Friday, January 30, 2009

Noon Scene - Skating

Here's a view of the skating rink at Millennium Park, taken from our office window. It's a pretty, sunny day and the view of my skating rink was particulary inviting.
However, it's 14 degrees right now (wind chill = minus 4) and folks are still out there enjoying the beautiful Chicago weather.

Morning Scene - My Office

It was too freaking cold to stop and take a photo of anything on the way to work this morning. So, my nice toasty office was a welcomed sight.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Bacon Explosion

In recent posts, I’ve been writing about eating healthy.

First, there was vegetarian fare. Then, I got healthier and it became vegan. Then, I went even further and was all into raw-vegan.

I really enjoy eating raw-vegan but admit that I’ve allowed about 20 to 50 percent of my diet to be cooked vegan. Each day I manage to have a big glass of my cilantro smoothie (it contains cilantro, cucumber, grapefruit, spinach, an apple, and pineapple) and I also eat a bunch of dates and prunes.

Tonight, I’m meeting Miss Healthypants and our friend, Liane, for Thai food. If a chicken or beef dish is ordered, I certainly won’t pass it up. That’s silly.

I love to write about food and since I’ve spent quite a bit of blog-space writing about an extremely healthy diet, I thought I’d go about as far the other way as one could possibly get.

I present to you, the Bacon Explosion.

It turns out that these two guys developed a food item called a Bacon Explosion a couple of months ago. They blogged about it and, unfortunately, their Bacon Explosion is sweeping the country. They’ve had about a half-million hits to their Bacon Explosion Blog and a New York Times article was just published about it.

I’d kill for publicity like that. I doubt that my cilantro smoothie will have such a following which tells you something about our dietary priorities in this country.

Anyway, to make a Bacon Explosion, you begin with two pounds of thick-cut bacon and criss-cross it like a pie lattice:

Cover it with seasoning and then smash a bunch of Italian sausage over it.

Top that with lots of crispy-fried bacon.

Roll it up into a big torpedo and slather it with barbecue sauce.

Cook it on a smoker until the internal temperature is 165. You can also cook it in an oven.

Slice and enjoy! It would probably be a big hit at a Superbowl party or great on a McMuffin
Most importantly, don't forget to make a monthly appointment for a colonoscopy.

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Twenty-Five Things

Lorraine, bless her heart, tagged me to write 25 things about myself. I’ll try to think of things I’ve not posted on here yet.

1. I’m not fond of chocolate.
2. I love downhill skiing and want to take Lorraine because she's never been skiing before.
3. Bourbon and rum make me gag.
4. I cannot do two things at once
5. A well-known celebrity made a pass at me when I was 22.
6. I have an inordinate interest in area codes
7. My personal value is directly related to the number of people that read my blog
8. I still don’t have gray hair
9. I don’t color my hair
10. My parents were married 50 years + 8 months ago
11. I’ll be turning 50 next month. You do the math.
12. I will never get a tattoo
13. I hate boating
14. I was once walking across a moor in England and saw a white horse running through the mist.
15. I've always had a fear of leaving a pen or pencil pointing to the left
16. I have to see a map – I absolutely cannot follow verbal directions
17. I love music by The Killers
18. I’ve read five biographies about Janis Joplin
19. A close friend of mine recently proposed to Anderson Cooper
20. I have incredibly nice-looking legs
21. I don’t own any shorts
22. I was once employed as a telephone operator
23. I have a thing for prime numbers, so I’m stopping at number 23.

If you've read this, consider yourself "tagged".

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009


A woman in California has given birth to a surviving set of octuplets yesterday – that’s eight babies – and they are doing remarkably well. They’re comprised of six boys and two girls.

If they all live (and let’s hope they do), this will be the first set of octuplets ever to have survived. Ten years ago, a woman in Houston gave birth to eight babies and seven of them survived.

I’ve always been somewhat fascinated by multiple births ever since I did a book report in the eighth grade on the Dionne quintuplets. They were the first set of quintuplets to have ever survived (born in 1934) and the only set of identical quints to have ever been born.

You have to admit, though, that the thought of raising eight babies is pretty mind-boggling. The first time I was ever confronted with one “muddy” diaper, I was pretty mind-boggled.

