Friday, February 27, 2009

Elevation/Bands I Hate:

I might have posted this video before (I never watch the videos BTW, just post them for listening...) but hey! They played this song in spin class this morning and it was sexy as all get-out, wow;-) If it's possible to pedal in a rhythmic, come-hither fashion, there we all were-- sweating and breathing heavily in some sort of Bono-induced sexual coma... fun!

Been meaning for quite a while to compile a list of bands I really can't stand, here goes:

I cringe when any one of these performers/bands comes on the radio:

1) Matthew Sweet

2) Counting Crows

3) Blues Traveller

4) Sheryl Crow: especially her most recent songs, i.e. "Out of Our Heads", like some sort of tone deaf pre-schooler is crooning in your ear, *shudder*!

All bands from the 90's, a period I consider to be a deep cesspool of Pretty Bad Music that I had to suffer through after living and breathing music during my adolescence. The absence of tunes I could connect with during my early years of starting a family left a great, big hole in my memories, too, since so much of my life can be remembered by hearing a song, sigh. Thanks, shitty music of the 90's!

The grunge phase itself was pretty depressing, too, seeing kids dressed in baggy, sloppy t shirts and jeans at a concert vs the glam fashions of the 80's, making it a completely androgynous, unsexy time in general. And with the exception of "Closer" by NIN, there wasn't a single song I can recall that you'd want to get naked to, making the 90's a pretty shitty time to get laid as well:

I'm sure I'll add to the list as I hear something that makes me rush to change the station...

5) Brett Dennen: took me a while to determine that this individual was a GUY: his melancholic, nasally voice drives me completely batty

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Comfort Food:

My mom gave me this gigantic container of tuna fish (seriously, it was like 6 cups of tuna, egads!)... so, it being a fairly crummy, rainy day, thought it would be a good one to make a little comfort food in the form of a huge tuna casserole.
Filled with good ole American foodstuffs such as canned soup, french onions, and cheeeeeze-- it was nothing short of disgusting, yet oddly satisfying in it's cheesy, carby assfatteningness.
I also made another apple cake and a batch of homemade applesauce, so we were plenty set to eat our way through the rain and gloom, however long it decides to last;-)

Speaking of gloom, was a little sad to plod my broke self thru the Aldi's today in an effort to try and save a little $$$. In my years now of stable employment, I've become quite the foodie of late, and am quietly mourning my return to the frugal days of my youth (but mostly grateful that I'm still able to afford my trip to Aldi's; the stuff there isn't *nearly* as cheap as I remember it...). My plan now is to turn the experience of saving money into a game like I used to so I don't get mired in the despair that seems to be running rampant now.
People are freaking out, and understandably so, but getting whipped into a fervor isn't going to help anybody, least of all anyone in crisis.

Got an abrupt wake up call this past week as well; was brought face to face with the notion that I am not obligated to have a relationship with anyone, regardless of marital connection: i.e. just because you're married to someone does not mean that you are married to their family, especially when they are adults and the relationships are still strained after years and years of trying to get along. After this recent encounter I've realized once and for all that instead of beating myself over the head and trying to make difficult relationships work, it's simply better to stop trying to force things and recite the "Serenity Prayer":

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

It's easy to mourn the loss of hope that your family will become close someday, but liberating to realize that some things are beyond your control, allowing you to save your energy for something more productive and move on.
(Maybe now, too, husband will take responsibility for his relationships with his own family instead of counting on me to nag him to call, celebrate holidays, keep in touch with everyone... he is so bad about those things but the bottom line is that it is his choice what kind of relationships he has with people--not mine--and that's a liberating notion as well.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Grace's Birthday Cheesecake:

Modified from the Wilton recipe, and pretty dang fabulous:-)

1 1/2 cup (or more) crushed chocolate cookies (pulsed in the food processor until fine),
1/2 (+/-) cup melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
Mix all ingerdients, and press into bottom and sides of spring form pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 8-10 minutes, cool.

