Monday, November 30, 2009

Silver Carp Attacking Chicago & the Great Lakes

I'd heard about these imported Asian Carp invading the Illinois River several years ago. If the US Army Corp of Engineers had not dug a canal to reverse the flow of the Illinois River, connecting the Mississippi River & Lake Michigan, then this would not be a threat. But... the invasive species, who have already taken over large parts of the Mississippi River, have now made it past an electrified barrier in the Illinois River, and will soon be taking over Lake Michigan.

If these were little fish, the invasion would be another sad testament of clueless men tampering with Nature (intentionally importing the asian carp to "clean" algae from ponds) and having no idea what secondary and tertiary effects that tinkering will have. But these are Big fish - 80 to 100 lbs. and they jump, at boats, traveling 10 to 15 mph out of the water. Ouch! Trout, perch, Coho, smelt... good luck with the new massive Asian competition who will crowd you out, gobble you up, and attack the fishermen who want to catch you.

Video links here, here, and here. (nice bow shot!)
EPA link here.
2005 population graph, here. (nice exponential growth)

Horsey's genius is not appreciated in South Carolina

Two weeks ago I heard a story on NPR about how Boeing is opening an assembly plant in North Charleston, SC to build the 787 "Dreamliner". The anti-union climate in SC, combined with an under-utilized deep water sea port on the Cooper River, combined with many millions in corporate tax break give-aways by the state made South Carolina too tempting for Boeing to pass up.

So Horsey ran this HILARIOUS cartoon in his hometown Seattle newspaper (link here).

And predictably, many South Carolinians got all worked up about it. (link here to their anger) It really hurts when it's true, huh? Yes, South Carolina does make fine Michelin Tires, and Bosch brakes, and BMW Z4s, and many other durable goods that have supplanted the formerly thriving textile industry that unions helped to drive out of the state 40 years ago. But remember, I LIVED THERE for 16 years. I worked with many of the citizens of SC, listened to their rhetoric, sermons, news casts, shop floor conversations, break room slights, bar room boasts, church picnic comments... etc, etc. For a large portion of the state, and it's inhabitants, Horsey nailed every detail beautifully. And besides, it's a cartoon! He apologized for the noose... though there's many in Lauren County would still wish they could use their nooses in storage. His critics and the venom they've tried to unload on him are laughable.

My congratulations to David Horsey, and I hope he continues his poignant, insightful, inspirational work!

Mixed Bag In British Scientific Publications

Dr Desert Flower and I read SCIENCE, and check out medical and scientific journal postings from time to time on things we find interesting or relevant. Some journals are better than others. Canadian studies, we have to LOOK at closely to make sure their methods / funding / populations are sound sometimes... more than others. Many British journals are usually pretty good. Recently, my buddy Ron has provided 2 examples of British science reporting, with a stark contrast:
Misguided cr*p (I know this book. Your conclusions were all wrong Ryan... Halsey acted stupidly.)
Factual reporting with sound conclusions
both regarding what one eats in regard to one's wellness.
"In urban south Indians, total dietary carbohydrate and glycaemic load are associated with increased, and dietary fibre with decreased, risk of type 2 diabetes."

... and Dr Desert Flower and I were out shopping for new pants for me yesterday, as my "old man" jeans at a 40 inch waist are massively baggy, and so were the 38s I tried... but the 36s were actually comfortable. The last time I wore a 36 waist was during Bush Sr's administration, 20 years ago, before loading up on carbs and bread and noodles and rice... I will continue to take a low carb stance, and encourage anyone else who struggles with their blood sugar, hunger, or weight to do the same as well.

Friday, November 27, 2009

God's Hands

Dr Desert Flower's mom sent this one. God's Hands, Ultraviolet Light, Push-Buttons... what more does a girl need? Leaving Victoria Secret swimming in their wake, the Chinese forge boldly ahead.

Made in China (home of tainted baby formula, tooth paste, dog food, dry wall, low quality steel, lead painted toys, etc) I am sure this product is safe, effective, and just what every woman needs. Just in time for the holiday gift giving season too!

"A B-cup for work, a C-cup for shopping, and a D-cup for partying.” Link here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Road

As the father of a single son, a fan of Cormac McCarthy's work, and considering the fact I've always had a bizarre fascination with post apocalyptic landscapes... I think I am going to try and see this film by director John Hillcoat this weekend. (link to IMDB here. link to trailer here.)

The map they show in the trailer looks almost like the coast of New Hampshire, but the roads are all different.

Charlize Theron is in it... and I've always liked her work.

'You oughta know not to stand by the window
somebody might see you up there
I got some groceries, some peanut butter
to last a couple of days'

I've got more than Viggo's three bullets. Lots more.

Dr Desert Flower probably wont want to see it - it's not a really "light toned" or "uplifting" cinema, and she let's me go alone (Hurt Locker, Schindler's List, Children of Men, etc). Anyone in Phoenix wanna see it with me? It is at AMC Deer valley in the North and on Shea in the East... nuthin on my side of town.

"Effective Vice President" ??

Talk of the Nation on NPR this afternoon, has Ken Rudin saying "Vice President Cheney was the most effective Vice President of all time". ??? WTF?

Yes, if by "effective", you mean
- effective in isolating American Internationally and squandering the good will universally extended to us on September 12th 2001.

- effective in getting no bid contracts for his cronies at Haliburton / KBR, including the building of defective showers that have killed dozens of US service men in Iraq.

- effective in revealing the names of covert CIA agents

- effective in lowering the tone of discourse in American Politics by telling Senator Leahy to go f*ck himself" on the Senate floor

- effective in being a massive hypocrite by participating in a party that denies equal rights to gay couples when his own daughter is in a committed lesbian relationship in which she just had a daughter with her "partner". I guess when you're really really rich and politically connected, it's fine to not have any rights in a relationship and tell others what they can do in their bed rooms and with their uteruses (uterii?).

Yes Ken, Cheney was very effective. Katrina was an effective Hurricane. Bush was an effective idiot & decider. The Black Plague was an effective population limiter for Europe. Small Pox was an effective gift to the indigenous peoples of the Americas from their new European friends. John Rutsey was an effective first album drummer for Rush.

A Tennessee Christmas

The 'gutted' red lights are my favorite touch in this precious bit of Americana. =)

Crazy Australian Air Force Personnel

I got this video last night from a retired veteran friend of mine. After looking at a great number of photos (here, here, and here), he and I determined this is a F-111C Australian Air Force jet. It shows
- proper use of ear protection
- an unflinching standing crew member (brave, drunk, stupid, unshakable trust, death wish, all the above?)
- wanton mis-use of tax payer funded fuel and hardware

... but I found it quite fun to watch, never-the-less.

Monday, November 23, 2009

New Skeet Shooting Rig on Order

I got this from my Uncle Joe this evening. Quite silly, and amusing, and it goes right along with my rebuttal to Joe M's comments on previous post =P

Looks like British hardware in a British landscape.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Muslim Terrorists make better car bombs than Christian Terrorists do

Now the Christian [TM] terrorists from one sect in Northern Ireland are trying to blow up other Christians again... but their car bombs are fizzling. Link here. The Muslim and narco-trafficking terrorist cowards in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan don't seem to be having the same 'lack of effective detonation' problems as the Northern Ireland cowards.

