Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Much in the news today is the grand fellow who, afflicted with TB, decided it would be a good idea to take international plane flights.
I hope no one else comes down with the consumption. And I don't think anyone will because I'm a staphylococcied optimist.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

How Could I Resist?
I enjoy watching "How It's Made" on the Science Channel. The other day, while Lycurgus was en visitant we watched am episode about hydroponic lettuce. This particular lettuce was grown on spongy mats floating in the nutrient liquid. To get the seeds located properly, a vacuum is run under a sheet with small, evenly-spaced dimpled perforations. The seeds are pulled individually into the dimples whence they're placed into the mats.
Acting in perfect accord with my utter inability to not make a pun, I said, "In high school, that machine was voted 'Most Likely to Suck Seed.'"
It is a tribute to Lycurgus that he did not hit me. But really, how often do you get a chance like that?

Friday, May 25, 2007

And So It Begins
Again. The Deck Farm™ is up and running as of today. What delights do we have in store? Hot Lemon Pepper. Ancho/Poblano peppers. And a variety of jalapeno called "Biker Billy." Three plants of each of the first two and two of the latter. This fills one EarthBox. The other two boxen are devoted to tomatoes - the Burpee "Heirloom collection." One plant each of Brandywine, Big Rainbow (check out the pic on that link!), Black Krim and the Burpee Supersteak.
The salient changes from last year are no green peppers, a variety of hot peppers instead of just the jalapeno, a whole new try on tomatoes. I never did get a fourth box up and running but I may assemble the makings of a couple of new ones over the summer so next year's deck farm will really expand. Green pepper again. That's a good thing. Now if I can develop my taste for tomatoes, I'll be golden.
I've also made one change in the watering situation. Last year I was lugging a watering can out to keep the reservoirs filled. Not too much fun when each reservoir holds three gallons and I have a two gallon watering can. I've run a hose up to the deck so the lugging aspect is eliminated. And I am going to kill the damnable rats too. Bastages!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Oooh Fah!
A belated birthday dinner with friends tonight. Belated due to having come down with a throat/sinus/head coldish sort of thing. But it wasn't just the idea of dinner but that dinner was a lesson in how to make Chinese steamed dumplings.
Oooohhh Baby! So good. Laden with ginger just the way I likes 'em. This is one recipe you'll not see here on PoW. It will become part of the oral tradition, handed down from father to son, mother to daughter, long time friend to ... well, me. I am so going to make these about once a week from here on out. Make them with ground pork, ground beef, ground turkey.
A bottle of Sammy Adams Honey Porter, a glass of my favorite good champagne (Pieper Heidsieck Brut) and ginger ice cream for afters.
And a birthday present. Very amusing. I'll post a picture of it tomorrow. What a great night.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Trip To The DMV
It may not be known widely but the Commonwealth of Virginia sets its drivers licenses to expire on the final day of the holder's birth month on a five year interval. Needless to say, then, mine was due to die at month's end. Which requires that I gin up the courage to go to the local office so I can take the "vision test" which consists of "Read the second line." blah, blah, blah. Thank you. $20 please. A picture, a lamination and away we go. Except DMVs never run like this. Except sometimes they do. The Leesburg office, to which I went, had maybe a dozen to 15 people waiting if I counted the children along for the ride with their mothers. I waited behind one man for my ticket at the info wicket. Waited maybe ten minutes until my number was called. Did my business at the wicket in about two minutes, waited perhaps four more for the picture and another one for the license to be glued up.
The nice security guard lady told me that I was lucky to be there today though as yesterday was a madhouse. Which is nice. Because it made up for my ridiculous wait on a major road for utility work which shut down the entire road for about half an hour. Morons. Do that at night.
Confucian Wisdom
Good second marriage like bad airplane trip - lose baggage at beginning.

