Friday, May 26, 2006

The Iron Chef and Scott's foot and Turkey Bacon with pasta

No! It is not a strange new recipe featuring feet, pasta, and Turkey Bacon! Nor a tale about a new fad for kids who wrap their feet in Turkey Bacon instead of socks and fill their pockets with cooked pasta!!

It was a cool way to mix the two tales herein into an interesting sounding title since the stories themselves are rather dull.

So, last night (yay! Whistles! Applause!) marked the start of my Memorial Day time with the kids. I have them through Monday at 6PM. Last night after Danielle arrived home we headed over to her Mom's to get Scott and their things for the weekend.

Scott, who had gone on the Mackinac Island trip, had stayed home. Evidently (again I am shocked at the difference between should nowadays and School when I was going) the students who had gone and were so over-tired, sore, listless, had been told they could stay home from school on Thursday if they wanted to.

Can't you envision hoards of students, Scott at the forefront leading the charge, yelling "No! No! An extra day off from school! No way! Let us in those hallowed halls of learning! We must attend! WE MUST ATTEND!!!"

Correct, I could not envision it either and so Scott did stay home!

SO, now onto the Turkey Bacon and Pasta part? No! Not yet! What about the foot??

Scott was very listless and tired but was soon ready to go as was his sister, the three of us zipped off to Forest Hills Foods and picked up needed supplies. We went back to my house, and I began dinner creation. Scott and Danielle had opted to have pasta, and Chris Turkey Bacon and Egg sandwiches (on toast). So, I got the pound of Turkey Bacon cooking and the water for the pasta going and then proceeded to feed the three kids and began work on my dinner (The foot??!!??) which was an Egg Beaters omelet with Turkey Bacon and melted Swiss on top.

We ate, I cleaned up, and then Chris, Danielle and I watched the Iron Chef, where the secret ingredient was Big Eye Tuna with each fish weighing in at over 100 pounds. D and I played some cards (go fish and then began watching an episode of Monk and Scott arrived.

YES! Now the Scott's foot part of our story! Scott complained the bandaid he had put on a cut (he took a tumble on a bike ride around the island while on the aforementioned class trip) and had just put a bandaid over the dirty cut. So, not it's all red, oozing, and infected. Scott just wanted another bandaid, Dad had a different plan.

After the obligatory remarks about you have to clean a cut, etc, etc, etc, I got cotton balls and hydrogen peroxide solution and cleaned the cut well, Scott bore the pain and made only strange animal like noises which delighted his sister. Then we let the cut air our for about half an hour, applied neosporin and a large bandage. We then watched another Monk and it was time for bed for the three of us at 11 since I had to work Friday.

Losing One's Cool

Sigh! The humid weather approaches. I ordered a portable window exhaust fan for the house to try and reduce the dependency on AC because the budget is still recovering from the high heating bills of the winter. Plus, as I found out last summer, before the central air at my house can be used this year it is going to need service. Last year it would run continuously barely providing adequate cooling. Though I have no ready cash for repair I have used one of the on-line services where you put in a request for services and they have several companies contact you. I figure a free estimate could not hurt......though I'll have to see what the cost is for any needed repairs.
I wonder if having multiple bids from the same coordinating service will be a good thing! Each company contacted knows that others will be bidding too, so, perhaps that will keep costs within reason.....or.....will it be more like throwing me to the wolves.........

Thursday, May 25, 2006

In Search Of..........Food!

I was talking to someone about food this morning. Last night I dined with the kids, the X, and one of her brothers at Applebee's. I had combo fajitas, but, they were nothing to write home about. Good, but certainly not memorable. The ones I make are!

