Sunday, February 28, 2010

Back in Black

Understanding that black body absorption and radiation works much better than any other "color" in the spectrum, I picked up a quart of flat black paint at Ace Hardware last weekend. Applied with an old, cheap, Chinese brush this week to my solar pool heater, I "covered up" all the residual white glue remnants that stuck to the black poly coiled heat exchanger tubes, and painted the exposed treated plywood platform with about a pint, so it'll soak up as much Arizona sun as possible, and get as hot as possible.

It seems to have worked, because the striped tailed lizards - who began to appear 2 weeks ago - kept checking out the heater this weekend when it was sunny, enjoying as much adjacent heat as their cold blooded reptilian forms needed to be adequately spry and mobile in my backyard.
By 'subjective qualitative feel' the discharge water "seems" to be about 3 to 5 degrees F hotter than it was the week before painting. The dern pool is still between 62 and 65F - too chilly for swimming, even for this Lake Michigan veteran. But the heater discharge is in the upper 70s. Given enough time, it'll get warmer - day by day. Hopefully, by Easter (April 4th) the pool will be warm enough that swimming energetic laps will be possible! Il faut voir - parkalam!

So as we wait, day by day, BTU by BTU, it would be nice to have some good music to listen to... and ever since I started painting last Monday afternoon, this song has been running through my head, so I feel obliged to put up this Youtube link to one of my favorite Australian Bands: (yeah, their drummer is not that great, but it is fun music)

Helpful Magnesium

I think I am going to start taking some low dose Magnesium supplements (link here). Anything that lowers HbA1c is a good thing. Many thanks to Stephan at Whole Health Source for this summary.

Georgia Republican Mutterficker

A real, honest to goodness, pro-life, Mutterficker. Well, I guess, since it was his mother in law, I guess he's a Schwiegermutterficker (video link here), thanks to JoeM.

Oh, the story checks out (link here, he admits it, and says he's 'sorry'). The new Georgia Speaker of the House & Republican hypocrite admitted he has been sleeping with his mother in law while his wife is pregnant. And yes, he did run on a strong "family values" campaign, to replace the previous Republican Speaker of the House (Richardson) who was married and then was caught in bed with a lobbyist, so he resigned, and tried to kill himself, but failed in the attempted suicide (link here). It IS The South. It gets really humid there.

Georgia, you threw out of office Max Cleland, a triple amputee Vietnam war hero who jumped on a grenade to save his buddies, and you go on to elect this kind of flotsam? Yes, I've lived in SC (hiking the Appalachian Trail & "You Lie") and Indiana (Potatoe) and now AZ (home to a host of political nut jobs), so I can't claim any "high ground"... I am just amazed at the depths to which these CINO Republican Hypocrites will sink AND the stupidity of the voters who elect them.

Sorry, MrSTANDFORAMERICA, (from the video link comments) it is you who did not get your facts straight and are full of Scheiße. "What a loon" (to use the phraseology of one of his idols).

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cars Tossed Around Like Discarded Hotwheels & Matchbox

Having only been a 2.5 quake in the Midwest, I have no personal perspective on what a 8.8 magnitude quake would feel like (knowing the Richter scale is logarithmic, not linear). But when I see a collapsed highway in Chile, and cars on the highway with "wheels up", thrown around as if a hurricane bounced them (link here), the magnitude of the vibrations had to be intense. I hope post-1960's quake Santiago was rebuilt better than poor-and-corrupt Haiti's Port Au Prince. Ya veramos - il faut voir.

At least the predicted tsunami was in Hawaii was more like a rapid high tide than a wave of mass destruction. Must be that Satan is in league with Obama, who comes from Hawaii, to protect that archipelago - yeah, try and explain that one away Pat Robertson.

I think the East Pacific Rise saved Hawaii. As that massive burst of seismic-energy-turned-into-fluid-dynamic-wave propagated radially away from Chile, it had to cross a 25,000 foot mountain range, which it probably blasted & scoured enroute to Hawaii & New Zealand.

It'll be interesting to read the peer reviewed Science articles, a year from now, about how and why this didn't inundate Hawaii as it did in 1960's largest quake ever recorded by humans (link here). Being logarithmic, 1960's 9.5 is more than twice as large as this morning's 8.8.

Friday, February 26, 2010

What you see for all eternity

My friend Jason does it again... with a hilarious link here. Awesome hell shots. I keep chuckling... how very silly.

Rain in Maine & Snow In NYC?

Today's forecast is freezing rain in Maine (link here), and NYC schools have closed (link here) as another foot and a 1/2 of snow has blanketed America's largest city. WTF? Yeah, the Earth's climate is kicking along just fine, there's no anomalies.

It Better Not snow like this NEXT Friday night, when Dr Desert Flower and I will be flying through JFK. Grrrrrrr. Il faut voir - Nous ne pouvons qu'espérer.

I also hope 'The rain in Maine does not stay mainly on the planes.' There's enough local atmospheric turbulence with Canadair Regional Jets into and out of the Bangor and Portland airports, that they don't need to add ice to that equation. =\

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Maddow Calls Out Liars, Provides Facts

The Rachel Maddow Show last night was incredibly factual, straight forward, calmly reported. I watched it twice (on DVR). Link here. [A simple Google search of "Maddow Lie Nuclear" found it immediately... man I love a good search program!]

To recap:
- Reconciliation is NOT the Nuclear Option. Every Republican Senator and Congress person who says it is lying.

- Republicans INVENTED the Nuclear Option (a proposal to change Senate rules, to eliminate the filibuster] in 2005 when they were so upset that Democrats would not roll over and confirm activist ideologues for federal judgeships.

- Republicans have used Reconciliation 16 times out of the 22 times it's been used in the last 20 years, usually to pass LARGE TAX CUTS for the wealthy.

