Friday, October 30, 2009

Obama Ts

One can get 6 Hawaiian t-shirts for $20 at the ABC stores on O'ahu and in many gift shops as well. Since my work-out shirts are getting stained, ratty, and some are more than 20 years old (Michelin Engineering, Intramural volleyball team, Spartanburg SC, really... still?) I got 4 Obama Ts - they love their native son.. even if the tea baggers believe he is from Kenya! LOL! - and 2 Hawaiian shirts.

If they shrink / don't fit (some XLs are not really XLs) I know our son will enjoy wearing them back to Charleston at Christmas.

When I wore one earlier this week while riding the stationary bike, Dr Desert Flower came home from work, saw me in it, and said "now, you're a nazi socialist commie liberahl, you know!"

The Neurobiology of Zombie Ataxia & Hunger

I heard this on the radio this afternoon [link here]. Dr. Steven C. Schlozman is Very amusing. Brains!

And... it's a good thing we made it through another Hurricane Season, without having Zombies attack the Sunshine State [link here].


Thursday, October 29, 2009


Earlier this week, The WaPost ran stories about former Marine Captain and then Foreign Service area expert Matthew Hoh resigning from his position in Afghanistan, where as the senior US civilian official in Zabul Province he was trying to investigate "why are we not doing well here?" Simply found, the Afghans locals were helping the Pashtun Fundamentalist Taliban to fight NATO because they were seen as occupiers. Once the US withdrew from rural valleys, the Afghan local tribesmen chaffed at the Taliban occupiers, and started fighting against/ resisting them as well. NPR ran a story on him today as well.

I keep hearing this again and again, with NPR journalist implants who are with Airborne Ranger or Marine or Army units, from Richard Engel of NBC News, from author Jeremy Scahill, from Australian journalist Michael Ware who's been taken hostage by Al Queda and escaped to live and tell about it... and now Matthew Hoh, who has been in two different areas of Afghanistan and worked to try and pacify / mollify / stabilize a country that is still clinging to the 4th century in many rural regions.

My gut feeling is telling me, remaining en masse, in Afghanistan, with armed troops and civilian contractors trying to force "some kind" of centralized government and civilization on a massively diverse, multi-ethnic, fiercely tribal people... is not gonna work. It's just going to kill alot of Americans and drain alot of treasure, without doing anything to destroy Al Queda, who is hiding out in the NW FATA regions of Pakistan. Yes, the Taliban are evil and misogynistic fundamentalists, but they are just the Pashtuns, less than 40% of Afghanistan, and less than 20% of Pakistan ethnically. The rest of the country is surrounded by 3 totalitarian dictator former-soviet regimes on the verge of collapse (Uzbekistan, Tajikstan, Turkmenistan) Iran, Pakistan, and China (that tiny little umbilical chord that is as thin as Maryland's pan-handle, that stretches to the east, touches China). It would be easier, and cheaper (I believe) to just pay off these medieval tribesmen - more than what the Persian Gulf fundies are paying the Taliban, and maintain a very very small presence in the country - and STOP letting Toyota Land Cruisers (the preferred vehicle of the Taliban) and pick up trucks continue crossing Afghanistan's borders. Blow them all up with drone attacks. Goat herders ain't driving Land Cruisers. the more the Republicans scream that Obama stop "dithering" the more I am thinking, "surging" in my troops is a very bad idea.

I finished Ahmed Rashid's "Descent Into Chaos" book at the pool last week. As a Pakistani, Rashid's writing reflects his country's best interests (and his lamenting of its mis-management) first, not the US's best interests first. Now Jeff Sharlet's "The Family" has begun. Some day, I'll get out of 2008 and begin reading 2009 material. Sharlet's writing style, I find to be personal, fluid, easy to follow, and engaging... and prescient. His recounting of the 1934 Longshoremen's strikes in San Francisco, and the language used then, and attitudes expressed 80 years ago, eerily parallel the current shrill cries from the fanatical right in the US today.

Scary Halloween Glowing Eyed Cat

Natasha hid in her "kitty cup" yesterday. This 'glowing eyes' picture I thought would be appropriate for Halloween.

Her torso is so obese, she can barely fit in through the hole, through which she is looking in the photo. 16 lbs of diabetic geriatric cat.

OK... not so scary... more pathetic, really.

An extra hour of sleep, for the next 4 months

Everywhere in the lower 48 states this Saturday night, sleepers will get an extra hour of sleep due to Daylight Savings Time, except for Arizona. (Hawaii doesn't either, but I am trying not to mention the Aloha State). It's fine that AZ doesn't change, we don't want to confuse the cacti here. In most of the decades I lived in Indiana, they never changed either, not wanting to confuse their cows or corn. All of India (including Bangalore) does not change their clocks either.

The impact is has on me personally, is that I get to sleep an extra hour each morning until 15 March 2010. Georgia and South Carolina change their clocks this Saturday, and since head quarters moves their meetings, everyone has to revolve around them. Poor bastards in Bangalore have to stay an hour later (sometimes to 10 or 11 pm), but they too get to sleep later and avoid morning rush-hour.

Good thing DVRs don't care, and record TDS and Colbert regardless of when they are on!

Last Word, on Hawaii Vacationing

After this rant, I will try not to mention anything about Hawaii for a while.

- Wifi STILL should be free. As I posted earlier from Reno, if I am paying $265 a night for a hotel room, provide Wifi damnit. $16 a day, to get a wired connection, really? And $7 for 2 hours of Wifi in a lobby? You must be kidding. There was a unsecured network, labelled mysteriously as "07FX####" (the #s changed daily) in the lobby, that could handle all of 4 or 5 squatters before it crashed. That's what I used in it's entirety while staying in Waikiki. When droves of cheap scientists all started hunting for the free connections, and the lobby bar was full of patrons, my fragile connection crumbled, but I still had alcohol to turn to! =)

- Work out fitness rooms at hotels should be free. Again, when I am paying $265 a night, it's insulting to me to have to pay $20 to work out at the "World Renown Mandara spa". Bite me. If I want to work out, I'll run down the beach, swim in the surf, do yoga on the balcony of my 21st floor room (as I did on 4 of the 7 mornings we were there), or run up and down the stairs (as I did on 2 occasions). I over-heard a remark at dinner one night "there's very few people at the spa fitness center" - yeah, for $20 they should be handing out complimentary t-shirts, bottled spring water, or having a shapely woman in tight white shorts and a thong use the treadmill or stair climber directly in front of you. $20 to work out, each day, I don't think so. Just another way that the resorts want to gouge the tourists.

- Pool Capacity: If you combine all 3 pools at the Hilton Hawaiian Village lounging /seating areas, or water capacity, it is still less than the single main pool at the Vegas Casino Paris. Yes, the Pacific Ocean is right there, but the ocean doesn't have a hot tub, sometimes you don't want to get all salty, and sometimes it's nicer to just be able to lay on a chair instead of the sand. Good luck getting a chair at the Hilton after 11am.

