Thursday, April 30, 2015

Frosting and Cake

I'm not exactly blaming Mike for my need for desserts, but since our Annual Academy Awards Guessing Game® thingy, and the prize of fresh baked cookies has kind of changed me.

Mind you, we always have some kind of dessert in the house, though I'm not saying we should. We just do.

But since the Annual Academy Awards Guessing Game®  nothing has been store bought.

I have overcome - to a degree - my fear of baking and have come close to perfecting the chocolate chip, as well as the M&M cookie baking recipes. A batch of cookies can last us 10 days, so me and the Kitchen Aid stand-mixer are now very well acquainted. Mike's next batch of cookies (should he win), will be much much better than the last I sent his way.

But I upped the score this week. Cake.

Yes, I've made two cakes for 710's birthday (one here and one here) and now again.

This time I think I did the better job. It was a lemon blueberry layer cake.  Oh yes - layers. Plural. Three of them.

First off, the title image is wrong. I read wrong, but found the mistake before starting - ditch the baking soda and get baking powder. And also, the heavy cream is not pictured.

Baking is a labour intensive process....especially when you only have two 9" round pans. I could have cut 23 minutes off my time had I had three. But I didn't. And if you prep correctly, it really doesn't take that much time.

Even while you bake, clean up time isn't that extensive.

Flour - 3C
Butter - 1.5 C (unsalted, room temp)
Brown Sugar - 1/2 C packed
Granulated sugar - 1.25 C
Eggs - 4 large (room temp)
Vanilla - 1t
Baking Powder- 1T
Salt - 1/2 t
Buttermilk - 1C
Lemon Juice - of 3 medium sized lemons
Lemon Zest - of 3 medium sized lemons

Bake at 350F for 21-25 minutes.

Cream Cheese - 8oz, softened (room temp)
Confectioners Sugar - 3C
Heavy Cream - 1T
Vanilla - 1t

The more detailed recipe is here.

Cream the butter for 2 minutes. Add brown and granulated sugar. Mix for another 2-3. 

Add the four eggs and vanilla. 
I didn't risk breaking the eggs directly in. Good thing, as I got a small piece of shell in that bowl. 

Dry ingredients: flour, baking powder and salt. 
Add those - and honest to g-d, the directions say to mix for 5 SECONDS on low. I went longer than 5 seconds, trust me. 

Then add lemon juice and zest. And buttermilk. 

No pic, but then you add another tablespoon of flour and the blueberries and mix by hand. They say the batter is thick, but mine became thicker with hand mixing. I probably used more lemon juice than needed, but they weren't really specific.

Two of the three: before

One of the three: after

Frosting was easy: beat the cream cheese and butter for 3 minutes. Add vanilla and confectioners sugar (always a mess. ALWAYS!).  

What their's looked like. 

What mine looked like. 

They had better lighting. 

It doesn't look horrible or anything and it tasted good. 710 was surprised when he got it, but especially when he cut into it and found three layers.

I don't think I'll be opening a bakery anytime soon, but it's nice to know I can pull it off if I have to.

Song by: Dirty Martini

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

the Trial

I wish I felt better about how the arguments went with the Supreme Court yesterday.

From many accounts, it is very up in the air. In a way, that is not surprising. The court is voting 5-4 on just about everything. They could all witness the same murder and they'd vote 5-4 on guilt.

In this day of social media, it is hard not to get a skewed perspective on how things went depending on who made the post or what sites you visit.

I felt slightly better - but only slightly - after seeing Nina Totenbag Totenberg and Tom Goldstein discuss the day's events.

I feel slightly better- but only slightly - when Nina said that she's not sure the oral arguments would really sway any of the justices. If so, then it probably - as always - comes down to Justice Kennedy.  (see video below......assuming it embeds.)

Of course, the fucking frightening thing is that the Liberty Council is insisting that all GOP presidential candidates sign a pledge that they will defy SCOTUS should the marriage initiative go in "our" favour.

Naturally, Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee (neither of them GOP candidates.........yet) signed immediately. I will be very interested to see which others do - if any of them.

But no one has taken an action or threat of defiance to the next level or asked the right question(s):  if one in "power" can disobey certain laws, how can they hold anyone accountable to any law........including the ones for which they lobby? In a way, it is political suicide if anyone asks them that last question. On the other hand, none of them are that smart.

This is a scary time.

As bad as I feel for Ohio not having same-sex marriage or recognition of it, I feel very bad for the states who have it not by voter consensus. The appeals and possible invalidation of certain state marriages could be devastating.

It's going to be a long two months until we hear the verdict.

What you need to know about today’s #SCOTUSmarriage arguments in less than four minutes. (BONUS: NPR’s Nina Totenberg & SCOTUSblog’s Tom Goldstein … and word bubbles!)
Posted by NPR on Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Song by:  Pink Floyd

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

In Love with Love

With Travis Hafner leaving the Cleveland Indians a season or two back, and ultimately retiring, there hasn't been much on the Cleveland sports scene to make me an athletic supporter  - of an individual, that is - until this year.

