Friday, February 28, 2014

The Pretenders and Don't Get Me Wrong!

 A really great vocalist and side guitar! Kiitos!

 I fixed a glitch in the vocals in this great song by the Pretenders that was posted on YouTube - it had the audio off by something like nine one thousands of a second... I uploaded this revised version in an .flv format. In hindsight, I may post this to my YouTube channel just for fun in a similar format...although increasingly, I find YouTube less and less appetizing... I have a very sensitive nose for all things becoming rotten and corrupt...

Truth is, most of the monies that should go to a specific band, actually end up in some mega corporations (such as BMG's) pockets - it would be far better if we listeners could figure out a way to get those dollars directly into the pockets of the musicians... just a thought! [Maybe a flash-cash account could be set up whereby a web person like myself could hit a button next to a songs name and shoot a composer a dime!] That would work for me and I'm pretty sure it would work for them! BTW - that button above doesn't work...yet! Would someone please run with this?

Background: The Pretenders are an English-American rock band formed in Hereford, England, in March 1978. The original band comprised initiator and main songwriter Chrissie Hynde (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), James Honeyman-Scott (lead guitar, backing vocals, keyboards), Pete Farndon (bass guitar, backing vocals), and Martin Chambers (drums, backing vocals, percussion).

Thursday, February 27, 2014

It's August and I'm so out of here!

A place marker for 90K views! March, so does indeed suck!

The Animals: We Gotta Get Out of This Place!

An appropriate song for this time....

'It is our intellectual constructs, what we call 'governments' or 'religious extremists' or 'countries', who intentionally foment and who so cause patriotic men to go to war and to then kill other fellow men. All in the pursuit of some idealistic dogma... Killing, for the sake of killing others with differing ideas, is an unnatural act for any species of animal to perform! Especially for any race who professes themselves to be self aware or otherwise Godly.'

Bottom Line - Trust no one in any Government!

Homemade soup versus the canned stuff!

While shopping for groceries, recently, I happened across a couple of cans of Campbell's Vegetable Beef Soup and threw them into my cart without a thought. Later, aster I got home, I discovered that each ten ounce can cost $1.85! I was astounded. The last time I remember buying a canned soup, the cost was $1.09 and I though that was expensive.

So, what does $1.85 buy you? Well, a serving, according to the label is ½ a cup! Pictured here is that serving... pretty small. Each can will supply your growing family 2 ½ of these 'servings' with the cost per serving at about $.75. That doesn't seem like such a good deal to me!

For what it would cost to run to the store and buy a can, you could use veggies you had on hand to make a hearty homemade version of this, but for just pennies a serving. In addition, whereas a single canned soup like this has over 900 mg of salt, you can serve your family less than half that by making it yourself!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Jefferson Airplane White Rabbit

Does anyone remember Gracie Slick and this song by the Jefferson Airplane? It was a big hit back in the day when I was studying at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale! A song for back then, and yet it still applies today!

Critique: Ronzoni Tri-Color Rotini!

Not only is this little corkscrew shaped pasta colorful, but the packaging assures one that it is also enriched with carrots, tomato and spinach solids from 'dried vegetables'!

I made up a batch of Ronzoni Tri-Color rotini for the first time and discovered that you have to be careful as it overcooks quite easily. The package states that 9 minutes is medium al dente, but I found it to be a bit over cooked!

At a cost of $2.49 for a 12 ounce (340 gram) package, the pasta is a bit on the expensive side. Nutritionally, each ¾ cup (56g) serving has 200 calories, so after adding some pasta sauce the total caloric impact can get up there! I generally like to make my own pasta sauce from scratch using low sodium tomato sauce and simple ingredients like onions and bell peppers. This keeps the overall calories in check, although the serving is rather small.

Rock found in Driveway in Forsyth MO!

While going outside for a short walk, this morning, I discovered a rock, sitting on my driveway that someone must have lost! It is squarish measuring 2 ¾” by 2 1/4” by 1” thick! It's also white in color and weighs about a it is fairly dense!

