Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nothing to see here.

Move along.

I'll be back, but not much writing's going on right now.  Forgiveness, please.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bunnies and Possums and Skunks, oh my.

And since we've had deer in the back yard more than once since we moved in, it's almost like a scene from Bambi (without the hunter....)  Quincy's come nose-to-nose with a skunk a few times now, and he broke his leash going after the rabbit, so now it doesn't retract like it should.  He sits at the back door staring out into the darkness, sniffing through the screen, and thinks we're dense enough to think he just wants out to do his business.  

The neighbors have a peach tree, and since they've been away most of the summer, the ground is littered with ripe fruit, making the shared boundary of our yards prime feeding grounds for small animals.  Turning on the 200-watt spotlights on the back of our house doesn't faze them, either.  They just keep munching away.  Not that I want to startle a skunk. 

And speaking of skunks, can someone explain to me the biological, ecological reason we haven't exterminated them all yet?  Mother nature overdid the defense mechanisms there.  Sure, they're cute-ish, but waking up at 3 am to a house filled with skunk musk, cute doesn't cut it.  They'd better be our next alternative fuel source or the cure for cancer if I have to put up with that.  I for one will NOT welcome our new skunk overlords, if it comes to that.

Next thing you know, our yard will be playing host to badgers.  And we don't need no stinkin' badgers.  Porcupines?  Why not?  Vernicious knids?  Sure.  I suspect we might even wind up with a flying monkey or two.

Ah, nature.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ask the Nerdy Fat Guy - the Sequel (Return of the Fat Guy)

It's that time once again, kids!  Time for 'Ask the Nerdy Fat Guy'!  We here at CDS Enterprises have been besieged by requests for the ol' NFG to put on his answer cap and help you out of a jam!  Questions have flooded in from around the world, though we'll ignore the ones that just want gratuitous pictures of me in my boxer shorts.
Oscar A. from San Jose, CA writes:  Dear NFG - what does a rooster's (ahem) reproductive organ (ahem) look like?

Well, Oscar, I'm going to refer you to the ever popular 'How do chickens do it?' post, recently rediscovered by Muppet porn afficionados worldwide.  Damn that Rule 34.
Speaking of Muppets and the pr0n, Dougie from Vancouver, British Columbia asks:  Dear NFG - have you ever cobbled together the vague plot of a 70's adult film for the benefit of your readers?

Okay, Dougie, we're not really that kind of website.  However, I have talked about the decade of my early childhood before, and referenced a bow-chicka-bow-bow type of screenplay in my g-spot post, found here.  Grab a Molson's and give it a look-see.  Writing of a higher caliber can be found at our sister site, Crappy Unfinished Novel Time.  Sure, it's not very popular, but if the readership suddenly demands it, we can add more to the page.  Who knows, I might even finish something.

Pam from Irving, Texas writes:  Hey, NFG - is it really necessary to use such blatant filler just to maintain your readership?
Oh, Pam.  Of course it is.  Most of this blog is blatant filler.  When the queries that send people here are obviously crying out for more of my fat nerditude, I can only respond by giving readers what they so desparately crave.  That means nerdiness and gratuitious near-nudity.
Do you have a question for the Nerdy Fat Guy?  Click on the icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen to send me an email.  No question is too obtuse, we welcome all queries.  We here at NFG Worldwide would love to make this a regular feature, and that means your questions are important to us!

Monday, July 25, 2011

I feel like a kid again

I am a product of the 70's, the same decade that produced disco and glam rock.  It was also the same decade as the great fuel crisis.

I don't remember the fuel crisis, so either it never hit Wisconsin, or I was just unaware of my father putting two gallons of gas into a car that got two miles to the gallon. 

However, on Sunday, I faced my own little fuel crisis: our local stations were all out of gas.  If I had gas in the car, this little tidbit wouldn't bother me at all.  As it was though, the dash had been announcing 'FUEL RANGE LOW' for over a day, and I really felt like I needed a cushion (having run out of gas before...pushing my car once was more than enough.)

I was able to eke out a gallon from the gas can at home, to buy me a day or two until the stations can restock.  And since it's been see-through-time hot the past few weeks, my lawn isn't growing, anyway.  However, driving on 'E' makes me edgy, and not in a good way (like KISS in a world of Bee Gees and Gloria Gaynor.)  Instead, I'm just anxious, waiting for the worst to happen (like a Bee Gees fan at a KISS concert.)

But I can just hope that when I can fill up again, the prices are closer to 1975 than 2011.  Ah, the blind optimism of youth.  And if I can't refill before I run out completely, I'll end up walking or riding my bike.

Just like I had to in the 70's.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Random Acts of Thursday - Wherein I bare my soul to the movie gods

Some of you may have figured out I'm a bit of a film nerd.  Some of you may recall that I keep a list of the films I've seen, which currently numbers well over 700 (and I keep finding films I forgot about seeing until they cross my path again....)  It suggests that I've seen a new movie every 2.5 weeks since birth.  An impressive waste of good time, and that doesn't count the films I've watched ten times over or more, like most of the James Bond oeuvre, 'Mad Max', any Eastwood western or Dirty Harry film, and 'The 39 Steps'.  It's a wonder I get any sleep at all.

However, this is my list o' shame, films that I want to see, or probably should see, lest I be called out on my total lack of film nerdiness.  I've seen bits and pieces of a few of these, but never start-to-finish.  And that's just sad.  Worse, even if any of these show up on IFC or AMC, I'll be forced to sit through commercials and that's not happening, kids.  Even the ol' DVR can't get me past those breaks in continuity.

