Thursday, February 25, 2010

I'd join that army.

From something I said in an e-mail exchange with my ex-USAF uncle re: the defunded F-22: "In a perfect world, any defense or NASA expenditure could be justified with the words "Because it's AWESOME! Eh? EH?" If it makes a randomly selected 14-year-old boy drool around his braces, it gets funded. Granted, we'd end up with an arsenal of dinosaur-powered space lasers run by ninjas and the Swedish bikini team, but at least it would have full funding. We ended up here because we stopped encouraging 14-year-old boys to be 14-year-old boys."

Healthcare Summit Drinking Game

Expanded from my Twitter feed: It's the Healthcare Summit Drinking Game! (Because who needs to be productive on a weekday, anyway?)

1)1) If Obama tells a demonstratable lie (statistics, debunked talking points, things like that), take a shot.

2) If he talks about himself or his family, particularly to make himself seem like a normal guy, take a shot.

3) If he uses straw-man constructions (some say, everyone knows, etc.), take a shot.

4) If he confuses "access to healthcare" with "access to health insurance", take a shot.

5) If he talks about "bipartisanship" and "things we all agree on", particularly if it's obvious that "disagreement = wrong", take a shot.

6) If he uses the words "hope" or "change", take two shots. If he uses them in the same sentence, finish your drink and go target shooting with the empties.

7) If he reveals his true form by peeling off his flesh mask and demanding that we bow before the Child of Ma'alakra and our new intergalactic masters, shout "Ha! I told you so!" and go for a hamburger. Congratulations. You won. Have fun!

A little mood music for Thursday morning ...

So the TV is showing Obama walking to Blair House for the healthcare summit I guess 'cause he's all about being one with the little people, or something? Is it declasse to take the limo if it's less than a block away? Anyway, I can't decide which song would go better for this suspicious auspicious event: "Nothing Ever Hurt Like You" by James Morrison ("Loving you is easy, playing by the rules/but you say love tastes so much better when it's cruel"), or "Falling" by Alicia Keys ("I keep on falling in and out of love with you/sometimes I love you/sometimes you make me blue"). The latter would be CNN's theme song, I think. The former fits the Republicans and their voters better; it has that "I love you, so we're going to fist-fight in the yard until you see reason" vibe that really seems to fit right now.

Either one is better than watching the live feed with the sound on. I had a good breakfast, but I'd just as soon not visit it again if that's all right.

Also I'd rather not explain to my landlady why I shotgunned my TV.

UPDATE: I've got a better song: "Grapevine Fires" by Death Cab For Cutie: "And the news reports on the radio said it was getting worse/As the ocean air fanned the flames/But I couldn't think of anywhere I would have rather been/To watch it all burn away."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

FYI

I'm not dead, just on vacation. And by "vacation", I mean "sitting with my foot up and leaving the house as little as possible."

Also I made chocolate chip waffles. I fear I would get fat if this went on for more than a week.

On a side note: re: the Toyota kerfuffle. Does anyone else get a show-trial vibe from it, what with the congressional hearings and all? I just find the timing suspicious -- this didn't come up until it was obvious they were stomping all over GM and Chrysler's government-owned bottoms. I'm not saying it is a conspiracy; I'm not saying it isn't.

I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Night Recipe: WAFFLES!

Because waffles are awesome!

Waffles (from JoC '64 ed.)

In a large bowl, combine

1 3/4 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 T. sugar
3 egg yolks, beaten
4 T. melted butter
1 1/2 c. milk

Fold in

3 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks

To cook, pour batter onto hot waffle iron sprayed with olive oil. DO NOT TOUCH until steam stops coming from the edges of the iron and the top can be lifted with minimal resistance. Top with butter and honey. OM NOM NOM NOM WAFFLES. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Was that the boogeyman?