If anyone has lost a rock that matches this description, please let me know! I'm not looking for a reward or any recognition.. I just want to return this to the proper owner. Of course, I wouldn't turn down an small honorarium if it was offered!

Glandenspuken: The elixir of fiery death!

Glandenspuken potion
Ancient City of Hyperboreon
Two shadowy people, Ron of Iredaforth & his wife Nancy who dwell under a moldy bridge to the north and who are themselves evil druids, have recently bequeathed to me a liquid potion of some great rarity. It's kind was only last seen only in Middle Earth around the time of the reign of the wizard Merlin, and had thought to have been destroyed during the Hyperborean wars some centuries later.

It was known, back then, as 'Glandenspuken' and it was said to be so powerful a potion that it could kill with just one small whiff in either nostril! Now, what little bit remains of this strange and deadly substance is in my possession to do with as I will! Bruhahahaha!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Easy homemade pasta sauce!

Here's a short video I did on making pasta sauce at home.

In my book, a good pasta sauce, especially the home made kind, needs to hit a few bases in order for me to go to the bother of making it. It must be; a) more healthy than what I can buy at the store, 2) it must taste pretty awesome and 3) it has to be simple stupid to make! This sauce is all that and more!

Not a bad sauce at all!

Monday, February 24, 2014

August 26, 2032 projected asteroid impact!

Ukrainian astronomers have discovered a large asteroid heading for Earth which could strike our planet on August 26, 2032, impacting with a force 50 times greater than the biggest ever nuclear bomb! Something for our children to worry about!

Its existence has been verified by teams around the world, in at least 27 distinct observations over the course of the past week, and NASA has been forced to issue an earth impact risk summary as part of its Near Earth Object Program.

The 1,300 foot (400 meter) wide asteroid has been named 2013 TV135. There is a 1 in 63,000 chance of the asteroid striking earth – enough for it to be added to the Torino scale which measures the risk of all objects which could reach Earth in the next 100 years.

According to NASA there is only one other asteroid that has made it to a 1 (out of 10) on the scale. At 130 meters wide, 2007 VK184 (see note below) is nonetheless regarded as relatively high risk because it has a 1 in 1,820 chance of impacting Earth. All other near Earth objects are rated as a 0 – meaning their risk is “effectively zero”.

Gennady Borisov from the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory told the Itar-Tass news agency: “On the night of 12 October, I was watching the Giraffe constellation, it was an in-depth monitoring as part of the comet search program. This is when the asteroid… was discovered. The first observations show that it moves quickly and is relatively close.”

If it struck the earth, the impact from 2013 TV135 would cause damage to an area of approximately 100,000 square miles – the equivalent of x – with an equivalent force to about 2,500 megatons of TNT, or 2,500 standard nuclear warhead-bearing US Minute Man II missiles.

“Here’s a super-goal for our space industry,” said Russia’s deputy prime minister Dmity Rogozin, who is responsible for the country’s space programs and has lobbied for Russia to develop asteroid defense systems.

Astronomers say they will continue to evaluate the risk posed by 2013 TV135, and that they may be able to pin down its exact path – and even a possible impact site on Earth – by the year 2028.

An Earth impact would have the kinetic energy of 3,200 megatons of TNT, approximately 60 times the energy of Russia's 50 Mt Tsar Bomba. This would also be equivalent to 16 times the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa which was 200 Mt and had a Volcanic Explosive Index of 6.

Note: Risk assessments for 2007 VK184 were calculated based on a diameter of 130 meters. It is estimated that, if it were ever to impact Earth, it would enter the atmosphere at a speed of 19.2 km/s and would have a kinetic energy equivalent to 150 megatons of TNT. Assuming the target surface is sedimentary rock, the asteroid would impact the ground with the equivalent of 40 megatons of TNT and create a 2.1 kilometers (1.3 mi) impact crater. Asteroids of approximately 130 meters in diameter are expected to impact Earth once every 11000 years or so. Around May 23, 2014, the asteroid will pass 0.16−0.19 AU from Earth at which point scientists may be able to ascertain more precise predictions as to a possible earth impact in the future.

