Saturday, June 30, 2007

Friday Fill-In #26


Janet engages in some remorseful breast-beating as she recovers from her birthday party thusly: "Sorry I missed last week! Darn Vegas trip" ;-)

1. _Such_ a long time!
2. Occasionally, _I hanker for meat, red meat_.
3. Unexpected _visitors_ can be interesting!
4. _Alone time_ is great, too!
5. Where do you _go_ when you want _to escape the world?_
6. Oh my god, he just _platzed_!
7. What are you doing this weekend? Tonight I'm looking forward to _dinner_, tomorrow my plans include _working at camp_ and Sunday, I want to _go swimming, if the water is warm enough_!

If you'd like to play along, a visit to meme-mistress Janet of Fond of Snape is in order to get a clean copy of the questions and to leave a link to your answers.

Declare Yourself!

There aren't any young ones reading this blog, so I guess the *bleep* is overkill. Too funny...

Courtesy of the lovely proprietress of The Cake Eater Chronicles...

Friday, June 29, 2007

John M. Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #172: Under Your Own Power

Weekend Assignment #172: Talk about a time in which you moved or traveled a significant distance under your own power. That means walking, running, swimming, biking, hiking, and so on -- in some significant way your muscles were involved. As for the distances involved, think miles; we're talking some real effort. It doesn't have to be a marathon or a triathalon (although those would count), just a time when you got to the end of what you were doing feeling tired but possibly triumphant as well.

Dear John,

Did I ever tell you about the time I shepherded a gaggle of gawky teens up the Chimney Pond trail, over the Knife Edge of Katahdin and back down, all in one day, thirteen miles later, with no significant injuries (this time) or loss of personnel? I did? Damn!

OK, how about the time I took the same group of upstanding juvenile delinquents on a one-day, forced-march paddle down the Androscoggin River for 26 miles? Dang, I don't remember telling you about that ... but, if you say so.

How about the New Year's Eve I got stranded in Bangor at the end of a food co-op run to Boston and ended up having to walk the seven miles home in the middle of an ice storm because my then-roommate “got lucky” and decided to turn the phone ringer off so she and her beau-of-the-night could sleep in late the next morning? Oh, I did, eh?

Well, then, I've been on any number of shorter hikes and paddles here in New England and out in California and Washington. Nothing spectacularly physical, usually just hard slogs in heat or rampant cold. Nothing to write home about. I guess I've been blogging about the past too much.

Give my best to your two darlings and behave yourself. Have a fun Fourth of July holiday.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

QUIZ: Evaluating The Value of Misdeeds

I guess it takes one to know one:

You correctly identified 75% of the starlets who enrolled in drug rehab or were convicted of a DUI.

You correctly identified 17% of the starlets who never enrolled in drug rehab or were convicted of a DUI.

Test your abilities here: Branding Value of Misdeeds.

Thanks to The J-Walk Blog where I first saw this.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

MEME: No Mind Hump Today

It had to happen sometime and today's the day: RFDuck, mememeister extraordinaire, is suffering from hyperglycemia, having singlehandedly consumed an entire bushel of strawberries. This has resulted in severe brain cramps and has incapacitated his WEB 2.0 Humper-dumper. Therefore:
"No Mind Hump Today - I'm all out of ideas. If you want to do today's theme, "Talk Like A Cheesy P.I. Day," go ahead. If not, then I'll see you on Monday!"
Posted at 10:35 pm by rfduck the music-loving mememeister

Monday, June 25, 2007

John M. Scalzi's Monday Photo Shoot: Crowds

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Get a picture of a crowd or crowded event. Conventions, weddings, parties in cramped spaces -- you know, anywhere there's lots of folks doing something.

OK, this is an oldie – crowd pictures from the Common Ground Country Fair in,September, 2004, I think. They (we) are all watching a Sheep Dog Herding Demo. The lead dog is attempting to keep the geese boxed in with just the force of her Evil Eye™ while her companion canines resist the temptation to run and and break as many goosey necks as possible...

Posted by Picasa

MEME: Monday Music Mambo – Closing Time

Here's a stretch. Lacking sufficient fodder, Rfduck has this to say, “Hello mamboers! Today is Leon Day. The only musical Leon I know of is Leonard Cohen.” Obviously, he's never heard of Leon Redbone,the most famous non-famous American musician of the 20th Century.

Name your favorite Leonard Cohen song.”

“And, to make the meme longer, name a few songs you've been loving a lot recently.”

Okay then, buckaroos. This is actually tougher than you'd think. I listen to Leonard Cohen a lot. There are a whole lot of songs to choose from. According to the meager stats provided by my Windows Media Player, I have only 11 albums by Leonard Cohen, totalling 92 songs. I listen to them all an average of once a month. Some get more ear time than others. But picking just one? Bastard!

Alright, after careful deliberation, a reading of the tea leaves and a throw of the I Ching I've made my choice. It's “Closing Time” from the 1992 album The Future

We're drinking and we're dancing
but there's nothing really happening
and the place is dead as Heaven on a Saturday night
And my very close companion
gets me fumbling, gets me laughing
she's a hundred but she's wearing something tight
And I lift my glass to the Awful Truth
which you can't reveal to the Ears of Youth
except to say it isn't worth a dime
And the whole damn place goes crazy twice
and it's once for the Devil and it's once for Christ
but the Boss don't like these dizzy heights --
we're busted in the blinding lights
of closing time”

Copyright © Leonard Cohen
and Sony/ATV Music Publishing Canada Company Partial lyrics shown for education purposes under the “Fair Use” provisions of the Copyright Act.