- The United States Does Not Have a "Health Care System" for it's citizens. Yes, it has Medicaid for the poorest, and Medicare for those over 65 (and just TRY to take that away from the elderly, and see how far you get). But for everyone else, it has NO "Health Care System". There's a bunch of for-profit corporations who provide a degree of health care to their captive customers - captive because they cannot shop elsewhere due to pre-existing conditions and sudden illness - but it is not for these for profit companies to care. They're not really citizens. they don't have feelings, or guilt, or a sense of community. They are obligated to build share holder wealth, not take care of sick people. Doctors and nurses and therapists take care of sick people. Insurance companies DO NOT. Insurance companies take care of their share holders.

- Wellpoint has 39 executives who made over a million dollars last year, who collectively went on 3 dozen retreats that cost the company $103 Million Dollars. Wow. Must be nice to be raking in the hay while the sun is out.

- Anthony Weiner, when he gets on a roll (link here), is quite a passionate speaker. "Bad for health care"? No - Anthony speaks for all of us who have been screwed, or have a family member or friend who's been screwed by an insurance company.

There was no chalk board, no "The Word", no bloviating guests spouting off ideology, or screaming at someone with whom they disagree... just the facts.

Justified Canadian Advantage

Dr Zaius has this poignant post (link here) relative to the US Olympic Hockey team victory over their Canadian competitors.

The graphic, tells the whole story. Kudos to Dr. Z.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How To Clean Your Yoga Mat

Having taken my yoga mat with me to 4 different hotel rooms in the last 2 weeks, I noticed this week - once I was home - that it sort of smelled "like a hotel room carpet". Ew. Not so pleasant. I do take a thin sheet (doubles as a painting drop cloth at home) that I put under the mat as a "barrier" between mat and nasty carpets, but an old sheet is obviously not impermeable.

So I considered applying some of the Gaiam Yoga Mat Spray that Dr Desert Flower got me 2 years ago - it's got organic coconut, olive, jojoba, as well as tea tree and aloe vera. Yes, it smells nice, but the bees and wasps that visit my backyard appreciate the enticing fragrances a little too much, and hover around the mat as I am doing yoga. Slightly disquieting, when I am trying to relax and wash stress away, as I am not a fan of being stung, or accidentally squashing one of the flying creatures with my hand, foot, or bum.

So I did the next best thing - I rinsed the mat in warm, high pressure, direct impingement, shower head water. Both sides. Standing on a stool beside my shower, I reached over the shower curtain and held the 6 foot long mat in the water stream, thoroughly blasting both sides. Then, after "shaking out" the mat, I hung it over a towel rack for rapid Arizona (low humidity) drying. You Can take a clean towel, and roll up the mat in the clean towel, if you live in climates with higher levels of humidity.

The next day, viola, mat is clean, and dry, and ready to be used again. Ambient temp is 65F here in West Phoenix this afternoon - the pool deck and hummingbirds beckon me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No Wine Sold Before 10am?

After Breakfast Sunday, we headed to Trader Joes, and found the store wonderfully un-crowded, devoid of small children meandering with their 'cute' little carts, smooth and efficient to get through the small aisles. We'd never been to the grocery store at 9am on a Sunday before, but being in the neighborhood, we thought it was a good idea.

I loaded up a dozen inexpensive French, Italian, German, and Spanish wine bottles in 2 canvas carriers, and we headed for the check out line at 9:40am. The clerk promptly said "I can't sell you this wine until after 10am". Well, we had dairy and refrigerated veggies, hummus, and other perishables in our cart that I did not want to just "warm" for the next 20 minutes, so I took the dozen bottles back to the wine aisle and re-shelved each one, disgruntled.

I always try to buy my liquor on Sundays, having lived in both IN and SC that were dry states on Sundays, I believe it is important to "vote with my wallet". next time I know, in AZ, to not try and buy any alcohol until after 10am on Sunday.

Stevia in the Raw - No Thanks

Last Sunday morning, Dr Desert Flower and I woke up around 8am without an alarm or screaming children or a dog that needed to be walked... and said "let's go out to breakfast." A quick Google search showed "The Good Egg" had a location in Glendale not far from the Trader Joe's where we shop, so we packed up the reusable grocery bags, and headed to 83rd Avenue just south of Union Hills.

Arriving about 15 minutes before early mass let out (Phoenix IS full of Catholics and LDS), we got a table right away. DDF's skillet breakfast and my veggie and meat crepe-like omelet was delicious, and after our first cup of coffee, DDF found a light green "Stevia in the Raw" packet snuck in between yellow Splenda and blue Equal synthetic corporate poison packs. My 2nd cup of coffee benefited from the sweet Stevia addition. Upon closer examination of the package, in the small print, one can read "Ingredients: Dextrose, Stevia Extract". Dextrose, really? D-glucose. Sugar. Pourquoi??? And listed first, it is more than 50% of the packet by weight!

Cumberland Packaging Corp, Brooklyn NY, your product labeling is misleading. "100% Natural. Zero Calories" - yes, it's natural and for the Stevia there's zero calories... but you've got at least 500mg of crystallized glucose in that 1g packet, AKA 2 calories, and an excellent trigger for insulin / adrenalin driven hunger. Why spoil the Stevia with ANY added sugar? Sure, Stevia is not as smoothly granular and pourable as sugar can be, but trust me, fans of Stevia know this aspect, and we know that any little packet of Stevia needs to be torn longitudinally to get to all the contents easily. I'll stick to my Organic 100% Stevia from Trader Joes and Fresh & Easy. I don't need to be 'rubbed raw' by any unnecessary added sugar when the Stevia does Just Fine all by itself.

It was nice that "The Good Egg" attempted to have a variety of different sweeteners. It just sucks that they selected one that is misleading. Had it been labeled as "Sugar & Stevia" I doubt many packets would be used.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bone Dissolving Corn Oil

Another scientific study that'll be buried in the literature and get no coverage from Main Stream English Speaking American Media outlets (link here to NCBI) that documents the really nasty things that a diet high in corn oil does to mice. Tip of the hat to Stephan at Whole Source blog (link here) for this illuminating post: "Dissolve Away those Pesky Bones with Corn Oil"

I've eliminated corn oil from my diet, and have no source of omega-6 (linoleic acid) that I am aware of currently as part of my nutritional intake. The absence of omega-6s, nutrasweet / sucralose / aspartame / splenda / acesulfame potassium, HFCS, rice, noodles, bread, and bread products have me close enough to 200 lbs now that if I lose any more weight (@ 50" chest and 34" waist) I won't fit into the new clothes I bought last week. Yeah, I need to start eating more, before I shrink anymore eating healthy foods and moderately exercising. What a heck of a problem to have!