Vanishing Point
Be Cool
From Dusk til Dawn
Citizen Kane (it's been saved on the DVR for months)
Natural Born Killers
Blood simple
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?
North by Northwest
Rear Window
The African Queen
The Two Jakes
Evil Dead
Dawn of the Dead
Night of the Living Dead
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid
Pennies From Heaven
Paper Moon
The Rose

There are probably more, feel free to mock my unworthiness below.  Also, gift subscriptions to NetFlix are quite welcome, feel free to click on the 'donate' button to the right.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gunfight at the Golden Corral

I'm a crotchety old man.  Have been for around 20 years.  I'm lying, it's more like 30 years.  Something I've never been, though, is an unruly child in public.  (As an adult, I've created scenes, both intentionally and not.  Get over it.)

Lori told me today about a restaurant in Pittsburgh that has banned children under the age of six following 'numerous' complaints about the unruly little ratfink fussbuckets screaming and upsetting an otherwise enjoyable dining experience.  I'm sure they were also standing on chairs, annoying nearby diners by flinging food and crayons, walking around, refusing to sit up, crawling on the floors, flinging more crayons, and generally behaving in a rather pro-contraceptive manner.  Some people are offended.
I say 'Right on, restaurant'. 

Lori and I have restaurants we avoid because they attract unsavory elements (see paragraph two, above.)  Would I be more likely to patronize a restaurant, knowing that I won't have to endure crying, yelling, staring, annoying little weasels?  Of course I would.  One of our local restaurants has a 'kid corner', a section of the restaurant where they seat families exclusively, to keep them away from the beer-drinkin', good-time-havin' crowd.  Which was great until, on a busy Friday night, we were seated in kid corner.  My normal easy-going nature was severely cramped.

(Shut up.  You know the NFG has an easy-going nature.)

As a public service then, I'd like to offer readers of the ol' CDS (all three of you) the NFG Worldwide Solution to avoid screaming kiddoes interrupting your well-aged Porterhouse or chicken Caesar salad.  First, get rid of the kids' menu, with its chicken nuggets and mac'n'cheez.  Lose the crayons.  Better yet, let's adopt the tried and true bowling alley method of my youth, one appreciated by drunken keglers everywhere:  on-site daycare.

My grocery store has a kiddie corral, too.  You have no idea how peaceful it is to shop without toddlers darting in and out of my legs.  I like to imagine, too, that some of the parents don't even NEED groceries, they just use the free service to get a break.

So why not introduce such a solution at fine restaurants everywhere?  Pack your kid a sandwich (no peanut butter, never know who's allergic), check them at the door, claim them once you've enjoyed your veal picatta or trout meuniere, and everyone's happy.

And if your kids are well-mannered little quietmonkeys, good for you for teaching your children how to behave in public.  You should treat yourself to a nice dinner.
Next hurdle?  How do we get airlines to follow the trend?

* For those of you who think I'm being a hard-ass, let me reiterate that I don't indiscriminately dislike children.  Children are a joy, and I love my daughters, grandson and nieces very much.  However, they have been (or will be, in the case of the wee ones) taught their manners.  Enough said.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Random Acts of Thursday - Bad Assitude

Hollywood doesn't make actors like they used to. (Prove me wrong, kids.  Prove me wrong.)  I lived to watch 'old' movies with my father on Sundays, anything with car (or horse) chases and lots of shoot-em-up action, and wishing I was more like their characters.  I've mentioned more than once that I wish I was more bad-ass. 

Sure, there are actors who did some one-off action work among their comedic stylings (see also 'Last Man Standing'), but few men exhibited that true grit of a hard-ass like those listed below.  Pick the movie that made their mothers proud, pilgrim.

Steve McQueen
Harrison Ford
Chuck Norris 
Clint Eastwood
John Wayne
Humphrey Bogart
Sean Connery
Burt Lancaster
Charles Bronson 
Lee Marvin

Rio Bravo
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Death Wish
Gunfight at the OK Corral
The Big Sleep
Good Guys Wear Black
The Enforcer
The Dirty Dozen

Yes, some of the actors were in more than one of these films, so choose wisely.  Half of these have been on television in the last few weeks, and I watched as much of them as time would allow.  How about you?

Speaking of bad-ass, I decided we're long overdue for another ever popular Dead Wrestler Trading Card (an NFG Worldwide exclusive!)
Karl Von Hess

Karl Von Hess, born Frank Fakety in Michigan in 1919, made his name heading to the ring in a full-scale Nazi guise in the years following World War II.  He would enter arenas in a Waffen SS coat and a "Sieg, Heil!" salute. As a result, Von Hess was shot at, stabbed, attacked, and burned en route to becoming a white-hot heel in the late 1950s.

"Karl Von Hess was absolutely wonderful," said Ted Lewin, wrestler-turned-author and illustrator in The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame: The Heels. "He was very special because he didn't do a heck of a lot to make people angry at him. All he had to do was kind of keep turning and looking at the audience, and the audience would boo, and then he'd turn and look at them again."

Before achieving fame (or infame), Von Hess was a lifeguard and swimming teacher, then entered the navy in World War II to serve in the Underwater Demolition Corps. Upon his discharge, he worked the carnival circuit for several years, then worked in various regional wrestling promotions before gaining national noteriety as the bad guy everyone loved to hate.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Beeeeeeeeep....(do televisions still make that noise?)

We're experiencing some minor difficulties - technically, anyway.  Your regular blog-reading experience will return shortly.

