Saturday, March 29, 2008

At the Airport

I’m at O’Hare airport waiting for an airplane to take me down to Texas. I’ll be down there for a week visiting family.

I just drove back from a bidniz trip in Springfield last night. I’m getting tired of going to Springfield. I can see why Mary Todd Lincoln was so unhappy.

So, I’m at the airport in plenty of time for my flight. I planted myself directly across from a Starbuck’s which gives me comfort. In case I begin to feel famished, I can leap up and quickly reinvigorate myself.

People-watching is always so entertaining at airports. I just love it.

There’s a man in Tilley hat. He’s obviously from Canada. I always wanted a Tilley hat but they’re expensive.

Here’s comes a woman wearing with bleach blonde hair, wearing clear heels, a fur coat, and short shorts.


Oh, there’s a nun wearing a habit. I haven’t seen that in years. She’s a Real Nun.

There’s a little girl being pushed in a cart by her daddy. She’s obviously having a very good time. Reality will set in soon enough.

There’s a young woman who looks like Miley Cyrus only she’s wearing way too much eye liner.


There go two men holding hands. Idiots. Who holds hands in the airport, for crying out loud? I give the relationship six weeks. Tops.

Wait, here comes a little boy holding his mother’s hand. Okay, so some people do hold hands in the airport.

There’s a studious looking woman carrying a cello case. I always wanted to learn to play the cello.

Oops. A young fellow almost missed his airplane. The gate agent is calling the airplane and unlocking the door to the gangway.

Now, a mom with two little girls just sat close to me. The kids have Happy Meals and little-bitty pink rolling carry-ons and are chattering away. I might have to move.

Oh, wait. Crisis. Her burger has pickles!! Horrible, icky pickles!! Shrieking ensues. . .
Okay. I just moved. That’s better.

The announcement is telling us that we can’t fly with more than three ounces of liquids or gels. I’d better pee beforehand or they might no let me on the airplane.

There goes a mom with three little kids. God, that must be tedious to travel with little ones. Apparently, they really freak out over pickles.

The goes a middle aged, bald guy wearing short shorts and a really tight shirt. He’s awfully hairy.


Okay, I think it’s time for some more coffee.

I’ll be in Texas for a week, so I’ll be posting Texas things.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Juiceman

I am SO falling in love with Trader Joe’s.

For the longest time, I’ve had a Juiceman juicer that I used occasionally. I love fresh vegetable and fruit juice and I know it’s good for me. It’s just that it takes so much time, effort and expense to eek out a glass of juice.

My favorite combo was carrot-apple-beet-parsley juice. I know that sounds horrible, but it isn’t. The thing is, you’ve got to actually BUY fresh carrots, apples, beets and parsley, and (here’s the hard part) actually have them all on hand at the same time.

That’s hard to do. My vegetable bin is actually the Place Where Vegetables Go To Die. I have all these good intentions of eating fresh fruits and vegetables when I’m at the grocery store. But, that’s usually as far as it goes.

The other day, I smelled something “not quite right” inside my fridge for a couple of days. It got worse. Finally, the culprit was located. It was a purple cabbage in the vegetable bin that was turning into a puddle of cruciferous goo.

I don’t even remember buying a purple cabbage.

Have you seen that infomercial featuring the Juiceman guy? He’s this extremely enthusiastic guy of about ninety years old but has the looks of a 45 year old, the result from drinking gallons of fresh juice every day.

I have to tell you, his produce bill must be astronomical. You drop a carrot into the Juiceman and BZZZZZT! Out dribbles a teaspoon of carrot juice and ten pounds of carrot pulp go shooting out the back. (I forget to attach the pulp-catcher sometimes). Then, you have to take the thing apart and clean everything. Vegetable pulp is everywhere. Beet juice stains everything. Hardly worth the effort.

So, that brings me back to dear Trader Joe’s. They have a whole section of juices in half-gallon containers at very low prices. I recently picked up their super-food green juice that contains apple juice, mango puree, peach puree, pineapple juice, spirulina, wheat grass juice, and even a touch of broccoli juice. It’s great. And pretty, too.

A whole half gallon is only $4.29. I also got a half gallon of blackberry-apple juice for the same price.

The stupid Juiceman went down the trash chute. It made a lot of racket, falling down forty-nine stories, but it felt good.

I just love to throw useless electrical appliances down the trash chute.


All in the Family

Check this out. According to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, it turns out that George W. Bush and Barack Obama are distant cousins.

Also, Hillary Clinton and Angelina Jolie are ninth cousins, twice removed. Brad Pitt and Barack Obama are also ninth cousins. Both are linked by a common relative back in the early 1700’s.

Oh, and Clinton is also related to Celine Dion and Madonna.

When you think about, we all probably have thousands of ninth cousins. Still, it’s a bit disconcerting to know that we are still probably going to have a Bush relative in the White House next term.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I was walking home from work yesterday and noticed the work going on at the Trump Tower site.

The sight of a crane 75 floors up, swinging a big, heavy object above the street just looked awfully precarious to me.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Can you believe this?

I went to church today.

(No, that's not the unbelievable part. I occasionally grace the doors of the Christian Science church nearby). There was this middle aged couple in front of me along with, I assume, was one of their parents.