But that's not all our mememeister asks of us. Oh, no, he wants more tunes we've been cannoodling to, too. OK, buster, you asked for it:


Loreena McKennittTango to Evora

Silly WizardThe Wind That Shakes The Barley/The Ale Is Dear

Alan StivellBrian Boru


The BandI Shall Be Released

CeltusStrange Day in the Country

Loreena McKennittSkelling

GregorianSo Sad

DagdaCriost Liom

There you have it for this week's Mambo. Hope you enjoyed it. A clean copy of the questions may be obtained over at the Mambo Headquarters and Lending Library if you'd like them.

By the way, does anyone know why the “scrobbing” feature of Last.FM doesn't register the music I listen to via the Windows Media Player?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

MEME: Sunday Seven - Episode 95

What I saw at the scene of the fire that killed nine of Charleston’s firefighters got me thinking about how little we say “Thank You” and who should be the first to receive our gratitude.

But first, Maureen of “Self Discovery Journey” was first to play last week’s question. Congratulations, Maureen!

On to this week's question!

Name seven of the most under-appreciated jobs in your community.

  1. Emergency response workers – firefighters, police officer, paramedical workers, animal control officers and the like

  2. Teachers, particularly those saddled with trying to cope with that useless ball of hormones, er, student, that exists between grades 6 and 12 in this country

  3. Grave diggers. Try it sometime. Even with a back hoe. F*cking hard work to go to, just to bury a bunch of meat so others won't rend it and scatter it.

  4. Sanitation workers, both the “garbage men” and those who work with sewers and septage. Try it sometime...

  5. Local government workers – every Tom, Dick and Hairy Jane thinks that just because they pay a pittance in property taxes they are somehow entitled to consider themselves the boss of said workers. So, having no other convenient target, they unload. Makes no difference whether you are a clerk in the local DMV or a tax assessor, a welfare worker or a public works driver or a City Manager, they are all marked and targeted in the public's mind.

  6. Waitresses (and, to a lesser extent, waiters) in other than the $100/plate joints that take three years to get a reservation. It's a screwed up system in this country when we allow a business to pay an employee a fraction (often one third) of the minimum wage and thus require that employee to hustle customers to make enough money to earn a living on which they often are the sole support for themselves and their children.

  7. Journalists. There – that surprised you. Keep in mind that most aren't the Bob Woodward's in this life. They make, on average, somewhere in the mid-high 20's, even in places like LA and NYC. They must produce, to deadline, upwards of 10,000 words per day of clear, concise, readable text describing the most mundane, egregious acts of their fellow man. Whether it's the summer intern producing the obituaries to the TV reporter breaking the story about the latest transgressions of the local basketball junkie, it's all fodder to their grist mill. For any on you who've read this far, the average blog entry is 250 words or less. Multiply that by 12, add in six hours of research, phone calls and leg work, sitting through boring meetings, visits to police stations, courts, hospitals, fires and accident scenes, all to sit down and write the days “news”. Little wonder that fair and accurate journalism is a dying tradition. It's very hard work for very little compensation. (410 words to here, by way of example)

Happy Birthday, Father

I've been thinking about my father a lot this past week. Last Sunday was Fathers Day; today, had he lived, would have been my father's 94th birthday. Sadly, he never made it to 65, so it's a moot point.

It's a pleasant 68 degrees and sunny outside. Typical Maine summer weather, when it isn't raining and in the 40's. Not so the day father was born. It was sweltering, the hottest of a three-day heat wave in the 90's each day, made more so by nary a breeze or breath of air in the house all shut up for fear of letting in "germs" that could kill the baby, when and if he ever decided to show himself. It had been a hard slog for my grandmother. A virgin bride, practically raped upon completion of the marriage vows and then spirited three hundred miles away from her sisters' and mother's home to live with a cranky, taciturn man, my great-grandfather, his equally taciturn and embittered wife, and my grandmother's new husband. At the age of 22, a graduate of a finishing school as well as Fanny Farmer's School in Boston. Come to live in this rural, oppressively small university town where she knew no one and no one, save her husband, had a care or kind word for her.

It had been a hard slog for everyone. My grandfather found himself in the role of nursemaid and caretaker to his wife, directed by the family doctor. The doctor's nurse saw to the actually activities in the “sick room” that they connubial bedroom had become. Meanwhile, between boiling water, finding clean towels and linens, trying to provide meals for all and sundry, the good doctor and my grandfather sat on the side porch, smoking cigars (it wasn't until my grandfather's heart precluded his evening walk that he was allowed to smoke in the home). The nurse could holler out the upstairs bedroom window at them if something was needed quickly.

Thus it went, for thirty-six hours, according to the tales I was told. Sweat dripping, shirt sleeves rolled up and collars hanging limply, trying to help bring this baby into the world. Writhing in pain, a knotted sheet clenched between her teeth to stifle her screens from being heard farther than the immediate neighborhood, my grandmother sweated buckets while cursing my grandfather's mere existence. Finally, somehow, the Doctor and his nurse managed to wrestle that infant from his mother's birth canal, forcing the birth of my father.

A portentous event. Particularly for my grandfather. Why, you ask?

Because, my grandmother did make good on at least one curse uttered during the heat of the battle. She never again had sex, for fear she'd have to have another baby...

Happy Birthday, Dad. No wonder your father resented you all the rest of his life.

MEME: Unconcious Mutterings -- Week 229

I say ... and you think ... ?

  1. Compulsion :: attraction

  2. Spiritual :: nonsense

  3. Spray :: needle

  4. Compatibility ::

  5. Pursuit :: high speed

  6. Fake :: forgery

  7. Mobile :: phone

  8. Ceremony :: graduation

  9. Ribbons :: bows

  10. Mozart :: concertos

Clean words lists and a place to leave a link to your answers available at La Luna Niña's web site.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

MEME: Saturday Six - Episode 167

Patrick has this to say, “This week, the City of Charleston, South Carolina, lost nine firefighters in a massive blaze at a furniture store. This week’s questions are all related to firefighting and emergency personnel.”