I remember getting up early, early early, very very early on Saturday mornings sometimes, expecting to get a jump on my cartoon-watching activities.  Some mornings, I'd catch the farm report.  Some rare days, I'd get a screen much like the one above.  The television would just 'squeeeeeeeeeeeee' at me like so much alien technology, mocking my cartoon-deficient life.

Kids today have it easy.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Blast from the Past - Door goes up, door goes down. Door goes up, door goes down.

(Originally published June 2007)
Ah, the joys of summer.  Nothing like trying to fix a garage door in 5000% humidity.  I left for work early today, gung-ho to get a small project done while it was still quiet there.  Sadly, I was dry for a whopping seven minutes this morning before the fun began.  I opened the garage to get the garbage can, only to find my newly-hung fluorescent shop light (they hum like angels!) dangling precariously above Buttercup, one of my new ceiling hooks clattering across the floor.  Crisis averted and light removed from the danger zone (cue Top Gun theme).
Garbage delivered safely to the curb, soda retrieved from the fridge, I was ready to be on my way, and even be to work early today, when I attempted to close the garage door.  Half-way down, I got a 'brzzrt-thud-thud-whirrrrrrr' as the safety switch kicked in and reversed the door.  Hmm.  Interesting.  I hit the button again, only to have the same result.  On further inspection, I noted that one of the two cables (or 50% of them for you math buffs) was no longer an active participant in the spring-and-pulley show, and the door was landing askew.  I wound the cable and tried to slot the end into the pulley, at which time the cable unwound.  About this time I decided wearing gloves MIGHT be a good idea, rather than filling my hands with oily metal shavings.  I slotted the end into the pulley and then wound the cable around, and it unwound.  I finally loosened the pulley, MOVED the slot to where it would actually reach, then wound the cable and tightened the pulley again.

Success!  Almost.

This time instead of half-way down, I got to within a foot of the ground before 'brzzrt-thud-thud-whirrrrrrr'.  I released the safety catch on the opener, re-tightened the cable, then tried closing it again.  I think I got about  30 'brzzrt-thud-thud-whirrrrrrr's before I got within inches of the ground.  One more tightening, one more  'brzzrt-thud-thud-whirrrrrrr'.

I unlocked the side door to the garage, since it only locks from the inside, and opened the big door again, then dropped it to the ground without the opener attached.  One final tighten, and now the door goes up, the door goes down.  Door goes up, door goes down.

And if you've ever been thrown into a pool with all your clothes on, just imagine that pool being bathwater warm and extremely salty.  That's how I felt by the time this was all done.  It should go without saying that I was NOT early for work.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Outstanding in my field

My lawn was starting to look untidy.  I mowed, but instead of a neat, crisp mow, I'd be left with the grassular equivalent of split ends.  I thought perhaps, maybe, it might finally be time to get the blade sharpened.

I got this mower at least four years ago, before we left the great state of Wisconsin.  I mowed my Wisconsin lawn repeatedly with the fine one-pull-starty goodness that was a new mower after spending two seasons fighting with a 30-year-old start-resistant machine.  Since then, Florida 'lawns' have taken their toll on the newness.  I might as well have been mowing repeatedly over the stump of our frost-killed palm tree.  Or a large rock.  The blade was awful.  Never have I seen such a thing.  A co-worker chastised me, telling me that the blade should be sharpened every year.  You should have seen his reaction when I told him that no, I've never changed the mower's oil, either.

I'm a bad lawnmower parent. 

But now, the blade is sharp.  Sharpie McSharperson.  Bladish Von Mowsalot.  And, as if to taunt me, the weather turned Florida-humid yesterday before I picked the blade up, just so I couldn't use it.  Well, I could have, certainly, but I didn't mow my Florida lawn when the weather was like that, no way was I mowing the Ohio lawn. 

And now, the weather's turned mild again between the rain, and I should probably face the task at hand, since Quincy's grazing.  Soon, we'll lose him in the great pampas field of our back yard, and I'll have an entire oak grove in the front thanks to the damn squirrels.  The neighbors are scalping ever further into my yard with each time they mow, and I don't roll like that.  (Why do mowers even come with that lowest setting anymore?  We've all learned it's bad for the grass.)

Ooops, wait, it's raining.  Never mind.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bang your head

I am not now, nor have I ever been, the epitome of gracefulness.  At age two, I fell out of the car and broke my collar bone.  Age three, header into the door jamb, leaving a nice scar on my cheek and inside my lower lip.  My first day of third grade?  Basketball to the head.  Eighth grade?  Faceplant into the asphalt track.  There's that giant chunk of chin I took out with a sharp new razor, unaccustomed as I am to shaving said chin.  Matches the chunk I took out of my ankle going over the handlebars of my bike.  MY bike, to be clear.  I merely knocked the wind out of myself the other two times I went over other handlebars.  My hands and arms and legs are all scarred like a five-year-old's.  I have a rather impressive collection.

The other night should have come as no surprise to me then, as I was blotting blood from my forehead following a gardening accident.  I could have put my eye out, so the gash is almost uneventful.  I had a tetanus shot in 2002, so I'm good for another year.  The cut probably won't even scar, good thing since I can't afford any further damage to my mug.  It should heal before my niece's baptism this weekend, though there's always Photoshop to the rescue if not.  But still, I have to smack myself for not paying attention. 