Here's the unbelievable part. The woman had a big 'ol Starbuck's coffee with her!

Can you believe that???

While we listened to the readings of "Science and Health", this lout was sucking down a Venti sized coffee beverage.

Did she see cup holders in the seats? Is this a Christian Science practice I didn't know about?

The thing is, it didn't look totally out of place there. As you can see from the photo, the church really looks like more of an amphitheatre type of large classroom than it does a church sanctuary.

Also, Christian Science services do resemble a college lecture, more so than a religious service. (After a couple of hymns are sung, the main part of the service consists of readings from the bible that are correlated from Science and Health)

Still, I wanted to slap that big cup out of her hand. If there had been a part in the service where you turn and say, "Peace be with you," I SO would have commented on it.

But Christian Scientists don't greet each other.

That's probably why I go there.

Friday, March 21, 2008

This is ironic

Recently, the owner of Geno’s Steaks in Philadelphia (the Philly cheese steak sandwich place) won a discrimination lawsuit for displaying sign that read, “This is America. Please speak English when ordering.”

A Philadelphia court ruled that the sign was not discriminatory and he was able to continue displaying the sign.

Just the other day, I was watching a program on the Travel Channel that featured Geno’s Steaks along with his competitor, Pat's, across the street. When I came across this article about the lawsuit, something clicked in my mind; something that didn’t quite sit right.

I remembered the program that featured this establishment.

Here it is. Take a look at another sign displayed at Geno’s where he tells the customers how to order a sandwich. It reads, “Specify if you want your steak with (wit) or without (wit-out) onions.” (See below)

The “th” sound is very unique to the English language; both the aspirated “th” as in the word ‘with’ and the vocalized ‘th’ as in the word ‘then.’. Very few languages contain that consonant, so non-English speakers find it very difficult to pronounce.

Now, isn’t it ironic that the owner who demands that customers speak English displays a sign encouraging his customers to use a non-English pronunciation?

If I’m ever in Philadelphia, believe me, I’m going to call this to his attention. Probably while holding a steak sandwich from Pat's.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Basketball and Soccer

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t watch competitive sports. Frankly, I just don’t “get it.” I really don’t understand the intrinsic value in getting a ball through a goal, into a hoop, over a net, or in the outfield.

But that’s not to say I won’t offer my observations on the subject.

Basketball: It seems like there are guys who are way too big playing in way too small of a space. These guys are all six-foot-thirteen, constantly bumping into each other and they just seems so, well, . . . crowded!

Then, there’s the game itself. It’s so repetitive. One guy dunks the ball in the basket, he grandstands, then they all lope to the other end of the court (which takes three steps) and another guy does the same thing. Back and forth it goes.

The basketball scores always indicate this. It seems every game is always something like 102 to 104.

Soccer (Futbol): The opposite is true here. The playing field is way too large. It’s bigger than a football field.

I can attest to that, because I remember having to play soccer during middle school phys ed class. There was just wayyyy too much running involved, not that I actually did any. The ball would get kicked to the other end of the field and I’d just sort of meander around until it eventually came back along with all the other players.

Another thing about soccer is that no one ever scores. It’s sooooo boring. The soccer scores attest to this fact. After what seems like fours hours of play, the score is always something like 2 to 1.

Here’s my suggestion:

Have basketball played on a court the size of a soccer field. It would give the gigantic players some room and the game wouldn’t be so repetitive. Also, if the hoop was about 30 feet high, a score might be much more impressive. Running 120 yards to make a basket might also wear them down a bit, thus eliminating all that grandstanding and puffery when they make a basket.

Then, let the soccer players play on a basketball court. At least the players would be close enough so that the spectators could actually see the game. Also, some of the players could actually kick the ball into the nets ever so often.

Those are my suggestions.
Not that I’d be actually watching any of this, mind you.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tempeh Nightmare

Well, so much for my foray into eating vegan things.

I was doing all well and good until I got hold of some bad tempeh.

For those of you who don’t know what tempeh is, well, it’s a fermented soybean-and-grain product from Indonesia.

For those of you who don’t know where Indonesia is, well, it’s that country below Japan consisting of ten-gajillion islands where they make tempeh.

So, since tempeh is a fermented product, it’s already “bad.”

I bought three versions of it and have been eating it merrily away for the past week. I dice it into little cubes, fry it until crispy and season it with soy sauce.

I’ve been making sandwiches with it consisting of Vegenaise fake-mayonnaise and lots of sweet pickles.

Well, it turns out that the third pack of tempeh must have been a little too fermented. I had my sandwich for lunch yesterday (Sunday) and by Sunday night I was the most nauseous puppy that ever existed.

It was that kind of nausea where you just WISH you could throw up, but never really do.

However, it was accompanied by the worst diarrhea ever imaginable; like when they release water at the base of Hoover Dam to lower the water level of Lake Mead.
My body was just telling the tempeh, “Get out, GET OUT, GET OUT!!!!”

But the nausea wouldn’t go away. The only relief came from a big dose of Immodium with a Valium chaser.

I finally fell asleep around 3:00 am. And I made it to work.

I had soup and crackers for lunch.

God, just the thought of eating another bit of tempeh is revolting. However, I could really go for a Double-Bacon-Whopper right about now.