“I hope it is clear that I’m not trying to make light of the situation in any way; and I hope it is even more obvious that anyone who would make light of a tragedy like this should be drawn and quartered at the first opportunity.”

“I’m hoping to make people take a few moments to think about their local first responders, who seem to be so easily ignored and under-appreciated in the communities they serve.”

“But first, it was Betty of “Alphabet Soup Memes” who was first to play last week’s edition. Congratulations, Betty.”

Here are this week’s questions. Either answer them in a comment here or answer them at your own blog and leave a comment here with a link to your answers. To be considered “First to Play,” you must be the first person to leave a comment with either your answers or the link to the specific post in which you answer them at your blog.

1. How far from your home is your nearest fire station?
About 2.2 miles.
2. Have you ever made a call to your local 911 service? If so, how long did it take for emergency personnel -- whatever type you needed -- to arrive?
Yes, it took about 12 and a half minutes & seemed like forever.
3. If you had to choose one of the following, which emergency employee would you want to be: police officer, dispatcher, paramedic, firefighter; and why would you choose that one?
I've been all but a police officer.
4. Take the quiz: What firefighter tool are you?
Without the quiz, I'm a Halligan Tool. After the quiz:

What Firefighter tool are you

New York Roof Hook
you like overhaul, checking for extensions, taking out ceilings and walls

Take The Quiz Now!

Quizzes by

5. When you were little, did you ever dream of being a first responder?
No, that only occurred to me when I got to be a very big boy.
6. What is your favorite first-responder-related movie or television show; and how realistically do you think it depicts what they really go through?
I don't have one. Although, there was a documentary on Discovery Channel about the Boston FD that was real enough.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

John M. Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #171: Unusual Tech

What am I doing in that picture above? Well, setting up this week's Weekend Assignment, that's what!

Weekend Assignment #171: Talk about the most unusual piece of technology or machinery that you've ever used. It could be some specialized machine or tech you use for work, or perhaps some off-brand curiosity you found at an electronics store, or even (if you're technologically inclined) something you've created yourself. The key is that it's got to be something that makes people go "Huh. That's weird."

Extra Credit: Mp3/music player or cell phone: Which would you give up first?

Dear John,

Well, I hope your foray once again into the land of the Road Warrior allows for a safe and speedy return, despite the cumulo-nimbus activity I see on the radar. Also, I'm curious as to what you think Krissy and Athena have been up to since your departure. The sudden appearance of the three white vans with the dishes on the roof that set up beside the garage mere minutes after you pulled out of the drive makes me think Krissy has either tagged you with a GPS tracking bug or she's working covertly for the NSA when you're off gallivanting on your KGB rounds...

This is a challenging question on several levels. I've lived long enough now that many devices commonly accepted and used by your average Gen XYZed weren't even a blip on the radar screen when I was a youngster. Indeed, watching the noon news story regarding the difficulty the current NASA shuttle mission has been having on its mission to the International Space Station is just the tip of the technological iceberg. When I was Athena's age, we hadn't even sent a satellite into orbit yet! The only folks with a mobile phone worked for the Federal government or a handful of large corporations contracted thereto. And they were B I G, often occupying more space in the trunk than the spare tire and jack did in those black Lincolns and Cadillacs of yesteryear.

That which started the miniaturization of technological products, the transistor, hadn't come into general use yet. That had to wait for the 1960's and the introduction of the first mass-market affordable “portable” transistor radios. There had been “portable radios” in the past decades, but they employed vacuum tubes and wet cell batteries weighing twenty or thirty pounds. Until manufacturing of transistors on an economical scale became possible, such devices as computing machines, transistorized radio transmitters and receivers, medical devices, semiconductors of all types were merely the stuff of dreams. Indeed, modern communications truly didn't flourish until the advent of semiconductor technology. Oh, there were telephones and televisions, but the first phone I was consciously aware of was on a four-party line, weighed about fifteen pounds and put serious bruises on one when pulled off the telephone table in the hall.

Anyway, that bit of history merely leads us to the answer for this Weekend Assignment. The most complex-seeming piece of technology I was confronted with for the first time in 1968 was a standard radio mixing board that looked a bit like this:

production studio

The original Caroline studio, now used for commercial production.

The vintage Gates mixing desk is now largely for show.

Most of the actual production work is done

on the computer on the left of the picture.

Source: The Pirate Radio Hall of Fame.

Fortunately, all known photographs of me from that period have been utterly destroyed, so there'll be no sharing of the actual, older and far uglier mixing board I started out on. Still, it was a daunting first meeting. And my six month or so apprenticeship, as I lived and breathed radio, perhaps sleeping as much as four hours in twenty-four but more often surviving on two or three hours stolen in twenty-minute intervals, was one of the most intense experiences of my life. With not a small amount of hubris and pride, I became a master at that board in record time, assuming responsibilities for producing my own commercials and PSA's in next to no time. That led to on-air work, news reporting, working as a stringer for a national news organization and eventual employment as a news anchor with a local commercial station.

The only thing that rivals that for techno-titillation in my life was operating the master switchboard on ships. Although, in terms of weird technology, reverse-osmotic seawater purifiers take the cake for my personal level of weirdness. It took me quite a while to wrap my brain around the actual technology doing all of the heavy lifting in that thing.

Anyway, there you have my brush with techno-weirdness. As to whether it'd be a cellphone or the MP3 player getting the heave-ho first, no question but what I'd sacrifice and trash the cell phone. I just loves me peeps, I do. But I love music much, more mucho.

Safe landings,


evil attack squirrel of death!