Let’s say, a newborn baby gets changed eight times a day – and I think I’m being conservative here. That’s 56 messy diapers a day. 1,440 diapers a month.

Can you imagine doing this before the days of disposable diapers?

The mother of these eight babies reported that she wants to breast feed them -- all well and good.

But as I recall, the moment babies get hungry, they shriek like an angy pterodactyl.

I’d be willing to bet that anywhere from three-to-eight babies are going to be hungry and shrieking at the same time, and not just patiently waiting for the next available breast.

Can you imagine what the terrible-two’s will be like? I remember my niece absolutely losing it because she wasn’t allowed to pull a feather out of a table arrangement. It’s what they do. Now multiply that by eight.

What about when they begin playing outside? Eight-year-olds are completely incapable of entering or exiting a room without slamming a door. And they’re constantly on the move, especially boys, because by golly, there are doors to be slammed.

What about when they all begin playing video games? It’s hard enough to get one of them to put down a video game and come to the dinner table.

I was baby-sitting an eight year old one time and he refused to put down a video game to come eat. He even swiped at me when I stood in front of the TV.

I calmly went to the fuse box and shut the power off, leaving him in the dark.

I thought that was a pretty clever parenting technique, but I was dealing with one kid. I cannot imagine eight.

I hope everything turns out okay for these little ones. I really do.

As far as the breast-feeding thing goes, I think the mom might want to consider one of those automatic milking machines that you see at a dairy farm.


Morning Scene - Chicago River

Here is a view of the (still frozen) Chicago River from my balcony.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


My brother is two years younger than I, so it's really weird to say that he recently became a grandfather.

But here your go.

My mom and daddy got bumped up to great-grandparents for the first time. I guess that makes me great-uncle, too

All seven of my cousins just got first-removed and a bunch of second-and-third cousins were produced.

Little bitty Joey has truly wonderful parents who live across the pond in England.
Please wish them well.

(Looking at this photo sent from England, I'm really wanting him to, like, suckle plum pudding off my finger - - but that'll have to wait just a bit).

Morning Scene - Melting Snow

To me, there are few things more depressing than melting, fetid snow.

Growing up in Texas and having spent my first 38 years there, I can tell you that snowfalls are few and far between.

In my little bitty home town, we had snow two times:

1961 (I was almost two years old)
1972 (I was twelve)

I experienced it a couple of times later at the University of North Texas in 1980 and one other time in 1984, but that was it.

When nature would deign to give Texans the rarity of snow coverage, it would usually last a day or two and quickly melt away.

Three or four days later, there would only be little remnants of the event.

A day later, there would, perhaps, be just a little gray lump of ice along a sidewalk --

-- I would see it and know that it may be years, perhaps a decade, before this extraordinary bit of Northern influence might be able to make its way, again, to my isolated part of the world. . . .

So that's why melting snow is so sad for me.

Melting snow?

Innately, it only signifies that I may never be excited again.

Friday, January 23, 2009

It's Pat!

Yesterday when I was at the gym, I was minding my own business while torturing myself on some upper-body machine when a very strange person walked over in front of me.

For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out of this person was male or female. This person was around sixty years old I’d say, not very attractive at all, and sort of reminded me of the androgynous character from Saturday Night Live named Pat.

Do you remember that character? In every skit about Pat, the guest star would ask Pat a number of questions trying to get Pat to divulge a gender.

Anyway, this person was wearing baggy short-shorts and proceeded to plop down on the floor directly in front of me, laying on his/her back. Then, this person proceeded to perform some quick leg-raises, crossing and un-crossing the legs really wide, back and forth at the knees. . . in these baggy short-shorts . . . facing me.

I quickly averted my eyes, looking upward. I think I had an expression on my face resembling Jim Halpert from The Office - - you know, when he looks at the camera with that wide-eyed, alarmed look on his face.
The leg-raising-and-crossing continued, unabated, in front of me.

I still kept wondering what gender this strange person was.

Male? Female? Maybe intersexed?
I really didn’t have a clue.

The raised leg crossing-and-spreading continued. . . .

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. The curiosity got to me. I just had to know. Surely, just a quick glance toward the baggy shorts would tell me what I wanted to know.

I did it.

I stole a furtive glance into the netherworld of those baggy shorts directly in front of me not ten feet away.

