Saturday, March 31, 2012

Some Weeks Are Better Than Others

Some weeks are better than others.  This was not one of them. 

When I don't know what to say, I look to music for inspiration.

Completely germane to the last 72 hours, is this classic from that Texas Surfer punk band I enjoy listening to:
link here
NOTE:  DO NOT listen to this if you have youngsters nearby who  can hear it & who are impressionable, and who do not yet have a colorful vocabulary. (lyrics here).  But I did not win the megamillions lottery...  so c'est la vie.

Also, relevant, are here, and here (both of THESE are 'child friendly' unlike the link to Texas gold above).

Time for another glass of wine (and it's well afternoon for me already... so it is not morning drinking).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Netbook Biting the Dust

My Asus Eee Netbook is biting the dust, rapidly.  Just 3 years after I got it, it's bogging down in a quagmire of limited memory, infinite Adobe updates, Windows XP updates, and (I think) just plain ole obsolescence.  I type this blog posting froma lenovo 'business center' desktop in the Holiday Inn Express in which I am staying.  It is disheartening that my formerly useful little netbook now takes FOREVER to load even justjoep, and then wants to download so many updates it is rendered useless.  I've tried clearing the memory, but to no use.  It just doesn't have enough "oomph" for today's network browing needs.  Firefox, IE, Google Chrome, none has worked on the anemic Asus Eee book.   I considered chucking it out the window of my hotel, to the asphalt parking lot below, but the windows don't open... so my attempt was thwarted.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Looks like I will have to learn to use (and possible like, someday) the evil jobs device at home.  Grrrrrr.

Key & Peele

Key & Peele on Comedy Central are HILARIOUS!  I've been watching them this season, and they make me laugh heartily.  I heard interviews with them on NPR, and they sound like very nice guys.  Their material is very racially based, and (in my opinion) as funny or funnier than Dave Chappel.  Since both Keegan and Jordan are both mixed race, with white mothers, they straddle the line between white and black humor.  I am sure haters out there will say Chappel is/was MUCH funnier... but haters will hate.  Chappel was indeed funny, but I really enjoy Key & Peele.  I've seen their show sober, with a glass of wine, or with an entire bottle digesting in me, and it is consistently very funny.  I've caught myself laughing even at their re-runs, anticipating the next line.  I think they are very under-rated, and under-appreciated.  I'm looking forward to seeing many seasons of their sketch humor for years to come.

Monday, March 26, 2012

SCOTS on Isle of Palms

Dr Desert Flower, Nathan Jr, and I went to the Wind Jammer on Isle of Palms, East of Charleston SC, last Saturday night. The Royal Tin Foil were opening for SCOTS (Southern Culture on the Skids).  Nathan Jr had never seen SCOTS before, though he's heard them 100s of times on our stereo at home.  We'd never seen SCOTS on the beach, so it was a evening of firsts.

The Royal Tinfoil were a hoot!  Very silly, and very enthusiastic musicians and showman / show-women. If you ever have a chance to see them, you should take the opportunity.  The last song about Nun Whore Zombies had me laughing heartily.  Then SCOTS took the stage and played many songs off of Kudzu Ranch, and Zombiefied.  But when the crowd did not respond so enthusiastically.  they became to play more of their classics.  When they played Daddy Was a Preacher but Momma Was a Go Go Girl, Dr Desert Flower got up on stage and danced behind Dave the drummer.  Then 8 piece Box, and  she threw chicken to the audience.  But there was a new twist.  One of the fans had made banana pudding, and when they played Banana Pudding, they handed out three tupperware containers of banana pudding and wooden spoons to Dr Desert Flower and 2 other women, who fed the crowd.  It was a hoot!   Our son had a great time too, and we

Monday, March 19, 2012

Light Saber Revolution

Why are the colonists using red light sabers and the British using green ones?   Seems somewhat paradoxical.

Not Herding Cats

Walking them, probably in France...  as it's been in France where I've seen more than one cat on a leash.  I bet this is one queue of disgruntled pussies on leashes.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Commode Serpent

Commode Serpent, AKA "Snaking the Toilet".  Always look before you sit down.  I do like the solution used in the last frame.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Superstitious Yoga at 4800 ft

I got the brilliant / wild-hair (U.M.A.) idea yesterday, that I was going to drive to Apache Junction this morning, hike 4 miles horizontally and almost a mile vertically, and then do yoga, up on the "Flat Iron" before the rain begins this evening here in the Phoenix valley.  Apache Junction is about as close to our West Side home, as Wisconsin is to Hammond Indiana, with a city of 5 million people in-between.  I pre-packed my water and food, hiking stick, hat, sun tan lotion, sun glasses, and hiking clothes Friday night.  Woke up without an alarm at 4am Saturday morning, and was out of the house after checking weather & email (one more time) by 5am. 