Demonic Squirrel Motorcycle Riding Story: "I never dreamed slowly cruising through a residential neighborhood could be so incredibly dangerous!"

Via Making Light: The Sciuridae Strike Back

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

MEME: Wednesday Mind Hump – Tardy Excuse

RFDuck took a moment from his travails to mutter, “Hello again! Let's do another Wednesday Mind Hump. I really like Thursday's theme, Less Is More Day. Get ready to hump!”

“It will be up to you to interpret what to do with each of the above words.” (Down below, now)

1. Who? My wife.
2. What? An upper gastro-intestinal & esophageal x-ray series with contrast
3. Where? Eastern Maine Medical Center at 9 freaking AM in the morning (that is like showing up at 3AM for you day workers, folks).
4. Song: “I Wanna Go Home...”
5. Food: Arby's Cherry Turnovers
6. Animal: Cleaned the cat box when I got home.

Have a Happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Tuesday's Tickler: Jet-Propelled Outhouse

Some folks like to take their time on the can. Not Paul Stender. When the 43-year-old former pit mechanic feels the need for speed, he straps himself into his jet-engine-equipped toilet and roars off, trailing flame.

See the rest of the Popular Science story here: The Speeding Outhouse

Monday, June 18, 2007

MEME: Sunday Seven - Episode 94

MEME: Sunday Seven - Episode 94

Is summer rerun season already getting to you? New seasons of most shows won’t begin until September. But there are some summer series already on the air. Which shows are you ready to see new episodes of? Here’s your chance to have your say!

But first, De of "De’s Thoughts" was first to play last week’s question. Congratulations!

On to this week's question!

Name seven television shows you’re ready to see new episodes of.

Better late than never, here's my choices:

  1. House (Fox)

  2. Bones (Fox)

  3. The Closer (tonight!) (TNT)

  4. NCIS (CBS)

  5. The Shield (FX)

  6. CSI (CBS)

  7. Blood Ties (Lifetime)

MEME: Monday Madness – Summer's Heat

Since it's summer here in North America, the following questions are all about this season. Have fun and thank you all for playing! =)

1. In your opinion, what is the perfect summer daytime temperature? Same as the perfect anytime temperature, 72° Fahrenheit for a high.
2. What is the perfect nighttime temperature? 50°F. for a nighttime low-- good sleeping weather.
3. Do you plant many flowers around your yard? No. Messing about with gardens was never a favored activity – seasonal allergies make me miserable enough as it is without inviting more of the same. I like flowers so long as someone else plants and tends to them.
4. How much lawn do you have to mow? Do you enjoy mowing lawn? Way too much. Same issues as above, so it's all grown over – I used to end up sick for three days after mowing the lawn. Now, I'd probably end up in the ICU. So no lawns here. Neighbors hate it. But with no outside income, hiring it done by a professional landscaping contractor is out of the question. No neighborhood kids beating down the door, either...
5. Of the summer months, which is your favorite? August.
6. Do you take a long vacation each summer? No. Vacation is out of the question – no money, no play.
7. Is summer your favorite season? If so, why? If not, why not?
Nope, Autumn is actually my favorite season. No more bugs, cool enough to wear a shirt or jacket, overnight snow melts in the morning sun light. Dry weather is wonderful on the lungs, even the rainy weather is tolerable if you can curl up next to a woodstove with a good book.

MEME: Monday Music Mambo – Splurgetastic!

RFDuck, mememeister, finds himself in full-blown summer mode, saying, “Hello again! The mambo continues. This week's theme is National Splurge Day.”

If you were given an unlimited budget for one day, what music-related things would you splurge on? You could buy CDs (or ultra-rare LPs), concert tickets, memorabilia - anything related to music.”

Sure, I'd like to dream about getting all the CD's, LP's, etc, I've ever lusted after. Except, I'm coming into divestiture mode, ie. getting rid of excess in anticipation of the end times. Still, there is some music I'd like to get to plug into a big MP3 player. And I secretly wish for a couple of decent guitars, six and 12-string acoustics and an electric guitar and bass with amps (not priceless, just a nice quality with good tone and action). Just because I'd like to learn how to play well enough to amuse myself and others. Oh, and some different, inexpensive flutes and whistles, some drums, a chanter, bagpipes, someone to re-work my father's old violin and bow, and enough time to get good enough to not send people running in the opposite direction the first time I stroke the bow over the strings...

We'll do another question because yesterday was Violin Day.

What is your favorite style of music, or band/artist, that uses the violin/fiddle?

This is actually tough for me. I am very fond of both classical music as well as Cajun and Bluegrass styles of fiddling. Push come to ultimate shove, it'd be classical music – I can listen to that longer than I can anything else.

If you want to play along, click the title above to get a clean copy of the questions and to leave a link to your answers in the comments.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sunday's Song: Paul Potts

Paul who? We saw (and heard) little Connie on Thursday. It brought tears to me eyes, 'tis true. Get out the tissues again, because this man will set the waterworks to flowing even faster...

A tip of the fedora to a neighbor to the North,Chickie Carmarthen of Blissful Bedlam, where I saw it first.

The North American Accent Meme

Blame Patrick...

What American accent do you have? (Best version so far)


("Midland" is not necessarily the same thing as "Midwest") The default, lowest-common-denominator American accent that newscasters try to imitate. Since it's a neutral accent, just because you have a Midland accent doesn't mean you're from the Midland.

Personality Test Results

Click Here to Take This Quiz
Brought to you by quizzes and personality tests.

Then again, seven years in broadcasting cost me my native accent...