You know how in movies, the monster's never really dead? You can stab it, shoot it, stab it and shoot it, stab, shoot and set it on fire and it'll always pop back up when everyone turns their back on it. It's so ingrained in pop consciousness that it can be scarier if the monster doesn't pop up when it's supposed to. The point is, unless you personally take one of its vital organs with one hand and push it into a volcano with the other -- and be sure you stay to watch it burn to ash -- it's never really dead.

Case in point: Obama to spell out new healthcare plan.

As someone over at Ace of Spades pointed out (no link 'cause it was a comment on a main post and I'm feeling lazy), this is the equivalent of filling out all the paperwork and just leaving a place for your boss to sign -- you're much more likely to get that expense report approved if he doesn't have to read it and fill it out himself. He's hoping to avoid all the reconciliation crap and hoo-ha by just waving something at them and hoping they're tired enough that they say "fine" and vote it through without a fuss. Healthcare "reform" had been staked through the heart and buried at a crossroads at the new moon. We even put silver coins on its eyes and filled its mouth with dirt from the White House lawn. It's still not dead. It's gonna pop back up Monday morning, and if we don't try to push it back into the festering pit from whence it came, it'll just get stronger. We cannot let this happen.

The only appropriate response to this kind of invasive, tyrannous legislation is a shrieked "KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE!" Unfortunately, yelling that at your Congresscritter gets you on the news, and not in a good way. So get on the phone. Call your senator and your representative. Call their staffers. Call their mothers, if you can. Heck, call them late for dinner. We have to make sure it's really dead.

I think my next protest sign will say "Nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

Thursday, February 18, 2010

We've always been at war with Eastasia.

While reading this article about rising wholesale prices and unemployment numbers, I noticed the following in the sidebar (copy/pasted because I can't do a screenshot):

Stiglitz: Washington Should Stop Worrying, U.S. Has "No Problem" Paying Off Its Debts - Peter Gorenstein

We're "Absolutely" Headed for Another Crisis Without Reform, Economist Stiglitz Says - Heesun Wee

We Need a Second Stimulus Now, Says Nobel Laureate Stiglitz, or Americans Will Be Unemployed for Years - Henry Blodget
So ... which is it? I ask only out of facetiousness; these headlines serve only to show the importance of getting the information for yourself. We are no longer in a world where we can rely on third parties to tell us what to think -- and unfortunately, most of the world doesn't realize that. I know that sounds a little Glenn-Beck's-off-his-meds-again, but I don't care. I'm tired of pulling my punches. I've thought for a while that life as we know it won't end with a bang, and I'm becoming increasingly less sure about the whimper. I think it'll be more of a soft squish, like a shoe sinking into the mud. You don't notice anything's wrong until it's over the top and your sock gets wet, and then the only thing to do is leave it there and walk away.

Sorry if that bums you out. Like I said yesterday, I'm tired and sore and really punchy this week. Victor Davis Hanson is a real ray of sunshine today, too.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

There will only be one drink served at our bar.

But it'll be served in buckets!

Just got out of a yearly performance review thingummy. I got a raise!

Yayyyy!

But it's only 1 percent.

Booooo!

But I get back pay in a lump sum retroactive to Jan. 1!

Yayyyy!

It's only gonna be enough for a trip to the movies or dinner out, but every little bit helps. Yayyyy!



If you don't get the title, it's from something my dad used to recite when we were kids (yet another for my mother's "I wish you'd quit saying that around the girls" spiel). I don't know exactly where he heard it, but I don't think his mother was pleased about it, either.

Heh heh heh.

Status report

Blogging may be lighter and/or punchier than usual for the next couple weeks; I'm in a fair amount of constant, low-grade pain and it's making me grouchy. Just FYI.

UPDATE: A coworker just shared her gourmet french fries with me. My mood has officially improved.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New fave product

I've just discovered this chewy ginger candy by a company called "Ginger People", and it is delicious. It's sweet and hot (in an Asian way, not a Central American way*) and I'm seriously in love with it. Trader Joe's carries it, and the company's Web site is here if you're interested.



*Hot food from south of the border jumps up in your face and yells "Ole!" Hot food from the Five Dragons part of the world waits until it's at the top of your throat to kick in. It's like the ninja of the capsaicin world.

