Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Heh Heh Heh
His Excellency Rodger Schlong over at Curmudgeonly & Skeptical posted a picture of an actual Jimmah Carter campaign T shirt that said "Not Just Peanuts." I thought it had a germ of truth and altered the picture which I then passed along to Der Schlongmeister. He liked it but them altered his original image much more elegantly than did I, who just erased letters instead of making ghosts out of them. Check it out.
Since I am talking about "History's Greatest Monster" (one thing the writers of "The Simpsons" got right), I have to post the following quote from Spinoza: "Those who are believed to be most abject and humble are usually most ambitious and envious."
I don't know the source of the quote as it was included in the page of quotations on humility that was on the final page of the June 19 issue of "Forbes." So, despite the lack of provenance, I can not think of a better capsule assessment of Jimmy Carter. His public face is faux humility when his reality is a burning anger if not hatred of those who do not follow him.

Alastair Ian Stewart
Perhaps you know him as the man behind "Year of the Cat" though he is indeed so much more. Proving old folkies never die (finish that as a joke any way you like), he is touring. And he will be in Reno, NV on May 10. Having made 2006 the Year Of Traveling To See Mike Cross, I need to go more extreme for the seventh year of the decade. Perhaps the Enigmatic Misanthrope would like to join me on a trip to the west to see a show? I'd like to see him in concert before he dies or I die. You never know.
I'd also like to note with no small degree of admiration that his website posts a full page of fan-generated tabs for his songs. In an era where guitar tab pages are being shut down by copyright threats, here is a man who provides them for his fans. Fantastic. Not to mention that his website provides "alumni" links to artists who've played with him. That, in my estimation, is a mark of greatness that a man can share a spotlight.
Plus, I finally realized that Peter White, one of those "alumni" who played guitar with Al in that period where I discovered his music (and thus my favorite period) is also the Peter White who played with the great Polish jazz singer Basia. That would be a Polish singer who sings jazz, not a singer who sings Polish jazz. I'm sort of doubtful that there is such a category of music. Or if there is, it's got a pretty limited repertoire.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Another Small Grace Note
Friends put me onto something at Costco. I've long been a fan of the Costco rotisserie chickens: larger, more flavorful and at least a dollar cheaper than those sold at the regular supermarket. (I almost wrote "grocery store." Has there been a "grocery store" in existence since Dobie Gillis worker for his dad?) Now I know what they do with the birds they don't sell. They make a kick-ass chicken soup. A good half gallon (I'm guessing here but it sure seems like two quarts) with good stock, big hunks of chicken that are still laden with flavor, carrots, celery and, though I avoided them, noodles all for ten bucks. This is for at least three meals worth of soup, I tell ya what.
Once again, Costco provides a delicious grace note on a chilly weekend.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Not That Anyone Cares
But it seems the next PRS won't be on the scene until sometime in late winter of early spring. Q1 '07 as it were. Now that I'm committed to it, it gets harder to wait. It's just sodam beautiful. Singlecut trem, artist's package in emerald green. Yeah, I know I said it before. Odds are I'll say it again before I actually have it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Insert Resigned Sigh Here
My service call to the HVAC people has turned into one of "those" moments. I moved into a townhouse that was built about 15 years ago, give or take. And the equipment installed was "contractor (or builder) grade." In other words, of acceptable quality but not good enough that someone living in the house would necessarily opt for it. Except, of course, where raw cost is the operative factor.
This has caught up with me in several ways since I bought this place. I had new carpeting put in when I moved in - the old stuff was dingy off-white and the padding was mashed down to nothing. Then there was the new roof. Then there was the AC unit last year. Then the kitchen make-over with new floor, new range and new hood-mounted microwave. And was I ever glad to see the old range thing go!
And it catches up to me yet again. There is enough wrong with my old gas furnace that to merely fix it would cost one-third the cost of a new system and even then the fix would probably give me a couple of years. So, as soon as we get the timing worked out, I'll be having a new and vastly better furnace put in. Oh well. It would have been nice to not have to drop the ducats on it but at least it'll be new and efficient and I'll not have to worry about it for the remainder of my time here. Most likely.
On the other hand, the baker's rack looks pretty good.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Jalapenos (Yes - Again)
I made jalapeno pepper jelly today. Oh yum. I made it hot. Since I have so much of the makin's, I'll make more tomorrow but it'll be milder. I'll seed the peppers first and I'll only use the green ones. That should do it. The jelly I made today used both the red and green jalapenos. It's got a lovely confetti look to it. I'll post pics when the jars have set and been labeled.
Also my new kitchen furniture, the baker's rack to replace the corner shelves, arrived today so I'll be building that as I process more of the jelly. Y'know, this shite is fun!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Firefox 2.0
Well I'll be buggered. I've downloaded and installed the new release of Firefox and the tabbed browsing has been altered in such a way that the close button is on the tab itself and not over in the corner where I expect it to be. Apple's Safari browser has operated that way and I rather liked the way Firefox used to do it. But I'm not such an old BlogDog that I can't learn new tricks. There is a clever little drop-down arrow where the close button used to be that allows navigation among tabs. That could be useful.
Also spelling is being flagged as I type in Blogger. That may be a Blogger upgrade but I appreciate it. I'm an OK speller but a lousy tupiat ... typist. Sorry.
UPDATE: With Firefox, all things are (at least seem to be) possible. Here is a page with all sorts of tweaks to this most excellent browser. I've already changed my tab close button to its old familiar place on the right side of the tab bar.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I Do Like Me Some Coffee
I've coffeeblogged before. But now I'd like to draw your attention to Boca Java. If you like coffee too, you can get free samples from them at the cost of shipping. Go to the main page (click the link above) and click on the little radio and flag button at the top. Enter "Laura" in the ensuing text box as exceptional radio host and conserva-babe Laura Ingraham is advertising for BJ coffee (BJ? That's not right!). You can then select from several options and enter your credit card info for the cost of shipping. How can you beat that? (UPDATE with details: four 8oz. bags of coffee for the shipping cost of $9.95. Heck, I'll order coffee from them out of guilt for having torn into them with that offer. Or not.)
I'll report further when I get it.