Regarding Corn Oil, Stephan puts it best (and hilariously): "This leads me to conclude that corn oil is particularly good at causing mouse versions of some of the most common facets of the "diseases of civilization". It's exceptionally high in omega-6 (linoleic acid) with virtually no omega-3.

Make sure to eat your heart-healthy corn oil! It's made in the USA, dirt cheap and it even lowers cholesterol!"

Oh, and my non-fasting, post dinner blood sugar last night, was just barely over 100, after a dinner of pork loin roast, red wine braised mushrooms, organic spinach salad, with a medjool date and 85% organic cocoa square as a chaser (104 to be exact). Typically, it's run 50 to 80 points higher in 2008 & 2009, non-fasting. Saturday night I had brownies and ice cream, for the first time in months.

Type II diabetes, buh bye! Go hang out with your corn products, rice, and artificial sweeteners! I'm glad I put an end to it before I hit my 50s. Now if I can just keep my father alive and away from industrial "food" poisons... =\

Bad Program Title Left Behind

Today, President Obama met with the nation's Governors, telling them how the Federal Government is no longer using "No Child Left Behind", and instead of trying to punish failing schools, they will be focusing on propagating successful schools of schools. My older brother and his wife are both tenured public school elementary teachers in Indiana. Dr Desert Flower's step mother is a retired special education teacher in Ohio. I've NEVER heard a teacher worth their salt PRAISE "No Child Left Behind" (NCLB). I've heard many a teacher (related, and unrelated) lament in disgust how NCLB forces them to "teach to the test" and it has no means of accounting for special needs children who it lumps in with the exact same standards as all other students. NCLB has been a failure, over-all, as America continues it's slide towards greater illiteracy and fewer High School graduates.

Hoorah for the Obama Administration for making some meaningful changes. Sucks that it took them a year to get to this one, but when you inherit a wet and leaking bag of excrement, you can only make so many changes at one time. Terrorist guilty pleas, Don't Ask / Don't Tell momentum being moved towards change, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the saviour Petraeus both commenting publicly that diplomacy is more important than bombs and missile strikes, and now NCLB being left behind.

February is looking to be a rather positive month for this Administration.

Zazi Plead Guilty? We Didn't Even Torture Him???

How can this Zazi guy plead guilty? (link here) Jack Bauer did not even get ahold of him... wimpy little Obama Justice System doesn't keep us safe! Getting actionable intelligence from this guy, and preventing future terrorist attacks, instead of letting them happen to increase Presidential Executive Power... man! Does Obama (and Holder and Napolitano) know how to get it wrong!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Are We Not Men?

...we are Devo. Dr Desert Flower and I watched 'The Truth About De-evolution" today on Netflix. Very silly, very random, very bizarre.

My friend Jason has this Devo-esque, donut related link here to a Brazillian Inorganic Chemistry study that Devo would appreciate. If only the planar, hydrophobic BPEB ligands were french fries! LOL!

Think Again About Hiking at the White Tanks at Night

The White Tank Mountains, where Christopher and I have hiked during the day, and the whole family has gone on a short dusk hike... has a healthy mountain lion population. I am not sure we'll be hiking there again after dark, ever. Link to pics, here. I can't run as fast as a deer can...

Tip of the hat to Todd for mentioning the pics.

Miller is a Helluva Goalie

5 to 3, USA beats Canada in men's Olympic Hockey. Goalie Ryan Miller played one heck of a game. What an upset... in a country that lives for Hockey... man. Well played.

Petraeus Is Soft On Terror

MTP this morning had an interesting interview with CentCom Commander General David Petraeus. He's soft on terror. He
- wants Gitmo Closed
- has been against torture since me stated publicly in 2003 as the commander of the 101st Airborne that the 101st would obey the Geneva Conventions and not torture
- thinks diplomacy s more important than military strength and is delusional enough to think that Pakistan's recent cooperation in capturing Taliban leaders is credited to diplomatic cooperation instead of just bullying the ISI as W's administration used to
- supports having gays in the military (or at least does not say it''s a bad thing).

What's wrong with this guy? Doesn't he read (and obey) the RNC's talking points?

Oh that's right.. he's an elitist PhD... what does he know? =)

Front Loading Washer Negative Points

When we moved to the desert in 2007, we left our 20 year old Kenmore top loader washer and floor-model scratched paint electric dryer back in SC - the cheap octogenarians from Florida who bought the SC house insisted they get the appliances - good riddance, fools.

So at our local Home Depot before closing here in AZ, we picked up an energy efficient and low water usage front loading GE washer and electric dryer, under the assumption that "we live in a desert, we have an obligation to use as little water as possible." Well, they are energy efficient, and they do run well, but the lack of a wash machine full of wash & rinse water takes some getting used to. 2 and a 1/2 years later, I'm still not used to it.

For example, for decades previously whenever I did laundry, if you forgot something, you could always toss it in a few minutes late in the top loader. Not so with a front loader, as you have to wait for the door to unlock, and some water comes splashing out the door upon opening. When needing to do an extra rinse in a top loader, no problem, it filled up, it spun, it rinsed. On a front loader, the "extra rinse" comprises about 2 gallons of water. When using extra bleach or detergent, to get out persistent smells, it takes 3 or 4 extra rinses in a miserly front loader.

