Friday, July 31, 2009

Sorry For Light Posting
But don't say I didn't warn you. There were a couple of great things that happened today.
I may as well start with the "this might have sucked big time but it turned out all right after all" thing. After a morning of running around, I wanted to take some friends to a dim sum restaurant in the Alexandria area, which was a bit of hike from where we were. So it's nearing 2:00pm on a day we didn't start out with breakfast (apart from coffee.) We were all notably peckish yet when we arrived at the restaurant, it was closed. Not for the day, not for a while, I mean, shut down, rent this space closed. Arrgh! However, by luck or the residue of Providence, the closed restaurant is about a block from my favorite Chinese restaurant so we were able to sit down to a delicious lunch only a few minutes after being DEnied. Our hunger may have seasoned the meal.

And I have to tip my hat to my blogging partner the Enigmatic Misanthrope who gave me a call this evening and it was a pure delight to talk with him after not having done so for a while. Good info, good laughs, good connection. You're my bud, bud.

Otherwise Lois and Lana are still here and they are the world's most perfect house guests. If I were a less moral man, I would try to steal these ladies away from their lives and start a cult with a compound and a community built all around us. But my cult would be small beer compared to their lives. Pity.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Grace And Gratitude
I turn out to have the shank of the afternoon to sit at the desk and ponder a bit on life and the infinitude we face in every day, the universe in a grain of sand as it has been put. My post below about Dave Shifflett's Karma Farmers' CD would strikes me as a jumping off point.
I have never met Dave but we've carried on a sporadic e-mail acquaintanceship since I called his attention to Glenn Reynolds' mention of the "Floor Creak" (see link in sidebar) CD on InstaPundit. Dave was nice enough to send me a copy of the disc and I have spent many entirely pleasurable hours listening to it since. Some time later I sent him a copy of Jake Armerding's self-titled CD as I am an evangelist for Jake's music and will be always unless he does something like publicly insult me (which he's too good a person to ever do, of course). I afterward touched base with Dave to see if he liked Jake's work (he did) whereupon he offered to send me, gratis, a copy of "Songs for Aging Cynics." I demurred saying I'd buy one from him (at a good price - I'm reasonably frugal). Which is how I came into the possession of the disc.

But what sticks in my mind is something I wrote to Dave in my note with the money for the music. I consider myself the recipient of undeserving grace for what happened to resolve, not for ever but certainly in a big way, many of the problems that were so deeply troubling to me in the last year. I blogged then about the depth of my depression and won't dive back into the deep end again. Part of what I feel about such a gift of grace is the obligation to do right by way of support music and musicians. It may not make entire sense but music matters to me. I can't (yet) make it but I feel the strong compulsion to not pirate it and to not take advantage of it when it comes my way. Not taking advantage includes putting at least a few bucks into the pot when I could take the music at no cost to me.
This, to me, is a kind of down payment on the grace I received. It is something I can do that is like unto what I got. I can tangibly express gratitude for the music that feeds my soul as I try to hold the gratitude to God in my soul. It is not a rational thing, I fully understand. But as much as the compulsion to maintain my gratefulness for the grace, I am compelled to maintain my gratefulness to those who make the music I love. I'd like to be the source of some unbidden grace as much as I'm the recipient of it.

Blogging Lite
It has reached the dog days of summer and I will be picking up my house guests, Lois and Lana later today. I may be blogging a bit but you can expect a week or so of little posting. There is much other fun stuff to do - the Udvar Hazy Air and Space Museum near Dulles airport for example. Planes! Rockets! Wheeeee!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hey! You like ginger? You ever order from The Ginger People? Sure you do. Maybe just for the first one. But you know you do. Here's a little bug in your ear from your ginziber-loving pal BlogDog: until Sunday (Aug. 2) you can get free shipping if you enter the coupon code "SHIPNGINGER" at checkout.
You can get ginger spread. Oh, yes you can.