And yes I know that's a completely stereotyped description. It works. You know I'm right.

Yay for moderm medicine!

As of this morning, I am now officially cleared for semi-annual checkups (as opposed to quarterly) with my doctor. This goes on for two years (plus one more year) and then I will be back to my normal, cancer-free life. Woot woot! Note that this would not have been possible without the timely -- as in "just in time" -- intervention of doctors who didn't futz around with waiting lists and "quality life years" crap. I got in, I got out, they caught it before it spread and I lost far fewer body parts than I would have otherwise. So Yzma and Obama can take their healthcare bill and shove it. I'm too busy enjoying my healthy life to put up with that nonsense!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Is you is, or is you ain't, mah constichency?

He's (nominally) from here, so I suppose I'd better comment: Evan Bayh is retiring. You can get all the info you want at other Web sites, so I'm gonna focus on two things:

1) This is a good thing in that it frees up an otherwise solid (D) seat in the Senate, and the (R)s now have a better chance of taking it than before.

2) This is a bad thing in that Bayh no longer has to worry about cheesing off his constituency, so he's now a loose cannon in terms of what he votes for and why. If he's setting himself up for a 2012 presidential run, he might be more cautious -- but on the other hand, he may truly have nothing to lose.

On a personal note, my great-grandmother once told Birch Bayh, to his face, that he was an idiot. It's a matter of some familial pride. I only hope some day I can live up to it.

Better living through chemistry, my fanny.

I have a sensitivity to food coloring, where artificial dyes trigger my ADHD symptoms and produce a feeling not unlike mild intoxication. It's like being a little bit drunk, only my reactions are hyped up instead of depressed. It's a fun time. FD&C Red 40 (think Twizzlers) is by far the worst offender. And this being the day after Valentine's Singles' Awareness Day, everyone's passing out candy at work -- so I spent the morning being bombared with red red RED candy. I feel like Dracula at a garlic festival. Next person who lobs a lollipop at me gets the old "shrink back and hiss."

I did get some chocolate, though, and my parents took my sister and me to brunch yesterday, so that was fun. And they were kind enough to swing by my storage unit on the way back so I could get my crutches, so I'm a bit more mobile now. Still driving with the left foot, though.

I have far too much practice at this kind of thing.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday Night Recipe: Rice Pudding

Adapted from Joy of Cooking, 1964 edition. Need I say more?

Rice Pudding

In a large bowl, mix

1 1/2 c. 2% milk
1/8 t. salt
5 T. sugar
1 T. soft butter
1 t. vanilla
3 eggs

Add

2 c. cooked rice
1/2 t. grated lemon rind
1 t. lemon juice
1/3 c. raisins

Mix with a fork, being sure to break up any clumps of rice. Pour into a greased 8 x 8" glass baking dish (optional: line the baking dish and top the pudding with cookie crumbs) and bake in a preheated 325-degree oven for about 50 minutes. Cut into pieces and serve warm or cold. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gutenberg is rolling in his grave ...

Tam left a comment on my last post that small kids could be watching and I might give them nightmares.

If she thinks that's scary, she should check this out:

The American blogosphere is going increasingly “viral” about a proposal advanced at the recent meeting of the Davos Economic Forum by Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer for Microsoft, that an equivalent of a “driver’s licence” should be introduced for access to the web. This totalitarian call has been backed by articles and blogs in Time magazine and the New York Times.

As bloggers have not been slow to point out, the system being proposed is very similar to one that the government of Red China reluctantly abandoned as too repressive. It was inevitable that, sooner or later, the usual unholy alliance of government totalitarians and big business would attempt to end the democratic free-for-all that is the blogosphere. The United Nations is showing similar interest in moving to eliminate free speech.
(Emphasis mine.) Okay, first off, if Red Freakin' China thinks it's too oppressive, you may want to take another look at the proposal. Second, I'd like to see 'em try.