Yeah, takes a 'real man' to build a bomb, and try to kill unsuspecting victims with it. All that secret planning, gathering of explosives, soldering, training from poor quality DVDs and extremist websites, and then sneaking around to plant & deliver it. Real manly. Real upstanding. Real noble. Really justified to kill unsuspecting by-standers, or government workers, or sleeping / off-duty soldiers, or children... and probably kill yourself as well. Too bad we can't have the Christian [TM] and Muslim bomb fixated cowards blow each other up, out in the middle of no where, and let the vultures clean up afterward.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Them Crooked Vultures

Thanks to my buddy Ryan for pointing these guys out. Them Crooked Vultures is a combination of Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters) on drums, Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) on guitar, and John Paul Jones (yes, from Zeppelin) playing bass. TCV have a very cool sound - the myspace link has a few videos on it for a taste. Their group's website (link here) has more sounds and videos as well.

Once these guys finish touring the UK and down under, I look forward to seeing them in Phoenix.

Palin's angry mob of Hoosiers turns on her

Tip of the hat to my buddy Matt and to Andrew Sullivan on this link to former Palin enthusiasts turned angry mob when she shuns them. Max Cat may enjoy this, as it is in his neck of the woods up there in Nobelsville IN. Direct link here. The contrasts to fundamentalist loon Huckabee are pretty humourous in the comments section.

Friday, November 20, 2009

An opera of lust, suicide & beheadings? Oh boy...

Dr Desert Flower and I have tickets for the Richard Strauss opera Salome Saturday night here in Phoenix. I don't know what I was thinking when we bought tickets for this one... OK, all operas are sort of messed up as a baseline, granted, yes that's a fact. There's death and sex and mayhem / intrigue in just about every opera - it's what sells I guess. But Strauss's version of the story of the beheading of John The Baptist (Jochanaan) sounds really messed up.

Slutty Salome as Herod's step daughter is bored, and fascinated with imprisoned Jochanaan. She seduces the head of the guards to get access to Jochanaan, then creeps out the guard in her desire for the prisoner, so the head guard kills himself. Herod shows up and "slips on the blood", hallucinates, is scorned by his wife, so he lusts after his step daughter instead. Twisted psycho Salome devises a plan to seduce her step dad and convince him to behead Jochanaan, so that she can finally HAVE him, speak with him, kiss the lips of his severed head - ew! Incest, filicide, suicide, seduction, execution, unrequited desire - maybe I better take the LARGE flask instead of the small one.

I am looking forward to the Saturday after Thanksgiving when the Phoenix Symphony will be playing Mozart and Strauss. Hopefully, 'no "flask-ette" required'!

Palin 2012, I sure hope so

Whether it is Palin, or Beck, or some other combination of clueless demagogues who cling to their fears, tax-cuts, mis-information, quick-creationism, fundamentalism, or other "quaint" beliefs and biases whose diminishing influence in a modern, informed and fact-based America continues to make them More and More irrelevant, I am looking forward to the most vacuous ticket possible. Hockey moms who desert their elected offices, victimized Mormons who 'just ask questions', former MA governors whose investment capital firms gut American business and send jobs over seas... the more vocal and charismatic and "lovable" by their hard-core primary voter Republican voter base, the better!

These popularly hyped-up dim-wits futile attempts to win over the VAST MAJORITY of the uncommitted middle of America, the independents, will fail miserably. Sure, thousands of tea-baggers will gather, and blog, and comment on Pox news, and gnash their teeth, and try to rally others, but it will not get the vast majority of Americans interested in voting for ideological nut-jobs. This MIGHT result in Splintering of the Republicans into the "Conservative Party" and the remaining moderates, but that would be out of character for voting base who is well versed at marching lock-step with what their idolized leaders tell them to do.

Breaking the plurality of the American corporate 2 party system would be the Best Thing to happen to the democratic process since the 4 way split of 1824! Let the fringe 20% further become a separatist and regional party, and more strongly embody the side-show in which they continue to increasingly perform. All other major Democracies in the world do not engage in a 2 party system, just the corporately driven Americans embrace it.

Palin or other equally fringe personalities have no more chance of winning national office in the US as Le Pen did in France, even if they run 5 times (like JM Le Pen has). I'm looking forward to participating in a multi-party democracy in the future.

1 Year of Growth

Progression from Q4 2008 to Q4 2009. Abundant Sunshine, organic gardening, growth is appreciable.

Lantana, Hibiscus, Salvias, Spanish Lavender, and Lemons... oh my.

Dr Desert Flower wants to see MORE GREEN in the 'god-forsaken-desert' environ here, so we are working towards that end.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Lower BP, via resting feline

Approaching 17 years old, our cat loves to nap on the sectional sofa she believes she owns. I often net surf on the couch, with her at my feet. Maybe that's one contributing factor as to why my BP was 112/70 at my last doctor's visit. =)

If anyone wants to come over and brush out her under-coat, I'll make you dinner and we'll break out a good bottle of wine. Being allergic to feline dander, I have to put on a level II bio hazard garb before I attempt to do so.

Aloes surging

The original aloe and the 2 transplanted aloe children in my backyard are beginning to sprout up flowering stems. Should be a bountiful year for the hummingbirds chez nous.

For what they used to look like last year, see the '08 photo of the parent below.

Acorn did it! The whole country is Republican afterall!

52% of Republicans firmly believe that ACORN stole the election and Obama is not legally elected? (link here) A solid majority, really? There's that many delusional, disenfranchised, denial practicing conservative loons out there? (detailed results of the n=1066 poll of registered voters, link here [warning, PDF]).

This would be funny, if it wasn't so ludicrous... and dangerous. All those angry libertarian / conservative / often militia-sympathizing / Palin admiring / frequently fundamentalist belief embracing Umerikuns, living in their own alternate reality, planning violent revolution, spewing baseless venom, inspiring other fanatics further into delusion. Yikes.

Reservoir Turtles

TMNT meet Tarantino; Beautiful Trailer.

Courtesy of Andrew Sullivan.
I can't stop snickering.

David Brooks - Going Vague

This Crooks & Liars thread and associated graphic had me laughing this morning. =)

"Week after week, year after year, Bobo swims from spotlight to spotlight across the blighted media landscape of a country his ideology helped to mutilate...speaking gauzily of a sane, reasonable Republican Party that does not exist."


Photoshop is an awesome tool.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Praying Mantes Flourish

This tiny male was seen out front last week (around the much un-liked hose reel posting).

He was hunting on the purple sage bushes that border the north side of the driveway. I'd seen others in the palms in the back yard - having grown up in sub-urban Chicagoland, I was not used to seeing these critters. Here in AZ they seem to be ubiquitous in my yard.

(It's mantes, not mantii, or manties)

Yesterday, while valving off the pool heater at the end of the day, I spotted this much larger female on the patio door screen. I hope she enjoys the numerous crickets back there. And if the tiny front yard male is brave enough to head to the backyard, copulate, and then be devoured.. I wish it all the best.