And you know what? . . .

. . . For the life of me, I still couldn’t tell.

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A Counterfeit Performance

Remember hearing the string quartet that played at the inauguration? Well, what you actually heard was a recording the performers had produced two days earlier. It wasn't live.

Apparently, it was too cold for the instruments to stay in tune and I can certainly understand that. As a pianist, I felt sorry for the woman who was accompanying them on the piano as it’s pretty impossible to play decently with cold hands.

Still, I find myself a bit troubled when classical musicians the caliber of Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Pearlman pretend that they’re performing for us. It’s the deception that bothers me.

Sure, we've come to expect lip-synching at pop concerts, especially when the performers have borderline musical abilities to begin with. Performers such as N-Sync, and especially Britney Spears and Madonna rely heavily on the vast wizardry of studio technicians to produce their recordings and make them sound decent.

But when folks go to a Madonna or Britney Spears concert, they're there to enjoy the choreography, light shows, to scream and get toasted; the music is almost secondary. Britney and Madonna certainly can’t pull off a singing performance while leaping about for 90 minutes, nor should they be expected to.

But when we go to hear a Classical artist, we’re there to behold the incredible skill for which that artist is known and to hear it in a live setting while having a white wine spritzer during the intermission.

True, Madonna can barely sing but, conversely, Yo-Yo isn't known for his dancing abilities either.

Didn’t the organizers suspect that it was going to be freezing? Hello! It’s January.

And didn’t Yo-Yo know that you shouldn’t expose a string instrument to freezing temperatures, much less attempt a performance on one?

It was really bad planning to think they could pull that off. For the sake of musical integrity, I hope they never do it again.

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Morning Scene - Aqua

The "Aqua" building across the street from my workplace has got to be the most unique structure I've ever seen.

Soon, these undulating balconies will rise 80 stories tall.

If ever a building was to be called "sexy" this would be the one.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

"No Resemblance Whatsoever"

The Chicago-based company, Ty Inc., that makes Beanie Babies has just released “Sweet Sasha” and “Marvelous Malia” dolls.

However, a company spokesperson, Tania Lundeen, claims that they are “just beautiful names” and bear no resemblance to the First Daughters.
"It would not be fair to say they are exact replications of these girls. They are not," claims Lundeen.

Public figures do have a right to control how their images are marketed, but Lundeen would not comment on any legal aspects of the Sasha and Malia dolls that were released this month.

The company also markets Britney, Paris, Hillary, Lindsay and Jenna dolls (no Barbara dolls, though).

Another interesting note: The 40-million-dollar penthouse occupying the 140th and 141st floors of the 150-story Chicago Spire was recently purchased by the owner of Ty, Inc.

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Update: Aretha Franklin's Hat

For those of you who want to know where you can get your hands on that faaaaabulous hat that Aretha Franklin wore at the inauguration, I've got good news!

You can get it here.

For those of you who need a reminder, here it is:

The cost is only $179

The milliner is

Mr. Song Millinery
6513 Woodward Ave.
Detroit MI, 48202

Ph: 313-873-2540

Apparently, the infamous hat has been flying off the shelves ever since the inauguration. The hat-maker from Detroit has been receiving calls from all over the world from folks wanting to sport Aretha's infamous headpiece.

Even Ellen Degeneres got in on the aciton:

Here's an article about it for you.

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Morning Scene - Skyline Shadows

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Aretha Franklin's Hat

I'm still pretty jazzed over Aretha Franklin and that killer outfit she wore at the inauguration (not to mention her performance!).

Just to refresh your memory:

Apparently, some other bloggers thought quite a bit of her outfit too, especially her hat.

And they can do Photoshop:

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Morning Scene - Ice

I’ve been amazed by the ice on the Chicago River. Because this winter has been so cold, the ice has remained for quite some time.

Some days, the ice is a solid, glassy sheet covering the river. Other days, it’s covered in snow. Then it breaks up, moves around, and freezes over again.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Woops. . .

As I was watching the inauguration with a group of my co-workers, a few of them giggled when it appeared that President Obama had flubbed the words to the oath of office.

I piped up and said, “No, I think John Roberts messed it up.”

Turns out, that was true.