Monday, May 21, 2007

For The Enigmatic Misanthrope
The esteemed EM asked me about "Blue Collar Comedian" Ron White. Here is an mp3 of him explaining how he came by the name Ron "Tater Salad" White. And it is fall down funny. You can also hear Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall and Jeff Foxworthy I think. You can stop reading now. Click the link, have a larf.
Begin Again
Many thanks to many people who acknowledged my milestone birthday yesterday - you know who you are! A couple of pug cards - one online, one in meatspace. Loved them both. Many wonderful things arrived in my hands - the Eric Johnson "live from austin tx" DVD, a couple of books I've been wanting to read, a new Plantronics Bluetooth headset so I can can have a high-zoot addition to my great Moto Razr phone (best cell phone EVAR!).
Birthdays are not about booty however. Well, after the age of about 23 that is. Instead, having Lycurgus join me up here in NoVa, hearing from so many people, getting a video greeting e-mailed to me. This is good. I promise I'll work toward making the coming years good ones for friends and family.
Half a century. Time to start anew.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Whinge Alert! Whinge Alert!
I apologize beforehand for the following but I just want to vent a moment and then try to let it go.
This is one of "those" days. I had a lousy night of trying to sleep - yes trying. I don't think I got five hours in total between aches and pains and never finding the proper groove in which to lay my mournful corpse. And I'm feeling it today. A day for pain killers. A day for lying in a hot tub (if I had one!) Don't worry about coming back today for any more posting - I'm just not on top of it.
But I do hope you have a wonderful day. I can do that.
UPDATE: I sincerely hope that my purchase of underwear was not the high point of my day. Boxer briefs if you must know. The adult male underwear choice should be boxers or boxer briefs or nothing. In that order. That is all. Any wearing of tighty whiteys or banana hammocks by a male over the age of 25 will be punished by banishment to San Francisco.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I Hear It Reported
I've just heard that Rev. Jerry Falwell has passed away today. I was not a particular fan of his but I think we lose something when a man of faith, unafraid to engage the secular world with his belief dies. I have actually, once, spoken with the Reverend albeit for a fractional moment.
I was working at the fact-checking desk of a national news magazine when the death of Ryan White from AIDS was an issue. There was some controversy about what the Rev. Falwell had said and another of the fact-checkers had put in a call to his offices. When he, the Reverend, called back (and he called himself, not some functionary on his behalf), I answered the phone before passing it along to my colleague.
Let me tell you - he had The Voice. Big, deep, rich and commanding. I have no doubt that hearing him give a sermon would have been a tremendous thing. When I was in college, the Rev. Martin King (pere to Jr.) spoke at the Duke Chapel one Sunday and it was broadcast on the campus radio station as getting into the chapel was nearly impossible. He had the same kind of voice: big, orotund, commanding. Some people were born to preach.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Some Cool Guitars
Last Wednesday I mentioned putting a bid in on a lovely iteration of the Gibson variety. I also made note of a very cool Les Paul (I still dig that Lester). What I neglected to mention was that the fellow who's offering the LP has several guitars on offer through eBay even a few Paul Reed Smiths in there. But follow the link and take a peek at what's there. I could so see my friend the Enigmatic Misanthrope playing either of the Jackson snakeskin guitars, more the SL2H Soloist than the Vee, actually. With my extensive lottery winnings, I'd get the VG Strat, the Candy Apple Lester and the Flying Vee. That Vee in white is iconic. Can't say a thing about the tone, but it has style to burn.
UPDATE: It would appear that someone else liked the snakeskin SL2H soloist - it's gone from the page already (5/16). That was fast.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

After You've Made Picadillo
The XMBD NMSE ealier provided me with her ever-so tasty recipe for Picadillo so I pestered her into passing along the perfect ending to go with: Flan. She makes a delicious flan and more than that - her flans hold together through their de-panning so they plate up real nice. Very professional. So without further ado:
Cover the bottom of a loaf pan with 3/4 cup light brown sugar, pressed flat

Mix together 3 egg whites and 8 egg yolks until blended. Add 2 large cans of evaporated milk, 3/4 cup sugar and 2 tsp. vanilla. Mix well. Add 6 Tablespoons cognac if desired (optional - I usually don't).