- 24 hour Xerox Business Center... sounds like a nice place to print a boarding pass the night before leaving the island, no? No!!! Unless you want to pay 50 cents a minute to log in, minimum 15 minutes, plus $5 a page, and wait in line for the 3 computers available to the paying public. What a joke! That's the first hotel "business center" that I've ever seen where you had to pay to use it. Epic failure, Hilton.

OK, I feel better now. =)

Large Eggs - and save the bacon grease!

I was getting into the habit of buying medium brown eggs, organically fed, free range - "cage free" is bogus, since you can easily have 10,000 chickens in the same "cage free" yard, all with beaks removed, so they don't peck each other to death (ew). Dr Desert Flower started getting the Large variety, and as I've been cooking with them, it's amazing to me how much more egg volume is really in a large egg vs a medium one. Wolframalpha proved itself useful, and handily told me just how much larger the large eggs are, and much more info unexpectedly as well, here (egg) and here (large egg). [I thought Ron and Steve might find this handy, as a public service announcement as well]

I've also begun storing up my bacon fat for cooking later, letting it cool to less than 120F before putting it in resealable refrigerator containers. Reduce, re-use, recycle, and constantly avoid those annoying carbs. I was down by 9 lbs before vacation, but Wailana's pancakes helped to fatten 1/2 of that back on. Eating bacon, eggs, ham, sausage, jerky, cashews, celery, humus, cucumbers, romaine, iceberg, spinach, gruyere, gouda, stilton, ham, occasionally brie, raclette, organic chicken, carne & pollo asada (no shortage of those in Phoenix), and some fish here & there I'll get double that 9 off again soon. As long as I can moderate my dates, mangoes & chocolate (all very high carb) and wash it down with "not too much" red wine. Lots of tea, and coffee laced with stevia to keep the mind sharp and awake. Blood sugars are also nicely stabilized this week, being home again (and without $10 Mai Tais) and able to work out regularly without having to pay $20... but that is the next posting! =)

Stay Thirsty

Dr Desert Flower wants me to go as "The Most Interesting Man In The World" for Halloween. I won't have a full enough beard by Saturday, but I can get a cigar, and adopt enough hubris perhaps to pull it off. I have the black coat already.

A few of my favorite quotes about TMIMITW:
- If he were to mail a letter without postage, it would still get there.
- The pheromones he secretes effect people miles away… in a slight, but measurable way.
- he once taught a German shepherd to bark in Spanish
- He once punched a magician. That’s right, you heard me.
- His hands feel like rich, brown suede.
- He owns 4 sports cars, and rents 5.
- He taught a horse to read his email for him.
- His personality is so magnetic, he is unable to carry credit cards.
- Even his enemy’s list him as there emergency contact.
- He never say’s anything taste like chicken… Not even chicken.
- His charm is so contagious, vaccines we’re created for it.
- Years ago, he created a city out of blocks. Today over 600,000 people live and work there.
- If he we’re to give you directions… You would never get lost. And you’d arrive at least 5 minutes early.
- His legend precedes him, the way lightning precedes thunder.
- His reputation is expanding, faster then the universe.
- He once had an awkward moment, just to see how it feels.
- He lives vicariously through himself.

The Wrigley Mansion holds an annual Halloween Party. Rocklobster will be playing 80s music, so we know the entertainment will be good. If I do go as TMIMITW it would be the first time in years I've not gone as someone political (Cheney in NRA hat, orange vest, and Mossberg 12ga, Rove with horns, wire-glasses, gut, and a pocketful of Congressional subpoenas, etc).

Il faut voir...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Honolulu Observations

-the coastal parks are for the homeless, to reside. Each park containing dozens of tents, or leean-tos, or tarps, and associated shopping carts

- the coastal parks are DIRECTLY across the street from the wealthiest shopping areas I have seen outside of Milan's fashion district, Hong Kong's Pacific Place, or Monaco. Cartier, Gucci, Versache, Yves St.Laurent, Kate Spade, Donna Karan, Prada, are less than 100 yards away from tent dwellers

- HPD are still as laissez-faire today as they were in 1999 when Dr Desert Flower and I last visited Hawaii. At that time, a man approached us on a street corner offering to sell us cocaine, which we refused, crossed the street, and ran into 2 shorts wearing, on-duty, HPD officers, who we promptly reported the attempted sale, just seconds earlier. The officer on the left looked at us, and remarked to his partner on the right "you're on a tropical island in paradise with a beautiful woman, of course they offered to sell you some drugs" and patted his partner on the back, laughing, and walked off. This trip, the HPD was more interested in standing in the shade (in the day time), surveying the beach with binoculars, and helping the Hilton rent-a-cops to keep the homeless shopping cart pushers off the grounds of the resort. The city ban of smoking on the beach, prohibition on ball & frisbee tossing, and "no parking" ordinances were equally unenforced (which was fine with me).

- the Honolulu bus system ( runs pretty well. You can get from Waikiki to the AZ Memorial in just under an hour (an impossible 10 mile walk through industrial and economically challenged areas) For $2.25 you can go anywhere, and get a transfer pass that'll last you between 2 to 4 hours - depending on the driver, the driver's ethnicity Hawaiian/Polynesian bus drivers give longer transfers, and often turn off their bus to walk around and make phone calls or use the rest room at a public toilet. Asian (primarily Vietnamese, but also ethnic
Japanese) give minimalist 2 hour transfers at most. The buses are clean, and well maintained. Not once did I hear city bus brakes squeak or squeal while in Hawaii. The cabs are 10 to 20X more expensive, but only about twice as fast.

- The disgusting practice of Asian spitting on public sidewalks is alive and well among the Asian tourists who visit Hawaii. Outside of Hilton resort hotel elevators, in malls, at bus stops, on board walks, side walks, everywhere that there are Asian tourists... it's just as disgusting as Chengdu, Shanghai, Beijing, parts of San Francisco, or other places in the world that don't have enforced fines for expectorating in public. Being a blond Pole, I'm prone to all sorts of respiratory allergies and nasal mucus production, and not once have I ever felt the need or the social acceptance to hock up a lugee in a public place and openly spit it where people walk. At least Singapore has laws against such a disgusting habit.

- Tourists are inexorably curious about my Asus Eee notebook. I was approached no less than a dozen times in the last week, when I would be surfing or typing away on it in the lobby or poolside or at a bar, asking me how I liked it? that their son had ordered them one, or they
were considering buying one, or that what I had was Exactly what they wanted to get. My buddy Matt has one for tuning Subarus, and it seems to work fairly well for him - until his son downloads nasty mal-ware onto it while surfing online gaming sites. My main complaints about the Asus 1) the keyboard does not fit my fat old fingers, and so 2 finger typing is frequently needed (a becomes s, l becomes ; ... etc) 2) the over-sensitivity that the touch pad has sends the cursor to bizarre areas of the screen while typing, EVEN WHEN the touch pad is not being touched. Plugging a USB mouse into the notebook seems to alleviate this very annoying jerk / drift / unintended cursor movement, but one must always remain watchful. The Eee boots up quickly, finds wireless networks MUCH BETTER than my company Dell could ever hope to do, and has a battery battery life much better than the Dell as well. Sure, it's a graphics wimp, but it's better than any computer I've had prior to 2003 or so, it's alot smaller, lighter, more portable, and I don't have to type with my thumbs (for you iphone / pda / i-connect / blackberry fans) and it was only $200.

