Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust


Yet another holier-than-thou Republican congressional member has been caught doing naughty things with a guy according to police reports that have been made public.

I'll bet Larry Craig is jumping for joy, now that the attention will be focused on Rep. Richard Curtis instead of himself for a while.

Only this time, Curtis was wearing women's lingerie . . (red stockings and a black sequined lingerie top -- now there's a nifty visual for you) and wanted to pay a call-boy a lot extra to have unpotected sex.

Here's the police report.
It's nasty.

And yet, he recently voted against a bill that created domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. All in the name of protecting the "sanctity of marriage."

Let's see . . . Having unprotected sex with a male prostitute.
Then possibly infecting his wife.

I wonder what she thinks about his ideas regarding sanctified marriage?

Normally, I don't revel in the foibles of others. (With the exception of Britney Spears). I have plenty of foibles myself. But when a lawmaker tries to further his career by denying rights to gays and then gets caught doing those things, then all bets are off. You're blog-fodder, buddy.

Besides, he's ugly.

I wonder how many people will go out for Halloween dressed as congressional Republicans this year? Just wear a bathroom stall around you or red stockings and a sequined black teddy, and you've got it made.

Oh, and get this. Just like Larry Craig, he had sex with man but he claims he's not gay.
Go figure.

He just wears lingerie, has sex with a man in a slimy sex shop, then offers him a thousand dollars to have unprotected sex, and says he's not gay.

He's right. "Gay" doesn't describe him.
"Messed up" does.
Waayyy up.

Epilogue: Curtis just turned in his resignation to the state governor.
At least his quick exit will, hopefully, expose his wife and daughters to the least amount of publicity.
As long as the bloggers shut up. . . .

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007


My ears perked up last night when I heard the news that someone had supposedly taken a photograph of a Bigfoot creature in Pennsylvania. (see photo)

Then, I thought,
“That’s ridiculous!”

Everyone knows that Bigfoot doesn’t reside anywhere near Pennsylvania!

Bigfoot lives in the Pacific Northwest. Near Lorraine.

Some people are scared of bugs. Not me. I have no problem picking up a big ‘ol cockroach and chasing those people around with it.

Some people freak out over heights. Remember, I live on the “Balcony of Terror” five hundred feet above the ground.

Snakes? Hey, I grew up in Texas. No problem.

But, the idea of encountering a Bigfoot has always frightened me.


I know, I know. Logically, I know Bigfoot probably doesn’t exist because there’s been no physical evidence; that great apes only survive in equatorial regions, blah, blah, blah, blah!

But, when I go visit Lorraine next month and if they want to go hiking out in the wilderness to pick blueberries or something, I really, really wouldn’t be comfortable doing so.


So, while I’m in Seattle, I hope to remain in their house which, I understand, is well situated in an urban environment. Everyone knows Bigfoot has never ventured into Seattle. He just lurks around Seattle.

I may be persuaded to visit that market where they throw the fish.

But that’s about it.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Portia at Doggy Beach

Yesterday, after the strudel-making had been completed (see previous post), Jack and I took Portia, his chocolate Labrador retriever, to her Most Favorite Place in the Whole Wide World:

Doggy Beach!

Oh my gosh, you’ve never seen a more excited and happy dog than Portia when we load up the car to go to the Most Favorite Place in the Whole Wide World.

Uncontrolled tail-wagging ensues.

Being a Labrador retriever, her genes kicked in. There’s nothing she likes better than fetching tennis balls hurled into the frigid water. It may not be the shores of Labrador, but Lake Michigan will do. Take a look
(it might take a while to load, so be patient)

Click here

As you can see, she lost the ball so Jack went to fetch another. While he was away, I found a big tree branch and tossed it in to see what she would do.

It was as if she was getting to retrieve a wrecked shipping vessel that had been pounded against an iceberg off the coast of Labrador. Her genes kicked into overdrive.

Jack returned with a replacement tennis ball. But after that, she’d have nothing to do with it. Only the giant log would do.

Take a look. It’s too cute.

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Making Grandma's Strudel

It was almost twenty years ago when my friend, Jack’s, Slovenian grandmother taught me to make her famous apple strudel from scratch.

He had told me about her impressive talent for making strudel – how she would take a small piece of buttery dough and stretch it and stretch it and stretch it until was so thin you could see your hand through it.
A couple of times, he'd return to Texas after visiting his family in Chicago with one of these strudels in tow. I'll admit, it was some pretty amazing stuff.

Finally, one time about twenty years ago, Jack and I were up here in Chicago visiting his relatives and I got Grandma to let me in on her strudel making. I’ll admit, it was impressive to see this 86-year-old woman turn out such a labor-intensive product. (It also involved me getting up at 6:00 am with a whopper of a hangover – no less impressive, let me tell you -- but I wasn’t about to miss out).

I practiced until I got it right.

Grandma has long since passed, but I always feel her presence whenever I make strudel for her grandson.

Yesterday was such an occasion. Here’s how it’s done:
(Lorraine and Kimberly Ann appreciate this)

Mix together flour, melted butter, oil, water, an egg and a dash of salt. Pound the dough on the counter to get rid of any air bubbles. Let the dough rest for about an hour. (When I asked Grandma how long to let the dough rest, she replied, “Long enough for me to go get hair done,” and out the door she went. That was her routine.)

Meanwhile, melt two sticks of butter, a lot of bread crumbs, cinnamon and sugar. Oh, and also peel, core, and slice five pounds of Granny Smith apples.

Place a sheet on a counter measuring approximately 5’ by 3’. Flour the sheet and begin rolling out the ball of dough.
Then, begin stretching the dough by hand. Stretch it some more. And some more Until it covers the entire surface and hangs down the sides. Cover one end with the sliced apples. Paint the dough with butter. Lots and lots of butter. Cover it with the buttered breadcrumbs, cinnamon and sugar. Take one end of the sheet on the apple side, and begin rolling it up. Transfer to a baking pan, slather with more butter, cinnamon and sugar, and bake.
Repeat process, 'cause why make one when you can make two?
Ta-daahhhh! This stuff is legendary! Believe me. Thanks, Grandma.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

I'm a Snooty Chicagoan

I left Springfield (Illinois) in my rental car at 3:00 pm.