Pour slowly into loaf pan on top of brown sugar through a VERY FINE strainer/sieve (important to the ultimate texture - should be mesh like a window screen). Discard foam.

Fill a 9" x 13" pan with about 1/2" water (should come about 1/2 way up flan pan). Place the loaf pan in the water and place the larger pan in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour (should be firm to the touch in the center).

Cool completely (or chill in refrigerator). When ready to serve, loosen sides with a wet knife, then turn upside down on serving plate. Keep refrigerated, should be served cool or at room temperature.
Serve with fresh whipped cream sweetened to taste with powdered sugar.

And there you have it. Do give it a try. You'll love it.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Yum! Deck Wine
First we have the Deck Farm, now we get into deck wine. To wit: Riesling. I firmly believe that one of the peak experiences is a warm summer evening, a comfortable chair on the deck (or outdoors more generally) and a bottle of good chilled Riesling wine. Here is a wonderful example: Clean Slate. It's a real European Riesling (even if it does have a screw cap) and, apparently, it was named Best Riesling at the 2006 SF International Wine Competition. It is crisp, delightfully sweet and a treat of a wine to drink. Throw in the fact that it's $8.50 at Costco and I think I have a new favorite for this summer.
Party on Wayne. But grow up about it.
Listening To Emm
The weather has gone from cool and sunny to muggy and unpleasant after a hot day and then evening rain. I will be turning on the AC today and deeply, deeply resenting it. But to soften the blow, I'm running the Emm Gryner playlist in iTunes. I haven't listened to her for a while (Jake Armerding has been dominating the airtime out of my iPods of late). "The Summer of High Hopes" is, I am being forcefully reminded, a superb CD. Maybe I'm just longing for a breath of cool Canadian air to breeze down from the north.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Wherein I Channel Eric Clapton For The Benefit Of Hank Hill
(with apologies to J.J. Cale)

If you got a cold spouse, you can heat the house.
If you want to grill steak, there’s one choice to make.

It’s a good buy, good buy, good buy;

If you got bellies to fill, you can run your grill.
Hot water for clothes, a tank with a hose.


If you want to taste meat, and not taste the heat.
If you want to heat fast, use clean-burning gas.

