Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sadness Today

In addition to learning of the passing of my colleague, I learned that my aunt has relapsed with leukemia. My aunt is 83 (or 84) and the last living of my mom's siblings. She battled this disease last year and went into remission and had been doing pretty well up until very recently.

Aunt "Babydoll" lives up in Rochester. She used to come visit at least once a year and I think I wrote this on the blog at some point over the years - her youngest son Michael, we once peed his pants, literally (there was a puddle on my Aunt Ann's floor) during the super scariest scene in Rosemary's Baby when you see the baby devil's eyes.

One of Aunt Babydoll's things, not unlike my mom, was to tease her hair up, way up. Oh, those old timers!

I hope she gets well! Please think good thoughts for her.

R.I.P. Bob

Bob Hennis was an adjunct at the school where I work for about 25 years. I've know Bob for the entire time I've worked here and he was one of the good ones, a really nice guy that always stopped to say hi, have some conversation and ask about the family.

About a year and a half ago (roughly, I am bad with pinpointing time), Bob had spent about a year out sick, quite sick. As I recall, he had a heart valve replaced then during recovery, battled a bad case of cellulitis. But, when he came back, he looked terrific and had beaten all of it.

I last saw Bob last Thursday and he was his usual self. I didn't notice that I didn't see him on Tuesday because I have been running around a lot and he was only here or a few hours on Tuesday and Thursday this semester. A student inquired about him today mentioning that he didn't show up for class today or Tuesday and even the student recognized how unlike Bob this was.

One of the administrative assistants from this campus called the department office, who then called his home when she was informed of his passing.

Bob was a very friendly man and he will be missed here at MassBay, rest in peace!

Congratulations Red Sox

Words that it kills a N.Y. Yankees fan to say, Congratulations to the World Champion Boston Red Sox. For me though, I've talked a lot about how sportsmanship is sorely missing from professional sports and if I am going to walk the walk, I must give credit where credit is due.

Last night, the Red Sox won the World Series for the third time in a decade, cementing that if there ever was a curse, that it surely no longer exists. I also have to give props to Big Papi, David Ortiz. I've never denied that there are very few hitters that have the kind of presence at the plate that Ortiz does and I wrote him off a couple of years ago. In this series, he not only was the obvious choice for MVP, he dominated at the plate and showed a sense of team spirit and leadership that's rare in professional sports today and despite he is the kingpin of the arch rival Boston Red Sox, he deserves every accolade for his performance in this series.

As I've mentioned in other social media outlets, living in Red Sox nation for the last 16+ years, I have made many friends who are Sox fans and I know this win brought all of them great pleasure. If you know me at all, you know that it means something to me that my friends are happy so to all of you who read this, and were brought some measure of joy by the Red Sox victory - I am truly happy for you and you should enjoy and savor the thrill of it all.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Popping By

On Sunday, I posted a recipe called "Chocolate Chip Cookie Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Brownies", the reviews are in...

"Are you kidding me!!! That brownie just ruined all future brownies. PLEASE tell me that you tried one? That was so good. You could start a business. That was ridiculous deliciousness!!!! I could eat a pan of those."

"Delicious!,I brought it home and shared it with my wife...we both loved it"

"That was GOOD man! I ate it on the way home, we should start a business and sell them here."

Those were from a few folks at work I shared them with, my daughter brought some to school to share with her friends and they all loved them too.

what's the reason I tell you all of this? Simple, to encourage you to make them as well.
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Some bitch in North Dakota decided she's going to put a "fat" note in trick-or-treaters bags. you can find this on the Internet, FB and everywhere else. Who the fuck do some people think they are? If someone put a fat letter in my kids trick-or-treat bag I would personal toilet paper their house.
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I guess there's some controversy over comments made my Pete Townsend and disputed by Roger Daltrey about whether or not The Who will retire after their next tour. I say, the Who hasn't meant anything in a quarter of a century and the longer the 2 surviving members tour and call themselves The Who, the less important their body of work becomes - and that is a shame.
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I never got the see the documentary "Springsteen and I" but have it on my Blu-Ray wish list.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Rant on the Sports fans in this Town

Normally, if "my team" isn't in the post season, I just don't give a crap. In baseball, it didn't even bother me that the Red Sox won a couple of World Series over the last decade, despite the larger percentage of the fans of that team act in a classless way - instead of savoring in their victory, choose to utter such infantile nonsense as "the Yankees suck", etc.

