Friday, December 30, 2005

TIP: Un-stale crackers

Don't throw out those crackers just cuz you forgot to close the bag last night and now they seem kinda stale.

Because I'm leaving for vacation tomorrow (technically Sunday) I'm doing the "eat whatever you can find/avoid buying new groceries" thing. You know what I mean- who wants to buy a bag of lettuce if you're going to get back home only to discover it has morphed into something that looks like it came out of the Green Giant's ass after a bout with lactose intolerance?

So, one of my Najjie Tips just occurred to me.


HOW TO UNSTALE STALE CRACKERS:

Pop 'em into the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Take them out, let 'em cool, and they'll be fresh-n-crispy just like a brand stinkin' new box.

Oink!

Some of my favorite people in the whole wide world.











Well, I just got home from dinner with my brother David, his husband Bryan (yes, you read that right) and my friend Celena.

Because I am one of those annoying people that has irresistable urges to provide everyone with nicknames, I shall henceforth refer to the above named people as Doodee, BB and Weena.

So, Weena came over to have dinner at the boys house- she is my former neighbor and became friends with them through me. The story: After dating a couple of years, Doodee and BB (aka "The Boys") got married in Toronto last year. They bought some crappy gold rings to seal the deal. As it happens, Weena knows how to make jewelry. So I suggested she make them some new wedding rings, and the rest is history.

Her first paid jewelry gig, a discount custom ring deal for the boys, and I get to take credit for the match-up. It's a win-win all around!

So, the rings... they's bootyfull, ain't they!



By the way... if you are rational enough to realize that the world won't explode because gay couples get married, visit www.blockoutwisconsin.com

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Power of Negative Thinking

Let me paint the scenario for ya':

On my way to do some errands, Walgreens first... and thinking while I was driving. I'm not sure what got my mind onto the topic, but I was mentally whining that I hadn't been asked out in, well, let's just say a very long time (because I can't count that high). I told myself to quit bitching and headed into Walgreens.

Within 5 minutes I found myself in the rather unexpected situation of getting checked out by one of the clerks, and then getting hit on by a customer named "Kenny". Admittedly, I got the impression that putting the moves on women at Walgreens isn't unusual for Kenny, and I ran away as quickly as I could without seeming rude... but still... it's kinda funny timing, eh?

Must be the new lipstick. Or, that negative thinking.

Hmmm, what should I whine about next?



MUSIC: Silence in Music Tracks

I just want to take this opportunity to say that if I wanted to "listen" to silence, I'd turn off my music player.

I've been noticing lately that many artists (at least a decent number of the ones I listen to) feel compelled to make a song that is 9 minutes long, the last 5 of which are silence. WTF?

Do they think this is original?
Cool?
Avant-garde?
Thought provoking?

Well, at least on the last count it wins... it makes me think "arg, that's freakin' annoying."


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Cruise Countdown: 4 days left!

I'm going on a vacation, see? Because the last trip I took that wasn't for a wedding/graduation/funeral/something not quite vacationy, was in 1991. Let's refer to that date as Nineteen Hundred and Ninety One, just to emphasize the fact the it was way too freakin' long ago. So, yeah, over a DECADE ago. I guess you get the picture. (We went to Panama City... that college student destination for spring breakers everywhere.)

So this time... I'm going on a cruise. I've always wanted to go, and I'm so darn excited I'm about to peepee in my knickers.

I'm going all by my lonesome, since all my friends are too broke, or married, or something. (Okay... I didn't actually bother to ask anyone. Cuz', well, I kinda want to go alone- follow my own agenda, do my own thing. Call me crazy if you will.)

I got a balcony room, which I was surpised to learn cruise ships even have. I hope there are some serious safety bars on those puppies! So, I'm taking along some books which I just splurged on at Barnes and Noble, and plan to sit on my balcony all day long and read, and maybe venture out now and then to socialize. We'll see.

Here's what I'm thinking at this point:

• Crap, I live in Wisconsin and am a sun-phobe; I don't have any stinkin' shorts.
• Where'd I put my stupid bathing suit? (And doesn't every gal look forward to putting on their bathing suit... in the winter?)
• Are they going to be able to feed a vegan? Or will I have to eat plain lettuce every day? I'm not a freakin' rabbit, ya' know. ( Uh, nothing against rabbits. I actually think they are quite cute. Exhibit A. Exhibit B. Exhibit C. )
• Please please please oh please don't let me miss one of my connections.
• See above.