This made me think how Over the past 20 years before marriage, and the divorce the X and I had searched for the perfect:

Bowl of French Onion Soup
Strawberry Daiquiri
Batch of Combo Fajitas
Barbecue Ribs

The first two were located in the same place! The Historic town of Smithville in New Jersey. Masterpieces in fact! French Onion soup with fresh baked bread and sweet onions, and a broth so flavorful the memory of it haunts me still! A layer of cheese so thick and so perfectly browned, the memory brings a tear to my eye! A Daiquiri that was so tart, so tasing of fresh berries, yet with the kick of a mule...well! These have have made most other places versions pale in comparison, though some have come close! I would bet at least on the Daiquiri side, the X may have found a better one. Back when we were growing the family she did not drink alcohol for quite awhile. Now she does, and I have not had any in about three years now. I hate to drink alone and besides these days I am afraid I would get morose and blue, heck, outright depressed! ANYWAY this had nothing to do on the food tale, so, back to it!

The best combo fajitas were found in a small, family owned hole in the wall Mexican restaurant in Old Town (near Orlando) down in Florida that we discovered on our honeymoon. Homemade tortillas and salsa....meat that was seasoned so expertly and fire grilled to perfection....tastes so explosive they lodged themselves in your memory not to ever be dislodged! Yes! A treat never to be forgotten! Alas, after enjoying this place two years in a row, the third trip found it had been turned into a place selling electronic organs. What a sin! You can buy that kind of stuff in hundreds of places.....truly masterfully created food is a rarity! You know what I am talking about! Those rare few meals you have out that you remember for years and years, and find yourself comparing subsequent inferior meals too even those that come close to, but not quite as good as, these previous culinary marvels you have partaken of!

The Best ribs were found down in Florida at a place called "The Firecracker Factory" down in Disney's Shopping Village in Orlando. They even had bottles of the sauce you could take home and often we would buy some, carefully wrapping it to insure it's safe arrival back home, and then would we enjoy it over the summer months. Sadly this ended up being another place we enjoyed for a few years and then was turned into a cowboy bar with.....shudder....I can't say this without getting queasy, fighting down the bile...reaching for that plastic lined paper bag normally found on airplanes....thrusting it over my mouth before it is too late......Line Dancing!

Since the demise of the Fireworks factory the best ribs (and on Monday all you can eat rib night) are now found at a place in New Jersey called "Porky's A Place For Ribs" Sadly, Porky's is too long a drive from Michigan and they have no web site. These ribs are wonderful! Slow cooked for hours and hours, falling off the bone, incredible flavor and not covered in sauce like most place's ribs are to cover the fast 'assembly line' preparation that is usualy used.
OK, who's hungry! I think I may have to make homemade Fajitas over the weekend!

Venting about the Scumbags who control gas prices...again

It's not freaking bad enough that gas prices are at the point they are, but, it's the constant shift of them upwards as we approach the weekend or in this case the holiday weekend. BAM! I'm sorry, but the price of crude oil does not go up every Wednesday, and notice how that when there is the slightest rise in crude prices KABLAM! Like an explosion the price at the pump jumps up almost within minutes of the crude price increase? Let that crude price go down though and it takes days for the price of gas to drop back to the pre-crude increase price!!!!! AAARRRGGGG!!!!!!!

Twelve cents a gallon hike last night, this AM I zipped over to Costco and filled up at their discounted price from yesterday so I saved 25 cents a gallon....but it just REALLY TICKS ME OFF that this is happening, as if I and millions of others have the extra money to line the pockets of Oil Company executives, politicians, OPEC, and others who should not be making such ridiculous profits!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Thanks Uncle George

I went to see Danielle's choir this evening and met the X and her folks (Mom and Dad still to me, bless their hearts) and Dad mentioned he had been talking to Uncle George who was worried about me because he had not seen any activity on the blog for awhile.

Thanks for caring Uncle George! Work has just been so crazy I often feel like a wrung out rage after the work day and the kids head over to their Mom's house. This place still feels like a tomb when I am here alone.

Knowing someone cares really made my day!