Sure, I love Nick Swisher. He's goofy cute, goofy, period and kind of on the disabled list a lot lately.

And while I have made no secret of my dislike for LeBron James, or pro basketball in general, at least we have one shining beacon of light:

Kevin Love.

He's handsome. He's talented. He meets my height requirement - and he does yoga. Not only does he do yoga, he has a fucking great form too.

The rat bastard. I could watch him get into poses all day long. And that he has a YouTube video of him doing his practice, I can watch him all day long (though his instructor seems a little lecherous).

I actually will leaf through the sports section to read about him, or see a snap of him and his usually sweaty exposed arm pits.

What?  TMI?   Deal with it.

Kevin made news during the last play-off game this past Sunday. A Boston Celtic player (yes, boo BosGuy!) dislocated Love's shoulder. I agree with Love that the move was completely 'bush league'. I'd love to see the NBA take action, though it is doubtful they ever will.

It is unknown if he'll be able to play the rest of the post-season. So I don't know what this means for the Cavs making it to the championship - but no one knows.

And while I could almost care less about the Cavs, it is nice to see a Cleveland sports team succeeding.

....and I hate to see Kevin hurt. Though if he needs me too, I can kiss his boo-boo and make it all better.

Song by: Debbie Harry

Monday, April 27, 2015

My Music Monday

I'd say I've liked Mary Chapin Carpenter and her music since the early '90's.

I found her albums worked best when she incorporated faster paced songs with her melancholy ballads and introspective tunes. I get that songs like "I Feel Lucky" were almost crafted for radio airplay and that might not necessarily be her style, but more than a nudge from the record company A&R team.

...still it worked, at least to a degree.

But after 5-6 albums with the same co-producer, even I had to feel that some things felt and sounded a little stale. And after that, I was never fully on board with the production of her last 3-4 albums.

Somewhere between the two, as Chapin did a number of songs outside her normal album routine and all with different producers - and the results were (in my opinion) some of the strongest works she's ever done.

One would be "10,000 Miles", from the movie Fly Away Home (done with Mark Isham), another being "Blue Night" from Big Mon: the songs of Bill Monroe. But one of the best things she's ever recorded was a song co-written with and produced by Randy Scruggs.

Ricky is Earl's son.  ....and if you don't know who Earl Scruggs is, you should probably look him up.

In the late 90's Scruggs released his one and only album, which incorporated his musical expertise with the talent of Emmylou Harris, Iris DeMent and probably not coincidentally, one of Rosanne Cash's best songs ever. I don't think Scruggs actually sings - he just hired really talented folks with which to collaborate.

But I have loved "It's Only Love' by Carpenter and Scruggs for almost two decades. It shows a versatility in Carpenter that she clearly has, but doesn't always show in the studio. My assessment for a long time has been, she should team up with him a lot more often. Since it has been since 1998, I'll assume this isn't going to happen, but it's a nice thought.

Still, it is a light-hearted three and a half minutes.

Randy Scruggs & Mary Chapin Carpenter - "It's Only Love"

Sunday, April 26, 2015

King of the Mountain

13 more dead (so far) on Mount Everest.

More avalanches - though this time from an earthquake.

Mother Nature: 13.  Humans: 0.

53 weeks ago, avalanches on the mountain cost 16 others their lives - all Sherpas. These climbers can't catch a break, as they had to abandon their climb due to the living Sherpas walking off the mountain.  ....and I'm kind of ok with that.

Long time readers (well, who have retention abilities) will know my love and fascination for Everest and its stories. Now and again, I will claim to be over my OCD about it, but in reality, each year, I read about the climbing season - which started a few months back and normally goes until through the second week of May. Just acclimatizing to Base Camp 1 can take up to nine weeks. After that, the trek seems to be expedited. At least relatively so.

The problem is - and has been - that while clearly a tough mountain, you don't have to be a professional mountain climber to take the trip. Just have like $65,000 in fees, plus hire a few Sherpas to tote your gear, set up your tent - and yes, carry you up the fucking mountain because you are unprepared and unable to do it on your own.

If there is karma, the mountain is getting revenge on the humans. The refuse and debris they leave on the way up and down is astounding. Nepal finally requires climbers to bring up as much garbage (by weight) that they take up.  Read: the Sherpas have to pick up their mess.

That is great for on-going trash, but not the accumulated over the last few decades. And it's just not empty oxygen cans, food packaging and poop we're talking about. Nope - bodies. Lots of them. And now 13 more.

I totally get this one of Nepal's only sources of income. But if they want less garbage, less deaths, they need serious, experienced climbers. I say, raise the climbing rate up by double. Make it $120k. Nepal won't lose a dime and maybe even save lives from stupid fucks whose bodies should never ever ever be recovered.

And I get that weather and circumstances take experienced climbers. But it's the 'thrill seekers' who literally walk over bodies - some of them not even dead - that make me cringe.

I believe there is a special place in hell for folks like that.