Drain clogging is an issue for front loaders. The door seal, which doubles as a drain screen, gets easily clogged with animal hair - which is pretty gross to clean out, digging under the lip of the seal with your finger. the detergent tray feeder tubes are supposed to be replaced every 2 years (I am 6 months over due) - that's a cheesy cop out material selection for a $1000 washer. the engineer who signed off on that material selection, and the marketing and business manager who approved it, should be fired. A durable good is supposed to be durable. It's a polymer tube that passes detergent... spend the extra $2 to make it out of something more resistant to chemical attack.

On the positive side, the front loaders do require less detergent, less fabric softener, less water, less energy, less of everything. there's just really no means of MASSIVE WASHING anymore - lots of little increments. Eventually, I might get used to it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pilooon This

No Food City, I am not going to "ask for my Pilooon". It's not a real word.

Basha's (who owns Food City) lawyer in Phoenix has filed a trademark on it. It's a contrived, made-up, fake Spanish word, to get gringos and native Spanish Speakers into Food City where they can ask for it (exige tu), trying to drive marketing traffic.

No thanks. I'll get my Dos Equis and Modelo Negra there, and maybe some day pick up a big ole can of lard that they have on pallets placed at the entrance next to the produce section. But I am not going to be asking for a "Pilooon". Sorry Food City.

Captured The Ringleader! (I Think)

As Dr Desert Flower was waiting for her fellow scientist driven car pool earlier this week, she noticed the stench of male cat urine around the turret in our front entrance way. Of the 6 feral cats I had previously trapped and relocated to the mountains earlier this month, the dominant orange bob tailed male was not among them. I figured he was too wily to go for the tuna baited live traps. I had personally witnessed him peeing on my house once last fall, where the turret meets the exterior wall of my office. Dilute bleach solution did not seem to dissuade or 'wash away' his pheromone tagging.

So on my first day back in Arizona yesterday, I used the last of the tuna that I'd stored in a Lock-n-Lock ® in the back of the fridge, baited a small trap and put it in the same location where I caught 3 of the last 6 felines. "Great Success" in less than 8 hours. A hungry coyote will be able to feed her family tonight in the western mountains.

If this is not the territory marking ring leader, it's one of his direct progeny ...and it's a matter of time before I get the boss. These feral cats can't resist a free meal of tuna any more than a pan handler in Charleston SC can resist a free quart of malt liquor.

The Smell Of Hotel Carpet

After putting in a 60 hour week by noon Friday, I kicked back a little bit early to do yoga by the pool for the first time in 2 weeks. A 72F day, light partial cloud cover, 22% RH, dozens of sorties flown by thirsty female hummingbirds. I got outside late enough to avoid the morning smell of the cattle farms to the SE near Lower Buckey, and early enough to avoid the cacophony of the ice cream trucks. A refreshing, relaxing, rejuvenating hour in the sun.

Watching hummingbirds quench their thirst on the forest of aloe flowers I have blooming in the back yard was much better than watching women's hockey Olympic Coverage, or curling, or any of the random sporting events NBC decided to televise during the periods of time I was trying to do yoga in the hotel rooms the last two weeks.

Now if I can just get the faint smell of hotel carpet out of my mat. Ew. I Did use bath towels, as a "barrier" between yoga mat and likely-quite-nasty hotel carpets, but just being in close proximity is enough for the polymer mat to absorb residual orders I guess.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gershwin, Rachmaninov, and Prokofiev

Two weeks ago, Dr Desert Flower and I listened to the Phoenix Symphony perform Gershwin & Rachmaninov, conducted by James DePriest. Gershwin's Concerto for Piano in F major & Rhapsody in Blue Piano Concerto with amazing soloist Jon Kimura Parker was a joy to listen to & see play. Engaging, dynamic, moving, it earned a standing ovation and encore by Parker. Then, the symphony played Rachmaninov's Symphony no 2 in E minor, Op. 27. DePriest did a fine job of conducting. The piece was moving, well played. We went home satisfied.

This weekend Prokofiev's Symphony No. 1, and Peter & the Wolf. Christie has bracketed a Adams piece.. which I am sort of dreading.... "Shaker Loops" ... but we shall see. Hopefully, it won't be as dreadful as the 9-11 Adam's 'remember' piece.. ugh!

All Aboard!

back when Ozzy used to be able to speak English....

....flying back to Phoenix tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Marichyasana no problem

Over a year ago, I mentioned how achieving an effective Marichyasana yoga pose was difficult at Christmas time. After losing 45 lbs and 5 inches of waist (I had to drill 3 new holes in my belt in the last 2 weeks), Marichyasana is no problem. Not just getting my nose to my knee, but bringing knee to throat is now easily achieved.

Now, if I can just get into a "bound lotus" more easily...

North American Female Hockey Dominance

Watching he Canadienne and USA women's Olympic Hockey teams demolish their opponents on MSNBC, I am looking forward to the under-dog Americans going up against their formidable neighbors to the north. China, Suisse, Sweden, Russia... they're all getting their butts kicked. 18-0? 10-1? 12-1? Wow. Hockey and soccer, double digit scores show massively lopsided victories. Let the two most talented teams play for the Gold and Silver medals, and don't worry about who comes in a very very very distant third.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Hawaiian Health Care - John Oliver Reporting

Did anyone besides me see the Daily Show report last week, that John Oliver did from Hawaii where he interviewed Republicans who were having a convention there, asking them what they thought about state provided Hawaiian Health Care? Beautiful, amazing, poignant. Blatant Republican stupidity and hypocrisy.

Samuel the Idiot, Samuel the Victim

'Joe the Dumber' is declaring that McCain "screwed up my life"? LMFAO!!!! No Joe, you screwed up your own life. You were not the face of "middle America" - you were the face of stupid, "fact free", rhetoric, racist, wanna-be-millionaires-someday-but-lower-class-today, angry America. It was you Joe the Dumber, who refused to listen to that 'elitist Harvard type' when he attempted to reason with you.

Your 15 minutes is waaaaaaay past. Go back to the rock from whence you crawled out from under, and embrace your guns and religion and divisive politics. Buh Bye.