- Hawaii airline food sucks, but the service is very nice. You can buy a $10 meal (taco, greek, or Caesar salad) or get a free meal (breakfast "burrito" [mine had one piece of french-fry sized chicken-possibly], turkey & swiss sandwich, or pasta dish). On the way home, I wanted the Caesar, but was pleasantly told that is only on Westbound afternoon & evening flights - sigh. The HA flight attendants actually seem to enjoy their jobs, unlike US Scaire's who universally appear to loathe theirs (and nearly a 1000 will be laid of in 2010). One not so good aspect of Hawaiian Air, is that they make you pay $5 to use YOUR OWN head set to listen to the in flight programs. WTF? $5, really, to use my own? What a piss poor licensing agreement. I did not try a stealth headphone insertion (I had an old pair of Delta head phones) but I think if I had, the crew would have adopted the HPD "sure, whatever" mode of enforcement.

- while walking to the falls in the Lyon arboretum, Dr Desert Flower got strafed by a fruit bat. She was standing right under a guava tree whose ripened fruit was littering the path all around her, and I being 10 paces ahead of her disturbed (I think) the flying mammal from it's secluded daytime slumber. The strafing temporarily startled, but did not endanger the sweet Dr Desert Flower.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Incontinent United Health Care

Dr Desert flower received this actual email (unedited) from United Health Care today (my primary health insurer):

"We received your message about payment for this service:
Patient: Traci
Date of Service: 03/19/09
Doctor/Hospital/Facility: St. Joseph Hospital

This claim will be reviewed again because we have received the primary insurance explanation of benefits. This has been marked urgent and should be viewable online within 7-10 business days. We apologize for any incontinence this may have caused. You will be able to view the adjustment in the Claims & Accounts < section of this Web site. Notification will be sent to the address we have on file for you.


United Healthcare
Healing health care. Together.

"LaRae" needs to broaden her vocabulary and be more careful with her spell checker.

2006 Chateau Méric Médoc Cru Bourgeois - $10 well spent

Trader Joe's comes up with yet ANOTHER affordable Bordeaux: 2006 Chateau Méric Médoc Cru Bourgeois. This was $9.99 last Sunday. A glass Sunday, 2 glasses yesterday, 2 glasses today. Delicious. Full bodied, Nice tannins. Not oppressive oak. Again, I disagree with those who have disparaged this inexpensive yet wonderful wine here and but this rather generic review here is not bad.

On an interesting AGING note (me, not the wine) when I bought this Sunday afternoon, during da Bear's debacle to the Been-gals 2nd half (the Bears defense threw in the towel before 1/2 time, so I went grocery shopping down the street from Old Chicago in Glendale) Trader Joes had a Wine Tasting on-going. I;d seen placards for it previously, but Dr Desert Flower and I always seemed to go grocery shopping after 7pm when they were done serving wine tasting wines.

The nice lady who was pouring tiny ketchup containers of wine offered me a mediocre California red and a bubble Italian Pinot Grigio, and they were both good. As I was finishing the Pinot sample, a 30-something year old woman approached on my left, and tried the Pinot as well. She was carded. Taken-aback, I asked the TJoe's lady "are you carding only the young ladies this afternoon?" and she said, with much chagrin... "well. we Have To card Anyone who looks under 35..." and I began to LAUGH! She quickly added... "you Might Be 34 and a 1/2... we could card you if you wanted us to....". I told her it was 'quite all right, that my 22 yr old son would get a kick out of knowing his father is now officially, WAAAAYYYY too old to card.'

Bears lost BIG-time, I was declared too old to card by Trader Joes, and Amex was reducing my credit limit due to "recent activity on your account" (going on vacation, is apparently no longer allowed for Amex Blue). Sunday was not an awesome day.


...sounds painful

(I took this at the lobby bar in the hotel in Hawaii on 3X ZOOM)

Bud Light is #1 Among Selfish Littering Lake Havasu Drinkers

Wooo Whooo! Bud Light! #1 !!! Party!!!
If you're a selfish beer drinking moron on Lake Havasu here in Arizona, odds are you're a fan of Bud Light. More Bud Light cans were extracted this year from the Bridgewater Channel volunteer divers than any other brand of can.

They also pulled out toilets, unopened tequila bottles, and bags and bags of plastic cups, all of which were recycled.

If it doesn't degrade in a matter of days into inert components, it is litter. The last time I intentionally threw trash out of a moving vehicle was 15 years ago in Atlanta while driving with my buddy Ryan on a I-75 on-ramp - it was an apple core. Ryan chastised me "what if everyone threw out an apple core!" he said as we headed out to a bar to go drinking one night. He had a point, and was much more 'on message' than my older brother, who teaches 6th grade Science class in Indiana, who tried (unsuccessfully) to tell Dr Desert Flower and I once while visiting our home that common polystyrene plates would dissolve into carbon and oxygen atoms in a landfill within just a few months, despite the fact that Dow Chemical says it doesn't.

Tossing empty bottles, cans, and cups into a water way? I've not done littered in this selfishly stupid way, and have little tolerance for those who do.

Islands Take Global Warming Seriously

In the ride to the Honolulu Airport, you can look out to the north over a sea of residential roof tops, each sporting their own pair of solar panels. Most appeared to be the black box solar water heater types, but a few reflected in a photovoltaic sense.

Googling a Hawaiian Solar legislation, I found a few interesting links (here and here and here) that show the Island State of Hawaii is taking global warming seriously. A 3 foot rise in water levels would submerge most of the beach front around every island and displace people and businesses, so they are trying to lead by example.

Red State Republicans and short sighted me-first fundamentalists will do their best to burn extra fossil fuels, offsetting any energy conservation savings the 50th state is able to muster.

HFD Surf Boards

While sitting at breakfast at Wailana's one morning, we saw a large HFD yellow hook and ladder truck turn through the intersection. On the back, was a large yellow long board.

I wonder if the San Diego or LA FDs require surf training as well?

Kawabonga dude. =)

Beware the Penguins

Why the Hilton Hawaiian Village has penguins, is impossible to know. The Japanese tourists, and children (yea! let's take our toddlers on vacation to Hawaii! They won't remember it!!) appear to enjoy seeing these flightless birds.

In the tropical heat & humidity, their feces do give off a pungent smell, even though an unfortunate Hilton employee gets to hose out their pen each night. mmmmm

Cuisinart for 2? Nope

Our Hilton hotel room had this little Cuisinart coffee maker, it's supposed to be able to do 2 cups at the same time. We'd seen this type before in Sedona at the Hilton there where we stayed with "Hhonor points" back in August for our 22nd anniversary, and it didn't work so well, but hope springs eternal.
As you can see from the attached photo on the left, the pathetic little pump could not put out enough water to equally fill two cups, making one cup of coffee to the left and one sad & weak "espresso" to the right. The next day, when I went to make a single cup of hot tea, it overflowed the single cup with the residual leftover water, making a nice mess, despite switching the little toggle on the top of the maker to "1".

