Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: An Eco-Disaster Odyssey

Here's a link to a little timeline I created highlighting some of the more devastating eco-events of the past year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Launch Of "Ringy Dingbat"

Not to detract from this blog at all, I decided that if I'm to continue my masochistic pursuit of work in the customer services field, I have to have an outlet to vent from lest I go even crazier than I already am.

I literally stumbled across another blog site, tumblr, which I guess encourages a briefer more spur-of-the-moment theme than epic blogzillas like this one here on Blogger.

So I inaugurated Ringy Dingbat as a forum for my quips, snippets and thoughts on my past and (assumable) soon-to-be current experiences in the call center world.

Like I say in my first text post there, follow if you like, but as you know, it ain't all so pretty.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Death-mas

Time once again to scan the news articles and see what lovely things have been happening today, the day of "the Lord's" birth...

Oh my, once again, it's not so good:

Suspected Suicide Bomber Kills 45 in Pakistan

Nigerian Villages and Churches Are Struck in Deadly Attacks

Earthquake measuring 7.6 hits Vanuatu

North Korea Says U.S., South Korea Drill ‘Inviting Nuclear War’

Christmas church bombing wounds six in Philippines

Thousands flee Ivory Coast for Liberia amid poll crisis

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Real Old Lake Mary

'Twas just before Christmas, when all through the town,

Not a soul in Lake Mary was wearing a frown;

The City Hall palm trees were decked out with care,

In hopes that the wealthy would still like it here.

But just around the corner, in the heart of the city,

Sat a scary little bar, that wasn't so pretty;

"Been here sixty years," Jack said in a flash,

"We don't take no credit cards, just good ol' cash."

The beer was on tap and served nice and cold,

All the patrons around were a sight to behold;

No Yuppies, no kiddies, no soccer moms here,

"And, fuckin' A, there better not be a damned queer."

Though no Harleys were parked outside in a row,

The night was early yet...give it an hour or so.

George Strait was playin' loud out the old jukebox,

'Cause everyone in here's been to the school of hard knocks.

Through the thick haze of smelly cigarette smoke,

Ole Jerry rolled on in and to us he then spoke;

He told tale of when, not a long time ago,

Lake Mary was a backwater that just wouldn't grow.

Back then, bars like this were all the town had,

A place to get drunk so you wouldn't get mad;

But the anger felt by the old Cracker folk,

Only grew like a fire that the New Ones would stoke.

These new carpetbaggers, Jerry said with a frown,

Were down right set on transforming this town;

They wanted the lakes and hills, but no Crackers,

And drove up land values with their millions of smackers;

They bought out the growers and sharecroppers too,

And tore down the shacks so they could start fresh and new;

Mansions and condos all costing a-plenty,

Were joined by posh stores so you could spend every penny.

Soon the charming quaintness of Lake Mary faded,

And all the oldtimers became poor and jaded.

Now they all gather, here in this dive,

Trying to keep the rebel spirit alive;

They drink to Old Florida, and its slow easy pace,

Slinking far away from that materialistic rat race.

Jerry took a long swig from his cold mug of beer,

And told us that he wanted to welcome us here;

To the old hag slumped nearby on her stool,

He yelled "Come 'ere, Darlin', these folks is cool;"

Now y'all get ready...y'all look over here,

Take a gander at Ol' Mary, there's nothin' to fear."

With a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eyes,

She yanked up her shirt to show us our prize;

Her wrinkled breasts hung there, for all folks to see,

But none others were phased. Just my buddy and me.

"You may be newcomers, but still I will call,

Welcome to the real Old Lake Mary, y'all!"

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The New Boatswain's Call

Per Congress' decision yesterday, the U.S. Navy will now need a new boatswain's call. You know - the shrill whistle call used for mostly symbolic ceremony now, but still very important in military protocol.

It'll be for fabulous new recruits of a certain, ahem, orientation, coming aboard ship for the first time (openly, that is)...

Watch those portholes, boys! Thar be new semen, I mean seamen, coming astern!! ;)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

SCRAPBOOK: 2010: A Blog In Review

SCRAPBOOK: Mom's Home Cookin'

Alright, I know...everyone boasts that their mom was the best cook in the world. But really, my mom knew how to get it done! Seriously, it's a miracle I wasn't a fat kid since her cooking was fantastic, and unfortunately not too kind to your waist.