New Stuff
The latest trip to the mailbox was Woot! time indeed. I got the new CD from Dave Shifflett's Karma Farmers (gotta love that name) "Songs For Aging Cynics" and it's good. His previous project was "Floor Creak" to which I maintain a CDBaby link so that should someone stumble upon it, he or she could buy it. I still regularly listen to "Floor Creak" and I've been remiss in not getting "Songs For Aging Cynics" sooner.
The songs are melodic, have intelligent lyrics and Mr. Shifflet has this incredible ability to find female vocalists who will knock your socks off, launder them, fold them neatly and put them in your sock drawer. The link above goes to a page that has a couple of videos. Listen to "My Beautiful Friend" and tell me you couldn't swim in the cool stream of Jeanine Guidry's voice. Gorgeous. And the mandolin playing is a wonderful silver thread that winds through the songs, some times just playing along and then rising to a sparkling shimmer over the song. If you listen to "The Old Sailor," you'll get all that from the violin and the guitar as well.
Moreover, at Dave's site there are several songs available for streaming and downloading. I encourage downloading as long as it leads to actual support of the artist. I came to my love of Carbon Leaf by downloading a CD's worth of songs (honestly - from Amazon) and listening sufficiently that I knew I had to have the physical media. The Karma Farmers are somewhat country, somewhat bluegrass I guess. It's the kind of music that the neighbors who should have been recording stars gather on the front porch to play and sing. I love this CD. I'd hope you would too. At the very least, give it a try. If you're disappointed, I say the problem is yours. 'Cause the music is that good.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Discovered On The Fly
I just learned through good ol' 'sperience that a Firefox tab can be dragged below the tab bar and what was formerly a tabbed window, becomes a new window atop the window the page had been in. I don't know how useful this is but since I happened upon it, I thought I'd share. 'Cause I'm that kinda guy.
By the way, this only works if there's more than one tab in the original window. Seems obvious but I thought I'd say.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Lesson For "Skip" Gates
Not everyone can get the President of the United States to call the police "stupid." Some of us need to know how to behave. Chris Rock provides valuable guidance. And people, it's Chris Rock, so the language is not "family friendly."

D'oh! The Grouchy Old Cripple beat me to the punch on this one.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wand'ring round the intertubes shows me that Gidget, the "Yo quiero Taco Bell" chihuahua has passed away at the ripe old age of 15. Little dogs don't last long, sadly. And I hear that another icon of intertube dogdom has met her maker but it's not official yet so I'm keeping the specifics under wraps.
Expect another Tour post tomorrow as some of the news is getting interesting. Not in any way related to the fact that Contador is going to win, he will. He pretty much locked it down today. But his racing was fairly pissy toward the rest of his team and it's a dead crab certainty that he'll be on a different team next year. In fact, I don't expect him to be in Astana livery after he steps off the podium in Paris. But I'll get into that tomorrow.
Otherwise, I'm seriously busy doing a scrub down of the patches that are missed in everyday life (OK, I'll admit it - I'm not very good at getting the vacuuming done on a properly regular basis and the kitchen needs some attention) so as to be ready for house guests next week. Lois and Lana are coming here to Arx Solitudinis from Smallville and Smallerville. Amusingly, Lana lives in smallville and Lois lives in Smallerville. They are the bestest house guests a host could hope to have.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

From Heavy to (de)Light

Perpetuum Jazzile is Slovenian, by the way.
On A Heavier Note
It's not serendipity to discover some things. Serendipity means that something good has come out of the chance combination of circumstance. While the necessary destruction of my desktop (actual, not virtual) in order to remove a fixture which had previously been clamped to said surface may provided me the chance to clean some things up, it also revealed a small sheet of paper which had been resting behind a drawer for a very long time. It is the first page of a hand-written letter from my mother to friends with a date in late November of 1992. I don't know how this was never sent but perhaps my finding as I did means that it got caught in a drawer and slid away from her all those years ago.
Some things just make you sad. This brings back every moment of the time I spent with her in her last days. I've had my tears and now feel compelled to reproduce some of what she wrote. I wish I could say exactly why I feel thus compelled. If there's any catharsis to be had from a tear shed in the marketplace, perhaps I can temper my sorrow with this:
"Dear (friends),
So good to have your Christmas card early so I can write a note. Sorry about the illness in your family. I pray almost every day to go out like a light. Essentially my parents did so I am optimistic."
What wrenches at me more? The idea that she "prays every day" for a swift end? That she's "optimistic" that the swift end she prays for will be what she has? Both of those ideas tear the hell out of me. But to then remember her diagnosis with cancer and her surgery which came too late, her last few weeks spent abed and being taken care of by her children. That's not what she wanted. While it may have been something like a month from the diagnosis to her spirit shedding itself of the weight of this world, it was more time, I know, than she wanted to be dependent.
I would have done anything to make her comfortable except speed the plow. Had she asked me to do that, I wouldn't have been able to live from the grief. Nevertheless, I was there as she dealt with her last days. So to come upon this hand-written note today has left me distraught and sad. I hope you, reader, will accept my having to write this and let the tears dry in the open air.