Scientists warn another Ice Age could be imminent!

'The Sun's activity is at its lowest for 100 years, scientists have warned.'

'Scientists say the conditions are eerily similar to those before the Maunder Minimum, a time in 1645 when a mini ice age hit, Freezing London's River Thames.'

'Researchers believe the solar lull could cause major changes, and say there is a 20% chance it could lead to 'major changes' in global temperatures.'
These lead-in statements, by a few concerned climate scientists, are troubling to say the least! While, it's true that our sun has been acting very strangely as of late, no one is sure if this activity (or the lack there of) is a run up to a similar event known as the Maunder Minimum. A period of time starting in about 1645 where sunspots virtually disappeared for almost 70 years!

During that period of time, parts of Medieval Europe suffered some of the strangest weather imaginable! Check out a book written by Brian Fagan called' The little Ice Age' for an insightful and chronological look at this period of time when tens of thousands perished and millions of others suffered horribly)!

What a strange turn of events it would be to find out that the only thing keeping our world from the next Ice Age was the burning of fossil fuels! Such a revelation would provide a fitting footnote to the folly that is mankind and his facile understanding of nature!

The lowly potato! Food fiend or friend?

Of the many produce items, I buy each week, the lowly potato remains one of the best deals out there. Oftentimes, a five pound bag of Russet potatoes can be had for less than $3! And, while this tuber has gotten a lot of bad press as being too fattening, I still make it a regular addition to my dinner table!

With over 5,000 varieties to choose from, world-wide; the potato can be found in many sizes, textures and colors! In my local area, here in southwest Missouri, the most common version offer at the local grocery store is the Russet potato. A baker-type tuber whose flesh is white, dry, and mealy; it's good for baking, mashing, and even French fries if you happen to own a deep fryer!

As a food, a potato contains a host of vitamins and minerals, as well as an assortment of phytochemicals, such as carotenoids along with natural phenols that make it very good to consume over the long term. The fact that its flesh contains a lot of starch also means that it contains high levels of carbohydrates! About one calorie for every gram eaten, on average. Not necessarily a bad thing! But, the main reason potatoes have gotten such a bad wrap it the way people eat them; i.e., in the form of greasy French fries, potato chips or loaded down with fats such as butter, sour cream, melted cheese and bacon bits. That's sort of like eating a carrot with a spoonful of lard! Such treatment can make even the baked variety a potential contributor to cardiovascular disease. But, take away the extra fat and the deep frying and a baked potato is an exceptionally healthful low calorie, high fiber food that offers significant protection against cardiovascular disease and cancer.

In my diet conscious world, I will typically microwave a whole potato and then will then cut it in half, saving one for another meal. I will also refrain from using real salt or butter. That way, I'm getting all the good with little of the bad effects. The potato half pictured above weighed in at 150 grams and contributed only 100 calories to this complete 460 calorie meal!

So, the bottom line is that yes, you can enjoy this wonderful food as long as you use some common sense in the manner and quantity that's prepared!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The rising cost of beef!

A plate of steaks graced many a dinner table in the 50's!
Buying a good steak, these days, can be problematic for many Americans! What used to be almost a  dinner tradition is now a increasingly expensive and sometimes had treat! The problem being that beef prices, over the years, have continued to climb from what many considered reasonable to not so reasonable. This at a time when more of us are unemployed, working fewer hours or trying to make a food budget stretch with a shrinking dollar!
This small 8 ounce fillet cost $4.50 in 2014!

I can remember, back in the 1950's, that a good porterhouse steak cost just about $.95 a pound.So, a good steak meal might set you back about $3. And that was considered an expensive meal back then!

Today, feeding a family of four steak could easily cost a provider over $30! 

Not that this applies to working folks. If you happen to be on welfare, then you can probably afford lobster!

Steak and eggs at home!

