July 31, 2005

Family Reunion

Emrack and Hunter came up from Chicago for a visit Sunday afternoon. Both enjoyed the chicken I marinated, but the heat was a bit much for the canine. I got a couple of good images of her (other than the tongue-radiator hanging out), posted in the extended entry, but she was usually deep in the shade looking away from the light.

My son will be doing his second comedy club appearance this Wednesday, appearing here just before the start of the Open Mic at 10:00 PM. He figures this will be a tougher test, as the audience will be more nearly sober.


I forgot to mention that my son is performing under the stage name of "Ross Raskin". Ross is the source of the "R" in Emrack, and Raskin is a family name abandoned by my branch.



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Endo Von Eerhah

There has been much hooraw around Milwaukee regarding the demise of the National Liquor Bar. It has been suggested that the closure is the result of a taking on the order of Kelo, altho my understanding is that the owner has been trying to cash out for some time.

The place was a dive. Such a dive that my son, an aficianado of dives, stopped drinking there as soon as he reached legal drinking age. In recent years, the chase lights in the sign which has been part of the landmark status have been turned off, apparently because there wasn't funding to replace the burnt out bulbs.

The Walgreens which is to be built at the location will be a net benefit to the community, replacing a ratty little one in a nearby strip mall. That mall is sufficiently busy that I expect to see some other business take over that space.

I had originally contemplated titling this post "Another One Bites The Dust", which would actually be more suited to one linking this clarification.

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July 30, 2005

Bloggers Are People Too

Amba, the Ambivablogger, whose sister was a classmate of mine in gradeschool and high school, asks:

So have you met blogfriends, and what was it like? Whether you've met them in the flesh or not, do you feel your blogfriendships have significantly enlarged your circle of true friendships? Come and tell. (Or tell and send the link.)
I have found that electronic relationships, whatever the medium, are pretty good predictors of what the relationship will be like in real life. I once had the opportunity, back in my industrial sales days, to entertain two out of town customers with whom I had enjoyed a telephone friendship. It was one of my best nights of partying ever. Back in the days of the 300 baud BBS, I attended two get-togethers. The one for the political forum where debate was always civil but I was one of only two conservative commenters was a pleasant evening but led to no friendships. The one for users of the TRS CoCo was a waste of time; the generation gap outweighed specific geek commonality.

I read Boots and Sabers every day, for fun as well as opinion. I stopped by Owen's place of business once for a brief hello and we hit it off so well that his office manager had to chase me out after what felt like fifteen minutes but was close to an hour. I read The American Mind less regularly. It deals with local issues from a viewpoint more traditionally conservative than my own and lacks the entertainment factor. I've met Sean a couple of times, and like him, but didn't develop anywhere near the same friendship.

I haven't met M.Simon of Power and Control in real life in over twenty years. Back then I enjoyed his company and had many long conversations with him, but once in a while his eccentric fixations would get to be a bit much for me. Same thing with his blog.

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July 29, 2005

Quote For The Day

Metaphor is the currency of knowledge. I have spent my life learning incredible amounts of disparate, disconnected, obscure, useless pieces of knowledge, and they have turned out to be, almost all of them, extremely useful.

- Chandler Burr, "The Emperor of Scent (character Luca Turin)

My son found this at Quoteland and forwarded it to me. He's just started on the path to becoming a stand-up comic, I've offered to create a blog to promote his act, and asked for interesting links. This is not quite what I expected.

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July 27, 2005

Taking Blogs Seriously

Companies have long known that magazine writers are an excellent source of publicity. Car magazines get cars for extended test drives, and performance car magazines get parts and assistance for projects. Photography magazines, and freelance writers who contribute to them, have been getting cameras "on memo" at least since the 1960s that I know of. Travel writers, both individually and thru their trade association, get transportation and accommodations. This is the first time I have read of a blogger getting anything other than a review copy of a book, and I think that it is a watershed event.

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Primum Non Nocere

First, do no harm.

Second, do no narm.

Thirdly, if you are determined to be offensive, why not defile the Qu'ran?

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July 26, 2005


Smash has posted a little ditty about Matt and Dianne. My own take on this has been that those who thump on the absence of the Bible must be weak in their faith if they fear such a possibility.

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Ice Your Cellphone

I received a broadcast email this morning, from a cousin I've had no contact with since Johnson was President, urging me to ICE my cellphone. I did something like that last winter. I dropped a Nokia 6190, one of the best-performing GSM phones ever, into a snowbank. Froze half the liquid crystals in the display and rendered it unuseable.