Here's the connections plan:
• Sometime after ringing in the new year, say about 2 minutes, try to get a taxi to haul my ass to the bus stop. (Call my crazy, but I'm thinking the taxi co.s will be a little busy hauling around a lot of drunkards around then.) Backup plan: Call brother crying, beg for ride to bus stop.
• 2 a.freakin'.m. Sunday morning, bus from Miami to chicago
• 9 a.m. Fly out of Chicago to Miami

Wish me ruck.

Monday, December 26, 2005

WHY NOT?: Why can't I leave my Christmas tree up year round?

Christmas trees are purty. They just are, right? Unless you're shackled to a spouse with crappy taste, then there is a good chance you've got a big, sparkly, shining, colorful tree in your living room right now too.

Most years I take the tree down the day after Christmas, because I am ready to move on! But this year I was thinking, well, it just so pretty. All that dang ambience. You know what I mean; those trees'll hypnotize you!

Loooook at meeeee... relaaaxxxx. Thinnnk happpppy thoughtssss...

I don't have a lot of junk in my living room, so I've got plenty of space for the tree. So, I was wondering, why can't I just keep it here year round?

The problem is people will assume that you are a lazyass loser freak if you still have your Christmas tree up in July, right? Not that I condone worrying too much about what other people think, but I really don't want to hear "jeez, you still have that thing up?" everytime someone comes over for a visit.

I think the compromise will be to get some other kind of tree (um, not a pine tree) and put it up in it's place. I can still use my white lights and glass teardrop ornaments. Yup, that's what I'm going to do. I'll update next month or whenever I've gone and put the thing up (maybe this time of year isn't so good for buying trees, huh?)

Hmm, I keep hearing a suspiciously loud baked potato in the oven... I'd better go check on it.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

EXPANDING HORIZONS: Christmas Dinner/Tofurky Roast


Okay, so based on my earlier post about my cat going kerblitzy over tofurky deli slices, you'd think I'd have already had Tofurky before. But I haven't- not the original roast style big'un. They aren't cheap... so that's been a deterrent, plus they seem like sort of a "special occasion" kind of thing.

So, tonight when my brother (veg) and brother-in-law (veg-ish) came over for dinner, we tried it out. (Plus we had some au gratin potatoes and snap pea pods, yom!)

So here's how the whole Tofurky experience went down.
(and sheesh, is it tofurkey, or tofurky? The website is tofurkey.com but the product says tofurky. They're screwing with my head, not much of a challenge, but still...)


You open up the box, and inside is a "roast" about 7x5 or so (totally guessing here), in an ovoid shape. Serves 4. I guess that's right, if you eat two slices a piece. The tofurky is inside a plastic wrapper, which you remove, before wrapping the roast in foil or putting in a roast pan. You can add veggies or whatever, just like with any kind of roast. I was lazy and just wrapped it in foil and tossed it in the oven.

It stays in for 2 hours at 300 degrees. I gave it one flip while it was in there. Once it came out of the oven, we sliced it, and gave it a taste. We also made some mushroom gravy to have with it, because, well, gravy is good.

I have to say, it was pretty good. (My favorite part may have been the stuffing.) D&B loved it and Bryan insisted after a few bites "All I have to say is we are having this again next year."

I'm okay with that.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

BEST EVER: Christmas Eve with someone else's family

Perhaps that's part of what was nice about it. If you need an explanation for that, then congratulations.

This year, like the last two, my brother David and I went over to my brother-in-law's parents' house for Christmas Eve. (Cuz my bro is married to a man, get it?)

Food, presents, a little wine, some conversation, and a few rounds of Apples to Apples.

No stress, no bickering, no traveling. Ahhhhh.

All the crap leading up to Christmas can be a total pain in the ass, but sometimes things go right, and it's completely worth it.

Here's hoping you had a good one too!

BOOK REVIEW: The Colorado Kid by Stephen King


Hadn't I heard/read that Stephen King was done with writing?

Honestly, you'd think by now that these famous folks'd start throwing in the caveat "but you never know" whenever they pronounce that they are done, finished, finito, never to write/sing/act again.

Well, like the Chers and Celines of the world, he probably realized he was bored off of his rocker, or missed the attention, or perhaps just wanted some more dough so that he can finally build that paper mache outhouse (made entirely out of 100 dollar bills, of course) he has always wanted.