But maybe the mountain, and their gods, are exacting revenge.

Song by: Kate Bush

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Two of Us

Saturday.  You know the drill.

Petey wanting to help build Lego Falling Water with 710.  No Kragle. 

I think he thought / hoped there were treats in the plastic bags. 

 "Sleeping" in my office.  But it's all about the flipped up ear. 

 The lighting is bad, but loving this picture of Sophie and Pete. 

....but not as much as this one. 

Song by: Aimee Mann & Michael Penn

Friday, April 24, 2015

Mother Nature's Son

I'm not in a writing mood, per se.

I have no anecdotes to relay. I have no soap boxes to stand on, so I can expound on at length. There aren't even that interesting of news stories on which to discuss.

I'm sure I'll get to a SCOTUS post once the arguments for and against same-sex marriage and state recognition happen, but for today, not so much.

That's not to say I have nothing. This falls under 'stuff' in 'stuff & nonsense', I suppose.

Yesterday, I was taken by two separate images - ones of Mother Nature.  One came via CNN and the other the Washington Post. One real, one a photo montage, pieced together. The last one is real, in its own way - as the events did happen, but not quite how they're captured on "film".

Seeing this shot of the Calbuco volcano in southern Chile was impressive by any standards. Seeing it at 06:20 just kind of wow'd me.

It doesn't look real, but the colours of the sky that almost wipe out the mountain itself, leaving Raiders of the Lost Ark imagery is pretty fucking neat.  I mean, not so much for the people of the town below, but for graphic representation........just wow.

The Washington Post shot is no less impressive, even if not taken in real time.

Per the Post:  A stacked image shows 42 lightning photos combined into a single image with the brightest pixels from each photo moved to the top of the stack. The resulting image shows all of the of the lightning bolts together. The photos were taken Monday evening between 9:15 pm and 9:55 pm.

Personally, I think it was the gods just showing their frustration with Cruz, Rubio, Bush and the potential other GOPers putting their name into the Goblet of Fire.

....Here's hoping they all end up like Cedric Diggory.

Ooops.  Well, so much for my not commenting on current political events.

Still I love good lightening pictures. And I love DC. So...........

Song by: the Beatles

Thursday, April 23, 2015

App of the Month

It's not a funny app, but it is a free one. So an 'f' word still applies.

Be My Eyes is, at least in theory, a helpful app.

I say in theory because I've downloaded it. I've signed up for it. But I haven't used it.  Yet.

Someone has to ping me to use it.

The app's tag line is, "Lend Your Eyes to the Blind".

They don't mean to donate your corneas after you die or anything (though you probably should - since you won't need them anymore), but this is more to help out a sight-impaired person in the present day.

For the ~18,000 folks who have signed up for the app, ~200,000 have signed up to assist. So it stands to reason that the reason I haven't used this app (yet) is that my time has yet not come up in queue.

So, say, a blind person needs some assistance from a sighted one. The former launches their app and it will find an available latter to help out. If the designated helper is not on-line, it goes to the next one.  ....and so on.

The example the above hyperlinked site uses is which sweater is of a certain colour, or if the date on the milk carton is past expiration.

Of course, I suppose it begs the question(s): if the users in need are indeed blind, how can they find the icon on their phone in which to launch the app - and better yet, how can they even find the app in the iTunes store to hit 'download'?

I suppose if they had the app, they could ask me how to do it's kind of a Catch-22.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Birthday Song

He made it:  13. Today.

I hate to say it, but there were times in the last year - hell, in the last 3 months - that I wondered if the boy would make it to 13.

I don't mean to sound morbid and you know I love the bugger. Pete is better than he was two months ago, but I don't think he has fully rebounded, and I dare say, he might not be back to that level of health.

Those inhaler treatments are probably now for life.

The old man is still spry. Most days, he still has a great spring in his step. He's still stubborn. Still smart as a whip - when he chooses to be. Still as handsome as any pooch out there.

Cuteness lets one get away with a lot.

The other day he was in the kitchen alone.....for too long. I'm smart enough to move anything out of his reach, but still. The cooked beef was at the back of the stove, still he tried. But his big paw must have turned on one of the burners - and at full capacity. Ruckiry (not Jon's boss), it was a back burner, so he was in no danger of burning himself. And ruckiry (njb), he lit the burner too. It could have been worse had he just started the gas part without igniting for flame.

Still, we are extremely happy to have him with us. I talked about the Cattle dog a week ago, but I don't think we'll probably make that move just yet. Petey is enough for us. Some days he's too much for us, but we love him just the same.

Just because, maybe I'll make him a hamburger (no bun) for dinner. If it's nice, maybe I'll take him to the park for a long walk with 4,029.827 smells.

It seems like he's earned that. He is after all, 91.

Here's the little man at 9 weeks old......with an unfortunate looking man holding him.  Yikes.

Song by: Indigo Girls

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fancy Funeral

So few people put the 'fun' in 'funeral'.  What's up with that???