If you're looking for a cute, inexpensive, little dual coffee maker, avoid Cuisinart. This made-in-China model is junk, sample size n = 2. If you encounter one in a hotel room, be wary, and expect it to malfunction.

This Is NOT Budget Rental Car

Seems the new Budget Rental Car office, about 4 miles away in SW Phoenix, has a phone number 1 digit away from mine. Misinterpret a "1" as a "7" and you get my land line. Before going to Hawaii this happened twice. Today, it's happened 4 times already. UGH!

My HQ office number back in South Carolina is one digit away from the company's Credit Union phone number as well. There's no shortage of untold numbers of thick accented family members leaving me longgggggg voice messages about how "dey nuheeed ta git der fuh-nds outta der 'counts". My "extended absence" greeting states "this is not the credit union" but "der determmnd" to leave a message with "some-un".

Maybe, instead of this being an annoying distraction, I should entertain myself with these hapless & misguided callers, assuring them that they will get free upgrades, free tanks of gas, and no-interest loans? I am just not sure I am evil enough to enjoy manipulating the unsuspecting for my own amusement.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Clueless Japanese Hipsters in Hawaii, part II

Last week, I began to recount the asinine / random / bizarre sayings that I noticed on Japanese tourist's attire in Honolulu. The photo to the left does in fact say
- "RED HOT CHERRY LITTLE WOLF NUTS" (don't Google that)

Other sayings, that we saw during the rest of the week there, included:

- Sugar and Spice and Mysterious
(on a 50-something year old Japanese woman)

- Blue Bird Product (the kind you don't want squirted on your shoulder?)

- Love World Colors Happiness (that was at least a pleasant one)

- Black Black Black (on a pink T-shirt worn by a 30-something year old gold digger)

- Nothing Like Sexy Little Sunset (seen outside a Versace store on a decked out Japanese female shopper)

- Keeps Running. Me Do Not Defeat. Cold Town. (Seriously, did they pull these out of a hat??)

Since I am no longer in Hawaii, I will not start my own blog dedicated to mocking these misuses of language, like Hanzi Smatter has done <-- very funny stuff!

Breakfast reflections, coconut Syrup, mmmm

Since embracing Ron & Steve's low carb / high protein mode of eating, I've begun savings the egg cartons - ostensibly to "sound proof the torture room I am building in the garage"... living in a red state, I keep hearing how torture is the best way to keep the country safe, and I always put "country first" like my diminutive Sr. Senator's campaign slogan stated. Never know when you might need a few dozen cartons, and relatives and co-workers' kids are always having school projects.

However, when traveling to Hawaii, getting a omelet at the hotel cost $26 - Ouch! So Dr Desert Flower and I found Wailana's Coffee House, the Best Place to get breakfast on Waikiki, in my humble opinion for breakfast.

For less than an $18 bill, Dr Desert Flower and I could get all the coffee & pancakes we wanted, bacon, eggs, french toast, awesome service, all just a short walk across a busy intersection away from the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Oh, but for $26 each, we could get the 'international buffet' at "Bali by the Sea, Paradise Cafe", and for another $6 each, we could get coffee OR fruit juice. Give me a break! Breakfast at the Sheraton was $55 a piece, in 1999 dollars, but that included Mimosas & Champagne.

At Wailana's I learned the joy of coconut syrup on pancakes. Yes, I know it is Not low carb by any means, but WOW is it delicious. I've not seen fresh coconut syrup outside of Hawaii. I think it's even yummier than the white powder sugar based frosting we used to paint onto cut-out Christmas cookies as a kid, and that stuff I used to lick right out of the bowl until I got a head rush (akin to the white frosting that toaster strudels come with). If you ever have a chance
to try fresh coconut syrup, don't pass it up. Or, if you're prone to addiction... maybe you should =)

Bursting at the seams

Just before leaving on vacation last week, I ran into one of my neighbors on the way back from the mailbox. He's a retired Canadian gentleman who bought the house 2 doors down, and he had recently had troubles with his pool, you know eh? Seems while he was back up near Calgary, his pool piping burst.

This is Schedule 40 PVC, 2 inch diameter. It has a 200 psi operating pressure, and burst pressure of nearly 1000 psi. The photo shows the "T" that comes directly out of the pump. the left side does to the pool water features, the right side goes to the filter, similar to my pool piping, same installation and design. The ONLY pipe that is NOT swelled and at rupture, is the diagonal one just prior to the pump inlet flange. That's insane!

A 1.5HP Hayward pool pump, just like I have, generates 20 to 30 psi max on a 2 inch discharge line - I monitor mine on the pressure gauge on the top of my filter housing. My Canadian neighbor's pump was running at 25psi, the day after he replaced the ruptured pipes (filters not yet back-washed). I suspected chemical attack (it ruptured on a day when it was 90F ambient, 10% RH) by a inept pool contractor, but PVC is inert to both strong acid and strong base attack. Our common neighbor across the street uses PVC stirring rods & piping in the strong sodium hydroxide he mixes for the farm he manages in SW Phoenix and he said it never embrittles, even at 120F.

I've never seen such a small pool circulating pump generate such extreme pressures. It's not a single glued joint that failed, it's multiple fittings immediately adjacent to the discharge. Surprising, and impressive.

Friday, October 23, 2009

University of Hawaii Lyon Arboretum

University of Hawaii Lyon Arboretum
Thanks to our friend Paul Rodes for sending us this Amazing gem. The Lyon Arboretum at the University of Hawaii is AMAZING! A tropical rain forest, with palms, and orchids, and ferns as big as a car, and centuries old fig trees, and Macaws and McCalls and parrots and Cocteaux that sing to into the forest sounding like children laughing, children screaming, sometimes sounding like small animals being eaten... a wonderful hike up into the volcanically contoured tropical country-side. We would have NEVER found it without Paul's awesome directions and links, here (first), here (trails), here (brochure) and here.

Mosquito repellent is Strongly advised. I dosed myself in factor 60 SPF, but it was un-necessary as you are below canopy for the entire hike. Paul did it with a toddler in a backpack. Dr Desert Flower and I did it with less than an hour to spare before the garden closed at 4pm (she was being a responsible scientist, and attending afternoon sessions at ASHG on cancer & personalized medicine & such... so the arboretum was a bonus. Dress for sweating, getting a lil muddy, and seeing some of the most amazing plants (some Dr. Seuss like) ever!

Merci M.RODES!!

To keep the rats from climbing the trees...

near eateries, and public entrances, and nicer establishments, many of the palm trees have metallic collars.

I was not sure why, so I asked a bartender - he told me it is to keep the rats from climbing the trees. Ew. Not wanting to believe him, 2 days later, I asked a group of 3 cops (the ones watching the beach with binoculars), and they told me the same thing. I've not seen a rat, but near Arizona Memorial I DID see a fully laden palm that had at least 2 dozen coconuts on it - lots of places to hide and succulent fruit to eat, if the rats can gnaw off the nuts, get them to fall on the concrete & break open. The large holes in he collars are from the professional tree climbers who keep unsuspecting tourists free of the danger of falling coconuts.