Stephen King is one of those writers I'm always a little hesitant to admit I like. Why? Because it's like admitting you like to listen to Kelly Clarkson. Sure, lots of people like her music, can't help but nod a little and maybe even sing along now and then, but doesn't liking something so common make you feel just a little, well, common? On the same hand, everybody loves Johnny Depp and that's apparently okay. Hmm, gonna have to think about this one a little. Perhaps we all like to think of ourselves as intelligent people, and feel more comfortable liking someone/something with an air of intelligence, or at least a little mystique. (Because we think it reflects positively on ourselves.) That was the long way of saying: Think PBS versus CBS.

Well, I'm too old for that shit. You know what? Even 10 years olds ought to be too old for that shit. If you like something, then like it. It's okay, so long as we just don't forget about all the other good stuff that's out there to be experienced.

So, this book, The Colorado Kid. Check it out on Amazon.com and you'll see it's got a pretty shitty rating. Yup, 3 stars out of 5 is shitty indeed. Why's it got such a low rating? I think I have an idea why...

This book is not like most other King novels. (And I'll save the "he's not just a horror writer" rant for another time.) It's also not a traditional mystery. It's presented as an older (think pulp) crime fiction, with the sultry woman on the cover and everything. What it is however, is a mystery. The real kind that doesn't follow all the formulas and feed you every little detail as if you don't have a mind of your own. Also, it's quite short. Technically it might be a novella. Readers of Stephen King are more used to longer works and might not have appreciated the change.

If you are the type of person that needs everything neat and tidy, with a heavy dose of closure, then don't bother reading it. You'll just end up whining about it to someone else who doesn't give a rat's ass. Go read an Agatha Christie instead, if you want a traditional mystery, with a confrontation and a reveal and all that jazz.

It reads somewhat like one of his short stories. I'm actually glad that this one was short. Usually I like books to last a while when I am enjoying them. In this case I think I would have been too frustrated with the lack of complete closure if I had invested more time in it. The way it is, I was able to appreciate the point, without feeling like I'd been taken for a ride.

As always, it was nice to settle into the book like any of King's work- like slipping on a comfy old pair of jeans. That familiar sense of being in the hands of someone you trust is there... the way he uses words and presents characters is always comfortable, but never boring. One of the reasons I kept reading his books over the years is the way he writes- it's very digestible, but doesn't make you feel like an idiot. You don't get a feeling that he is trying to woo you with the fancy way he weaves words together, because he doesn't write to prove he's got a big vocabulary. He writes as if he is trying to tell you a story, and presents it in such a way that you just get it.

I was entertained, and that's plenty good enough for me.
4 outta 5 stars. Make that 4 and a quarter.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

RANT: RoboHelp

RoboHelp... is making me want to throw things. Or perhaps break them. Or even bite.

Know what my favorite thing is? When I make a change, and am not given an Undo option. Oh, I'm not whining about making 27 changes and wanting to go back that far. I am talking about ONE change, and being stuck with it.

Which really stinks because trying to get things to work in here means I have to experiment a little- between my ignorance and the less than wonderful software...

It's not pretty. Not at all.




Ah, I feel better now. A little.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

My Star Has Stopped Shining


I'm sure someone could read something into that... but I mean it quite literally. After years of looking at a Christmas Tree (already a bit too Charlie Brown by my taste) with a forlornly empty top branch, I finally bought a tree topper.

Being agnostic (but the kind that still likes to do holiday shit, like give my family presents, eat, and sit around and be generally lazy), I didn't want a frilly angel in a white dress, so I went the star route. (yeah yeah, it's no doubt a north star reference, but I'm pretending it's more general. Plus, I like stars. Get off my back already!)

Too bad they're now sold out at Hallmark.

Someday I'll have a shining star again. Maybe for now I can just stick a piece of tin foil up there.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Vegetarian View: Tofurky- how real is too real?


One of my cats practically mauls me whenever I am eating the sliced "turkey" from Tofurky.

You may have heard of it- it's not really turkey at all, but a wheat/soy product. Yeah, one of those crazy hippy veggie concoctions (hooray for hippy veggies!). Yes, it's actually pretty tasty. Surprisingly turkey-like, which for me is actually something of a turn off. (Hey, when you haven't been eating animals for over two decades, products that really resemble meat can seem a wee bit freaky.)