MEME: Unconcious Mutterings -- Week 228

I say ... and you think ... ?
  1. Riding :: horses

  2. Actress :: Kate Hudson

  3. Flowers :: Jonquils

  4. Making :: whoopee

  5. Robot :: Issac Asimov

  6. Enjoy :: privileges

  7. Identify :: discover

  8. 22 :: caliber

  9. Busy :: slow

  10. Forward :: advance

To play along, visit that crazy chica, La Luna Niña for your copy of the current word list.

An Ugly Truth ABout Men

Via BlogDog of Pugs of War who brought this to our attention here.

MEME: Saturday Six - Episode 166

Patrick opines, "It’s time to lighten up! The topic this week is stress, so take a deep breath before answering these questions. That is, if you want to...the last thing I want to do is stress you out about getting relaxed!

But before the questions, Jude of "My Way" was first to play last week. Congratulations!

Here are this week's "Saturday Six" questions. Either answer the questions in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your journal...but either way, leave a link to your journal so that everyone else can visit! To be counted as "first to play," you must be the first player to either answer the questions in a comment or to provide a complete link to the specific entry in your journal in which you answer the questions. A link to your journal in general cannot count. Enjoy!"

1. Have you ever talked to your doctor about stress levels in your life?
Yes, but not recently.
2. How likely are you to “let go” of something that stresses you out?
These days, quite likely. Not so in the past – part of what got me to where I'm at today.
3. Does your family or your work cause the most stress in your life? Do you think your family members or co-workers realize how much stress they generate?
Nowadays, it's the result of inner stress – just me, myself and I to blame. Back when the work was the stressor, I'm sure some knew, none cared.
4. Take the quiz: Will You Live to 100?
Without taking the quiz, no bloody way!

OK, I'll take the freaking quiz.

Chance You'll Live to 100: 34%

Okay, so living until you're 100 is a long shot...
But who knows how good medicine will get in the future. Take a little better care of your body, and you'll might actually see the triple digits.

Will You Live to 100?

5. When you think that you are at the breaking point, are you more likely to have an angry blow-up, a self-contained meltdown, or something in between? When was the last time you had such a moment?
I will blow up these days, instead of keeping it all bottled up. Harder on those around me, much healthier for my heart and head.
6. When you’re stressed out, what is the first clue someone who knows you well is likely to pick up on?

I go into "Rabbit Hunting Mode" -- I become "vewy, vewy quiet!"

You, too, can participate by clicking the banner up top and answering the questions there or in your own blog.

Friday, June 15, 2007

How To Say Bangor

Here's a cute little video I stumbled upon while searching for something else on YouTube on how to say the name of my town...

John M. Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #170 -- Kitchen Tips

Weekend Assignment #170: Share a useful tip for the kitchen. It can be about anything from cooking to cleaning, as long as it involves something in the kitchen (which, for the purposes of this assignment, includes the pantry and the table you eat at).

Extra credit: You're ten and allowed to cook a meal. What do you cook?

Dear John,

Weather here has been off and on this week. High of 89° and muggy with thunderstorms one day and a low of 36° after a startlingly clear night that was just made for lying out on a hillside in a snug sleeping bag counting stars. Except for the visitor...

We've got a bear in the neighborhood. Two nights in a row. Tuesday night / Wednesday morning I was aroused from my trance in front of the boob tube by an awful clatter and the sound of tires squealing. Took off running to check it out, flipped on the big outside floods (1.2KW) and opened the door to hear thrashing and crashing as something made it's way across the blackberry patch crushing canes as it went. There was a car stopped out on the road beyond the trees. But, without a sidearm, I wasn't going out there in the dark. Slowly, the car made its way down the hill and stopped at the edge of the drive. The window rolled down and someone said something that sounded like “trash bag, road, Bear.” From such cryptic words I was able to deduce that said bruin, most likely a recently evicted yearling, was attempting to haul a trash bag down the road when said car crested the hill at umpity-ump miles per hour, as is the wont of late night denizens behind the wheel in these parts, only to discover a largish brown-black mass waving a black plastic bag around, mindless of its appointment with a cold metal death only nanoseconds away. Not sure who was scared more. Driver yielded, bear fled, trash bag left in the road (which is why it is illegal to put trash out the night before, by the way).

Anyway, my kitchen tip is about preparing bear steaks. They tend to be, well, gamy. And tough. Particularly if the hunter isn't skilled at field dressing, skinning or how he transports the carcass. Or how long and under what conditions he hangs the meat. Bear fat is similar in texture to human fat and turns rancid just as fast, despite refrigeration (or freezing!) so all steaks must be trimmed of as much fat as possible. Then there's the whole issue of wild omnivores and parasites. Again, like humans and pigs, trichinosis and other diseases are a possibility, due to encysted parasites.

So here is a quick way to deal with the whole plethora of issues – get yourself a 2 liter of Mountain Dew (the heavy duty, full of sugar and caffeine variety, not “diet”), say a little prayer to the Ursus Gods and smother those steaks in onions and Mountain Dew – completely cover the meat with the soda. Cover on the counter for at least an hour, two is preferable (oh, refrigerate if you must, weakling, but two hours is the maximum marinade time as there will be no further improvement in flavor beyond that point) and then remove each slab and rinse off the Dew and any cysts that have disgorged their wormy contents off the steaks, dry, rub down with a half a clove of garlic on both sides and then coat with black pepper and Spanish paprika. Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium high heat (if using open flame, rub the oil on the steaks with the pepper and paprika). Brown both sides, about 2 minutes a side. Pour in a cup of Guinness stout and partially cover, allowing the liquid to braise the meat until tender, about ten minutes. The liquid should be reduced by at least half. Remove the steaks to a platter and cover. We want them to finish cooking from internal heat. All bear meat must be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Add a mix of butter and flour sufficient to take up the braising liquid and make a gravy. Serve with baked potatoes and fresh, steamed broccoli spears and even the distaff side of the family will have no complaints. The Mountain Dew has not only fulminated all encysted critters from the tissue, it's a great marinade, producing a sweet tang in the meat that plays off the Guinness gravy as if made solely for that purpose (when we all know it was invented to keep coders awake for 36 hours at a stretch). Bon appetit!