I got to the Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction just after 6:15am, as there was no traffic and no police, and the few people on the I-10 were averaging about 80mph.  Mine was the only car in the "day use" parking lot when I arrived.  Good.  I cherish my solitude, and don't like crowded hikes.  I hit the Discovery & Siphon Draw trails and headed uphill, carrying almost 5 liters of water (large Camelback, 2 Nalgenes, and 2 Kelteys) on my back, and no breakfast in my stomach.  I got to see a glorious sunrise over the East Valley.

As I was ascending into the Superstition Mountains, I was passed on 3 occasions, by lone hikers, males in their 20s or early 30s, carrying less than a liter of water each.  They were each wearing NBA style shorts and an athletic t-shirt.  Old man Joe was in jeans and 3 layers - it was 55F and very windy, and walking with my Gandalf-esque walking stick.  They each passed me like I was standing still.  2 of them reached the top, turned around, and began their descent passing me in the opposite direction before I reached the Flat Iron summit.But that's ok, 'old age, wisdom & cunning' before 'youth, beauty & strength', I always say! (or at least I say it now that I'm in the 2nd half of my life) - LOL!
This is what loomed in front of me:  The shear vertical faces of what I THOUGHT were the imposing Superstitions.  Silly me, those are the foot hills.  By 9:45, when I was at the summit, I looked down at those puny cliff faces below.  The REAL summit can't be seen from Lost Dutchman Park, the shear foot hills block it.  (note the moon still visible, at dawn, in the upper right).

About 1/2 way up, you encounter a V shaped stone canyon that's somewhat steep.  I wouldn't want to be in it during a rain storm.  You can see it pictured to the left here (and again at the bottom of the posting, with tiny little people in it, seen from afar).  There were large rocks (boulders) and dead century and agave plant matter strewn at the bottom of the V rock canyon, so tonight when the thunderstorms get here, that'll be a rushing torrent.  The goal was to be off the mountain, or home before the rains began, and that goal was achieved.  You can see the Flat Iron "peeking" up at the upper right of this picture.

Before this V rock canyon, the ascent is pretty gradual and routine.  After the V rock canyon, it gets increasingly steep and tricky.  The trail is well marked with dots and arrows (thankfully!) to guide the trail novice up.  The last 100 feet are the hardest scramble, requiring very grippy gloves, very grippy shoes, and careful foot and hand placement to scale some difficult rock formations.

But once you are at the summit, it's pretty amazing.  You can google "Flat Iron Panorama" and see all sorts of Youtube videos on it.  There's the left side.. the right side... but the actual upper summit (higher than the Flat Iron by another 3 or 400 feet) is back behind all of those. 
It was extremely windy, so I only made a panorama at the very summit, where some clever individual had attached an American flag to a 20 foot tall Agave stalk.  It took a great deal of scrambling to reach the upper most summit.  At the top I saw countless prickly pear cacti, agaves, palo verde trees, mesquite bushes, and ironwood trees, all of which had been hit by lightening, and were partially burnt, or completely incinerated.  it reinforced 'getting off the mountain' before the evening thunderstorms were to arrive.
video
After soaking in the view for a good 15 minutes, I looked for a flat place to do yoga.   I finally found a large rock that was almost 100% level, to the North East of the summit, about 300 feet away.  I set up shop there. 
The summit is seen in the center, upper right.
 The whisk broom I brought effectively cleared away small rocks (painful under a yoga mat). It was the best and most satisfying environment in which I've ever done yoga.  Better than my back yard, Sedona, the Hawaiian Hotel balcony, or the beach on St. John.  And infinitely better than any hotel room. I saw a few ravens flying nearby riding thermals (and looking for hand-outs I think), and several military helicopters (Blackhawks) far below me, around 1500 feet.  The view was magnificent.  The rock I found was mostly sheltered from the strongly gusting wind, and I was even able to take this image, in wide leg forward bend:
At the end of that rock (and end of my shadow as well), it was about a 200 foot drop off.  I'm glad the rock was stable.  That's Apache Junction (inverted) and Phoenix farther off (about 30 miles away, the down town buildings look like the smallest, tiniest Lego Blocks you can imagine).  The rock was refreshingly cool, as no morning sun had yet baked it, and it felt good on my hot & tired feet, through the yoga mat.  1/2 way up the mountain I was regretting lugging the mat in my Camelback back-pack, but once at the top, it made it all worth it.
Lightning strikes like this were common, all over the summit.  It was strange to see 1/2 "melted" succulents, and obviously charred tree limbs with the rest of the tree often in-tact.  The wind was blowing so hard and constant, that it's likely that any living tree that was hit by lightning (and thus still had moisture in it) had one limb burnt off and then the fire blown out by the powerful wind (and perhaps quenched by rain as well?).  I would NOT want to be up on the summit in a rain storm.
This is a shot I took looking back up the trail upon descent.  Two 20-something year old male hikers with FULL Back Packs and bed rolls were ascending, and we passed each other.  I asked them incredulously "you're not gonna camp up there tonight, are you?"
"F*CK Yeah!!!" was their enthusiastic reply.  I told them about the multiple lightning strike evidence I saw and they laughed.
"We got the gear, we got the beer!!!" and as the distance increased and I continued down, I over-heard one of the fool-hearty young men say "that's why I take my aluminum helmet, old man!" and his buddy laughed uproariously.  Good luck to them.  NASA says men are 4 times more likely to be hit by lightning than women.  Go figure.

