Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

This time of year I routinely wish people that I know are Christian "Merry Christmas". Much to the dismay of Bill O'Reilly and company, I wish everyone else "Happy Holidays".

You see my world is big enough to include people who aren't Christian. It's big enough to include people who aren't religious. Why should I not convey good wishes to these people just because their faith differs from mine?

O'Reilly and others on Faux News have succeeded in making an issue of this over the last 10 years or so. Evidently unless you wish EVERYONE a "merry christmas" you're not a real American and you're giving in to some mysterious, always unnamed "them". I'm going to assume (however unwisely) that by "them" O'Reilly is referring to lib'ruls (as Molly Ivins would have put it), since that's the usual enemy on Faux News. He implies that lib'ruls everywhere go around stopping anyone anywhere from ever saying anything but "Happy Holidays".

What a bunch of hokum.

I worked for 17 years in healthcare in a university hospital at a large university in a large city. It would be difficult to find a higher concentration of lib'ruls in one place. And never, in all of my 17 years that I worked there, did anyone ever correct me if I wished someone "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays". Now that I work at an insurance company in a different large city, I do get the occasional (very occasional, to be fair) conservative correcting me to say "Merry Christmas" to everyone. I do my best not to roll my eyes and point out that the person I'm talking to is Jewish or Muslim or has no faith. It's fascinating to see how quickly their self-importance deflates.

The bottom line is this: don't believe everything the media tells you. The only reason O'Reilly started this "campaign" of his is to create controversy so that he could improve his ratings. And CREATE controversy is exactly what he did, because there was nothing there before he brought up the subject.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Dangers of Eavesdropping

I didn't PURPOSELY eavesdrop on my co-worker, but it was still dangerous. I nearly bit my tongue off trying to avoid laughing out loud.

I was walking by a co-worker's cube on my way to the printer. She was on the phone - on a recorded line. I didn't hear the conversation leading up to or after the quote below. So I really have no idea what she was talking about. All I know is where MY mind went after she said it:

"You're right. It's hard and it's weird."

Friday, October 30, 2009

Telling on myself - anniversary edition

As readers of the blog may remember, I like to bake. Several years ago I bought a stand mixer that I had been lusting after for a while. Big motor to mix heavy, dense doughs. Large mixing bowl to make larger recipes. Lots of accessories would allow it to be one of only two large appliances on the kitchen counter (no toaster accessory).

That, of course, is how I rationalized it to myself when I bought it. About 2 years after I bought it the mixing blades would no longer stay in. No matter how light the batter, the mixing blades would fall out of the mixer into the batter. Even EGG WHITES for goodness sake. So Husband and I have tried for the better part of a year to find someone who can repair it (since it naturally happened after the warranty period was over) without success. The maker is an Italian company (DeLonghi) and has no repair centers in the US. When I looked on the internet for repair companies, I found that many people had had the same experience with DeLonghi's mixers - with no recourse other than replacing the mixer.

Then this week for our anniversary, Husband ordered a brand new Cuisinart stand mixer. It has all the other positive attributes of the old mixer and none of the negative. Cuisinart isn't an American company, but it's well established in the US, so customers have lots of support from the company if anything goes wrong. It also has a 3 year warranty!

So the next time you're shopping for something that you're clearly lusting after - do yourself a favor. Do research online about the company and the product you're buying. Just because it's "big and pretty" doesn't mean it won't break down at the drop of the hat. Just look at the Buckeyes' offensive line!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Anniversary Sweetie!

Today is the 14th anniversary for Husband and me.

It's hard to believe it's been that long, but he still makes me laugh more often than anyone else. I always have a good time when he's around - even when he's aggravating me! What else can you ask for in a marriage? Yeah, we'd get married if we could; but we can't right now. But this isn't a political post, but a personal one.

He's very thoughtful: when he buys gifts for me, he's constantly buying things that I mentioned that I want but have long since forgotten. When I'm sick with a migraine or an arthritis flare, it doesn't bother him that I don't like to have anyone around. He'll just poke his head in the bed room once in a while and ask if I need anything - then leave.