By the way, I learned all of that from my mother and father when I was a mere slip of a boy. I might have been ten. They used Rolling Rock lager, as that what was on hand (my mother used it instead of “Calgon, Take Me Away” when bathing, She liked the first few icy cold sips. The rest she used as a hair treatment, like a cream rinse without the cream...). I prefer the Guinness as it has more body and flavor.

My favorite dish to prepare at the age of ten was open-faced bacon, tomato and cheese sandwiches, prepared under the broiler. Quick, easy and satisfying. Yum!

Glad to hear you all survived the Zombification of America the other day. Give my best to Krissy and Athena. Take care of yourself, too. You're looking a little green around the gills. Oh, I see. It's just the Creation Museum thing that has you dyspeptic.



P.S. The Mountain Dew works to marinade any kind of red meat. Thicken with garlic, chiles, and molasses and you have Dew Jerk Sauce for the BBQ. It's the concentrated OJ that does it. And it really does force the rapid evacuation of parasites from meat... tell Athena it's fun to watch them come up out of the meat. Look for little streams of bubbles, much like looking for clams at the beach...

MEME: Friday Fill-in, #25


Janet looked up from the viewfinder of her camera to remark, “This week, I have a theme...bloggers! These fill-ins are all about bloggers I read, so I'll include links in the extended entry. In the meantime, feel free to fill in the blanks with whatever comes to mind, about whoever comes to mind!”

1. She loves _coffee_, the darker the better!
2. He loves all types of _chocolate_.
3. This blogger misses _Pam Hilger (his1desire) of Just One Girl's Head Noise_.
4. Unfortunately, she's _mouldering in her grave_ lately!
5. _Calamari_ is not her strong suit; in fact I do believe _she finds all fish to be_ ho hum.
6. Her _perfume_ fascinates me; I love that _it_ smells (and tastes) of _vanilla_!
7. What are you doing this weekend? Tonight I'm looking forward to _a movie_, tomorrow my plans include _working at camp_ and Sunday, I want to _watch the race_!

If you want to play along, just click the linked title to this entry to get a clean copy of the questions and to leave a link to your answers in the comments. You'll be so glad you did that your acne will clear up!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happy Flag Day

It almost slipped by me. Today is Flag Day in the USA. Click the flag draped coffin to hear a 1918 version of this George M. Cohan hit.

You're A Grand Old Flag

You're a grand old flag,
You're a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You're the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev'ry heart beats true
'neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there's never a boast or brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

You're a grand old flag,
You're a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You're the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave.
Ev'ry heart beats true
'neath the Red, White and Blue,
Where there's never a boast or brag.
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

It Brought Tears To My Eyes

This young lady has it all ... looks, talent, personality, sings like an angel, cute as a button. Well, you get the idea...

Via an email from MustangBob -- Thanks Bob!

Last Chance...

to send your donation in to make John Scalzi visit the new Creationism Museum in Ohio. The deadline is 11:59pm FRIDAY, June 15, 2007.


MEME: Wednesday Mind Hump – KK, OK!

RFDuck took a moment from his busy schedule to say, “Greetings, humpers! Today is Kitchen Klutzes Of America Day. That means we'll be talking about all the things that can go wrong in the good ol' kitchen.”

1. Have you ever cut or burned yourself while cooking?
Oh yeah, and I have the minor scars to prove it. Worst one occurred while slicing a tomato with a new knife while camping in the Tetons. Sliced myself to the bone on the side of the first joint of my left thumb. Staunching the blood with a pressure bandage was only partially working. I ended up driving the 25 miles to the Jackson Hole hospital with my hand out the window, dripping the blood. Took three stitches ... and three quarters at the car wash to get everything cleaned up!
2. Have you ever put in a wrong ingredient in a dish (sugar instead of salt, for example)?
Yes. Usually salvageable but not always. These days mostly a case of too much of something as I taste things like white crystalline substances before pouring them in.
3. Have you ever dropped, or otherwise ruined, a dish just before serving it? Bonus points if you had a large number of people waiting to eat it.
Just last week, in fact. Had a lovely tuna salad on a bed of lettuce for lunch slip right out of my hand and onto the floor. The dog and cats were ecstatic...
4. In case you aren't a cook - Have you ever had a restaurant make a klutzy move that affected your meal? Tell us about it!
I once had a bit of a fumbling problem. It was a Saturday night, things were hopping and I seem to have lost all motor coordination. I plated this 16 ounce Sirloin along with the steamed whole Maine lobster and swung around with it to put the platter under the heat lamps. My bosses were walking by the counter at the time. He received the steak on the front of his starched tux shirt; she got the lobster in her cleavage and the melted butter in her hair. I got fired. The customer had to wait for the owner to change out of his tux so he could take over my station. I still laugh about it whenever I see a short, busty woman with a long dress and décolletage...

Thursday's Song -- O Ri by SKILDA

Another Skilda tune via YouTube for your edification:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A thought for today...

"Being bitter only pickles the one that stews in the brine."
George Takei, Star Trek, Heroes

From "50 Things You Need To Know By 50" on the AARP On-Line web site. With thanks to John Scalzi at By The Way for the link.