General Notes
First, it definitely has made a turn for the cold. I sit here blogging in my "I am the big dog" sweat shirt in attractive sage green. Well, maybe not sage but I'll go with it for convenience of writing a specific color. And the heat in the house is not ... really on. I flipped the thermo to "Heat" and heard a sort of 'clunk' from the boiler room but then no action like fans spinning up to push warmthed air around. (Homer's brain: "Now look sad and say, 'D'oh.'" Homer: "D'oh.") Service call is now on tap for Thursday. Better to get this done before everyone in creation is calling the HVAC people.

Jalapeno peppers. Yeah baby, yeah! I harvested the plants and after giving a generous double handful to my good neighbors, I have 4.25 lbs of peppers! Yee hah! Time to buy pickling salt and mason jars. I may even make the pepper jelly tomorrow. Here's what 17 quarter pounds of peppers looks like (with an Apple mouse thrown in for scale):

Not The Review
Even though I promised a review of Emm Gryner's new discs, this is not it. That is, in mag trade parlance, a TK. However, I wanted to put in a pointer to an interview with Emm on CBC radio. Click the orange "PLAY" button to listen. The picture of Emm is an old one but, yes, she's that pretty. You can also hear that she has a wonderful speaking voice as well. You can also hear some of the music.
I strongly recommend the interview but I am self-confessed slavish fan. OK, so you aren't but give it a go anyway.

Monday, October 23, 2006

On Tap For Tomorrow
I finally get around to reviewing Emm's new "Summer of High Hopes" and the bonus disc "PVT" (said: "Private"). In a startling departure from my slavish devotion, I will be heartlessly dismissive of the latter while praising the former with great gusto.
I just got my cholesterol numbers from my doc. HDL 39, LDL 101, triglycerides 86.
And I'm going to bring them down!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Is There A Doctor In The House?
I recently had a mole removed and have three stitches at the excision. A week from tomorrow they should be good to go. I really don't think I need to go to the doctor's office to have them removed. A nice, clean pointy pair of scissors should do just fine. Anyone have any reason I shouldn't do this myself? Anyone? Bueller?

Friday, October 20, 2006

My Next Million Dollar Idea
Tofurkey exists. And, it sucks. We need a new non-meat turkey that will satisfy the gobbler gobbling public. And I'm working on it: "I Can't Believe It's Not Butterball." Sooooo goooood!
Things I Want To See
A contestant on "American Idol" sing "Dragostea din tea" (AKA the "Numa Numa" song).
This Dog Will Hunt
We welcome Angus to the fold. Alert, involved, concentrated and loved.
Could a human ask for more? Could a dog ask for more?

Friday, October 13, 2006

More PRaiSe
I'll be picked up and knocked right back down again. Here is a 2006 Swamp Ash Special in Blue Matteo which makes it just like mine except a year younger. I find the color of mine to be a lusher, deeper blue but look at the grain on that one in the eBay listing! Wow! Wow and a half. And the bidding started at $850. It's only up to $1,000 with 8 bids. It might turn out to be a real bargain. Anything less than $1,500 qualifies. Nice hunk of wood there.