I make no secret that I read the obituaries daily. Well....when we get a printed paper. So three days per week, I don't peruse them on-line. I'm not that motivated.

So I missed the one where our former CIO up and died last week. I got an email from a former colleague and then sought out the obit. There was little information, other than calling hours and funeral services.

I liked Chuck enough to stop by the calling hours. I had no intention of going to a service. It turns out a lot of people opted for calling hours. I was stopped by 30 minutes into the two hour block and I was back of the line, which was at the door. I parked like a block away. No room in the lot.

I saw a few people from work - as it was a Sunday afternoon - but no one else I would know. No reason I should. I really wanted to sign the book and leave. But unlike other funeral homes, the book wasn't in the waiting area. Noooooooo.........the line snaked from the door, through the waiting area into the room - around the perimeter. And only on the third wall, was "the book".


I didn't feel like just cutting in front of all, signing the book and then dash out. So I waited.  ....and waited.  ...and waited.

And I looked around. A lot.

One of my first observations that it was going to be open casket. You couldn't tell that from the entry way. I'm not fond of open caskets - people will say how good or natural the person looks, but they never do.

Secondly, I was way overdressed.

Actually, I was not. I felt I was under dressed as I wore dress pants, dress shirt and a sport coat. I didn't wear a suit or a tie. Please enlarge the image. Notice the girl with the off the shoulder number, bra strap showing and her told open toed flip-flops.  My lord.

I'd like to say she was the extreme, but she wasn't.

I ended up greeting the family. The wife was, "I'm sorry.......I'm drawing a blank...."  I told her she was off the hook, she didn't know me and that I worked with Chuck.

I stuck around a bit to chat with some people from the old office whom I don't get to see much.

As odd as it is to say, I liked my father's service much more - as much as anyone can like those kinds of things. There was no 'receiving line' - which just seems odd. It was much more of a casual greeting kind of thing. And no dead body on display.

Anyone who tries to say that 'we should celebrate their life' is kidding themselves. I'm not saying we shouldn't - I'm just saying it rarely happens (though my cousin Billy pointed out to his wife how much I was laughing during Shiva for his father.....but his father would have liked that).

It will be a hard habit to break, but I have to stop reading the obits. More and more I see people "my age"appearing in them. It is borderline depressing.

Though not as depressing as Chuck's calling hours.

(and yes, I know it was tacky of me to take a pic at the funeral home, but at least my bra strap wasn't showing!)

Song by: Lucinda Williams

Monday, April 20, 2015

My Music Monday

Two weeks ago I jabbed a little a Zach Braff and his movie soundtrack(s). I mean, there was a certain oddity to Garden State that I really liked......eventually.

That is the beauty of having a short attention span and HBO. You can watch a movie, or parts of, multiple multiple multiple times. Even out of order, until you've seen the entire thing.

I did not see Braff's second directed movie, Wish I Was Here, which was released last summer. Honestly, it may have been in the theater here two weeks, but I'm thinking it was only only for one. It was on our list, but we missed our opportunity. I mean, in the previews even Kate Hudson didn't seem to suck.

Still, the preview had a Shins song that I really liked.

Let me rephrase: the preview had a snippet of a Shins song that really intrigued me. For weeks after seeing the preview at two other movies, I would just kind of hum a measure or two that I could not get out of my head.

Since my nephew isn't around, I haven't gotten a copy of the album (assuming he's not too cool to still like the band), and lord knows I'm not plunking down money for a Shins album (I suppose I could go to the liberry though).

But with a little research - very little, actually - I found the song is called, "So What Now".

As it turns out, the song was specifically for a movie and not included on any Shin's album.

There is no official video. There is the preview of the movie that has the snippet, but there is just a YouTube of an audio track  - no actual video.

The part I liked still intrigues me (the first 15 seconds) which is repeated throughout the song. A good part of the song has a Beach Boys vibe - and I don't say that in a bad way. Part of that is the way the vocals are recorded. Part is the airy arrangement of the music. But then it still has an indie vibe to it - if the Shins are still indeed considered "indie".

The entire song gets better with multiple listens, but it took me a while to get past that first 15 seconds.

I think Braff has an ear for music for his movies - or his music director does. And at least with the movie preview, the song really seemed to fit. I'll check Netflix to see if we can watch it that way and if the song incorporates into the movie just as well.

the Shins - "So Now What"

Sunday, April 19, 2015

the First Cut

Because my life - and the relaying of it - isn't mundane enough, you only get what I know.

....and some days that ain't much.

Like much of the country, almost a month after the fact, we are actually experiencing Spring. Some years we go right from Winter to Summer, but we are kind of feeling Spring weather.

Yesterday, I cut the lawn for the first time. It wasn't horribly long in most places, but it is supposed to rain for the next 2-3 days, and this might be the only chance I get to do it.

And I got to do it in shorts, as we pushed 70 degrees.

Last year, I didn't cut the lawn for the first time until mid-May. Part of that was due to weather, part to my travel schedule.