I have a lot, I mean a lot of friends who are Red Sox fans. And I can tell you that there are good people that are Red Sox fans, I know this for fact. Sadly, in my experience, it's not the larger population of Red Sox, and Boston sports fans in general.

I've seen Red Sox fans at Yankee stadium be incredibly disrespectful and classless, I've seen Red Sox fans literally beat up Yankee fans at Fenway whose ONLY crime was wearing a Yankee shirt and cap (not yelling bullshit); this is unacceptable behavior.

I've seen riots, where "excited" Boston sports fans set fires in the streets, turned over cars and buses and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage as a result of their "celebration". This almost never happens in any other city when a team wins, the celebrations are civil and life goes on, even Detroit was civil when the Tigers made the post season. I can't and won't condone that ridiculous violent behavior.

It's just fine to love your teams, it's just fine to be passionate, it's even okay to hate the arch rival - but have some human decency, dignity and be civil.

Remembering One Year Ago

A year ago, the world changed...again. This wasn't a global concern like 9/11, but it was tragic, and changed, and in some cases took,  the lives of so many. She's been referred to as a Hurricane, a Super Storm and a host of other names both weather-geek related and otherwise.

The landscapes she touched were places that I walked, talked, danced, loved, sang, partied, and mourned - but maybe never so much as that day one year ago. So many people, some of whom I've know for many years of my life, had their worlds turned upside down, their homes ripped apart and their lives disrupted in ways that most could never understand.

They gave her such an innocent and peaceful name, Sandy. Even her name has scarred the world I knew when life was far simpler. As a young boy, I remember a candy store up on Avenue U, run by a gentle soul named Sandy. Years after the candy store closed, Sandy ran a small exterminating business and my parents were one of his customers - he would come by the house every month and while he was doing his work, we'd reminisce about those days in the candy store.

Sandy was a pivotal character in the movie Grease, played by one of my biggest crushes in the 70's, Olivia Newton-John. What could be sweeter than the innocence of a boyhood crush?

Now, the first thing that comes to mind on the utterance of the name Sandy is a storm that shook us all on that day one year ago. Nearly seven months after Sandy struck, I had the opportunity to visit two of the sites where she wreaked havoc. I walked into strangers homes and I saw the water lines, I saw the destruction, I saw the empty plots of land where buildings once stood, I saw the piles and piles of rubbish that once were people homes, I heard the sound in the voices of the people most affected.

So much has been done to move forward, but so much has yet to be done and I know that as the world moves on, it's sometimes hard to remember, especially the further you are away.

I remember that day and I understand on this day what it all still means and how it all still feels because I choose to stay in touch with those were were right there.

Today, my thoughts are with all of you.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookie Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

Into the wells of a muffin tin (or in cupcake papers) flatten a square of store-bought chocolate chip cookie dough.

Top that with a Reese’s peanut butter cup.

Prepare box-mix brownie batter (as directed on the box) and spoon it over Reese’s & cookie dough, 3/4 full.
 
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. VOILA!

R.I.P. Lou Reed

There's so much that's already been said and that will be said about the music of Lou Reed and his impact on the history of popular music.

Instead of rehashing, rewording or revisiting any of the readily available tributes, I thought I would offer a few more personal anecdotes that are Lou Reed related:

I once had a bass guitar that I named Suzanne, Inamed it that because around the time I had the guitar, Lou Reed had a song called "I Love You Suzanne".

I was setting up the gear for a karaoke night that I was emceeing at the church. After all of the equipment was set up, I tested the audio by singing "Walk on the Wild Side". The one other person in the building stopped what they were doing once I began to sing and at the end, she said I did a great job. Kudos to Lou Reed for having songs that bad singers could get away with. Somehow, with so many of his words, it's all about the attitude; I guess that day I had the right attitude.

When I was in college, this guy Brian I used to hang out with had a hobby that pissed Lou Reed off. You see, Brian was a big Lou Reed fan and he knew that one of Reed's "things" was to hang out in the arcade's in Times Square incognito. Reed hated to be found and more, to be recognized and called out. Brian, loved to hunt Reed down and recognize him. I had the pleasure of witnessing this and it was pretty funny to watch the absolute disgust in Lou Reed's face and it was more directed at himself for failing to effectively disguise himself.