Oh Yum!
I think we've entered the new "any soft drink you like can be flavored with cherry" era. And thank God for that. I am sucking down Black Cherry Citrus Fresca like the 8th Route Army is in Richmond and heading north.

The Turning Of The Earth
Yesterday the cold front came through. Ahhh, glory. I am in a sweatshirt for the first time this season and loving it. The air has that bite to it where it's not so cold that turning on the heat in the house is necessary but cold enough that pulling your hands into the sleeves of the shirt gives them a deliciously warm feeling. This is prime sleeping weather. The quilt is back in action. I want to make a big pile of quilt on top of me and swim thorugh the night in that warm pool of self-generated heat.
The colors are starting come on around here as well. As I was stopped at a light yesterday I realized I was looking at tree in the full flush of its fall color. One bright blaze of red and golden brown amidst a generally green scrim. The season is starting and I can't wait for the frost to hoar the ground. Time to harvest the peppers and get ready to undo the Earthboxen for the nonce. Such is the turn of the season. Autumn. Glorious autumn.

Today's Woot
I am, I believe I've said before, a big fan of Woot's "one day, one deal" deals. Today they're offering a new sage-colored Roomba with all the fixin's for $150 and the usual $5 for shipping. If you've wanted automatic vacuuming, this is a deal that's hard to turn down.
Medical News
I went to Johns Hopkins to have them look at the pain I was having in my wrist. They said I had 500 broken bones. I said, "In my wrist?" They said that's what their survey determined.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Watching Tee Wee
Watched "Lost" again last night. Oh! I so hate the Others. I am now hoping that the Lostaways get to the point where they very painfully and slowly kill all the Others.
And tonight "CSI: Lost Wages" is on and some moh-ron at CBS thought it would be a good idea to put Cletus Federline on as a "guest star." It is a show I usually watch. Not tonight. My hatred expands to fill the available moronity.

More Green Nonsense
I read a little AP article entitled "Wet area studied for wine" in today's Washington Times. I like wine. I'm greatly pleased at the strides made in wine production in the United States. Heck, about 20 years ago some friends and I had a party to try wines produced in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia. They weren't very good. In fact a couple were actually pretty bad. Now, however, I could serve you a Virginia wine that would belong on any table in the world.
I say all this to establish my bona fides as to why I read the article and to provide cover for myself before I launch into the idiocy.
The background on this is that in Washington state, the "vast majority" of grape production is in the "hot, dry eastern" part of the state. However: "Now, Olympic Cellars owner Kathy Charlton has commissioned a study aimed at refuting the notion that good wine grapes can't be grown on the wet side of the Cascade Range and finding a valuable crop to preserve farmland under increasing development pressure."
Oh GMAFB! I don't find that there's any shortage of grape growing land in the drier eastern regions but some damnable effete vineyard owner pays good money to "prove that wine grapes" can be grown in less than the best available conditions and secondarily ot "preserve farmland." Bullflop. Most crops can be grown in less than ideal conditions. I could not be more certain that it's the "preservation" of farmland that drives this study. This is one of the great greenie chimeras of modern times. If farmland were the best economic use of the land, the land would be farmed. "Development pressure" is demonized as "sprawl" when it's actually an expression of the desire of people to live in homes of their own choice. The same debate is raging in my home county of Loudoun (which I call with great affection "LoCo") and the same bullcrap arguments are being made.
I sometimes think that if the "environmentalists" have their way, people will herded into ultramega dense housing (with all the concommitant problems) so that the annointed can enjoy the "open," "unspoiled" land that is owned by someone else and which has had its value stripped from it by governmental fiat. If you want to "protect" land, buy it. At least the Nature Conservancy got that much right.

One Of The Best Trompe L'oeil Evar!
An elevator floor that's not. I consider myself a rational person but I'm pretty sure I would have a real moment of panic before I stepped on that!