They do live almost a whole year... at the males who never get any do, and the females do.

3 feet outside my living room window

It's nice to be in November, in the 70s (F), and have so many flowers in the back yard.

Trick is NOT to trim the shrubs so close, until After they have flowered! (I learned this last year)

Another reason I hate CINOs: Psalm 109.8 for Obama

If you're gonna choose to be a Christian, that's fine. I'm happy for you, and I won't hold it against you if you really live your life like the new testament Jesus did - the world would be a better place with more non-materialistic, socialist leaning, philanthropic, tolerant Jesus emulators. But when you say you're a Christian, and then you pray to make Michelle Obama a widow and his daughters childless... you're a CINO (Christian in name only) of the lowest order.

Let His Days Be Few, And Let Another Take His Office
Let His Children Be Fatherless, And His Wife A Widow.

Rachel Maddow had this nice story (link here), illustrating the evil that CINOs are now propagating.

It saddens me to see "Christians" sink so low. I do understand count-downs to the end of a Presidential term in office, sure... but to wish Old Testament severity upon the nation's overwhelmingly popularly elected Chief Executive... I don't get.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Linguist Nunberg pegs Narcissist George Will

Listening to Fresh Air this afternoon on my way to the grocery store, I had to laugh in my car.
"Shall gets a bad wrap":
Health care bill "shall" = bad, even when it is restraining what government can do, or will do.
Bill of Rights "shall" = Very Good! "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom speech", "The right to bear arms shall not be infringed".

Then, crazed for counting first person pronoun use by the President are Frank Rich, George Will ("Obama is inordinately fond of the first person pronouns"), Stanley Fish, Peggy Noonan, and other pundits. BUT, wwhen you compare the actual transcripts of Obama speeches to those of Bush, Clinton, and Bush Sr, Obama's three predecessors used first person pronouns 50 to 70% more often than Obama does in his speeches. But yeah, it's Obama who is the narcissist.

Nunberg said poignantly: "When you're a narcissist, every door knob looks like a mirror" (Quote of the day)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Leonids Peak Tonight

if you are up late... and the sky is dark... enjoy the show. (link here)
20 to 30 meteors an hour in North America. Estimated up to 300 an hour in Asia tonight.

I'll be sleeping...

How to Speak Tea Bag

Fiore is a genius. Thanks to Crooks & Liars for this link.

"How to Speak Tea Bag" - Nazi! Nazi! Nazi! Obamunists! Baby Killer! LOL!

and while you're there, check out "Time Flies" from earlier this month too! =)

Cork & Cactus vs The Big Pour

For those of you with small children, and without baby sitters, stop reading this post now. It will only depress you. If you are like Dr. Desert Flower and I, without small children, and ambulatory enough to get out and enjoy happenings around Phoenix, then please read on.

Last Friday night, was the Annual Cork & Cactus wine tasting at the Desert Botanical Garden here in Phoenix. This was the third consecutive year that Dr. Desert Flower and I attended. Earlier years, it was held in September, when the temperatures were still over 100F. This year, DBG staff decided to move C&C out into the garden itself and combined it with the Chiles & Chocolate tasting as well. At first glance, this sounded like a good idea - however, in reality it was very poorly executed. Consider the following points:
- The DBG paths are not extra wide, not fully paved, and often are gravel
- Having bright temporary installation flood lights elevated to only 8 to 10 feet means they are glaring into pedestrian eyes, making reading the Wine Tasting List impossible.
- Waiting in line for 20 minutes to get a 6 inch diameter plate of appetizers from 2 very small, poorly located buffets, is maddening
- having wait staff wade through a prickly cactus garden to refill the food buffet is a disaster waiting to happen
- reducing the dessert table down from a pool-table sized Mayan pyramid of delicious chocolate and pastry decadence in previous years to one small 3 foot long, one sided table of a few dessert treats this year (with another 10 minute queue to access the poorly lit table) is also frustrating

Once the retired, semi-ambulatory (ie walkers, canes, and low inertia) retirees LEFT after the first hour, and other younger attendees had enough and left in frustration, the garden was actually passable, wine tasting table queues were one or 2 persons deep, and the setup actually flowed better. The tiny dessert buffet was decimated. The Chiles & Chocolate booths were approachable. The Dziuk family had a savory honey stand (Absolutely Delightful Local AZ Honey) where we picked up a 1 lb bottle of Mesquite honey. We met Julia Baker who had amazing chocolate creations that were heavenly. We purchased a bag of organic chocolates from The Wei of Chocolate (Daily Sensual Love, Daily Gratitude, Daily Love mmmmm). The Chiles & Chocolate exhibit exceeded expectations.

The Cork & Cactus wine tasting fell Far Short. The Valley Ho held a NPR sponsored Wine Tasting the same night. Dr Desert Flower and I believe that most of the delicious wines that C&C had last year migrated to Valley Ho this year. The left overs, were a lack-luster motley crew of small distributors who did not know the wines they poured, were unfamiliar with the vineyards, did not know how to pour (stop pressing your bottle to my glass's edge, I don't want Hepatitis or to taste bottle dust thank you!), or were 'filling in for my brother' as several table staffers declared. Some of the local wines (AZ, NM) were grape juice, kool-aid, or just plain nasty. We found none of them worth buying and went home without purchasing a single bottle. In years past, we went home with cases of reds, whites, ports, and bubbly. Not worth the $75 entry fee.

CONTRAST this to Saturday Night:

Saturday night, in Scottsdale, Draft Magazine hosted "The Big Pour". I was initially skeptical of "The Big Pour" as I am not a huge fan of micro-brewed beers, but the band Everclear was playing, and Dr Desert Flower loves their songs, and for $35 you got to hear the concert AND get "10 pours" - basically 4 ounce plastic glasses, that got checked off on your "passport" that you got when entering the "beer garden". It was held on the pedestrian bridge over the Scottsdale Canal (misnomer "Scottsdale Water Front" - it's an agricultural irrigation canal). There were Polish, Czech, Russian, Mexican, Arizonian, Belgian, German, Dutch, Japanese, and various American beers. There were drunken frat boys, mis-guided cougar hunters (Dr Desert Flower was approached when I was busy getting a beer), and beer enthusiasts of various ages there enjoying the festivities. Everclear played a 75 minute set, and a 3 song encore - no one under 30 appeared to be before the stage in the crowd and only those of us born prior to 1980 appeared to be paying attention to the concert after 9am. There was ample cannabis smoke wafting through the crowd as well. A fun time was had, and it was Definitely worth the $35 entry fee.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Been a Busy Year

I installed Google Analytics in Nov08. I'm still surprised at the number of people, and countries, who visit this site and what they're interested in reading about.

Dum, Dum da-dum-dum-dum-dum...

The U of I Marching Cadence is STUCK in my head this morning. Perhaps too much caffeine has awakened the previously embedded neurons firmly from my reptilian brain stem. 3 decades ago, in High School Marching Band, while being a band geek (the section leader of the percussion geeks) we played a slightly simplified variation on the classic U of I cadence (MP3 link here)... but the first 1 minute of the cadence was the same.