I'm really grateful to have him in my life.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Computer woes....

My Windows computer died about 8 weeks ago. I tried to go without one and use Husband's computer, but neither of us liked that option much. So I broke down and bought a new computer, this time a MACBook. When I bought the computer, I also purchased the One-to-One service that Apple offers to people who buy new computers from them. They show you around the MAC system and teach you what you want to know about using their products. Essentially you're paying for them to complete the Apple brainwashing process.

So when I got the computer home, I was all excited. Husband was helping me figure things out (since he's been using Apple computers since they were an Apple seed). A couple of weeks after I got it home I took the computer downstairs to the family room to use. Being able to use the computer in places other than the study was the appeal for the laptop.

When I got down there, I found my home wireless network wasn't working anymore.

Enter GDad (whose blog is listed under the Blogs I Read section). He's knows computers very well and is my computer guru. I try not to ask for him from him too often. He has a family and his own life, and I never want him to feel I'm taking advantage of him.

Yesterday GDad and his Son came over and spent 5 (count'em FIVE) hours at our place getting the wireless network working and salvaging the data from my old computer's hard drive. Thanks to him, I can now get in online trouble anywhere in the house. And the pictures of my cat Trixie (all of which were on the old computer's hard drive) are safe and sound. GDad is VERY generous man. I'm really grateful that he's my friend.

So when computers let you down (and it's only a matter of time until one does) remember that good friends won't. Thanks GDad!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dinner Party Menu

Here's the menu from the sit-down dinner party we had recently:

First Course: Curried Squash Soup

Second Course: Smoked Salmon & Caviar

Intermezzo: Cantaloupe Sorbet

Main Course: Steak Diane with Roasted Vegetables

Fourth Course: Arranged Salad with Lime Vinegarette Dressing

Fifth Course: Cheese Plate with Parmesgiano Reggiano, Danish Blue, 1000 Day Gouda and Port Salut

Dessert Course: Four Layer Chocolate Torte with Cherry Lambic Sorbet

The dinner went exactly as I had hoped it would. We sat around the table for an hour and a half talking and eating. THAT was the whole point. Taking time out to spend with my friends. Great fun. We'll definitely do it again at some point.

But not before our CRUISE!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dinner Party

Saturday husband & I are having a small dinner party. But rather than have a dinner where everyone gets a plate of food and the dinner lasts for 20 minutes, we're having dinner European style: in courses. That way the dinner can linger and we can enjoy each other's company and the food. We'll see how it goes. Having enough plates/bowls and silverware is tricky, but I think we have it all planned out.

After the dinner party, I'll post what the menu was. This being one of our parties, we tend to change things at the last minute. Should be fun, I'm looking forward to it.

We always enjoy ourselves doing this kind of thing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Public support of US wars

I wonder how strong support would be for the two wars we're fighting if there was a mandatory military draft. No exceptions of any kind. Every 18 year old would be required to serve for 12 months. Israel already does this.

Just like it did with Vietnam, I think this would send support for the wars plummeting. It's one thing to support a war when you know there's little chance of someone you love being affected. But when your child or sibling or niece or nephew is at risk, you look at war completely different.

Maybe the constitution should be amended to say that all 18 year old relatives of all federal politicians (Congress & Executive branch) would be required to serve on the front lines of any war declared for the duration of that war. I doubt they'd be so quick to send troops all over the globe.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Happy Gay Pride Day!

There's a reason that gay pride is celebrated in June. That's because after centuries of oppression, a group of gay men and women had enough when police raided a bar in NYC called the Stonewall Inn. Instead of running, which they had done for so long, these men & women turned on the police and beat the crap out of them. There were a series of riots at the bar over the next few nights and these riots - now called the Stonewall Riots - marked the beginning of the modern gay rights movement in the USA. Today is the 40th anniversary of that date.

Read more about the riots in the Wikipedia entry in the link. It's important history.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Why do I like turkey ruebans so much, when I don't like either sauerkraut or Swiss cheese?

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Go see the movie "Up"; it's a wonderful movie.