Stuff White People Like

My friend, Marilyn, just called my attention to a VERY instightful and funny blog called, "Stuff White People Like."

This is one of my favorite kind of blogs:
The kind that makes me laugh at myself.

Illinois Frosted Flake

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, two sisters in Virginia came across a frosted corn flake in the shape of Illinois and are selling it on eBay.

Bids for the Illinois flake are over $500 now.

That has given me an idea. I have a slice of tofu at home that’s shaped just like Wyoming. I wonder how much I could get for it?


I must admit, I totally don't understand the purpose of "texting."

I just hate it when my phone hollers a loud squeak at me, indicating that I've received a text message. Usually, it's from Verizon confirming that I've paid my bill.
Okay. Press 7. Gone.

The very best closed-captioning or court transcribers manage 250 words per minute, which is just about as fast as anyone can speak, and they train for years to do that.

Yet, these young people feel compelled to communicate with each other by thumbing three buttons just for the letter "c".

I just don't get it. What is the appeal of texting? Moreover, what is the aversion these kids have for speaking on the phone to each other?

I remember the very day that I was able to make a direct-dial phone call for the first time in 1969. Before that, in order to call my relatives in Midland, Texas, we had to dial "O" and tell the operator that we'd either like to place a person-to-person call or a station-to-station call to Midland Texas and give her the number. (Any of you remember those?)

I remember the very first time I was able to dial Area Code 904 plus the number to call my cousin, Patrick. It cost 20 cents per minute back then in 1969, but I remember so distinctly giving my mom a dollar bill after I direct-dialed Patrick, spoke to him for five minutes, and what a thrill that was!

We were ten years old and were just amazed at the fact that we could SPEAK to each other just by dialing a few numbers on the phone. Probably at over 500 words per minute. And yet, these young folks find it appealing to press three buttons just to enter ONE letter on the phone!!

I just don't get it!! That is just so . . . . . . STUPID!!

I recently received a text message from someone who texted, "WH U AT"

I called the number right back and emphatically left a spoken message: "Hey, it's me and I'm AT a place where we don't end our sentences with prepositions!!"

On the rare instances where I need to reply by text on my cell phone (with one of my staff members who is deaf and sometimes uses text while he's away from the office and on the road) I'm such a dolt at doing so.

I hate not knowing how to use capitalized letters and proper punctuation when texting. I usually spend the next ten minutes managing a reply to him, something like: thts me back ltare and then my phone squeaks back and I don't really know if my text "went out" to him.

Regarding the other text I received in which the sender wanted to know, "WH U AT" (Where are you at?") I had no idea who it was, nor should I (or anyone) further any sort of relationship with someone who inquires, "Where're you at?" in any mode.

Wouldn't this society, Democratic or Republican, be much advantaged if everyone adopted the same principle?

God, I'm such a fuddy-duddy, old snob.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Such a Sad Paddy's Day in Chicago

Oh, this is, indeed, sad.

I got up yeterday morning for my first time to see the Chicago River be turned green at noon.

The Irish on my mom's side awoke within me to see this event.

We've had such a severe winter here that, I'm afraid, the city officials didn't quite take it among themselves to actually turn the Chicago River very green like promised. . . .

Here is a photo of the sad attempt. I'm afraid this was the highlight.

And here is an tourist boat coming down the river, full of happy tourists from nearby Des Moines and Terre Haute. . .

Oh. It's empty. . .

. . . But here comes another one!
Surely everyone from Racine and Appleton drove down to see the River turn green!

. . . Nope. . . this boat is empty too.

But wait!! Here come another tourist boat!!!

No, it's the first one coming back.

It probably encountered ice floes and polar bears upon entering Lake Michigan just a few blocks downstream.

Yes, folks, we've had quite a severe winter here in the Windy City

So, in honor of the day, I made a big pan of colcannon for lunch
It's good with lots of ketcup. . .

Friday, March 14, 2008

Chocolate Guinness Cake

In honor of St. Patrick's Day.

This is, hands down, THE best chocolate cake you’ll ever eat. I’ve made this cake pretty often and those that try it are pretty amazed. The addition of Guinness, sour cream and all that butter makes the cake incredibly dark, moist and rich.

That, topped off with a thick cream cheese frosting, and it'll become a favorite of yours too.

It’s pretty easy to make, too. I've made this cake dozens of times and have adapted/adjusted it from Nigella Lawson's recipe. Her recipe is for one, thick, nine-inch cake with 8 oz. of Guinness in the batter. Mine is for two, thinner, nine-inch cakes that bake in the same time, but with the whole bottle of Guinness thrown in. (12 oz.)

(Please see "helpful hint" below)

Cake Ingredients

butter for pan
1 cup Guinness Stout (One bottle for two cakes)
10 tbsp unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda

Topping Ingredients
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line with parchment paper.

2. In a large saucepan, combine Guinness and butter. Place over medium-low heat until butter melts, then remove from heat. Add cocoa and superfine sugar, and whisk to blend.

3. In a small bowl, combine sour cream, eggs and vanilla; mix well. Add to Guinness mixture. Add flour and baking soda, and whisk again until smooth. Pour into buttered pan, and bake until risen and firm, 45 minutes to one hour. Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely in pan.

4. Topping: Using a food processor or by hand, mix icing sugar to break up lumps. Add cream cheese and blend until smooth. Add heavy cream, and mix until smooth and spreadable.