On Friday.

Apparently, "Chicago traffic" begins on Friday mornings and immediately extends itself across the entire state, much like California fires or Britney's hoo-hoo.

I don't own a car and had no idea that EVERYONE in Illinois AND Iowa AND Missouri, drives an automobile into Chicago every Friday night.


Apparently, they do this!

Every Friday.

After making corn relish,
they hop in their vehicles and and haul it into the city.

It's horrible.

For two hours on a Friday night, I was stuck in stop-n-go traffic waiting to get into the city into which I live. That's just not right.

Illinois should adopt the following state motto:

"If you live in Iowa, please remember you state motto:

Iowa: Gateway to Kansas! "

However, no one informed me that suicidal tendencies do, indeed, occur after listening to the first five albums of Enya in a row.


My boss loves Enya and everything remotely "Celtic."

. . . Watermark
. . . Shepherd Moons
. . . The Memory of Trees . . . .

I can tell you , that if I ever hear one more phrase of:

"AAaaahhh. . .
. . . Ahh. . . Aaahhhh???"

I will absolutely drive a brand new rental car off a cliff near Joliet, Illinois.

Just so you know.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

In the Land of Mary Todd Lincoln

I'm in Springfield for the next three days. The staff meeting went well. The staff likes me. They really like me!

The pastries I ordered didn't show up, but the concierge was a good concierge and remedied the situation right away.

I'm going to be soooo busy with this conference the entire time. I got up at 5:45 this morning, picked my boss up at 7:00, drove the 200 miles to Springfield, hosted the staff meeting, then we all had a business dinner tonight with our funding agency.

Tomorrow, I have to set up our display table, assign staff members to occupy it, attend conferences and then there's a semi-formal awards dinner tomorrow night.

Friday, is more of the same.

I was SO hoping to see the new Mary Todd Lincoln exhibit downtown while I was here. Doesn't look like I'm going to get to do that.

How sad. I love everything about that woman. She's one of the many insane, tragic women in history that I adore. (Along with Janis Joplin, Karen Carpenter, the philosopher Simone Weil, and sometimes my boss).

Really. My life would be so dull without these wonderful women. I SO want to see the fan that Mary Todd Lincoln was holding when her husband was assasinated. (It has blood on it).

She lost three of her sons when they were children, her husband was assasinated, then her only remaining son placed her in an asylum.

The woman knew of affliction.

I love the fact that she used no punctuation. (What was that about?)

I should just send my boss back on the train and stay for an extra day in Springfield.

Just me and my Mary.

I see that Sally Field is playing her in an upcoming movie about the Lincolns. Don't you think that's an excellent choice? I see another Academy Award in her future if she can pull it off, don't you?

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I have to drive to Springfield in the morning for a two-and-a-half day conference. Right now, it's 8:30 the night before.

So, what am I doing right now?

What else? I'm doing laundry so that I'll have clean underpants to wear.
And recharging the cell phone.
And the laptop.
And the iPod.
All the necessary toys are charging up all around me.

During this conference, the eight employees that I supervise around the state will be there. We'll be having a staff meeting on the first day and I hope it goes well. I don't think they hate me so I'm not expecting an ambush or anything. But you never know. Frankly, I'll just be glad if the pastries I ordered show up.

I was looking at the workshops that will be held and I instantly recognized one of them. It's a personality profile thing where you answer all these questions and then the results tell you what "color" you are.
Here's an example of how the four personality types work. Let's say, you purchase a bicycle which comes in a jillion pieces in a box.

The "red" person is task-oriented. She will pay the bicycle shop the extra money to assemble it and then wait impatiently for it.

The "yellow" person is the people-person. She'll invite several friends over and have a "bicycle-assembly party."

The "green" person will read the instructions, count the parts, lay them out in categories and methodically assemble it.

The "blue" person will leave it in the box for a few days and finally end up creatively assembling it but not necessarily following the instructions. The brakes might not work, but that's okay.

Now then, here's the thing. The colors that are diagonal from each other really have a hard time getting along with one another. For example, a blue person would drive a red person crazy. Same with a yellow and green person.

Conversely, the colors next to each other might get along okay and people usually have a blend of those colors.

I am pretty much a blue person (well, quite a bit, actually). However, I can be green, less seldom, yellow. Being red is pretty difficult for me. A red-yellow person would cause me to require sedatives, preferably a Thorazine drip.

Need some more illustrations? Okay.

Let's take the characters from Sex and the City.
(Now! We're talking. . . )

Samantha is red.
Charlotte is yellow.
Miranda is green.
Carrie is blue.

I hope I can hook up with Miranda while I'm at the conference. She and I will be the ones making fun of the Charlottes and avoiding the Samanthas.

So? What's your color?


What I Smell Like

I’ve worn the same brand of cologne now for thirty years.
Halston Z-14 is, hands down, my favorite.

I first encountered it during my freshman year in college. My roommate and best friend, Mark, wore it. We were inseparable during our first year of college.

I had come from my little-bitty home town where I’d received, like, a dozen bottles of Jovan Musk or Old Spice for graduation. Mark was from the huge, sophisticated city of Houston and he wore this very sophisticated cologne. I loved its woody, cinnamony, spicy scent. Still do.

It’s not like I’ve never worn anything else. Sure, there was the brief flirt with Polo by Ralph Lauren back in 1980. One whiff of that, and I’m instantly transformed to my junior year of college and New Wave clubs in Dallas.

Do you remember the Obsession obsession of the mid-eighties? God! Some guys wore that so thick that there would be a sickeningly sweet Obsession-fog following them around. I hated that stuff.

Then, in 1987, I was visiting a friend in Toronto and found Lacoste (you know, with the green alligator). It has a light, lemony, herbal, vanilla-like scent that’s very unique. The thing is, it was only available in Canada. When I moved to Toronto for graduate school back in ’99, I wore it almost continually.

