Updated: Nov 23, 2022
When I was in college there were three rules that were hammered in to me.
1) Never use the first person. Ever. We were under-grads, we didn't deserve the right to start a sentence with "I think" or "I know." The assumption was we knew nothing, and would think whatever the tenured staff told us to think. (Hey, guess what, I turned into a Republican and actually know a few things.)
2) Never tell personal stories. (A weird rule in a place where every wannabe Leftist activist spent most of her time standing on the quad screaming about her/his/whatever's genitals.)
3) Never be definitive. Always leave yourself a way out. Never be a moral absolutist. In the long run this rule might explain why there is now an entire generation of people who don't have the guts to stand up and say "drag shows belong in bars and clubs, not children's story hour at the local library!"
The reality is that all of these rules need to be broken if we want to be individuals. And the United States has always been a nation of individuals.
Over the last generation or so, my generation, we've gotten obsessed with being personal. (Being overtly personal. I envy my grandmother who grew up in an era where strangers didn't run up to her in the supermarket to talk about sex. O.k. my Grandma Ruth was sort of a free range self-taught therapist and random depressed people would hunt her down in the Catskills to talk about their family issues, and she'd nod and say "ohhhhh" in sympathy. But in general, a few generations ago, buying oatmeal wouldn't involve hearing about the check-out person's gender identity struggles.)
But, we've lost sight of a lot of basic skills that, if mastered, make us individuals.
Even internet trolls don't have the guts to be true individuals anymore.
Managing social media for the MarinGOP for the past year or so has made me something of an accidental expert on internet trolls.
1) The average internet troll is a very angry person. Doesn't matter if the troll is Left wing or Right wing. The average internet troll's defining emotion is "irate."
2) The average internet troll only occasionally uses spell-check. Yes, I have actually seen the words "blood sweet and tears" used. Hmmmm......
3) The average internet troll is literally trawling for responses. A troll throws out an attack statement, or asks a fake "question" in the hopes of stirring up a fight.
4) The average internet troll LOVES using ALL CAPS. Because calling someone CHICKEN in all caps is totally how an internet troll proves he/she/it is all smart and adult and stuff.
5) The average internet troll isn't an individual. The average internet troll doesn't even want to be an individual. I'm not talking about bots and paid "dis-information specialists" --it is a thing, corporations/governments/etc. have been known to hire teams of people to specifically "market" certain messages in certain ways on social media platforms. (All those people who were on message boards twenty-plus years ago claiming to be legitimate cancer patients who needed easy access to Oxy? A lot of them weren't real cancer patients.)
Political trolls are, in general, not individuals. They aren't all "working" for a cause. My suspicion is that most political trolls have never had any type of employment. (Being an irate nutjob usually limits your job prospects.) But they do share a seething desire to be seen and heard. So they do what most desperate exhibitionists do online, they claim to be people they aren't. They also claim to speak for large groups of people. And so, the day before Thanksgiving when I'm doing my normal pre pie routine --do I have enough butter?-- my laptop bings with a troll alert. As usual the troll is claiming to speak for "millions." Well, obviously, duh... the anonymous millions are totally dependent on one semi anonymous troll who is intent on splitting the Republican party so all the non-voting "true conservatives" will sneak out of the hills and consider voting. Because, of course, trolls don't even vote. They don't precinct walk, volunteer, spend money or make phone calls either. Because, trolls! But they want to have a conversation. Uh... yeah. Right.
I'm a volunteer. Not a "conversationist" who exists to hold the hands of self-described non-voters.
I fight the Leftwing trolls.
I love fighting the Leftwing trolls. Too many Republicans ignore the Leftwing trolls. But I always make them admit to what they really are. And, in general, the average Leftwing troll is a nasty small-minded, aggressive type clinging to racist views that would have gotten them drummed out of my grandparents' dining room in the 1950s.