5. Remove cake from pan and place on a platter or cake stand. Ice top of cake only, so it resembles a frothy pint of Guinness.

Helpful hint: (Sshh! Don't tell Nigella!)
I've made this cake at least a dozen times and I prefer to add the whole bottle of Guinness to the batter (12 oz.) then divide the batter into two nine-inch cake tins to bake. (That way, you get more of a Guinness-ey taste to the cake and even a moister texture.)

Also, I like to divide the frosting among my two smaller, more manageable cakes. This much frosting on top of one 9-inch cake just gets runny and out of hand.

The only disadvantage to my suggestion is that the cook doesn't get to drink the leftover 4 oz. of Guinness while you work. (Just pour yourself another bottle instead)

Makes one 9-inch cake, 12 servings. (Or two, with my suggestions)

Labels: ,

The Fifth Third Bank

Ever since I’ve lived in Chicago, I’ve noticed a chain of banks here named “Fifth Third Bank” and have thought, “What a dumb name for a bank.”

We’re used to names like “First National Bank” or “First State Bank.”

But Fifth Third Bank? That’s not even anywhere close to being “First.”

It’s as though it’s the fifth entity of Third National Bank or something. That’s pretty lame. I wouldn’t want to bank there.

It turns out that back in 1908, Fifth National Bank in Cincinnati merged with Third National Bank, thus creating the Fifth Third Bank.

On these bank branches nowadays, their logo the numbers: 5/3

I still don’t think I’d want to bank there.

I just wouldn’t feel comfortable banking at a bank whose name is an improper fraction.

I wish I'd thought of this. . .

I just ordered a novel called First Person Plural that sounds truly fascinating.
Here’s a description of it:

In this stunning novel, Andrew W.M. Beierle brings to life characters at once unthinkably foreign and utterly real. Frank and fearless, sexy and witty, First Person Plural is a masterfully rendered, powerfully imaginative work, as complex and as extraordinary as the bonds of love.

Owen and Porter Jamison are conjoined twins inhabiting one body with two heads, one torso, and two very different hearts. As children, they're seen as a single entity--Owenandporter, or more often, Porterandowen. As they grow to adulthood, their differences become more pronounced: Porter is outgoing and charismatic while Owen is cerebral and artistic. When Porter becomes a high school jock hero, complete with cheerleader girlfriend, a greater distinction emerges, as Owen gradually comes to realize that he's gay.

Owen, a reluctant romantic, is content at first to settle for unrequited crushes. Porter's unease with his brother's sexuality leaves Owen feeling increasingly alienated from his twin, especially when Porter falls in love with Faith, and Owen becomes the unwilling third side of a complicated love triangle. When Owen finally begins to explore his own desires, the rift grows deeper.

As Porter and Owen's carefully balanced arrangement of give-and-take, sacrifice and selfishness, is irrevocably shattered, each twin is left fighting for his relationship--and his future--in a battle of wills where winning seems impossible, and losing unthinkable...

. . . Wow. That’s the kind of thought-provoking story line for a novel I wish I had thought of.
However, if it's ever made into a movie, I want to write the theme song.
It'll go something like this:
He's into girls,
His brother likes boys,
They've got one organ
Everybody enjoys. . .

I’ll write a book review once I’m finished with it.

So sad. . .

It was 57 degrees yesterday.

Today is the last day that the outdoor ice rink will be open at Millennium Park. It closes tomorrow for the season.

One of the saddest things to me is when I see the last remnants of snow left from the winter season. These dirty, last remaining lumps of old snow signify that the excitement of our crazy winter weather has come to and end.

So sad. . . .


Trump Tower Update

At this point, it's seventy-four stories.
Only twenty more to go.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

. . . A tale of a fateful trip. . .

Well, among all the hoo-ha in the news about Governor Spitzer (sorry, ex-governer), some of you may not have heard that Dawn Wells, a.k.a. Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island, was busted for possession of marijuana in Idaho.

Apparently, she was pulled over by a police officer after returning from a surprise birthday party in her honor. (She just turned 69) The police officer found four half-smoked joints in her car along with some pot-smoking paraphernalia.

Can you believe this? Sweet, adorable, Mary Ann toking on Mary Jane. What is this world coming to?

I remember that show very well from my childhood. I loved the theme song because it changed keys between every verse. I thought that was cool.

But even as a kid, I thought the show was sexist. Mary Ann ran around in halter tops and short-shorts, yet we never saw The Professor sporting a pair of Daisy Dukes.

The Captain had that “Little Buddy” thing going on with Gilligan, yet it was such an abusive relationship. Gilligan would mess up a chance at being rescued and The Captain would swat him over the head with his cap or chase him down the beach.

The Captain was such a prick.

I loved Mrs. Thurston Howell the Third, “Lovey.” She was so clueless.
Does anyone know what her character’s first name actually was? It’s a big mystery.

Now, Mary Ann got busted for pot. Tsk tsk tsk.

But wait!

It turns out that the pot wasn’t hers after all!

A third party just came forward and admitted to leaving the joints in her car after borrowing it earlier in the day.


Labels: , ,

This is appalling

I’m amazed.

Remember about a month ago when I came down with a bad case of the flu?


