be old-timey computers, and if you give them money they’ll effectively give you the equivalent of a fortune cookie slip.

Love it.

Love it.

The reason this is so great is because it puts all of the other scams that are trying to pretend to be real in context. It is like placing a Cleveland Grandma Fortune Teller Machine in a room full of would-be psychics.