(Hat tip: Noodle Food)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

New Goodies
I've been ordering things like a madman lately. Egad it's fun! Here's an example: the Weber Q 100 grill. It arrived today and, since there was little to assemble, I had it together in about ten minutes. Five, if I'd had a screwdriver to hand but that was only to put the handle on. I need to get some propane cylinders so I may be grillin' tomorrow night if the weather doesn't conspire against me (mumble, mumble fargin' fall rain mumble). Of course, now that I have a gas grill, I need to get some of Costco's most excellent steaks so I can christen the lovely, heavy cast iron grill plate. Maybe some shrimp too, hmmm (pondering) yeah shrimp.
I ordered a new "welcome" mat for the front door that does not say "WELCOME." The personalization will take a while. But I did get the first installment of what I ordered along with the mat - the corner unit of Brookstone's "
Modular Swedish Shelving." I only have the uprights at the moment from which I can tell that the pine wood doesn't co├Ârdinate perfectly with the bamboo floor but it's close enough to get by. Also, it just might solve the problem of the corner of the kitchen that needs light in a big way. I'll blog it up a bit further when it comes together.
What else can one order these days? Boxer shorts (link entirely safe), shoes. Of course I also got a new chair mat though I had to go to Staples to get that. But there are those instances when you have to actually go to the store and grab hold of what it is you want to buy. And I needed to know that the chair mat I was buying was better than the one that surrendered to the pressure of my large frame as transmitted by the five points of chair casters. It seems to be a good mat ("limited lifetime warranty" whatever the heck that means) and I spent a good hour trimming the thing to fit the leg hole of my desk. Leg hole. There has to be a real name for that.
Sorry for all the quotidian fooraw but I just wanted to yak about the details of life.

Pugs Are Smarter Than You Might Think
Even pug puppies. I think I'll call the little goober in the link "Zeitgeist the Pug."

Halloween Prep
It is time to start. Now. Planning your pumpkin now gives you the chance to make some thing truly outrageous or even extreme. I've already locked in my concept for the Dent-O-Lantern for my dentist's office. No, no hints. But I will post pictures when it's done.
I'm also planning to try some new stuff so I may have pix of a few to post in a couple of weeks. I may not be artistically gifted but I have been known to crank out some fun Jack-Os.

Songs Of PRaiSe
A return to the fertile field of the Swamp Ash Special. This one is presented for your delectation primarily because the price is dead cheap - $900 with one bid. It's in a fairly conventional burst finish. It may be cherry burst but I don't know the PRS colors particularly. In any event, a nicely presented burst. And a nicely flamed maple neck though the dot fret markers are nothing to write home about. Gotta love me some PRS birds fret markers. Even better are the "birds in flight" fret markers but that's a story for another day. Even with all my quibbles, this has got to be the best price on an SAS I've yet seen on eBay.
UPDATE: If you want to see just how insane PRS can get, here's a $28,000 Double Dragon. Click through - check the detail on the inlay. Just pure mental illness.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Old Age Is Not For Wimps
When I was young, I wanted to be an astronaut.
Nowthat I'm old and far too acquainted with OTC medication, I've almost realized that ambition. I've become an asprinaut.

From Weakness To Weakness
There will be light to intermittent posting for the next couple of days. After having my wrist act up with a pinched nerve the other day, today I've full-blown carpal crapal going on. I tend to ride my right arm to compensate for my bad hip and it seems to have caught up with the wrist. It hurt more last night than it does today so perhaps that's a sign that it won't be troubling me long. Fingers cross OW! ed.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sunday Morning
It is a beautiful day here in Northern Virginia. After a couple days of grey skies, rain that ranged from pelting down to drizzling, we have glorious clear skies and warming sunshine. This is the reverse to the obverse of what Lycurgus calls (and not incorrectly) "Virginia weather." It's why he lives in Florida. I, on the other hand, find the Florida sun just flays me. Stake me out on anthill or put me in the Florida sun on a summer day: I can't choose one over the other.
But, as I said, it is gorgeous early autumn and iTunes has just shuffled up Karen Carpenter singing "I Believe You." It's enough to accent one's heart beat with a frisson of delight. That clear, perfect voice coming in sweet and pure after some rock 'n' roll that's good but nowher near sweet. A tiny little grace note on a day that I'm hoping turns into one long chord of grace.
Still my desk calls me to take care of paper I've managed to pile up like icebergs waiting to sink the Titanic of my happy disposition. Ha! Not today. I will write a couple of letters. I will balance my checkbook. I will send off some papers relating back to the Atlantic Cycling ride in Thurmont, MD. My friend the Guitar Nazi (AKA Heinz Guderian as noted in a previous post) will be coming over to teach me something this afternoon. And Lord knows, I needs me some teachin'. My only hesitation is that I haven't figured out what I'm going to do for lunch and dinner. Maybe I need a restocking trip to Costco for such exciting things as salad, broccoli florets, steak and salmon. Yeah. That sounds good. Though I guess dinner will be with the entire Guderian family at my local Sweetwater Tavern. Better than Outback even. And that's high praise in my book for a steakhouse.
One final note: Anywhere But Here has Kris's pix from the Texas State Fair. They're a treat. Drop by and take a look. I may have to go to that shindig one of these years.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