If you are affected by music as much as I am and you've never listened to Lou Reed's work, you should. You may not like all of it, you may not like any of it, but you will recognize why it's important if you take the time to put it in the context of the place and time it was made.

Rest in Peace Lou!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Meme: Crazy Linens

Ridiculous questions, but they caught my attention:

1. What percentage of the total number of towels, washcloths and linens that you own are actually clean, folded and on the shelves of your linen closet?

Approximately 70%

2. How many washcloths do you have in there right now?

6

3. How many different color washcloths do you have?

4

4. Which have a greater variety of color: your towels or your washcloths?

Towels

5. Which single color is most of what’s in your linen closet?

White and Off-White are pretty close

6. Is this a color that most closely matches your bathroom or bedroom, or is it a more neutral color in your home?

Neutral

I recognize none of this has any value, but now you have a greater insight as to my linen closet and for some reason, in this moment, it makes me feel better.

Friday, October 25, 2013

What the...

My daughter had been complaining about one of her teachers pretty consistently since the beginning of the school year. Initially, it seemed as if the teacher was a bit eccentric, perhaps had a bit of an ego, I listened, told my kid to hang in there but to keep me posted.

Often, she would come home and say how "odd" this teacher was. There was one time where she was sent to detention, swearing to me that she did not do anything to deserve this, at the end, the teacher indicated that they were sorry and thought my kid was someone else. My kid actually served the whole detention period for no reason!

A few days ago, there was this homework assignment that was really odd, almost creepy. Then, I find out the teacher videotaped the class and put it on the Internet without getting parental authorization. The students all even called the teacher on it but the teacher told them they were wrong and disciplined them for speaking up.

I finally had heard enough and contacted the principal, the dean of students and the head of the department for their subject area. This was Wednesday, I was told by everyone that they would look into this matter, that they took it very seriously and would protect my daughter's privacy (at my request) so there couldn't be any possible punishment for such action.

Today, I got an email - not a response from the chain of emails where I was informing them of all of this stuff but a separate one that was sent to all parents of students of this teacher indicating that this particular instructor had resigned their position as of today. I am going to assume I should hear back from them but am not sure if they will or even can say anything more - but my assessment is that something may have been up with this teacher and maybe my kid speaking up and me saying something made a difference.

I am so proud of my girl for talking to me and trusting that she can come to me with this stuff. I called her today to tell her what I know and to tell her how proud I am of her.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Three

Monday: "A student opening fire with a handgun he took from his parents. Screaming students running for cover. A teacher, trying to help, shot dead. Two students wounded. The terror lasted just a few brutal minutes." (CNN)

Wednesday: "How was Danvers High math teacher Colleen Ritzer killed? With a box cutter the suspect, 14-year-old Philip Chism, had brought into school, a source close to the investigation says." (CNN)

Thursday: "An Ashland teen walking to school suffered “severe trauma” when she was hit by a car as she crossed Main Street this morning. The 16-year-old girl, who was not identified, was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston by a medical rescue helicopter after the 6:30 a.m. crash, Ashland Fire Department spokesman Lt. David Iarussi said. 'The injuries were pretty severe,' he said. 'She has severe trauma, multiple injuries, head trauma.'” (MetroWest Daily News)

Three tragedies in one week. It's overwhelming. I have no words, and too many to type all at once. This is a real test of faith for me.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

L R B ing (Go ahead and figure that one out)

On this date in 2007, I took my daughter to her first concert, Kelly Clarkson.

I was in one of these seasonal (ridiculous) Halloween stores with my kid the other day and I was telling her about the time I went to a Halloween party as Harpo Marx. I went on about how I stood in character the whole night and how my buddy John played Grouch and eventually, realized that she had no idea what or who I was talking about.

the only way I got her attention was by describing how Harpo never spoke, only honked a horn, she was amazed that I went the entire night without speaking.

I guess my kid knows me :)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

USPS P's Me Off

I reluctantly support the post office, despite hoe poorly they are run and how obnoxious so many of the employees are at the post office. The main branch in Framingham (MA) I am certain gives asshole lessons to all who work at that branch.

I had a package to ship. It's a prepaid deal, all ready to go, all I had to do was drop it off. I have done this a number of times, though I usually go to one of the satellite branches where the nicer postal workers are exiled - they just take my package, make some nice conversation and even, at least occasionally, wish me a nice day (in return, I also show them respect).