The article rightly points out that without the free-range blogging community, the Great Global Warming Scam would still be going strong -- none of the major media outlets would have giving the CRU whistleblower the time of day. At most, they would have buried it in a three-inch article on page A17, bumped a press time for a 10-inch article about the world's biggest wheel of cheese. The writer notes a similarity to Britain's anti-gun laws that have disarmed the law-abiding populace and let criminal activity skyrocket unchallenged in the past few years. Licensing the Internet would be done in the name of stopping child pornography or something like that, but those folks would find a way around it. Meanwhile, the rest of us would be stuck trying to navigate the bureaucracy and make sure we didn't offend the wrong people and get our permits yanked -- if we were able to get a permit in the first place. In other words, the means of mass communication would once again be restricted to those with means and influence -- moreso if unpopular opinions are involved.

Fun.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I had a realization the other day. (Now updated with a better pic)

This, m'dears, is Yzma:

She's the villain in the woefully underrated Disney film "The Emperor's New Groove." In one scene, she has the following dialogue:

Yzma: "It is no concern of mine whether your family has ... what was it again?"
Peasant: "Um ... food?"
Yzma: "Ha! Well perhaps you should have thought of that before you became peasants!
(I should note that she's voiced by Eartha Kitt, so, you know ... awesome.) The above lines are pretty representative of her character. IMHO, she's the best part of the movie.

Now, with that in mind, on to my realization:


I'm such a genius. You're welcome.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Stubborned into silence

I've had a nagging feeling that I haven't been keeping up the bloggage the way I wanted to; that I was talking too much about my precious little life and not enough about Big Important Things That Need To Be Discussed. Luckily, I'm not alone: Stephen Green feels the same way:

It’s enough to give a blogger whiplash — and I don’t mean the fun kind you get when your tiny little Prius gets rear-ended by Virgin Galactic’s newest rocket plane.

On the one hand, we have spontaneous Tea Party protests that make you think the “heirs of Patrick Henry” are alive and well and living right next door. Or maybe even sleeping right there in your own bed.

On the other hand, we have an Administration so blatant in its mendacity and so unscrupulous in its incompetence*, that just when I ought to be blogging at my bitter best, I’m instead left speechless. Well, if this White House can be said to have a plan, maybe that’s it: To suborn us into speechlessness.**

So if it’s seemed lately that I haven’t had much to say, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Except for those times when its been quite precisely the truth. Because we’re living in times so extreme and so extraordinary and so extremely extraordinary that you want to shout from the rooftops — only to find, after climbing up there, that you’ve been confused into near-incoherence.

What a short, strange trip it’s been.
I've commented before (either here or in meatspace, I don't remember which -- probably both) about how telescoped 2009 felt, politically speaking. Obama and his gang packed a full term's worth of action and zeitgeisty movement into a single year, and the only thing that slowed that bus down was the dozens of former friends piled up in the wheel wells. The less visible result is that a lot of us are simple stunned -- not burned out, necessarily, but so overwhelmed that we're left gulping like landed fish when we try to form an opinion. Myself, I only have so much energy in a given day, and a big chunk of that is going to basic survival right now. I don't have much left over for political thoughts, short of dark, invective-laden mutterings about "stimulus" and "recovery" when I put my weekly $5 worth of gas in my car. It's one thing to disagree with our elected officials; it's quite another when those elected officials know we (the majority) disagree, but go ahead anyway.

It's downright unAmerican.

I wanna go home.

So the fun part about snow ...

... is that when it melts and refreezes, you get ice. And the fun part about ice is that you can't walk on it safely in work-presentable shoes. And the fun part about that is that if you go ahead and wear your work shoes instead of futzing with your boots in the morning, you wind up with your ankle propped up under your desk on your upended (and thankfully empty) trash can. So I may or may not be in to work tomorrow, depending on how well I can walk in the morning.

And my crutches (yes, I own a pair) are at the back of my storage unit. Glee!