Chris is so very tired

Scott, my 14 year old is off for his class trip to Mackinac Island this morning. His mom dropped him off back at my house around 9PM last night since I was to have the honor of taking him to school this AM. We watched about an hour of TV together. I picked him up an extra small snack for last night and one for the road and gave him some additional spending $$ to add to what his mom gave him. He got up at 5AM because he had to observe his morning ritual of watching a Futurama episode before breakfast, I was up at 5:15 (YAWN!) after a crappy nights sleep....we were on the road at 5:30 and I dropped him off at School just as the busses were arriving. I'll miss him this evening!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Random Ramblings

Not much to say these is insane with a major project having its due date slipped 2 months to the home...well......Friday night the kids, the X, and I finished up the last of the mothers day pasta sauce (I had frozen a bag of sauce, meatballs, and pepperoni from the big batch I made on Mother's Day). I made tortellini for everyone except Scott who I made some penne on the side, and Chris (who never eats pasta if he can help it) had some Jimmy Dean breakfast burritos instead (though he did eat Garlic Bread). Prior to the actual eating as the X arrived early, she, Danielle, and I started to watch an older Monk episode we had never seen before (we thought we had seen all the previous episodes) and we finished that up after dinner. Then the five of us watched the hour long series finale of "That 70's Show". After the X and the kids departed I head back to work for hours of fun working on another (not the aforementioned) project.

Saturday I headed into work and spent half the day there, came home did some errands and laundry and by 6PM Scott and Danielle arrived for an extra sleep over. We watched some TV together (An hour long "Fairly Oddparents 'Fairy Idol') and then Scott headed off to Play. D and I watched some additional TV and the kids had an earlier bedtime as they were both tired (Scott having played Laser Tag and having a sleep over the night and following morning).

Sunday I got up, did a couple of hours of work from home, and spent some time with Danielle watching TV (Scott elected to spend the entire morning after he got up playing games). The kids were gone at noon and then it was more work for Chris......the fun never stops! In the evening last night off DVD I watched Star Trek Nemesis (including the special features) and The Fortress. I wish I could afford HD service on my TV, DVD's and the computer look so good, while satellite TV really stinks (though it is better than the old RCA projection TV was). I also called my Dad to see how he is doing, he needs some surgery, but, because of asthma they do not know if he would make it through the tests, more scans, more drugs.........sigh!

This evening if I have the time the story of Plushy will be told along with a picture! Start holding your breath now!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


That was the Sound of Chris getting his ears lowered today! I took and early lunch and from departure time to time back to the office it took 20 minutes to get a haircut. Got it cut short again which is good for the warmer weather approaching and good for the ease of grooming aspect. Also a bottle of Shampoo seems to last forever with a near buzz-cut! If anyone is curious let me know and I will post a picture.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Gas Prices (and IDIOT drivers)

OK, as I see red and it is now costing over $30 to fill up the small gas tank of the Mustang with regular, I must vent about gas prices here!

I just hate to see the IDIOTS on the road today supporting the insane, should be illegal, ridiculous price of gasoline!

You idiots know who you are! The ones zooming past me in the right lane as I do the speed limit (or a teeny bit above), the ones who slam on the brakes from driving like this because you almost hit that other car in the right lane or did not notice you could not make it through the intersection before the light turned red.

Let's not forget the ones who, from a stop street or a red light push the pedal to the floor and zip off like a jack rabbit on steroids!

Don't you fools know you are playing right into the oil companies hands (and the hands of those sell the crude oil overseas?)

Don't you realize the amount of gas that could be saved by driving the speed limit, and not slaming on the gas pedal from a full stop but using gentle acceleration??

COME ON WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE ALREADY! So long as people continue to use the car for everything and drive like idiots when they could walk in some cases, or drive better and save gas, the people setting the price for a gallon of gas will not see any decrease in demand and will know they can get away with setting whatever prices they want! I have a Mustang for goodness sake and I do NOT drive like that!!

And finally, why is there 60 cents or MORE of taxes for a gallon when sales tax on other items is so much less???

Mother's Day Dinner

For mothers Day I had the X-wife and her parents over for dinner.

Saturday night I made home-made pasta sauce with home-made meatballs. I also added pepperoni and chunks of boneless pork to the sauce which simmered for about five hours (the ONLY way to make a real pot of authentic Italian pasta sauce though you can get away with three if you do not include pepperoni, but the idea is for it to be 'fork tender' when server). I also had fresh basil in the pot along with some other spices.