Okay, about a month ago, I came down with a bad case of the flu.

It was about 7 pm on a Saturday night when my temperature suddenly went up to 103.2.

Actually, my temperature was 39.5 C because the only thermometer I could find was one I had from when I lived in Toronto. I knew that 40 C was about as high as one’s temperature should go, so I headed to the emergency room.

Also, I had really bad pains in my lower back which the emergency room staff seemed concerned about.

I just got the bill from my six-hour visit to the emergency room. Guess how much it is.

Nope. You’re not even close.

It was (are you ready for this?)
Five thousand, six hundred eighty-eight dollars!!!

That’s how much my insurance company paid. My co-pay was 75 bucks.

Yes, they ran all sorts of tests. The most expensive was a cat scan because they thought something might be wrong with the abdominal organs or something.
Of course, nothing was wrong.

Apparently, they also ran six lab tests.
I remember they took blood.
I peed in a jug.
A nurse shoved a big Q-tip up my nose.

There was a charge of $750.00 for “emergency room drugs.” The only one I can think of was the I.V. they gave me.

$750.00 for an I.V??? I could have just drunk a gallon of Gatorade.

They gave me a prescription for Tamilflu which I had to have filled at Walgreens and the co-pay for that was thirty bucks.

It’s no wonder the medical establishment is so messed up in this country. Yes, I felt really horrible that night and, yes, I felt better when I left the emergency room after six hours. (Most of the six hours was waiting for the lab results of those six tests they ran).

If I had been back in Toronto, here’s how it would have gone down.

My temperature goes up to 39.5 C, I know it’s the flu, so I take the streetcar to one of the many 24-hour clinics in the city. The doctor sees me within ten minutes of my arrival. (That’s their policy and they actually stick to it).

Dr: “Hi there. What’s the problem, eh?”

Me: “My temperature was 39.5 and I’m pretty sure I have the flu. I had chills and diarrhea most of the day.

Dr: “That sounds like the flu alright. Here’s a prescription for Tamilflu. Please, when you get home, drink four litres of Gatorade and come back if you’re not better in 24 hours.”

Me: “Okay. Thank you very much.”

Dr: “Oh, you’re so very welcome.”

Me: “Thanks, again. Bye”

Dr: “Kindly have a pleasant evening, eh”

(Canadians are extremely polite)

I’m still appalled at this medical bill. . . .

Seven hundred fifty bucks for an I.V.

At that price, they should have pumped me with something a LOT more entertaining than saline.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I think I might be turning into a vegetarian. Or vegan, for that matter.

I recently came across this video called “From Farm to Fridge” that shows, in graphic detail, the cruel way animals are treated in the food industry.

It’s pretty unbelievable.

When you watch it, try substituting the cow or the pig with you most beloved pet. That’s what “did it” for me.

I know I’m sounding like a tree-hugging, Earth-Mother, New Age salad-head, but this really did a number on me.

So, this past weekend, I went to Whole Foods Market and stocked up on all sorts of tree-hugging, Earth-Mother, New Age salad-head food items.

Three pounds of tofu
Two half-gallons of soy milk
Three blocks of tempeh in assorted flavors.
Big bag of organic carrots
Two pounds of garbanzo beans
Three pounds of basmati brown rice
One jar of brown rice syrup
One half pound of flax seeds
One jar of Vegenaise, eggless mayonnaise.
Two quarts of vanilla soy yogurt
One box of Girl Scout cookies. (Okay, that wasn’t at Whole Foods, but they were selling them in the lobby of my building. And who can pass up a box of Do-Si-Dos?)

You know what? I was pretty amazed at how good the Vegenaise was. Actually, I like it much better than any other mayo I’ve ever had.

The tempeh is great if you fry it long enough. And add soy sauce. And a little brown rice syrup.

I’ve never liked milk anyway and have always preferred soy milk. Even when I was a baby, apparently.

I’ve tried soy cheese before and, I’m sorry, but that stuff is wayyy wrong.

For the past five days, I’ve rather enjoyed this totally vegetarian thing. At least, it's a healthy thing to do.

Well, I have to be honest, I did try the jellyfish appetizer at Lao Sze Chuan on Sunday.
Oh, and I had three shrimp there as well.
Other than that, I’ve been totally vegan.

But jellyfish and shrimp aren’t really meat-meat. They’re sort of "vegetables that grow in the sea."

I don’t know how long I’ll keep this up. If I’m invited to someone’s house and they serve chicken, I’m not going to be a nasty guest and refuse their graciousness. That’s silly.

Watch the video and let me know what you think.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Eliot Spitzer

Sorry, folks, but I couldn't help writing this:

Eliot Spitzer Rushed into Emergency Treatment

New York -- Governor Eliot Spitzer was hospitalized today following a news briefing and is apparently undergoing emergency treatment to repair injuries sustained while making yesterday’s announcement in which he admitted to having links with a prostitution ring.

“I have acted in a way that violates my obligation to my family and violates my or any sense of right or wrong,” he said with his wife, Silda, at his side.

"I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public to whom I promised better. I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family."

According to Dr. Sheldon Rosenthal, chief of emergency surgery at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Manhattan, “What the cameras didn’t show was that while Gov. Spitzer was making that announcement, his wife, Silda, had his genitals painfully bound in a deathlike-grip with her left hand.”