The oath is supposed to go:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Chief Justice John Roberts transposed some words saying:
"I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully," and Obama hesitated causing Roberts to quote a portion of it again.

Here’s the transcript:

ROBERTS: Are you prepared to take the oath, Senator?
OBAMA: I am.
ROBERTS: I, Barack Hussein Obama...
OBAMA: I, Barack...
ROBERTS: ... do solemnly swear...
OBAMA: I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear...
ROBERTS: ... that I will execute the office of president to the United States faithfully...
OBAMA: ... that I will execute...
ROBERTS: ... faithfully the office of president of the United States...
OBAMA: ... the office of president of the United States faithfully...
ROBERTS: ... and will to the best of my ability...

Mark my words, some of the right-wing Christianists will be claiming that since the oath wasn’t recited properly, then Obama really isn’t the president.

It’s doesn’t matter. Officially, Obama became president, ipso facto, precisely at 12:00 pm, EST just a few minutes before the oath was actually taken.

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The Military Guys

Why are these military guys always standing around the president as he comes and goes?

They don’t ever do anything except salute him. They’re definitely not there for protection. If they were, they wouldn’t be so rigid all the time. It’s the secret service guys that do the all the actual protecting anyway.
So, why are they there?

And why do they all look the same?

Take a look at the four of them in these photos. They look like identical quadruplets. Does the military take note of this upon their enlistment and say, “Hey, you definitely have that stern-military-face-while-the-president-boards-the-helicopter look that we need. Now go stand by that helicopter.”

And why don’t they ever smile? Does the task-at-hand actually require such severity? Like I said, they don’t actually do anything, so I think a smile might be more pleasant to be around.

And why are they always men? I’ve never seen a woman function in this role. A little diversity might be in order, I’d think.

Bottom line: I don’t know why we need them around.

Actually, it’s pretty pathetic that any nation needs a military at all when you think about it. After all, killing is intrinsically evil. Anything to do with the military should be kept tucked away out of sight as a necessary evil – Not used as a decoration for our official’s comings-and-goings. Sheesh!
If I were president, I’d do away with these fellows. Or at least I’d have male-female ones and have them give me a smile rather than a military salute.

And, an Aretha Franklin hat might lighten things up a bit as well.

Do I have your vote?

The Inauguration

Well, I will say it - - - I was expecting a lot more from President Obama’s inaugural speech. I kept waiting for “the line” that we’ll all remember in history.

It never came.

There was no “The greatest thing to fear” line
or “Ask not what you can do for your country” line.

I was watching the speech with a large group of co-workers in the lobby of my workplace where we have a big TV on the wall. I kept waiting to get cold chills down my spine but it didn't happen.
For days now, the news commentators were saying how Obama would need to hit this one out of the ballpark. (I can’t believe I’m going to use a sports analogy here) He didn’t appear to do so, but he certainly didn’t strike out either.

Our president made it to first base – and I think the news commentators will have gotten him there by giving him a “walk.”
Like I should be the least bit critical. It's a good thing I didn't have to give a speech with billions of people watching. I would have required a large Thorazine drip.
I do think it’s pretty wonderful that we elected a president with the middle name of Hussein. It just goes to show the world that, perhaps, most Americans are intelligent enough to look beyond a name and any negative connotations we may think may have.

There’s always King Hussein of Jordan anyway. He was a good guy.

I did get chills up my spine when Aretha Franklin sang, though.

The First Lady made news by wearing a Toledo dress, but Aretha definitely stole the show with her hat! Oh my goodness, I loved loved loved that hat.

All in all, it feels really good to write “President Obama.”

I want to know more about that hat, though. . .

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Morning Scene - Little Bitty Snow Plows

It snowed last night. (Of course)

Around downtown, you’ll see these little bitty snow plows that clear the sidewalks. They’re just big enough to hold one person and keep them toasty warm while they keep our sidewalks clear and safe.

The cuteness factor of these little things is off the charts.

I would SO totally love to drive one!

Monday, January 19, 2009

I Have a Dream. . .

Yesterday while watching coverage of the upcoming inauguration, I found it very entertaining to switch between CNN and Fox News.

First, I was watching CNN, rather, I really just have it on all the time in my apartment anyway. CNN seemed to be broadcasting non-stop coverage of deliriously happy people being interviewed by news reporters – none of whom I’d ever seen before.