Unlike most animiated films, the script isn't one of an adolescent making his way toward adulthood. It's the story of an old man finding adventure late in life. It's a very emotional story, which is unusual for animated films. I teared up several times which is not all that unusual for me. (I once cried at a dog food commercial years ago).

Memorable characters, funny situations and beautiful pictures. What else do you need in a summer movie?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Pride Day

Happy Pride Day to everyone. Today is the day that Columbus is celebrating gay pride. It's a big celebration here - 60,000 people last time I went about 6 years ago. It's been over 100,000 for a couple of years now. I'm an old married guy now, so I don't go anymore. Husband has no interest in being in a crowd that large - gay or not.

If you don't know the reason that gay pride is celebrated in late June every year, I advise you to search Wikipedia for Stonewall Riots. Surprisingly rainbow flags were NOT involved. It's important to know history.

In honor of Pride, I want to recommend that EVERYONE (regardless of sexual orientation) read a Armistead Maupin book. (No, I don't get commission). I just read Michael Tolliver Lives last weekend and, as usual, was blown away. His books always come across as fun, breezy and chaotic - until you get to the end. At that point everything comes together in a way that is surprising but still somehow obviously RIGHT. He's written a lot of books by now - most of them part of Tales of the City series. Do yourself a favor and read (or re-read) them. Great stuff and fun summer read.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Pleasures of Homemade Iced Tea

Several weeks ago husband and I had a couple people over for dinner and, on a lark, I decided to make iced tea from scratch. You know - no powdered mix involved. Boy I had forgotten how much better the real stuff is than the instant stuff. Iced tea was a summer staple in our house when I was growing up. I pieced together this recipe mostly from memory. Make it yourself and you'll see what I mean!

Homemade Iced Tea
2 quarts of boiling water
10 tea bags of your favorite black tea
12 ounce can of frozen lemonade concentrate
1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)

Put the tea bags in a heat-safe pitcher and pour the boiling water over. Let the tea steep until the water is tepid; at LEAST 2 hours (but 3 hours is better). I know this is a long time, but don't skimp on this step or it won't taste right.

When the tea is room temperature, use a slotted spoon to remove the tea bags. Add the frozen lemonade concentrate and stir briskly until all of the lemonade is dissolved into the tea. Add sugar to taste (1/2 cup is what I add), again stirring until the sugar is dissolved. It's ready to serve!

Be sure to put the ice in the glasses when you serve it and NOT to put it directly into the tea. That will dilute it too much. Also, be sure to stir the tea well before serving, everytime you serve it (assuming it lasts more than the first time!).


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Happier News!

I haven't posted since Trixie died partly because I was feeling a little blue, but mostly because I've started using Facebook. I'm not rabid about it, but putting out a few notes a week seemed to sate my need to share. It IS fun, but I prefer longer form.

The REAL happier news is that my niece CS and her husband had her baby boy 2 weeks ago and my nephew DB and his wife had their baby girl yesterday morning. Everyone is happy and healthy. I'm very happy for all of them. And even happier that I get to call my OLDER sisters GRANDMA!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Rest in Peace Trixie.

I love you sweet kitty.


Trixie - one of my two cats - has a kidney insufficiency. The vet told us about it a couple of years ago and warned us that it would shorten her life expectancy. She's more prone to bladder infections than a normal cat would be. She's had 2 since we were told about her kidneys. I can normally tell when she has one because she's lethargic and her nose is warm.

Well now her nose is cool but she's more lethargic than I've ever seen her. I'm taking her to the vets this later this morning, and I'm scared I won't be taking her home.

Say prayers for my kitty.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Happy Square Root Day!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Home & Garden show

Husband and I went to the local Home & Garden show this past weekend - mostly to get out of the house. The one here in Columbus is set up with the Home show in one building and the Garden show in another. The home show was actually pretty nice. The only thing we inquired about was getting the attic insulated.

But the Garden show was a real let down. Most of the displays were set up behind big walls and one entrance in and one exit out. Needless to say the lines were horrendous. And the displays were pathetic. One had a plane crash theme. Another was Hollywood in the Tropics. Needless to say we didn't go in. How would those displays help me garden in OHIO? So we spent a little time with the few vendors not behind the "magic walls", bought flowers for the garden, and left. Very weird.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Is Planned Obsolescence Obsolete?