More photos t0 follow later... trapped in my camera without my adaptor in-pocket to download.

Things I Learned, Boogieboarding on Waikiki

- the Hilton's waves are all protected by breakwaters, and the HPD doesn't want you to go out there (they watch with binoculars from shore) so its best to walk down to the Royal Hawaiian (the Pink one) and the Sheraton, where there's no breakwaters, and the waves are better.

- when looking for someone on shore who can watch your "stuff" while you go out in the surf, and you're a middle aged man, opt for the 2 heavy set mainlander women who are sitting under an umbrella with a cooler nearby and a pile of Coors Light empties around said cooler. This is, as opposed to, the 2 young ladies your son's age who were speaking French and smoking, while sunning themselves in suits they last wore in St.Tropez. The older mainlanders will be happy you stopped to talk to them, and they ain't leavin' before the cooler is empty.

- coral is sharp. Wear the Columbia Footwear velcro'ed all-terrain trackers you brought, that you absentmindedly left near the Coors light cooler and umbrella.

- those 3 scientists, standing in knee high water, 100 yards off shore (the Indian guy, the pasty hairy (probably Jewish) guy, and the mom in the one piece, who are talking about patients and mouse models) are strangely enjoying the 8 foot waves that nearly knock them over as an out-washing rip-tide wave meets an incoming wave, and they crash above the heads of the Indian and pasty-curly-black-haired guy

- when you try and catch the next 6 to 8 ft wave and ride it on your boogie board, you will be invariably knocked sideways by the same type of rip-tide cross-shore wave that was bludgeoning the 3 scientists, 20 yards away

- when there's a huge tropical storm a few hundred miles offshore, it whips up some hellacious waves

- when you head back to shore, after an hour, you'll notice that you're now more than 200 yards down the shore away from the umbrella and cooler and (now) crocked heavyset women who have nearly emptied it. Your glasses and room key and swim goggles are still there.

- when you are walking back to your hotel, and you get stuck in the middle of an English Garden Club ladies' vacation tour, the word "Bugger" will be heard from these ladies' mouths, approx every 30 seconds, as in "Tell him to bugger off", "if he doesn't appreciate you, he can bugger himself", "Oh bugger!" etc. ...sort of like "Keeping Up Appearances" meets "South Park".

A New Revenue Stream

Courtesy of my buddy Matt, link here.
you don't Have to be an Atheist, you can be a hard core Roman Catholic as well. After 6 years of parochial school, and 4 years of CCD, never once did we talk about or study "The Rapture" - because it is not really in the Bible [TM]. It's just a fundamentalist protestant interpretation of John's gospel. The Roman Catholics, who were indoctrinating the faithful centuries before Martin Luther got pissed off, are eligible to be post-Rapture [TM] pet sitters as well! LOL!!

Remole Tuscana - eh

When you're stuck at an Over Priced Hilton Resort, and your wife is at a 7 to 9pm genetics meeting with her boss, so you eat at the so-so Italian Restaurant in the Hilton Village, get the $26 bottle of Remole Toscana. It's a weak blend of cabernet & sangiovese that will not wow you, or present strong tannins or berry flavors (as the wine list promised) but it will be a good friend as you drink it the rest of the night, attempting to futile connect in the humid 85 degree F (and 95% RH) air at the lobby bar to the over-worked, poorly resourced wireless connection that every scientist in a 100 ft radius is trying to camp upon. It also serves as a good primer for the rest of the evening. I'm on vacation, I'm not going to bed before 10pm again!

The Remole, is a mediocre wine, reminiscent of a mild Loire valle French red that I'd recommend to those who hate red wine and who dont want to get a head ache or have too strong of a wine. Who ever wrote the wine list at "Salvadore's Table" should be fed to the sharks after being drawn quartered with city buses, Oli Oli, Lea Lea, and Polynesian Tour buses, tied to each limb. Don't get me wrong, I Love the Loire valley, it produces alot of good, mild, red wines. That's just not what the Remole was promoted as, by the wine list. They did have a 1998 Chateaux Margaux, but I am not a sr vice president of anything... nor is Dr Desert Flower, to be able to afford $600 a bottle. '98 WAS a VERY good year... but $600 is a 'bit rich for my veins'.

At least the lethargic waitress recorked it, wrapped up the bottle and let me take it out of the restaurant 1/2 empty. And we got to see a sunset, without a table reservation, and it didn't cost us $99 a piece for a lack-luster Luau ("we've got roast beef, pork, fish, and roast beef, and your starches" ... the manager described to me.. mmmmm can I splurge, and pay $100 instead? No thanks!)

Having given up on the humid open air lobby impotent wireless, I'm back in the room on the company provided ($16 a day, cha-ching) wired connection. Remole is almost finished... time for a $10 hula girl!!

(was meant to be posted 12 hours ago, but the wireless lobby network and the wired room cnnection both epically failed last night)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"Mo" Disappointed

Today I intended to make a WWII Hawaii memorial tour, visiting the USS Arizona, first sunk on Dec 7th 1941, the USS Oklahoma Museum (capsized and sunk Dec 7th) USS Bowfin Submarine Museum that sank dozens of Japanese ships, and the battleship USS Missouri, where the Japanese surrendered ending WWII (and where Steven Seagal was a cook too!). I fully expected to spend the bulk of the day on the Mighty Mo... touring it's many decks... only to find out.. she entered dry dock on October 14th and will not be open to the public again until 2010! The Oklahoma museum is also closed, while the Missouri is in dry dock.. ugh!

Note here, on the page that tells you when the ship is open, how obvious it is, that she's in dry dock and closed. Grrrrr.

The Arizona was a somber memorial, and the visitors to it, lo and behold, were 98% non-Japanese - as opposed to the rest of the island, where it's 60 to 75% Japanese. One of my distant family members went down with the ship on Dec 7th when the forward magazine was penetrated by an armour piercing dive bomb. I did not know I had any extended family members aboard.
The Bowfin was a roomy, spacious sub, after visiting the U505 at Chicago's Field Museum many times. The Germans sure knew how to pack-in a ton of equipment into a tiny space efficiently. The American Bowfin, co missioned in 1942 and LOADED with GE gauges, lights, control panels, and motors could have easily displaced two U505s.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Drinking in Hawaii

Dr Desert Flower is busy working today. I am not. I AM sick of Dewars (white label). If I never drink Dewars again, that'll be fine. It's not made me sick or anything, I am just "sick of it" after 3 days of sipping it through a Kelty water bottle, poolside, on ice.