Dr. Rosenthal continued. “As he proceeded to apologize and mention his family, her vice-like clasp became increasingly more acute. The excruciating pain was quite evident on Spitzer’s face.”

Rosenthal winced and continued to explain: “When he said he needed to dedicate time to regain the trust of his family, her death-clutch suddenly increased, thus resulting in the rupture of his testicles, scrotum, and mutilation of the penile shaft.”

Various reports indicated that the governor refused treatment for most of the next day until the pain became intolerable and infection began to set in.

According to Rosenthal, “Treatment will require a complete reconstruction of the governor’s genital area including a partial phalloplasty, prosthetic testicle implants, and reconstruction of the urethra and most of the vas deferens.”
"It's amazing to me that she was able to apply that much pressure while never changing her facial expression. My estimate is that the governor's genitals were subjected to pressures of at least 1,400 pounds per square inch during his speech."

“His private parts will be out of commission for at least the next eighteen months and will require extensive therapy and treatment. After what Silda Spitzer accomplished during the announcement, there’s a good chance he may never regain the use of his genitals ever again.”

Rosenthal concluded, “Frankly, I wouldn’t have wished these types of injuries on my worst enemy.”
According to Rosenthal, the cost of Gov. Spitzer's treatment is estimated at eighty thousand dollars.

Labels: ,

The Ball of Torture

Since I, apparently, have a strong aversion to utilizing my membership at the Crunch gym in the lobby of my building, I’ve taken to exercising in the solitude and privacy of my own apartment.

This past weekend, I bought one of those fitness balls on which one balances and performs various sorts of exercises. They always looked like fun, being scattered about the gym. It sort of made the place look like a day-care center. (pic below)

It came with a little bitty pump with which to inflate it. Each pump of the handle emanated about one cubic millimeter of air. It was an exhausting endeavor just to fill the darn thing up and I had to take a long rest afterward.

It also came with a DVD that displayed a couple of lithe, athletic people performing all sorts of balanced contortions with the ball.

I tried some of these exercises.

What they don’t tell you is that, apparently, one must have the balancing ability of The Flying Wallendas in order to use this stupid thing. I kept toppling off or it would go flying out from under me.

Finally, I managed to do some exercises on it.

Oh. My. God!!! I was so sore afterward. It was worse the next day. I’ve got muscles hurting on me that I never knew existed.

Then, I ate half a box of Girl Scout Cookies.

After all, one must have balance in life.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bizarre Foods

I’ve always enjoyed trying new and strange food items. Last night, I certainly got to fulfill that little proclivity of mine.

Six of us went to Lao Sze Chuan for dinner. Three of my dinner companions had lived in various parts of Asia for a number of years, so everyone was on board with trying the jellyfish as an appetizer. (See pic below. The jellyfish is on the left).

It was "interesting" but I don't know that I'd order it again.

During dinner, we also discussed the notorious fruit called "durian" that’s common in Indonesia and Thailand. I had heard about this strange food item but had never tried it. Three of my dinner companions had actually tried it while living in the far East.

If you don’t know about durian fruit, here’s the deal. It’s a large, green, spiky thing with a creamy inside. What makes durian so notorious is the smell. It has absolutely THE worst smell you can imagine. However, it does have a sweet, rich and appealing taste.

There are hotels in Thailand that won’t allow guests to bring durian into the rooms. The smell gets into the air conditioner system and is very difficult to get rid of. You can’t even bring it into the subway system in Bangkok. I've heard that it'll even set off the smoke alarms on airlines.

If you’ve ever seen the TV series called “Bizarre Foods” with Andrew Zimmern, you may have seen him try durian fruit. On that episode, he was served a beating heart from a frog and ate it, no problem. He was also served snake bile in a shot glass. Again, no problem. But one bite of durian, and he instantly spit it out. It was the one food item that “did him in.”

I was fascinated that three of my friends had actually tried it.

Anyway, after dinner we headed to a nearby Asian place that has smoothies made from just about every tropical fruit you can imagine.

My friend, Ken, who is fluent in Mandarin, asked if they had durian fruit smoothies.

They did!

Ken and Steve both ordered a durian-coconut smoothie. Of course, I had to try it.

Steve said to give the plastic cup a squeeze so that I could get a whiff of the stuff.

OH. . . MY. . . . . .GOD!!!!

It definitely lived up to its reputation. I was hit with a strong smell that instantly reminded me of very fresh cat-poo. It was also reminiscent of rotten onions combined with the odor of a sour, dirty-diaper pail.

Of course, I took a swig and it definitely had a sweet, creamy rich taste on my tongue. However, that putrid smell wafted from my tongue into my olfactory nerves. It was just so horribly unbelievable that I got the giggles. Here’s a pic:

Later, we were in the car and Steve was still drinking his durian smoothie. The entire car was permeated with the smell. It was hilarious.

I swear, this morning, I could still sense that funk in my sinuses.

Jellyfish for an appetizer and a durian fruit smoothie for dessert. Is this an amazing town, or what?

So, if any of you are ever with me when we go to Lao Sze Schuan, there’ll definitely be durian smoothies for dessert.

If anything, the entertainment value, alone, is off the chart.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, March 09, 2008

21 Different Accents

Listen to this young woman give a pretty stunning example of 21 different accents.

