Friday, June 30, 2006

Back From Texas

I've just returned from spending eleven days visiting friends and family in Texas.

I'll post more later about it when I feel better.

Let's just say that there are LOTS of bugs in Texas and one of them must of got me. The left side of my face is pink, swollen and hurts like hell all the way from my forehead to my neck. I also have lots of mosquito bites on me (my family lives wayyyy in the southern part of Texas where mosquitoes thrive). There are also these huge hornets that burrow holes in the ground that my dad was trying to eradicate.

I'll write more later when this Elephant Man syndrome subsides.

Monday, June 12, 2006

This Week's Article

It's been a while, but here is this week's article. Be sure to check out the other great articles at

Alberto Launches 2006 Hurricane Season. Entertainers Prepare:

KEY WEST, Fla. - Tropical storm Alberto, the first named storm of the 2006 North Atlantic hurricane season, will bring heavy rain to the west coast of Florida during the next few days. Although Alberto is not expected to reach hurricane force, this year's hurricane season is shaping up to be one of the most active on record.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is predicting at least sixteen named storms with six of them at category 3 or higher. In response to this forecast, many pop singers and songwriters, hoping to cash in on potential tragedies, have already prepared an array of musical tributes honoring anticipated hurricane victims.

"We were woefully unprepared for Katrina, Wilma, and Dennis last year," claimed Sony Records CEO Rolf Schmidt-Holz. We're not about to drop the ball again. We've learned the hard way that preparation is the key."

Michael Jackson, while hoping for another Katrina-style hurricane to evacuate New Orleans, has already reserved a studio to record a plaintive "Where Have All the Children Gone?" While Jackson hopes this summer's tragedies will revive his waning popularity, he has made no plans to return from his newly-adopted home of Bahrain.

Celine Dion is also banking on the Crescent City's demise by re-releasing her mega hit "My Heart Will Go On." In order to appeal to residents of South Louisiana, the new release will be performed in Cajun as "Mon Coeur Vivelaieee."

While Harry Connick Jr. is waiting for the re-destruction of his native New Orleans with "Category-Five Blues," country superstar Gretchen Wilson is betting on the 2006 storms taking a more easterly direction as expressed in her upcoming tribute, "Double-Wides Over Georgia."

American Idol winner and Alabama native, Taylor Hicks, has already jumped on the bandwagon with sales of his first single, "Do I Make You Proud," benefiting the American Red Cross.

"A category-3 storm hitting his home state this summer could really jump-start that boy's career," reports Schmidt-Holz. "Even better would be for Alabama to take a direct hit from a cat 4 or 5. Wow. I can't even begin to imagine the revenue that would produce."

Dixie Chicks lead singer, Natalie Maines, reports that recent publicity around her anti-Bush comments has made the band more popular than ever with mainstream listeners."All we need is a few good hurricanes for Bush to make himself look worse than he already does. With each passing storm, that man just keeps shootin' himself in the foot and won't put down the gun! I can't wait for this season to get rocking."

In related news, televangelist Pat Robertson has begun a round-the-clock prayer vigil in hopes that a "hurricane of biblical proportions" will destroy Massachusetts for allowing same-sex marriages.

Creative Photography

I bought this inexpensive Fujifilm digital camera three years ago and it has yet to fail me. I got home from work last night about 8:30 pm, opened the blinds and there was this incredible sunset.

Sunsets like this really don't occur north of the Mason-Dixon line; only in the South where I grew up. (That's because there is more atmosphere in the lower latitudes through which the setting sun must refract during the Summer months in the Northern hemisphere). See, I may be a creative musician, but I also really get off to astronomy, meteorology, and physics. A lot!

I snapped the camera and it automatically flashed. The resulting pics really turned out well. Again, I really love my apartment.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

I'm kind of a skeptical consumer and seven years under a vow of poverty have kept me very frugal (but in a good way). So when I find a product or service that works really well, I'll twirl like Julie Andrews singing its praises. So, here are a few things that have made my hills come alive. . .