Here in Hawaii, there is NO SHORTAGE of cool drinks, and ways to separate tourists from their dollars. Sunday night, a helpful & enabling bartender introduced us to the HLS "Hawaiian Leg Spreader" - Stoli 100, Chambord, Pineapple juice, sour mix, it was yummy. Monday night, it was the Chi Chi - coconut creme liquor, vodka, and pineapple juice. Tuesday night, was my favorite so far - the Hula Girl. A "Hula Girl" is, one shot vodka, one shot Couvoissier, on ice, passion/orange juice, grand marnier - DAMN tasty! Shaken, not stirred. There's no shortage of rum drinks here as well (Arrgh, pirates & rum!) but rum tends to give me a bolt-gun-to-the-forehead head-ache afterwards.

On the Dewars comment, I am somewhat of a Markers Mark fan (note, Christmas approaches) but here in Hawaii, they want like $20 for a lil pint of it at the ABC store. $20 a pint? And $60 for a 750ml of Hennesey cognac... more than 2X what I am used to paying in Phoenix . Remember, whiskey has ALL of its calories BOUND to the alcohol, so it is actually zero carb!! =)

OH - and to the VP of Caris Pharma stuck in Phoenix, your "crew" misses you (Dr D.Flower asked I insert that here).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


tip of the hat to my buddy JoeM for this gem.

Dickipedia... a wiki of Dicks... =)

(At the Honolulu airport, to get from the Hawaiian Airlines Terminal to Baggage Claim, they tell you to take the Wiki Wiki shuttle... LOL).

Joe vs the Volcano

On Monday, Dr Desert Flower and I took the bus to Diamond Head State Monument, that is about 5 miles away. The Hawaii bus system runs well, a little slow, has tremendous ridership (standing room only, mid-day), is nice and clean, and costs only $2.25 per person (and they give you a transfer ticket for the round trip!). Yeah, we COULD have paid $45 a day for a rental car + $20 a day to park it + fees + taxes, but why?

So we hike up the mile or so from the bus stop into the center of the crater - which collapsed about 145 million years ago, or in quick creationist time scales, during the US Civil War. Its a dry and desolate crater, with Cactii, scrub, arid plants, an Army Reserve base, and some other kind of military post. Then he fun begins. The Officially posted elevation states a 500 rise from the crater floor to the rim's observation post, but it felt like 5 or 6 times that! Massive straight stairways and sloping carved-in-lava tunnels - once at the top, it offered spectacular views of Waikiki and the SE shore of Oahu. The 1910 vintage naval observation defenses were interesting in a crude way as well. Definitely worth the climb. If you can't make it to the top of a 6 story building without being winded, don't attempt it.

Clueless Japanese Hipsters in Hawaii

Hawaii is designed to separate wealthy Asians (primarily Japanese, but more and more Koreans and Chinese) from their money. The most expensive shops & restaurants all cater to Japanese shoppers. The eggs & bacon, pancakes, waffle crowds, are entirely Hawaiian / Mainland oriented & half the price (or less, but more on that later).

Dr Desert Flower and I have seen the following on T-shirts here in Honolulu, since landing on Saturday:

Run DMC King of Rock - at breakfast Sunday morning

Be Wet - on a 20-something year old's t shirt

Gutter Ladies - on 1 of 3 "Thugs who looked really "Bad" LMAO!

Love Begins With Buckaroo

Will Make Happy - on a woman who was approx 300 lbs, at a pool, with her child

Touch Too Young - baseball cap, at Diamond Head Crater, on a 50-something year old man

and they are not JUST in English:

Tu Bien La Vintage - you well the vintage?

Jamais Trop Peu Peau - never too soon skin ???

I think it is a combination of Asian hubris (we don't need no stinkin translators!) and opportunistic entrepreneurs, who are leaping at the chance to take advantage of Asians who are so eager to be parted with their money while attempting to be hip, happenin, oh so cool.

As more amusing sayings appear in Waikiki, I will be sure to document them here. =)

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Daily Show Theme

Did you know it was written by Bob Mould, and performed by They Might Be Giants?

I did not know this. The keenly observant Dr. Desert Flower noticed this last night, when we'd DVR'ed the episode and they rolled the credits slowwwwly at the end of the show, for a rare change (they will be off the air next week, for a solid week).

Colbert's theme was written and performed by Cheap Trick (now starting it's 5th season!)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Parenting Skills...

I don't have a daughter, but if I did, and she was this girl... I'd seriously have to re-evaluate where did I go wrong? How does a 15 year old get tattoos? Much less the rest of what you can read here... at this very sad link.

Quarles Harris Ruby Porto

Last year, at the Desert Botanical Garden's Corks & Cactus, they offered several Ports for the tasting (and for the purchasing as well). We liked the Quarles Harris Ruby Porto (Vinho do Porto Garantia, Instituto Dos Vinhos Do Douro E Porto) we bought a few bottles. Over the last weekend we opened a bottle of this dark, rich, ruby goodness. I thought it was quite tasty, while Dr. Desert Flower found the 2nd glass to be an effective sleeping potion, 1/2 way through Maher's Real Time. A good full bodied Port like the Quarles Harris does have somewhat of a sedative & calming effect on me as well. By Tuesday night, I was enjoying sips of the final glass, savoring it's sweetness. It was all of about $12, reasonably priced. I'm not a Port snob, "it'll do".

We've got 3 or 4 more Ports in the dining room cave, including a chocolate flavored one the good Doctor favors. Come over for dinner sometime, and we'll open a bottle for you to try. Bring a pillow, in case you find it somniferous as well.

Claussen + HFCS... why?

I like eating a pickle for lunch from time to time. Kosher Dills, mini or large, that crunch - not nasty sweet pickles or relished pickles, ew! So I was at the store the other day, and they had Claussen kosher dills on sale. I usually buy the Trader Joes, or Fresh & Easy store brands, but I fondly remember amiable Claussen stork ads from when I was a kid, and I figured, why not?

The next day, I'm eating one in my kitchen when I see the ingredient label: Fresh Cucumbers, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, High Fructose Corn Syrup... wh wh whaaaat??? (re: Broflovski) Why the hell did Kraft Foods put in HFCS into pickles? Pickles? Really? Why? The "thumbs up" here is representative of high blood sugar, increased obesity, and promotion of type II diabetes symptoms.

Kraft / Philip Morris will not get my pickle dollars ever again. Epic failure, Kraft.

Sarah Palin Reads "Going Rogue" - LOL!

Thanks to Andrew Sullivan!
Watch it before they make Youtube yank it. Link HERE! LOL!!!!!!

Republicans Hate Acorn, but excuse Gang Rape

In fact, they are in favor of gang rape. They opposed an Al Franken proposed bill amendment to not award US Federal contract dollars to contractors who make their employees sign contracts that exempt the contracting company from Any responsibility if the defense contractor employees are raped, especially gang raped by fellow co-workers - like a woman who worked for Haliburton was gang raped in Iraq.

The Daily Show has this POIGNANT summary, here, entitled "rape-nuts". Such Republican hypocrites!!! Note, at least the female Republican senators did not vote against the Franken bill. ACORN, bad! Haliburton gang rape... good (wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more).

This disgusted Dr. Desert Flower and I last night.

My current, and my past senators (Lugar exempted), all voted against this bill amendment that should have been unanimously approved.