For those readers of this blog who have known me since I was a band geek, I hope the MP3 link brings back a fond memory as well. [Simplified MP3 link here]

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ciao Mein Honolulu

While in Honolulu last month, Dr Desert Flower's boss took out all of her employees and their spouses attending the ASHG conference to Ciao Mein, at the Hyatt on Waikiki. I have to admit, I was initially skeptical of the concept of a "fusion" restaurant, and all the 'trendy' implications that can be conveyed in that label, but I was more than pleasantly surprised with their "collision cuisine". Ciao Mein had a warm welcoming atmosphere, with a comfortable large dinner party central room. The service was superb, exemplary, highly attentive, experienced and discretionary - cautioning our party that we had perhaps "ordered a little too much" when we'd placed a mix of individual and family style orders. We had, in fact, ordered too much as there was a bounty of left overs.

The wine list had excellent variety, and I was able to locate and recommend a relatively inexpensive Prosecco to go with Appetizers for our party of nine persons, and a delicious reasonably priced
Sangiovese for the meal - each approved by DDF's Sr VP of course, who had not previously dined with us. The head waiter doubled as sommelier and kept our glasses topped off quite nicely.

The menu was an eclectic mix of Italian & Chinese, and was flawless. I sampled more than 1/2 a dozen dishes, and as we were 2/3rds through dinner, I asked the head waiter "do you have anything that is not delicious on your menu?" It was one of the best meals I've had all year. I highly recommend, if you are in Honolulu, it's worth the walk over to the Hyatt to indulge, whether you are a foodie, a skeptic, a fusion lover, or just curious.

Don't believe me though, there are other reviews that concur with me here, here, and here.

Joe's Blog Round-up & Random Anecdots

A collective of many short entries, for your information and amusement:

Rufus Blooter - flame throwers & hearing

Hyperlipid - Lardo, mmmmmm

Crooks and Liars has Wanda Sykes mocking Ann Colter

Pharyngula shows evolution in 2 minutes

Huffington Post's take on how Goldman Sachs got H1N1 virus vaccines before health care workers, kids, and pregnant women.
which SNL & then Lewis Black ranked on as well on the TDS.

...and a random but humorous old SNL skit on Bar Flies:

Guano - (a new category here): Bachmann's cluelessness

Wingnut militias - describing an video game to promote civil war against "Obama's Coup"

Pox News

Sesame street spoof Fox as Pox news. They'd already lampooned CNN as the GNN (the Grouch News Network - before Lou Dobbs left) and no one cared, but Rupert can't have the Children's Television Workshop trying to corrupt the minds of young Republicans... or at least the mind of children of young Republican parents who neglect their children to go off an blog about how terrible CTW is.

Incorrectly, I believe, PBS apologized to Pox.

Huffington Post's take on it is here.

But, Colbert's take on it, is HILARIOUS! Link here.
"Our Muppet masters, have been turning Children into alphabet reciting, snuffalupagus hallucinating, elmo ticklers."

"I would much rather my children watch opinion chicken Glenn Beak squawk about how President Barack Opossum wants to euthanize Big Bird and legalize Burt-Ernie marriage."
- LOL!!!

Sending Cables?

Former US Army Lieutenant General, now U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry was sending "frantic cables" to the White House over the last week urging against increased troop deployment.

Now Eikenberry is a PhD in poli sci, fluent in Mandarin & English, a capable modern man... but why is he sending cables? Don't they have telephones, email, 'the internets' (it IS a series of tubes you know!)?? Sending Cables... really?

Having read Rashid's tomes on Afghanistan, and the mess that is Pakistan-FATA-Kashmir-Afghanistan-Former-Soviet-Republics-Iran...

I cannot really disagree with the substance of Eikenberry's communications, but cables? Really?

Stick to Education, and away from Banking, Federal Government, etc

Tucson Arizona's School Superintendent would NEVER make it as a banker or a Congress Woman. Yesterday Elizabeth Celania-Fagen announced she will return the $20,000 bonus she was just given back to the Tucson school district to assist them in educating the children of Southern Arizona. AZ Star reports: "She said she felt it was the right decision, considering that a number of employees have not had raises in a couple of years".

In her job for 2 years, doing very well, she deserved the bonus from all accounts I've read, but she gives it back? How un-selfish of her. How considerate of her many employees!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pandora Stations on Joe's Computer

Dr Desert Flower mentioned that her company has many Pandora enthusiasts. Here's a sampling of some the Pandora radio stations I've created in the last 2 years, living in Phoenix and having a 20Meg/sec fiber nose a block away from my home to stream it in:

Jane's Addiction
System of a Down
The Apex Theory
Jon Hassell & Brian Eno
Emerson, Lake, and Palmer
Art of Noise
They Might Be Giants
Everything But the Girl
Thievery Corporation
Nine Inch Nails
Prefab Sprout
and of course, the oldest station..

(A mix of excellent drumming, acoustic, and iconclastic tastes, to listen to when working)

On the radio, about 2 or 3 times a week, I keep hearing Hockey - "they've got a good beat, and I can dance to it" (A.Bandstand generic quote for the kids). Pandora does not yet have "Hockey" in their genome yet... sadly.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

HR3962 - "Better than nothing at all"

1990 pages, it's far too long and bureaucratic. Maybe it's better than nothing, but I have the feeling I should have picked up a tube of KY when I was at the store this afternoon that'll be useful when United Health Care begins to fully appreciate the final version.

It Does try to end rescission (almost 40 mentions). OK. We'll see. It does try to prevent the abuse of preexisting conditions (20 mentions). OK. We'll see. Fundamentalist religious legislators installed all sorts of restrictions on abortion (25 mentions) in the fear that some fraction of a few tax dollars of their devout faithful might be used to prevent the progressive growth of a fetus that might become a child that none of the faithful want to adopt or support - all about individual freedom, until it comes to your uterus! I don't like abortion personally, and I don't support it, but I see no reason to attempt to go back to the dark ages and make it illegal. Rape, incest, health of the mother, all good reasons to end a pregnancy. Imminent birth of a malignantly deformed or brain dead child - also a good reason to end a pregnancy: let Focus On The Family and their allies line up to pay 100% of the hospital bills and 100% of the costs to care for such a birth. Very angry feminists who want 'abortion on demand', I do not understand and have difficulty empathizing with, but I will not demonize them.

Get the dern Bill to the Senate, get it through committee, pass it using reconciliation with 51 votes, and Americans will love it. Just like they love Medicare, which ALL the Republicans demonized Johnson for ramming through. Just like they love Social Security, which ALL the Republicans demonized FDR for ramming through. 10 years from now, Americans will be fighting to KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF my government regulated health care!

The "free hand of the market" has been busy ramming a thorny marital aid into the rectums of honest hard working Americans who are trying to do the right things, getting health insurance policies, trying to start their own businesses, trying to take care of their families. Hopefully HR3962 is a step in the right direction towards stopping that evil hand. Il faut voir - we shall see.