Hotel Lobby Fresh Baked Cookies

The human olfactory sensory system is hard wired to the primordial reptilian brain, deep, deep, down inside, from millions of millennium ago (or 6000 years ago to quick creationists). Remember the fabric softener or laundry detergent used in your house where you grew up? I've got pungent memories of the East Chicago sewage treatment plant odor that surrounded my paternal grand mother's home, my uncle Tom's pipe tobacco (he died of throat cancer), and Tester's cyanoacrylate glue and olive drab model paint... embedded in my brain.

Well Hampton Inns (and Double Trees, Hilton Garden Inns, and others) bake chocolate chip cookies for their guests, and put out a free plate of them at reception. The macadamia nut, chocolate chip, and peanut butter cookie fragrances, are so tempting... and my last business trip, last August, when I was still eating high doses of carbs daily, I indulged in said cookies nightly, in the 2s and 3s, one of each flavor. MMMmmm. Enticing.

But this trip, wherein I needed to drill a 3rd hole in my belt to keep my pants from falling down last Saturday, and people who have not seen me in 6 months have said things like "you're 1/2 the size you used to be" and "you look good, are you feeling well?" ...on this trip, I think about the high fructose corn syrup that is likely laden in the pre-packaged / non-homemade cookie dough the hotel reception workers are baking, and the greasy paper towel cookie outlines that used to soak up on past trips to carry them to my room... and I resist grabbing a free cookie or two or three as I pass through the lobby. I've taken to using the non-lobby stairway exits (taking the stairs instead of the lethargic elevator? plow on Sunday!).

...and the Lindt 85% cocoa chocolate bar (much tastier than the 90% variety in my perspective) I've got stashed in my luggage is pretty yummy too, followed by a few ounces of Bas Armagnac from my Coleman flask I packed along this trip. Alot fewer carbs, and much better for me.

John Basedow's Future Manssiere

Watching TV without a DVR in my hotel room, I cannot fast forward past commercials. I've come to the conclusion that some day in the future, John Basedow will need to wear a manssiere to support his D cups. "Fitness Made Simple" - well, maybe, but why pay someone for a fitness DVD when common sense works just as well?

I hope I never develop pects that require additional support. Ew.


My sophomore year in High School band, we played the Leonard Bernstein's Candide Overture in concert. I've been humming it all day as I walk around the main plant's offices here in Greenville. I remember it was sophomore year, as Joe Sabo played the maniacal xylophone part, Jim Hoogeveen on the precise snare part, accomplice Rob Klonel beside him on bass drum. I got to play crash cymbals... and this song is perhaps the best song ever for a cymbalist. It almost made up for having to play cymbals my entire freshman year in marching band... but in the end I got to be percussion section leader 2 years later, so that's not all bad.

Joe's Guide For Driving In Winter Weather For Southern Drivers Part II

I was chastised for not mentioning "steering" yesterday by several people via comments and email. Steering is simple.

- drive normally, gradually, don't make extreme turns. Keep in mind that inertia and momentum work. Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion.

- IF your rear wheels begin to slide to the left, steer into it - steer to the left, regain control. IF your wheels begin to slide to the right, steer to the right, regain control. DO NOT steer to the right when you start to drift to the left, unless you want to start a severe clockwise spin.

- If you're driving a front wheel drive car, whose engine and transmission (and the 300 to 500 lbs of steel and aluminum and cast iron they contain) are over the steering and driving axles, steering will be easier, doing donuts will be harder to do.

- all of the "massive snow" that the SC Upstate got on Saturday, has melted by Monday night. The rain that Greenville got this morning helped to wash the remaining white stuff. See, it's the South, snow and ice melt, rapidly. Only the shadiest pine stands had tiny bits of residual snow on north facing slopes.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Joe's Guide For Driving In Winter Weather For Southern Drivers

Growing up on the South Side of Lake Michigan in da Region, I am no stranger to driving in snow. It's like riding a bike, or playing ping pong, or doing a somersault, or playing a drum set - once you learn how to do it, it's something you don't forget how to do.

I drove from Atlanta to Charleston Saturday morning, after the largest snow storm in decades blanketed most of the Peach and Palmetto states in 3 to 8 inches (the photo to the right is of my buddy Ryan's deck, east of Stone Mountain behind his new homestead, taken Saturday morning).

He took it while I was talking to him on my cell phone, held in my left hand, and driving 60 mph on twisty 2 lane secondary roads, through rural Georgia parallel to I-85 (which was blocked for MILES due to multiple car accidents), and holding my Garmin Numi in my right hand, while steering with my left elbow & forearm, passing vehicle after vehicle that was in a ditch, off the side of the road, spun out - one even had a stop sign wrapped around it's bumper and hood and had jumped a curb, no where near an intersection!

So after I spoke to Ryan, I picked up my pen and paper Daytimer (omnipresent in my front shirt pocket on business trips) and jotted down a few notes. All the while, driving safely, carefully, without any fear or angst or missteps or execution errors. These are the notes I wrote down while driving, as thoughts occurred to me like "this is NOT that hard" and "how scared does one have to be to drive 30 mph with 4 way flashers blinking on dry pavement??"

Joe's Guide For Driving In Winter Weather For Southern Drivers
1) Stay home. Don't go out. Watch DVR's of last year NASCAR races, or Rastlin, or MMA fighting, or college football, or the Outdoor channel (that's a big fish, that's a purdy fish). Don't try to drive, you will only hurt yourself and others.

2) Really, stay home. I speak from experience. And by "experience" I mean, I've driven in snow and ice in IN, IL, OH, MI, TN, KY, NC, SC, GA. VA, MD, Wash DC, PA, NY, NH, VT, Austria, and Suisse, and have never had an accident in snow and ice, because I know what I am doing, and I am not afraid or stupid or reactionary.

3) What trip do you have that is so essential, that you cannot wait another 24 or 48 hours to make that trip? It's the South, your snow will melt. Your ice will melt. Soon the roads will be safe. Seriously, stay home.