I was reading an article on USAToday's Tech section (not linking to it, sorry. I'm tired today!) about how Microsoft was working on Windows 7 and the next edition of MS Office. Why? What's wrong with the current versions? (XP, I mean. I've not used Vista so have no opinion about it).

That got me to thinking that may planned obsolescence doesn't work anymore. If we have to PAY someone money to persuade consumers that they need to buy a new product (marketing, PR, advertising) and another group of people to actually GET consumers to buy it (sales), maybe the world got along just fine without the new product in the first place.

I know that capitalism has been built on planned obsolescence, but that doesn't mean that we should be held captive to it. What would a new version of MS Office do for me that the current version doesn't already do a bang up job doing? For goodness sakes, I barely use all of the features in the current version of Word, why spend millions of dollar developing a new version.

And think of what else could be done with that millions of dollars, if we weren't using it to build a better mousetrap? Entirely new tasks that PCs haven't done before. Or ways to make computers more affordable so even more people can buy them. LOTS of things. But as long as our capital is otherwise occupied and it can't do those things. It can only ever do what's it's always ever done: build a different and persuade people it's better than the one they already have.

Maybe one good thing that will come from the current financial troubles will be more people thinking about why they're buying what they're buying. Get them to stop buying the newest version of something. Then companies will be forced to think of what they do with their money.

Boy it's a drag being an optimist sometimes.....

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jelly Belly Redux

It seems that Jelly Belly jelly beans keep following me around. And that's fine with me.

Husband bought some Jelly Belly jelly beans online, as a surprise. I wondered why at first. After all you have to pay for the jelly beans themselves AND the shipping. I thought we'd need to ask the government for a bail-out.

Turns out Jelly Belly sells their irregular jelly beans at a BIG discount. And he got a special deal that made it around $2.50 a pound. The beans are oddly shaped or stuck to each other, etc. Nothing WRONG with them, just not regular jelly beans.

And the best part is the name: BELLY FLOPS! LOL!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Coping with winter

I hate winter. Not just the cold (although....), but the lack of sunlight really gets me down. Not to the point of having Seasonal Affective Disorder, but I hate winter.

I also don't like feeling like I have no control (surprise!), so I usually try to do something during the winter to make me feel happier. Some years husband and I will have a party in February. Mardi Gras is a great excuse for a party and since husband is Cajun, he knows how to throw a heckuva Mardi Gras party.

Well this year things are a tighter financially and it just seems out of place to throw a Mardi Gras party when the national mood is so sober. So this year was a year when smaller seems better. A few weeks ago, we had a few (5?) friends over for an afternoon of gaming. Munchkins to be exact. A dumbed down (and much quicker) version of D&D. Snacks and hot fudge sundaes were eaten. Monsters were killed. Fun was had.

Yesterday husband and I had a couple of other friends over for dinner. These friends are going though some difficult times right now and we wanted to cheer them up without putting too much attention on the cheering up process. So, we had a picnic for dinner. In January and inside (outside? brrrr!!!). Homemade fried chicken, potato salad, cole slaw, cucumber salad and cole slaw. And to drink? A summer favorite that I haven't made in years - fresh brewed iced tea with lemon and sugar. We even put it in a glass pitcher that looks like the one that Kool-Aid uses in its commercials.

Having those foods for dinner (and the leftovers for a few days), helps remind me that winter won't last forever. And the whole process of planning everything keeps my mind occupied and helps the time go faster.

This really helps me get through winter. Try it for yourself.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


I recently finished reading "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides. I highly recommend it. It's one of my all time favorite books. It's was somewhat slow to start, but once it got going it was very hard to put down. The final scene in the book was very memorable.

I don't think this book NEEDS my recommendation, since some prize by the name of "Pulitzer" and some chick by the name of "Oprah" recommended it before me. But, what the heck. When they're right, they're right.

Also, the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" was a remarkable movie. Go see it. It's hard to describe, but it was a good, old-fashioned comedy.