I decided to drop the package I had to day off at the main branch because they are open real early in the morning and by getting that task out of the way in the A.M. left me free at lunch to handle other tasks. I got there so early in fact, that for the first time in years, I walked right up to the counter with no wait. I drop off the package and tell the lady, "just dropping off". She looks at the package and in a stern, demeaning (and super bitchy and gravelly) voice yelps, "you are supposed to drop this off at the Ashland post office."

I apologized and told her that I was unaware, that there is nothing on the website indicating this during the prepay process. I then told her it seems to make no sense either, almost negating the convenience of prepaying. Then she revealed why she, her colleagues and the post office nationwide are idiots and doomed to continue to fail as a whole...

"Because the label says Ashland, they are going to get the credit for handling this package yet we are the ones handling it." She blasted. At this point, I had to fight off the urge to tell her to go fuck off and quit her job. First off, it is the fucking post office, their job is handling the fucking mail! Then, this is a main branch! What the hell should it matter where the fuck I drop off my package. Should I only mail all of my letters that say Ashland, the town where I live, at the Ashland post office so that the other post offices don't have to handle the mail they aren't getting credit for?

How broken is the stupid postal system?

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Country Song in the Making

In a FB thread earlier, one of the best people I know wrote a line that I was so envious of, I had to use it  in a poem or a song. After reading it a few times, it just kept feeling like country song to me. I was sitting in my office a few minutes before my class tonight and it just hit me, and I cranked out two verses incorporating this magical line:
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Am I drowning my disappointment
or celebrating my success
Am I giving in to my anxieties
or am I destined to be one of the best

In this moment of just know knowing
I'll kick one back for good times sake
and another for good measure
While my world is in the hands of fate
***********************************************
In my silly brain, I can even hear Blake Shelton singing it! I've got a melody in mind, I need a chorus and to finish the story. One of these days.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Freeze Frame

Going on the picture is worth a thousand words theory, here are several thousand words related to the day I spent in Salem at Haunted Happenings today:


I custom designed this pair of Chuck Taylor's; they are super cool and have "HeeDeeDee" on them, but they are still the most uncomfortable sneakers :)
 A little boat they call, "The Friendship of Salem"
 Just a couple of shadows looking for fun and mischief
 As we march to the "courtroom" to determine if Bridget Bishop should stand trial #witchtrials #cryinnocent
 During "Cry Innocent"
 This woman was a bit too intensely into this play and was genuinely upset that anyone raised their had insisting there was enough evidence to try "Goody" Bishop, the total crown decided there was not (unlike how it really happened).
 Nice Sax!
 He did the mash....

Friday, October 18, 2013

Haunted Happenings 2013

My buddy Rob (and his two sons) is (are) driving up from NY as we speak. Tomorrow morning we are heading up to Salem, where Halloween, and October, is a big deal.

I've been up there many times, during October and otherwise. Above everything else, the people watching is as good as it gets. Of course there are dozens of reenactments of the witch trials, outdoor vendors, food, all kinds of stuff.

I am looking forward to hanging out, it will be fun!
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I downloaded the Windows 8.1 update on my desktop computer last night. I had no issue with 8 but thus far, I like the progression in the new version.
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Glympse. Are you familiar with this app. My friend Rob sent me an email generated from this app and with that link, I can see where the heck he is as he drives here. For example, I know that he and the boys just stopped at a Dunking Donuts off Rt. 84...kind of freaky.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Shouldn't Be All That Perplexing

I would be willing to guess that most people that look at the picture here will figure out with no thought that it is an electric stapler. The perplexing piece of the puzzle is that while it sites at the front of the lab, directly in between an electric pencil sharpener and an electric three hole punch, an alarming number of folks while standing right in front of it, having stared at it for way longer than it should take a human to figure out what it is and ask out loud, "Do you guys have a stapler?"

I would go further to bet you, dear reader, have already figured out how to use this stapler - right? Certainly not as complicated as flushing a toilet or heaven forbid, tying a shoe lace. I'd ask you also to take notice, and this might be slightly less obvious from this photo, there is a rather thick wad of tape and cardboard blocking a gray lever. The purpose of this lever is to adjust the page depth where the device will staple; I will explain why its taped up in a minute.