It was nice to be out, showing off my gams to the neighbors and passers-by as I walked back and forth making stripes in the lawn.

I was really just hoping to get my daily dose of Vitamin D.

Heck, we only officially put the snow blower away (well, 710 did, "we" did not) and brought out the lawn mower, which started up on the first pull - not bad for a 14 year old mower.

Still it was nice to have a few purdy days. Petey liked taking longer walks and spending time roaming around the yard, eating bunny poop, deep poop and probably wild turkey poop too. I don't see the appeal, but I'm not a dog.

Song by: the Eurythmics

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Talking Wag Club Blues

It hasn't been a picture taking week. Not a lot of them.

This is the Rumsfeld post of this blog:  sometimes you have to publish with the pics you have, not the pics you want.

Petey owns the room. 

Sofa. Two beds. Ottoman. Vaporizer.     ....Worth it. 

Whilst taking a business call in the kitchen - Sophie would NOT leave me alone. 

Worth it. 

Worth it. 

Song by: Billy Brag

Friday, April 17, 2015

Easy to Love

I fall in love too easily.

....with animals, be it cats or dogs. I'm a sucker for a pet in a shelter or in need of a home.

I don't watch movies with pets as a central character, because even if it does end well, the pet is put in danger - even in fake movie danger - and my emotions get all manipulated.

I know the dog dies in some Will Smith movie, and I use that as an excuse not to see that Will Smith movie. And while I don't want to see a dog fake die, I really just don't want to see a Will Smith film.

But I do stop by the adoption places at Petco and such. Just to see. And invariably I fall in love.

So the other day, I'm at Pet People to buy Mr. Pete some treats - which they didn't have what I wanted. But while there, a woman carries in 8 week old Heffley, the cutest cattle dog anyone has ever seen.

It's not hyperbole if it's true.

He is / was a barn dog. I don't know what that means exactly. I do when it comes to cats, but not dogs. But he had two brothers and they would attack Heffley. So this woman is fostering him for a few weeks until he is ready for adoption.

Yes, clearly I got the story from her, as I tried to bond with Hef. (Apparently, "Heffley" comes from Diary of a Wimpy Kid).

And yes, I fell in love.  ...even if he wasn't really loving me back.

Hef is shy, probably reserved due to the abuse his brothers gave him. And Pet People was his first outing other than the foster mom's home. She used to work at the place we got Sophie, so I know she knows how to treat animals.

I could never ever ever foster a dog or cat. I could never ever ever give them up if I've had them for a while. I would bawl my eyes out.

But I snapped this pic and sent it to 710 before I even left the store. I never thought I'd want a puppy, but he will at a rescue center in a few weeks. And according to the woman (and Dith), he's wicked smart. Dith says cattle dogs are scary smart.

The foster mom says in three days Hef was pretty much house broken. I'm sure not 100%, as he is only 8 weeks old, but still.....a good sign.

If I'm being 100% honest, I think about the need for a transition dog. I think we have Petey for a while longer, but having another dog in the interim isn't such a bad idea.

710's birthday is coming up. I told him I'd get Heffley for his birthday.

He didn't say 'yes'. But I never heard him say 'no' either.

I wouldn't even change his name.   ...the dog's that is.

Song by: Ella Fitzgerald

Thursday, April 16, 2015

the Long Race

I see the news stories. I see the blog posts. I see the Facebook rants.   ......and I just don't care.

Presidential Election 2016.

First off, we are what - 10 months off from the first primary? 100 gaffes will happen between the candidates now and then. Fourteen dozen more candidates will declare before then. Call me when it starts to get real, because, regardless of what people say - save for the fundraising - it's not real. It never is.

All the newspapers talk about the candidates.......including people who haven't even officially declared.

None (or most) of the newspapers declared Teddy Cruz to be the first one with his name in the Goblet of Fire. He was #194.

Literally, there have been 193 people who have filed paperwork to run for president before Ted. Voices that will never be heard - and probably ones with less rhetoric, less lunacy, more logic and more viable ideas than what is presented before us by the almighty dollar and television coverage.

I get the announcing early as it brings in the big bucks - but it is all so tiresome.

And enough with the 'Washington outisder' shit.  Ted, Marc, Rand - you've been part of the system for a while now. You're fully ingrained in "playing politics". You're not an outsider. Your never really were.

There is a reason for separation of powers (not that you've played by those rules, mind you - nor have you done well within your own scope(s)). You can only facilitate so much change.

And when can we stop pretending like Iowa and New Hampshire matter?

I've said it before and will again - they have about a 50/50 shot of picking the nominee (either party) and less when it comes to the actual winner of the general election. They are not some great predictive modeler for elections. I suppose they bring the 'aw-shucks' to Americana folklore with their corn and maple syrup, but other than that, they don't have any more of a clue than the rest of the country. Maybe someone can get the a Ouija board for one or their folksy town hall meetings.

Yes, all the major media outlets are doing the 'front runners', but that means little at this stage of the game.  Cruz is a 'front runner' because, well he filed "first". But in reality, in the list of potential candidates, his poll numbers run in single digits. Single-fucking-digits - and he's a 'front runner'.