Kaboom Shower Tub & Tile Cleaner I realize that Billy Mays' voice is so annoying that it gives you that "pre-diarrhea" feeling (you know, when you have that 30-second window before things get alarming). But Kaboom is pretty amazing stuff. It's the one product I've found that will actually clean a bathtub without scrubbing. Even that gummy film that tons of muscle with Comet and green scratchies requires to remove. Not with Kaboom. Just spray in on, wait 30 minutes and wipe it away. (Or swish it away with your feet during next morning's shower). Your bathtub will then go squeak-squeak. Spray it on a shower curtain every fortnight and you'll always have an impeccably clean shower. And I swear that if you use it on stove or counter tops, they'll remain cleaner longer. It smells really good too. If there was cologne that smelled like Kaboom, I'd wear it. is a bill-paying service that I've used for the past two years. It's amazing. It's really, really free, and I've never had a problem with it. You just set up all your accounts that you normally pay and it notifies you when a bill is due and how much. It also features a really cute doggy that runs around and hunts for your utility and credit card companies as you're setting up your accounts. It's really nice to see on one page all your bills at one time, click the ones you want to pay and their paid from your checking account. You can also view the actual bill and it keeps permanent records of everything you've paid. VERY cool. (If you're wondering how it's free, believe me, I called them and asked. The corporations with which they're connected give them lots of money so that we don't have to). is that music-download site from Russia that costs, literally, just pennies. For example, I downloaded the entire Waldstein piano sonata for thirteen cents; A Bach Prelude & Fugue for seven cents. Entire albums are about $1.20. It's been the number-one music download site in Britain for over a year. Big selection, it really works, great recordings, and it's legal. Not many things you can say that about. Besides, it's nice to support Russia as opposed to capitalist American i-Tunes.

Frozen grapes - Hands down, my favorite snack. Just wash off big bunches of grapes and freeze them. Then when you're ready to eat them, just soften them a little (nuke 'em for ten seconds or so) and it's like eating little popsicles. Addictive. Very addictive. Make sure you buy seedless grapes, sin semilla, if you're getting good produce in Spanish.

Watermelon Sorbet - Seedless watermelons taste like crap, but buy one anyway. (Use regular watermelon if you feel like de-seeding it). Cube the flesh and freeze it. Toss the frozen watermelon in your Cuisinart with the juice of a lime or two, some sugar, and blitz it. It comes out like ice cream and the most tasteless melon tastes more watermelon-y than you'd ever believe. Addictive. Brain-freezes ensue.
Better yet - while you're blitzing the frozen watermelon, lime juice and sugar, pour in enough white rum to make it really slushy. Viola! Frozen watermelon daiquiris; the best drink from the 60's you've ever had. Put on some Herb Alpert & Tijuana Brass, serve up in a martini glass and enjoy.
Hint: Dried, pureed watermelon is a bitch to remove from your kitchen counters the next day. But Kaboom will do the job!
See? is part of eBay where one can buy used books and CD's. I replaced all of my old LP's with CD's for about two bucks each. I also search for books on Amazon, read the reviews, (sshhh!) then hop over to and get them for a couple of bucks. I also got many of my college textbooks there and saved a bundle thus thwarting the college bookstore. I'm awfully happy when I can thwart something.

Knorr's Chicken Flavored Bullion. Sooo tasty and versatile. Just about any soup can benefit from its addition. Even pea. Even puttanesca sauce. Want to make some simple steamed or frozen veggies irresistable? Toss them in melted butter or margerine, add a sprinkle of Knorr's and a dash of sugar. As my grandmother used to say, "It's so good it'll make you fall on the floor and just holler." I buy it in Latino groceries where it's cheap. (One kilo for six bucks, can you believe?) You can also get it online at

Rockport Shoes I have really wierd feet. Size 10 ½ are pretty small feet for a guy who’s 6’3". However, my feet are actually size 10 ½ EEEE, like a platypus. I suffered from ingrown toenails until I was 30 years old when I found that special-ordered Rockport shoes can accomadate my unusual peds. They're expensive, not always pretty, but last forever and have saved me a bundle on podiatrist's fees. I have a dress pair, a casual pair, some hiking boots and some really cool sneakers. I'm a guy. It's all I need.