There are times when people will look at this and be dumbfounded, they have zero idea how to operate it; that is truly baffling. Other times, folks will figure out that the pages to be stapled slide in, sometimes they even guess correctly that the white arrow pointing inward is there for direction and not decoration but they understandably may not recognize that the trigger that initiates the stapling process are those two red things to can see - once the pages bump up against those,  the staple is inserted.

Sometimes, someone will slide their paper in and miss the red bumpers, hence no staple. They have no clue why nothing happens so they try one of two things most commonly. They funniest and most ridiculous is the push down on the top of the unit emulating the physical action one would take on a traditional manual stapler. I confess that I laugh each time I see this, I can't understand how that rationale works.

Other times, they will attempt to move the lever. Perhaps one could rationalize that out of desperation, if the staple doesn't happen after the insert, that maybe a button of sorts must be pushed, pressed, moved or whatever. The thing is, the one button-y thing, the lever, is so obviously taped into place and intentionally in a position not to be altered - yet they try anyway...again, makes zero sense to me. I taped the lever up after the first thousand times someone moved it and then screwed up the depth of stapling for everyone after - so that it couldn't be mistaken for something someone should move, yet - they still try sometimes.

Before ending this, I will remind you that this is a college campus.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Day After A Holiday Syndrome

It seems that with the day off yesterday for the Columbus day holiday, everyone saved up all of their crazy and unleashed it today! Man was it busy.

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Unrelated: As I was typing this, an email came in from the library indicating the Daft Punk CD I requested is ready for pickup.
*****

I should probably not bother saying I had a really fucked up encounter today because I can't say anything more about it in this space - but it kind of pissed me off and disgusted me a bit.

I had a really cool experience with my kid yesterday! She has been such a great blessing in my life.

This post is everywhere!

List:
  • I miss my "reunion crew" a lot!
  • I wanna visit the Midwest again
  • If A-Rod put on a Yankee uniform next year, I will go another year not watching a single inning of baseball (I may do that anyway - I don't miss it)
  • My buddy Rob and his sons are coming up this weekend - Salem, during Haunted Happenings - Fun!
Thanks everyone!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hanging with The Vix

My kid and I both had off for the Columbus day holiday today so after I was able to get a workout in, and she got a good head start on her homework, we both headed to Cambridge where there are a cluster of Japanese places in a little place called Porter Square, at Lesley College.

In this place are a number of eateries and the most popular one by far is called "Sapporo Ramen". You look at the place and wonder why people wait an hour for a seat, then sometimes 15-20 minutes more for the food. I will tell you why, two words....the broth.

The complexity of the broth is nothing short of stunning. The sign on the wall indicates that the broth takes 10 hours to make. there is a richness of collagen and density of flavor that is almost indescribable. Frankly, it doesn't even matter what else is in the bowl but there are a few choices.

My daughter and I journeyed in, waited an hour and change and then devoured slowly our giant bowl of luscious ramen savoring every slurp until the only thing left was bowl.

We then walked around town or a little while and returned to the shops for a "Melon Pan", a delightful Japanese desert bread. I took a few small bites, my kid went to town though. The nice thing is that it's relatively light, not cloyingly sweet but does the job nicely.

It was a pretty nice day, lots of good quality time with my kid!

Back to work in the morning.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

DVR Technology: Time for the Next Level

DVR technology has matured since it's inception, but I think there's more it can, and should do. In fact, there is one crucial piece of the puzzle that I really hope is considered as crucial to this technology by those in the development community as I do (and I bet at least some of you as well).

Have you ever gone to watch something during the week that you recorded on Sunday, only to find it's either not there at all or only a portion of it made the recording? Turns out a football game went long and everything else got shuffled and moved later by 38 minutes. Or, you recorded the football game becaus you had to go to a neighbor's kids recital (how fucking torturous would that be?). You love that you can blast through the commercials, replaysa and extended color commentary but alas, the recording ends about two minutes into the 4th quarter! Most football games go long, but unless you intentionally tell the recording to go long (a feature now available on most if not all DVRs), you will miss the end of the game.

I think these two scenarios and all variations are something that can be rectified. If the industry has accepted that the public needs DVR technology, then it's time to make it so these things don't happen anymore...their fix should be automatic, the recording schedules should adjust automatically to the real time situations...fix this so we can get on with world peace.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A Nice Note/Awareness

I received a surprise the other day when a friend took the time to write a note to thank me for being a friend.