You know how your sense of smell has the most sense of recall? For example, if I smell sweet pickles, it reminds me of the next door neighbor’s kitchen – when I was three years old!

So, Lacoste reminds me of Canada and Canada is a happy place for me. (Socialized medicine rules!)

Now, thanks to, I can remain well-supplied of Lacoste. It’s my second-favorite cologne to wear.

And my best friend, Mark, from college? He transferred to Cal State a year later but we’ve stayed in touch all these years.

Mark’s on his third marriage, but I’ve remained faithful to Halston for thirty years now.

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Why I Love Riding the "EL"

When I was a kid, I loved anything to do with trains. I was even a little obsessed with trains. I was even more-than-a-little obsessed particularly with switch tracks; you know, where two tracks meet, cross, or switch off from each other.

I was amazed at how they were constructed, at how they’re complex configurations could guide those huge steel wheels to go in particular directions, and at the varieties that these tangled lines of rails could take.

I still am.
Very much.

That’s why, whenever I ride the EL here in Chicago, I like to sit in the very front car so I can watch the train maneuver through these complex structures. It’s especially fun in “The Loop” where five different lines intermingle and depart across the city.

Here is a pic from the southeast side of The Loop.
And here’s my favorite section. The green, pink, purple, brown and orange lines all converge and cross at the northwest corner of The Loop. Whenever I ride through this intersection, I imagine myself riding along with my seven-year-old self. And I have to tell you, it’s really wonderful to see a little kid get that thrilled and excited.
I highly advise spending some time like this with your seven-year-old selves. It's something one should do as often as possible.


Wild Pansies?

Don’t you hate those cooking shows where the chef is practically saying, “I’m going to make something impossible to prepare out of ingredients you can’t possibly find!”

That’s how I feel about the PBS series, New Scandinavian Cooking.

Here’s an example. On a recent episode, chef Claus Meyer prepared a salad. One of the ingredients was first-harvest baby new potatoes from Denmark. It turns out that these first-harvest new potatoes are highly prized; so much, that the farmer can sell them for 150 Euros per kilo. (That comes out to $95.00 per pound - - for taters!)

The salad dressing contained honey from the almost-extinct Scandinavian black bee, only two of which are known to exist. Oh, and also vinegar that had been infused for fourteen days with chanterelles from a nearby forest. (Like I’m going to have that knocking about in my cupboard). Baby Romaine lettuce was the leafage, but it was laced with edible wild pansies from a field in Denmark. They couldn’t be your garden-variety pansies. They had to be wild pansies.

He held the salad up, smiled and said, “Enjoy!”

I thought, “You arrogant prick!”

Julia Child would never prepare such items on her programs. She probably would say the same thing had she seen this Nordic bozo present such a salad. Once when an interviewer asked what she thought about Nouvelle Cuisine, she warbled, “Well, it just doesn’t look very ‘foodey’ to me.”
I love that.

Julia rocks.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Buttermilk Pie

In my recent post on foods that we grew up with, my brother posted a comment reminding me about the buttermilk pies that were a staple in our household.

How could I have forgotten about the buttermilk pies that my mom and grandmother used to make? They are, hands down, the epitome of Southern cooking.

One time, my brother arrived home from school (I think he was about 13 years old) and read the note that my mom had left: “There is buttermilk pie on the counter.”

He ate the whole pie.

I guess he was thinking that since she’d left the note for him, then the buttermilk pie was for him. Thirteen year-old logic.

Now, you might be thinking “ewwww, I don’t like buttermilk!”

Well, calm down, because a buttermilk pie doesn’t taste anything like buttermilk. Hell, a thirteen year-old will eat a whole one in one sitting. It’s that good. (By the way, I love buttermilk)

Here’s the recipe. Very simple. Very good.

2 cups sugar
1 stick melted butter
4 tablespoons flour
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

In large bowl cream together sugar, butter and flour. Add eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.
Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake for 1 hour at 325 degrees or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

So good, it’ll just make you fall on the floor and holler.

Thanks for the reminder, Bro.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Satire Article

After seeing Ellen break out into tears on her talk show recently, I thought, "Hmmm, there's something funny there." So, I wrote an article for Click here to see the published article. (Click here to see all my articles at As always, many thanks to Phil, the publisher of Pugbus for his ingenious editing.

Ellen Degeneres Fears Iggy Will Go to Michael Vick

By Buckner Wheat
Oct 20, 2007,

LOS ANGELES – A tearful Ellen Degeneres told E! News' Ryan Seacrest yesterday that she fears Iggy, the puppy she adopted and then gave away to her hairdresser two weeks later, would be sent to ex-football star Michael Vick “just to punish me.”

Sobbing uncontrollably, Ms. Degeneres, 49, accused Marina Batkis, owner of the animal adoption agency Mutts and Moms, of being willing "to do anything to get even with me for finding Iggy a better home than she could.”

In case you’ve been distracted from Iggygate by other breaking news, Ms. Degeneres and her current life partner, Portia de Rossi (nee Amanda Lee Rogers), gave up on Iggy after two weeks because he couldn’t get along with their cats.

Instead of returning Iggy to Ms. Batkis—as the contract that Ms. Rogers-de Rossi had signed with Mutts and Moms specified—the ladies gave the puppy to Ms. Degeneres’ hairdresser without so much as a by-your-leave to Mutts and Moms. Subsequently Mutts and Moms repossessed the dog and, according to reliable sources, have already placed him in another home—and that’s what’s got Ms. Degeneres’ bowling shirt in a twist.

“I just know Iggy’s gonna wind up with Michael Vick,” blubbered Ms. Degeneres, “and all to punish me.”

Ms. Batkis, for her part, appears willing to feed into Ms. Degeneres’ paranoia.

“Mr. Vick applied to adopt Iggy the very next day, right after we had taken him from what’s-her-name’s hairdresser and stuffed him into a cage,” said Ms. Batkis with a wry smile.

“My heart really went out to him—Mr. Vick, I mean—especially after his own facility, Bad Newz Kennels, had been closed by authorities.”

Ms. Batkis also pointed out that Mr. Vick could easily pass Mutts and Moms' strict adoption screening because he has no children and no other pets in his residence.