4) Ok, so you've ignored recommendation 1 through 3. Please, when you drive for the first time in snow or on ice, go the speed limit, or within 10 mph of it. When you are on a federal interstate highway, designed to be driven at 75mph and you're doing 30, gripping your steering wheel like it's a mid Atlantic life preserver, you're creating a traffic hazard for the rest of us.

5) When trying to climb a hill that has some ice on it, remember that the coefficient of static friction is nearly ALWAYS higher than the coefficient of dynamic friction. 'What does that mean?' you might ask... well... when your pickup truck is approaching Powers Ferry as it climbs Windy Hill Road at a 5% incline, flooring it and spinning your rear wheels isn't going to get you up the hill. It is going to destroy your differential, and create a black streak on the road, and damage your engine as you rev above 6500 rpm. And it will provide amusement for people like me, who look down from our hotel rooms at the red neck in his pick up truck who can't climb a slight hill with a little ice. If you are fool-hardy enough to drive a pickup truck or rear wheel drive vehicle on ice, put sand bags or other weights in the truck's bed over the rear axle. This will provide more downward force - gravity always works in the same direction when on Earth, but gravity is a theory like evolution which many Southerners have rejected, so what do I know. Downward force, times the coefficient of friction, will dictate how much applied forward motion you will accomplish. Increasing wheel RPM, well, that Does Not increase downward force, it just hurts your drive train and makes you look really stupid. Use 200 to 500 lbs of wet sand in the sand bags.

5) your accelerator (known to Americans as "gas pedal") is typically an analog device. If you have a vehicle with advanced technology where the electronics are simulating an analog to digital response curve (unless it is a Toyota maybe), it's still not an 'ALL THE WAY UP or DOWN' device. It's a variable response input device. Stomping on your accelerator at a stop light to begin to move, on ice, makes you look really stupid, provides no forward motion, and might even make you drift sideways. Apply your foot gently to the gas, don't stomp it. There's never an appropriate time to stomp on your accelerator on ice, unless you are trying to do a trick in an empty parking lot.

6) your brake pedal is also an analog input device. Apply your foot gently to the brake, do not stomp it. "Stomping" is for right before impact when you have anti-lock brakes, and if they are functioning properly, the pedal will push back at your foot.

6) Slush is good. Slush is your friend. Do not be afraid of driving through a little slush. GA got 3 to 8 inches of snow. That's not enough slush to bury a car to it's axles (as I did to my father's Chevy Van in the Hammond IN FOP Parking Lot in High School). If you put "dubs" on your vehicle, see rules 1, 2, and 3 above.

7) Shade + (Ambient Temp < 32F) + previous night snow = Frozen Patch. Be prepared for it. It's not magic, it's not mystical - like the sensor under the pavement that makes the light change colors when your car waits on it. The pavement in the shade, when the temp is below freezing (32F for Americans, 0 Celsius for the rest of the world, but the Canadians in North America don't have this issue, they understand) will have a patch of ice on it, or some un-melted snow... it will be slightly more slippery. Don't jamb your brakes on it. Don't floor it. Just gently glide over that patch. Unless you are in a dense pine forest, the shade will be intermittent in the South, and you'll get to sun warmed pavement soon enough.

8) If you're still determined to drive in the southern snow without experience, clues, or skill, take off your "W" bumper sticker, and your "McCain / Palin" stickers, and your "NObama" stickers before you head out. When you wreck, and "yankees" drive past you, they won't be able to say "well, of course" - and I am not a "yankee", I don't like the yankees. I like the Cubs, and yes, the Cubs are terrible, but my car has never been broken into in Wrigleyville, and both Sox games I went to, it was broken into. I'm not a "yankee", nor a "damn yankee", I'm from the Midwest, thank you.

9) If you are still going out in the snow, take off your racing slicks, or your neglected bald tires, and put on some good all weather tires. I know you don't have snow chains. You don't need them. You're not going to be driving on completely snow covered roads, or severe inclines, like in the Sierra Nevadas. Most of the pavement you're going to be on will be clear and dry and will tear up chains. Driving on bald tires will decrease your coefficient of friction (see # 5 above).

10) so you're still attempting to drive in the southern snow without experience or clues, AND you're trying to talk on your cell phone? DON'T!!! You're barely capable of driving on DRY pavement with a cell phone in hand. Add variable friction surfaces to that and you are guaranteed an accident. Put Down The Cell Phone. Concentrate on items 1 through 9 above.

Now, I feel better. =)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dinner With Dick Gephardt

In the Detroit Wayne County airport Wednesday night, I walked into the Mediterranean Grill and sat down at the horseshoe shaped bar, ordered a Patron on the rocks, some grape leaves and Greek Salad, and then I noticed... I was sitting directly across the bar from Dick Gephardt. If it wasn't the 22nd Majority Leader of the US House of Representatives, it was his look-alike / body double. Eye brows were n0t as bushy as I'd seen caricatured previously. He had finished his dinner prior to my arrival and was sipping a white wine. I was tempted to ask him "so why did you sell out?" but I refrained... the bar was crowded, and he was busy talking on his cell phone.

Monday, February 8, 2010

NRA Fear Brokers

Out of the blue last weekend, I get an NRA "Membership Acceptance" certificate in the mail. I've never applied. I've never signed up. I have purchased ammo using a credit card, and in AZ you do have to fill out a registration card when you purchase a fire arm - which I think is a sound logical step to register a legal fire arm.

But Nooooooooo! To read this NRA Platform survey, you'd like that President Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi were coming to take my gun away, throw me in a re-education camp, and make me pay a tax to the IRS for owning a gun every year on my income tax return. It's classic fear mongering, just as Christian[TM] fundamentalists have been using to rally their congregations for years.

Part of me wants to actually sign up, to see what kind of complete BS that Wayne LaPierre spouts out - and I get a "free" roll on duffel bag... but I really don't want to cozy up to such jingoistic reactionary thugs. Guilt by association is an American tradition. It's sort of like how I was approached by some plant security personnel when I first began working in South Carolina, to remind me that they were "having a meeting" that weekend, and to "Bring your sheet. If you ain't got one, we can give you one". Being a transplanted Hoosier, I was confused by reference to a "sheet" but the mentioning of "lighting up a cross" clarified it to me, and I politely declined, telling the security guard supervisor that I'd be out of town. He assured me I had a standing invite to future meetings.