Going out to a restaurant for a breakfast of steak and eggs is a snap! You just go, order and then shell out a wad of money! Eating same at home presents more of a challenge...

To me, a true 'steak and eggs' breakfast should employ the following ingredients at a minimum:

Eggs, preferably sunny side up
Hash browns

My home version is a bit different, but the feel is about the same. For the steak, I had a six ounce filet Mignon that was prepared in a George Foreman grill., a single egg prepared sunny side up, silver dollar or circle fries (I don't own a deep fryer and they are also healthier for you) and a slice of regular white bread for the toast.

British dollar fries
This whole deal goes together rather quickly with the fries taking the most time to cook. To make them, I heat up a little olive oil in a frying pan set over high heat. A single small russet potato is peeled and then sliced into small silver dollar shapes. These take only a moment or so to brown after which they are placed on a paper towel and lightly salted with a salt substitute. That same pan is then wiped clean of any extra oil, the heat reduced to medium and to which is added the egg and steak strips.

Interestingly, this meal hits on a number of good points; it's cheap at only about $3.75 per serving, a good item for a person on a diet at just 508 calories and fairly nutritious overall as you can see from the nutritional panel, pictured above!

So, who needs to eat out when you can do it yourself at home?

A new world order!

This is what the North American continent looks like today. I mean to change all that. My simple plan will; solve our country's food shortages, create cheap energy, expand our lands, eliminate the National debt and solve the our problems with Mexico - all in one fell swoop!

OK, my solution starts out by our government building a few walls. A few high walls...say about a half mile up and of a length as is effectively described in the map below...

A few walls are added to the general landscape!
As you may be able to see, Canada and her rather frigid arctic air are now completely sealed off. After construction is complete, and when the next winter arrives, all that bottled up arctic air will freeze the entire population of Canada. Voila, new lands for us to settle are thusly created!

Next, we remove a small section of wall and release all that frigid air...which is then funneled down the middle west of the country into, you guessed it - Mexico! And voila again! That pesky immigration problem is now also a thing of the past!

Let the COLD air flow!!
Next to last, and as you may have guessed, building all those walls will have added trillions to our debt. But, no worries! My solution to that little problem will be to sell off the western states to the rubes in China for a tidy profit. Sure! We'd also be getting rid of the Golden State in the process... but, maybe that's not a bad idea considering her own pending bankruptcy!

Finally, I will personally ask from a grateful Nation,  a small piece of property which I will name as DanO's Territory! I will also seek a small piece for my friend and confidant, General Zod!

You're all welcome to come to my territory anytime!
The end result will, I think, work for most everyone concerned. Oh! You might be wondering about all those millions of frozen Canadians and Mexicans? Well, they can be easily ground up into feed for cattle, resulting in really cheap prices for our domestic beef! See, it all works out! I'm being totally serial...

Note: I've sent these plans to our President and to a number of other 'think tanks' for their consideration. So far, only Soros has responded back favorably....
Disclaimer! This post is a work of satire. The author would never condone the grinding up of anyone, outside the Washington Beltway...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Nick Drake - Saturday Sun!

One very cool dude!

Nicholas Rodney "Nick" Drake was an English singer-songwriter and musician, known for his acoustic guitar-based songs. He failed to find a wide audience during his lifetime but his work has gradually achieved wider notice and recognition. Today, he is a cult icon..

News and Views!

California drought may affect food prices!

Get ready to feel a pinch at your local grocery store as this summer approaches. The ongoing and worsening drought in California's Central Valley has adversely affected crops. The California Farm Water Coalition (CFWC) estimates the drought could take a $5 billion dollar bite out of an industry that brings in $44.7 billion annually.

What's that mean for grocery prices? Count on about a 10% increase due just to the drought. A figure that most Americans can live with, as long as it is temporary.

