Saturday, July 30, 2011

Debut Of My Cooking Blog

Fancying myself a rather able cook, I decided to share some of my recent recipes with the world so I created a new blog devoted to healthy cooking.

It's titled "Cookin' For Numero Uno" and it's targeted for the single guy (or girl) who may not be the most confident cook, but at least they can try these easy, inexpensive and healthy dishes.

Portions are sized with one person in mind so a lone diner can avoid leftovers.

Check it out here and enjoy!

Friday, July 29, 2011

MINECRAFT: WBTC Update

We Built This City is progressing along nicely, as you can see.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The End Of An Era

A few weeks ago I posted about one of the last sonic booms to be heard in the Central Florida area, but this morning it was definitely the last one. Ever.

I was at work and went outside in preparation. Sure enough, right around 5:53 am I heard the distinctive double boom.

And within seconds it was over. Forever.

Tears welled up in my eyes as I then went inside and watched News 13's coverage of the perfect landing of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, only minutes later, some 30 miles away at the Kennedy Space Center.

Many want to optimistically look at the space program and say that today marks a transition to a leaner, yet more ambitious space program to come. They hold their hearts in their hand, and their hands are held out in hopes of receiving an extra crumb or two in funding their dream.

I don't think that's gonna happen. I mean look at the fix the government is in with the current debt crisis. Add in the already slashed programs to send man back to the moon and to fund the Orion projects and, well, I think we just aren't going to see it.

Oh there're those that say private enterprise will jump in to take up the mantle. I don't think so. Business interests revolve solely around profit. The profit of pure space exploration in terms of monetary payoff is chancy at best.

So with the wheels on the Space Shuttle just now cooling down for the last time, I also think human interest in space exploration will cool down over the next few years, and eventually, decades. We've proved that as a race we're still too immature to handle the responsibility of venturing to worlds beyond.

Economics and the distraction by other more worldly concerns like disease, famine, and, of course, war...let's not forget war...will evolve eventually into a lack of education and even imagination about space and its potential for the future of our species.

Too bad. So sad.

That stiff, unfluttering American flag propped on the surface of the moon 42 years ago today will eventually be buried in the gradual accumulation of moon dust over the next few eons, stifling the memory of a race of beings that slowly, but surely, extinguished its own existence by ruining the only planet they had.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

She Walks Among Us

As indeed the entire world probably knows by now, today Casey Anthony is a free woman. Whisked away from Thirty-Third (as the county jailhouse is known here) hurriedly by her "friends" aka her defense team, she's now laying low somewhere, "enjoying" her "freedom".

There's a lot of quoted words in the above sentence because unlike most average people who have served their time in jail, she is quite unique. She has no family (I think she's written them off) and no real friends. She can't really do anything a normal released con could (and should) do to integrate back into society like get a job, find housing, be a consumer of goods and services in her community. She'd be spotted the second she tried.

Around here I guess having a "Brush with Casey" could be a new social media game like Foursquare where you could earn your points if you happen to be someplace like Publix or something and suddenly she comes in with a scarf and dark glasses to quickly pick up a bottle of chloroform, er, I mean soda, or something. You'd nervously fumble for your smartphone and tweet what you saw. Oh you'd have juicy conversation material for next few days for sure.

We (the general public) will always be on the lookout for poor Casey. We'll never let her forget. It is our way. Oh, no, I don't think she'll come across any real violence actually. Who'd throw away their own lives for that? But like lepers in "the old days" she'll be ostracized forever by any community she comes in contact with.

As for me, personally, I could care less. I'm too much of a jaded pessimist to think that somehow justice will be served in some way. It won't. Get over it, people. She got away with murder. Plain and simple. Be glad it wasn't the mass murder or random serial killer type of shit.

So lay down your sleepy heads upon thine pillows my fellow Orlandoans. 'Cause you know that if in the middle of the night Casey comes creepin' 'round your back stair...

...the paparazzi will be there to catch it all on film.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Gun Totin' Senator

I actually did a double take when I glanced at my iGoogle news widget and saw this tiny thumbnail at the head of an article headline...


It looks like Sen. Mitch McConnell is toting a hefty handgun at the podium. LOL!
That'd be one sure way to get only favorable questions at a press conference!

Talk about budget debt "showdown"!

Here's the full size pic (with its own theme music):

video


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Paper Towel Economics

As I peeled off one of the last sheets of paper towels from the roll hanging above the sink, it dawned on me that this simple and common product is a great barometer of one's financial status. If you have a back-up roll, ready to go, tucked away under the sink, you're in good standing. If not, you may be on shaky ground.

Paper towels epitomize the big change in grocery costs that has occurred over the past few years. Time was, paper towels could be had for literally pennies. Now they cost, in comparison, a king's ransom.

In 1990 the average roll of paper towels cost just 69 cents.
Today, the average roll costs $3.