Ask Howard Dean how it feels to be the 'front runner'.  Ask Mike Huckabee. Ask Rick Frothy Mix Santorum....or Tom Harkin or Dick Gephardt.

Better yet, ask Wikipedia because in a generation's time, no one will remember any one of their names.

So, while I am pleased Hillary is running, excuse me if I don't change my Facebook profile pic to her campaign poster. I really hope to g-d there is another viable Democratic candidate. There are too many eggs in one basket. It is dangerous. At least the GOP spreads the crazy around.

I will try to refrain about posting nasty things here until the time comes (though all bets are off when / if Ben Carson files). I'll wait for them all to shoot themselves (and each other) in the foot. Let's weed out the pack a little bit.

I get that by not posting things that the candidates get away with saying and doing stupid fucking shit, but I might have to let that go - though I reserve the right to change my mind on what I deem to be the really stupid fucking shit.

Song by: Bruce Hornsby & the Range

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Record of the Month

I figured I'd do a monthly 'what I'm listening to' kind of thing. This could be viewed as a lame placeholder kind of post. And probably it is. But it's my blog! So there! 

I had zero expectations from Will Butler and his solo debut, Policy.  .....and in that way, they were all met, if not exceeded.

Butler is a multi-instrumentalist for Arcade Fire, for which his brother Win co-founded. And make no mistake about Arcade Fire, it is Win's show and rightfully so, as he is a talented man though they have a talented band.

Will is clearly talented too - as a musician, producer and innovative songwriter.

Policy isn't really like an Arcade Fire disk, which is good, as it would be tough to live up to that. But it also shows that Butler is more than a member of that band.

Clocking in at only eight songs and 27 minutes, there is not a lot of time to make a sound judgement. The 'n' is fairly small.

Policy is stronger than it is weak - it has its good ("Son of G-d", "Witness", "What I Want" - because who doesn't love a song that uses the words 'pony macaroni'?) and bad ("Something's Coming") and the just ok ("Sing to Me" and "Finish What I Started") moments.

You can hear Talking Heads influences. Devo too. And there is a Violent Femmes / Monkees (laugh if you must) vibe about the opener "Take My Side".

I think people who get to the album will do so by Butler's name and past accomplishments, but that's not why they will stay. With Policy, he stands on his own and it will be interesting to see where he goes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Clear to You

Let's say that 10% of the HBO documentary, Going Clear is accurate.

L. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology is totally FUCKED UP.

And I'm being kind.

I'm guessing the ground that they cover on truthfulness is a much much higher percentage of truth, but again, my kindness shines through.

Perhaps Scientology is not more fucked up than Catholicism and Judaism. It's newer. It's possibly more odd. But there are just as many stretches in reality and faith.

Is eventually worshipping Xenu, a dictator of the Galactic Confederacy who 75 million years ago brought billions of his people to Earth (then known as "Teegeeack") in a DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes, and killed them with hydrogen bombs so much different than worshipping the product of a virgin birth who raised people from the dead, walked on water and was a honey-blond haired white man from Israel?

Ok, it is a little different.

And in Christianity, the Inquisition were full of weirdos who did horrible things in the name of Jesus. So I suppose forcing some members to work 30 hours, then three hours of sleep is cool. Keeping some key Scientology members hostage in 'the hole' for year(s) at a time or paying workers $0.06 - $0.40 an hour (in the name of religious freedom, of course) is on the up and up.

As I watched the two hour documentary, which seemed longer, I was surprised that it wasn't until the last 20 minutes, that the word "brainwashing" came into play - and then, only once. It was clear to me in the first seven minutes that this is what it seemed.

Those suckers in Jonestown were lucky bastards to drink the kool-aid and die. Scientologists are strung on forever, bilked of all their cash (to get to 'the next level') so they can see LRH's vision.

And while I'd like to dismiss this organization, but they went up against the FBI and IRS and won. While I think they are to be messed with, it is not to do it lightly.

As fucked up as LRH was (and creeeeeeeepy, even his speech pattern), his successor, David Miscavige, makes Jim Jones seem like Sweet Polly Purebred.

While Going Clear gave better insight into Scientology, a lot of this stuff has been known for a while. But the depth of it - and what they go to - is unsettling at best.

I get while the documentary was kind of a insight piece and kind of a take-down piece, they certainly didn't get into dirt, which they could have......and maybe should have.

It does not seem uncommon for Scientologists who question anything to go to Scientology prison. Not just banned from the 'religion' (oh yes, quotes), but locked away. It seems Miscavige's wife has not been seen in over seven years. But allegedly, she's working elsewhere in the world.

Others are broken down mentally or physically. It is just insane.

What I would give to hear the likes of Katie Holmes and Nicole Kidman (neither ever became Scientologists) really talk about their time with Tommy Cruise and his 'church'.