8 oz good quality semisweet chocolate, chopped (or milk chocolate, whatever floats yer chocolate boat)
1 cup whipping cream

Place chocolate in medium oven safe bowl. Heat whipping cream in saucepan or in microwave just to boiling point (or until bubbles start to form around edges of pan). Remove from heat, pour on top of chocolate. Allow to sit for a minute, then stir until smooth and glossy. Set aside on counter.

Cheesecake Filling:
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (do NOT use low or fat free, which would be sick and wrong and would ruin the whole concept of decadence you're striving for)
3/4 cup sour cream (see above)
6 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 tsp real vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 pint fresh raspberries (or frozen, it matters not;-)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in sour cream and add eggs, one at a time. Beat in sugar and flavoring extracts until mixture is smooth. Spread thin layer of ganache over the crust and top with the raspberries, saving some for garnish. Place spring form pan on baking sheet. Pour cheese mixture over raspberries. Place a small pan of water on bottom rack of oven. Bake cheesecake 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until set(the middle might be slightly soft).
Turn oven off and leave for one hour.
Cool and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Spread remaining chocolate (kept at room temp or remove from fridge a good 2 hours before using) over cheesecake, refrigerating at least 30 min to allow ganache to become firm.
Garnish with fresh raspberries.

Jacob's Animation:

Watch more cool animation and creative cartoons at aniBoom

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pretty Tasty Crock Pot Pepper Steak

I am a wee bit if a food snob and soooooooo not a fan of crock pot cookery, but Grace requested this dish. And seeing as how I had no time to stand over the stove and watch it, into the crock pot it went.
Lo and behold! It was pretty darn good:

2 pounds beef sirloin steak or round steak, (cut on the bias against the grain) into 2 inch strips
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, cut in half and then into thick slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tb apple cider vinegar
1 tb beef bouillon
1/4 cup hot water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 large green bell peppers, halved and sliced thick
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes, with liquid
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
Shake of hot sauce
In medium dutch oven over medium high heat, heat the vegetable oil and brown the seasoned beef strips in two batches. Transfer to a slow cooker.
Place onions in dutch oven and continue to cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, and sautee about 30 seconds. Add apple cider vinegar, beef bouillon, and water and deglaze the pan, scraping up brown bits from the pan. Sprinkle cornstarch on top, and stir.
Pour into the slow cooker with meat, add remaining ingredients, placing green peppers on top (stir them in half way, if you can).
Cover, and cook on High for 3 to 4 hours, or on Low for 6 to 8 hours.
Serve on top of mashed potatoes...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Job Whore:

Ok, I was sitting in my ACLS class the other day and running my mouth (as I am wont to do when I am nervous), telling the people there what I do and why I need to complete my ACLS. Well, come to find out that of course all the other staff there have real jobs that they're held for a while, in important areas such as the Neuro ICU, ER, Cardiac Critical Care; and then there's me, the girl who will do anything, regardless of my ability level, as long as the cash keeps flowing (I even offered to learn to teach ACLS and to my embarassment, they actually expected me to be experienced and qualified to teach it, geeeeez!).
And it struck me as kindof sad, that I really don't know how to do anything well, have no genuine accountability to any one discipline, no commitment, no mastery of ANYTHING in my field.
It became obvious that day that I will forever be stuck in this unhappy place, with no personal growth and very little confidence in myself as a nurse as long as I continue working the pool program...
Even my co workers, whom I've worked with for quite a while, treat me as if my presence there is temporary (which it is, I suppose..), give me no responsibility or opportunities to develop more than a rudimentary understanding of the job. I volunteer to work on committees and then am never included on the team (and why would they? I might not be there all that long....), and am tiredtiredtired of being told my hours are being cut, and then they aren't, and then they are, but not yet, maybe next month, wait and see, etc and etc.

Long story short:
It's LONG PAST time to put my committment issues aside, put my Big Girl panties on, and find myself my very own J.O.B.