If you have "means" (and the definition of where that boundary between having means and not having means is very subjective indeed) the cost of paper towels isn't even worth a single second's thought. It's still cheap...to you. But for those "on the edge", living paycheck-to-paycheck, it's a subject of much fret and frenzy.

If you're of my generation (late baby boomers) then you grew up surrounded by paper towels. The germ-ridden kitchen dishcloth was in its waning years as we were growing up. More and more, Mom would grab a paper towel to sop up our spills and wipe our mouths. It was sanitary, plentiful and cheap. Even decorative. But most of all, it was heavily advertised.

Print ads were found in all the "ladies" magazines. Coupons were always at hand in every Sunday paper. And you couldn't watch TV without at least one commercial featuring Rhoda's mom touting "the quicker picker-upper" or a side-by-side comparison of the durability of the sponsor's brand and the flimsiness of the competitor's.

As such, it was ingrained in us that the concept of having multiple cylinders of ultra-porous, readily-disposable paper products stored in our pantries was as much a part of the American Dream as all the other status symbols we regularly uphold. To not have paper towels would be...well...un-American.

There have been times recently that I haven't been able to do my part and have let my plastic dispenser hang empty. Or, sadder yet, with just the naked brown cardboard tube, exposed for all to see my poverty. And perhaps, in some way...treason.

But I'm in much better standing now. My bank accounts are slowly filling up and thanks to God, Country and the cleaning supply aisle at Wal-Mart, I 'm now able to do my duty in keeping a healthy stock.

I'm proudly able to swing open my front door and proclaim to all that I have Bounty! Viva America! My finances are Brawny once again! My home can finally Sparkle! Great Scott, it's good to be free!

Screw that irritating douchebag and his anti-American Shamwow...

Thursday, July 07, 2011

White Chip On A Pink Cloud

The title of this post is a nod to the title of a painting I bought from a fellow art student back in 1984. It was an acrylic on canvas called "Blue Spoon on Industrial Blotter". Being almost totally abstract, it was the mere impression of a big blue spoon on a pinkish-tan surface.

The painting and its title were meaningless but I thought it looked cool. Plus, it only cost $5.

I thought I might profit someday if my classmate ever got famous sometime in the distant future. Well, that future is here but I no longer have the painting (lost in one of my many purges; I think I may have left it with Chiafalo) and I don't even remember the artist's name so I have no idea if he "made it". Probably not.

This post's title does, however, have a meaning...

Today is my one month anniversary of not drinking.

If "in program", as AA'ers call it, I would qualify for my first milestone token, awarded to any meeting attendee declaring their first full month of sobriety: a simple white poker chip.

I guess the idea is for it to be a portable little memento to keep the participant motivated. As months, then, hopefully, years go by in sobriety (and, unstated but heavily implied, "in program"), the member would be awarded chips in a varying array of colors signifying each landmark milestone in their journey. I think the chips even become metal medallions or something like that as the length of time being sober increases. Nothing meant to be of any significant monetary value...just likely priceless in sentimental value to the holder of the token.

Of course, not being "in program" or anything like it, I won't actually be looking to get any white chip, but it does bring to mind the last time I truly qualified. It's when I really did receive one as I was attending AA meetings shortly after my second DUI.

I had just been on a business trip in January of 2002 to Arizona. There I went out to a Mexican bar and eatery with a co-worker and had a few Coronas. Then without a thought, drove back to my hotel room in a rental car paid for by my employer. Drunk and with no valid licence.

It had been confiscated and suspended the month before when I was arrested. I used a duplicate I had gotten for a totally unrelated reason a while back to board the plane and rent the car.

The next day it hit me how stupid I was continuing to be. I was jeopardizing my job, my freedom, everything, for the temporary buzz of a few bottles of beer. So I started my first stalwart attempt at sobriety in years. I was determined to get back everything I'd lost.

It lasted only a little past that one month mark. When I went up during that meeting for my white chip, the speaker asked me if I wanted to say a few words. I told the group that I felt stronger and more positive than I had in years. I said I felt I was truly committed now to a life of sobriety. They applauded but one guy remarked with a smirk on his face how I would soon face a dilemma.

He said I may feel that way now but it was all based on false elation and premature confidence. He warned me I was on a "pink cloud" and would soon have to face reality: that it doesn't get rosier and I'd be facing some gritty challenges in the days and months, if not years, ahead. Others nodded and mumbled in agreement.

I went back to my seat and felt like the wind had been sucked rudely from my sails. It was like I'd been slapped in the face. I never went back to those meetings again. And before long I gave up on my brief flirt with sobriety as well.

Am I back on another pink cloud? Perhaps. But without the possibility of losers like that guy back then trying to knock me down, I think I may stay up here. For as long as I, and I alone, chose.