The week that I quit working there, I told the security guard supervisor that I was Jewish and married a Black Catholic, hoping to see his head explode.

Magnetized Copper From Jesus!

I look through the direct mailers we get here in Phoenix for useful coupons. Occasionally, there's something useful, or funny in it.

I saw this one last week. I really need to rush right out, and buy several dozen! 2 for me, 2 for Dr Desert Flower, and 2 for every Christian [TM] I know. Somehow, using the healing power of Jesus, in the United State's porn capital (Van Nuys CA), Dream Products has been able to magnetize copper, and forge it into this fashionable bracelet! Wow. the gullible hat trick.

I could wear them on my ankles too... so 4 per person... Order today!

Don't Put Sugar On My Nuts!

As I mentioned last Fall, I found some delicious and inexpensive macadamia nuts at Costco. And though I've heard wonderful things about almonds raising your "good" cholesterol - the High Density ones - I've never really enjoyed the dark brown husked, fiberous outer layer. Not the texture, the taste, or the way they'd invariably get stuck between my teeth, so almonds have been one of my last choices in nuts. But the protein continued to beckon me, so I tried a can of Spanish Marcona Almonds from Costco last month. Delicioso!! WOW!

The carbon foot print of Spanish Marconas bothered me a lil bit, living in the Mountain / Pacific time zones and not on the Iberian peninsula. So last week when I was shopping in Costco, I looked for local almond options. Diamond brand had some almonds selling there listing "corn" as an ingredient. What part of the almond is the "corn" part? Epic failure, Diamond brand. There was a Costco (Kirkland) brand of almonds that claimed to be Californian, but stated they were coated in malto dextrin... maltodextrin... ¿Por qué? And they were brown husked, just like the Diamond brand, so none of my dollars went to that supplier.

The Marconas have very simple ingredients: blanched marcona almonds, sunflower oil, sea salt. mmmmm. So I bought 4 more cans, Just In Case Costco decides to stop carrying them.

I should be chock-full-o-nuts for the next 2 or 3 months - or in my buddy Matt's words: "The guy's nuts, grab-em!" LOL!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Fool In The Rain

Middle of the night last night our home was PELTED by a short tempest. Rattled the windows, blew in the from the north, from the looks of the disheveled potted geranium on the patio this morning, the violent atmospheric eruption lasted about 10 minutes. Of course, Dr Desert Flower blissfully slept through it since there was no associated lightening to awaken her - being more than 1/2 deaf has it's advantages.

As I go about doing laundry, dishes, litter box dooty duty, etc this morning, the Led Zeppelin classic Fool in the Rain continues to replay in my head. There IS an AWESOME base drum line repeated throughout this song - LONG before double bass drum pedals were invented, Bonham's right foot was fast twitching beautifully. Kids now a days with their modern technology =P ...and if you tried to play this with a double bass pedal, the nuanced hi-hat "psssssishs" would be lost. The drum fill at the 3:48 mark is a representative of remarkable beauty as well. Simplified, inimitable. Good stuff.Sweet. Lovely technique. One of my favorite LZ songs.

And it wins my nomination for best use of a traffic whistle & steel drums (combined) in a song. The Police's Every Little Things She Does Is Magic get's it for steel drums in m.h.o.... and Stewart's fill at 2:51 mark (link here) is another classic! OMG - the shorts Sting is wearing in the studio at the start of the video... I used to have those!!! I met Dr Desert Flower in those same shorts in 1986!! LOL!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sometime After Midnight

I woke up with this tune in my head, and the song has been replaying in my mind all morning. I've never experienced the events that are the subject of this song, having gotten married before being of legal drinking age. I've never seen an ex in a bar, so the visceral reaction that Airborne Toxic Event's Mikel Jollett seems to have had, I cannot personally relate to, but the song's structure, progression, crescendo, and story is an interesting one - and it is getting a great deal of radio airplay here in Phoenix.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

How to bait a wire trap

I almost forgot to mention... putting tuna in wire cage can be messy, if you are not properly prepared. First, get an old paper plate. Cut it into quarters. Bend up the edges. Now, spooning juicy, tempting tuna onto each wedge, is easy. Placing the wedges into the traps can be accomplish with a long arm, or, with a small trenching shovel or garden tool, if you have achondroplasia.

The wedges are especially helpful in gravel yards as are common here in Phoenix, to keeping the flavorful juice close to the fragrant fish flesh. This helps to keep the bait more alluring to feline senses.

Trapper Joe - how to rid your neighborhood of feral cats

I discovered my home's front door, and metallic security screen door, to be once again sprayed by the dominant feral cat in the neighborhood last weekend. On my way to get the mail on Saturday afternoon, I saw a gang of 7 feral cats nosing around my neighbor's truck in his driveway. 2 of the cats didn't run away from me, while 5 of their compatriots fled in fear as I approached them, enroute to the mail boxes. This defiance would not do.

Now visitors to this blog know I have no love for feral cats - but my cayenne pepper solution survived only a few months in the blazing Arizona sun, as the Crisco melted away, and relentless winds scattered the remnants of the spice. Deterrents were not working. Cats were breeding. My front door welcome mat was fetid with male cat urine. Our elderly indoor cats were freaking out each time a lurking feral cat patrolled our little yard. Dr Desert Flower was out of town at a family funeral, so it was time for action. Inexorably.