Now that she's gone, none of these dishes get made (unless I make them) since I doubt my sister or brother either have the inclination or the recall to recreate them. And my father? Well he can't even make spaghetti and that's the only thing he would ever make if mom wasn't able to fix dinner.

Like a method-trained actor, mom required a precise regimen of preparation, exact scripting (in the form of hand-written recipes on index cards) and lots of time. So she wouldn't have done very well on any of these reality TV cooking competition shows, to be sure.

As the years went by and she became more experienced with these recipes, she'd dare to venture into a small amount of experimentation; a little dash more of this here and a slight substitution for that there. But she clung to those index cards steadfastly most of the time. She feared failure immensely and I think she thought that if she wavered too far from the tried and true, she'd let us down.

Well playing it safe worked for her and since the dishes came out great each time, who's to say it wasn't the right way of doing it.

Here are some of my personal favorites. She had a vast box of cards though so it was hard to pick just twelve. BTW, I've recreated many of these dishes and unfortunately that collection of index cards is long gone so I have to fly by the seat of my pants, working from the memory of watching her make them and enjoying the results.


Like any seafood, in my youth I turned my nose up at these. But now, I think back to the uniquely spicy yet smooth flavor of these giant stuffed quahogs...a quintessential Rhode Island appetizer...and I now long for those with watering mouth.

Clam "Chowda"

Hardly any New Englander would pronounce this hearty seafood stew any other way. And in Rhode Island, it was specifically the red (Manhattan) variety. My mother would pull out her biggest "chedron" (stock pot) and brew up a batch huge enough for an army barracks.

Clam Cakes

What better to go with the chowda, yet another Rhode Island staple, clam cakes are fried dough fritters made with clam and clam juice infused batter. Oh man, thems good eats!


Let's really get regional here...dynamites (loose hamburger, green peppers and onions in tomato sauce simmered for hours and stuffed into torpedo rolls) are known only in the Woonsocket area and are an essential summertime cookout treat. My mom's backyard parties wouldn't be without them.

Baked Beans

Slow-cooked goodness in a crock. What cookout would be complete without them. And like the dynamites, family members from all around would be drawn to her shindigs if they knew these would be on the picnic table.

American Chop Suey

Not all mom's recipes were so New England oriented. Who knows where this one came from? Certainly not Chinese, but not very American either. Likely some mutation of Italian influenced pasta bolognese, but ghettoized for a plain old weeknight meal that was cheap and easy to make.

Pork Chops and Rice

Like I mentioned, mom was religious in her execution of most recipes and this one had some stringent rules. It had to be made in an electric frying pan, the rice had to be Carolina long grain, the canned tomatoes had to be whole and then hand-crushed, and the mixture had to sit in the pan long enough for the rice to be slightly burned on the bottom.

Roast Beef and Spaghetti

Mom used to tell us that a friend of hers suggested serving slow-cooked roast beef Au Jus over spaghetti and her conventional culinary mind was all in a tissy. "What, not with boiled potatoes?" as was the French-Canadian influenced norm. She tried it on a whim and we all loved it so it became a family favorite.


This is an Americanized spelling and we actually mangled it more by pronouncing them as "go-umpkis", but no matter how you say or spell it, it's just simply Polish goodness in your tummy. The tradition in our family was to have these at Christmas. These would be served alongside the other Polish heritage, and even more labor-intensive dish next in line...


Essentially big ravioli-like pasta pockets stuffed with potatoes and cheese served boiled and smothered in sauteed onions and butter. Probably something like 1000 calories each but who cares! They're so good...beeeeeeeeep (the sound of the heart monitor indicating heart failure).

Blueberry Torte

Now it's time for dessert. First up, this cheesecake like concoction. One of the few recipes my mom got from a cookbook. She usually stuck with dishes passed on to her from family or friends.

Jewish Coffee Cake

This one was passed on to her from a friend. Don't think they were Jewish so who knows where it originated from but this had to be my favorite of all her desserts. And mom hated making desserts, but with this always moist cinnamon-apple laden item, you'd never know it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I Used To Complain About The Heat

Gee, it seems like just a short time ago I was complaining about the still lingering summer-like heat and humidity here in Florida. Well, I guess I got my relief.