It's pretty impressive!

Click here.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Chicago and Seattle Rule!

According to Travel & Leisure’s “America’s Favorite Cities survey, the city with the best food and dining was . . .

. . . . drum roll. . .


The city rated with the most intelligent citizens was. . .

. . . . drum roll. . . . .


Here’s something else that’s interesting:

Regarding the cities with the most attractive citizens, Chicago and Seattle came out 11th and 12th, respectively.

Oh well. You can't win 'em all.

Okay, I’m hungry now.

Labels: ,

Happy Birthday, Dear Wanda

Today is Wanda Sykes' birthday.

She's 44.

That woman's comedy and insight is brilliant.
Absolutely brilliant.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008


My case of Sortilège arrived safely today.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

High School Football - An Immoral Activity?

Sunday night, I was all looking forward to a new episode of King of the Hill (one of my favorite TV shows). My trusty Tivo knows this is one of my favorite programs so it faithfully records it.
I love my Tivo.

WELL! I plopped down last night to watch it and most of the 30-minute time slot was filled with The Simpsons. Apparently, a stupid sports game of some sort had run overtime and shoved all the programming up about 20 minutes.

I was SO mad. Usually it’s football games on Sunday that mess everything up. (Even I know football season is over with right now.) But why do football broadcasts get top priority over everything else? The president’s State of the Union speeches barely get to do that.

Don’t the network people know that some of us have never actually seen an entire football game and love King of the Hill? (It's ironic, but Hank Hill would find it incredulous that I've never seen an entire football game)

This brings me to a cause near and dear to my heart. If ever I was going to crusade against anything it would be the banning of high school football. I would be the Madalyn Murray O’Hair of removing football from public schools.

“What?” you say. “No high school football? That’s un-American!”

Okay. Here are my reasons. Pay close attention.

It’s Dangerous: For those of you who have ever been to a high school football game, I don’t have to remind you that in just about every game, a time-out is called. A sudden hush falls across the crowd and necks crane while an injured player wallows in agony on the field. Finally, he gets up and the crowd applauds as he’s helped to the sidelines.

According to a survey by the National Athletic Trainer’s Association, 39 percent of all high school football players were injured during one year. To make matters worse, the majority of these injuries were sustained during football practice, not during games. Thus, even the benchwarmers are in jeopardy of being injured.

It's ironic that we have all these measures in place to protect school kids, yet it seems perfectly acceptable for students to participate in an activity where over a third of them will be injured. If a third of all students taking chemistry were expected to be injured, would that be tolerated? Not for a moment.

Why should the safety of so many students be otherwise tolerated?

It’s Violent: What’s there to say about a lineup of huge guys that are encouraged to aggresively slam into each other as hard as they can? Yes, they wear protective gear, but the very nature of football is intrinsically violent. If a 250 lb. student performed the same action off the field, he’d be convicted of a felony.
Think about it. . .

Why should felonious actions be school sanctioned?

It’s Sexist: True, there’s nothing prohibiting a girl from participating in football but we know that’s simply not the case. A hugely unequal amount of school revenues are spent on an activity in which only boys participate.

Case in point: A small town near where I grew up is known for its notorious football program. There are about 500 students in high school and that school employs twenty-two football coaches! Yes, those coaches taught other subjects but from my experience, I can’t recall even one football coach who was a halfway decent classroom instructor.

This school had ONE coach for the girls. Only one.

And don’t even get me started on the cheerleaders. All across Texas, the most attractive (and might I add, underage) girls in skimpy outfits jump about, largely for the voyeuristic entertainment of the male spectators.
That's pretty twisted!
Don't believe me? Imagine the uproar if the cheerleaders began wearing pants.

Why should public school participation blatantly cast favor on the male sex in the 21st century?

It’s Elitist: Are any other students in school idolized and worshipped as much as the football players? Every small town in Texas has a well-attended “Booster Club” to support the football players. Booster Club members avidly decorate the yards of the star football players every season, hardly unlike elderly Catholic grandmothers decorating statues and graves with their flowers and rosaries.

During pep rallies, the football players sit high on an “altar” in front of the student body.

If ever there was a widespread cultic religion in Texas, a theological anthropologist wouldn't have to search far before finding it. High school football stadiums appear thirty miles apart in a 500 mile radius from the center. A town of five hundred souls in the bowels of west Texas can be practically destitute, uneducated, unemployed, with the ubuquitous tumbleweeds blowing across Main Street. Yet, silhouetted on the town's edge will be The Football Stadium, standing like a great pyramid; a desparate, gasping monument to an illusion of pride and identity.

I remember the annual parade in my home town. There would be float after float exhibiting the various football teams. First, there’d be a float with the pee-wee football players, then one with the middle-school players, then the 7th grade, the 8th grade, the freshman, the junior varsity and then (the crowd lets out a huge cheer) the Varsity Football Team! Oh my God! Modern day gladiators, they were.

It’s a shame that good grades aren’t encouraged as much. After all, it's infinitely more admirable (and difficult) to achieve straight A's and B's than it is to bash into another player really hard or to carry a ball across the line.
Where are all floats carrying the pee-wee honor students?
Is it a wonder that “Johnny can’t read?”