If you ever really want to have some low-grade, raise the blood-pressure, drive-em-crazy fun, I highly recommend fighting Leftwing trolls. The anti-education trolls are really fun. Not kidding, the anti-education trolls come out of the woodwork to defend "schools" that can't teach half the kids how to read at grade level. They defend these failing schools by claiming that pro-education conservatives are actually just, you guessed it, "rac-iss!!!!!!"
Same goes for the trolls who complain that regular people who scrimp and save to afford to live in suburbia shouldn't expect the parks to be safe enough for children to play in because it is waaaayyyy cooler for the parks to become homeless encampments. That way we get to look like San Francisco. But with free parking.
I usually ignore the Rightwing trolls. After-all, the rightwing trolls claim they are just "too special" and "too busy" to vote. So why should I waste MY time talking to them?
After all the quasi anonymous right-wing trolls of the internet are mainly the mothers of Antifa activists --not kidding, a remarkable number of irate right-wing ladies are the proud mamas of brick-throwing Portland gender neutral activists-- or non voters who live in Florida. We kid you not. Florida. Heck, they probably aren't even non voters, they probably just claim to be non voters to make some weird and mainly pointless point.
I have better things to do.
I have pie to make.
So here I will make a definitive first person statement. Pie crust isn't that hard. Neither is gravy. Homemade salad dressing is pretty easy too.
So, don't stress. You can do this whole big dinner at home thing. And have the sort of happy family day no troll ever has.
So. Pie crust.
I make very good pie crust. So did my grandmother. I'm not as good as my grandmother. But I'm not bad. And it is pretty simple.
All you need is butter, flour and water. Really. That is it. It all comes down to timing, and work. Kind of like being a political volunteer.
And you can do this. Really, you can. Take a deep breath. No rage. No anger. No trolls.
Start a few hours in advance.
1) Defrost 4 sticks of butter. Bring the butter to room temperature. Thursday morning, Wednesday night, just leave a couple of sticks of butter on the table. Cold butter is not your friend when making pie crust. You don't want to be that person who has to try and melt it in the microwave. You just want it nice and consistently soft.
2) Do you have a pie pan? I like pyrex. But metal pie plate are fine too. But, if you have a good pyrex plate clean it off and then grease it down with butter. (Use even more butter if you have a metal pan.) No holidays, it is like painting a wall. You want full butter coverage.
3) Flour. You will need 4 cups + change. Also, ideally, a rolling board and a rolling pin.
4) So... hours later, your rolling board laid out, your pie plate buttered up, your butter sticks all nice and soft, you are ready. Take two sticks of super soft butter and two cups of white flour. If you have a mixmaster or kitchenaid just blend them together for about 2-3 minutes. It should be a little TOOOO buttery. You should have to add more flour. And now, the art starts. You don't want to over-work the dough. You don't want it too wet, or too dry. So you add a little extra flour, you add a little extra water, and when it is just right, when the dough is a ball in one corner of the bowl, you break the ball up in to 2-4 equal balls.
5) Sweep some dry flour around the board. Dust the rolling pin with flour, and start rolling in each direction. North south, east-west. If your dough sticks to your rolling pin your dough is too wet. If it breaks apart it is probably too dry.
6) When the dough is as thin as you can get it carefully pry it off the board and drop it on the pie plate and use your fingers to smooth it down and "fix" the breaks.
7) Peel the apples. Yeah, you peel the apples AFTER you have made the dough. Peel, slice, pour some lemon juice on top, toss in a bowl and then pour the apples in to the pie plate.
8) Roll more pie dough. You get to make a top. Carefully drape the top over the apples. Use a fork to press the edges down around the edge. Make a few slices in the top to let the steam out.
9) Bake for about 45 minutes at about 415 degrees.
10) Live the American Dream. Eat home-made pie. Ignore the trolls. They just wish they were you.
11) Heck, this is America. Make two pies and give the second pie to the neighbors.
A lot has changed in the last few years. Two years ago we were having un-elected bureaucrats tell us who we could eat dinner with. One way or another, we've changed. But some things don't change. So face reality, make pie. Share and laugh if you can. And remember, giving thanks matters. America's Thanksgiving will never be cancelled.