But seriously folks, it is a good idea to carry out the practice known as ICEing your phone. Create a directory entry labeled ICE with the name and number of the person to be contacted In Case of Emergency. Hopefully it will never be needed, but if it is, the responders will find it promptly.

See also ICIGSITBOTH, but note that in fact the incident in question was inspired by specific suspicious behavior and not by skin color.

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July 20, 2005

Green Tomato Pickles

I have no use for red tomatoes, except as an ingredient in cooked sauces or at the core of a Bloody Mary. Green tomatoes, however are one of my favorite vegetables. I'm not particularly into the classic fried green tomatoes (recipe conveniently posted recently by the Acidaughter) but do several other things with them instead.

The simplest thing to do with green tomatoes is to slice them (strive for even thickness), sprinkle with a seasoning herb blend, and George them, that being my verbing of the noun George Foreman Grill. I also dice them, and stew them with sauteed onions, garlic and okra. No particular recipe for this. Just dice everything (except the okra, which I buy frozen in the bag). Heat up some oil in the bottom of a big pot, and when it is hot, throw in the garlic and stir. When it turns frothy, throw in the onions and stir. When they turn translucent, thro in the tomatoes and stir. Turn down the light, simmer for ten minutes, throw in the okra and simmer till tender.

The absolute best thing to do with green tomatoes is to pickle them. I used to buy pickled green tomatoes at the grocery, but I haven't seen those for years. Anyway, mine are better. I just put up several pounds of them, and may do a bushel or more after the first frost.

Sterilize a batch of pint canning jars. Slice the tomatoes top to bottom into six wedges; plums or romas will stack well enough cut into four. Trim off the stem scar and any bruises. Put four peeled garlic cloves, sliced in half, on the bottom of each jar. Some jars also get two quarter sections, partly seeded, of a jalepeno pepper, just to add some tang, but not heat. Fill the jars with tomato segments to just below the rim ring. Add one tablespoon of commercial pickling spice to each jar.

Put one gallon of cider vinigar in a non-reactive pot (I use Pyrex but stainless is fine), and add two cups of sugar. Heat to just short of boiling, while stirring to dissolve the sugar, and then pour this, hot, over the tomatoes, filling the jars to just above the rim ring. Make sure the sealing rim is clean, cover, and hot water process per your best practice. If you don't have an established best practice, check with your county extension service or do a little research on line or at the library. It is actually quite simple

The pickles will last several months on the shelf (unless the seal pops - if it does; discard). Once they are opened, I find that with discipline a pint can last a few hours.

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We're Waiting

I was on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison today, doing pre-rollout testing of a high-speed cellular Internet service. The connection worked, at both of today's sites, but I will have to go back because the computer which stores the forty megabyte test file I needed to download was down. It's been over thirty years since I spent this much time on the campus of a major state university, and it would appear that other than an increased presence of tattoos, nothing has changed.

I saw most of the bumper stickers which I expected, and a few I hadn't seen before. The most noteworthy one was on - hoodathunk - a VW Microbus. It read "Kerry or Canada, eh?" You know what, buster? By now you could have finished whatever you were doing here, relocated, and moved halfway up the waiting list for whatever health care you need.

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July 19, 2005

Something Else Broke Out

When I heard the news that the hockey strike had been settled, my reaction was to declare that it ended too soon. People still remember the sport. I overlooked an importand development.

The sports world has not stood still in the interim. At a time when Major League Baseball's briefer strike is fading from fans' memories, we have been given exciting seasons. Golf is continuing to show itself worthy of the attention generated by Tiger Woods, and open-wheel racing is showing signs of deserving the attention brought by Danica Patrick. The NHL players may very well find themselves having to survive on the meat of the goose whose eggs supported them.

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Back in our younger days, we were, for a considerable stretch of time, broke. Seriously broke. I remember when the deposit on glass pop bottles went from five cents to ten cents. We had about ten six packs we hadn't brought back. That sudden extra three dollars was squander money. Some time later we once asked the phone company to turn off our service for a couple months because we knew if we waited to be cut off for non-payment we'd face an extra service charge to get turned back on.

We were never as broke as Velociman has been, but I have made the same statement he has. We have never been poor.

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Friskies Fatted Calf Dinner

Sebastian, our "who me?" cat, entered our household as an adult, accustomed to spending part of his time outdoors. Altho it wasn't our usual policy, we allowed him to continue this practice. He would stand by the back door crying "Miaout" until someone would open it for him. Sometimes he would whine to be let back in, sometimes he would bang the screen door, and sometimes he would wait till one of us arrived home from somewhere and then run up on the porch.