It’s a waste of tax dollars: As I said before, a hugely disproportionate amount of tax revenue is spent on the football program in any small town in Texas. That nearby town that had twenty-two coaches; guess how many music teachers they had?

Two. One for band and one for choir. Oh, and that was for grades K through 12. (Actually, I think they only had one, but I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt here).

Yet no expense was spared on the football program. Tens of thousands of dollars worth of equipment were available. There was a huge stadium, only for football. Don't forget the twenty-two coaches on salary. And, believe me, small-town Texans have no problem, whatsoever, in paying higher property taxes to support a local football program. Really high property taxes. These are Republicans who hate paying taxes but when it comes to property taxes that benefit the local public school football program, all tax-paying principles are out the window.

So, let’s put all this into perspective. Let’s say that things were different and football wasn’t king, but rather, it was the girls’ chorus that everyone was nuts over. (No boys allowed)

Every Friday night, the entire town would descend en masse to the huge, state-of-the-art concert hall to hear the girls sing. Every girl, from the moment she began kindergarten, dreamed of making the Varsity Chorus. Half the faculty members are voice teachers for the girls. The mascot of the girls' choir is emblazened everywhere, including on each city limits sign ("You are entering Beguine Territory!") Every year, over a third of the girls would sustain injuries, but their safety was seldom considered or acknowledged.

And before each concert, the best looking (and underage, I might add) boys would perform in skimpy outfits for the titillation of the female spectators.

Sounds pretty ridiculous, doesn’t it?
You bet, it does.

I hope I’ve made my point.

Now, if King of the Hill is ever cancelled again because of a live football game, the Madalyn Murray O’Hair in me will be, indeed, addressing the Illinois State Legislature.


Monday, March 03, 2008

I'm Dangerous at Trader Joe's

I love shopping for groceries at Trader Joe’s, but it can get out of hand.

Like yesterday. The weather had finally warmed up enough to go grocery shopping (i.e. it was slightly above a grillion degrees below zero.)

For those of you who don’t know about Trader Joe’s, let me just tell you that TJ’s is wonderful. They feature lots of their own name-brand, ready-to-eat, high-quality food items.

I sorta went nuts. I’ll put whatever they have on display in my food cart.

OOooo! Flax seed penne pasta for only $1.99! Yay!

I don’t like the shape of penne pasta and what Italian grandma ever made anything from flax seeds, for crying out loud!

OOOooo! Sixteen ounces of chicken piccata sauce for $2.49! Yay!

I don’t like garlicky, lemony sauces. I’m not a fan of capers. Yet, the piccata sauce got plopped into my cart.

OOOooo! 32 oz. bottles of tomato-vegetable juice for $3.99! Yay!

I love tomato juice. Love. It. But the key word is ‘tomato’ juice. I’m not wild about all the other flavors that sometimes adulterate it.

I bought two of them.

Last night, I made chicken piccata with flax-seed penne pasta for dinner.

The pasta had the texture of wet cardboard. I think wet cardboard would have tasted better.

The piccata sauce, . . . well, . . . it stunk!
Really, it just smelled like weird body odor on the subway. (You know that smell I’m talking about).

The tomato-vegetable juice, I swear, tasted like it had aquarium water in it.

I had a Chicago deep dish pizza delivered.

End of story.


Rainy Days and Mondays

Horror of horrors. My passport expired last week and I forgot all about it.

I hate knowing I can’t get out of a country run by Dubya on a moment’s notice. I really hate that. I’m filling out the forms right now to remedy such a precarious situation.


Winter has marched in like a big ‘ol lion here in Illinois. It was raining this morning here in Chicago but it's supposed to change to ice and snow.

So, this morning, I cancelled my staff meeting in Springfield since it will be icy down there today and four-to-eight inches of snow are forecast for tonight. I don't want any of my staff jeopardizing their safety on icy roads. Besides, if any of them had had an accident, my job would be toast.

On one hand, I’m kinda bummed out because it takes SO much planning to schedule a statewide staff meeting. Hotel reservations, meeting room, catered lunch, close-caption interpreter, getting speakers lined up and on board, etc. I’ll have to do it all over again.

On the other hand, I’ll be all snuggly in the bosom of my own apartment tonight. Bosoms are good that way.


Oh, and the case of Sortilège is being delivered today and I’ll be home to receive it. I’ve no intention of drinking a whole case of Sortilège – it’s just that the pretty, 375 ml. bottles of this difficult-to-obtain liqueur make such good hostess presents and Christmas gifts.

Like I said, this stuff is difficult to obtain but I found a distributor here in the U.S. that sold it for less than half price at $11.99 a bottle. I checked back online and now they no longer carry it. Apparently, I cleaned them out.

I just LOVE finding good deals like that. I'm feeling kind of "Sortilegious" at the moment.

If you really want to buy it, (and I highly recommend it) go to and do a search for “maple whisky” or “Sortilege” and a couple of places will pop up selling it anywhere from $22.00 to $29.00 per bottle.


Right now, my dad and step mother are on their way to Las Vegas for three days. Dad went online and got half-price tickets to see Mama Mia. He said Bette Midler was sold out.

Rock on, Dad!

I reminded him that “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” even though I doubt they'll get into too much trouble listening to lots of Abba tunes.

Labels: , , ,