"I want you to know how grateful I am to call you my friend, I believe we meet people for many reasons. Whatever the reason, I am so glad I met you. You are such a wonderful, compassionate friend and I have been so blessed by you."
 
It's very nice to read these words and for someone to take the time to do something like that, but I really have no idea what I did other than jut be me.
 
I am not a perfect being, but I try to be there for my friends and family. I don't always succeed at being the best I can be but I do make an effort and it's nice to get validation every now and again that it might make a difference.
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I think it was last year that I learned that September is thyroid cancer awareness month. Here we are almost mid-October, breast cancer awareness month, and I realize that I let September pass without mention of thyroid cancer awareness - I am sorry!
 
Visit www.thyca.org - read, learn, make a donation, buy some swag. I happen to wear a teal thyroid cancer awareness bracelet every day.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tamper Destroyed, Mess Made

The photo is crappy quality, but it's clear enough to see the silly damage and destruction this poor tamper endured as a result of my brain clearly turning off for a few seconds earlier this evening.

I had the urge for a dessert like item. preferably with chocolate. I went to the Vitamix web site and pulled a chocolate ice cream recipe and made a few quick modifications to make it sugar-free.

I got it all together, put the ingredients into the blender, and got the tamper thing going through the lid. The whole processing part should only be 45 seconds to a minute - so I don't know what possessed me to take off the lid and stick the damper into the blender without it (the lid serves as a stop for the damper preventing it from ever touching the blades). Of course, without the lid, the damper hit the blades and the blades responded viciously by eating the bottom few inches of the tamper rendering it useless and the frozen treat inedible (not to mention caused the dark chocolate treat inside to splash my face, glasses and the surrounding areas).

Oh well!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Lullaby

The idea of a lullaby drifted into my head this evening and for the moment, I am kind of obsessing about it. The standard definition of a lullaby is a "soothing song to lull a young child to sleep" but I was thinking much bigger...

What about a lullaby for anyone? For a grown person? An adult? Someone you love?

There is an inherent intimacy with a lullaby and I want to explore that at a deeper and more mature level, I think it could be a real writing challenge. I feel like I need to at least try.

We shall see. For now, it's late and I am sleep deprived.

Cue the music...

Exercise-iversary!

Yesterday, 10/9, marked three years of daily exercise. It's been a wild ride, hasn't gotten any easier, and I still hate almost every minute of it.

the thing is, I am positive that if I hadn't been exercising that I would weigh more and more than likely already have diabetes - so, despite the pain and dislike, I will continue.

For the counting folks, today was my 1,098th consecutive day of exercise!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Obsessipe

My name is Chris, and I am an addict - a recipe addict!

I collect way more of them than I can ever make but I don't care, I love them and I love the ideas that pop into my head when I read them.

If the little diddy on the right is working properly for you, you've got an entertaining little animated thingy that is pretty funny if you ask me :)

As I type this, I have a collection of recipes that would qualify for "thing I should make for pot luck tomorrow" but I just don't have the juice to make it happen right now.

One of my all-time favorite savory recipes is called "Caramelized Salmon". I first saw the recipe on one of Emeril Lagasse's old shows on The Food Network. If you want to check out the recipe as it appeared back in 2005, click here. Of the many ways I have served it, my favorite is over roasted garlic mashed potatoes with some asparagus in a lemon butter.

My all-time favorite sweet recipe is one that is super simple, but works every time and uses ingredients you are likely to always have and are not perishable. The recipe is called "Wowie Cake" and has appeared on this blog (find it using the search tool up top). Wowie Cake is a simple, delicious, and inconceivably moist chocolate cake that is made with no perishable ingredients! There are so many different ways you can dress it up, and I have, but just plain it is pretty perfect.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Mmmm, Snausages

At church, they celebrate St. Francis of Assisi each year with a service called "blessing of the animals". Everyone is invited to bring their pets and it's always a fun service with plenty of dogs, some cars, and every now and again we have bunnies, turtles, hamsters, etc. For those who can't or prefer not to bring a pet, a photograph, digital image - even stuffed animals are welcome.

My cat I does not enjoy leaving the house, I take him out one day a year for his vet visit and he dreads that, so I opt to have him blessed via a picture.

After the service, the coffee hour/fellowship always has pet treats. At the far end of the table was a owl with dog treats - it was pretty obvious to me what they were and people were reaching into that bowl and giving them to their dogs throughout the time.