This time around, I'm sharing this anniversary pride with no one. No one except you.

New Ride At Universal Studios

Okay...one last jab...

Now that Casey will be set free in a few weeks, she needs a job. Even with book or movie deals, that money won't be immediate or it may not be enough. Partying, night clubbing and just generally whoring it up costs coin, yo!

So I suggest she go back to her former employer, Universal Studios, this time as part of a new exhibit: The Baby Killer Gorgon Coaster! This will be a thrilling new ride designed especially for parents that are at wits end dealing with their whining little brats towards the end of a long, hot day in the theme parks.

Kiddies go alone on this one as they ride along in specially designed cars with duct tape restraints. They rush along the tracks whipping and spinning them towards Casey decked out as an evil gorgon reaching out to grab them as they whiz on by her. Then they enter a dark room filled with a noxious odor known as the Chloroform Chamber. Once sufficiently dazed, they're bounced violently up and down as they enter a huge simulated car trunk. After a minute or so the cars plunge into a sharp drop, dumping the screaming riders while they're splashed with mucky water and make their way through a murky, dank swamp.

Parents may freely exit the park and forget their kids ever existed 'cause they aren't getting off this ride.

Casey will love it!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

I Called It Back Then

Way back in December of 2008, I wrote the following in a post to this blog the day it was reported on local news that Roy Kronk, the meter reader, had called the sherrif's office four months earlier:

It was only revealed to the public today, a week after the body was discovered, that there were 3 original calls to the area to check out a dumped bag in the woods. Back in August. The height of the frenzy about missing Caylee. And each call was dismissed as a false lead??? After only a single deputy went to check it out?

People!!! It's a mysterious plastic bag report, in the woods, right near the Anthony house??!!!

Did they think it was a hoax? If so, why didn't they take this meter reader in for more intensive questioning?

I'm sorry folks, but it looks like the idiotic Orange County Sherrif's Office may have just kissed this case goodbye.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Devil Is Dancing Tonight

"The devil is dancing tonight." - Nancy Grace

Oh Nancy! To say Nancy Grace isn't happy, is quite an understatement.

Personally, I think it's just a fitting end to the circus. Like a final bow to the audience, the ringmaster, lion tamers, high-wire walkers and clowns have called an end to the show.

Ta Da!

LIVE BLOG: The Verdict

Live blogging from Orlando.

The final minutes before the reading of the jury's verdict in the Casey Anthony murder trial...

1:55 PM The verdict will be read at 2:15. Watching Channel 9 (local ABC affiliate) and News 13 local cable news.

1:57 Helicopter news cameras showing huge crowds gathered in the plaza outside the courthouse.

1:59 Greg Wormoth, anchor and Bill Sheafer, legal analyst for the station, talking about the nervous energy in the air. They are located directly across the street (Magnolia) in a make-shift on-site studio in a booth set up for this trial.

2:02 148,000 participants online for Eyewitness News 9 ongoing live blog.

2:03 George and Cindy Anthony walk arm in arm into the courtroom.

2:04 Casey is seated. Wearing a light pink cotton blouse. Looks nervous. Baez seated next to her.

2:04 Talking heads debating what an 11 hour 45 minute verdict means...guilt or innocence?

2:05 Not the first comparison made between this case and the OJ trial.

2:06 News 13 talking about how difficult it was to select this jury, being as they had to have, optimally, little knowledge of this case as it has folded out in the past three years. They're boring. Going back to Channel 9.

2:08 Ric is calling me. Probably watching this as well.

2:10 Crowd getting massive in the plaza on Orange Avenue.

2:13 Courtroom is dead quiet. George and Cindy visibly tense.

2:14 The judge is sitting...

2:14 Judge warns the gallery to exhibit no emotion or comment when jury is brought in. Jury is called for...

2:15 State and defense recognized presence of the jury...

2:16 Verdict form handed to clerk...judge reads it to himself silently...

2:17 Court reporter takes paper, reads it out loud...

2:17 Count One, First Degree Murder: NOT GUILTY

2:17 Count Two, NOT GUILTY on aggravated child abuse

2:18 Count Three, NOT GUILTY on aggravated manslaughter

2:18 Found Guilty on ONLY the lying and false information.

2:20 Casey crying. Jury is polled one by one.

2:22 Judge reads verdicts one by one to Casey at the podium and adjudicates for each count as jury has indicated.

2:24 Judge asks if attorneys are prepared for the sentencing phase upcoming at a later time. They are.

2:25 Judge Perry addresses the jury thanking them and telling them about their rights post-trial regarding talking to media, etc.

2:26 Judge Perry dismisses the jury to the jury room. All rise.

2:27 Judge Perry recesses the court.

2:27 The defense team and Casey all hug, many tears. Much relief and happiness. the prosecution table is looking totally dejected.