He would occasionally stay out overnight, but never past eight AM, when the canned food is usually served. Until a week and a half ago. He didn't come to the door, even when called. We tried everything we could think of to try to track him down, short of me luring young girls into my car to help look for him, but to no avail. We kept telling ourselves he had probably fallen in with evil companions and would soon wise up and come home, but after a few days we had to admit we were worried about him.

Late Sunday night I went downstairs in my bathrobe for a final check of the lights and and to see if the tops on the green tomato pickles I'd canned had popped down, and Peteymonster, one of the Kitty cats, was by the back door where I'd never seen him before. I walked over there to see why, and heard a cry from outside which sounded like Sebastian. I opened the door and called him. He answered, but didn't come running. I ran upstairs and grabbed a flashlight, came back down and tried to find him. When the beam crossed the window of the garage, I saw his eyes reflecting back at me. I had to run upstairs again to put on pants and sandals and get my keys to let him out.

There must have been some opening he crawled in thru, since the last time I had the garage door open was a week ago, and plump as he was he still needed a source of water. When he came into the house, he took a quick drink, ate maybe a quarter of the little can of wet food the wee wifey opened for him, and then was more concerned with catching up on petties than on eating. He has yet to go by the back door since he got back, so he must not have had that great a time out there.

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July 15, 2005

I'm Thiiinking...

Dean Esmay is now Jack Benny's age.

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July 14, 2005

Spotted Dick

The discussion of this particular delicacy began when Jacques Chirac insulted British cooking, and really picked up once the discussion of thinks to be admired about British cooking really took off. I'd contemplated posting about the stuff some time back, when I found a can of the stuff; the topic was to be whether Heinz was hurting the US job market by producing the stuff in England.

I actually started searching for recipes when the trigger was to have been Chirac. Other than the one ArmyWife worked with, margarine based, they were all so British as to use suet as the shortening. No thank you. I split the difference and used butter, and also averaged out some of the other ingredients.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup raisins

Let the butter sit out for a little while, till it starts to soften. Didn't take long in our kitchen this time of year. Blend each ingredient into the butter in order, mashing with a fork until you get to the raisins, for which you stir rather than mash.

Tear off a long piece of wax paper, and grease it. I was going to use the wrapper from the butter, but someone thoughtfully threw it out for me so I used a quick spritz of cooking spray, and doubled up the paper to spread it around. Dollop the batter into the middle of the wax paper, bring the ends together and fold over for a nominal seal, and roll it up into a sausage. Twist the ends and tie with bits of string. Cover with water in either a saucepan or the crockpot. Boil for two and half to three ours, or slow cook on high for six. It is suggested that you slice while hot and serve with a sweet sauce; I'm inclined to use butterscoth icecream topping as long as it's all about sweetness.

In the course of my research I learned that a hospital in Gloucester, England, changed the name on their dessert menu to spotted richard to spare the sensibilities of patients who had been exposed to USian slang, but changed it back due to the resultant confusion. Fact of the matter is that "dick" in this instance is short for "puddick", which is a variant of pudding, which is in turn a variant of the French "boudin" and originally meant sausage and is the reason for the traditional shape.

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Wrong Numbers

I correspond with more than one blogging Brian, but there is one in particular I think of as I friend. I look forward to seeing him the next time he passes thru town, as he has promised to take some old computer junk off my hands. It therefore troubles me to see him posting deceptive statistics. How about comparing the percentage of of the total number of animal - human interactions for each breed or species which makes the news due to negative results? Pit bulls would drop off the bottom of the chart.

It is true that the American Staffordshire Terrier has jaws and teeth which are particularly damaging on those occasions when they do in fact bite, altho they do not uniquely lock onto anything. This is why the fact that cocker spaniels are the dogs responsible for the most total bites does not tell the entire story. On the other hand, most pits are, as my son (who now travels with a potentially more dangerous canine) puts it, drooling lumps of love. Some time before he joined up with Hunter, Emrack was adopted by a stray pit. We had to take it to the pound, but the reason for this was that it was as demanding of affection as a kitten.

People who want a vicious dog notoriously choose pit bulls, and raise them to be aggressive. This is not the fault of the breed, but of those who criticize it. The same sort of miscreants also favor the AK47, despite its lack of power and accuracy, because its reputation is not based on its strong points of ruggedness and reliability, but on its supposed evil nature.


Note that if you check out the rest of the blog, always a good thing to do after going to a linked article, it is apparent that Brian is not as breed-prejudiced as I implied above. Those who are, however, are liable to continue misusing his statistics as presented.

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July 11, 2005


Skippy wants a million hits. As of now he needs twentyeight thousand more, which is about how many I've gotten since I started. I reckon I should be able to send him at least two or three. So what the hey - ding his counter.