As things were winding down, I ended up hanging around longer than usual because my daughter had band practice. As I was walking out of the hall to go sit and relax (and wait for my kid), I noticed a guy reach in to the bowl of dog treats and pop a few in his mouth. Let's assume this was just a lapse of judgment and an obvious mistake - the second your tongue recognized that the taste of what was in the mouth was not human food, the normal reaction would be spit it out in disgust. However, in this case, the person in question made a face as if, "not bad" and kept on chewing!

I nearly pee'd myself, could not control the laughter.

Disclaimer: The reference to snausages has no bearing on the brand name - only that the food in question looked Like little sausages, well, pigs in a blanket - ish.

Not having tried the treats that were there, I can't say whether or not they were disgusting. What if they were delicious to humans as well? Although, the particular person who ate them is very telling about the event.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Hammer ill

This brief post is simply going to be about the title of this post (unless along the way something else pops in my head).

Lest you think I was about to talk about a sick hammer, the title "Hammer ill" was actually the autocorrected result of the equally odd title I typed, "Hammermill".

Sitting beside be is a misplaced box top from a case of Hammermill brand paper and it was the first thing I spotted as I shook my head in search of an appropriate title for this ridiculous post; iOS had a different idea and hence, the title we have.

Have you ever ask a technical support representative from a major printer manufacturer, if attempting to print something on a slice of bologna can cause damage to the printer? I have, most recently just a couple of days ago.

Turns out that Bill Nye the science guy is somewhat creepy.

"Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while." 

Have a great Saturday!

Friday, October 04, 2013

The Blah's!

Today was just one of those days, you know, the kind you can't really explain and don't wish to delve further into why (yet that is just what I am doing by writing about it - right?).

It wasn't an awful day by any means, though there were times I wanted to poke my eyes with a hot branding iron...not really, but several frustrating moments. the good thing, a few deep breaths and a walk away from the desk made it all better. It baffles me how rude people can be not only when you are trying to help them, but while they are asking you for help.

This student called on the phone and got to me after she annoyed the crap out of the librarian who very nicely explained that this was an IT issue and that she would happily transfer her. The student insisted at fist that it was a library issue...to the librarian!

Then the call gets to me - she's taking loud and with attitude. I told her to calm down and talk at a slower pace so that I could better understand and she wasn't thrilled with that. I can't lie, it took more than I like to admit to not tell her to fuck of and stop being a mean ass bitch. However, I really didn't want her to ruin my day or to make me do something beneath me. I took a deep breath, tried to imagine that perhaps she's under stress and doesn't know how to act properly in this situation or maybe even doesn't realize how much of a bitch she was being.

After hearing her explain the problem, I told her that I would try to recover her file but not to get her hopes up because based on what she was saying, there is a reasonable chance it has been deleted (because she stored it in a place where she should not have stored it). I asked her to call me back in 15 minutes.

By the time I got her to hang up, she had me pretty upset - so much so that part of me wanted to just not do anything and when she called back that her file was gone; it would have served her right for being so mean to two people who only wanted to help her.

However, I put it all into perspective and I looked to the greatest inspirations in my life - I knew the right thing to do and that is what I did. I went to the computer and managed to recover her file - saved it on a flash drive and went back to my desk waiting for her call.

When she called, I told her that I recovered the file and then proceeded to email it to her seconds after she gave me her email address. While she said a brief "thanks", it was not genuine. In fact, right after an inflection free "thanks", she proceeded to complain. At that point, I said "welcome" in the same monotone and hung up on her as she was rambling on with her complaints.

Where do these people come from?

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Dancing With the Other Devil

I've had Verizon FIOS as my Phone, Internet, TV provider for as long as they've offered service in my area. Today, I told them to go take a hike and had Comcast installed.

A few months ago, there was a period of 3 or 4 months in a row where my Verizon bill was wrong. I spent a solid 2 hours of my time over those 3-4 calls I had to make to get the bill corrected. That, on top of a few other incidents prompted me to make a request for compensation of my valuable time and a show of respect for me as a valued customer.

I didn't ask for the moon, I was reasonable: a $100 service credit and a new service agreement comparable to one of the (then) current offers being made available to all new customers. In short, they said no and when I asked, "even at the cost of my business?" Again, they implied that my business was simply not important enough to keep under those terms. I was baffled, it was as if I asked them for free service for life!