“This ought to show Ellen the importance of placing our animals in proper homes,” said Ms. Batkis.

Mr. Vick, meanwhile, issued a statement through his lawyer Billy Martin.

“Michael is extremely surprised and happy to learn that he’s getting a new pet,” said Mr. Martin, who also reported that his client “has high hopes for the little guy."

“Michael sees Iggy as his ticket out. He figures there’s no way he’s going to do any time now that he’s being entrusted with Iggy.”

As part of his rehabilitative efforts, Mr. Vick plans to open a pit bull rescue service named Good Newz Kennels in the near future.

“Once my sentencing hearing is over with, Iggy will be the perfect ‘starter-dog’ for my new facility,” said Mr. Vick. “I know pit bulls, and they’ll just love him to pieces.”

Such is Ms. Degeneres’ fear that Mr. Vick will spell bad newz for Iggy that she cancelled her show Friday, and those closest to her fear she may never “pretend to be funny” again.

“She’s crazier now than she was after her Oscar performance,” said Ms. Rogers-de Rossi. “I don’t know what to do with her! She just sits in front of the TV totally ignoring the cats and watching Anne Heche in Psycho over and over.

“If she doesn’t snap out of it soon, all these damn cats are going straight to the pound. Frankly, I can’t stand the little muthers.”

In related news, Melissa Etheridge is planning to host a “Free Iggy” benefit at Madison Square Garden next month. The Indigo Girls, Janis Ian, and Ashley Simpson are among the artists who have agreed to perform.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Home Cookin'

I love to talk about food, especially about food that people grew up with. The details of food items that our moms and grandmas prepared for us tell so much about the culture and upbringing each of us had. I love hearing about it.

For example, Miss Healthypants grew up in Wisconsin
(State motto: “Moo”)
in a rural setting with a pretty cold climate. Normally, cuisines that originate in colder climes (Scandinavia, Britian, Russia) tend to be less spicy that those in warmer locations such as India, Thailand and Ethiopia. Her mom’s lasagna is an excellent example of Wisconsin stick-to-your-ribs food. It consisted of your basic tomato sauce, noodles, ground beef and cheese. That’s it. No spices.

I love hearing about that.

I was raised by my mom and grandmother, “Budgie”, who were both very busy, full-time working women. Mom was a schoolteacher and Budgie owned and operated the local dry-cleaning establishment. They worked hard all day, would arrive home to face two hungry boys every night.

Subsequently, their dinners consisted of a set number of quick-but-hearty menu items. I’m sure if mom or my brother is reading this now, these entrees with bring a nostalgic smile to their faces:

Meat-n-Bean Dish
Weenie Stew
Tuna Casserole
Budgie’s Chicken Spaghetti
Baked Steak

Dessert: Cookie-Cake.

Oddly enough, Weenie Stew was my favorite. It consisted of sliced wieners, fried until charred, simmered in tomato sauce and served over Minute Rice.

If I wanted “comfort food” right now, it would be Weenie Stew.

Budgie’s Chicken Spaghetti was my least favorite. The idea was great: Diced chicken simmered in a cheesy tomato sauce then baked with spaghetti laced with black olives, mushrooms and celery.

I hated any type of fat or gristle in my food (still do). I would plead with Budgie to be extra careful in picking the meat off the chicken, and to include only the leanest of meat. Each time, she would swear that she really took her time and that there was “nothing but good lean meat” in the casserole. Instantly I’d come across a beak or chunk of cartilage and it would hit my gag reflex.

Budgie was an extrovert to the max. The woman had people to see and things to do!
Spending inordinate amounts of time picking over a chicken was just not in her make-up, nor should it have been.

My other grandmother, Granny, on the other hand, was quieter than Budgie, more reflective. Granny was also a musician and my first piano teacher. Subsequently, her vegetable-beef soup was incredible. It would literally take two days to make because she made the beef broth from scratch. Soup bones would simmer for at least 18 hours and I would eat bowl after bowl of that stuff as a kid. (I would still pick out any chunk of beef that remotely looked like it contained any gristle.)

She could also make an Italian Cream Cake that could bring tears of ecstacy. And her Thanksgiving dressing made with ground sausage and jalapenos is one that my dad and I still make to this day.

So, what were some menu items that you grew up with? I’d love to know.

I might just make Weenie Stew for supper tonight.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My New Calling in Life

I'm at work waiting for a conference call to begin. (It's taking a while)

You know that music that plays while you're on 'hold'?

I could SO write and produce that!

Well? Somebody's gotta do it. . .



A study just came out indicating that swearing at work is okay.

That’s a good thing, because only yesterday, there were some pretty loud expletives emanating from my office. I can’t even remember what caused it. I think it was that stupid Word feature that automatically enters sequential numbers when you type a number and hit “enter.”

I hate that.

So, I had let out a couple of pretty loud, “God damnits!” (one of my favorites) and then looked behind me to make sure no one had been walking by my office at that point. It was a little loud.

My boss, who’s the CEO of the organization, will occasionally use the word, “bullshit” when talking to me. I like that, especially since she’s never used it to refer to my work. She’s in her sixties and I’m glad that she feels comfortable enough around me to do that. (“She likes me! She really, really likes me.”)

The F-word is pretty amazing. It’s about the worst word you can use and its grammatical flexibility is seemingly endless. It can be used as a verb, two types of nouns, an adjective, an expletive, in the vocative sense and, in the m.f. case, (I hate this) as a discourse marker.

If you read yesterday’s post, there’s a pretty amusing story about how I used the f-word when I was ten years old much to my own amazement. Even though ten year-olds shouldn't be using that word, in my case it was directed at a playground bully, utilized judiciously, and was highly effective. And it was used as an adjective, so that’s not so bad.

I remember being seven or eight years old, sitting around the stereo with my cousins on my dad’s side of the family, listening to Johnny Cash’s A Boy Named Sue. We would just squeal with glee at the end of the song where he says “son of a bitch.” And play it over and over.

God, that was fun.