Cyclist inspired mailbox...oooooooohh...I've ordered mine!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Can't ... Resist .... Blogging ... Tour
Today's stage saw an almost textbook performance by the Astana team to put Alberto Contador in the yellow jersey. That Lance follows him is not surprising either. I am very saddened that Levi Leipheimer is home in California after breaking a wrist bone in a crash a couple of stages ago. It's conceivable that Astana could have taken all three podium finishes. And, while it's still possible with Andres Klöden, it's not quite as likely.
I'm amazed that Armstrong is just second off the lead but was rather expecting Contador to be in yellow. He is the man I would have bet on prior to this Tour, were I a betting man. He is a superb climber in a race that's decided in the climbing stages of the latter third of the whole race.
Beautiful, beautiful race today. If you get the Versus Network, watch the wrap-up tonight.

Friday, July 17, 2009

It's official..the letter came today.
The Food Network has turned down my latest programming idea..
The Next Yakuza Celebrity Chef.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Does anyone have the visceral negative reaction I have to those "human landscape" Toyota Prius ads? Humans as fungus or quivering slime molds. Yeah, that'll make me want a Prius. And they introduce a pretty cool feature in solar powered cooling. But still, ugh.
Almost as creepy are the ads for Microsoft's Bing. People spouting off random nonsense at the provocation of some random word. Good god people. You're frickin' Microsoft! And that's the best you can do? Pretty soon I'll be turning away from those and staying on gotdam freek reddit report dot kom ads (no one will ever find THAT in a Google search!)

Aussie Rules Footy

AFL Round 16

Friday July 17, 2009
Essendon vs. Western Bulldogs

Saturday July 18, 2009
Carlton vs. Sydney – Neil is for C
Geelong vs. Melbourne – Kug is for G
Collingwood vs. Hawthorn – Jefe vs MC2,Nic&DR
Fremantle vs. Brisbane

Sunday July 19, 2009
Port Adelaide vs. West Coast – Fiz is for PA
Richmond vs. North Melbourne – P is for NM
St. Kilda vs. Adelaide

Sorry Hawkers, I'll be rootin' for P's 'roos.

Go Cats!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mourning In America
He was a giant. King of his medium. A man whose reach extended into the very fabric of daily life. And now that he's been gone for a while, I realize that I don't really miss Paul Harvey. Good DAY!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I delayed a day too long with the white peaches and the amount I ended up with was not worth processing. Add in that they were not the best white peaches, not perfumed with the peculiar sent and flavor of the pale peche. So I've eaten them as is. But I may be able to make the sorbet with the yellow peaches which went into the fridge almost immediately.
If I pull that together, it's definitely getting the ginger treatment.