How can ANY Sane person, defend gang rape? What if McCain's daughter was raped, would that change his stance? What if Coburn's wife were gang raped, would that be ok? If one of Brownback's "snowflake kids" were gang raped, would That change affect his opposition?


What is the color of the sky on the 6000 year old planet that these 30 truly evil men live on, and represent? How do they sleep at night?

Yeah, there's no such thing as 'hate crimes'

2 New Yorkers beat a gay man nearly to death. One of them has Leviticus 18:22 tattooed proudly on his upper arm - literally wearing it as a badge on his sleeve. Republicans in the Senate keep arguing against Federal Hate Crime laws.

Andrew Sullivan has this very disturbing post: link here.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The "HAPPY Act"?

US Rep Thaddeus McCotter (R - Livonia MI) has introduced the HAPPY Act, to give a $3500 tax refund to pet owners to reimburse expenses. Now, Dr.Desert Flower and I have 2 felines who we serve, and I know many readers of this blog have dogs, cats, ferrets, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, and other pets as well... but $3.5K from the already nearly bankrupt US Treasury?

I am torn on this one. The selfish part of me, and the animal lover in me both like this concept very much, but the pragmatist in me, thinks it is ludicrous.

Online Poll Mischief

If you want to help skew online poll results even further, Pharyngula has a fun link, here. In the less-than-30 minutes since PZ Myers first posted it, the numbers have already moved 10% more towards "NO".

Il Valore Sangiovese Giovane 2008

I picked up a $4 bottle of Sangiovese at Trader Joes last weekend, that I'd not tried before: Il Valore Sangiovese Giovane 2008, Marchese De Petri, Puglia Indicazione Geographfica Tipica. It was imported by Americal Beverage Group, San Clemente CA for Trader Joes. It did not even last 2 days, as "just one glass" was impossible, and with some spicy Thai food, a lunch of ham-and-swiss-and-romaine, and a bowl of Amy's Mexican casserole, it was great! A bit fruity, I disagree with the "cranberry" 2007 review I read - I've drank alot of cranberry juice and this did not resemble cranberries in the 2008 bottle I had. A 2004 review noted strawberries, and that's possible. It had berry flavor, but it's a red wine, so that's not unexpected.
Now most Chianti's are made of about 95% Sangiovese, grown in Tuscany, so this heel wine (Puglia is the "heel" of the southern Italian peninsula) came as a surprise in being not Chianti-like at all, while being delicious. Again, goes to terroir and excellent government controls, providing low cost, very drinkable beverages to US consumers who desire it.

Camellia sinensis var. assamica

Assam black tea - tasty! and LOADED with caffeine! I've had black tea in China before, and it was "eh". I picked up some "Irish Black Tea" at Fresh and Easy last week, and mmmm, it is an awesome pick-me-up at 4am for Bangalore calls. Grown mostly in India, I am not sure where F&E got the "Irish" part from, but that's fine. It has usurped oolong as my favorite tea. Combine it with a little stevia, and it might progress from staple to addictive.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Those ground breaking IU women...

Indiana University Elinor Ostrom wins the Nobel Prize. First woman to ever win it for Economics.

Those IU women, always forging new ground, often under-appreciated by their peers for years and years, and then one day they finally get recognized, when it seems like it is long over-due. They're a remarkable, and patient group of degreed professionals. =)

Friday, October 9, 2009


Anticipation is mounting. So much to look forward to, there, there, there, and there. It'll be weird to be in high humidity environment for a week, 8 days from now.

And to those who stalk online, we'll have house-sitters / cat-sitters, a working cell phone connected wireless security alarm, and an omnipresent curmudgeon neighbor across the street watching our domicile. =)

Doubly Good Stevia

Last year, my primary care physician recommended I stop using Splenda, and instead use Stevia in my coffee. I used it skeptically and sporadically, preferring organic honey instead (mmmm delicious bioflavonoids and micronutrients). As my honey supply ran out, I've been using Stevia more (purchased at trader Joe's, of course).

Well this morning, I was reading how my friend Ron often takes double cream in his coffee, and I decided to make a Stevia posting here. Much to my happiness, I found that not only is Stevia 300X sweeter than sugar, but also: "Large amounts of stevioside can potentially interfere with absorption of carbohydrates in animals. It can further disrupt the metabolising/conversion of food into energy."

Well, I am not ingesting "large amounts" but it is nice to know if a future addiction foments, it might help to block carb uptake. And since I am no longer trying to reproduce, the other South American reported side effects of infertility, do not negatively impact me.

Try it, see if you like it. I'll be trying it more in coffee going forward.

The World is SO Relieved Bush is Gone

Awesome our elected head of state

#1 our country

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Paris Cafe, Greenville SC is closed!

I was speaking to a francophone coworker in Greenville today, and he mentioned that Paris Cafe had a closed sign on it. A quick Google search, proves they're closed! Damnit! They were a delicious cafe, with wonderful wines, amazing desserts, delicious lunches and dinners, good service... but I was often the only customer in the place when I'd go back to Greenville each quarter. I knew it wasn't sustainable.

Supposedly the new place will serve lunch and breakfasts... but I will certainly miss the delicious dinners.

Those poor beleaguered, oppressed victims - US Banks

Diane Casey-Landry, Chief Operating Officer, American Bankers Association, is defending the poor, victimized, oh-so-honest, up-standing, reasonable fee applying, compliant with all oppressive regulations, beleaguered US Banking "industry" today on the 2nd 1/2 of the Diane Rehm show. Kathleen Day, from the Center for Responsible Lending, is doing her best to not rip out Casey-Landry's throat, each time Casey-Landry cries about what such strict regulations there are, and how banks are struggling to make profits (LMAO!), and have developed such WONDERFUL new "products" (in terms of fees, that make up the majority of US Bank profits) and how those fees are so judiciously, appropriately applied to errant customers.

Nancy Trejos of the Washington Post's Personal Finance page, is trying to be impartial, but is finding it impossible to support the BS Casey-Landry is spewing, and often reinforces / seconds Day's comments and refutes the Bank "industry" claims and oblique lies that lovely-but-evil Casey-Landry continues to spout. 100% of the callers into the radio show are haranguing Casey-Landry. No shortage of screwed customers.

Shepard Smith, update your CV

A rare, rational presenter on Fox, Shepard Smith is likely not going to remain on Rupert's network for long. He should really polish up his CV and start looking for employment at an actual news network that doesn't rely entirely on jingoisms, hype, and hysteria to try and get ratings. Crooks & Liars has a good story on him here, as he denounces the Faux party line about the maligned 'Public Option'.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Penn & Teller, actually BS

Massimo Pigliucci at Rationally Speaking has a good piece on Penn & Teller's perspective on global warming - link here. Like Massimo, I am a P&T fan, but when a skeptic steps beyond their comprehension, other intelligent humans need to call "BS" on their misguided conclusions.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pairings Schmearings

Last weekend, at Trader Joes, Dr Desert Flower and I found "Trader Joe's Guide to Pairing Food & Wine". I threw one in the basket, and then laid it aside when we got home. Looking at it today, I see that the recommendations Trader Joe's makes, are malarkey.

