Monday, May 30, 2011

Cicada Attack!

OK, OK, so it was only one little cicada that flew into my ear one Memorial Day as I was out watering my garden, but I gotta tell ya, it scared the crap out of me. Turns out that cicadi (not sure of the plural form) can produce a loud enough sound that they could actually deafen you if they do it next to your ear…which this one ended up doing! I’m not sure who was more scared, me or it (me for sure). It’s bad enough just have these guys flying around the yard this time of year making the racket they make, but those large red eyes really give me the creeps. Just now, having one barrel into my ear was a whole new experience. One that I don’t want to repeat thank you very much.

But, in hindsight, this fax pas attack got me to wondering. I recalled killer bees and how they can easily be provoked to attack and even kill on occasion. Why they exhibit this behavior is unknown although some scientists think it may be due to a gene mutation. Cicada, while appearing innocuous, sport a large penetrating proboscis that can be quite painful if it’s inserted into human skin. Now, just imagine a thousand mutant Cacadi attacking one hapless person?

Could that actually happen? Well, according to the scientists I’ve spoken with the odds are slim. Maybe as high as one in six.  There would have to be a genetic mutation that would allow for an aggressive tendency to express itself. Something that could only happen if the insects eat leaves that have pesticide residue on them…which many plants do in the Midwest. That would not be a good thing for Americans. About as bad as the tics that have been found with wings in Central America.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A song: Let’s keep on kicking that can!

I’m still waiting for some enterprising group out there to come up with a song whose lyrics are something like this:

Summer’s here, let’s go get some beer
The parties on and getting in gear!
My wallets full of bills that are aglow
Hot of the press and raring to go.

Cheap as you can, here comes Uncle Sam
The man’s so loaded he’s done exploded

Keep on kickin that can man
Living for the moment, while we still can.
Kick it so far, on through the night
Living this way, we all get a bite!

Cheap as you can, here comes Uncle Sam
The man’s so loaded he’s done exploded

Monies cheap and getting cheaper
Not far behind comes the grim reaper.
China’s gettin screwed by all this shit
Maybe it’s her turn to take the hit!

Cheap as you can, here comes Uncle Sam
The man’s so loaded he’s done exploded

Friday, May 27, 2011

Critique: Banquet’s Boneless Pork Rib Meal

Finally! After working my way through a gaggle of 'buck-a-meal' Banquet offerings over the past month, I think I may have found the pick of the crap. Uh, crop.

Whenever I think of pork ribs, I’m always reminded of the infamous McRib that is still offered, off and on, by the McDonald’s franchise. While over-priced (like much else they offer), it still tastes pretty good. (I think this is due, in no large part, to that tangy sauce! Take that away and you'd maybe have a Banquet Meatloaf Meal in a bun).Yuck!

The cooking instructions (like many of Banquet's dollar meals), runs along the line of; slit it, nuke it, stir it up and then nuke it 'one more time baby' just to make sure it's positively and absolutely dead.

After watching my evening meal spin around for three minutes in the microwave (can you get brain damaged from doing that? ), I went to the fridge, got the butter out and grabbed a fork from the dishwasher. Man, I'm ready to eat!

A short time later, while seated at a table, I pointed my TV remote at the tube and got down to eating this meal a deal. As usual, the process went pretty fast (hunger does that to you). Also, there just wasn't all that much to eat... about 370 calories and two hundred and something grams, if I remember correctly. (Actually, every $1 Banquet Meal comes in at only 300-400 calories, now that I think about it. A factoid I may want to investigate at some future date.)

Surprisingly, the overall taste of this meal was much better than I’m used to from Banquet! Whereas most of the critiques I’ve done were lucky to get a six on a scale of ten, I ranked this one a solid 8! The combo of mashed potatoes, corn and BBQ sauce on rendered pork is hard to beat and good to eat!

Update: Since this post, Banquet has since downsized this meal and now calls it their Boneless Pork Riblet Meal! The newer and smaller meal is only 283 grams for 310 calories. What progress!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A single raindrop’s life!

This is a drawing of a raindrop that fell from the sky over my home at precisely 5:25:03 PM CST on Monday, May the 23rd. The little guy committed suicide after what was apparently a fall of some great distance. Nor was he alone. Countless other raindrops also fell that day, splattering themselves pointlessly on the ground in and around my humble adobe. It was quite a mess as you could well imagine.

I’m pretty sure this particular raindrop was also heavier than average. I would estimate he had over ten quadrillion molecules of water in him which would be considered pretty obese in some raindrop circles. Not morbidly obese, mind you, but definitely a drop to be reckoned with.