It was a good thing I got such an early start.  The hike down was CROWDED.  Ridiculously crowded.  With hikers queuing up at narrow points and scrambling areas, and causing small rock and gravel slides down on each other.  It was about as bad as Camelback Mountain on a nice week day... but not quite as bad as on a tourist-filled Spring or Fall weekend.
There were lots of wildflowers, every-where, on the slopes, along the trail, in the trail, and at the summit, and many of the cacti were blooming as well.
When Dr Desert Flower and I were at the Superstitions last weekend, there were some wild flowers blooming, sure.  But this week, it's an explosion of yellow, with many other colors thrown in there as well.  After tonight's rain, there'll be a prismatic spray of color to be taken in.   Too bad we live so far away from the Superstition Mountains.

The Pieces Fit

To follow up on the last post...   case in point, one fine example:  Tool's Schism  (...The Pieces Fit)
.  A tour de force drumming performance.  The syncopation of Stewart Copeland, with the complexity of Neil Peart, and the precision of Gene Krupa, with the speed of 3 or 4 Alex Van Halens.  Danny Carey is a very talented 51 year old drummer.

Air-Drums and Tool

Thanks to my buddy Ryan for sending this.  It made me laugh heartily.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Such Princesses

Dr Desert Flower and I laughed heartily at the SNL sketch Real Housewives of Disney.
This graphic below compliments the SNL Princess Perspective nicely  =)

Holy Pursuit Batman!

I hope these GIFs animate inside of google blogger...


Much better than the Mayor of Quahog RI.

Vegan Breakfast

Gluten Free, Lactose Free, Vegan breakfast cereal.  Enjoy with your almond or soy "milk".
$10 a bag... silly Canadians.  I'll stick with my healthy bacon & eggs, and low carb active life style.

Oh Tigger! What's Wrong?!?

This made me smile

Walken In A Winter Wonderland

As Spring is 'offically' approaching next week, I need to get all of my winter pics out....

Nuclear Dolphin Bow Wave

I wonder if it's a US Navy dolphin?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Star Wars Yoga

Vader Yoga

Yoda Yoga
Boba Yoga
Droid Yoga
Princess Yoga

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Gas Prices Simply Explained

Thanks to Tom the Dancing Bug:

AT-AT Cross Section

Of course, Defense Spending is still going to increase.

Corporate Lobbying & Liberty

I was reading in Science about how Obama's 2013 budget for STEM education, pure and applied research, and government agencies like FDA, NIH, NSF, NOAA, and the US Geological Survey (earthquake warnings) were all getting their funding cut (they're all things the USA apparently doesn't need, and are "killing jobs" when we should be letting the jobs do the killing), but Republican law makers would likely reduce it even more than what the President's budget proposes, and then I saw this image later int he day... and things aligned in my head correctly.  Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200... unless you're a congressman going to lunch with a lobbyist for a major corporation or trade industry.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Rush Tells Hush to Hush

Or, Rush sues Rush.