Sissy is similarly striving; her goal is ten thousand.

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Swabbie Lichtenstein

Here is my response to this; similarly not capturing the style of the artist referenced.


I'm getting Nearstalanched. That's the second order effect of being linked from a post which has been Instalanched. I hope some of you folks are taking a look around, and here's a bit more for you. The posted picture is a modification of one I'd put up earlier, along with some information about the cat.

The picture was modified in Paint Shop Pro 9, not as powerful as Photoshop or the Gimp, but good enough for my purposes. I reduced the color depth, split it into CMYK, and replaced the black layer with one which only traced outlines. Here's another one, in the Impressionist mode. It was done by adding the enamel and brush stroke effects to the previous image.

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July 10, 2005

I'm Lovin' It

The global spread of McDonalds is condemned as Yankee cultural imperialism. It is true that they impose such uniquely American notions as clean restrooms and prompt service, but the reason they succeed is that wherever they go, they adapt.

Hat tip to a really tiny spirit.

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July 09, 2005

What Tshuhtspaah!

The title is a quote from the pilot movie for the late, unlamented, TV show Salvage 1. Unlike the TV anchor reading Isreal's official comment on a group of amateurs flying a cement mixer to the moon, the judge in this case knows what "chutzpah" means, and no doubt, how to pronounce it.

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Big Mistake

A cashier at a Milwaukee Home Depot made a minor mistake, and failed to ring up one item on a customer's cart, the customer having stepped away to deal with a cracked piece of molding he had selected. When he wheeled his purchase out of the store, the alarm buzzer went off, but the cashier assured him everything was okay. It wasn't; store security determined that he had shoplifted the item, and the manager on duty insisted on pressing charges. Evidently whoever made that decision was so out of touch as to not realize that nowadays the news gets around.

The people at the rival Lowes chain of home improvement stores who made the decision to enter the Milwaukee market this year must be thrilled.

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Oh Well

Altho I get to enjoy both lokshen kugel and a shikse wife, there are in fact some things which I miss out on by being a secular Jew.

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July 08, 2005

Abject Failure

The intent of terrorism is to change people's behavior by inducing terror. The Al Qaeda franchisees who claim credit for hitting London with a pale imitation of one day of the Blitz claim that they have "Britain now burning from fear and panic from the north to the south, from the east to the west." They don't.

Found via the Drink-Soaked Trotskyite Popinjays for War, who, in turn, I found via Michael J. Totten. These are people with whom I disagree on exactly what shape civilization ought to take, but who have a clear understanding of just who the enemies of civilization are.


More absence of terror.


Aaron doubts this resolve will lead to meaningful results, but in the short run, this is as brave an action as I have ever heard of.

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July 06, 2005


Best "Daily Sadie" picture yet. Even if your only babies have been cats you are going to get a lift from it.

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Special Occasion

Today is International Kissing Day. I therefore urge every person reading this to kiss someone from another country. I for one will concentrate on that aspect of my wee wifey which is of recent Polish descent while ignoring any part of her related to those of her ancestors who arrived in this country prior to 1776.

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July 04, 2005


Quite a few bloggers have posted the entire text of the Declaration of Independence. It is always worth another reading, but I have to ask, is "we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor" really any different from "You will take away my gun when you peel my cold dead fingers from it"?

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Heavily Punished

Monkey Watch informs us that a shaman in Malaysia warns of dire consequences for those who dress up animals. One need not hold to traditional island beliefs to agree that this sort of attire could incur the wrath of not only the community but also the "spirits governing traditional communal beliefs".

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Web Footed Friends

My mother-in-law took umbrage by the truckload. She was convinced that I was singing an insult to flat footed friends, as others had done when she had served as a WAC (but not a duck). I meant no insult to her (on that occasion), I meant no insult to Sousa, altho I was having fun with one of his greatest compositions, and I certainly meant no insult to the flag of the free.

It has been reported that John Phillip Sousa would have preferred to write dance music, and wrote marches because they sold so well. I myself have thought it would be fun to render The Stars And Stripes Forever as a dance mix or as rock 'n roll but my experiments in changing the instruments in the MIDI arrangement I found were for naught. Here, however is a MIDI arrangement, posted in honor of the Fourth, which turned out quite well.

Dean Esmay has also posted a version today, this one an MP3 of a live performance by a youth orchestra. I think you will get as much enjoyment from as the audience obviously did. Another interesting version is linked in the comments. I already had yet another arrangement in my collection, found a couple of months ago courtesy of Lynn in d minor.

Let despots remember the day!