So, now, dear puppies, you can curse away at work, knowing that it’s good for morale.

My computer froze up.



Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Degeneres Delimma

I was surprised to see Ellen Degeneres go all sobby-boo-hoo on her talk show recently. Apparently, she claims she made a mistake when, after adopting a dog from a shelter who turned out to be too rambunctious for her cats, she gave the dog named Iggy to her hairdresser’s children. Turns out that the shelter from which she adopted Iggy had a policy of no re-adoptions and does not let their dogs be taken into households that have kids. It was all in writing. So, during their follow-up and learning Ellen had given Iggy to someone else, they took him back.

She messed up. At least she admitted it wholeheartedly.

Granted, we don’t know all the details of the story.

Perhaps the owner of the shelter did find that Iggy's new home was unacceptable or unsafe.

Maybe Ellen knew about the policy but decided to thwart it anyway.

There’s a lot we don’t know, but it seems to me that Ellen reacted inappropriately by using her talk show to bring so much attention to this predicament. We know she’s very passionate about animals, all well and good. Perhaps she let that passion get the best of her before thinking it through.

Now the kids are involved, the owner of the animal shelter is being bombarded, and the blogs are going crazy over this event. (Shame on the bloggers!)

Frankly, I think Michael Vick ought to be a guest on her program, console her and give her a big hug. He can certainly relate to the subject dogs being taken away from their owners.

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A New "Little"

In my last update on being a Big Brother with Big Brothers/Big Sisters, I mentioned that I had a new “Little”. However, before I got a chance to meet him, his family moved away.

So, I’ve been matched up with a new “Little.” This little guy is ten years old and wants to try various restaurants.


Really. He said that. I’m not making it up. He also wants to go skating.

Bingo again! The ice rink opens in one month and I love my ice rink. We're off to a good start.

However, the social worker’s email said he also “envisions playing baseball with his Big.”

Uh-oh. . . (sound of brakes screeching)

Needless to say, I hated playing baseball during phys ed class while growing up. I was horrible at sports. Just horrible. When they picked sides, I was always the last one chosen. Over and over and over. For years and years and years.

One time when I was in the fifth grade, a fly ball came at me and, of course, I didn’t catch it. I can still remember the horror of watching that ball rising and falling high above me, holding my arms out like a Barbie Doll with rigor mortis, and the ball landing about twenty feet away. Helen Keller would have made a better fielder than I.

Afterwards, a boy named Leroy was teasing me about it. I got mad. Really mad. I can also still remember the look of astonishment on his face when I said, “Leroy, just shut your fucking mouth!” (I was pretty astonished as well for saying “that word”)

He ran off and told the principal, Mr. Shroyer. I was quickly summoned to his office but let off with a warning. Mr. Shroyer was probably wanting to give me, the quiet kid who played the piano, a high-five for standing up for myself. R-rated language notwithstanding.

I don’t think I’ll be relaying my baseball story to the Little. Nor will I be telling him my other words of wisdom regarding baseball. For example, that right field sees the least amount of action during a game. (Unless the batter is a lefty, and that’s when you quickly trade with the left-fielder). Also, keep scooting to the end of bench so that you’ll never be up at bat. That works too.

Tricks of the trade, kid. Tricks of the trade. . .

I’m sure there are plenty of other things we can do besides playing baseball. I’ll be glad to take him to a baseball game and pay to watch professionals perform that activity. That's what they're there for. No problem.

And as long as it’s not above 70 degrees.

Monday, October 15, 2007


I just read where eight states are considering a ban on “sagging.”

For those of you who are way too non-urban, “sagging” is when young urban males wear their trousers practically down around their knees, thinking that it makes them cool.

For those of you who don’t know what “urban” means, then I wouldn’t advise taking a trip on a Chicago subway after 7:00 pm. Actually, I wouldn’t advise coming to Chicago at all.

Frankly, I think the sagging thing is, . . . well . . . stupid.

I mean, how the hell do they keep their pants from coming completely . . . well . . . . off!

I see these hip, urban young guys on the subway and I’m just amazed at some of them. What, in their minds, do they think makes this sort of apparel attractive? I also wonder what makes it comfortable. You’d think they’d be constantly pre-occupied with keeping their pants from falling down. Further.

I just don’t get it.

Now then. It’s like I’ve got room to talk.

I went to high school in the mid 70s when every young person wore clothes that made us look as ugly as possible. And I was no exception.

Picture this: In high school, I was six-foot-three and weighed 150 pounds. I loved the platform shoes. I remember fighting with my mom in the middle of JC Penny because I wanted to buy these super-high platform shoes.
They were maroon.

And bell-bottoms? Loved em’. Loved! Them! I insisted, not only in wearing bell-bottoms, but “elephant bells.” I had a pair that were mustard yellow. Size 30 x 36. With my super-high maroon platform shoes. Getting the picture?

Then, in college during the height of the New Wave era, I dyed my hair white.
Not blond.
Not platinum blond,
But paper-napkin white.
If I had been anyone’s dad, I wouldn’t have let my daughter (or son) date me, looking like that.

So, yeah, I’ve got a lot of room to criticize the sagging thing.

But you know what? Clothes and styles of the 70s were just plain fun. Yes, they were stupid and, yes, we were ugly. But it was all fun.

Sagging, on the other hand, originates from prison culture where men aren’t allowed to wear belts. Unless you’re really messed up, nothing about prison is “fun.”

I don't agree that laws should be passed that inhibit one's expression to wear what they want. (Except for Britney Spears.) But for the life of me, I don’t know why these guys want to emulate prison culture.

Besides, it looks just plain, . . . well . . .

. . . stupid.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Bill and Hillary. Twice!

Have you seen the new dollar coins that the U.S. Mint has been issuing? Every three months, a new dollar coin is issued that features each of the presidents in order, beginning with Washington. (I think they're up to Madison by now).
Here is Washington and Adams:

The U.S. Mint is also issuing commemorative "First Spouse" dollar coins which coincide with each of the presidential coins.
Here is Martha and Abigail:

Now, this is cool: If Hillary gets elected president, then both Bill and Hillary will each be represented on a presidential and a First Spouse coin.
Might we have those four Clinton dollars jangling in our pockets someday?