I've applied to about 7 positions in the past few weeks, only to interview, win them over, fall head over heels, and then find out that either the job was pulled or they changed it and hired someone else-- gar! But I'll keep plugging away. I have basic qualifications to work many different departments (obviously), but those tend to be fairly specialized (GI, Walk In Clinic, Pain Clinic, Pre Admissions, Infusion) and pretty popular places to work, but ohwell.
And it doesn't help that my family is chronically in "fall apart" mode, i.e. no one is organized enough to keep their lives in order when mom isn't there to hold their hands, but ohwell again. I'm so very tired of feeling 100% resposible for keeping everyone afloat, as if I stopped paying attention for even a second, everyone here would drown (they will, they are, but it's long past time as well for them to learn to swim on their own and stop blaming me for their refusal to take responsibility for their own lives, sheeeeeeeeessssssh!)

Why is it so hard for women to feel like they can have lives of their own, I ask you? And truly, is the cause of my fear of committment to my jobs due to the guilt I feel that my family can't function without my constant atttention? Cause I don't think it's fair that all personal growth, meaningful employment and financial security for women have to be put on hold until their kids are grown...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Matter of Allegiance

And Why One Might Wisely Withhold It

by Fred Reed

I wish to propose a salubrious anarchy, a deliberate renunciation of fealty to country, society, and government, an assertion of independence from folly and moral decay. Permit me to offer a taxing political idea: When a society ceases to be worthy of support, it is reasonable to withdraw support. The time, I submit, has come.
Here I do not mean to urge crime or counsel treason, but to suggest quiet renunciation of the national disaster. Ask yourself how much of American life pleases you. The schools are run by fools to manufacture fools, government grows more intrusive by the day, and culture is determined by the triple cloacae of New York, Hollywood, and Washington. Freedom withers, not only in the ominous encroachment of police powers, but in the loss of control over schools, church, hiring, daily life. We are no longer our own. The United States is not the country we are told it is, and not the country it was.
How to escape? The beginning, and the most difficult, is a moral distancing. Those who care must disentangle themselves from the cobweb loyalties and factitious duties with which we have been unconsciously encumbered. From childhood we learn patriotism, that one must vote, that if our way is not perfect it is at least best, that we must support anything however bad because were were born in a particular place. Why?
Let me suggest that one owes loyalty to one's family and friends, to common decency, and to nothing else. Render under Caesar what you must, keep what you can, and swear allegiance to nothing. Here I do not mean just the government, but the zeitgeist, the miasmic fetor of trashy culture, the desperate consumerism, the entire psychic odor of a society in decomposition.
Begin with things so fundamental as seldom to be reflected upon. For example, do not imagine that you are under an obligation to marry, or to have children, or to raise them as the government requires. Procreate if you choose, but only if you genuinely want to procreate. It is not your job to perpetuate a civilization that is daily less deserving of perpetuation.
But: never let the government have your children. Once they are had, your responsibility is to them. Teach them at home. Better yet, go abroad. Other countries do not force you to pay for an academically retrograde moral cesspool and then to drown your children in it. You might be astonished to know Argentina, for example.
Ask not what you can do for your country, but what it can do for you—you ought to get some of your taxes back.
Do not tie yourself to…anything. The price of freedom is poverty: freedom grows as your needs diminish. Less apothegmatically, if you believe that you need a vast house in a prestigious suburb, then you will need a lucrative job to pay for it. Having tied your psychic contentment to such an abode you will also believe that you need impressive cars and will therefore be tied to a retirement system and, bingo, the door of the trap falls. This, we are told, is the American Dream. I fear it has become so.
I lived years ago in a second-hand house trailer in the woods. I do not know what it cost, or would cost today, but perhaps fifteen thousand dollars. It was perfectly comfortable, warm in winter, air-conditioned in summer. Mornings were blessedly quiet unless you regard birdsong as noise. A brick barbecue provided a place to produce ribs and drink bourbon and water. A couple of companionable dogs rounded out the ensemble. They had the run of the trailer, as was right.
Now, living in a trailer is to the consumerist sensibility simply too degrading and so…I mean, my god, how could you face the neighbors? (There weren’t any.) But aside from damage to a servile dependent vanity, what is the drawback? A couple of hundred dollars buys a remarkably good stereo, music is free, libraries are good, and I for one am more comfortable in jeans and tee shirt than in Calvin and Klein trappings.
When your expenses are few, your susceptibility to economic serfdom is small. You do not need to work miserably in a pointless job for a boss you would gleefully strangle. Yes, you need money. The first principle is never to work in a job that you cannot afford to quit. This means avoiding any job with a retirement, of which you will become a prisoner. The second principle is to work at something portable that you can do independently and, preferably, without capital. Retirement? Save.
Dentistry pays well but requires pricey equipment, and it is not easy to build a clientele. An automotive mechanic is always in demand and the employer will usually provide the tools. Writing is a serviceable gig and can be done from anywhere. Many varieties of technicians readily find jobs. Remember that white-collar work, aside from tending strongly to entangle you, gets boring. Get a commercial-diving ticket, take a serious course in the repair of marine diesels, and spend your life in the Pacific.
Here again the obstacles are fear, inertia, and vanity. If you come from a family on the suburban-death track, the thought of being a mere mechanic or dive-shop owner or what have you may be disturbing. "Don’t I need a college degree to hold my head up?" Look at the universities, at what they have become, and ask the question again. (Anyway, respectable in whose eyes? Your own are the only ones that count.)
Finally, work the system. The government, if you let it, will take roughly half of your income, give much of it to useless bureaucrats, much to various forms of welfare, use much to bomb countries you may have no desire to bomb, and much to force upon you services, such as horrible schools, that you do not want. The central question regarding government is whether you can take more from it than it takes from you. It is much better to receive than to give. Live cheap, work only as much as you like, enjoy life, and keep your taxes down.
You will still read of the rot and running sores of a declining culture, but it will bother you less. These things are your problem only to the extent that you feel yourself to be part of the society that produces them. Don’t fight the government, as it will win. Don’t try to reform society, because you can’t. Laugh at it. Live well. Read much.