Temps tonight are set to potentially break records with the low likely to be in the upper 20s. That's Fahrenheit, folks! Yup, well below freezing. With wind chill (huh? "wind chill"...I haven't heard much of that term since living up north) they say it'll feel like the temperature is in the teens!

Okay, let's get this straight. Though I hate when the dog days of endless 90's drag on in the summer, I don't want to deal with the fact that I am highly inconvenienced since I live in a house without central heat and I have no winter coat. So now nights are spent sleeping fully-clothed bundled under multiple comforters and going out means running to the car and turning on the heater.

Too bad the air is so dry...otherwise we might see some fluffy little flakes flying around. That'd be something!

I guess I feel bad for tourists down here from more northern climes...NOT! Suckers! They thought they'd escape to a tropical paradise, huh...joke's on them!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

SIMS CREATION: TV Memories Series: "Dallas"

Howdy, Y'all! Welcome to Southfork Ranch, home of the wealthy Ewing family. Y'all remember Jock and Miss Ellie, Bobby and Pam, Lucy, Sue Ellen and, of course, J.R. 'Course you do. It wasn't like it was all just a dream, or somethin'...

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Return Of Mr. Jingles

Well, of course, it's not him. He's quite dead as you know. But one of his brethren is currently trying to hold out against our cold snap and is living in my walls.

That's right...I got mouse problems again.

I knew I would. In addition to the assumed gap in the soffit on the "alley" side of the house, there's a big ol' missing piece of fascia on the right front corner. It's just a wide open door for all sorts of crawly critters.

So now I sit here all alone in the creepy middle of the night...and there is definitely the sound of something going "bump". And "scratch".

I guess it's time to get some traps out again.

And sharpen my forks.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

SIMS CREATION: TV Memories Series: "All in the Family"

Another '70s show, another Norman Lear creation. What can I say, those shows were great. They were when sit-coms not only made you chuckle, they made you think. What?! Would Americans want to think about issues such as politics, religion and racism during their evening pablum? They did then. How about now? Hmm...with current offerings such as "Dancing with the Stars" and "Jersey Shore"... I think not!

Here are Edith and Archie Bunker, their daughter Gloria and her husband, the "Meathead", Mike.

"...Those were the days!"

What A Similarity A Year Makes

Last year around this time, I wrote some brief yet quite cryptic posts (here and here) alluding to some stressful crisis I was enduring. I still want to stay vague about the issue that so vexed me but suffice it to say that soon after the new year, the issue resolved itself and was soon fretted over no more.

Now, again in early December of this year, I'm faced with a very (and I do mean VERY) similar problem looming on the horizon. Not the same thing at all, but, again, very similar.

Like that issue, if I divulged to people like Ric my troubles, I'd likely be shunned. It is, in all honesty, quite embarrassingly bad. Oh, I know you must be dying to know what it is...but I can't go into it. Not now. Maybe not ever.

The stress that last year's dilemma caused me was very intense. This new issue is actually worse so the potential for an even higher degree of stress is there. Hopefully I'll be able to get through it without literally dropping dead of a heart attack.

If the posts on this blog suddenly seem to stop for an extended amount of time, that may be the reason.

Is it a coincidence that all this comes to me right after I put up a SIM CREATION post remembering the work of Redd Foxx? A man who struggled with alcoholism and addiction and was beleaguered by financial and legal issues. A man who ironically dropped dead of a massive heart attack of the likes he'd famously feigned in his role as his Fred Sanford character.

All I know is this whole thing makes my recent gains in mental health due to a daily regimen of eating better, drinking less and taking St. John's Wort pretty moot.

I may as well just give up, look skyward and shout up there to "Elizabeth" that I'm comin' to join her.

Friday, December 03, 2010

SIMS CREATION: TV Memories Series: "Sanford and Son"

Earlier this year I created my version of the classic "I Love Lucy" set, including, of course, Ricky and Lucy, with Sims 2. Now, using Sims 3, I decided to recapture the look and feel of some of my favorite TV shows. As you can see, I've started with "Sanford and Son", replete with grizzly but lovable Ripple-guzzlin' ole Fred, his well-meaning but hapless son Lamont and his despised "holier-than-thou" sister-in-law Esther.

Click on a picture for a larger view.