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Trashy Trailer Trash Food

Okay, yesterday I wrote about the Texan’s passion for deep frying everything and that got me to thinking. (I was a Texan for 38 years so I guess deep frying is in my genes).

I came up with the following recipe which is about as “trailer trash” as you can get. This will definitely be a ‘must’ at next year’s Annual 4th of July Trailer Trash Throwdown. Or any NASCAR event.

You don’t get much more trashy than:


1 cup Mountain Dew plus 2 cups for syrup
3/4 stick butter (6 tablespoons)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
5 large eggs (one cup)
Vegetable oil, for frying

Canned whipped cream

Pour two cups of Mountain Dew in a sauce pan and boil until syrupy.

Meanwhile, heat one cup of Mountain Dew, butter, and salt together. Whisk in the flour and stir in the eggs one at a time. Proceed as you would with funnel cakes. Drizzle Mountain Dew syrup over each serving. Top with canned whipped cream.



Thursday, October 11, 2007

Gentlemen. Start Your Arteries!

When Lorraine and her family were up here during the 4th of July holidays, we had a “trailer trash” themed party that featured deep-fried Twinkies for dessert. They were incredible good, even though I could only eat about half of one. (They were served with whipped cream and chocolate sauce).

Now then. My friend, Liane, has a friend who’s visiting the State Fair of Texas in Dallas this week which is the birthplace of the corn dog. Texans love to fry things. Everything. A popular style of cooking in Texas is to “chicken-fry” something. In other words, to fry a food item like you would fried chicken.

Liane’s friend reported some of the food items that are being fried down there at the State Fair. All these items sounded familiar to me.
Are you ready for this?
You sure?

Here’s chicken-fried bacon with a side of cream gravy (made from the drippins)

And here is chicken-fried macaroni & cheese. (It would probably be better with cream gravy)
Deep-fried Coca-Cola is a big favorite down there. It’s a funnel cake made with Coke and has Coke syrup drizzled on top. Oh, and whipped cream.
Other items include:

Deep fried cheese cake

Deep fried sweet potato pie

Deep fried banana pudding (place banana pudding in a tortilla, roll it up and deep fry it)

Chicken-fried guacamole. Served with cheese sauce and jalapenos no less.

I’ve even heard there’s deep fried Cosmopolitans, but I’ve never seen one of those.

I think the deep-frying craze has definitely run amok.

It all started way back in the day when all Texans were poor folks, worked all day in the fields and needed calories to sustain themselves. Mama had a cheap piece of meat, lots of bacon drippings, flour, and lots of hungry tummies to fill up. She ingeniously fried it like chicken.

We don’t need to be doing this anymore.

We don’t work in the fields. We stop by drive-thru’s and don’t even get out of the car to procure our food. Or we have it delivered. Hell, we don’t even get up to change the channel while watching six hours of TV every night. On our butts.

For the past few days, I've been meaning to cancel my gym membership, but I've been too lazy to take the elevator downstairs to do so.

Now, THAT is sad!

I think I'll keep it and start working out again. Especially after writing this.
But not tonight. “The Office” is on and I’ve got leftover pizza in the fridge.

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A Room With a View

Yesterday when I got home from work, I noticed a bright orange light coming through the blinds. And lookie here.

Autumn weather has finally arrived. I'm so happy.

Doesn't this sunset just make you want to sit by the window and sigh pensively? Like you were a character in a Merchant Ivory film or something.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Three-ounce rule

Having flown twice last month, I can tell you that I really don’t like the new rule of having to put all your liquids and gels into less-than-three-ounce containers if you want to bring them in your carry-on.

First of all, I always travel with just a carry-on if at all possible. Jeans, shirts, underpants, socks can easily fit in my carry-on. I travel with one pair of shoes which are on my feet.

Second, I forgot about the rule and had to throw away my hair spray. At least they’re furnishing zip-lock bags for those of us who forget to do the zip-lock bag thing.

And what’s with the 3-ouce limitation on liquids and gels anyway? What’s to keep me from producing more than three ounces of liquid once I get on the airplane?

(Or a gel.)

When I travel to Seattle, I want to bring The Most Delicious Beverage in the Whole Wide World. I don’t want to check bags just for that. Besides, The Most Delicious Beverage in the Whole Wide World will get smashed. Have you ever watched the baggage handlers throw your luggage onto the airplane? They could put the Olympic shot-putters to shame.

So, I’m going to mail The Most Delicious Beverage in the Whole Wide World to Seattle ahead of time.

What’s this beverage of which I speak?

Okay, I'll tell you.

When Lorraine and family were here, we all had a big dinner at my friend’s house, Jack and Steve. Jack had been to a conference in Montreal and had acquired a bottle of Sortilège.
What is Sortilège?

Okay, I'll tell you.

It’s a cordial that is a blend of Canadian whisky and liqueur made from maple syrup. Yes, maple syrup liqueur. Mighty good stuff! Jack had bought it in Montreal at the Sortilège place where they said it could ONLY be purchased in Quebec. It’s been made there for over 300 years. That stuff is incredible. There were many oooo’s and aaawwww’s over it. Jack and Steve were kind enough to bestow it on our dinner guests.

So, I got on the internet and searched and searched and searched and I found an internet supplier! I bought a bottle for Steve’s birthday last month. Then I wanted some more for Lorraine’s birthday but couldn’t find it again.

Until recently. So I bought three bottles, one of which I want to bring to Seattle so everyone can go "ooooo" and "aaaawww" again. It’s that good. It'll also make nice gifts to present. You know, for when I'm invited to other dinner parties by nice people and don't want to show up empty-handed.

I was going to surprise the Seattleites with it but I didn’t know how to get it there because of the damn three-ounce limitation thing. So, I’m just going to mail it and trust that the postal system will ensure its safe arrival.

Oh, and if you want to try Sortilège, you can order it here.

You’ll definitely go "oooooo" and "aaaawww."