May 31, 2005

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Working on something...

can't really make it come out right, I'm having a strange sort of a writer's cramp or something.
In the meantime, have a little fun with this:


Went for an amazing bike ride today in Kenosha; it was a little cold, but what a wonderful reprieve it was to be riding outside in the first week of February. The memory will have to hold me over the next several weeks as the weather fluctuates it's way towards spring...
Have to say tho how much my riding muscles have changed over the past few months. I rode as hard and as fast as I wanted to (since the trails were empty), in the highest gear, tearing it up, and barely got winded-- it was an incredible thrill. Where you can go in the summer and ride that hard I have no idea... it's addictive, exhilarating, and maybe it's time to get myself a helmet;-)
Went to Frank's Diner as well and had a lot of fun hanging with people who are fun and sassy in a way I only get to pretend daily that I'm NOT. Grace and I have been fighting lately, so it was nice to take the girl out to see the world as it isn't, but could be. It breaks my heart that her world is so small...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pictures of You:

Heard this on satellite radio tonight, and it struck me cold:

Seems like any time the world has something to say to me, it does so in a song. Could be a tune I've heard 100 times and glossed over, but for some reason at that moment in time, it resonates, gets my attention, and turns out there's a lesson in it that relates to something I've been trying to figure out. Strange.

This song was released in 1989, the exact year I inexplicably picked up and left my life behind and never looked back...

Only to discover years later that a portion of my head is still stuck back there, trying to make sense of why I went away and filter through the effect it had on the people and places I left behind. But I'm finding now that this process of remembering, looking back, trying to recall: "why did this happen?", "how did this all come together?", is hard to do on your own.