I made garlic butter for garlic bread which turned out great! Soften a half a pound of butter, and add the pressed garlic from at least 6 buds of garlic. More or less to taste (I used about twice that much). Then add about a quarter teaspoon of dried oregano, the same amount of dried basil and twice as much dried parsley. Add a tablespoon of extra-virgin (I love that term 'extra' virgin) and blend well. Put it back in the original covered container and leave in fridge for 24 hours. This is enough for one monster loaf of bread or two smaller ones.

Sunday Morning I went out after I awoke and get three fresh loaves of Italian bread and right before dinner made two with the garlic butter and one margarine for the X's as Mom can't tolerate garlic. Heck, anyone eating a slice of this bread would be safe from vampires or mosquitoes for a month!

Danielle and I made a tray of double-chocolate brownies and frosted then with whipped chocolate frosting. Danielle then decorated this. This was served (with scoops of double-vanilla ice cream on the side) for dessert.

I made Rigatoni pasta and there was fresh Romano cheese to be grated over the pasta. Everyone loved the meal and their was enough for leftovers. Tonight in fact I will have two folks here who have traveled from the east coast join me for dinner.

O.J. Pulls White Bronco Prank on 'Juiced'

You know, I try not to comment on the world at large, but, I heard this on the radio last week and seeing it again today really ticks me off. How can someone like OJ have a show and do something so tasteless as to glorify the vehicle used by an accused fleeing murderer?

WHAT IDIOTS would watch this on Pay Per View anyway???? This is just freaking ludicrous!!!

Click the following link for the story!

O.J. Pulls White Bronco Prank on 'Juiced'

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mothers Day

To all you Moms out there, a Happy Mothers Day!

Enjoy these pictures from the card my daughter Danielle
made for her Mom.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Water, Water, Everywhere

Any of you who have known me since I moved into my current palatial estate (ha ha ha it's so small in parts I have to go out of the bedroom to change my mind...but it was all I could afford after the divorce) will know the story of the leaking basement steps. To make a long story short here, I moved into this house one September and all was well. The following summer, the steps off the dining room going into the basement began leaking like a sieve! Because the leaks were coming from cracks in the steps, there was nothing you could do to catch the water and since the basement is finished it could not be allowed to cascade unstaunched, to ruin the carpets and walls below!

So, you had to throw many towels onto the stairs and then as they got saturated, wring them into a five gallon bucket, and throw them back down. When the buck filled you had to run and pour that down the sump. With my bad back the last thing I need is repeated bending or prolonged standing on stairs with my feet at different heights.

I had called a number of places, most balked when they heard the type of leak I had though one place did want to (for about 10K!!) dig out the basement steps and repour them.

I finally found a place that injects Bentonite Clay into the soil around the basement at 3-4ft intervals. The Bentonite coats the walls from footing to grade. As the Bentonite absorbs groundwater, it swells up to 15 times it's volume and thickens, creating an impenetrable gelatin membrane, which protects against further water penetration.

So, for about 1.2K they inject this in a L shape outside the area where they suspected the leak was coming from. On one part of the L this involved first drilling through the concrete slab outside. No go; while less was coming in it still leaked. They came back twice and repeated the process. better, but not enough. One day as I was watching the rain on the opposite side of the L I noticed that it was rolling of the roof like a waterfall on the side of the house. I have no gutters but a roof that overhangs the side of the house by a good foot and a half. Anyway, I called them back and as they were retreating the L area, I walked them around to the opposite side of the house and said what about here? Well, they decided to treat that additional area (and did not charge anything which was cool) and when they got to the back part of the side directly opposite the leak, they encountered a surprise. Normally each hole they inject takes about 10 gallons max of the clay solution. That hole took 55 gallons! I theorize that the sheer amount of water coming off that side of the roof (which is adjacent to the garage roof so you get the combined runoff from that too) had undermines the area under that part of the foundation.

