The Great Green LED Christmas Light Shortage plus The Best Light Fruit Cake Recipe

I visited my friend from high school the week before Christmas. Last year I had given him two strings of green LED Christmas lights last year to compliment the multicolored lights that he had put up. He’s not much into Christmas displays and he needed the help.

Looking at the lights this year I found them to be unbalanced. He needed more green lights. So we went off to the local big box store that starts with a W. It was the 20th of December and they were very picked over. Just a few white lights and they were mostly old style incandescents. So we went to the drug store. They were cleaned out except for some white lights. On to the big box hardware store. It had pallets of white incandescent mini Christmas lights and some white LED mini lights. On to the next big box hardware store. They had more forklift pallets fulls of white incandescent mini lights (they were cheap) and a couple of strings of blue LED mini lights. He found one string of green incandescent lights so my friend bought them. We really needed two strings of green LED lights.

He put the lights up and plugged them in. They were dim compared to the LED lights. What a disappointment. Driving around I did not see any houses with green LED mini light hanging off them. Putting green lights on a green tree is not the best color choice.

If people are using LED lights and passing up the incandescent lights, that is good for the environment. ON top of that the LED lights are much brighter than the incandescent lights.

What does this have to do with Steampunk? It shows that people will buy something new over the traditional device even if the purchase price for the new device is more than the old device. As I have mentioned the automobile replaced the horse very quickly, even though the horse had been a part of human culture for thousands of years. You don’t have to feed a car every day whether you use it or not. Cars don’t get sick or refuse to work on a whim. Nor do they step on your foot.

Unabashed plug for my book The Daemon Boat. It’s a Steampunk spy story.

Try a good Fruit Cake and you’ll never go back to the old brick. I got the recipe from John Carter’s wife.

Best White Fruit Cake
5 large eggs
1 cup butter (2 sticks or 1/2 lb. butter)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 lb. glazed cherries, 1/2 red-1/2 green
1 lb. glazed pineapple
4 cups shelled pecans
1/2 oz. bottle vanilla (1 Tablespoon)
1/2 oz. bottle lemon (1 Tablespoon)

  1. Cream butter, add sugar gradually, creaming well until fluffy. Add eggs, which have been beaten well, and blend.
  2. Mix chopped fruits and nuts; and mix with part of flour.
  3. Sift remaining flour and baking powder together into creamed mix.
  4. Add flavorings and mix well; then fold in nuts and fruits. Pour
    into greased, paper lined tube pan. Place into cold oven and bake at 250 degrees for 3 hours.

Stay strong, write on, and the cake is really good. It has to be, the recipe is from Mars.

A Steampunk Christmas and a Christmas Cookie Recipe

I’m tied up in a lot of things right now and I’m not getting a lot of writing done. At times life is hard. Year end day is almost here, but life will go on.

One way of writing Steampunk is to take what is happening today and imagine what it would be like if it happened in the past.

Example, the Japanese celebrate Christmas. They get extravagant. Being Shinto or Buddhist doesn’t even slow them down.

Now set your story on the west coast. There is friction (lynching and the usual mayhem between the Chinese laborers and the immigrant locals, i.e. anyone not Chinese and not an Amerindian (indigenous sounds so demeaning)).

Next have a fad hit. Everyone is excited by the engraving from the 1850 edition of Godey’s Lady’s Book showing a family (a doctored image of the British royal family) celebrating around a Bohemian Christmas tree.

The local Rail Road Magnet then sets up a tree outside his mansion. It’s too big to go inside and he wants to show off and rub every ones nose in it.

Then have the town people get together and pool their funds and set up an even bigger tree in the town square.

The Chinese see everyone having fun and set a smaller tree. There are fireworks. What’s Christmas without firecrackers.

In a saloon two old miners are arguing. One claims that the Christmas tree is a Tannenbaum. The other claims that Tannenbaum means fir tree and that a Christmas tree is a Weihnachtsbaum, and I should know by grandmother was from the old country Holland.