And that might leave a mark.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Random Acts of Thursday - No more teachers' dirty looks

I'm not sure about your neck of the woods, but the end of the school year is ripe in the Ohio air.  As such, I thought we'd give one last nod to those hallowed halls of education for the year, before ditching our good clothes in favor of swim trunks and amusing novelty tees.

I remember taking that last week easy, as most kids were done learning.  The big event was always the ceremonial locker cleaning, where items that never made it home during the school year got crammed into book bags or thrown in the trash.  Notebooks, leaky pens, that cool generic Walkman-knockoff cassette player you brought in for a class project, and in the case of one classmate, half the cafeteria's silverware.  Ah, memories.

Consider this a final exam for the Spring term, if you must.  You know I'll continue to get my nerd on year-round, but if it makes you feel better that this might be the last one for a while, so be it.  I'll give you the school, you give me the corresponding film.

Elementary Education:
Horace Green Elementary
Warren G. Harding Elementary
Welton Academy for Boys

Secondary Education:
Hemery High School
Rydell High School
Vince Lombardi High School
Westerurg High School
Shermer High School

Post-Secondary Education:
Faber College
Grand Lakes University
Pacific Tech

Make sure you do your homework on this one, I'd hate to see anyone have to repeat the class this summer.  Show your work, kids!  (And as always, this quiz goes to eleven.)

Extra credit?  One of these films featured my favorite author.  Which of his  books did he write a report on?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dinnertime - Shiksa-Bob

Stock Photo - we ate this too quickly for pictures!
Many of you know my affinity for pork products.  If not, you should click here.  I also like the flavors of India and Asia, and I'm looking for new things to do once we start harvesting the ample supply of wild pigs in this country.

1# Pork Sirloin, in 1-inch cubes

1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Cup Cilantro, loosely packed
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Tbsp Thai green curry paste
1 Jalepeno or Thai chile, or more to taste
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Large Onion, 1-inch dice

Combine all ingredients except pork and onion in a blender, puree until smooth.  If you don't want to buy buttermilk, you can combine one cup milk and one tablespoon of vinegar.  In a large bowl, add the contents of the blender to the pork and stir to coat.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, alternate onion slices and pork cubes on skewers, and cook over high heat on a grill or under the broiler (if it won't stop raining, like here in Cleveland, for example.) until golden brown. 

I served this on warm naan with a green mango chutney from the latest cookbook in our collection, you could add this to rice or even add the marinade to tomato sauce and yogurt for a sauce.  Makes four servings.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tastes (Kinda) Like Chicken, Looks Like The Lower 48?

Call me old-fashioned, but I like my food to look like food.  Sure, it's a well-known fact that I enjoy the little cheese crackers with the peanut butter in them, and that color does not occur in nature except to scream 'poisonous!', but they do look exactly like they're designed to.

On the opposite side of the coin, what's the deal with chicken nuggets?  First it was McDonalds, and now it seems everyone is jumping on the 'that's-not-shaped-like-food' bandwagon.  I don't eat McNuggets, but on occasion, nuggets from other fast food icons make a quick and tidy snack when I'm on the run, and they're all shaped the same. Some of them look like Minnesota.  Some of them are shaped like animators used to draw pork chops back in the 1940's.  Some of them are shaped like paramecia.  Some of them have no rhyme or reason whatsoever, and they're only benefit is the ability to fit neatly into a vat of barbecue or sweet-and-sour.

I get the dinosaurs, the stars and the other amusing kid-friendly shapes, because we want our kids to eat something besides paste and scabs.  But unless you come out with the full fifty state nugget pack to teach them geography, it seems wrong to pick on one or two.  And 50 nuggets would just add to the growing childhood obesity issues in this country, especially dipped in honey mustard.

Round is good.  Shape them like drumsticks, I'll be happy.  It's an extrusion, you can't tell me these are the only shapes we can come up with.
Does that look like a McNugget/New Hampshire to you?
I mentioned my curiousity about this to someone the other day, and they sent me to this article about genetically engineered ground meat.  That's right, scientists are developing cell structures that will grow a hamburger without ever needing to be farm-raised, slaughtered or butchered, and it won't create the mass amounts of greenhouse gas expelled by real cows and chickens. 

This makes perfect sense to me, that half of the meat we consume is already ground, so why not remove the animal cruelty from the picture?  I love the American farm and the American farmer, but I've read much on the environmental impact a single cow can have on global warming, and how each cow produces 1/16th the meat-to-pollution ratio of smaller animals like chickens.  And now, everyone could grow their own meat.  I'm on board.

The only tragedy here?  Every day I don't finish my old novel is a day that my imaginary happenings become closer to truth.

Damn.  I wish I had some of those cheesy peanut butter crackers.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Where is my flying car? I was promised flying cars!

I don't see any flying cars! 

I'm 40 years old today.  Age is just a number, nothing important as I've been an 'old man' much of my life.  But 40.  Forty.  Four-Zero.  That's 14610 days, if I include leap years (and I have, because that's how I roll.  Nerd to your mother.)  

One of my favorite websites, IMDB, lists over 4000 people born the same year as me, actors and best boys and key grips born 40 years ago.  Many famous, some that nobody's ever heard of.  And I share my birthday with the likes of Salvador Dali and Irving Berlin.  They're no slouches.  

1971 was a big year in the space race, astronauts and cosmonauts vying for supremacy of the heavens.  I wasn't yet born when Americans walked on the moon during the Apollo 14 mission.  I was alive and being adorable when we followed up with Apollo 15, but I don't really remember it.  I was alive when DB Cooper jumped from a Northwest Orient flight and into history.