Canadian Progressive Rock Artists Rush have sent a cease & desist order to Hush Dimbulb, telling the blow hard that he can't keep stealing their music and using it, without license, without permission, for his own self promotion. (link here, thanks Dr Desert Flower) Rush and Peter Gabriel have both told Dimbulb he can't use their music.

Why doesn't Dimbulb just play traitor & seditionist Ted Nugent's music?  He wants to shoot (then candidate) Obama and stick a gun inside of Hillary Clinton.  His genre of inflammatory rhetoric goes along with Hush's hatred filled show much better than Spirit of the Radio or Sledgehammer does.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Road Runner Through The Blinds

video
Apparently, Google blogger doesn't want anyone to upload 2 videos in the same blog post..   so here's the 2nd installment.   Up to this point at 1:30, I'd had a pretty unpleasant day.   Seeing my girl friend on the wall, helped to turn that around.  I love how velociraptor-like she runs and stalks on the wall, with tail feathers almost as long as the rest of her body, bobbing and raising.

Highlight of my Day

video
My girlfriend loves honeysuckle.  Or, more specifically, she loves the striped lizards who live between the trellises and the wall on which the honeysuckle grows.  I know there's several lizards who hide out there, as each time I go out to water the few plants that don't have drip irrigation in the back yard, the lizards DART along the wall.  She noticed them too, this afternoon, and tried to have one for a late lunch around 1:30.
The next post will show her up-close.

Sleeping Sperm

Sleeping Sperm Whales, off of Portugal.
 Each one of these is the size of a city bus... and has the largest brain of any mammal.  Those big, big, Big brains have to dream too, or they might go crazy.   Then, you get Cachalot (which I read in 1981).

Chateau Amour Medoc

Chateau Amour Medoc, grand Vin de Bordeaux, Appellation Medoc Controlie, from Trader Joe's.  It costs $6.   It goes great with dinner.  The previously mention pork loin included.  Imported by Lattitude Wines, made by a French negotient DWI France SA.
 
Sure, it's no awesome $20 or $40 bottle, but for $6 it is better than just "drinkable".  It had a nice silken feel in the mouth, and subtle berry & plum notes without being too fruity.  I enjoyed it.  You might too.  Give it a try.  I'll be buying another bottle the next time I go to TJs.

Leeky Pork Loin

I bought leeks for the first time at the Farmer's Market last weekend.  I'd never cooked with leeks before, but have enjoyed them often in soups and as part of main dishes while eating out.  Having no idea exactly how to cook a leek, I asked the good Dr what her recommendation was.  "Cut them up" she shot at me as she headed off to work.  I washed them, cut off the "leafy" tops that appeared to me more like a large, tough, flat chive, and then sliced up the leeks as you see here.  They were large, almost the size of bananas.  Add in some organic baby carrots, organic portobellos, shiitakes, and sliced up red peppers, over 2 pork loins, on high heat for an hour, and then simmered for the next 8 hours, al in the slow cooker.  I thought it was delicious, as the pork "fell apart" on my fork, dripping in its own juices and the essence of the veggies around it.   Dr Desert Flower didn't like it so much, but that's fine, more left-overs for me.  It made for a hearty lunch for the next two days.

I've got one leek left... I'm thinking of sauteing it with some mushrooms and peppers... or putting it in the bottom of a soup corning bowl all chopped up, and cook some Amy's or Wolfgang Puck soup on top of it.. hmmm...  decisions, decisions.

Powers Gold Label



Powers Gold Label Irish Whiskey is a good quality whiskey.  It's triple distilled, "with distinctive pot still character", established 1791, by John Power & Son.  I like it better than Bushmills, and much better than Jameson, but slightly less than Tullamore Dew.  It's smooth, and I find it quite pleasant. 
















I've not seen it advertised on TV or radio or print.  It reinforces the theory I have, that on many consumer goods, the QUALITY of the good is inversely proportional to how much the manufacturers have to spend on marketing & advertising the product.  Jameson is fine, if there's no other alternative.  Bacardi Rum (which gives me a head ache), Jose Cuervo Tequila (which is ok for a margarita, but not for sipping), and other lackluster liquors push their lackluster brands relentlessly.  Really fine whiskeys speak for themselves.