A fight breaks out. Do miners need a reason to fight, no. The Christmas trees get damaged. Everyone gets thrown in jail.

The children are bummed out and get together and set up their own Christmas tree.

The usual plug. Buy my book; The Daemon Boat

Christmas Cookie Recipe

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
Just add a little white and red frosting (in a Christmas design) to the top of the cookie and you have Christmas cookies.


1 cup butter (2 sticks) softened*
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract (plus a little bit)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups oats (regular oats (rolled) not instant)
1 cup nuts (Walnuts or Pecans) (OK, so I like a lot of nuts)
1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Tools needed;

Medium bowl
Electric mixer with large bowl
Measuring spoons set
Measuring cups; 1 and 1/2 cup sizes
Spatula with wooden handle*
3 Cookie sheets (make sure they fit in oven)
Gallon size plastic food bags
Dry Measuring cups

Pre-soften* the butter, take the sticks out of the ice box at least an hour before starting. You can let the butter sit on the table over night.**
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. (Before turning oven on check inside of oven for baked potato or other odds and ends from last night. Check oven temperature, the knob marking are often way off.)
Line a medium bowl with a one gallon plastic food bag. Place flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in bag. Close and secure top of bag leaving large air space at top of bag. Message and shake bag to mix ingredients. Set bag aside. Cream butter and sugar with electric mixer in large mixing bowl. That’s cook speak for beating the butter until air is mixed in and then slowly adding the sugar. Add eggs one at a time without getting any egg shells in the mix.
Add vanilla; beat well.
Add flour mixture, slowly and gently or flour will be billowing everywhere
* and mix well. Remove mixing bowl from electric mixer. Using spatula stir in oats, nuts, and chocolate chips; mix until there are nuts and chips in very spoon full.
Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto un-greased cookie sheet. That means scoop up a spoon full and turn the spoon over and dough falls onto the cookie sheet, most of the time the stuff acts like it is part super glue. Use spatula to scrape dough off spoon and try dipping teaspoon in cold water after each drop to keep dough from sticking.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes, measured with timer not smoke alarm, until golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet then remove cookies to paper plate.
Makes about 4 dozen.

  • Soften means late butter warm up till a finger pressed in middle of bar will easily leave a dent.
    **Long distance backpackers carry butter for days without refrigeration.
    ***Old cook book term. Butter will turn a lighter color and be fluffy. 3 to 5 minutes in mixer.
    ****pour carefully, making flour angels on the kitchen floor is not cool. If added to quickly the electric mixer will blow flour all over kitchen.
    *****banging metal handle of spatula to knock stuff off on the rim of a glass bowl will break the bowl.
    ******Use dry measuring cup and using the flat back of butter knife strike off (run the knife across the top of the cup scraping the excess flour back into the flour container) the top of the cup. Do not pack the flour in the cup, keep it lose and fluffy.

To make one huge cookie, press dough into bottom of un-greased 9×13-inch metal baking pan. Or make huge cookie shape on baking pan. Make cookie shape one half inch thick. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Stay strong, write on, and bake well.
Professor Hyram Voltage

Christmas Lights, Shoppings Done, and the Best Cookies

The annual untangling of lights went better than last year. Still need to make a map of where the lights go. Some of the light strings are custom configured to go around gates and objects. The strings have to be orientatedk towards the controller and mount on hooks so they go only one way.

The lights are several years old and they don’t make the types of lights I use anymore. I have to hand make replacements.

The lights are connected with Molex connectors that are no longer popular. I still can not find the box that has the spare connectors in it. I did find a small box of electronic repair parts with a couple of new connectors in it. That’s enough to tie me over until Amazon can come through with an order.

I don’t know about young people, but I like buying others presents. My brother just wants gift cards so he can buy books through out the year.

To satisfy my need to buy others presents I got a club I belong to to fund me a little bit of cash so I could buy mystery gifts for everyone that is attending our club’s annual holiday dinner. I got forty gifts bought and with the help of the club president we got them gift wrapped.

Try buying gifts for someone you barely know. Now try it for a bunch of people you vaguely know. Now try it for a bunch of grouchy old people.