We were doing that in 1971, and now?  Nothing.  Sure, there's a space station up there somewhere, waiting patiently to Skylab its way back to Earth, but are we really using it for anything?  Science is all up in our faces over alternative fuels and clean energy, but where's my robot maid, my dog-walking treadmill?  Do I need to download an iPhone app?  I don't even have an iPhone.    

As for my physical prowess, I'm not going to win a Superbowl or the Tour de France.  Can you imagine?  Especially those of you who've seen me throw a football or witnessed my first bike ride without training wheels.  Anyone who actually witnessed my face-first assault on the school track back in 8th grade isn't at all surprised that I've never become a superstar athlete. 

So, what have I been doing with myself?  I'm married to a beautiful woman who puts up with far too much of my nerdilated insanity.  Not that I'm asking her to stop.  I have two wonderful daughters and a lovely grandson.  I learned how to ride a motorcycle, and for anyone who was there for my early forays into the bicycle realm, that's probably pretty frightening.

In all, I've managed a pretty positive forty years by most standards.  And the future seems pretty bright.  If only I had a flying car where I could keep my shades.  Then again, I'm fairly old-school.  My razor only has two blades.  Most of my music is still on cassette, many of them taped off of the radio, and my first portable cassette recorder (like a Walkman without the name brand) required me to flip the tape over to the B-side manually.  I did walk home from school in the snow.  I've only owned a cell phone for a quarter of my life.

But being old school means I was taught that when you make a promise, you keep it.  And I was promised flying cars, so I want mine.     

Monday, May 9, 2011

Blast from the Past - The Other Organ Donor

Times continue to be busy around here at CDS Enterprises (A wholly-owned division of NFG Worldwide, Ltd.) and despite recent posts, I still feel compelled to share past musings and crotchety posts from the ether.

In light of my repeated musings on the subject of pork and pork products, I thought I'd share this little gem with you from May '07. 

I've been thinking about the news stories reported below HERE and HERE and the possible implications for the last few weeks, since it ran on our local news (actually, we just looked it up on the station's website, since I can't sit through 58 minutes of human interest drivel just to get to the one potentially significant news story of the evening…). I've had diabetic family members, as has Lori. Our friend was just diagnosed at age 35. One of my clients is active in the state's chapter of the ADA, and we've ridden in the 'Ride for the Cure' pledge drive. However, it doesn't mean I knew anything about the disease, and especially that 20 million people in the US alone are afflicted with it. I can't even imagine 20 Milwaukee-sized cities full of people (or, as it turns out, 20 Cleveland-sized cities). In a world of 6.7 billion people, and even in a nation of over 300 million, the number suddenly seems insignificant. (Actually, the US Census Bureau projects that the US gains one person every 11 seconds, between births, deaths, and immigration, and our planet gains approximately 60 million people each year.)

The medical community has been breeding immunosuppressant swine for years now, to develop xenotransplantation-safe organs since we're wearing ours out faster than we can donate them. For my further thoughts on organ donation, click here.
I may be a selfish bastard, but if we keep curing diseases and cleaning up pollution and driving smaller cars and buying organic vegetables, how long will it be before we've outgrown the planet? Surely a topic for another blog entry would be the exponential loss of farmland in our nation to housing developments, and at the same time the fact that we produce more food on fewer acres thanks again to the scientific community. But that is, in fact, a topic for another blog so that's all I'll say here.

Yes, this is a disjointed commentary, because I have so many unanswered questions. Anyone who knows me understands that this is how my brain works. So, without further ado or segue, what do they do with the pigs once they've donated their bodies to science? If the islet cells are taken from the pigs, do the pigs become diabetic, or can their bodies manufacture more? If the pigs give their lives for this process, does the research lab at least have a nice pig roast the following weekend? I can't imagine such a waste of resources if the resultant meat (as long as it remains immunosuppressantly delicious) were just thrown away, instead of being consumed. Unless, of course, once you've received porcine cells, that eating a pork chop would be tantamount to cannibalism. And what about the Muslim and Semitic populations of the world? Religious dogma for these groups dictates the consumption of pork is taboo, what does it say about having the swine's cellular makeup inserted into the very makeup of our genetic profile?

Like I said, I have so many unanswered questions. And now I'm hungry, too.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Random Acts of Thursday - Give me lots of hair

Hey, kids!  I know it's Cinco de Mayo, and I should be writing about beer, and how May 5th ties into the reason so many great Mexican beers are brewed with classic German brewing know-how.  However, that seems too predictable.  Besides, it's been almost two years since the NFG (owner and proprietor of NFG Worldwide and all known and unknown subsidiaries) shaved his face in its entirety, the first time in nearly 12 or 13 years that my chin was cold and nekkid.  That didn't last very long at all. 
For the most part lately, I've rocked a pure goatee, no moustache to strain my soup or tickle Lori's upper lip.  However, I am getting a little lazy in the shaving department, sometimes going a week or more without touching the fuzzy undergrowth.
I really want to do something 'out there' with the facial hair (thanks to La Bev for the linkage).  Handlebar moustache.  Long goatee, a la Scott Ian.  Elvis sideburns.  A la Elvis.  However, in deference to my marriage, I never go beyond joking about it.  Lori seldom laughs.
It's not much of a quiz this week, but since it seems nobody answers many of these anyway, not much risk in offending any of you.  This is a research quiz, for your benefit and mine, feel free to Google or guess, your choice.