Cold weather not done with the Midwest!
It seems that Canada has had a real bumper crop of cold air this year and wants to continue sharing it with its neighbor to the south! As the last week of February 2014 begins on Sunday, a succession of cold fronts are forecast to sweep thorough the Midwestern states bringing with them high temperatures of only around 30F with lows in the twenties and teens overnight. This cold regime is expected to last for the last six days of the month! (Note that down here in southern Missouri, we normally will see a high of 50F and a low of 35F). Currently, my location in southwest Missouri is running 6 degrees below normal for the month!

All that cold air is sure to add to heating costs for thousands of citizens who may be pressed just to make ends meet. This will count as the third month in a row that many have had to endure exceptionally high heating costs.

Old Bulls Shoals bridge to stay around!

If what I've heard is true, a decision by Modot has been made to keep the original 60 year old bridge that crosses over Bull Shoals lake near Forsyth MO even after the new one is built in 2017! The old bridge will then be used by pedestrians and people with bicycles to enable them to cross over from the nearby community of Valley View Village. (Something they do now, except that they must navigate a narrow ledge to do so).

Critique: Knorr beef flavor Pasta Sides

After picking up a bag of frozen meatballs at the local grocery store, I added Knorr's Beef Flavored Pasta Fetticcini Sides to my shopping basket as an impulse purchase. This stovetop, 230 calorie per cup side dish also advertised a Swedish meatball skillet recipe on the back side of the package that caught my eye and which looked pretty good, so I thought what the heck.

The directions on the package were pretty straight forward; just add the contents, a pat of butter and 2
cups of water to a medium sauce pan. Bring this to a brief boil, stir and then simmer for about seven minutes. The frozen meatballs were nuked as per package instructions and then added to the pasta. An easy greasy meal deal that serves 2!

I gave this meal deal a 7 on a scale of 10. The noodles were al dente and the sauce was also very good. The addition of the meatballs, however really helped to put this whole culinary affair over the top! The only downside of this dish was the high caloric content, but that's what portion control is all about!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

It's semi, sorta official – the spring floods, they are a coming!

An updated photo of the canopies in their 'safe location'!
After much thought, some study at the local library and from talking with any number of 'experts' around town, I've come to a conclusion. That is, that the reason the Corps of Engineers removed all those canopies from approximately 20 camping sites along the Bull Shoals river (near Forsyth Missouri) back in December, is because they are psychic! That is, they can see into the future, baby! I wonder! Is this yet another sort of proof of the hi tech stuff still coming out of Area 51 from when that UFO crashed in Roswell New Mexico in the 50's? I don't know, maybe...

And apparently this won't be just any flood as I was informed in December, that a 'ten foot wall of water' would soon inundate the entire river basin, thereby sweeping away all that lay before it. (Sounds sort of biblical)!! And, those canopies would be long gone were it not for the crafty Park Rangers who removed them and stacked them out of harms way! [Note: This information was first given me back in December 2013 when I also posted a blog on the subject].

Now, some months later, I'm guessing that old wall of water will soon become a reality, so watch out for it and be prepared to run for your life! And, when it does occur, I'd like to give this deserving arm of our government the full credit it deserves as I feel it can use all the help they can get these days...

Remember! You read it here first.....

Disclaimer: There is no evidence that the Corps of Engineers, or any or branch of our Federal government for that matter, is psycho psychic. This was just another tongue in cheek posting by an author with too much time on his hands! I think that the truth with these canopies is this - on the next really slow day when these folks are looking for something to do - they will replace these on top of the campsites! See! We're really doing a good job after all...

The real bottom line - do not trust anyone who works for any governmental agency very far. Please keep them at arms length at all times! Sadly, I feel that we have a cancer eating at this Republic and that fact will become more evident, eat day, as it it continues to metastasize throughout this country in the days and weeks and months to come...  

Update: Friday, March 14 - The canopies were placed back on top of the picnic tables - order has been restored and apparently no flood is imminent!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Critique: Marie Callender's Braised Beef Pot Roast!