Oh, and Iran says they are now a nuclear state, for whatever that's worth. I've decided I'm going to stop watching for the apocalypse; I have a sneaking suspicion it's already come and gone and nobody noticed because we were too busy watching TV.

UPDATE: Yeah, it's sprained. I'm taking a sick day Friday because it's my right foot and I can't drive without white-knuckling the steering wheel, and I don't dare set foot outside until I can stand without favoring one side. I didn't even bother getting the crutches because I don't need them for my apartment, and they'd be useless outside. So basically I'm going to have three straight days of massive inconvenience, followed by a return to normal -- but it beats "muscling through" and having nagging pain for weeks. At least it's not broken. One more visit to my podiatrist, and I get the tenth one free!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tell the one about global warming again, Uncle Al!

Lots of folks complaining about the snow, which if you're on the east coast is kind of understandable ("You've already got 30 inches, so you won't mind another 20, right?"). They even shut down my company's Pennsylvania office on account of nobody can get in to work, so things are really dragging because they're largely middlemen for our various processes. Myself, I just have a lot of driveway to shovel (a lot more than I'm used to, anyway), but it isn't the snow itself that gets to me. It's the half-inch of ice that formed underneath it that makes with the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Also it's freakin' cold outside. So there's that.

Wednesday Haiku Free-For-All

Climate change hearing
canceled due to huge blizzard.
Al Gore gently weeps.

Have at it.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Sunday Night Recipe on Monday (because shut up, that's why): Make-Your-Own Granola

I had a craving for granola. I was too tired to go buy some, and the game was starting. Hence, the following.

Make-Your-Own Granola

2 c. instant oats
1 c. flour
2 t. cinnamon
1 c. chopped nuts (I used walnuts and pecans)
1/2 c. raisins
1 stick butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. honey

Mix the first five ingredients in a large, heat-safe bowl. Melt the butter, sugar and honey in a saucepan over medium heat until totally liquid, then pour over dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. Spread on a cookie sheet to about 3/8" thick and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes. Break up with a spatula or large spoon and let cool; the granola will be very soft and bready while warm. Serve in a bowl with cold milk. Store in an air-tight container. Enjoy!

It's the end of the world as we know it Monday morning, and I feel ... like crap, actually.

1) The Saints played a great game, and I think they earned their win. It's a bummer, sure, but no hard feelings. And I always liked Drew Brees.

2) The Google "Paris" commercial almost made me cry. The Audi "Green Police" commercial made me laugh until I realized the goons were the "good" guys. Then it just made me want to turn on all my lights and run the hot water for an hour for no good reason.

3) I spent a good chunk of Saturday and part of Sunday shoveling snow, and now I have to tell myself that bending at the waist isn't worth it anyway. But good news: There's more on the way! Act now, and we'll throw in two more pulled muscles absolutely free!

4) I have to go to the store after work tonight, because I'm out of eggs and running low on potatoes, veggies and flour. Also, I made my own granola last night, just for giggles (and that's significant, but it's a family thing so don't worry if you don't get it). Word to the wise: DO NOT OVERBAKE. You WILL burn the walnuts. Recipe to come later.

5) My cat likes to wake me up before my alarm on weekends because I feed her first thing when I get up. My sleeping in postpones her breakfast, so fair enough, I can deal with that. HOWEVER. Pulling the same stunt on a weekday, and not because she's hungry but because she's cold and wants to cuddle? Not cool, cat. And it's not like she just climbed up on the bed and purred and walked on my face like a normal cat. Oh no. She cried. At four in the morning. For an hour. Swear to God, I will skin and eat her if she pulls that stunt again. Is this what having kids is like? Because if it is, I'm seriously considering never having kids.

6) I wonder if cat goes better with a sweet or a savory sauce?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Luxuries, schmuxuries.

My cosmetic brand of choice right now is E.L.F., which can be had at Meijer for $1 an item. (It was either that or the fake stuff they make for little girls.) It's not terrible -- you get what you pay for, in a good way -- but the mascara gets really smudgy after about two hours. Makes me look all emo an' junk, which I find hilarious. But as long as it doesn't melt the face off my skull, it'll have to do. At least my good lipstick is holding out, so I can still look fabulous while I eat my beans.