Everything's Gone Green

Dr Desert Flower and I were watching the visually pleasing movie Marie Antoinette last night, and they played Siouxie and the Banshees as well as New Order in the soundtrack - somewhat anachronistically by several hundred years - but it was nice to hear songs from our youth.  Everything's Gone Green was the background music as they walked through the expansive gardens of Versailles. Dr Desert Flower remarked how it always reminded her of high school.  Much better than most of the terrible music heard in my home when I was in high school.

The video shows a very creepy tear-gas crowd control training video from the 60s.  Yikes.

Archeo Nero d'Avola

Archeo Nero d'Avola, from Sicily (or Sicilia).  It's a whole $4 at trader Joes.  I buy 2 or 3 bottles each time I go, so we have this wine 3 or 4 times a month.  It's great.
Of the dozens of bottles I've had since moving to Arizona, I've not had a bad bottle.  I am sure wine snobs can be found online who want to lambaste it, but I take a honey badger attitude towards them.  I love this wine.  It suits me.  I recommend it to friends and family, and I've brought it over for dinner before as well.  At $4 a bottle, it's awesome table wine, by Ruggero di Tasso.  Southern Italian wines remain very under-rated, and wonderful values for the cost conscious wine lover.

Cornucopia.org, The Snopes of Organic

I heard a nice Diane Rehm show on Monday, where they talked about Organic foods in the US.  It was an eye-opening discussion, and they frequently referred to Cornucopia.org.  I'd never heard of Conucopia, so I visited the website to see just how organic some brand's eggs and dairy and produce really are.  I was shocked. 

I'd frequently mentioned Horizons "Organic" Butter here before (here and here), and had held them in some esteem.  My admiration was completely unfounded.  Horizon was bought by Dean Foods ($11 Billion in sales)  of Dallas Texas, and buys milk from non-organic producers.  They get a "zero cow" rating.  Trader Joes gets only one cow, not much better.  Ben & Jerry's gets 3 cows, so that's much better. 

For my friends in Illinois, Back To Nature (Kraft) gets a zero - not surprising from a corporate giant.
Both Lifeway  (Morton grove) and HyVee boast 4 cow ratings. 

MOO Maine's Own Organic Milk has an amazing 5 cow (the highest) rating, with very happy & healthy cows!

Arizona's local Shamrock Farms sadly gets a zero, with 1000s of cows crowded into their industrial feed lots.(which I can smell, from time to time in my backyard, if the wind blows from the wrong direction).

Eggs are rated as well.
Trader Joes of course, gets a zero, as I'd previously mentioned how Ame stirred me away from the beakless mass production of Trader Joes.  I only buy eggs now from my local farmer at local farmer's markets.  It's too bad that Kirkland Costco eggs get a zero as well.

There's a nice graphic of the US's 30 largest aggregate industrial factory farms who have adopted the "organic" disguise.  I'll be actively avoiding them, as they actively avoid being sustainable, truly organic, and ardently strive for the lowest common denominator as they advertise "Organic" and comply with the weakest regulations which they've lobbied from the best politicians money can buy.

I'll be using Cornucopia.com going forward as the debunker of Organically labeled obfuscation and BS, just as Snopes, TruthorFictionFactCheck and Politifact are used to sift through mis-information and lies.

Les Caves Joseph






















Trader Joes sells an inexpensive Bordeaux Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon blend called :Les Caves Joseph.  I've seen this sold for as low as $4 a bottle, and as high as $6 a bottle over the last three years.  It's pretty good.  It's not awesome, but for the low price, it is fine table wine.  Over the years, I've had probably a dozen bottles altogether, and the quality has ranged from drinkable to very good.  Imported by Plume Ridge Claremont CA, and produced by negotiant (Mis en bouteille par) Adrien Bertaillan 33360 France, and shipped by Ginestet Carignan-de-Bordeaux.  "Serve at room temperature with roasted or grilled beef, lame, or game."  I've not served it with game, but have had it with beef and lamb.  Les Caves Joseph can serve as a good 2nd bottle at a large dinner, or just as a everyday table wine.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Certified Arizona Birthers

Last year my governor surprisingly vetoed a bill passed by the massively Republican dominated house and senate to REQUIRE Presidential Candidates who want to be on the ballot in Arizona to release their birth certificates.   In honor of that veto, I present the TRUE Obama birth certificate, to show here, why it is obviously a complete fake (just like the moon landings!!).