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My Participation in the Chicago Marathon

You might have heard the news about how hot it was during Sunday’s Chicago Marathon. Usually, we’ve experience very autumnal temperatures during the first week of October; perfect for running.

However, we had a high of 87 degrees which broke the all-time record. That, topped off with high humidity cause marathon officials to close down the event halfway through the course. Over 300 people had to be taken away in ambulances and one person died.

Surprisingly, I was affected by the outrageous temperatures during the marathon. Around 8:00 am on Sunday, the marathoners woke me up with all their hollering and cheering near the starting line which is right below my balcony.

“Hrrumph!” said I.

I went back to sleep.

A couple of hours later, all the ambulances and helicopters woke me up again!

Next year, if it’s above 80 degrees, they need to cancel the marathon right away.

On Sundays, I usually rise at the crack of noon.


My new "calling"

I just read where GM is installing a an Onstar device on its new cars which would enable police officers to have a car stopped. For example, if the car is involved in a high-speed chase, the highway patrol and radio in and have the car come to a gradual halt.

That’s pretty cool. I’m sure the news networks will hate this because they get such huge audiences whenever there’s a high-speed chase.

I don’t think this ability should be limited it to cars involved in high-speed chases though.

Have you ever had one of those “macho-cars” pull up alongside with the bass booming so loud that it affects the earth’s rotation? I’d love to be able to call in and have them come to a grinding halt. Serve ‘em right.

And those durf-wads that take up two parking spaces? If they think they’re so special, then they should just remain there for a day or two.

What about drivers who aren’t wearing panties? The car should come to a halt and the doors lock automatically. We know what happens when they try to exit their automobiles. No one should have to be exposed to that kind of nonsense.

Oh, and those soccer moms who drive SUVs so big that they should have Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslett as a hood ornament – driving by themselves? Wrong! They should go nowhere. Let the rich kids walk home from soccer.

I should become a consultant for Onstar.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Modern Sculpture in Chicago

I have to admit that Chicago is a fantastic city to live in.

However, we do have some pretty unusual outdoor sculptures that supposedly raise the quality of life here.

Here's one by Picasso. It's huge. No one knows what it's supposed to be, but anyone from Texas can tell you that it's obviously an armadillo:
Here's "The Cloudgate" sculpture which Chicagoans refer to as "The Bean." Actually, it's a giant replica of a spermatazoa (without the tail) that cost, like, 38 grillion dollars.
And here is the sculpture behind the symphony bandshell in Millennium Park.
Truth is, it's not really a sculpture at all. In 1992, an alien space ship from the planet Zork decided to stop for deep dish pizza and crashed in Millennium Park.
(Not many people know this)
Now, tourists think it's a priceless piece of mondern art and say, "Wow, I wish I lived in Chicago!"

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Sunday, October 07, 2007


It happened so fast.

I was wanting to go out to Seattle to visit Lorraine and family during October for her big 50th birthday. My boss twisted my arm to attend a conference in Orlando instead.

Then, I wanted to spend a long weekend with dear Lorraine and family after that, but I had to hold Nov. 14th open for another possible conference in Washington DC.

All of my family members live in Texas and it's just too difficult to fly down there for Thanksgiving. I usually spend my Thanksgiving holiday alone in Chicago, by myself, eating a turkey pot pie while watching the Science Channel all day.

But yesterday, I sweetly suggested to Lorraine that I could come out there to Seattle during Thanksgiving. Would it be horning in on any family plans if I came out there during the holidays?

Turns out that this was a fantastic plan. The Family was all for it.

Now. How to obtain a flight out to Seattle during the holiday?

At first, the only flight I could obtain would have me returning from Seattle to Chicago via San Francisco on Sunday and taking a red-eye flight for, like, a grillion dollars.

I called my nice boss at home and sweetly asked if I could have off on the Monday after Thanksgiving. I didn't have to remind her that she had asked me to attend the Orlando conference when I wanted to attend Lorraine's birthday in September.

My nice boss thought it would be a great idea for me to take off some extra time to go to Seattle (she really does appreciate me :)

I got a nice direct round trip.
I'll arrive in Seattle at 10:00 am, Thanksgiving morning.

Within hours of this news, Lorraine had rendezvouse'd family and friends. We're exceedingly excited about another blog-union. A happy phone call was made during a fun evening with the Iwanski's to confirm it all. . . .

Rather than having to eat a turkey pot pie by myself, I'll be cooking alongside Lorraine on her superfantastic range, side-by-side, with-and-for people who I love.

I cannot imagine a better holiday.


Friday, October 05, 2007



I wish I didn’t have to do it. I had a very busy work week, it’s Friday, and I’m kinda worn out.

I shouldn’t complain. I’ve got a nice job that enables me to have food delivered when I don’t feel like cooking and buy new underpants when I don’t feel like doing laundry.

My boss is really nice, though she can be a bit intense at times, and appreciates the work I do. That certainly hasn’t always been the case with some jobs I’ve had in the past.

I live five blocks away from my workplace. I can walk home for lunch if I want to. How many people in a city of eight million can say that?

I get along well with my co-workers. I have my own office which helps a lot with getting along with everyone. I can go the entire day without seeing any of them if I want to.

None of the people I supervise hates me, or at least I’ve not seen evidence of that. They’re all nice people and do what’s expected for the most part.

I don't have to go home and take care of kids like a lot of people have to do. I'm not even encumbered by a spouse who might object to me watching Judge Judy or The Waltons on Tivo whenever I want.

I've got it pretty good.

Still, I wish I had a ton of money and didn’t have to work. When you think about it, we only get one life and it shouldn’t be encumbered with having to work.

But then who would deliver the food when I’m too lazy to cook?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Judge Judy would love this. . .

Sen. Larry Craig lost his legal bid to have his guilty plea overturned today.

In a statement Craig said he was "extremely disappointed" with the judge's ruling and "I am innocent of the charges against me."

Um. Helloooo???

You plead GUILTY to the charges.
You have a misdemeanor on your record.

GUILTY does not mean "innocent."

You'd think a senator would know basic "Law 101."

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Sites I read every day

Every day, there are a few websites that I really enjoy reading for various reasons.