Eh. I'm not in a mud hut eating rice out of a burlap sack. Things could be worse.

It's Friday

... and we're having a pitch-in, which means I'm so full of carbs I can barely move. I never thought I'd look forward to shoveling the drive after a snowstorm, but if it means I can burn off at least one piece of cake, it'll be worth it.

They had chocolate angel food with whipped cream icing. Don't judge me.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

"If it was a snake, it would'a bit you," that's what my grandma always says.

I've been reading about the planning people do for expected SHTF scenarios -- natural disasters, armed uprising, societal breakdowns (riots, etc.), biological attacks, EMP attacks, all sorts of things like that. It's fascinating stuff, especially given the precarious topsy-turvy state of the world today.

However, I can't help feeling that when the apocalypse does come, it'll slip in and take a seat in the back row and nobody'll notice it's there until it steps up to the microphone during the Q&A. In other words, it's not the hand you're watching that takes your wallet. The only real preparation any of us can do is to be alert and fight complacency, not just for disasters but as a matter of habit.

I am just such a ray of sunshine this week ...

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Popcorn, anyone?

We are going to

hell in a handbasket, fast.

Just enjoy the ride.

/haiku powers, deactivate

Worth noting: The Reuters story about backdoor taxes that everyone's been passing around was withdrawn because it was, quote, appallingly inaccurate. However, that doesn't mean everything is sunshine and roses:

Should this make us happy about President Obama’s budget? Quite the opposite. As Arthur Brooks, Alex Brill, and I have pointed out, the middle-class tax cuts that the president would extend have large revenue losses and do relatively little to promote economic growth. The tax cuts at the top that the president would allow to expire would significantly lower marginal tax rates on saving and investment and promote long-run growth. Letting those tax cuts expire would ultimately harm the middle class by lowering their wages.
So we're still screwed, just in a different way. It's important to be clear on what we're not supposed to be noticing.

Also worth noting is that Reuters withdrew the story at White House's request; had this occured during the previous administration, I guarantee it would have taken more than one news cycle for it to be pulled.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I blame the groundhog.

The mood I'm in today, it's a good thing I don't have access to weapons-grade lasers. It's not a bad mood, per se -- I actually feel pretty good about things in general. You could even call it charitable, provided you don't ask me to suffer fools. It's the kind of mood where stuff gets done and done right, which is great -- but it's also why I shouldn't be trusted with lasers.

Pew pew pew.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Sunday Night Recipe: Irish Stew a la Brigid

This week's recipe is the beef version of the stew half of this meal a la Brigid. I was under strict instructions to try it ASAP. It was delicious.

Irish Stew

In a large pot, heat

1 T. olive oil

and brown

1 lb. stew meat (beef) cut into bite-sized pieces (note: do this before the meat goes in the pot; kitchen shears and hot oil is a hinky combination)

When the meat is mostly browned, throw in

1 onion, coarsely chopped

and saute, then add and saute

2 cloves garlic

and stir in

2 T. + 1 t. flour

Cover with

1 bottle of Guinness beer (minus a swallow or two)
enough beef stock to cover the meat, plus a couple inches (I used 1 T. beef base and roughly two quarts of water)
1 T. chopped rosemary
1 T. thyme
1/2 t. oregano
1/4 t. kosher salt
1/8 t. black pepper
1 bay leaf

Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for two hours. I suggest having a snack at this point; the aroma will make anyone ravenous. After cooking, add

3 medium potatoes, cut in bite-sized pieces
4 carrots (I cut them in coins up to a point; the top (thickest) third gets cut in half the long way, then sliced into half-moons for consistency)

Boil, cover and simmer again for anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your potato and carrot pieces (I split the difference and went for 40 minutes; it came out fine). Serve in a large bowl with homemade bread. Be sure to savor the warm feeling in your tummy. Thanks Brigid! Enjoy!