I also had a gutter company come out and put gutters on that back side of the house. That was fairly late last summer and while no water had leaked in, I was still not convinced all is well.

Today it has been raining most of the day, and so far. not a drop! Until though we have some of those torrential rainfalls where you see the water running across the lawn because it can't drain quick enough, I will not be totally convinced. However, the Mr. Spock part of me tells me my logic is sound. We shall see! It was nightmarish night when it rained in the middle of the night having to be up fighting the water at 2AM in the morning.

Were it not for all of the pain of the experience, it did kind of look nice the way it gently cascaded down the flight of steps!

The Bermuda Cube

I recently changed locations at work. A cube had opened in the coveted row by the windows with a northern exposure...excellent for seeing outside and the sun never comes directly through the windows. I took a cube that was smaller than my previous one and it is well worth it. Even on a day like today (see post Water, Water, Evety where above this one) being able to see outside reduces stress and helps make crazy moments a bit less crazy. I miss my old cube-mates, but the three guys I am sitting by now who are in my department are a great bunch too. There is also less foot traffic by where I sit now and that is a plus too. It is much quieter which is a big plus.

Anyway on to the Bermuda aspect of this. I started moving into the new cube early last week carrying over a load of stuff from my previous cube (or chucking a load of stuff in the trash; I used this as an exercise to clean house a bit) every time I had a chance. By Wednesday I was ready to move one of my lower class systems I use for monitoring a farm of servers. I did so, and after connecting it up windows began acting strange. Slow, sluggish, and hanging. I finally had to remove the network card from the PC and use the on-board network adapter. Once I did that, it was fine. I was then able to take my lowest end system and move what software and data I needed onto this system so I could dispose of the other.

Thinking nothing odd about the issue with the PC network card by Thursday I was ready to pretty much take up full time occupancy in the cube a couple of days early (it was SO peaceful because my phone had not been moved yet!). I moved my main system and my other two ancillary systems. I powered up my main system, Windows started to load and than BAM a message stating NTLDR could not be found! It was time for me to head home so I sent an email to one of my friends in the Office Automation group asking if he could leave an XP SP2 CD for me so I could continue in the AM.

Arriving Friday morning trying to run XP repair was fruitless, the drive had crashed! A replacement was delivered to me within the hour along with a base image load of the OS. I spent Friday and part of Saturday customizing it for my use, and generally getting settled into my new location whilst getting other work done.

Two computer failures though from a simple move across a distance of now more than 50 yards.....made me date though everything else has been fine in my new cube, including the view, but, alas, the phone was connected last Friday!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Best PC Modification EVER

I'm sure you've read and heard about many different modifications for the PC.

Below is my personal favorite!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Two out of three ain't bad!

Hooray! While it is the X's weekend with the kids the younger ones Scott and Danielle asked their Mom if they could sleep over here tonight, and they are here! We will soon be watching around the world in 80 Days (The Jackie Chen remake) and I will be making them chocolate Chip Ice Cream sandwiches with Pereridge Farm chocolate chunk cookies. Chocolate Brownie Ice Cream for Danielle and Vanilla for Scott.

I LOVE extra kid time!

Whatever happened to Jar Jar Binks???

If you've seen all three of the newer Star Wars movies (Episodes 1-3) you've noticed that Jar Jar's involvement goes from an annoying cgi character you'd love to see shot, burned, stampeded, run over, shredded, lowered into lava, etc., to a mere moment of silence in Episode 3. Nothing since!

SO! Whatever did happen to Jar Jar Binks? The picture below tells it all! Click it to see a larger version of the image. (You must, so you can better read what is on the package!)

Your Pain Runs Deep

Distressing medical news earlier this week from two different family fronts has left me thinking of happier days from the past.....days of being a whole family...something I had...and let slip through my fingers like so many grains of sand....lost on the beach forever and indistinguishable and thus meaningless from all the other billions of grains sand around them....nothing to show it was ever part of anything greater.......sigh!