1)  Who shaved his trademark moustache first: Alex Trebek or Tom Selleck?
2)  Who has the better beard, Billy Gibbons or Dusty Hill?
3)  For which film did Chevy Chase (known for playing Dusty Bottoms in the film 'The Three Amigos') don a wicked cool beard, Walt Whitman style?
4)  Is there anything besides Whitman's beard which qualifies him as 'cool'?  (Okay, that's a trick question.  Of course there isn't.)
4a) Which actress starred with a slightly zanier Chevy Chase after featuring in the original film production of 'Hair'?
5)  Which surrealist painter made a film about facial hair, and in which film was he dragged behind a piano alongside a fellow surrealist?

Not much this week, but you know.  Gliddy glup goopy, nibby nabby noopy la la la lo lo. Sabba sibby sabba, nooby abba nabba le le lo lo.  Feel better?  If not, go have yourself a cerveza.  That should fix it.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dinnertime - Ham-tici-pea-tion

I enjoy ham.  This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me.  (Forgive the download, but it really is necessary. Enjoy.)  Sadly, as much as I enjoy a good ham dinner, it's not as though I can, in good conscience, make ham every week.

Okay, I could.  But as it stands, we don't.  However, we did have a glorious ham for Easter, bone-in and spiral cut, and I was in soup mode over the weekend.  Pea, bean, potato?  What could be the best combination of starch and pork?  I decided on pea, this time around.

Spiced Yellow Pea Soup

2 cups diced onion

1 cup diced carrot
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried dill
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 - 14 oz bag dried split yellow peas
1 ham bone
2 cups diced or shredded ham
2 cups baby carrots, halved
3 quarts cold water
Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional Garnish
3 strips of bacon, cooked (Did I really say 'optional'?)
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp clove powder
1 tsp cinnamon

In a large kettle, heat oil and add onions, diced carrots and salt.  Sweat until tender, then add curry powder, dill, basil and cinnamon.  Stir until spices become aromatic.  Add one bay leaf, split peas and ham bone, then cover with three quarts of cold water.  (If you're using a small measuring cup, that's 12 cups of water.)  Stir together and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover for an hour or until peas are just tender.

Remove the ham bone and the bay leaf, then puree the soup in a blender or with a stick blender.  Remember that if you do this in a standard blender, take the plug out of the lid and cover with a towel, or you'll have an Exorcist experience all over your kitchen.  Return soup to pot with ham and remaining carrots, and simmer an additional two hours or until soup is reduced by 1/4. 

For the garnish, combine the bacon and spices in a food processor (thank you, Magic Bullet!) and process until fine.  I used pre-cooked bacon for this, and microwaved it for 20 seconds with the spices before processing. 

This makes eight hearty servings, and if you feel you need to wait for cooler weather to have soup, the bone will freeze well. 

And okay, so you could use the green split peas.  However, even though I like most every shade of green out there, I find something unappealing about pea soup green.  Either way, this was delicious.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Random Acts of Thursday - Shhhmokin'

Other than a cigar on rare occasions, I don't smoke. I am personally put off by residual cigarette smoke. When bars went smoke-free, it was a positive change for me.

However, cigs and smoking are iconic. In old film, in song, even in early television, what would we have made of it when WC Fields showed up, a la Kojak, with lolly in hand in place of his cigar? (Or Winston Churchill, for that matter. I always get them confused. Drunk and wearing a hat? They could be brothers. Wait...WC? Winston Churchill? Hmmmm...)

Okay, that went a direction I wasn't expecting. Sorry about that. Damn brain cloud...
Now, my little quizlings, dance, dance!

1) What actor starred in a Disney film under the alias Paul Mall?

2) Name the television show that featured a character named Salem?

3) What iconic ad man did Don Johnson usurp for a 1991 film?

4) What brand of cigarettes does Bruce Willis smoke in Die Hard?

5) What about in Pulp Fiction?

6) What Acadamy-award-winning film is set in Newport, RI?

7) Name the brand mentioned by Billy Joel in an iconic 80's song.

8) What series of code phrases does James Bond use to identify a fellow agent?

9) In which film did Clint Eastwood light a match on the face of his opponent?

10) What is my favorite Kool and the Gang song? (Hint - it's featured in one of the films listed above.)
Bonus:  What brand did my favorite author notoriously smoke his entire life?

If you think you've got them all, check here for the answers.

Monday, April 18, 2011

You can't go to Eddy's again

I spend a lot of time thinking about food.  It's possible I spend more time thinking about it than I do eating it.  And, like other areas of life, it would seem the Chinese restaurant experience of my youth is quickly disappearing from the American landscape. 

I miss Eddy's Place, the weekly destination of my youth.  Eddy is a family friend, as is Rosie, his long-time waitress.  I very nearly proposed to Lori there, but got nervous when we walked in to find my parents sitting at a corner table.  (I did ask, and she accepted, later that evening.)  We have an afghan on our sofa that Rosie gave us as a wedding present.  Since Eddy had been pushed into closing by his landlord, he and Rosie came to my sister's wedding, and it was a joy to see them again.  This is not a typical restaurateur-client relationship, and I'm okay with that. 

Eddy's was not exactly unique in my childhood.  There were four or five other Chinese restaurants of the same sit-down variety that made their way though our dining spectrum, and only one little delivery place.  There was no such thing as the 'Super Happy Steam Buffet of Overcookedness' in my childhood.  I always got a placemat that told me what my zodiac sign meant, and strangely, it's pretty dead-on for me.