It’s a good thing that raindrops are immortal. After his 'demise', my drop will eventually evaporate (reincarnate) into the atmosphere where he will rise back up to the heavens…only to fall from grace once again. A cycle that has been repeated endlessly over the last three billion years.

Maybe next time, he will fall over some great ocean. There, in the company of other fellow drops, he might spend a long time before parts of him are once again lifted up and the cycle repeated. Why, just imagine where ten quadrillion molecules might end up over time!

Then again, this particular raindrop might get lucky enough to fall over one of Earth's poles where he could become part of a glacier.  Existing in a solid state, he could well lay in suspended animation for tens of thousands of years. Slowly crushed down into a crystal of clear blue ice as billions of his mates cover and protect him over the centuries.

Yes, the life of a single drop of rain can be most interesting.

This posting on a raindrop was the sole creation of the Forsythkid.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Most people know instinctively which way the wind blows!


I’m not sure what it is, but when nasty weather is in the offing, most people know it. And they know it without the need for the media too. In that sense, we are much like most animals that can sense trouble, even when that trouble is far off. Maybe it has to do with the humidity or the way the wind blows, but something in a primeval part of our brains assimilates the data and begins to send a signal of unease to the rest of the body. 

The events, last night, of May the 22nd was a good case in point for me. Well, before the warnings came up on the TV and even before my conscious mind understood the severity of the storm that hit areas like Joplin Missouri, I was doing stuff I don’t normally do in preparation for bad weather. Stuff like checking to make sure the flashlight had good batteries and moving a folding chair to my storm shelter under the stairwell. My location in Forsyth Missouri and was in the path of the storm that ended up killing so many that night. Even thought the storm cell over Joplin didn’t look all that dangerous on the internet radar screen, a feeling of unease began to surface.

I can also remember watching a program on the TV and being interrupted by the warnings issued by the National Weather Service. My thought, as they came with more and more frequency, is that most viewers had already turned to the local channels where the coverage of the system impacting the area was now non-stop. But, I also had the feeling that even if a person didn’t have access to a media outlet, that they might be instinctively reacting to the changing conditions around them. I’m not sure how it could be done, but this would be a good area for researchers to look at. Some questions that could be researched are; 1) do humans (or animals) instinctively know when dangerous weather is nearby and 2) what internal mechanism that allows them this knowledge?

That’s all for this blog. Another storm is approaching….

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Random Thoughts for May the 22nd


A true rain stopper – clean your gutters!

Everyone knows that the surest way to bring unwanted rain is to simply wash the family car. It’s sure fire! (Note: If your neighbor happens to do the same thing on the same day, you’re guaranteed a downpour). I’m not sure why this works, but it does.

If, on the other hand, you want to halt any rain before it occurs, then just do what I do. Go out and clean the gutters. I did this recently. My downspouts were plugged up and, of course, it rained cats and dogs. But, after getting up on the roof and cleaning them, no more rain! It was a real miracle! I even called the Patent Office to see if I could get this process trademarked, but they hung up while I was describing it. Guess someone else beat me to it.

A new game show on Fox!

I understand Fox News will be coming out with a new game called ‘Name that Presidential Accomplishment’. Contestants will have ten seconds to name one thing that Obama has done while in office other than HealthCare. Talk about Mission Impossible!

If that show doesn’t work out, Fox will wheel out another one called ‘Guess where our southern borders are now’. That one could be a hit.

How’s that $4 gas working out for ya?

Unlike previous episodes in the great game of ‘oil cartel roulette’, it looks as though the record high prices you and me are paying at the pump will be settling in for the summer. There’s not going to be any lowering of the prices anymore children. You’ll have to learn a new word to add to the vernacular of ‘Oilese’. That would be ‘plateauis’. Right now the price of gas has hit a ‘plateauis’ where it shall rest a bit before moving onwards and upwards.

In case you missed the two words I added last time. They were ‘URscrewed’ and ‘Takeitindabutt’. The first word is an adjective, I think, while the other one is a condition. Feel free to try these out in a sentence next time you’re filling up the old jalopy.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tenacity 101

Though I have been thrown down on barren soil where so many would lose life's essential glow.

Through the grace of God Almighty, I will thrive and show this world my vital soul.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dan’s Produce Outlet of America: A business miracle?

In what historians will surely refer to as a genuine ‘rags to riches’ story, Dan’s Produce Outlets of America have officially become a national treasure.

Whether you’re talking about Dan’s cabbage, Dan’s tomatoes or even Dan’s bananas, Dan’s Produce Outlets of America is now a household name all across America. The real miracle though, according to some experts, has been the way in which owner Dan Owen has managed to keep his boyish charm while looking through a veil of stunning success.