Monday, June 11, 2007 - Rare 1 in 50 million 2-toned lobster caught off the coast of Newport - Rare 1 in 50 million 2-toned lobster caught off the coast of Newport: "Rare 1 in 50 million 2-toned lobster caught off the coast of Newport

Lobsterman Jim Mataronas IV woke up Monday morning hoping for a lucky day on the water, but all the luck materialized in a single lobster. Jim described the day's catch off Newport, R.I., as average, save for one lobster so unique the chances of his catching it were one in 50 million.

'I pulled it out and thought someone was playing a joke on us. It looked like someone took a ruler right down it,' the Little Compton resident said. 'It looks half-cooked.' Mataronas, the son of veteran lobster trapper Jim Mataronas III of the family-owned Sakonnet Lobster Co., said the closest thing he had seen to something this rare was the popular blue lobster, a less-rare occurance but still nothing to take lightly. The chances of catching a blue lobster are still one in two million."

MEME: Monday Music Mambo -- Desert Island Edition

RFDuck, intrepid musical mememeister, shook his groggy head and was heard to mutter on his way to bed, "Welcome to another mambo! Today is King Kamehameha Day, and I don't know a thing about Hawaiian music! I suppose we could tweak the theme a bit and talk about tropical-sounding music."

1. What is your favorite reggae or ska song?
I really haven't got one. Reggae isn't a genre I listen to unless it happens to come on the radio when I am listening to WERU or Radio Paradise. Otherwise, I never listen to it. I haven't a clue as to what “ska” is. Although, I do get a kick out of Vegemite Reggae's version of Stairway To Heaven off their album Stairways To Heaven / Stairways To Hell.
2. What music puts you in the mood for a tropical getaway vacation?
Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville does it every time.
3. If you were on a cruise, what musicians would you want to be the entertainment onboard?
Lyle Lovett and his Big Band, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett, Billy Joel and Leonard Cohen. Not asking for too much, am I? I'd want to dance and when I'm tired of dancing, I want to listen to an intelligent singer-songwriter.
4. You're stuck on a deserted tropical island. Assuming you have a way to play music, what five albums do you want to have with you? MP3 players do NOT count!
Let's see. First, something easy on the ears. Chopin, I think, his Etudes, or maybe Mozart's Requiem, Ludwig Von Beethovan's Ode to Joy or perhaps his sixth symphony. One or two of those. The Pentangle eponymous double disk album. It's A Beautiful Day would be one and the Beatles remix/reissue Love would be another. There, I think that's make five albums (LP's at that) from my collection of vinyl.

I'm looking forward to hear about your choices. Just swing by the link in this entry's title and snag a clean copy of the questions and go to town!

MEME: Monday Madness - Car Craziness

Taking another sip of her cafe au lait, Mistress Otto took a moment to exclaim, “Good Morning! Here are this week's questions. Have fun and have a great week!” =)

1. Do you listen to the radio, or a CD, when you're driving in your car/truck/SUV? Both, actually. Not at the same time, of course. Depending on the vehicle, we even listen to cassette tapes.
2. Do you have one of those GPS systems in your vehicle? We have a handheld unit that we can take with us.
3. About how many miles do you put on your vehicle in a month? About 1500.
4. Do you have your oil changed regularly? Not nearly as often as I should. Now that you can't treat your dirt in the driveway with the oil, disposal is a problem.
5. Do you take your vehicle to a car wash or do you wash it at home? Car Wash, baby!
6. How often do you have the inside of your vehicle cleaned? Do you do it yourself or do you pay someone to do it? Not very often and then I do it. Reluctantly.
7. What is the color of your vehicle?
One is Midnight Blue, another is Champagne and then the other is Silver.

You can play along, too, by clicking on the title link above...

MEME: Sunday Seven - Episode 93

Patrick stuffed another Tums in his gullet and said, “I spent the weekend with my parents and we ended up going to a Chinese restaurant for dinner today. I actually behaved myself as far as the diet was concerned, and tried to eat as many vegetables as I could instead of fried meats. (There were still some fried foods, of course: I’m not that strong, you know!) But that got me thinking about this week’s question.”

“But first, Otowi of "Otowi" was first to play last week’s questions about fears. Congratulations!”

“On to this week's question!”

Name seven favorite items on a Chinese buffet.

I haven't been to a Chinese buffet in quite a while, but these are some of my favorites:

  1. Hot & Sour Soup

  2. Crab Rangoon

  3. Squid in Black Bean Sauce

  4. Pork Spice Dumplings

  5. Glazed Duck in Hoi Sin Sauce

  6. Shrimp Egg Foo Yong

  7. Shrimp in Lobster Sauce

I you want to play along, click the banner above to get yourself a clean copy of the question and to leave a link to your answer. Be sure to read all the rules there about what qualifies as “first” if you are interested in that aspect of things.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

MEME: Unconcious Mutterings -- Week 227

I say ... and you think ... ?

  1. Acoustic :: guitar

  2. Sanity :: sorely lacking

  3. Mambo :: Monday Music ...

  4. Session :: Plenary

  5. Hound :: Fox

  6. Cat :: Dog

  7. Coward :: sniveling

  8. Trunk :: boot

  9. Hold me :: comfort

  10. Psychological :: needs

If you'd like to play along, you'll find a clean list of the words and a spot to leave a link to your answers in the comments here.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

MEME: Saturday Six - Episode 165

It’s official: summer hasn’t started, yet, and I’m already ready for fall and the accompanying cooler temperatures. It’s 96º outside, so I’m happy to be indoors with air conditioning to ask another set of questions.

But first, a quick tip of the hat to Jaibhagwan of "Life is a Force of Nature," who was first to play last week. Congratulations!

Here are this week's "Saturday Six" questions. Either answer the questions in a comment here, or put the answers in an entry on your journal...but either way, leave a link to your journal so that everyone else can visit! To be counted as "first to play," you must be the first player to either answer the questions in a comment or to provide a complete link to the specific entry in your journal in which you answer the questions. A link to your journal in general cannot count. Enjoy!