Starbuck's Italian Roast Coffee (Lorraine, you'll appreciate this . . .) I love my strong coffee at work and I've tried myriads of them from lots of coffee houses; from Ethiopian Harrar to French Double Roast. But my Starbuck's Italian Roast is What I Need. There are times that I need to back off and do some decaf. (I can NEVER drink a cup of completely decaf coffee - - I require my coffee to have at least some narcotics in it or it's just not coffee) I wish Starbuck's made Italian Roast in decaf but they don't. So, I'll occasionally alloy it with decaf Espresso Roast when I'm counseling a client and wanting to scream, "Baby, you need your anti-psychotic meds in suppository form! . . Now! . . . NOW!!!"
I imagine that parents might often think of that same phrase.

My "Juiceman II" I got turned on to fresh veggie juice when I was with the Franciscans in New York. Our house was in the West Village just two blocks off Christopher Street and Seventh Ave. Can you believe? My biggest indulgence was a daily trip to a juice bar on the corner of Christopher and Bleeker. I was abstinent and celibate in the absolute epicenter of non-abstinence and delicious fornication. My daily 12 oz. hit of carrot-beet-parsley-apple juice was all I had! Okay, sometimes I'd substitute Brussels sprouts for the parsely, but it'd never go farther than that. Well, except for that one time I ordered a carrot and ginger, straight up.

Anyway, the fresh juice really is appealing and does provide quite a rush. I'm not abstinent or celebate anymore, but I'm still amazed how well it quells a craving for a Chicago-style pizza with pepperoni. Most of the time, anyway. Really, get yourself a Juiceman II. It works the best and cleans in a snap. Keep plenty of carrots, apples and green veggies ready to go.

Vonage Phone Service I've always hunted for the best and least expensive phone service. I've had some pretty hefty phone bills back when long-distance cost a lot.
If you have reliable broadband internet service, then I highly recommend getting Vonage broadband phone service. It really does cost only $24.95 a month for unlimited long distance at any time of the day and no more. You also get to by-pass having to obtain local phone service with all their fees since Vonage works totally through broadband. It comes with every feature you can think of and then more. For example, I can go online and listen to my voice mails while at work. (Well, that was just a tad embarassing the other day). You can go online and forward your calls. You can also view all your calls for the past several months. (Always handy for that date that really wan't that bad) Like I said, if you have reliable broadband, I've never had one complaint and my bill is always $24.95. (Which I always pay through - - see above)

Those are a few of my favorite things. . .As I said before, I'm a pretty savvy consumer and happy to find good deals that will save us from any Capitalist Pigs. I can wholeheartedly recommend my suggestions because they've made my life more pleasureable, less cumbersome, and a much tastier.

I'd love to hear if any of you have similar suggestions or if mine have worked for you.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Jhirmack Hair

I was cleaning out files and pics and found this really cool pic of moi from college. It's a pic that was featured in the campus paper while I was performing in a (are you ready for this?) in a talent show in my dorm.

I lived in Butler Hall which was THE first co-ed dorm on campus back in '79. Co-ed living was a very radical experiment back in Texas in '79.

Frankly, we were all just all a bunch of nerds, closet-cases and vegetarians who wanted to live on the opposite side of campus away from the jocks, sluts, and druggies. .

Butler Hall, I'm proud to say, still exists to this day.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The Dog

I have to admit that The Dog has been a joyous part of my life for the past six years. Portia is a very large Chocolate Labrador Retriever and is just about the most appealing dog that has ever walked this earth. Portia loves everyone as evidenced by her smiling face whenever anyone greets her and by the sound of her big tail whacking against anything behind her; metal file cabinets and car doors come to mind.