There were always egg rolls and egg foo young, and later, dozens of potstickers.  (Due to that family friendship, I have a dozen or so of Eddy's potstickers, frozen for later consumption and made by the man himself in his own home kitchen as a gift to my parents.)  There was custom ordering, combinations that didn't exist on the soy-stained paper menu.  When we were children, my sister would order milk, and since she was, apparently, the only customer who ever ordered it, Eddy would have to send someone across the street to the tiny grocery store to buy some.

As time has passed, I've watched those sit-down restaurants disappear.  In their place, buffets of questionable quality and tiny carry-out places have cropped up.  Lori and I tried yet another buffet last night, hoping for something of higher quality than we got.  So awful was this place, with multi-colored light bulbs, and a scratchy PA system that broke out into the traditional 'Happy Bursday To You' at one point (yes, bursday.  Really.) and the too-common steamed beyond recognition food, that we'll never go back. 
With few exceptions for the high-priced Chinese-Restaurant-As-Fine-Dining places, most of the sit-down places have fallen to disrepair, fish tanks empty or covered in algae, ceiling tiles falling down from unattended roof leaks.  Now, most of the places that will sell me carryout belong to families or corporations that have purchased the Chinese restaurant kit, advertised as 'New York Style'.  These places, in Wisconsin, Florida and Ohio (and I'm sure...your state has them, too...) have the same menus, the same pictures of pre-staged dishes, the same chairs with fan-patterned vinyl, usually green but occasionally pink. 

What they don't have is the same charm of the neighborhood restaurant, a casual family-owned place where the kitchen is hidden, where traditional music is streamed through bad speakers, and where I might even get an odd mix of Chinese-style and American dishes, like a plate of carrot sticks and olives, or the option to order a hamburger.  I've never ordered a hamburger at a Chinese restaurant, but it was comforting to know it was there.  (I spent years with our daughters ordering chicken strips at the Mexican restaurant, so a hamburger at the Chinese place would have opened up our family dining options a little more before their palates grew.)  

When I Google Eddy's Place for nostalgia's sake, the restaurant now comes up with his home address.  I can even see it on Google Stalker View.  Maybe this means I can go to Eddy's again.

He won't mind, I'm sure.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Everything but the oink

Some of you may recall my discussion on organ donation.  Others among you may remember me posting about the Hogzilla family back in Florida.  (I feel there should be some amusing and frighteningly accurate Venn diagram here, so imagine one.  I'm being lazy.) 

Now, the Discovery Channel has decided that we're SO overrun by wild boars that it warrants a weekly series.  We here at CDS Enterprises (a wholly-owned division of NFC Worldwide) think the time has come to actually welcome our porcine overlords.  Like dinosaurs or leprechauns, pigs could very well be the panacea this planet needs.

(I am not anti-Semitic, anti-Islam or anti-any-faith-based-dietary-obedience.  I am anti-vegan, a point you, my regular reader, will already know.  But this warrants mention.  This is not intended as an ethical discussion, either.  If you've been reading for any length of time, you'll have figured out that ethics have no place in vast global solutions.)

Anyhoo.  Depending on which scientific group you believe, we may be waiting until 2018 for swine-to-human transplants, but others think we may see the first of these this year.  We may start off with limited skin and kidney transplants, but porcine physiology has been used to mimic the human body.  I watch Mythbusters and CSI, so don't try to argue with me.  When they harvest the organs and skin from a pig, that leaves loads of nutritional value to be had.  Boars' hair is used to make paintbrushes, and pigs are full of sweet, unctuous gelatin.

And since we're overloaded with saturated fat in this country (mmm, sweet delicious lard), I'm sure some enterprising person could work out refining and purifying rendered pork fat, and we could all drive bacon-scented cars and trucks, heat our homes and offices, burn clean pork fat to generate electricity.  Can you imagine?  And in nations that consider this religiously blasphemous, just think, they'd still be able to survive using fossil fuel for generations longer, thanks to the use of wild boars in western nations.
Pork.  The other cure-all. Now if we could just find a use for the oink, we'd be all set.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fun Fact Friday - Bilirubin the Kid

As I may have mentioned, I recently became both a grampa and an uncle.  This leads to all sorts of additions to my vocabulary, including terms that should never be used in polite company (i.e. mucus plug).

Grace, my niece, spent an extra day in the hospital when they couldn't find a bilirubin blanket.  Apparently, those things are a hot commodity.  Jordan's bilirubin levels climbed once he was home, but both wee little childrens are healthy now.

Jaundice is caused by a processing inbalance.  Bilirubin (the artist formerly known as hematoidin) is a naturally occuring product of the body, created when red blood cells break down.  Because babies produce red blood cells at a quicker rate than adults, they produce a higher bilirubin-to-weight ratio than adults.  Bilirubin is processed through the liver, and eventually gets pooped out.  (Not tired, but excreted.  Don't you love the ambiguity of the English language?)

Babies can't always process bilirubin efficiently, because their livers haven't developed completely (in the case of premature birth), or because they don't manage to poop efficiently. 

In more serious cases, jaundice can be caused by an infection, or by other disorders of the thyroid.  It's also possible when a newborn doesn't get enough breast milk, or, in the case of an Rh-factor mismatch, when a mother's milk actually creates antibodies that damage the child's red blood cells.

So maybe this isn't a 'fun' fact, but it is a common occurence, and when treated properly, children can come through it without any permanent damage.

As for permanent damage, however, I'm not sure which is worse: me EVER hearing the words 'mucus plug' (DON'T Google it.  No good can come of that) or my brother-in-law inadvertently seeing the placenta drop.