1. What do you consider more important to your long-term happiness: your relationships, your location, your career or your dreams? Actually, none of the above. I consider my health most important, coupled with continued viability of mind. All else springs from that. Truly.

2. Other than a significant other, how many people do you feel you can truly turn to for advice?
3. Of the people you think know you best, how surprised would you think they would be if they knew “everything” there is to know about you?
4. Take the quiz: Are you living the wrong life?
Stupid quiz alert.

Your Life is 30% Off Track

In general, your life is going very well. You're quite happy with where you are and what you're doing. And even if you get a bit off course, you're usually able to get back on track easily.

Are You Living The Wrong Life?

5. What is the longest you’ve stayed in a job you weren’t happy in?
Four years.
6. What single factor made you stay the most?

If you'd like to play along, click the banner up above for a clean copy of the questions. Leave a link to your answers in the comments there.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday Fill-in, #24


Janet took a moment from her very busy life contemplating her toe nails to say, “Since it's my birthday month June, and I'm heading to Vegas in a couple weeks, we're going to have another theme--what happens in Vegas STAYS in Vegas. Bear that in mind while filling in the blanks this week, and if YOU'RE not going to Vegas...well, pretend you are!”

1. The first thing I'll do when I get to Vegas will involve _a single malt scotch, a cigar and a deck of cards_.
2. The LAST thing I'll do when I leave Vegas will be _to check that I haven't got toilet paper stuck to my heel_.
3. _Being with my wife_ is the thing I'm most looking forward to in Vegas. (Saying anything else would just land me in hot water).
4. Although it will be hot in June in Vegas _the action along the strip_will be even hotter!
5. The reason I chose Vegas was/is _relative anonymity_.
6. _LL Bean's_ just sent me a check!
7. Finally some time off from work! Tonight I'm looking forward to _hurried packing and driving to the airport_, tomorrow my plans include a massage and a bit of sun by the pool and Sunday, I want to _make a bunch of money at the roulette table_!

Have a great weekend!

If you'd like to play along, give Janet a visit at Fond of Snape for a clean copy of the questions and to leave a link to your answers in the comments there. You'll be so glad you did that you'll bite your big toe nail to the quick!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

My Latest Musical Influence: Skilda

This band, Skilda has got my motor running and my heart a-racing. It's a Power-Celt Rock group with a bit of a Techno past. Definitely not your run of the mill export from Ireland. This video of their tune FREEDOM, FUTURE is a montage of a performance in Mallaig, Scotland.

Here, now, is Skilda:

Wednesday Mind Hump – MAG-nificent!

Rfduck took a minute to focus beyond the edge of his beak to squawk, “Hello everyone! Welcome to another Hump. I just finished reading from a magazine, so today's meme will be about magazines.”

1. Do you currently subscribe to any magazines? If so, which ones?
Yes, I take two and She Who Must Be Obeyed takes two. In my case, they're recreation-specific. Sea-Kayaking and Model Railroading. My wife likes the Lighthouse Digest and Downeast.
2. What magazines have you subscribed to in the past?
How far back? Time, Life, Look, Boy's Life,Road & Track, Motortrend, Off-Lead, Dog World, German Shepherd Quarterly, Cruising World, Pickup, Van & Four-Wheel Drive, Computer Shopper, PC Magazine, Windows Magazine, SysAdmin, BOCA, more codes and zoning crap than I care to recall, etc...
3. What do you do with the little cards that always fall out of the magazine? Do you toss them, or have you found a use for them?
Toss them, often before reading the magazine or they end up all over the floor.
4. If you could start a magazine, what would it be about? Who or what would be on the cover of the first issue?

A bad business to be in today, magazine publishing. I wouldn't start one, if I could help it. They suck the life right out of you. Running one is an eighty or ninety hour per week job for which you'll see less compensation than if you opted to manage a couple of restaurants for Ray Kroc,

If I HAD to start a magazine, it'd be a “Men's Magazine” called Do It! geared to the 16 to 22 year old male. Right. Sex, drugs, rock and roll, cars and cash. Beyoncé and whomever is the current wet dream equivalent of Britney Spears in a lip lock at the Music Awards, cleavage and camel toes in silver lamé would grace the cover. High-class trash.

Don't look at me like that. It's what sells. I told you I didn't want to...

So you want to play along? Visit Rfduck, the mememeister, at Blogdrive Insanity. Take some cracked corn, Jimminey...

"Fritz the Cat" image is copyright it's owner -- I found the image on some porn site and thought it'd illustrate the whole Do It! Magazine concept to a "T".

Monday, June 04, 2007

Old Farts, Unite!

Chuck Ferris, an AOL Journals blogger I faithfully read, had an interesting entry on "Senior Semantics" betwixt residents and staff in the “old folks home” (his words) he resides at. This all stemming from issues over the placement of personal property too high on shelves to be reached by the wheelchair bound. An interesting observation, to say the least.

Somewhat the opposite, I've had a running battle with the manager of the local super market (no sense naming names, he knows who he is) over the placement of low sodium V-8 juice. I have pointed out to him on several occasions that those of us with bad hearts or recently out of cardiac surgery for bypass and placed on low sodium diets are not likely to get down on our hands and knees to reach the desired bottle when it is placed on the bottom shelf (where he has insisted on having it placed despite repeated, polite requests to have it shelved just a shelf or two higher). I finally had to resort to writing the Chairman of the Board of Directors (it's a publicly traded company) concerning this matter. While it may have helped that I knew his wife had just left hospital after a quadruple bypass, the message seems to have come down, in no uncertain terms, to raise the product higher on the shelf.

Chalk one up for us old farts!