David Raffin

Postage past due

I received an Xmas card saying, “Don’t get trapped in a snow globe.” Now I am trapped in a snow globe. I have almost no one to blame but mysel…
After all, this was a trap.
The mathematics of culpability, squared.

Years ago postage stamps were bothersome. With the advent of self-adhesion, we finally licked that sticky little problem. Progress, but at great price.


The pudding of Xmas past, the gruel of Xmas present

The most famous reindeer of all was Charles Dickens. What a Dickens!
He invented Xmas pudding. Which hardly anybody eats anymore. He started the tradition of orphans eating thin gruel. Now nobody eats gruel. Except orphans. Xmas morning: “Hello gruel world.”
(Gruel world is a future theme park for orphans.)
The Dickens, you say!

(This festive octopus painting by Richard F. Yates.)

The stuff of monsters and love stories

Every good long-term relationship is built on one of the participants not being eaten by a monster. This is my writing tip for the day.

One of the participants in a love story being eaten by a monster, of course, is the stuff of tragedy.
Unless it’s a comedy.

Whenever I have a character be eaten by a monster I don’t plot it out. Because that’s not the way it happens in the real world.

Remember that a tragic love story is still a love story. This may be viewed as a flaw in the categorization of stories.

War on Xmas / Bear of the month

I am ashamed that we used chemical weapons in the war on Christmas. First we used laughing gas–then we used crying gas–then we used laughing gas– then we used crying gas… In the end, people didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.


Join the bear of the month club. Get a bear delivered to your door every month. December is grizzly.
They’re good bears. A little cranky. But that’s just because they’re hungry.
Bears have pretty simple rules about eye contact. Reasonable, even.


If just one poem about Llamas and Alpacas will make you happy…

Llamas and alpacas/will never attack us/as long as we scratch them on the head/they’ll climb up the mountains/and drink from the fountains/and build up a lot of street CRED/for wherever they go forth/be it due South or due North/they never go looking for trouble/I asked one beside me/while it drank some chai tea/how they remained in this karmic bubble/it’s ever so simple/we came from the temple/we aren’t looking for any drama/whatever do you mean/said I, turning green/Oh, that one over there is the Dalai Llama.


How to make soy yogurt in a thermos

These are the things you will need:

Soy Milk; A small cup of store bought soy yogurt with live cultures to use as a starter (any flavor); a spoon of sugar
A measuring cup; A pot; A cooking thermometer; A wide mouth thermos

Boil water and pour it in your wide mouth thermos, let it sit. This is to sterilize the thermos. Also pour boiling water over the lid.

Pour the amount of soy milk necessary to fill your thermos into the sauce pan. In my case this is about 2 cups. Heat the soy milk, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a temperature of 160 to 180, but not exceeding 180 (Do not boil). Turn the stove off and remove the pot from that burner. When the soy milk reaches a temperature of between 120 and 115, but not exceeding or falling below that, stir in a spoonful of sugar (to feed the yogurt culture) followed by about 2 tablespoons or two heaping spoonfuls of the store-bought yogurt (this is correct for adding to 2 cups soy milk). Stir it well. Pour the water out of the waiting thermos and pour your yogurt mixture into the thermos. Place the lid on the thermos and set it aside for 10 to 12 hours. Do not move or shake the yogurt during this incubation period. After this time has passed open the thermos, stir, and pour into a container to place in the refrigerator. In subsequent yogurt making you may use your own yogurt as your starter. I have done this for about six generations with each batch turning out fine.

The soy yogurt should have a good consistency but be a little runnier than most brands purchased in a store. If you attempt to use nut or rice milk the culture will take but it will likely stay very liquid. My first attempt at yogurt making was with almond milk and the result was a yogurt tasting almond milk. However this was also before I started adding in a spoonful of sugar and using a wide mouth thermos to keep the temperature steady during incubation.

I was interested in how to make a yogurt starter without having yogurt in the first place. I have not tried this but it is my understanding that you can make a yogurt starter using five chili pepper stems and a dried tamarind, Using this in place of the yogurt starter to make the first batch.