I Don't Know About You
But I'm going to do my level best to see Jake tomorrow night over on the Eastern Shore. He's a talent. Support your local folk singer! Ya heartless bastages, ya!
UPDATE: After picking up my houseguest at the local Metro station in the early afternoon and hearing that traffic was already starting to krep up (at 1:30!!!) in the rain, I decided that spending about two hours in rain and heavy Beltway traffic was not really what I wanted to do. So I didn't go see Jake. I'm deeply, deeply abashed.
And Then, Everything Changes
"Lost" returned last night. Yowsa. I have the feeling JJ Abrams and crew can keep this one going for about a decade after all the changes they sprung last night.
Be sure to visit humpys.net for all your Lost spoilerage and easter egg deconstruction.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

News In The News
Katie Couric seems to be taking the term "anchor woman" just a bit too literally.

I'm Probably Late To This Party
I just watched 8 and a half minutes of Google video on David Hartwig and his wonderful dog Skidboot. Now of course Pugs Of War is very dog-centric but if you've never heard of, or seen these remarkable guys in action, click the link and watch the vid. It will make you smile. It makes me want to speed up the schedule to acquire a dog.
And congratulations to my erstwhile fellow blogger Paul and his lovely wife who have recently acquired Angus to add to their family. I'll finagle a pic of the newest member of the PoW family for you shortly.

Stupid Pun Of The Day
How do pirates design comfort into their ships?

As Peter Lorre Said
"I can't help what I do!" I have committed myself to a new PRS Singlecut Trem, artist package in Emerald Green. No word on when the shop will get it in but it was ordered in February so I suspect that it won't be too awfully long before it arrives. I feel like Hitler and PRS guitars are sections of the European mainland. Everytime I take one chunk, I'm sure my ambitions are satisfied. Then the desire starts all over again. Unlike Hiltler, I can stop at the Russian border. I may have to start calling my friend Bill "Heinz Guderian."
That being as it may, Heinz told me that the rumor is that starting in '07, PRS is going to institute minimum pricing. This won't have any impact on eBay price (maybe some upward pressure) but dealers will not be selling PRSes with the discounts they're giving now. I'm lucky enough to be piggybacking my purchase off the buying and selling of a collector who is known at the better guitar shops in the DC area. When you're with someone who buys many high-end guitars, you can get a better deal. And I think I got a darn good one.
Here is a page of reviews of this particular guitar by people who know better what they're talking about than I. Looks like a rather nice instrument.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Bit Of Healing
My idiot right wrist has given up on torturing me. I should probably have the doc look at it a some point. The ulnar nerve that runs over the outside of the carpal bones (near that bulge that I think is the at the end of the ulna) gets mashed up sometimes which isn't terribly painful but it is annoying when I use my hand. If I ball up my hand into a fist and try to flick inwards (as if knocking on a door), the nerve will free up and not hurt at all. But it takes repeated tries to fully loosen it up. Which I've finally done here at the shank of the day. So regular blogging (hmm, that sounds a bit too much like "being regular" ... in more ways than I care to think about) will resume tomorrow. Thanks for your patience.

Oh Bugger
I was intending to blog a fair bit today but I am dealing with a pinched nerve in my right wrist which makes typing troublesome. I'll blog up mucho gabble-gabble when I manage to pop the wrist joint loose.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Last Footy Post For 2006
I watched the Premiership final last night (taped delay of course) between the West Coast Eagles and the Sydney Swans. It was a great game. The Weagles jumped out to a 25-30 point lead which they held into the third quarter at which point Sydney pushed back to bring the match very nearly even. But at the end, the Eagles managed to beat the Swans by a single point. It was not only a stirring match from the excellent on-field play but this grand final was a re-match of last year's grand final where Sydney prevailed. There's something encouraging about seeing a team that came so close the previous year win it all at the next go.
It was a revelation to watch West Coast captain Chris Judd play. I don't think I've ever seen a player who could bull the footy out of a crowd of people as well. He's fast, he's strong and a great player to watch. Though I believe the commentators mentioned that he has a dodgy shoulder from a youthful injury. Sorry to hear that. Judd strikes me as the kind of player that footy is all about - tough, smart, aggressive. This game is so much better than what the NFL puts on.
Unfortunately for me, the Collingwood Magpies were taken out pretty convincingly by the in the first playoff round by the Western Bulldogs. But it was an up year for the Magpies so I look forward to the coming season. Now I'll have to content myself with watching the abomination that American football has become for the next few months. (sigh) Oh well. Things could be worse.