Update - As Frank was so kind to point out, I never talked about how the Biliblanket works. Imagine TRON. UV light can be used to convert the subcutaneous bilirubin to other byproducts that break down and metabolize without the help of the liver. While looking like Flynn or Yori.

I always wanted one of those light cycles.

Monday, April 4, 2011

To Dream the Impossible Dream

Hey, kids!  Difficult to believe I haven't posted in over two weeks. 

Okay, difficult for me, perhaps.  I know, however, that I've had these gaps before.  You've heard me mention before that I have no concept of the passage of time, and oh, how it's flying.  Of course, the last two point five weeks have held lots of excitement and little miracles.  I became an uncle on St. Patrick's Day.  Sure, I had nieces, my brother-in-law's children, but this is my sister's first and she's adorable.

Last weekend?  Our daughter gave went into labor and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in less time than it takes us to drive from here to Wisconsin.  Three hours less, to be exact.  He was so brand-spankin'-new when I held him for the first time, and he's perfect.  I'm a proud grampa, can you tell?

This is not why you're here, though, dear reader.  I'm just making excuses to lengthen the post.  Think I ever had problems meeting those word-count requirements in school?

I had a dream the other night where I was working. This isn't unusual for me, for my job to creep into my REM-time. (Or when I'm sleeping, exhausted from my interpretive dance of 'Shiny Happy People'.)

But this was different, as it wasn't MY job, but instead a fabulous new opportunity. I was working at Waffle House.

I love the Waffle House. I take unabashed pride in my adoration for La Casa de Waffles. Breakfast, 24 hours a day. Seven days a week. Fifty-two weeks a year. Several years back, Lori and I celebrated Christmas Eve at the Waffle House. We took friends and family there, like it was some unholy mecca for all things waffled and delicious.

My dream gave me unlimited access to the biggest Waffle House I'd ever seen, or at least unlimited access to the parts I've already seen as a customer. Giant griddles, kettles of grits and gravy, waffle makers, it just makes me want to call out: "Mark: drop two, scattered, smothered covered, three scrambled raisin. Plate." I don't know just what I'm saying, I'm probably getting cheese and onions on my waffle and a raisin omelette, but hey, it's my dream and I'm ordering properly.

 Strange the pleasure I was able to take in wiping tiny fingerprints from the glass doors, in washing dishes and scraping grills, simply to be a part of the grand Waffle House experience (which I envision like the Jimi Hendrix Experience, with more carbs and less acid.)

Sure, it's an odd 'dream' job.  And I don't think I have the ability to learn a brand new vocabulary at this point in my life.  But I can dream.

We are bereft of waffle-y convenience here in the O-Hi-O, they exist but they're not at impulse distance anymore.  In my quest to make dreams a reality, I found that one cannot purchase a Waffle House franchise.  Every Waffle House in the world is still owned by the family of the original founders.  And there's no indication that they might consider changing that.  Good for them.

How about you, dear reader?  Dream job?  Amusing waffle-related anecdote?  Discuss.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Random Acts of Thursday - The Last Ride

I don't want to be morbid, but I am a practical man.  You kids will recall that Lori and I have spent far too much time moving from place to place in our married life.  I believe the last count was five homes and three states in the last six years.

When we moved four times ago, into the home where we planned to spend the rest of our days, I was so adamant about never moving again that I fully intended to pass away the night before trash day, so Lori could just throw me in a Hefty Tear-Pruf Heavy Duty trash bag and drag me to the curb.

The more I think about it, though, I'd like to go with style.

What prompted this?

We saw this on our weekend drive.

Far be it for me to judge (a lie: I always judge.  Call me Judgey McJudgerson.), but I am not a soccer mom.  I don't want to be a soccer mom.  I don't want my last ride in a wheeled conveyance to include stow-and-go seating.  I don't want anyone to be picking Cheerios and gummi bears from out of my coffin, and I don't want it covered in sticky handprints and Sponge Bob paraphernalia.

(Are the kids still watching Sponge Bob?  I'm so out of touch.) 

I like the Cadillac in life, and to me, that's the classic way to go.
Or, there's always this:
And for the Harold and Maude fans out there, I could settle for this:
...and really, who couldn't?  Your last car should always be nicer than your first, right?

And because I ride, and there's just as much a chance that I'll go that way as any other rider, I'd take this, too.

Because just because I'm not cool in life doesn't mean my last act above ground has to be equally nerdy.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Poor Excuse

Two months to go...
For my three followers who actually read CDS for the articles, many apologies.  I've been busy, and we all know that my concept of the passage of time is foggy at best.  Recently I was reminded of just how old I'm getting when someone I don't remember posted the entire yearbook from my senior year of high school, and I was looking at the skinny, pasty-looking kid with the bad haircut.  It took me back to my past laziness, when I ended up taking my own photo a week before they were due since I never bothered to have senior portraits done. 

I feel guilty for not posting much of late.  It's been a very busy 2011 so far and often I write half a post that never gets finished.  New, completed posts are coming, though.  We here at CDS Enterprises (A Division of NFG Worldwide, Ltd) have been thinking hard, making sure nothing but the highest quality drivel is made available for your reading pleasure.

For the 95% of you who just come here looking for semi-naked pictures of celebrities (and what was up with Tatum O'Neal last month?  2800 hits on one post? Did I miss something?), continue to be disappointed.

Nah, just kidding.  I figure if Danica McKellar and Natalie Portman get me hits, how well will the CDS skyrocket to popularity with a little Diane Kruger?

Or a little more Diane Kruger...
Let's find out.

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