First Lemon of the 2009 Growing Season

Picked our first lemon this year from the tree we planted in the Fall of 2007. Had a bountiful harvest last Winter. This year, there's less fruit I think due to the impinging Ocotillo that used to be planted immediately to the North of the lemon tree. There'll be more than enough for serving with fish, making lemonade, lemon water, tea, mixed drinks, etc.

Dog Bible Swearing

I thought this was pretty funny.

I don't have a dog... or a "Dog Bible"... and I do know how to spell "solemnly" but the person who sent this to my Uncle Joe apparently did not. LOL

Dana Priest's reporting is again, poignant

WaPo published Hasan's Walter Reid 50 page power point presentation (took an hour to present), where he appealed to have Conscientious Objector status for all US Muslims in the military (link here). Kind of a warning sign, dontcha think? Very sad that the US Army leadership didn't take proactive action on this, before this very screwed up individual went nuts.

Fundamentalism, again, brings its fruits to harvest. Massive bureaucracy misses the key actions necessary to avoid disaster, and more than a dozen people are dead.

Next Year, Christmas 2010 Gift Idea

It's logical, green, useful, and everyone should have one.
A human powered low voltage, 2.5Watt device charger (link here).
They're asking $150 for them this year, as it's a start up company, and demand will out-strip supply. Next year, I estimate they'll be 1/2 as expensive - or at least much more available.

Helpful after the next terrorist attack, EMP discharge, hurricane, ice storm, or zombie invasion. =)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Unwind Only Empty Hoses

Do Not try and unwind 100 ft of garden hose when it is FULL of water. Turn off the water first, relieve the pressure on the hose, and THEN unwind it.

This $60 hose reel, bought about 10 years ago (in 1999 dollars) at Lowes, that has an auto-reversing threaded winding screw guide, did well until yesterday. I was BLASTING, back-washing pool filters with the garden hose. After cleaning all 8 cartridge filters on the Shasta pool cleaner, I needed to flush out left-over dirt & sand from the filter body, some 100 feet from the hose reel to the backyard. At the last 5 or 6 feet of unreeled hose, RIPPPPPP - BAM!! The spool separated from the end caps. I guess 10 years is pretty good... but I would have preferred that the $60 reel last "forever". Now, it's functionally useless. The little tangs that held the end caps on are sheared off. Maybe a HUGE amount of Gorilla Duct tape might TEMPORARILY fix it ...

Feline Disdain during vocal NFL retorts

Athena is not pleased when the human she owns YELLS loudly at the TV as the Bears commit stupid penalties, and miss one defensive play after another.

1 MGD, 2 Sol, and 2 Tecate later, my apathy is not lacking, though hope appears to be vanquished this afternoon chez moi & at Soldier Field. Arizona is playing their 2nd string. ugh.

I think, I am becoming a Sol Man... it's not a bad beer. MGD is mother's milk to me - never causing even the slightest headache or hangover, ever, to me... but since Halloween, when I bought a case of Tecate/Dos XX Especial, Sol, and Dos XX amber as a prop for my costume, I've become a fan of Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma beers.

How-to Reset Wireless Windows Controls, Mazda 6

Back in August, my 2007 Mazda 6's battery reached 2 years old, and like most batteries in AZ that are in cars that get parked in sunny parking lots 5 days a week, in over 100F days 1/2 the year, the factory installed battery died on Doctor Desert Flower. SO I replaced the battery one night, but the passenger side windows NO LONGER worked on the driver's door. They worked OK on the passenger door control, but refused too respond on the driver's door.

So for a few months, we had no remote control of the passenger side window. Just Before going to Hawaii, we stopped by the local Mazda Dealer (the SW Phoenix dealer we bought the car from in 2007 when moving here has closed, so we had to go up to Bell Rd) to inquire if we need to set an appointment to leave the car while on vacation. The VERY HELPFUL service manager listens to the symptoms, walks out to the car with me, and does this:

- Hold Down the passenger side button, for 2 seconds, after the window fully opens.
- Close the window on the passenger side, using the passenger side button
- Hold up the passenger side button, for 2 seconds, after the window is full up

This RESETS the wireless signals, inside the car. And viola, the driver's door Once Again controls the passenger side on demand, as originally intended. I thanked the Service Manager profusely, and mentioned the anecdote of my son's Volvo V70 full of sand and unable to shift due to sand contamination in the shift-lock on the center counsel. I told him how the Charleston Volvo dealer charged $25 to JAM a screw driver in-between the shifter cowling and the plastic counsel face plate, that "loosened" the sand and allowed the shifter to shift. The Mazda Service Manager told me 'some dealers would charge $100 to do what I just showed you' - to hold a button up 2 seconds? Zoiks!

So remember, if you have a Mazda, or any vehicle with wireless door controls, and you change the battery, try holding the button UP for 2 seconds, and DOWN for 2 seconds, and the wireless system will reset.

This public service message brought to you courtesy of a Chicago Bear's Defense who apparently can't stop anyone, as I watch Arizona stomp them this afternoon. =(

Time for a third beer.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Sick of hearing "Allegedly"

Sick of hearing "Allegedly" - When a man shoots dozens of people, and himself gets shot 4 times, he is NOT the "Alleged" shooter. He's THE SHOOTER. He's "Allegedly mentally ill". He's "Allegedly very disturbed". He's "Allegedly not got a very bright future being held in a federal prison, and living long while incarcerated in the US legal system." But he did not "Allegedly shoot" anyone. He killed 13, and wounded 29.

There's no "allegedly" about it.

Stewart, as Beck - Perfectly Done

Jon Stewart deserves an Emmy for this performance (link here) last night. Perfectly channeling Glenn Beck. From time to time, I watch the histrionic Mormon on Fox, and Jon did a remarkably accurate representation of every trick Glenn tries, props, inflection, hand gestures - even better than Colbert mimics O'Reilly.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Yeah, this'll help... =(

I'm listening to the radio this afternoon after finishing poolside yoga, when I hear them announce that one of the three shooters who were killed at the Ft Hood massacre (12 dead so far, 31 wounded) this afternoon was US Army Major Malik Nadal Hasan. All three of the shooters are US Army soldiers. Ugh!

NPR dug up records of a US Army psychiatrist named Major Malik Nadal Hasan - the base 'shrink' - but have not confirmed if he is the same man as the shooter.

If all three of these shooters were Muslims, this will only further inflame the xenophobia among the rabid right and ignorant masses. Not good. 6Nov09 Update: only 1 shooter, Nidal, not 3.

DO NOT throw away old blood sugar test-strips

I've got an Aviva Accu-chek [R] blood sugar test meter. Last year, and this year, my employer based private health insurance covered test strips 100% with no deductible. Cool. In 2010, the cost of the test strips and lancets will be applied until my newly imposed $2000 deductible is reached - so I looked into how expensive these test strips are - more than a $1 each! Yikes! ('08 and '09 had no "deductible" for my family & I)

Yikes, considering that a few months ago, I tried to use an "old" refill. "Old", in that they were 2008 strips, instead of 2009 - Aviva (and many other meter makers) have this annoying little IC chip you have to stick into the side of the meter for "calibration". Built into that chip is an evil "expiration date" that yields the strips obsolete after a date that some marketing genius has pre-determined. Grrrrrrrrr! Yeah, if I did not have central HVAC, and didn't live in a state where the average RH is below 15%, then "shelf life" MIGHT be a problem - but everyone stores and keeps all sorts of things in the desert, and sealed container test strips, are No Different!