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July 03, 2005

Veteran Bitches

Glittering Dave took his dog to a breed-specific event a couple of weeks ago at which she was judged to be the best veteran bitch present. They define veteran bitches as female dogs age 7 or more. I would claim that my son's canine is a veteran bitch even tho she is not much over one year old, based on the more conventional definition. She has more combat experience than the average seven year old dog. This is not because she is aggressive or because Emrack encourages her to fight. In the encampments where they are spending much of their time there are other animals who either do not have her acceptance of relative status or who attempt to steal her food. When this happens she instinctively grabs them by the throat, promptly restoring order.

Hunter and Emrack passed thru Milwaukee recently, and I managed to capture some images of her. A couple of them came out well enough to share. This first one came out blurred, and probably would have done so even had I used fast film rather than a digital camera. When she sees me for the first time in a while she gets so excited that her tailwagging shakes her whole body. We call this her buttwaggle dance. The second one however shows that she is capable of being totally laid back, and in fact much of the time she is.

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Mission Missioff The Missier

Whenever we shop at one of the Goodwill stores in our area, we are told, as we check out, "Thank you for supporting the Goodwill mission." Being the buttbutt boy that I am, I always respond that I'm not supporting the mission, I'm just shopping someplace cheap. Even when we donate items, our purpose is merely to see that items surplus to the smaller house we are moving to get reused. I don't believe anyone other than active duty military and Spanish monks in California need to have missions.

Professor Bainbridge appears to agree with me, but he still provides a link to a blog which is a collection of corporate mission statements. I've read a few, and all they are is "We will do our best to do what we are in business to do" loaded up with enough buzzwords as to turn them into parradiggums.

The reason this mission thing has gotten so popular can be explained by referencing a comment to this post. Fewer and fewer of us work with actual things. The alloy steel bars I dealt with when I was an industrial blacksmith didn't care what my mission was. All that mattered was that they were heated to the appropriate temperature for a sufficient time and and then acted upon forcefully enough in the required manner. When you are dealing with nothing but ephemerals, it is less obvious what really makes a difference and what is gobbledygook.

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Thank God And Greyhound

On those rare occasions that I start missing Chicago, I just start reading The Spoons Experience and am cured. Usually it is news of further victim disarmament by manic hoplophobe Daley the Second, but this time he brings to our attention something which should be an embarrasment to every adult in the city.

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July 02, 2005

Global Citizen

This is indeed cool, but having just been reminded of Citizen Of The Galaxy, I imagine that the future will be even cooler.

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Double Will Bite

When I posted pictures of Penny a while back, I made passing mention of Swabbie, the other cat of that part of my household. The name derives from the fact that he is white and fluffy like a cotton swab. Like many white cats, the Swab is stone deaf. Most of the time he is very relaxed, especially when up above everything and not being bothered. If you touch him when he isn't seeking petties, or try to move him, however, "him's a ninja".

Last summer, Swabbie got out of the house and got into a fight. A scratch to his ear got infected and required medical attention. When Emrack and NP went back to the vet to collect him, the attendant looked at the paperwork and said "Uh uh, I ain't goin' near that animal. You get him yourselves." So they went back to the kennel area and noticed that altho a few of the animal's cages had a yellow "May Bite" warning sticker, Swabbie's had two red "Will Bite" stickers. Since they know how to handle him, they thought this was cool and have proclaimed him to be the Double Will Bite ever since.

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Danger Has Robinsoned

I haven't followed a TV series in decades and I'm not much of a movie watcher. Neither do I pay much attention to anything at MSN beyond my hotmail account. Despite all this I want to expand upon this article about made from TV movies. It is perfectly logical that substituting franchise for creativity, which Hollywood does in more ways than just copying television, can result in sucky results, but in the course of making this point, Paige Newman totally ignored some of the good stuff.

I have never had any use for Start Reck, but my understanding is that at least some of the movies from that universe had merit beyond being trekkie food. At a minimum, they were something more than bringing a TV story to the big screen. The Blues Brothers were originally no more than a spot on Saturday Live, and the plot was just the old Mickey Rooney - Judy Garland "Hey kids, lets put on a show" plus car chases, but it was a masterpiece. Much of this was the inspired casting; there could for example have been nobody better than Princess Leiah for the vengeful jiltee.

A complete discussion of this topic needs to include live action remakes of animation. I saw only the trailer for the Flintstones movie, but I was impressed with how well the look and feel of the original was captured. I doubt that anyone who wasn't a kid hooked on He-Man or a parent thereof has seen the Masters of the Universe movie, but I was amazed at how much it didn't suck. There was a lighthearted approach to the subject matter but no mockery, and the bit with the microwave oven was downright inspired.

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