Setting out my varmint traps, baited with canned tuna, I caught 3 angry cats in the first 24 hours. These 3 full cages were loaded into the back of my station wagon - lined with a large thick tarp (for a moisture barrier, just in case of spraying), and card board (to reduce friction as the cages were slid in), with the shipping box in which the traps arrived used as a physical barrier between the feisty felines. Growling, hissing, and attempted reach-through-the-bars clawing were in no short supply. I proactively double gloved (a thick poly blend inner glove, and leather work glove outers), wore my old jeans whose waist is 4 inches too big now with a belt to hold up the brown-bag fashion, wore steel toed shoes, and my old "Joe" labeled winter work coat, and donned safety glasses. I took along an old snow shovel in case the newly relocated & released felines turn and attacked after the 30 mile trip.

The scaredy cats did not stick around, and each ran off in a different direction. I know they'll have food and water there, as they join the other cats I've seen in that general area who are effective mousers doing charity work. So the 7 were now down to 4. I reset the traps last night, baited with the rest of the can of tuna, and waited. 16 hours later, the 4th one has been captured.
But the bob tailed ring leader, the one who is full of piss and vigor, appears to still be too wary to 'take the bait'.

We shall see what tonight's waiting brings. I'd much rather drive all 4 of the remaining feral cats to their new undisclosed location tomorrow night, but I'll settle for this fourth gullible one for now. Need to find a more irresistible form of bait...

One of the varmint traps failed to trip closed this morning, allowing the curious explorer to devour all the tuna therein. Galvanized mechanical springs are notoriously unreliable, but they're also cheap. Stay tuned, for more news about feline apartheid and the forced relocation as it develops.

Mmmmaple Bacon, From Canada

I picked up this very tasty bacon at COSTCO in January. Comes as as two pack. The first package baptized my new cast iron skillet and bacon press, filled my home with the delicious scent of maple syrup, and provided more than a week's worth of delicious pork produced protein.

The second package (pictured to the right) I cooked last week, and enjoyed it over the last 6 days. Yeah, the Maple Leaf brand does have some sugar in it, but my goodness, it is tasty! And it's so unhealthy, I am now below my 95Kg marriage weight - 16 Kgs lighter than I was eating carbs last summer, my blood work test results are better than they've been in decades, and I feel more energetic and youthful than anytime since my son finished junior high school. Organic apples, 75% cocoa dark chocolate, French & Italian wines (some of them organic, when I can find them), local mangoes, French & Italian & British cheeses, organic celery, carrots, romaine, spinach, hummus, soups... this is not as hard as I thought it was going to be!

Two Pussies Happily Sharing The Same Bed

It appears that these two pussies need their vitamin D. One of the windows in our Master bed room faces south, and both cats have been very happy to share the same sunny bed, all week. The house has been a steady 75F, without turning the heat on this month. It dropped down to 72F average in January, after a 74F average room temp in December. El Niño has brought moderate temperatures and unusually wet weather to AZ this year. All that UV might help our octogenarian felines to boost their Calcitriol

Oh, I DID turn the heat on one morning when the bed room temp was 69F even though the hall thermostat was reading 72F. The gas fired furnace ran for about an hour, one morning in January. After Dr Desert Flower went to work, I turned off the heat, and it has not been back on since.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Very Indiana Superbowl

Superbowl XLIV will be a win-win-win-win-win-win in my perspective this year, regardless the out-come. Lemme explain:
  • First, it's the Colts & the Saints, and even though the Colts beat my hometown Bears in 2007, that's ok, because Peyton Manning is such a nice guy, such a masterful quarterback, and he's so likable. And Tony Dungy (former coach) and Jim Caldwell (current coach) are both really nice guys from everything I have heard and read about them - good leaders who have the remarkably good luck to coach really exceptional players. (see point 6 below)
  • Second, they are playing in an open air stadium as football is supposed to be played, not a dern dome (astro turf is not natural, causes injuries in contact sports, and biases games towards fleet-footed little boys who like to play indoors) as Superbowls are too often played.
  • Third, the quarterback for the Saints, Drew Brees, went to Purdue, where many of my friends also went to college, and where I've been drunk a time or two. And Brees's mother died last year when the Saints were in training camp, so that made for a difficult year for him personally on some level. I almost went to Purdue, but the mid 80s recession, coupled with NW IN unemployment rates & the Rand McNally Hammond printing plant where my father worked closing when I was a kid drove me to select Terre Haute instead of West Lafayette.
  • Fourth, New Orleans has never been to a Superbowl before in team history, and after Hurricane Katrina decimated the city, it's nice to see the underdog be successful.
  • Fifth, the Colts use my alma mater, Rose Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, as their training camp. I played intramural foot ball on the same practice areas, and lived in the same dorms when I was in Terre Haute that the Colts do for 2 months each summer.
  • Sixth, as I heard Frank Deford say on NPR this morning, "Should Peyton Manning lead the Colts to victory, he will absolutely have surpassed Tom Brady as the No. 1 quarterback of this generation." - and THAT warmed my heart. Sorry Patriots fans, but as Daniel Tosh succinctly summarized about Tom Brady: "Your coach is a cheater, your rings are a lie, you were a back-up from Michigan."
Dr. Desert Flower and I will be in Gilbert (which I pronounce - Jeehul-Bear... lol) grilling protein, and consuming beverages containing ethanol with our friends Tory and Alan. It should be a nice Sunday evening.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Classic Douchebag

Lord Salsbury, Wilkinson, Cardigan, Ascot, the Duke & Duchess of Argyle, Earl of Sandwich, and Lady & Lord Douchebag. Enjoy the link (here and here for script), and embed, while it lasts.

Here Comes the Rain Again

Timeless Annie. Forecast again calls for rain here in the Phoenix valley.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Solar Halo in Phoenix Today

The sun had a massive halo around it this afternoon as I worked out poolside. Lots of upper atmosphere frozen moisture. Most likely it'll rain tomorrow... for a very wet winter so far. Il faut voir.

It's really strange, after living in the land of moisture, mold, and green everywhere, where rain was a weekly, if sometimes daily occurrence... that here in the desert, they get all worked up on the weather forecasts about POSSIBLE rain. Sort of like "possible snow, at higher elevations, in the North Carolina Mountains" in the South Carolina Upstate, and all the stores' shelves north of I-85 would be bare of bread and milk... =P