Starting out with just thirty square feet of raised beds in 2008, Dan quickly turned that diminutive space located in Forsyth Missouri, into a mega business that is now estimated to be worth billions of dollars. What was the key to his success? While making a televised speech outside his lavish home in Houston, Texas DanO was heard to say, “I always wanted to do something for my family and friends and then it came to me! Why not grow a few veggies!” Seriously, that’s what he said.

Mr. Owen (who openly admits to receiving heavy subsidies from the government) wants people to know that he is ‘is not doing this for himself, but rather for all the little people out there’. He promises to continue offering the best produce ‘at competitive prices’ and insists that he will not be teaming up with Obama for the 2012 presidential ticket. Dan Owen, a man to watch!

Critique: Banquet’s Chicken Finger Meal

First off and for clarity, this meal is apparently offered in two 'dollar-a-box' versions. You have your choice of either French fries or Mac n Cheese. I elected to try the Mac n Cheese side on the theory that in no way would I be happy eating a micro serving of fries. Like a Lay's potato chip, you can't eat just one or even a few!

In a similar vein to other reviewers, I was struck by the offering of the brownie. A true rarity in the world of TV dinners, especially cheapies like the ones I tend to eat. In the picture on the box it looks really, really big. I could hardly wait to get my mouth around that puppy. (My only concern was whether I could eat it all at one sitting).

Then, there is the little pile of macaroons sitting in the other side compartment looking like decapitated slugs. I used to eat these a lot  in college when I couldn’t afford better food. Now, decades later, I’m still in the same predicament mostly due to ‘Obama-ecometrics’. I’ve got money, mind you… it just isn’t worth much anymore. I gazed at them for a second more, sighed, and then moved on to main entree.

The ‘chicken fingers’ are the main focus of this meal. There are three of them big boys just a lying there waiting for their chance to shine. According to the directions, you are supposed to ‘rearrange’ these guys half way through the cooking process. In my mind, this opened the door to all sorts of creative (read as perverted) arrangements. This time however, I settled for just moving them around a bit with my fork. To my eventual happiness, I opted for a bottle of BBQ sauce in which to dip them.

So, a few minutes after doing the microwave thing, I had my steaming repast neatly arranged between my fork and my bottle of sauce. For what it’s worth, the Mac and cheese was pretty decent. Not enough there to really matter much, but palatable.  The fingers tasted mediocre, (that BBQ sauce I added really helped), but the brownie… Uh, how can I put this? The brownie sorta sucked! It just didn’t want to be eaten! It was entrenched. I had to dig it out of its compartment with my fork in a manner reminiscent of removing barnacles from the side of a ship. And, the harder I worked at it, the more it disintegrated.

The brownie not withstanding, I gave this meal a six on a scale of ten. Once again, like so many of the other meals by Banquet, it’s good for those times that you don’t want to cook. Then, after you eat it, you remember why you still might want to take a class on cooking in the future.

Critique: Banquet’s Chicken Finger Meal

First off and for clarity, this meal is apparently offered in two dollar-a-box versions. You have your choice of either French fries or Mac n Cheese. I elected to try the Mac and cheese side on the theory that in no way would I be happy eating that micro serving of fries. That would be too much like being asked to eat just one Lays potato chip! Can’t be done.

Like many others who have written internet reviews, I was struck by the offering of the brownie. A true rarity in the world of TV dinners, especially the cheap ones like the ones I tend to eat. In the picture it looks really, really big too. I could hardly wait to get my mouth around that puppy. My only concern was whether I could eat it all at one sitting.

Then, there is the little pile of macaroons sitting in the other side compartment looking like decapitated slugs. I used to eat these a lot when I was in college and couldn’t afford better food. Now, decades later, I’m still in the same predicament due to ‘Obama-ecometrics’. I’ve got money, mind you… it just isn’t worth very much anymore. I gazed at them for a second more, sighed, and then moved on to main entree.


The ‘chicken fingers’ are the main focus of this meal. There are three of them big boys just lying there waiting for their chance to shine. Now, if you bothered to read the directions on the back of the box, you would know that you are supposed to ‘rearrange’ these guys half way through the cooking process. In my mind, this could open the door to all sorts of creative (read as perverted) arrangements. I settled for just moving them around a bit with my fork. To my credit, I did opt for a bottle of BBQ sauce in which to dip them.