Then, CNN would switch to several more news commentators (none of whom had ever been seen before) all sitting in a circle and analyzing what the deliriously happy people had said.

It was a non-stop love fest. There was no news coverage going on. None at all.
So I switched to Bill O’Reilly over on Fox.

Oh my goodness.

Within ten minutes of watching him, he had commented that Washington D.C. was “a zoo” and that he hoped all the spectators “behaved themselves” during the next couple of days. Then he started “opining” about Rev. Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopalian bishop, and I had to change the channel.

I watched an enthralling documentary about theoretical quantum physics on The Geek Channel instead.

Yes, I’m awfully glad that Obama will be our president, don’t get me wrong. I'm even a bit delirious as well. It’s just that the 24-hour news stations seem to go overboard with the sensational item-of-the-day and neglect all the other news.

Yes, a plane went down on the Hudson River the other day and it’s wonderful that everyone was okay. But we don’t need to hear non-stop playbacks of every 9-1-1 call that was phoned in for the next 24 hours. I might also like to keep up with what’s going on in Russia or China for a little while. They're big countries and lots of stuff goes on there.

American television news is like that -- twenty-four hour sensationalism.

I miss the National News back in Canada – or as Canadians call it, simply “The National”. You’d have a non-descript news anchor give the news accordingly:

Subject, fact, fact, fact, concluding sentence.
Subject, fact, fact, fact, concluding sentence.
Subject, fact, fact, fact, concluding sentence.
Hockey scores
Hockey scores
Hockey scores
Weather – (twenty kilometers below zero, snow)
Update on Wayne Gretzky.

There is no news commentary in Canada. Canadians don't express their opinions. At all. Unless it's about hockey.

Q: Why did the chicken cross the road in Canada?
A: To get to the middle.

Okay, one other thing I have to get off my chest is about our future First Lady, Michelle Obama. She’s gorgeous, classy, intelligent, articulate and seems to be the perfect mom.

Barack Obama seems to be modeling his presidency after the great Abraham Lincoln, so frankly, I’d like to see a just a touch of a Mary Todd Lincoln thing going on there too. I think it would be great to see Michelle Obama get a little bit of Mary Todd in her and just lose it all over Bill O’Reilly.

Yes, I have a dream.

For that, I’d watch Fox News.

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Morning Scene - Icebound

It looks like the boats at Marina City won't be going anywhere soon.

Here's the Chicago River this morning:

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Friday, January 16, 2009

A Raw Food Detour

Well, I will soon take a little break from my Raw Food diet because I will be trying a delicacy I’ve always wanted to try.

Have you heard of "balut" eggs?

Balut is a very popular food item in the Philippines in which a fertilized duck egg is cooked and eaten when the duck embryo is half formed.

Doesn’t that sound yummy?

In the Philippines, a lot of care is taken to cook the fertilized duck eggs after the duckling has formed for exactly 18 days. Any less than eighteen days, the duck fetus is too soupy. Any more, then it's too crunchy.

The Filipinos enjoy balut because it’s the perfect all-in-one meal. The balut egg contains a good bit of salty liquid, so there’s your soup. (mmmm -- amniotic fluid soup)

The half-formed fetus provides the entrée and the eggy bit provides your side dish - - all in one go.

Anyway, I will be visiting my staff members across the state of Illinois in a couple of weeks. The wife of one of one of my staff is from the Philippines and she has already procured a balut egg for me to try.

I really love to try new and unusual food items. A balut egg will certainly qualify.

So, I will make a detour from my vegan, raw food diet in order to try this delicacy. Of course, I will post some photos of my balut-eating experience for your entertainment and pleasure.

You have to admit that eating a boiled duck fetus is just about as far away from vegetarianism as you can get:



I recently became a member of spaceface, mybook, myface, spacebook, or whatever it’s called. After I did so, I got some “hits” and “pokes” and someone threw lasagna at me.

I really did have trouble remembering the actual name of the site. That was obvious when I tried to log back on to “” and it wouldn’t work.

But, I’ve been on there a while and have really been surprised at the connections that have been made. I’m re-connected to two very close friends of mine from college, some from high school, and lots of friends-of-friends.

There’ve even been some people that have wanted to become my friend and I’ve absolutely no idea who they were.