Christian Post is always entertaining for me. It’s extremely conservative and each day they have at least one article where they’re banging on their high-chairs about the "gay agenda." Whenever they mention the issue of gay marriage, they always write the word ‘marriage’ in quotes. Gay “marriage.”

Sure, that’s irritating. But imagine what it must be like for someone who is that hung up on the gay issue. I might encounter that sort of nonsense sporadically, but someone like that has to live in their own head 24/7.
Poor things.

I also like because people can comment on all the articles. I love reading the comments. Something like North and South Korea signing a peace treaty may get a spattering of comments, but Britney losing her children got over four hundred.

I also look at Al-Jazeera to get a different perspective. I think that’s important.

Of course, The Onion is brilliant. One shouldn’t take things too seriously and the Onion keeps me balanced. New issues come out every Wednesday.

I always look at the weather on and see what the weather is doing back in Texas. The geek in me loves weather-related things.

No Impact Man is fascinating. That’s the guy in New York City who is living for one year with no environmental impact. No electricity, no public transportation, only locally grown food, producing no garbage. Fascinating.

Then, there are my favorite bloggers. Lorraine, Eric, Iwanski, JP, and City Mouse. I have to read them every day. I get disappointed when they don’t update enough for my entertainment.

So, those are the sites I look at each day. I don’t think homeland security is going to come after me over these.

But perhaps I shouldn’t look at Iwanski so much.

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I SO didn't want to do laundry last night, so I just bought new underpants on my way home from work instead. (I guess that's not an issue with Britney Spears)

What's your most despised household chore?

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Fifty years ago today, the Soviet Union initiated humanity into the space age with the first successful launch of a spacecraft to orbit the earth. Sputnik 1 orbited the earth for about three months, then re-entered the atmosphere and disentigrated, sort of like Bush’s presidency.

Sputnik 2 heralded the space program’s first living being in space and its first casualty. The Soviets included a small dog named Laika as a passenger in order to monitor her vital signs during the flight. However, they included no food, water or pooper-scoopers and no way for Laika to return to Earth. She perished from overheating after a few hours and, subsequently, PETA was born.

The Sputnik program continues to this day. Did you know that? I think they’re up to Sputnik 40-something by now.

Do any of you remember where you were during the first lunar landing? I'll bet you don't, because it wasn't televised in the U.S.

In February 1966, the Soviets beat the Americans to the moon with the first successful lunar landing. Luna 9 landed on the moon, took several photographs and transmitted them back to earth, one of which contained the corpse of a small dog.

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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I'm Excited

I just read where tickets to see that Hanna Montana girl sold out in eight minutes. And tickets were selling for $2,600 on eBay to see her.

Imagine that. Some rich, spoiled 13-year-old brat just had to see Hanna Montana and her parents shelled out twenty-six hundred bucks for it. (I’m sure that would never happen with Lorraine and The Child).

Anyway, I’m excited because I just spent 26 bucks for tickets to see MY favorite performer, Stephen Lynch. He’ll be in Chicago on November 8 and 9.

Who’s Stephen Lynch, you ask?

Stephen Lynch is a musician/comedian who writes and performs THE most creative, outrageous and funniest songs I’ve ever heard. He’s got this sweet, tenor voice like a folk singer which works really well with his songs. Most of them begin with an innocent theme, you get lulled in by it, and then, boom, it segues into the most hilarious, outrageous material you’ve ever heard.

Here’s an example of his song called “Lullaby.”

Hush, little girl, sweet baby don’t cry
Tonight, Daddy’s here and he’ll sing you a soft lullaby
Why can’t it all be like it was before?
How can I explain why Mommy’s not here anymore?

Cause Daddy plays poker and drinks lots of beer
Then he wants sex that involves Mommy’s rear
Daddy has sores on his naughty parts oozing with pus
I think that’s why your Mommy left us. . .

While those lyrics might be a bit much for some (and these are mild compared to some of his other stuff), I really am in awe of his creativity.

I've also performed some of his tunes at a couple of clubs here in Chicago. I had a ball doing it, too.

When God asks me what I've done with my talent, I can point to singing Gregorian chant in a monastery to singing Stephen Lynch at piano bars. And I can point to just about everything else in between and say, "See? How about that!"
You can't say I haven't had some variety in my life. Life's too short not to.

So, I’m looking forward to seeing Mr. Lynch next month. Probably not as much as that 13 year-old brat who’ll be seeing Hanna Montana, but it’s been a VERY long time since I’ve looked forward to a concert. Plus, I'll be going with my lovely friend, Marilyn, who also appreciates Stephen Lynch like I do. It'll be a great evening.

And I’m sure Hannah Montana will lip-synch the entire performance.

And at twenty-six hundred bucks a pop.
There oughtta be a law. . .

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Monday, October 01, 2007

I've found a cure

I came down with a nasty cold right after my trip from Orlando.

See? I really, really don’t do well in weather like that.

More than likely, I got it from one of the many little kidlets on the plane who had contracted god-knows-what from Mickey Mouse or Pluto while in Orlando.
You know how Pluto is.

So, I trooped on to work on Thursday and Friday, feeling lousy and sniffly. Friday night, I made a big pot of split pea soup. (I cook it in chicken stock with carrots and celery in it – that stuff will grow a limb back). As soon as the soup was ready, I decided I didn’t want that so I had a huge Chicago deep-dish pizza delivered from Pizzeria Uno, the original Chicago-style pizza place.

Hey, as long as you don’t have an appetite, you may as well have something appetizing on hand.

Saturday, I felt even worse. The many cold tablets I was eating didn’t help. The white ones didn’t work. The blue ones, even less. I think I even had a bit of fever. Lots of sloopies coming out of my nose.
You know.

You know what worked? I took my mom’s advice and ran a hot shower on my head. Just lie across the edge of the bathtub and let a really hot shower run on your head. Then, I made a big pot of strong spearmint tea with honey and lemon. After three mugs of that, I really felt amazingly better. Really. I was amazed.

Who am I kidding? It was probably the deep-dish pizza that I ate all weekend.

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