Over the past few months (years, really) I've spent a great deal of mental energy trying to put all the pictures in my head together, figure it out, over and over again... and I've finally come to realize that it's beyond my reach; my memory is too spotty, it's all too far away. But now, with the acknowledgment that there's a whole community of people outside my head who have in their possession *exactly* what I'm missing, I've determined:

What I need is a reunion of my very own, comprised of all the people within our large, yet fairly contained assemblage of misfits to come together, bearing photos, memories and stories to help bring it all full circle. From my new perspective, it's amazing to see the connections; those who were linked directly, those in the periphery, all connected, each with a story to tell.... from the suburbanite preppy guy with the new wave hairdo to the grungiest of the punk scene, there's a link somehow.

I'm not completely sure how it would come together, a party of sorts. Rent a warehouse, set it up with a conversation room, a crazy dancefloor a la Medusas, photos scanned and projected on the walls (have I been to too many raves? Maybe..)? But for me, hearing it, feeling it, being in the moment for just a few hours in contact with the people I knew when my world was being formed would be just what I need to feel that it actually meant something... something worth remembering, that strangely continues to make its presence known all these many years later.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Smoove B's Recipes for Seduction:

From the Onion:

Carrot Chocolate Chip Muffins
Smoove B
Many a novice love man errs on the side of putting too much emphasis on the dinner as a means of seduction. This is a mistake. One must remember that all snacks and courses that you prepare for your girl are part of the larger seduction. Often missed but highly important is the fare you provide for her after a long night of sweet lovemaking. The correct breakfast-time food can be the ticket that she will redeem for another night of seduction and doggy style sexing.
Smoove likes these Carrot Chocolate Chip Muffins in his morning meal, easy to prepare and moist. Enjoy.
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 large eggs
2/3 cup of sugar
1 1/2 cups of finely shredded carrots
1/4 cup orange juice
5 tablespoons of warm, melted unsalted butter
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips
The first thing that you will want to do is pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. While the oven is heating to this temperature, you will want to grease a 12 muffin tin pan with either butter or non-stick cooking spray. I prefer the cooking spray as it is easy and does not add flavors you may not want. If you prefer your muffins extra buttery, I would then recommend the melted butter.
The next step to take is to mix the eggs and sugar together in a small bowl. Add the finely shredded carrots to this bowl and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. If you have any doubts as to whether the carrots are shredded finely enough, ask yourself, "Are these carrots shredded finely enough?" If the answer is no, then I suggest that you discard the ones you have and shred some more. Many questions about cooking can be answered if you look deeply within yourself.
Next, grasp a larger bowl and mix together the flour and other dry ingredients, including the spices. Set that bowl aside.
When the carrots have been sitting in the mixture for the required 10 minutes, add the orange juice, butter, walnuts and chocolate chips to that bowl. Now add the contents of that bowl into the bowl containing the flour and seasonings. Make sure that you mix gently. It is important that the mixture is not over mixed. Unlike yourself, the batter should not be smooth.
Add the combined mixture to the individual muffin tins. Let the muffins cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or if you think they are done insert a toothpick into the center of one. If the toothpick comes out clean, the muffins are completed. Let the muffins cool for five minutes, then remove from the tin.
One thing that you may want to do is make a loud noise about five minutes before the muffins are done so that your girl wakes up and walks into the kitchen just as the muffins are cooling. Have a selection of juice and expensive coffee ready for her. And also have cream.
Smoove out.
More recipes:
Lobster For Two
Quail For Two
Corn For Two

Smoove's kind of politics :

Oh! And it's *finally* happened... another of my fantastic ideas has been burgled, stolen out from under me. I've said many a time over the past few months that my beloved iPhone has identified and met my every need: to satisfy my curiosity (Google), find my way (Mapquest), chat with friends (via Facebook), even to get a little jiggy with the husband via texting, wheeeee!
But there's been one leetle tiny thing that's missing.
Enter the iPhone vibrating massager app:

Gee... I wonder what THAT's for???

I really don't think I'm ready to take my relationship with my phone to that next level, but since it was free, I downloaded it anyway;-)

But I'm totally not getting this: well, not today anyhow...