I’ll admit that I’m a little uncomfortable with so many people knowing every move that I make on the site. I’m sure there’s a way I could make it more private, but at this point I’m just now learning how to throw a weasel at someone.

I don’t keep up with my page as much as one could. Oh my goodness, there are all sorts of things one could be doing there if you wanted. I could be playing Tetris with friends, chatting, poking, twittering, networking, and that’s probably just the tip of the social iceberg.

The internet and sites like these have certainly opened up an entirely new dimension to socializing. I think it’s absolutely incredible that we can re-connect with long lost friends so easily and efficiently. Friendships get revived and continue whereas they probably would have otherwise remained a distant memory.

Sure, it’s all done through a somewhat veiled electronic curtain. When I was a kid, “social networking” meant that you had someone actually come over after school to play – in the same yard. As a teenager, we broke curfews and exhibited questionable behavior – together in the same car.

It hasn’t seemed that long ago that I sent my first email to someone and then called them long-distance to say, “Did you get my email? Really? It’s there? That’s so cool!”

(Remember doing that?)

And now, my best friend from the freshman dorm and I are throwing virtual muffins at each other from thousands of miles away.

It's a pretty incredible world.

And I still think email is totally cool.

Morning Scene - OMG

Oh. My. God.

It got quite a bit colder than the weather people had forecasted. I just walked to work and the temperature is minus 17 with a wind chill of minus 35.


Lucky for me, I have my "toasty coat".

It's a full length, down-filled monstrosity that I bought while living in Canada. It also has a big puffy hood with a velcro face-wrap, so I sound like Kenny from South Park when I try to speak.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Urban Legends Coming True

Well, it happened.

In a suburb of Chicago yesterday, a 10-year-old boy got his tongue stuck to a light pole after his friends dared him to lick it.

According to the Chicago Tribune:

“By the time an ambulance arrived, the boy was able to yank his tongue off the frozen pole. Police say ambulance personnel explained to the boy's mother how to care for his bleeding tongue.”

Typical 10-year-old boys. . .

The sad thing is, I’m really curious now to see what would happen if I licked a light pole.

A Great Gift Idea

Aren’t these the coolest glasses?

Pictured here are these curved glasses I have. These are the short ones but I also have tall ones as well. The curved shape is really unique and always elicits a comment or two. I came across these a few years ago when I was at a fancy-schmancy restaurant on a really bad date in downtown Chicago. The restaurant used the tall glasses as their water glasses and I was much more captivated by them than by my date who, by the way, was a total snurd.

I asked the waiter what kind of glasses they were but he didn’t know. So, I kindly asked him to ask the manager.

After a while, the manager came out and I told him how impressed I was with the glassware and that I’d like to know the name of it so I might possibly get some myself.

He smiled and whispered, “It’s Libbey glassware – twenty bucks a case at Target!”

Sure enough, there it was online at Target. $19.95 for sixteen glasses. (It’s $29.95 now)

I’ve had fun giving cases of these glasses as gifts and folks really seem to love them. Or, at least, that’s what they tell me.

Anyway, I think they make a great gift, so if you’re ever flummoxed over having to come up with a unique gift for someone, you can order them here.

Oh, and the snurd and I dated for, like, three more years. Yeeesh!

Morning Scene - Current Conditions

It is SO cold outside which means, of course, I couldn't get a cab to work. So I braved it and walked the six blocks. The wind chill right now is minus 25. It was kind of exciting.

I think current conditions on Neptune are probably warmer than it is in Chicago.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Raw Repast

The Raw Food experiment continues. . . .

Yesterday, I made another blender-full of my new favorite, the cilantro smoothie. (One whole bunch of cilantro, a peeled cucumber, a peeled grapefruit, fresh pineapple, a granny Smith apple, fresh spinach and cinnamon all blended together).

Last night, I was wondering what to make for dinner. I had eaten all the cashew-sunflower seed hummus. I looked through my raw food cookbook to get some ideas.

Did you know you can make cheese from nuts? It’s awfully labor intensive. You soak cashews, macadamias or almonds in water, blend them up, strain off the “milk”, add lemon juice to coagulate it, let it sit out for eight hours, refrigerate it to thicken it, strain off the whey, and you have cheese. Isn't that incredible?