According to this recommendation sheet, Chardonnay goes with just about Everything, Cabernet Savignons are very limited, and merlots and sauvignon blancs, almost nothing. Perhaps this is true if considering only California vintages, or other limited populations, but taking a global view, their list is seriously narrow minded. And it hits only the common names that Americans seem to love, missing out on all the smaller varietals which continue to delight the palate. So I modified the TJ list, to my liking:

...and this doesn't even touch upon the Cabernet Francs, Nero d'Avolas, Sardinians, Puglias, Pinots, Beaujolais, Proseccos, Mourvèdres, Aglianicos, Barberas, Carménères, Montepulcianos, Gamays, Sangioveses, Tempranillos, Primitivos, and so many others. My recommendation would be to open a bottle of wine and try it with the food you're about to eat. If they don't pair well, then finish the bottle the next day with some other food. At < $10 a bottle, it's not a big loss. Some spicy, bold, tannin filled, full bodied wines go well with spicy, robust foods. Other times, a more subtle wine pairs better. Likewise, some mellow cheeses pair quite well with aggressive wines better than they do with smoother wines. Chacun ses merde - to each their own.

à votre santé! or... nazdrowie!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Much Better Now =)

I was listening to NPR's Talk of the Nation, when delusional wind bag Jonah Goldberg came on. After listening to his extremely biased rhetoric for approximately 60 seconds, I began to feel as if my head would explode. Turning the radio OFF, has set a wonderful atmosphere of calm and sanity here in my office and home. Ahhhh. Much Better Now. =)

(There's no need to repeatedly say "douche bag!" and "dumb ass!" to a radio - venting to a radio receiver is not therapeutic)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Hizzonner da Mayor's favorite Tribune columnist

Chicago did not get the 2016 Olympics. Good. Now every time there's a scandal mentioned about bribery and corruption and insider deals related to the Olympics, Obama's name won't be affiliated with it at all. Let Rio have it - I just hope Airbus gets their RCA issues worked out before they fly more people to / from Brazil over open water.

John Kass is an irreverent, insightful, Chicago Tribune columnist. I don't think Mayor Daley (who has been Mayor most of my adult life) will name John his BFF anytime soon. Kass's column (link here) gave me a chuckle.

DIY Pool Heater, retrospective

Back in March of this year, I got a wild hair, and decided I was going to build a solar pool heater. 2 weeks later, I had it installed, and now 7 months later, we've been swimming in sun warmed water. But I think the aquatic fun is just about over for this year.

Saturday afternoon, after trimming the mexican fence post cactus in the front yard, and re-leveling some of the paving stones in the back yard that had shifted over the last 2 years since I'd installed them, I decided a cool refreshing dip in the pool would be wonderful. 88F ambient, 76F pool, 10% relative humidity, 10 mph intermittent breeze. MAN, does turbulent convection work as an effective means of heat transfer! The pool was chilly, but it was warmer in the pool up to my earlobes than it was in the wind rapidly drying. Another week or so, with 65F nights, and I think the pool will be only amenable to polar bears. I guess it took 2 years for my blood to think out here.
  • The pool heater needed no Gorilla Tape, or other duct tape. The G2V Sun that our planet revolves around (sorry South Carolina, parts of Alaska and many other red states) degraded the tape to brittle useless strips that only left residual white sticky entrails on the heat exchanger tubes [as I typed this, I realized the comments I'll likely get from Nevada and Northern Coastal CA... LOL]. Use steel conduit clamps instead (a contractor 144 pack costs like $7, as opposed to the 12 pack that cost $2.50) to secure the coils of black poly tubing.
  • A steel shielded coupling on the high pressure pump discharge side of the heater will avoid unexpected middle-of-the-night elastomeric ruptures of the unshielded flex coupling that drained the pool of it's contents last June - really unsettling to wake up and find your pool nearly empty at 7am on a Saturday. The unshielded 90 is now serving admirably on the heater discharge, poolside.
  • While I thought we'd use the heater to cool the water mid-summer, the night ambient temp rarely dropped below 85F throughout the summer months, so the occasion never really presented itself to use it as a radiator. The pool's got an aerator that worked well in August when the water temp got in the upper 90s.
October 2008, the water was so cold, I could barely stand it. This year, I swam for almost an hour the first weekend in October and even took the time to do one more session of pool yoga. It was time and energy well spent.

Friday, October 2, 2009

3 from Epicuro, inexpensive & delicious from Southern Italy

Too often, Americans are afraid to buy wines that they don't recognize, or have difficulty pronouncing, so they stick to Chianti, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet, Pinot such-and-such... and since America is a LARGE wine market, many vintners have tried to label their wines for the ill-informed American masses.

This is not a problem that Italian Wine maker Epicuro has made - thank goodness! I have this habit of trying to hunt out lesser known, under-appreciated gems. All three of these reds are exactly those kinds of finds:

Salice Salentino Riserva
Aglianico Beneventano
Sicilia Nero D'Avola

The vintages I've gotten from Trader Joes, each for $4, 5, or 6 dollars over the last 2 years, have been consistently good. You can't get a drinkable GLASS of wine in a nice restaurant for $4, but with bottles you've got a wonderful and healthy beverage for several lunches and a dinner or two.
Brought to the US by D'Aquino Importing, I am more than pleased that Trader Joes offers these, and we try to keep a few bottles on-hand for every-day drinking.

The Salice Salentino is composed of 80% Negroamaro and 20% Malvasia Nera. The bottles I've had started off a little harsh on the first day, but after a little oxidation, they mellowed through day 2 deliciously. The Aglianico's, with a majority Basilicata and a somewhat bold, spicy character. The Nero D'Avola (or "Calabrese" to some Italians) has been consistently smooth, full, and complimentary.

Whether you're having an Italian meal, or a spicy dish, or a heavy meat dish, these wines are all excellent choices. Come over to dinner with Dr Desert Flower and I, and I'll open one of these as the 2nd bottle of the night. For an inexpensive and healthy tannin filled glass of Southern Italy, these are 3 of my favorites.

Yeah, and once again, that dern government control and disciplined regulation is rearing it's ugly head, with the Denominazone di Origine Controllata helping to deliver fine products at low prices that international customers want to pay. (leave it entirely to the free market and get a bottle of Yellow Tail's nasty solvent instead, for example).


I keep hearing on local radio that Phoenix citizens are "Phoenicians".

"Don't Get Sick"

I agree completely with Florida Congressman Grayson's House Floor blunt statement this week:

The Republican Health Care plan: "Don't get sick"
If you do get sick: "Die Quickly"

The indignant house Republicans demanded an apology from him? Why apologize for telling the truth?  Where's the Republican plan that includes real cost controls AND a public option?  Don't give me any malarkey about "it'll drive insurance companies out of business" - really?  Out of business? Have you SEEN how profitable insurance companies have been? It's ludicrous to say they'll be driven out of business.  The rest of the world still has private insurance running in parallel with public insurance, We Can Too!

If you are also in agreement, send Congressman Grayson a note of support: link here.

I did  =)