ADDENDUM:That yogurt thing, it's called yogurt cheese. I didn't know it had a name. And, naturally, there's a specific kitchen gadget to make it, the (you see this coming, don't you?) yogurt cheese maker. Only $18 at Amazon! Tcha! I can do that with a bowl, a strainer and a coffee filter. What surprised me is that it's said to make one cup of 'cheese' out of 3 cups of yogurt. I'm going to have to get another full container of the yohg to test this. And the cheese is pretty great stuff. I'm going to try it as a mayo substitute.
Absolutely Can Not Stop Listening
Ben Lierhouse has produced five CDs of Wagner-inspired "world music" called, not surprisingly, the Lierhouse Project. I have "Parsifal's Trip to Brazil" which, despite my utter lack of understanding Brazilian Portuguese, I have had looping all night tonight and now, as I plan my trip to Nod, I figure I'd better channel my enthusiasm into a least a taste for you who stop by. Thus, a viddy of "the making of." Specifically, "Wagner's Mas Que Nada."
UPDATE: Yes, the song is a variation on the Jorge Ben song "Mas Que Nada" which became the signature song of Sergio Mendes back when his group was "Brazil 66." And which, sadly, he covered with the marginally talented pop group The Black Eyd peas.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy
Some kitchen time has been warranted this weekend. First, peaches from my favoritest local orchard are back on tap which means this evening I will be making white peach sorbet. I have in the past made ginger white peach sorbet and if I have enough to make two batches (possible - I cleaned out all the "seconds" on the white peaches at the stand), I'll definitely make one with ginger. In fact, I'll try using my freeze-dried ginger to see if I can finesse that ingredient.
And in lesser kitchen time of note, I have a container of plain yogurt sitting in a strainer lined with a coffee filter to get a nice, thick version of the usually soupy stuff. I also have a box of blueberries in the fridge. This may combine to be made into blueberry frozen yogurt. But I need to do a little research first.
Finally, I made sweet ginger butter which consists of one stick of butter mashed together with t Tbsp of ginger spread, one Tbsp of honey 9tupelo in my case) and a generous dash of salt. I may have been a leetle heavy handed with the salt. But it shouldn't do much harm to the final product. I envision using it on steaks on the grill. Ginger, butter and sweetness - really could that do a steak any harm at all?

UPDATE: The yogurt experiment was interesting. From probably about three quarters of one of those 32 oz. containers of yogurt, I strained out over a full cup of whey. And I totally dig the sour-creamy texture of the resultant yogurt. I ended up having the blueberries stirred into the thickened yogurt with a sprink of Splenda for breakfast. The frozen yogurt will have to wait.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

OK. Fine.
I won't blog the Tour de France anymore. Philistines.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Light On The TdF
OK I haven't been bugging you with Tour de France blogging but I want, at the end of Stage 6, to point out that the amazing Lance Armstrong, aged legs and all is 22/100 (edit note - I had an extra 0 in there, hundredths, not thousandths, my apologies) of a second off the lead of Fabian Cancellara who rode an absolutely blazing individual time trial in Stage 1 to capture yellow. There are probably at least a dozen riders who have the talent to win but only about half that number have the team support to actually win.
Which brings us back around to Lance and team Astana. As it stands today, Astana holds four of the top five positions in the tour. Lance at 2, Spain's Alberto Contador (winner of the '07 Tour) at 3, Germany's Andreas Klöden at 4 and American Levi Leipheimer (3rd in the 2007 Tour) at 5. Astana could possibly set a new team record for highest finish of the most team members. I have already mentioned that Astana is run by Johan Bruyneel who will be recognized, when he retires, as the greatest team director in Tour history. A brilliant tactician and a master of the psychology of sport.
What may be the only problem with Astana is that Contador and Armstrong are both serious contenders for the win. At some point, one of the two has to support the other and therein may lie some friction. We'll see who comes out of the climbing stages ahead of the other and the tale will be told. Lance has been a brilliant climber and a brilliant time trialist. Contador is possibly the best climber riding the tour today. He should have won last year but Astana as a team was barred because of the blood doping of former team leader Alexander Vinokourov.
OK, I meant to be brief. But this is a great, great Tour this year. If you get the Versus network, please watch a stage or two. The commentary team is superb and the saturation coverage: helicopter and motorcycle cameras let almost the entire peloton get wall-to-wall coverage. Beautiful. Brilliant.
Also, for you chicks out there who dig the bums of fit men, the pictures should have you in a stage of constant arousal.
I'm Just Sayin' Is All
I bought some applewood smoked bacon at Trader Joe's the other day. My house is now perfumed with bacon aroma. The Airwick people are missing a bet here.

And I have a plan for the rendered bacon fat: I'm going to get some steaks at Costco, grind them into burger form and add bacon fat to the grinding. My friend the Enigmatic Misanthrope suggested adding lardons to the grinding for additional flavor and I admit that I hadn't thought of that. And I may be mis-remembering our conversation - he may have already done that rather than just suggested it to me. In any event, I think the idea of getting "bacon burger" flavor into the very meat itself has got to be a good thing. A better thing that anything Martha Stewart has ever called a 'good thing.'

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

What's With Teh Intarwebz Today?
I've been fighting non-loading pages all day today. Anyone else having this problem? Of course that I got through to Blogger to post may mean the problem is easing up. Is the warming heat of the day thinning out the molasses that's being being pumped through the series of tubes?