[Chorus 2x]
I Finally Wooted
In my search for the ever-elusive Holy Grail of telephony, I have sought with humility and diligence the perfect headset phone. I love Bluetooth earpieces but to use Bluetooth on a home phone, one must buy a Bluetooth adapter for the base unit and that just adds cost and complexity. I'm working the humility angle here, remember?
So I couldn't resist today's Woot: the GN Netcom GN9120 Wireless Headset Bundle. I'll gratuitously throw in a link to the product homepage just to combat the pernicious link rot that inevitably sets in on a page that changes every day (said page being Woot, of course). I'll keep my fingers crossed that this works as advertised. I so vastly prefer being able to phone hands-free that it borders on mania.
We all have our little peccadilloes, wot wot?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Stuff I Love
I'm very partial to fountain pens. Not full-on, fill-it-from-an-inkwell fountain pens but modern, cartridge-filled fountain pens. I believe everyone should have a "signature pen" with which important documents can be signed. But my absolute favorite is not my signature pen. It's a Namiki Vanishing Point pen made by Pilot. The link goes to an Amazon page but the pen is available for less if you look around.
Mine is green which color is not shown on the Amazon page. But color of the pen is immaterial, really. The point is ... the point. First, it runs a very fine but smooth-writing nib. The ink dries quickly since it lays down a thin line and it is retractable. Retractable! Vanishing point, eh? You can clip it into a pocket with the point facing up and its little ink dispenser swallowed up like a turtle's head in his shell. Brilliant.
I suggest anyone who like nice writing implements get one. Keepa you hands off mine!
Strangely, Not A PRS
With a serious tipping of hat to Billy Beck, I must mention that I made a guitar bid on eBay. Specifically, a blonde Gibson "Lucille." Let me steal Billy's words from his "AxeBites:"
'97 BB King Lucille in blonde. Custom order, and what a great idea. Picture a 355 -- full-dressed Thinline -- without F-holes in the top. TP-6 fine-tuning tailpiece, black speed knobs. Splendid guitar.
Splendid indeed. Follow the link in the clip and you'll see that despite my being the high bidder, I didn't meet the reserve. So I didin't win the guitar but I didn't spend more than I wanted to either. Call it a wash.
With that done, cruise on over to Billy's place and see the two Les Pauls that currently sit atop the AxeBites list. Both are killer. One in platinum with an unmarked ebony fretboard and the other a new Les Paul GT in Candy Apple Red with metallic flames and all sorts of metal appointments (brushed aluminum "parallelogram" fret markers! bitchin!). I'm not Gibson inclined but I really wouldn't mind owning either one of those.
That said, unless I get a serious bug in the tail, my next purchase is probably going to be a PRS limited edition "West Street" model. But more on that later.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Well Hell
Aches and pains. Getting older. Extreme overweight. Hip dysplasia. Incipient osteoarthritis. Life is hell. So let's throw something else in the mix: severe shoulder pain. I'm going to go, absent a diagnosis, with rotator cuff injury. In my right shoulder. Hello great lolloping wads of Advil.
Sorry to be a kvetch. Life is not all bad. But damn I hurt today.
UPDATE: God bless ibuprofen. And extend those blessings to the liqui-gel tablet form thereof. My shoulder still hurts but not with the wincing, tear-to-the-eye pain I was having earlier today. The Caffeine Big Gulp I slurped up may have helped. This is where I go for a mainline of the real stuff. Vanilla is what's currently on tap.

Monday, May 07, 2007

This Digital Life
Over the course of time I've put up a lot of posts about music. And I've drooled all over my iPods as a method of serving my musical desires. But not all the music I've acquired over time is in the form of CDs - naturally. And a heck of a lot of music that was originally vinyl-borne has indeed been remastered for CD. But not all. So whadda ya gonna do?
In the past I've plugged a cassette deck into my Mac and digitized music into mp3s. But I still have a good number of LPs (how about that as a "blast from the past" term?) that I never bothered to tape. And can't because my 1978-vintage Yamaha belt-drive turntable (very high zoot at the time I assure you) is dead. Unbelted. Frozen. Luckily, technology marches on. The good folks at Costco are offering a USB turntable for a straight up Franklin (OK, a penny less). Now that price is good for another couple of weeks and includes a $30 discount. Good price that.
With some decent digitizing software (I am rather fond of Freeverse's "Sound Studio" but there are a lot options out there for whatever OS you use) and a turntable that connect via the USB port, I can suck all my old obscure music into iTunes. Sweet.
A Brief Post About a Great Disc
I was watching late nite (if it's bad enough, you say "nite" instead of "night") TV which was forcing an infomercial for a collection of "soft rock" songs on me. Really. Does anyone care to have a copy of Exile's "I Want To Kiss You All Over?" "All over?" Did you get it right the first time? But I digress.
One song was from Boz Scaggs's "Silk Degrees" disc. Oh hell yeah. If you don't own this disc, there is something wrong with you. Van Morrison might own the franchise on blue-eyed soul but Boz stole it from him for one perfect moment. And "Silk Degrees" is that perfect moment.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