So, a few minutes after doing the microwave thing, I had my steaming repast neatly arranged between my fork and my bottle of sauce. I removed that pesky film that covered the meal and chowed on down. A process that took no time at all. For what it’s worth, the Mac and cheese side was pretty decent. Not enough there to really matter, but good none the less.  The fingers tasted just OK, (that BBQ sauce I added really helped), but the brownie… Uh, how can I put this? The brownie sucked! It was deflated in the tray and just didn’t want to be eaten! I had to dig it out of its compartment with my fork in a manner reminiscent of removing barnacles from the side of a ship. And, the harder I worked at it, the more it disintegrated until I finally gave up.

The brownie not withstanding, I gave this meal a six on a scale of ten. Once again, like so many of the other meals by Banquet, it’s good for those times that you don’t want to cook. Then, after you eat it, you remember why you want to take up cooking in the future.

Random thoughts about hot issues in May!

Ron Paul launches 2012 presidential run!

Ron Paul is set to try and become president for the third time. Let’s hope that will be a charm for him. This seventy five year old congressman from the great state of Texas is widely known for his desire to severely limit the reach of the federal government. The man known as "Dr. No" for his enthusiasm for bashing runaway spending and government overreach certainly has my vote. The time is way past to make an accounting of government corruption and overspending. While I do not fully endorse either party, I do endorse this man.

It’s grilling time and that’s just fine with me!

Down here in southwest Missouri the weather is heating up. Woo Woo! It’s mid May and summer is now just a month away. That means outdoor activities will be on the upswing as the weather warms (and maybe gets a bit drier). My personal focus, this time of year, usually centers on the charcoal grill and some of the great food that will come off it.

One of my absolute favs is barbecued chicken legs. There nothing quite like the smell and taste of freshly grilled chicken in the summertime. (Give me a piece of good chicken, a baked potato and a garden salad and I’m ready for anything)! When I’m not doing the leg thing, I’m into shish kabobs using fresh fruit, veggies and chicken of course!

Only a decade or so ago, chicken was considered a very economical meat to eat.  I can remember buying who fryers for just twenty nine cents a pound. (Today, the cost is closer to $1.50 or more! That being the case, I now look for ways to ‘stretch the meat’ and save a little on cost. I accomplish that in two ways; I wait for bulk chicken to go on sale and I limit my intake of chicken by adding more veggies. (Something that’s also a lot healthier for me in the long run).

Global warming or global cooling. Which is it Al?

Someone go out and dig up Al Gore please. I need to ask him to go and get his charts so he can explain the recent wacky weather events here in the US. Al baby, tell me again that things really are going to hell in a hand basket. (It’s not like I didn’t already know, I just want to hear him say it again).

What’s been happening in my mind is not so much the weather trends as it seems to be the weather extremes. First, we have a national drought that lasts for much of 2010, and then we get way too much water early in 2011. Yet, I’ll wager the average rainfall, by the end of the year, will be close to normal! (Can’t someone call Mother Nature and tell her to ‘spread it out a bit more’)?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The cost in gas when mowing a yard!

A springtime chore that is fun, at first, soon becomes a chore that I try my best to avoid. It’s not like I have to work that hard at cutting the grass, mind you. I have a sit down mower for crying out loud! It’s just that I feel all this effort is somehow wasted. Were it that grass was a cash crop. Even if it were a small cash crop, I would be happy. Can you imagine if people could eat grass? What a difference that would make to world economies. Of course, it would have to taste like steak or something to be worth it for me. With my luck, someone will invent an edible grass that tastes like liver.

So, OK, I have to cut the grass and it’s worthless to boot. I got that. But I wondered just what the cost in gas and time actually was? With gas prices running at $3.75 a gallon where I live in southwest Missouri, I wanted to see just what it was costing me to mow.

First off, I needed to figure out how much grass I was actually mowing before anything else. To that end, I went outdoors and paced off the entire area. I figured that each four paces I took covered about ten feet of distance. I also made a crude map of the area which I broke into quadrants. I then paced off the perimeter of each and then deducted any area, like raised beds or shrubs. I came up with about 11,000 square feet of total area. This works out to about a quarter of an acre. Cutting this size of a yard using a 42 inch mower worked out to be the same as cutting a 42 inch wide swath that was 1.1 miles long. (I know this because I used a GPS while I mowed).

Next, I wanted to quantify the amount of gas used. I went to the local gas station and bought exactly a gallon of gas. I then made a mark on the plastic gas tank showing the current level and then made another mark after I had added four cups or a quart to the tank. After cutting, I had used about 3 cups of gas which at $3.75 a gallon came to only 70 cents. My total time to cut was just about twenty four minutes. Not too shabby.

So, while cutting the grass is still an affordable enterprise for me to do, I still reserve the right to complain about it!