Monday, July 06, 2009

So In The Mood
I'm listening to the Gin Blossoms, remembering who it was who introduced me to their music. Great stuff. Even if we are talking early 90's music. Aged like fine wine. Same source put me onto Dreams So Real too. "Rough Night in Jericho." That was brilliant.
Just got Elmore Leonard's new novel "Road Dogs" from Amazon. Read a flat-out rave review in a recent noisepaper and am going to try to get it autographed. Via an internet connection. How cool is that? Answer: pretty frickin.
Tour de France blogging will probably begin tomorrow after the team time trial in stage 4. Yeah! Return of the TTT! Astana might just blow some people away. Columbia HTC might make a show of it too.
Good Riddance
Robert Strange McNamara, the man who took his success in producing the Ford Falcon all the way to the grotesque fiasco that was the Johnson Administration's pursuit of the Vietnam war has died. He lived far too long. I recall that some years ago, this sad, bitter man published a book about how he had been misled by those around him which caused the debacle that cost over 50,000 lives of good, young American men. My late father was still alive when this pathetic attempt at blame laying was made. My father who went to Vietnam as a civilian and ended up spending five years in captivity in the north. My father the career foreign service officer who went a war to direct pacification programs. I talked with my dad, perhaps too briefly, when McNamara came out with his self-serving revisionism. My father was there, in the room as it were, when those people McNamara was accusing of lying to him were telling him the truth about what was actually going on. And my father watched McNamara destroy their careers.
That's right. The son of a bitch was told precisely what was happening but it didn't fit with what he wanted to happen, with his bean-counting measures of success like "body counts." So he ruined the careers, possibly the lives as well (though good men can usually overcome such career destruction), of those he would later accuse of making him look bad.
I'm glad you're dead you bastard. A lot of better men than you never made it back.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Fourth Of July!
(insert fireworks and sound FX here)
If you don't have at least some fun today, shame on yees. I put out my Murrican flag and I have a 12 pack of Blue Moon Belgian beer ... and I'm not afraid to use it! Go ye and do likewise.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Oh Noes!
I missed the recall. I wonder if it applies to Pugs of War?
What The Hell People?
With all the foofaraw about Gov. Sanford (unmentioned here at PoW as not everything is worth of comment all the time), not a single person has brought up Wilbur Mills and his dunk in the tidal Basin with Fanne Fox, "The Argentine Firecracker" who took down the previously powerful Congressweasel.
I think it necessary to begin referring to Gov. Sanford as "The Argentine Fired Cracker." So from this point on, you will be required to use that phrase. Work it into the conversation at least once a day for the next month.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Today's Woot
"One Day, One Deal" is the slogan and if you're in need of some travelin' gear, it's hard to beat today's Woot: three suitcases for $30 ($35 with shipping). A 25" upright wheelie, a 20" carry-on upright wheelie and a shoulder tote in black, purple or red. I don't know from luggage but at that price if it lasts beyond one trip, you're doing all right. The purple and red are fairly stylish too (says the dog whose taste is all in his mouth).
UPDATE: The deal was sold out (6,724 units) by noon Central Time. Not unusual.
IN ADDITION: This is usually an "update" thing but since this is not an update and is related to the post above simply on the basis that it's internet related, I thought I might add to the post. I got a call from a friend of mine this morning (who shall be nameless to spare his or her delicate feelings). I was asked about a particular song that friend has had for years on a second generation cassette but which is beloved as "drivin' music." I said, "There's a version on YouTube by...."
Which elicited the question, "What's YouTube?"
Yup. "What's YouTube?" Ay Caramba!
Sorry I can't help myself...

Ha Ha!!..No really Jesse!!..Mo'Money, Mo'Money, Mo'Money....

Joe Jackson has announced the plan he has to immortalize Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean Moon Walk. Michael’s lower torso will be separated from his body and shipped to his birth town of Gary Indiana where it will fitted with an electro-mechanical device that will replicate in full motion the infamous Moon Walk. The lower torso will be performing the Moon Walk on the concrete side walk in front of Michael’s birth residence. Admission fee is expected to be between $25.00 and $50.00. All proceeds will be evenly divided between the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Joe Jackson.