I didn’t do that.

I was still trying to think of something to make. I had bought a spiral slicer that will turn a zucchini into strands of “spaghetti” but it turns out I really don’t like the dry, spongy texture of raw zucchini.

The raw food “hamburger” looked good. You make an herby nut-seed patty, and the “bun” is a giant Portobello mushroom. However, a blizzard was raging outside and the 'bello burger would have to wait.

I was still in a quandary. I was about to say “the hell with it” and boil some pasta or have Thai food delivered when I thought of it. . . .

Why hadn’t I thought of this before?. . .

. . . a salad

Simple, healthy salad.

I had been admiring the raw food “thing” and the creative, albeit counterfeit, means of coming up with cheese, spaghetti, and hamburgers when I had neglected the simplest means of consuming raw foods.

Of course, I had tons of tasty things with which to make a salad. Spinach, parsley, cucumbers, carrots, a grated beet, nuts of all kinds, some chopped dates all got dumped into a big bowl.

For the dressing, I have the most delicious stuff on hand from Old Town Oil here in Chicago. . . a bottle of tangerine balsamic vinegar and a bottle of orange olive oil. The two combined makes the most incredible vinaigrette you’ve ever had. Salad like this has never been more appealing.

After my salad and smoothie, I had a craving for sweets so I ate about a dozen prunes.

Needless to say, there’s a lot to be said for the digestive . . . um. . . "properties" of eating a dozen prunes.


Morning Scene - Frozen River

The Chicago River froze over a couple of days ago and is now snow-covered. I actually took my gloves off this morning to snap this photo.

Oh, and here is the forecast for today and tomorrow.

. . . makes me want to get all snuggley in my bwanky.

Monday, January 12, 2009


We are in for some major winter weather.

On Thursday, the high will be 2 and the low will be minus 3.

It's supposed to be blizzardy all day tomorrow.


I’ll admit that I’ve been very intrigued with the “raw food” diet recently. I even bought a cook book on raw foods with a Border’s gift card that Miss Healthypants gave me for Christmas.

I’ve found the raw food diet attractive for a couple of reasons.

First, every food item used in the raw food diet is something that you should be eating. Everything is healthy and good for you. Also, I’ve really been surprised at the creativity regarding the recipes -- It’s not just nibbling on raw vegetables like a health-conscious rabbit.

So, this past weekend I “did” the raw food thing.

The verdict: I’m still doing it today. I liked it.

I’ll admit that some things worked better than others, but hey, that’s life in general. For example, here are two smoothies I made:
They’re very pretty, aren’t they?

The green one is a cilantro smoothie and the fuchsia one is a beet/pomegranate smoothie. Strangely enough, the cilantro smoothie was just about the best thing I’ve ever tasted and the beet one tasted like kerosene. So, there you go.

To make the cilantro smoothie, blend one bunch of cilantro, one peeled cucumber, one granny Smith apple, about one cup of fresh pineapple, a big handful of fresh spinach, one peeled grapefruit, a big dash of cinnamon with enough water to make it blend. (I added a small scoop of protein powder) It makes a full blender full.

And lookie here what I made for lunch: Hummus with caramelized onions on whole-grain crackers.
It’s very pretty, right?

To make the hummus, soak cashews, sunflower seeds and garbanzo beans in water overnight. Blend them with marinated sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, lemon juice and tahini. (I used very few garbanzo beans because raw, soaked beans taste too “beany”).

To make the “caramelized” onions, blend four dates with a tablespoon of soy sauce and a little water. Pour over sliced red onions to marinade. They’re really really good!

Normally, in raw food recipes, one can make crackers by blending sprouted grains and nuts into a puree, then spreading them on waxed paper and dehydrating it overnight.

I’m not about to go to the trouble of spouting a bunch of grains and nuts, puree-ing them, then dehydrating it. Please. Not when I can just buy these super-healthy 13-grain crackers. And especially since I don’t have a dehydrator (and I doubt I’d go to all this trouble even if I had one).

Yeah, the crackers are baked, so kill me.

Today for lunch I had guacamole and the hummus on the crackers. I have a big container of the cilantro smoothie for later.

I tried some raw food items previously but didn’t like them. It makes a difference to actually follow some recipes and, bottom line, if the food isn’t appealing or tasty I’m not going to eat it just because it’s healthy.