Kidman seems to do ok on her own, so I doubt any financial incentives to keep her quiet need to be in place - and the 'church' has already made her adoptive children 'disconnect' from her - so it's not like she's losing any relationships.

Holmes, well.....yeah, she did Batman Begins, but has she really had a real paying job since Dawson's Crack?  She might need to keep her pie-hole shut to keep living in the style to which she's accustomed. No wonder she ran out in the middle of the night.  Good for her.

And while they're not huge names, I'd like to her what Lisa Marie Presley has to say, and even Leah Remini (who allegedly left after questioning where Miscavige's wife was). Lisa Marie might not speak out, as her mother is still a member - and it is quite possible she would no longer be allowed to speak to her?

The common theme amongst the people who left the 'religion' is embarrassment. They feel silly for being in there for 20-30 years, unaware of the perception of what was going on. Hell, most of them, even in the electronic age, never Goooooooogled 'Scientology' and when they did after they left, were appalled at what they learned.

I have to go back to 'brainwashing'.

But more incredulous, are how the folks who leave are harassed, followed, filmed, wire-tapped, etc, including (or especially?) Miscavige's own father.

And the websites of ex-members could seem vengeful, but I'm not sold on that. Tony Ortega and Mike Rinder were fairly high up in the organization and it is hard, even for Scientology, to wipe out an electronic footprint.

Yes, SNL did a take off on the music recruiting video that Scientology did - and oddly, it is not that far off.

Still, if you have HBO, it is a very interesting, if not unsettling, two hours. I'm just amazed at what people need in their lives to take this in as reality, but I think we all know what P.T. Barnum said.

Song by: the Innocence Mission

Monday, April 13, 2015

12 of 12

So I'm doing my 62nd 12 of 12

Normally it is 12 pictures taken on the 12th of the month. Since I only post once per day, you get my images the following day. All pictures taken with my iPhone. Click images to enlarge, if you choose.

Created by Chad Darnell and picked up from, what I can tell, any number of random bloggers who then link back to him and vice versa. Chad is no longer doing this, nor is successor coordinating the linking of other 12 of 12'ers anymore. Now it's just Erik (and sometimes Jim) and myself - that I know of. 

I still continue to do this, because of all my consistent post topics, I actually like this one the most.

06:43. Petey let me sleep in until 6:41. 
But I had to pee and put on my Band-It for the morning, before letting him out. I think the strap is helping with my elbow malady. 

There is one kitty kat on the floor beyond my arm. 

07:05. Usually I get 710's coffee ready for him the night before, but I didn't. So I got it going early in the morn. Sunday means the NPR mug. It has the call letters of every NPR station. Well, at least as of 2000, when I bought the mug for he. 

 10:40. Waiting to be let into community yoga. 

10:50. Suburban Auschwitz. 
Leave your shoes when you enter. 

 12:10. Zen and Black tea - ice, no water, no sugar.  Oh - and rice crispy treat. 

12:30. A twofer. I'm counting it as one. David took the left, I took the right. 
Apple Watch try on. 

Two dozen decent to good looking male Apple workers on duty, but I got Zach. {curses}
No - I did not order one. 

13:05. Liberry items on hold for me; went to pick-up. 

13:40. Wendy's Ghost Fries. 

I'm not a proud man - at least when it comes to my food choices. Potatoes with cheese-like food product on top, topped with jalapeƱo?  Who am I to say 'no'?

They were ok, but I wouldn't do it again.

13:30. Another twofer: I swept out the garage.

To you, it might not look that different, but trust me, there is a lot of gunk that is gone. I still need to wash it down, but had to lose the dirt first, so that it didn't become mud.

14:15 Signs of spring.

There are some buds on the trees too. And we picked up about 10lbs of discarded trash off the side of our hill. Oddly, only one car part.

18:30. I know we're late and taking it to the deadline - but finishing our local and state taxes.
Much harder to do than Federal. With the Federal, we are married, with the the other two, we are not. ..but they're all done. 

19:45. What to do for dinner? What to do for dinner? 

It was leftovers. Rigatoni, to be specific. 

.....and now your Baker's Dozen.....

21:35.  No posing from Sophie, but Mr. Pete is always around for a sad-eyed picture. 
He's so handsome. 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Tears of Rage

I was Homer Simpson on Friday.

As Homer once tried to buy a gun, he was told there was a five day waiting period. His response? "But I'm mad now!"

I get that I don't really believe in guns for protection, but I might have needed one on Friday. I'm guessing the guy trying to run me off the road and tailing / chasing me through three consecutive cities probably had one  - or more.

Oh yes. Road Rage is apparently a real thing and not one of those things you read about on

I'll try to be brief.  ....but I won't succeed.

Mr. Asshole (see, I'm using a title, as a sign of respect) ran a stop sign, almost hitting me. I laid on my horn, part as a warning, part as a 'hey, you asshole' announcement. And I did not lay on the horn for an indeterminable time frame, which can happen. So I wasn't being that big of a prick about it.