A Day Late
Yesterday was Boy's Day in Japan. Cinco de Mayo elsewhere, which, as far as I can tell, is Spanish for "get drunk at your nearby Mexican-themed restaurant." Classy. Anyway... Boy's Day is a celebration for the family which has male offspring. Koinobori, carp-shaped pennants, are flown with one fish for each male child. Also, the number and size of the pennants should match the number and ages of the boys. Apart from the word "rooves" at the link above, the linked article is a good brief intro and it has a picture. Do go see it.
I still have at least one koinobori ("koi" of course being the ornamental carp with which we are all so familiar and "nobori" being pennant) harking back to my yute in Japan. It's pretty good sized so it may have been Lycurgus's. But it's in my hands so I claim it. However, not being blessed with male issue, I really don't have the right to fly it. Maybe vintage Japanalia has a value on eBay.
What I would never consider parting with is my miniature Samurai Helmet. I'm not sure what the proper Japanese name for it is but it's also part of the Boy's Day tradition. Mine lives in its own lacquer box and has a stand on which it is supposed to be displayed. Here is an example (scroll down to the last entry on the page) which is decidedly more elaborate than mine. I will take a picture of it soon and post it as a follow-up.
If you have a male child, please don't let the day late deter you from celebrating . The koi is chosen as the symbol of the male child because it is a strong fish that will fight its way upstream against any odds. May your boys all live up to the standard set by the humble carp.

Girl's also have their day in Japan (March 3) which is marked by the very elaborate display of traditional dolls (ningyo). Here is a good quick look at the Hina-ningyo. If you've never seen Japanese display dolls, you have missed something. They are, or can be, amazingly detailed and dressed in incredibly complex kimono. has some more in-depth information and some pictures if you're interested.

UPDATE: Since Lycurgus has a cat named Milo, the day has come to be known as "Cinco de Milo" between us. Rowr!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Time For You To Go Away
I never had much against Rachel Ray before but now that I've seen the ads she's doing for Dunkin' Donuts, it's over. Go away now. Even better - shut up and go away. You are no Nigella Lawson and it's starting to show. Ooh. Nigella. Whatta babe.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Where's the Free Tibet all those hippies kept promising me on their bumper stickers? I'm going to need it now that the weather is warming up again. Cartman's right - I hate hippies. Well, unless they're women who enjoy wearing no clothes. Look at me - open-minded and all.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Not Exactly High Concept
I'm working on a new board game. It's pretty much a re-tread of "Hungry Hungry Hippos" but instead of hippos that jump out to grab brightly colored marbles, it's four long-haired heads that slowly move to "consume" a stack of magic brownies. When those are gone, various rounds of snacks foods go on the board. It'll be called "Hungry Hungry Hippies."

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Quick Questions
King of Troy. "Pry-am" or "Pre-am?"

Is there another term for "five years" on the order of "hemidecade?" I wanted to use such in my previous post but was just horribly, horribly unsure.
Oh Poo
It's May and the DMV is requesting my presence for the 5-yearly renewal dance. (sigh) At least I can get over there early in the month and hope that I can avoid the endless line-i-ness of it all. And I say g'bye to the photo of a goateed BlogDog. So it's not all bad.

What's sticking in your craw today?

And don't forget to run over to run on over to Gradual Dazzle's corner of the web to put in a caption for her caption contest. Go ahead. Take that prize away from me. I dares ya. I double dares ya.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I Like Stupid Things
Water faucets that light up. Idiotic. I'd never have that in my home. OK. Yes I would. But I'd be embarrassed about having it. Does that make it all right?
Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!
It was a busy end of the week last week with a few days spent in Sharpsburg, MD and environs. A visit from Lycurgus on his way to Connecticut driving a sick sharp Mercedes. I don't think I've ever seen more space in a passenger cabin before in my life. He told me that he could move the driver's seat back so far that he, at 6'2", couldn't reach the pedals. Sweet.
Then Sunday was the first ride of the Atlantic Cycling season which was a great success - 197 riders. I expect 150 per ride. Beautiful weather and happy cyclists. AC just keeps getting better.
And the final note in the return to posting, one more swipe at Shirelle Crow: She certainly is devoted to her caws.