Under my current Comcast deal, I will save around $500 or more dollars over the next two years, that's how long I have my current rate system locked in for; I'll take it - way better in my bank account than theirs.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

This is a Real Pisser!

Lest you think this is a hoax, it comes from the reputable Smithsonian magazine. I am posting it here for several reasons:
  1. Despite being icky, it is interesting.
  2. I'm creatively handicapped at the moment.
Link:
From Gunpowder to Teeth Whitener: The Science Behind Historic Uses of Urine | Surprising Science

Text:
The saying goes that one person’s waste is another’s treasure. For those scientists who study urine the saying is quite literal–pee is a treasure-trove of scientific potential. It can now be used as a source of electric power. Urine-eating bacteria can create a strong enough current to power a cell phone. Medicines derived from urine can help treat infertility and fight symptoms of menopause. Stem cells harvested from urine have been reprogrammed into neurons and even used to grow human teeth.

For modern scientists, the golden liquid can be, well, liquid gold. But a quick look back in history shows that urine has always been important to scientific and industrial advancement, so much so that the ancient Romans not only sold pee collected from public urinals, but those who traded in urine had to pay a tax. So what about pee did preindustrial humans find so valuable? Here are a few examples:

Urine-soaked leather makes it soft: Prior to the ability to synthesize chemicals in the lab, urine was a quick and rich source of urea, a nitrogen-based organic compound. When stored for long periods of time, urea decays into ammonia. Ammonia in water acts as a caustic but weak base. Its high pH breaks down organic material, making urine the perfect substance for ancients to use in softening and tanning animal hides. Soaking animal skins in urine also made it easier for leather workers to remove hair and bits of flesh from the skin.

The cleansing power of pee: If you’ve investigated the ingredients in your household cleaners, you may have noticed a prevalent ingredient: ammonia. As a base, ammonia is a useful cleanser because dirt and grease–which are slightly acidic–get neutralized by the ammonia. Even though early Europeans knew about soap, many launderers preferred to use urine for its ammonia to get tough stains out of cloth. In fact, in ancient Rome, vessels for collecting urine were commonplace on streets–passers-by would relieve themselves into them and when the vats were full their contents were taken to a fullonica (a laundry), diluted with water and poured over dirty clothes. A worker would stand in the tub of urine and stomp on the clothes, similar to modern washing machine’s agitator.

Even after making soap became more prevalent, urine–known as chamber lye for the chamber pots it was collected in–was often used as a soaking treatment for tough stains.

Urine not only made your whites cleaner, but your colors brighter: Natural dyes from seeds, leaves, flowers, lichens, roots, bark and berries can leach out of a cloth if it or the dyebath aren’t treated with mordant, which helps to bind the dye to the cloth. It works like this: molecules of dye called chromophores get wrapped inside a more complex molecule or a group of molecules; this shell housing the dye then binds to the cloth. The central nugget of dye is then visible but is protected from bleeding away by the molecules surrounding it. Stale urine–or more precisely the ammonia in it–is a good mordant. Molecules of ammonia can form a web around chromophores, helping to develop the color of dyes as well as to bind it to cloth.

Specific chamberpots dedicated to urine helped families collect their pee for use as mordants. Urine was so important to the textile industry of 16th century England that casks of it–an estimated amount equivalent to the urine stream of 1000 people for an entire year–were shipped from across the country to Yorkshire, where it was mixed with alum to form an even stronger mordant than urine alone.


Read more: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2013/08/from-gunpowder-to-teeth-whitener-the-science-behind-historic-uses-of-urine/#ixzz2gcs8bZwS
Follow us: @SmithsonianMag on Twitter

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Oh October!

Some unseasonably warm weather and what appears to be an actual fall season has many folks in a somewhat good mood (despite the crap going on in the political world).

Hard not to mention the shutdown - Boehner (not certain if spelled correctly but he'd not worth the effort) and the rest of the Republican party are pulling what those of us who recall the last government shutdown refer to as a "Newtie". Actually, I don't know if anyone refers to it as that, I just made it up, but it's accurate.

Breaking Bad
Have I mentioned how I think the series finale was the best series finale I've ever seen? And how I think it solidifies the series as the best TV Drama series in history? In fact, the amazing finale to this series made it more clear just how awful the Dexter finale was.