During the past five years, my canine parenting has involved the following episodes:

1. Once, Portia gobbled up a condom. I called Steve (her Daddy/Veteranarian) in Boston in the middle of the night sort of panicked while performing a makeshift digital speculum on the poor dog's throat. He wasn't worried at all, said it was okay, "Just see that she passes it."

During the next day of smashing dog turds in plastic grocery bags, there it was.

I must admit that successful stool searches have got to be the best thing EVER!

2. She got into the bathroom cabinet downstairs and ate a whole bar of Dove soap and barfed it all up on the basement stairs. It wasn't that bad. Although it was slimy, white dog-vomit covering a flight of stairs, it smelled like Dove soap.

3. Portia has a habit of eating her own droppings. It's what Labradors, Newfoundlands and all Canadian dogs do. (Because their carnivorous diet relies on seafood, Northern canine breeds innately consume feces to supplement their diet) While I was helping a friend jump-start his car in the garage, Portia helped herself to the frozen poo-bucket where I'd been tossing all her droppings for the past two weeks. We went inside and she then threw them all up on the carpet in the den. It was just about the biggest barf that a dog could ever accomplish. It covered several square feet and was even splattered on the walls. Although it was a good thing that I have a background in nursing, I cannot say that many past episodes compared with this. It did NOT smell like Dove soap.

I'm attaching some lovely pics of The Dog. She is truly the most loveable, happy, and appealing dog that has ever graced our planet.
I am truly blessed.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Food in Texas

I love talking about food and I'm already looking forward to my upcoming trip back home to Texas so I can pig out. Say what you will about Texas (I usually do), the food is terrific.

I know Mexican food is popular all over the U.S. now, but "Tex-Mex" is a cuisine all its own. For the most part, Tex-Mex is greasier and spicier, just like many Texans. The Mexican restaurant in my hometown serves chalupas compuestas which is a flat, crispy corn tortilla topped with spicy, shredded pork, longhorn cheese, frijoles, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole and jalapenos. It's incredible.

Here are some other food items that are truly Texan:

Frito Pie: Mix together Fritos Corn Chips, chili con carne, cheddar cheese and onions. Bake in a flat casserole until bubbly. It's even better the next day when it turns into a brick. Just slice it and fry it in butter when you have a hangover.

King Ranch Chicken: Leftover shredded chicken, Campbells Cream of Chicken Soup, sour cream, cheddar cheese, lots of canned green chiles, corn tortillas. Bake it in a flat casserole until bubbly. Ubiquitous at church suppers. It's even better the next day when it turns into a brick. Just slice it and fry it in butter when you have a hangover.

Tamale & Enchilada Casserole: Chop up lots of leftover tamales and enchiladas with chile con carne and cheddar cheese. Bake in a flat casserole until bubbly. It's even better the next day when it turns into a brick. Just slice it and fry it in butter when you have a hangover.

Chicken Fried Steak: Probably nothing else epitomizes Texas like chicken fried steak. Simply batter and fry beef cutlets as you would fried chicken. Then make a roux from the drippin's, add evaporated milk and lots of black pepper to make a white, thick gravy to serve on top. (I like to put ketchup on mine too). Leftover steaks can be chopped up and added to Tamale & Enchilada Casserole. (see above)

Chicken Fried Bacon: No, I'm not kidding. It's usually served at brunch.

Fried Gobbler Testacles: There's a turkey festival every year near my home town and they serve these delicacies. I've yet to try them. Their football mascot is the Gobbler. My sister went to high school there, was a cheerleader; a Gobblerette. I kid you not.

Barbecued Armadillos Armadillos are everywhere in Texas, mainly festooned on Texas Highways since they're pretty blind and can't run very fast. Occasionally, they wind up on the grill pit especially if lots of beer has previously been consumed.