Oh, and for breakfast I had a Venti half-caf from Starbuck’s.

Yeah, the coffee isn’t “raw food” but one can only go so far.



Friday, January 09, 2009

Morning Scene - Snow

This was the scene outside my apartment window this morning before leaving for work. We're having near white-out conditions, it's 19 degrees, but I still walked the six blocks to work.

It's a beautiful day!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

A Great Technique!

Yesterday at work, I had to give a report on my program to a group of board members and constituents. It was in a big fancy board room and each of us had to stand at the head of the table and give our report.

I was a little nervous beforehand. These were all CEOs who were wearing way more expensive clothes than mine.

Anyway, right before I got up to give my report I sort of got the giggles. The reason for the giggles was because I thought of the scene from Mommie Dearest where the Joan Crawford character was about to be fired from the board of PepsiCo after her husband died.

She sat at the head of the big board table and screamed, “Don’t f**k with me, fellas!!! This ain’t my first time at the rodeo!!”

I love that scene.

Anyway, I thought of that and my nervousness completely went away.

Today, I had to speak on a teleconference to representatives from all 50 states and I thought of that scene from Mommie Dearest. It worked like a charm!

I’m sure you’ve heard the technique -- that if you’re nervous about speaking in front of a group, just picture them all in their underwear.

Nope – just think of Faye Dunaway playing Joan Crawford in that boardroom scene. It’s a jewel of a technique.

. . . Wow, I can’t believe it - - I found the scene online!

Check it out, and be sure to think of it the next time you have to speak in front of a large group.

Click here

(Warning: Scene contains 'strong language')

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Morning Scene - No Dogs Allowed

The Viet Nam Memorial is just a block away from where I live. I've always thought it was strange that they make such a point not to allow dogs on the grounds.
Apparently, the Viet Nam Memorial people feel that the mere presence of a dog will sully the memory of the veterans.

And, they feel so strongly against dogs that they surveille the place.
24 hours a day.

I wonder if anyone with a dog has wanted to visit the memorial, seen the sign and was actually disappointed that they couldn't visit.

Tourist: Oh look, honey, the Viet Nam Memorial.

Tourist's wife: I didn't even know there was one in Chicago.

Tourist: Let's go see it!

Tourist's wife: We can't. We've got Meatwad with us and it says 'No Dogs Allowed.'

Tourist: Dang! . . . .

If I had a pet weasel, I'd bring it just to see what they'd do.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Freedom Tower

Construction on the Freedom Tower in New York City is well underway and it continues to rise to its final height of 1,776 feet tall.

Frankly, I really dislike the lame attempt at patriotism, to have purposely designed the building’s height to match the date of 1776 as if that's supposed to somehow thwart the effects of 9/11.

I really, really hope that the U.S. converts to the metric system before its completion. Then, instead of being 1,776 feet tall, it’ll be the totally insignificant number of 541 meters tall.

And the designers of the building will be all,


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Snoop Kitty Kitty

According to the Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the nation's largest and oldest provider of pet health insurance, the most popular pet names of 2008 were:

For dogs:
1. Max
2. Bailey
3. Bella
4. Molly
5. Lucy
6. Buddy
7. Maggie
8. Daisy
9. Sophie
10. Chloe

For the cats:

1. Max
2. Chloe
3. Tigger
4. Tiger
5. Lucy
6. Smokey
7. Oliver
8. Bella
9. Shadow
10. Charlie

There were some unusual names among the bunch as well. My personal favorites were “Meatwad” and “Snoop Kitty Kitty.”

Back when I lived in Dallas, a friend of mine had a pot-bellied pig named “Hamlet” which I thought was pretty clever. (Hamlet’s parents were Otis and Sophie, by the way).

If I ever had a dog or cat, I’d name it “Ouiser” after Shirley MacLaine’s character in Steel Magnolias. That has to be one of my all-time favorite movie characters, and with a very unique and appropriate name.

Of course, “Portia” is near and dear to my heart. Here is her happy mug as we were eating at an outdoor restaurant a couple of years ago.

Morning Scene - Mist

Isn't this cool? The top of the Trump Tower is shrouded in mist. It looks kind of eerie to me.