So I removed the battery out of the back of my meter, waited a minute for capacitors to discharge, reinserted it, and reset the date to January 2009. When 01Jan2010 arrives on the global calendar, I will not be throwing away perfectly good test strips again, since my meter will believe it is only March 2009. =)

This week's BIG NUMBER: 5.4

My Hemoglobin A1c, taken this week, is 5.4. Throughout 2008, it was 6.6, 6.3, 6.5, when I used to eat grains & added sugar, and this inordinately concerned my primary care physician. But thanks to the low carb theory proposed by my buddies Ron & Steve, and validated by my long term drinking buddy Matt and my friend Slam (after reading Ron's blog, each began practicing it, and each then lost 40 lbs) this stubborn Polack, transplanted from the land-of-pollen-and-moisture-into the low-humidity-working-from-home-on-a-flex-scheduled-you've-got-no-excuse-to-NOT-try-the-same-experiment, embraced the methodology and has kicked high blood sugar's proverbial butt.

Of course my physician was "concerned" about my HDL only being 46 (LDL 117) and she did not like the fact that the protein I am eating is not "usually lean". I reassured her I am avoiding ketosis - verified by smell, not by test strips - and eating moderate amounts of fruits and veggies along with my protein. Dr Desert Flower has helped out chez nos a great deal as well, ceasing her preparations of pasta, rice and other starches, and not bread making over the last several months. (If it's there, it'll be eaten).

Diamondback stationary bike riding and free weights are up to 5X a week, and now that the pool deck is not a roasting pan outdoor yoga is up to 4X a week. Breakfast has been replaced by stevia laden coffee. Ravenous hunger - and the annoying adrenalin spiked aggression that used to go with it - has been eliminated by avoiding the evil carbs. I'm on my last belt notch, 16 lbs lighter than my last doctor visit. My order of the engineer ring flew off last Sunday while clapping for a Bear's touchdown at Glendale's Old Chicago - wedding ring is extremely loose too. My energy level has not been higher, since becoming a father.

Had it not been for my friends setting multiple good examples & providing scientific facts (here, here, here, and here - Ron!), and my wife's culinary collaboration, and my personal determination to eliminate the confounding artificial sugar substitutes from my diet, I'd still be among the 17% of adult Americans embracing mellitus.

Thanks for all the help guys!

Protect It From The Queers

From my buddy Joe Wright on Facebook. Thanks Maine, for joining the rest of the 19th Century bigoted herd.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Common Sense Serving

Bruce Buschel of the NYT has published a very common-sense list for waiters and restaurant personnel to follow. As a former bus boy & waiter myself, I see these as intuitive, but it is amazing how few food staffers actually get these. [A few of them are New York-ish (italicized) peeves that the rest of the country doesn't take as negatively imho, but none are bad ideas].

1. Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting.
2. Do not make a singleton feel bad. Do not say, “Are you waiting for someone?” Ask for a reservation. Ask if he or she would like to sit at the bar. [JP: "just one this evening?" no, "Not just"]
3. Never refuse to seat three guests because a fourth has not yet arrived.
4. If a table is not ready within a reasonable length of time, offer a free drink and/or amuse-bouche. The guests may be tired and hungry and thirsty, and they did everything right.
5. Tables should be level without anyone asking. Fix it before guests are seated.
6. Do not lead the witness with, “Bottled water or just tap?” Both are fine. Remain neutral.
7. Do not announce your name. No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness.
8. Do not interrupt a conversation. For any reason. Especially not to recite specials. Wait for the right moment.
9. Do not recite the specials too fast or robotically or dramatically. It is not a soliloquy. This is not an audition.
10. Do not inject your personal favorites when explaining the specials.
11. Do not hustle the lobsters. That is, do not say, “We only have two lobsters left.” Even if there are only two lobsters left.
12. Do not touch the rim of a water glass. Or any other glass.
13. Handle wine glasses by their stems and silverware by the handles.
14. When you ask, “How’s everything?” or “How was the meal?” listen to the answer and fix whatever is not right.
15. Never say “I don’t know” to any question without following with, “I’ll find out.”
16. If someone requests more sauce or gravy or cheese, bring a side dish of same. No pouring. Let them help themselves.
17. Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.
18. Know before approaching a table who has ordered what. Do not ask, “Who’s having the shrimp?”
19. Offer guests butter and/or olive oil with their bread.
20. Never refuse to substitute one vegetable for another.
21. Never serve anything that looks creepy or runny or wrong.
22. If someone is unsure about a wine choice, help him. That might mean sending someone else to the table or offering a taste or two.
23. If someone likes a wine, steam the label off the bottle and give it to the guest with the bill. It has the year, the vintner, the importer, etc.
24. Never use the same glass for a second drink.
25. Make sure the glasses are clean. Inspect them before placing them on the table.
26. Never assume people want their white wine in an ice bucket. Inquire.
27. For red wine, ask if the guests want to pour their own or prefer the waiter to pour.
28. Do not put your hands all over the spout of a wine bottle while removing the cork.
29. Do not pop a champagne cork. Remove it quietly, gracefully. The less noise the better.
30. Never let the wine bottle touch the glass into which you are pouring. No one wants to drink the dust or dirt from the bottle.
31. Never remove a plate full of food without asking what went wrong. Obviously, something went wrong.
32. Never touch a customer. No excuses. Do not do it. Do not brush them, move them, wipe them or dust them.
33. Do not bang into chairs or tables when passing by.
34. Do not have a personal conversation with another server within earshot of customers.
35. Do not eat or drink in plain view of guests.
36. Never reek from perfume or cigarettes. People want to smell the food and beverage.
37. Do not drink alcohol on the job, even if invited by the guests. “Not when I’m on duty” will suffice.
38. Do not call a guy a “dude.”
39. Do not call a woman “lady.”
40. Never say, “Good choice,” implying that other choices are bad.
41. Saying, “No problem” is a problem. It has a tone of insincerity or sarcasm. “My pleasure” or “You’re welcome” will do.
42. Do not compliment a guest’s attire or hairdo or makeup. You are insulting someone else.
43. Never mention what your favorite dessert is. It’s irrelevant.
44. Do not discuss your own eating habits, be you vegan or lactose intolerant or diabetic.
45. Do not curse, no matter how young or hip the guests.
46. Never acknowledge any one guest over and above any other. All guests are equal.
47. Do not gossip about co-workers or guests within earshot of guests.
48. Do not ask what someone is eating or drinking when they ask for more; remember or consult the order.
49. Never mention the tip, unless asked.
50. Do not turn on the charm when it’s tip time. Be consistent throughout.

More Conservative Endorsements, Please!