2:31 The legal analysts on both channels are all like : Yeah, they knew it. BS! They were all predicting guilty throughout this whole thing.

2:35 Lots of talk about what this means as far as sentencing. The guilty counts are only misdemeanors. She will either serve less than a year more factoring in time served or nothing more at all. Unbelievable victory for the defense.

2:39 Online comments on blogs blasted with people calling this a travesty.

2:40 The helicopter shots show the mass of shocked citizens outside the courthouse.

2:42 The defense legal team stands in the media room. All the main lawyers and their support team.

2:42 Cheney Mason speaking at the mic: Vehemently chiding the "talking heads" and the media telling them "I hope you learned your lesson!" OMG!

2:44 Baez speaking at the mic: Bumbling through his thanks to those that stood by him. Saying justice was served. Casey did not kill her daughter. Also saying this is an opportunity to learn a lesson.

2:46 Going on and on, Baez is trying to sound monumental and deep but with his halting and inability to construct a smooth flow of speech...he is sounding like an idiot.

2:47 Baez: "Yesterday, the 4th of July, a breath of life..." HUH? "We all need to stop and look at a country that tries to kill its citizens." What?

2:48 Baez: "We need to stop trying to kill our people." Now blabbering some shit in Spanish.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Anticipation

Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin' me late
Is keepin' me waitin'

"Anticipation" - Carly Simon


It's like waiting for Heinz ketchup to pour. 
We wait.
And wait.
The TV is on.
The jury is out.
It's been more than four hours.
Longer than the deliberation for OJ.
What will these twelve people decide?
What is to be Casey's fate?
Tick. 
Tock. 
Tick. 
Tock.

We Three Queens

With the Anthony trial winding down and Casey's new home being readied in Stark (the capital punishment state prison), I felt a void...a longing if you will.

So, after being sucked in by dreams of a great deal based on advertisements, I decided I needed a new computer.

Walmart (is it the only store I ever shop at?) was selling what looked like a screaming machine for a phenomenal price. Some of the specs, now kinda common place actually, blew my old dinosaur aged mind in sheer size and comparable power. Comparable to the 90s, anyway.
  • Intel Dual Core Pentium 3.2 GHz
  • 3 Gig of RAM
and, again now common, but still dazzling to me:
  • 1 Terabyte of hard drive space
I mean, 1 Terabyte!...

I remember a day in 1993 when Jeff Cooper and I attended a computer trade show in Burlington, Mass. There was a display featuring what was then kinda just a concept model PC, built with a potential future vertical market of high-end users in mind, like 3-D architectural firms and graphics designers, no doubt. Among this computer's many stunning stats was, foremost in my memory, its mindbogglingly almost unimaginable hard drive capacity: ONE GIGABYTE!

This was in the age of heavy, clunky hard drives found usually in the 40 to 80 MEGABYTE range. Newer cutting edge models were being equipped with up to a whopping 100 Mb. But a Gig? Roughly 1032 Megs? Unheard of.

Well, to get back to the present...this Walmart computer made by eMachines was also equipped with a 20" widescreen LCD monitor...all for just $398! Wow, huh?

But before I ran to Wally World as fast as could be, I checked out the finer details. Oh oh, here's the rub:
  • Monitor had built-in speakers. 1 watt speakers, that is. Um, why bother? Luckily, I would just use my current speaker/sub-woofer set up instead.
  • PS2 mouse and keyboard. Huh? Who uses this now ancient standard for I/O hookups nowadays? And in a brand new system...hmmm, somethings up with that.
  • Totally worthless integrated graphics. Well, I would just use my current video card (boy, I'm using a lot of upgrade components already...not really a complete system if you ask me). I did check that there were 16 pin PCI Express expansions slots available...but oddly only 1! Hmmm, again.
  • Oh, oh...power supply is only 220 watts. Damn, that's way less then my current 5 year old desktop! So now I'll need to swap that out with a more adequate 500 watts or so. More cost....
But despite all these warning signs, I went and bought it.

And right out of the box I was not impressed.

Components and even the monitor construction was cheap plastic and looked it. Not good. And then I pulled out the case...what is this? Literally the size of my cable box, this was one of those "mini PCs" I'd seen advertised. It never said that in the ad! And most of these minis are far cheaper. Well how could I upgrade this? The "expansion slot" in no way allowed for my graphics card...and I have a low profile card! Never, ever, especially with that sad power supply could I even think of getting a video card in line with today's even moderate gaming requirements.

So, after a short little tour of her interface and a little performance test, I powered her down and re-boxed her. She goes back to Wally World today. No doubt she'll be flown in shame back to her makers in Taiwan along with probably hundreds of her sisters that others like me, returned in frustration.

So ends the very short reign of Mildred XIII. She sat on her throne with the other two bitches for just a few soon-to-be-forgotten minutes.