Anyhoo, this cat (usually very mellow) acts as if her world will absolutely end if I don't share the Tofurkey with her.

It usually plays out something like this:

Me, sitting quietly, enjoying my tofurkey sammich: Chew chew chew. Chew.

Her, sleeping quietly until she realizes THE TOFURKEY IS OUT: "meow? meeooow? Meooow? MEOW? MEEOOWW WILL YOU GIVE ME THE DAMN TOFURKY ALREADY YOU STUPID TWO LEGGED THING?!?"
(this is of course accompanied by a expression of extreme anguish, if a cat can be said to have such a thing.)

Why does she like it so much?
Should I be concerned?
Maybe Tofurky is run by some crazy carnivorous evil pranksters who thunk it'd be a hoot to slip some innocent vegetarians bonified bird meat. And the FDA is in on it.
Good think I'm not paranoid.

Come to think of it, both the cats also like Tofutti (soy ice cream), mock duck (wheat gluten) and even soy milk. Go figure.

I really shouldn't be surprised. This particular kitty ("Sister", the piggy one) eats so fast she pukes up half of her meals. I've said more than once that one of these days I'll going to slip in the shower, hit my head, and the cat will gnaw me down to my skeleton before someone finds me. Talk about food issues.

Well hell, I've written and entire post about a cat here, so I might as well add a picture too. (FREAKING CAT LADY)

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

PBS Deserves a Big Hug: Freaky Birds

Okay, the program wasn't called "Freaky Birds". It was actually "Song of the Earth" and talked about the origins of human music, the nature of music, and songs/music found in animals.

But, there were some freaky birds. I'm referring especially to the Lyre bird (Superb Lyrebird), which has an uncanny ability to mimic the sounds of other birds, as well as man made sounds, and sometimes even humans.

Here is one of my favorite Lyre bird recordings, at around the 1:40 mark you'll hear it imitating the sound of a chainsaw. In another one (which sadly, now I cannot find) it imitates the sounds of a construction site. It's damned good at car alarms too. So, freaky, right?

Freaky cool, that is.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

RECIPE: Coconut Haystacks

Using my powers for good...

COCONUT HAYSTACKS

Okay, these are too yummy not to share. I haven't really decided yet whether they are good, or evil.

One 12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips.
One 12 oz. bag of shredded coconut. (sweetened or unsweetened, I like sweetened)

Spread the coconut onto a cookie sheet, and bake at 375. Check on it frequently, and stir every few minutes once it starts to brown around the edges. Once it is all browned, remove from oven and cool.

Melt the chocolate in a pan on very low heat, or in a double boiler. If you decide to experiment with this recipe, keep in mind that adding any sort of liquid to the chocolate will cause it to "seize". I often add some pure vanilla extract, at the last possible moment before adding the coconut.)

Pour the toasted coconut into the chocolate, stir, then drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto wax paper. Allow to cool.

That's it.

Evil. Yes, I think I've decided they are most definitely evil.

And I'll leave you with a haystack related quote:

"...they're totally insane. They should be harder to make!"

-Beebs, my favorite brother-in-law.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

His mama musta done something right.

My brother, affectionately nicknamed "Doodee" (and no, it has nothing to do with poop) just called me. I had already talked to him about 20 minutes ago, and he called me back just because he forgot to thank me for something the first time we talked.

That's cool.

Yes, he can be a pain in the ass - it runs in the family (we like to place the blame on our genes) but he sure does have some awesomeness going on too. :-)

Plus, he makes a really good vegan pesto.

starting over...

A month or two ago, I started a blog here. The articles were usually on the long side, and I eventually went back and deleted them all. Got all self-conscious and shit. Plus, I was setting a trend for posts that would just take too freaking long. I've got more entertaining and easier ways to waste time. Don't you? I mean really, what are you doing here? Well, I'm not one to question your choices, so read on, My Darling Reader.

So here is the new and not necessarily improved version. I'm just going to put up little snippets now and then when they occur to me, or when I'm avoiding working on something that actually is productive. As in, "pays the rent" or "keeps stress at bay" productive. You know the kind.

(No doubt I'll eventually revert to the old more verbose style... I just can't help myself! Some people are big on the blah blah blah, that's just the way it is.)

Enjoy! Or don't.