It appears that having every right wing politician and talking head come out in favor of a conservative candidate BACKFIRES when that candidate
- doesn't live in the Congressional District in which he is running
- brings in geniuses like Dick Armey who call local issues "parochial"
- doesn't represent the values of the district's voters

Democrat (and Air Force Captain) Bill Owens handily beats Conservative Party (AKA "wing nut") candidate Bill Owens, handily, by more than 4 percentage points.

Every pollster got it wrong. Even Nate Silver, had Owens up by 10 points as of noon yesterday. This translates to: Do Not Trust Pre-election Polls.

Doug Hoffman, and the Right Wing Extremists did not try too hard to win this seat, they only brought in Sarah Palin, Dick Armey, Fred Thompson, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Hush Dimbulb, etc etc. Even John Boehner said he 'regrets having endorsed' Republican candidate Scozzafava - devouring their own young?

I don't say this often, but Newt Gingrich was right. Sit back, and watch the implosion.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

TDS Again Skewers Main Stream "News"

Several weeks ago, The Daily Show eviscerated the former news network CNN with their pathetic "leave it there" tag line and lack of actual fact checking & substance. CNN used to be the "standard" in cable news when they first started. Now, they're a vacuous pop-culture joke that rivals TMZ or E!

Last week, TDS recapped how Fox News intentionally confounds "News, Entertainment, and Opinion" after Fox News Senior Vice President Michael Clemente's claim that 'Fox's designated "news" hours are from 9AM to 4PM and 6-8PM.' Oh really? Too damn funny! And absolutely true! If you have not seen the poignant clip, the link is here.

"Opinutainment" - for those who love the kool aid.

It's a sad statement that it takes a COMEDY SHOW to point this out, but it is a credit to the fastidiousness that TDS's writing staff and researchers repeatedly, consistently demonstrate.

Let the Stupid, Paranoid & Mis-informed Not Get Vaccinated

Dr Desert Flower and I were watching a taped Real Time last weekend together on our DVR, when we heard Bill Maher spouting BS about pesticides in the H1N1 vaccine. What the?? The Internet is a wonderful thing, when used to search facts, and those facts are read and understood. It's a terrible thing in the hands of the ill-informed.

Let all the anti-guvmint fear mongers and their disciples not get vaccinated. That will help alleviate the difficulties in supply that have been happening recently, and it'll help the Darwinian progression of culling them from the gene pool. The risks to pregnant women of getting normal influenza FAR OUT WEIGH the minuscule risks when getting the vaccine. Yes, minuscule, tiny, nearly zero. I rely on SCIENCE, not on conspiracy theory or talking heads (though I DO have all their albums, ba-dum-pish! - M.Taylor) for my health care decisions.

Scared, poorly informed, worried people are so easily manipulated by fear mongering demagogues. It's sad.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween 2009, Wrigley = Lowered Expectations

Dr. Desert Flower and I DID go to the Wrigley Mansion, in Phoenix, for their Halloween Bash. We did have a nice time. It was not fantastic, it was not amazing, or awesome, but it was OK. Our very expensive, uninformed venture to the Wrigley Mansion, adjacent to the Biltmore Estate in Phoenix, did not meet my expectations, albeit, they were probably set too high.

Lack of Information - the website to buy tickets had a phone number that no one answered. It said there would be food and drinks provided - ok, don't eat a large dinner, there should be snacks or a buffet or something provided... you'd think. It gave driving directions on how to find the mansion - including things like "drive through the National Bank of Arizona Parking Lot and go over the white bridge that leads to the mansion". OK, I can follow directions. I committed them to memory. The website said that Rocklobster and Chris Parker Project bands would be playing - but they didn't mention that Rocklobster started at 8pm and finished their set at 10:15 (after which the obtuse Wrigley Mansion staff actually made the band down the hill, with their equipment, rather than give them a ride back to the Bank Parking lot, for their Martini Ranch gig that was supposed to start at 10pm). Lack of information helped to sucker-in lots of "first timers".

Cost - For $50 a ticket (plus taxes and fees, it was $54.45 a ticket) one would think "OK, at least it will keep out the riff raff, and have a higher class of party goers". No, there's lots of really rich Phoenix riff raff who MASSIVELY front load, and get sh*tface drunk, before they get within site of the mansion at 8pm. OK, so my wallet was smarting from being out $109 without a drink, but then, 2 pimple faced adolescent "parking lot attendants" tell me I need to pay them $5 to park at the Arizona National Bank's lot. Really? $5 to park in a bank lot? Why didn't I park a block further away and walk... but Dr Desert Flower was in heels.. so OK.. another $5. But it get worse... read on.

Draconian, misguided security staff - Height Impaired "tough guy" black-shirted bouncer, frisks all the males before they can load into the mini-bus. Women walk in without any hassle. 5 ft 2 inch tall "tough guy" frisks me, and finds an EMPTY Dos Equis bottle in my coat. His pint sized ire flares "What's This??" I told him "it's my costume's prop, and EMPTY Dos XXs bottle, as I am "The Most Interesting Man In the World". The halfling tells me "we can't have any of that here, it has to go in the trash". I re-iterate, it's EMPTY, and he says with a absolutely straight face "we cannot have any bottles at the party." OK, I'm all about law and order, no bottles, sure. We board the slow shuttle bus, which creeps 1/4 the way up the hill, and dumps us at a Captain Morgan's booth and 4 trailored porta-pottys, amidst cries of "keep going up the hill!". Nope, they stop everyone at the bottom, going in. Dr. Desert Flower and I ascend the massive hill, approx 5 stories to the top, alongside already tipsy partyers, and I head to the first bar. They have ALL SORTS of beer IN BOTTLES, but no Dos Equis... grrrrrrrrr. Glass bottles. Why are short bouncers the stupidest, pettiest, most useless bouncers in the Universe? That's okay, I had a pocketful of cards that explained who I was, with different quotes on them, and this blog's website. =) Other costumes were targeted as well: Moses was forced to discard his staff. A Vincent / Jules Pulp Fiction duo were forced to throw away their guns. It was very arbitrary.

Poor Drink Selection - Rum was 100% Captain Morgan, Vodka was 100% Smirnoff, Gin was 100% Tanqueray, Tequila was 100% Cuervo. I found one side nook bar that had Crown Royale for whiskey - ew, but it was low carb. As I was the designated driver, I kept it to one beer and one CR, for the whole 5 hours we were there.

One good band, Crappy DJs, and one mediocre band - why is it, that kids now a days want to dance to such crappy "hip hop" remix BS? After Rocklobster played an energetic 2 sets, and then they had to walk off the property, a crappy DJ took over the dance floor, and played the latest wiki-wiki-turn-table chum that draws bottom feeders to the dance floor waters. Ugh. So Dr Desert Flower and I went down the hill to the other large dance floor room where the C.Parker Project was playing. They started off out-of-key playing "Thriller", and didn't get much better. Their bass player was getting into it, and played well. Their horn section did a yeoman's job for the most part. The guitar player and lead singer's chemistry was that of CH101, intro to Chem I - perhaps the ingestion of ethanol by the band worked to un-enhance their performance. They did OK, but didn't wow me, playing 80s and 90s songs, slightly recognizable.