The picture above was taken on our last family vacation in 2004. A trip to Canada a few months after the kids had been told about the divorce (now there's a scene that will never be erased from my memory). We had booked the trip already and had our plane tickets. We were having lunch and Danielle drew the picture shown below, of a happy Mommy and Daddy....she was ever the optimist. Perhaps she is moving on at least! She has not broached the subject of Mommy and Daddy getting back together in awhile; this is good that kids are so resilient....adults often never forget pain and carry it far longer.

I remember the line from Star Trek V spoken by Sybok; "Your pain runs deep". Sybok had the answer...."Each man hides a secret pain. It must be exposed and reckoned with. It must be dragged from the darkness and forced into the light. Share your pain. Share your pain with me... and gain strength from the sharing. "

Yes, I realize most days that many people have it much worse than I, but some days like today I am selfish and think of myself. Human nature I guess.

OK, that's enough! Most people do not want to hear of others problems and pain....though IMHO the world could be a much better place were that not the case.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Monastery of Silence

A co-worker attached the following on their weekly report to management - I got such a laugh I had to share it.

Brother John entered the "Monastery of Silence" and the Abbott said, "Brother, this is a silent monastery; you are welcome here as long as you like, but you may not speak until I direct you to do so."

Brother John lived in the monastery for five years before the Abbott said to him, "Brother John, you have been here five years now; you may speak two words."

Brother John said, "Hard bed."

"I'm sorry to hear that," the Abbot said. "We will get you a better bed."

After another five years, Brother John was called by the Abbott. "You may say another two words, Brother John."

"Cold food," said Brother John, and the Abbott assured him that the food would be better in the future.

On his 15th anniversary at the monastery, the Abbott again call Brother John into his office. "Two words you may say today."

"I quit," said Brother John.

"It is probably best," replied the Abbott, "you've done nothing but complain since you got here."

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Howl's Moving Castle

These days with such an age difference with the kids it is harder to find a movie they will all watch. This past weekend I rented Howl's Moving Castle. What a rare treat! An animated feature (style similar to "Spirited Away") about a young girl who is turned old by a spiteful witch and then must seek the age of a young but immature wizard who live in this huge walking house. It was an incredible tale! The animation was stunning! The characters voices were very well done. Everyone loved it and everyone's attention was glued to the screen as we watched. Such a rare family moment! The kids will probably remember I baked chocolate chip cookies .vs. the family gathering nature and shared enjoyment of the movie, but I will hold it in my heart for years to come. You never know though, perhaps they too realized it was one of those rare family times!

In my humble opinion, this is a must see movie!

Kids, gotta love 'em!

Yesterday one of Scott's friends was supposed to come over after school. He was going to walk from his school to our house (about 1.5 miles). Anyway, as I sat riding the exercise bike last night while it was raining outside, the friend called. Evidently he had the good sense (I thought at the time) to ride the bus to his house instead of walking in the rain. I told Scott this when he arrived home and told him to make arrangements to play tomorrow. I got off the bike, and, being somewhat disgusting and in need of a wash, off I went. Scott calls through the door moments thereafter "Friend Name Inserted Here is coming over; he's riding his bike". I basically replied along the lines of are you guys crazy (it's a 10 minute ride by Mustang and we are talking 13 year old kid here on majorly busy roads!) it's pouring rain out! So, after getting cleaned up I told Scott I was concerned that the friend might fall or something, and in the future I did not want him riding up here. "His Mom said it was OK" was the reply, "Well, I am saying NO in the future, I'd rather go and get him" .

Anyway, the friend shows up disheveled, arm, elbow, and finger scraped and bleeding, soaked through (no jacket) to the skin and dirt all over him from where he took a tumble! Anyway, he got cleaned up, bandaged, and borrowed a set of Scott's clothes. I had him call his folks a bit before it was time to go home and they picked him and his bicycle up.

Movies over the weekend

Danielle and I watched two comedies over the past weekend; "Without a paddle" and "National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon #1"; both good movies!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Yes, Patches Knows Kung-Fu

An excellent mood boost for a Monday! (or Any Day!)

click on picture for larger copy Click the Picture for a larger copy