The usual plug to buy my book at

My mother’s best cookie recipe

No gluten, can be made without nuts, and people with egg allergies can sometimes eat a little egg white without trouble.

From Professor Voltage’s Book of Extraordinarily Dangerous Cooking

Angel Kisses (no wheat cookies).


3 Large egg whites or 5 medium egg whites at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups pecans (chopped) (you can place whole pecans on top of the cookies)


  1. Tip; leave eggs out overnight, they have to be room temperature. Egg whites are easier to separate if the eggs are cold but the egg whites will be difficult to get to peak if cold.
  2. Place first oven rack in the middle of the oven.
  3. Optional; set the second rack below the first rack and place a pizza stone on second rack. This helps keep the temperature stable.
  4. Set oven to 200 degrees. Check oven temperature with thermometer.
  5. In a clean, dry (very important) measuring cup or small bowl separate one egg white.
  6. Inspect egg white for egg shell pieces and remove any pieces of shell. If any egg yolk gets into the egg white discard (or save for breakfast tomorrow) egg white, wash and thoroughly dry measuring cup. Try again.
  7. Transfer egg white to large mixing bowl. Mixing bowl must be clean and dry (no oil or water).
  8. Repeat steps 5 through 7 for remaining eggs, one egg at a time.
  9. Spread sugar over egg whites, then let stand, at room temp, for 30 minutes if not already at room temperature.
  10. Line 3 cookie sheets with wax paper.
  11. Beat egg whites mixture using electric mixer till very stiff (will stand in peaks, this can take 5 to 20 minutes, use a quarter of an inch of the tip of a knife to dip into batter and rise a little of the batter. If the batter stands stiffly at attention,(without flowing over) it’s ready.
  12. Add vanilla, beat a few seconds to a couple of minutes. You may need to scrape sides of mixing bowl with spatula to get vanilla to mix well.
  13. Remove electric mixer beaters.
  14. Add nuts, fold in gently. For a more decorative approach the nuts can be sprinkled or pressed into the top of the cookies. This will also slightly toast the nuts.
  15. Drop teaspoonful of batter on wax paper for each cookie. Use spatula to scrape off mixture/batter from spoon. The cookies will not melt or flow in the oven, they will look just like they did when dropped onto cookie sheet.
  16. Bake at 200 degrees 45 minutes. Make a test batch of 4 to 6 cookies first. Variations in eggs, humidly and oven temperature can cause results to vary. Let cookies cool at least ten minutes and taste. See below for suggestions to problems.
  17. Let cool 20 minutes before removing cookies from wax paper.
  18. Store in air tight container.
  19. These cookies are very sensitive to water, too much or too little. Make sure bowl and utensils are dry. If cracks form or if brown drips or streaks appear, the sugar has not been absorbed by the egg whites. A teaspoon of water added to the remaining mixture will help dissolve the excess sugar. Use a mister or try to spread water over batter. Be very careful adding water. Too much water will cause sugar to let go of egg white and leave brown streaks.
    If cookies are brown on the bottom or shades of brown show on the top the oven temperature is too high.
  20. Danger; eggs may contain salmonella, even on the outside of the egg shell. Wash hands with soap and warm water after touching or handling eggs.
  21. Use big cookie sheets.

Equipment needed:
A. cookie sheet (use three or more; so one can be cooking while the another is cooling and another is being loaded)
B. measuring spoons,
C. measuring cup, or small bowl
D. mixer and large mixing bowl,
E. spoon for dropping cookies,
F. spatula
G. wax paper,
H. roll of paper towels,
I. knife for chopping nuts,
J. dry measuring cup (1 cup size),
L. oven thermometer for checking temperature of oven,
M. oven, with known good temperature,
N. hot pad,
O. cooling rack

Windows 10 has Disappeared, Christmas Cookies Recipe

It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I have convinced my friend to upgrade to Windows 10. He has two machines that are Windows 7 and they’re not that old. I keep telling him that Windows 7 is going off support and the program is buggy. Microsoft may not have invented the software bug, but they are hard at work at reaching new heights of bugginess. Microsoft can’t get updates out for Windows 10 without having big problems. Some of the problems required Microsoft to bar some brands of computers from getting the latest updates. That leave those computers open to current software virus attacks until Microsoft gets around to reworking the update.