Food, what food? - so the previous reviews and vague web info said that there was food. Bullsh*t. For $50, you had access to a menu, where each item, was $10. Artichoke dip, $10. Nachos, $10. Every small starchy item, $10 - ugh! So no food, lack luster drinks (ALL beer $5, ALL house liquor $7), and no one was allowed to pour a glass of ice water, but bottled water was provided at $3 each! At least the water from the fancy bathroom taps was potable.

Annoying Crowd Control Devices - on the stairs and lawns surrounding the hill-top mansion, were temporary bright flood lights (I saw lots of orange extension chords, and tripod mounted dual flood lights), discouraging people to sit on the stone walls, or walk along the finely kept lawns, or sit on the stone steps that headed to areas where there was no foot traffic - all together, dissuading people from using the outside of the mansion where security had little to no presence. Inside, in rooms where they did not want people to "hang out", they BLASTED music - Batman Soundtrack, Crypt Keeper Music, etc, at nearly painful decibel levels. But the engineer in me found the volume controls, and turned them down to tolerable levels, so you could think when looking at the 1932 vintage rooms.

Out Matched Security vs multiple drunks - much the riff raff consumed copious amounts of alcohol that they stumbled into the shuttle bus at 1:30am. Then, drunken party goers started fights on the bus, that caused the lone hilltop bouncer, who had been directing shuttle buss traffic, to ride in the bus down the hill with us. Drunk girls were fighting with other girls. Guys were threatening to knock other guys teeth down their f-in throats... etc. More than the one bouncer could manage single handedly, and the 5 minute ride down the hill took 20 minutes, as various drunken morons had to be thrown off the bus.

Despite all of these short-coming, we made the best of it. There was enough room to dance without having people bump into you. Rocklobster's sets and about 1/2 of C.Parker's sets were dance-able, and fun. There was no shortage of Hispanic cleaning staff, walking around picking up empty bottles, cups, and trash. The views from the mansion are impressive - to the south, Downtown and South Mountain; to the SE Sky Harbor Airport; to the West the White Tank Mountains; to the East the McDowell & Superstition Mountains. There were many really good, very detailed costumes - Robo Cop in full armour, a 10 foot tall Gandalf the Gray, 2 couples who came as bakers and tarts (the baked tarts, not the sexy nurses, sexy police woman, sexy army girl, sexy nurse, sexy devil, sexy demon, sexy super hero, sexy FBI agent, sexy fairy, sexy tinkerbell, sexy genie, sexy harem girl, etc) and several bees & bee-keepers. Dr Desert Flower and I were NOT the oldest people there for a change - though it was surprising how many kids in their 20s could afford dropping that kind of coin.

I don't plan on going back to the Wrigley Mansion in 2010 for Halloween, or for their "New Year's Eve" blow out. Being a "caged animal" in a confined environment, with forced paid parking, poor drink selection, oppressive security staff, obnoxiously drunken party goers, with the privilege of paying $50 to be a captive audience, ohhh sign me up! Once was enough.

[If you find this rant / review helpful, and you're from Phoenix, Please leave a comment. If you disagree, please do so politely (my comments are moderated). If you're not from the Phoenix Area, and you want to comment anyways, that's fine too! Everyone's welcome - chacun ses merde].

The Tastiest Mushrooms I've Ever Prepared

Last Friday night, I accidentally struck upon an amazing method for "The Tastiest Mushrooms I've Ever Prepared". First, I had a Kroger's Pork Loin Roast that needed to be eaten before November - yes I usually go organic and local, and Cincinnati based Kroger is anything but that, but it was on sale for less than $4 and I was in a hurry. So... here's the ingredients
- one 9" x 12" cooking pan
- one sheet of thick aluminum foil, to line the old pan
- one pork loin roast, approx 1.5 to 2 lbs
- one to one half bottle of red wine you don't want to drink, but that is not so rancid you need to pour it out
- 2 cups of olive oil
- 1 handful of grated garlic (about 3 cloves)
- pinch of sea salt
- pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- one large cereal bowl of dried Shiitake-Ya [TM] gourmet mushroom blend (porcini, morels, brazilian, ivory portbellas, shiitake, oyster). I got mine at Costco, cheaply. [Product of USA! No nasty Chinese mushrooms in my kitchen!]

...and here's the method:

Start your gas grill, to get it nice and hot, to sterilize it, and to "heat soak" it. Mine runs around 360F on warm up with 3 burners, and 300F on simmer with 2 burners, in-direct grilling. I've tried to go lower, but my grill undercooks below 300 - it's an old analog dial TC, so it may be an erroneous reading.
Soak the mushrooms, 3 washes, in the bowl, using softened water (ubiquitous in Phoenix homes built after 2003) from the kitchen sink. Drain them.
Line the baking pan with the foil, trying not to tear it, gently pushed into the corners.
Lay the pork loin in the middle of the pan.
Surround it with the mushrooms, that are still slightly wet.
Dump the entire contents of the bottle of wine.
Drizzle the oil oil over the pork loin.
Sprinkle the salt, pepper, and garlic, over the pork and mushrooms.
Place pan in grill, over the center where the burners are not on, and reduce the heat down to "simmer" - about 3/5ths of full-warm-up temp (one flame, on my grill dials).
Wait an hour for your wife to drive home, and open up an inexpensive bottle of good wine, while the roast cooks, but don't drink more than 1 glass, or you'll miss the awesome mushrooms.

When the roast was brought in, what was a red wine covered pan, had no red left. The mushrooms had soaked up everything. None of the salt, pepper, or garlic was visible, but it was deliciously absorbed. The mushrooms and pork loin were SO DELICIOUS, that there were no left-overs - and I forgot the can of corn I'd headed up in the microwave, until Saturday morning! LOL!

Chariot Gypsy - Bleh!

Well, it was only a matter of time, until I found a wine blogger who has pretty much the diametric opposite tastes of myself. Jason, of Jason's Wine blog, loves the Chariot Gypsy 2007 - he ran to Trader Joes and bought two cases of the 2007 vintage. Back on October 27th, the Trader Joes wine tasting lady at Arrowhead convinced me to sample a thimble-full, and it was "ok" at the store, so I plunked down $5 and bought a bottle of the St. Helena Californian wine.

Once I got it home... ew... I'm sorry. My taste in wines is definitely focused upon the well regulated and consistently delicious French, Italian, and Spanish regions and wine makers, all of whom do wonders for less than $10 a bottle, often for less than $6 a bottle. Read Jason's well written blog posting (seriously well written, not sarcastically), and then, project\imagine the opposite of it, and that was my bottle. "smooth tannins" should not make one wince. "subtle sweetness" should not taste like berry flavored solvent. "let it breath 15 to 30 minutes" well, the first glass, the first day, I choked down. The 2nd glass, the 2nd day, much worse. The third glass, I poured JUST a sip... and then spit it out into the sink.

But... I am such a cheap bastard, I didn't want to just pour the rest of the 1/2 bottle down the drain, so a thought occurred to me... but that is the next posting! =)