The Mr. Asshole decided to go 3 me my punishment. At the stop light, he could have turned right on red, but opted to sit it out. I opted not to honk again, just because I knew what he was up to.

Upon finally making the turn, he straddled the two lanes of traffic we were in, until he determined which one I picked, then he got in front of me - continuing his 3 mph game. Well played, Mr. Asshole.

Me, being impatient and not thinking this through, decided to get in the other lane and go around him - which it turns out, was exactly what he wanted, as now he was right behind me.

As we are at another light, at one city limits, I see him, via my rearview mirror, giving me every conceivable hand gesture and mouthing what I'm guessing were major expletives. It's the one time I really needed Marlee Matlin in the car with me - though I could guess what he was saying even if I couldn't read lips.

Ruckiry (not Jon's boss), there was a minivan next to me, so he couldn't pull up along side of me and I stayed at the same speed as the van to limit access to me.....until the van made a right, leaving the lane open next to me.  Fudge. So Mr. A pulls up - and while I never looked over, I could hear him yelling. My windows were up as was my radio, but I could hear him. I'm guessing never acknowledging his presence made him more and more angry.

We were approaching another intersection where we would be parallel at a red light - me in the left, him in the right. In a complete dick move on my part, at the last minute I got in a newly opened far left turn only lane, cutting off the person getting in that lane, but this was for survival. What I didn't expect was for the Asshole to cut over TWO lanes, cut off the person I just cut off and now was back directly behind me.

I knew I had a big problem now.

Immediately I realized had I stayed in the other lane and gone straight I was a mile from a police station. But now I was fucked and headed in a different direction.

I had Siri (best use ever) call the police department. They stayed on the phone with me, but I was so flustered, I could barely describe what I was driving or where I was. The other driver now along side of me YELLING for me to pull over now. As if!  The police department sent out a call about road rage and my location - and kept asking for updates. I told them I was approaching a certain road and honest to g-d, they go, "oh that is now out of our jurisdiction" {fuck me!} and can I get to the Shaker Heights Police Department.

Again, being flustered, I wasn't sure where it was, though I knew exactly where it was - 3.5 miles away. This guy wasn't going to let me go 3.5 miles.

Beachwood police at least patches me through to Shaker. They told me they'd have a cop waiting for me in the parking lot , but I wasn't even thinking why they weren't sending one out. Someone had to be on patrol closer by.

I wasn't sure how I made it into the right hand lane, but I was. And then I realized I was going to come up into a major construction zone where I'd be trapped in a funnel of traffic, stopped for 10 minutes to get through a light. I was about to be fucked - and not in a good way.

With this guy on my left, I opted to slow down to 20 mph. I started letting a sea of traffic back-up behind me - and still trying to hold a conversation with the police. Mr. Asshole slows down too. And there is a bunch of traffic around him.

But with no signal (duh!), I make a sharp right onto an upcoming side street. No way for him to get over and now there are 7-8 cars that were behind me blocking any possible access to that street - and he was forced to keep going due to the traffic behind him.

I actually found other side streets and started going in the opposite direction of which I was headed, just to throw him off had he found a way on to a parallel street. To say I had heart palpitations would be an understatement.

The police asked if I wanted to come in and file a report, but I wasn't sure what good it would do, but they told me if I changed my mind to do that. At every intersection on the way home, I was hyper-vigilant at scoping out any cars looking like his (I had the make, model and first three digits of his license plate).

It took me another 60 minutes to calm down after getting home.

But yesterday, I decided to visit Shaker Police to see about filing that report. He had clear access to my full plate, since he followed me. And then I thought, maybe if he was a serial Asshole this could be just in his permanent file.

I will be calling SHPD on Monday to talk to someone more official than the guys behind the counter.

They not only discouraged me from filing a report, they told me they wouldn't take it. The "chase" started in another city. They didn't seem to care that the SHPD dispatcher told me to come in and file. They didn't care that I had the first three digits of the six digit plate.

"That can't identify him", they said. I was livid. I said, at the very least, you can narrow it down to 999 vehicles since you know anyone starting with GHH. Add to that which are black Honda Civics, that should narrow the search quite a bit (though I wasn't actually looking for them to go out and get the guy).

"No, we can't". 

Fucking liars.

I was actually more upset when I left the SHPD station yesterday than I was after that chase on Friday. And I let them know, "you two are absolutely fucking useless" and left the station. Then sat in my car for 10 minutes before going home.

So while there are bad cops out there (yes, you know all the stories) for being too aggressive, there are seemingly just as many for not lifting a finger.

It seems Mr. Asshole has won this round. least this time.

Song by:  Bob Dylan & the Band

Saturday, April 11, 2015


Weekend fun. Weekend post. Animals. They're better than (most) people.

Boomer and Petey awaiting potential dropped food items.

Peek-a-Boo Petey.

HRH Sophie, surveying all that is hers.

There are a few ways around this cat - if need be.

Petey getting one of his two-a-day breathing treatments. Seriously. 

Petey & Boomer - the best pre-rinse cycle ever. 

Song by: Neon Trees