Microsoft has it’s best programmers working on Windows 10 and isn’t doing good. I believe they have the second string programmers working on the older versions of Windows software. Once Windows 7 is abandoned they can fire the programmers working on Windows 7 and save a bunch of money. The customer will get a better experience with Windows 10 or get shafted by the virus people if they don’t upgrade.

So I took my friend down to Fry’s Electronics to buy a copy of Windows 10. He was unhappy when the clerk at Fry’s confirmed that he would have to buy two copies, one for each machine. He was angry when the clerk told him, after looking at the store computer, that they didn’t have any Windows 10 software to sell.

We went over to Best buy to get the copies of Windows 10. Once we got a salesman to show us where the Windows 10 boxes were displayed my friend grabbed the only box on the rack. He shook the box and said there’s nothing in it. The salesman said you have to go up the the checkout and the guy at the cash register will scan the box and get the Windows 10 product from upstairs. He also said just have the cash register guy scan the box twice to get two of the product.

We waited in line. It was not too long of a wait. The cash register guy tried to scan the box, but there was nothing to scan. He had to ask a couple of other cash register types what to do. He found out that you don’t scan the box. He then got on the radio he was carrying and called for someone to get the Windows 10 box.

Wait, sort of like a computer program where the machine sets there and nothing seems to be happening. He calls again. Wait and then calls again. Finally he pulls out his cellphone and dials. “Oh, were out of it.” he says. Couldn’t the guy he called on the radio told him that?

I told my friend that we can get a copy off the web, most likely Amazon. My friend throws a fit. He had just listened to an NPR broadcast where businesses are being driven out of their business by fakes and counterfeits. He did not want a virus filled counterfeit loaded onto his computer. I have to admit that some counterfeits look just like the real thing and Amazon does little to combat the fakes.

Less than a year ago I put together a media down-streaming computer. I got a copy of Windows 10. It came in a cardboard box with very little in the way of instructions and a USB drive. Form what I can figure out from web chatter is that Microsoft has the product (box, instructions, and gets the USB drive loaded) made in China and the tariff war is stopping the box, or as they say in the trade “product”, from being imported to the U. S.

It is a pain to work with a person that is set in their ways. They get that way from experience, and they just may be smarter than me.

Microsoft is pounding everyone to go put Windows 10 on their Windows 7 machines. Of course not all old machines will work with Windows 10. How can Microsoft stay in business if you can’t buy their product unless you risk buying a counterfeit?

Microsoft can’t make an update that’s not filled with bugs and you can’t buy the latest addition of their product. Let’s hope someone comes up with a better operating system and soon. This can go on, but it’s only going to get worst.

Stay strong, write on, and persevere when you try to help someone.

Standard plug to buy my book.

Christmas Cookies

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 cup oil
2 teaspoon vanilla
5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In one gallon plastic bag add flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Mix well.
  3. In electric mixer cream butter and sugar.
  4. Add eggs, oil, and vanilla. Mix well.
  5. Remove from mixer.
  6. Add dry mixture to butter mixture. Mix well by hand (can be mixed in electric mixer if careful).
  7. Make dough into cookies by;
    a. roll dough into balls 1 to 2 inches in diameter.
    b. roll dough into a log and slice into 1 inch thick disks.
    c. Dribble almond extract and 1/8 cup of milk onto dough. Mix well. Pack into pastry gun. Or if you prefer take a tablespoon of dough and roll it into a ball
  8. Place on un-greased cookie sheet. If you prefer to roll dough into a ball, then flatten the ball with bottom of glass dipped in sugar.
  9. Bake 8 to 10 minutes

Sugar cookies were made to be decorated. Use sprinkles and icing. Go buy cookies cutters. Have children help.