This Braised Beef Pot Roast offering for $3.19 from Marie Callender's will likely be somewhat of a challenge as the reviews posted on their web site were often less than glowing! Here are a couple.
The description is way off. First off, the smell. My entire office now smells like bad vinegar or something a bit off. And I took this uneaten meal out to the trash over an hour ago! The gravy was NOT "savory" it tasted bitter and unlike gravy. The carrots & potatoes were rubbery. As for the beef being tender, well, I had to spit out the only bite I tried. I question if it's even meat, sorry, it was THAT bad. Glad I only purchased one of these! Absolutely disgusting!
December 05, 2013 Signed Frank

An even more disturbing review followed....

poor quality
Usually I like Marie Callender's food; but, this was terrible! This product had 3 little pieces of meat which were dry. There were only a few carrots and I found a hair and a piece of lint (this was thinner than a thread).
November 21, 2013 Signed Unhappy
So, after reading this and other similar reviews, I will admit that I approached eating this TV meal deal with some trepidation. But, I did want to see if the folks at MC where any competition to the excellent 'Baked' offerings from Healthy Choice.

The box boldly advertises, 'Tender pieces of braised beef with roasted red skin potatoes, pearl onions and carrots in a savory gravy.' Sounded good to me. And, only 210 calories for 312 grams of food. Wow, I thought! So, it was off to the microwave as I mentally practiced some Zen thinking, so as not to pre-anticipate any bad results... 

Just like the 'Baked' series from Healthy Choice, the directions instruct one to merely slit the plastic cover and then to nuke it for about 6 minutes. Easy greasy! I followed those instructions and then let the product cool for about a minute before digging in. First, I inspected the food closely for any hints of foreign material... none seen.

How was it? In a word, it was 'just-OK'. Another word that came to mind was 'uninspired' and finally a thought briefly crossed my mind that I just might have been poisoned! I'm only kidding! But, while it was cooking, I thought I could detect the smell of burning rubber! Maybe that was just me. Also evident was the really high levels of sodium (900 mg)! I think I could taste the ocean in there somewhere...bleech...

On a more positive note, the veggies were cooked pretty well and I actually did find some meat in
I'm not positive what animal this came from..
there. So, I think the problem may be with the gravy itself. They need to seriously rework it.

The bottom line is that while it was edible, I say to take a pass on eating it. Or, at the very least buy it and then serve it anytime you have unwanted guests as an example of your own cooking while promising them more of the same the next day! Was that the sound of a slamming door?? Scored this one a 5 on a scale of 10.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Day after day! Alone on a hill...

Another day! Another dollar spent and the world seems not much better off for the effort expended. That's the feeling I get sometimes....

I would love to see all the peoples of the world get it together. Where everyone on the planet strives to care for each other and works hard to make this tired old ball of granite a better place to live!

Could that ever happen? I'm doubtful. It always seems to be a few living well... on the backs of the many,as our planet gets raped, again and again.

We each are born and exist, but for a tiny moment in time. Each person grasping what they can to fill their stomachs, while leaving their minds empty and wanting....

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Cost of vegetables in 2014 may skyrocket!

A decade long series of drought occurring in the state of California may hit your grocery store soon!

According to a recent article by Kevin Kerr ( of, “The hardest hit section of California is the Central Valley — ‘the supermarket to the world’ — and [it’s becoming] increasingly clear the region won’t see relief from the devastating drought anytime soon. Retail prices for many key agricultural commodities could jump.”

What a bad growing season will do to this 50 billion a year food industry is anyone's guess. For sure it will anger anyone who is on a tight food budget. It may even affect the 2014 elections, later this year, as voters find yet another reason to choose or not to choose a particular candidate.

Asteroid to make near Earth miss on Feb 20th!

Dubbed asteroid 2014 BR57, this mass of rock was just discovered by the Mt. Lemmon Survey (Arizona) on January 28, 2014. Little is known about its physical properties at this time although some evidence suggests it has a diameter of about 60 meters (about 200 feet across). It will get within 0.011 AU (4.3 lunar distances) on February 20 making for a too close for comfort approach!

Smaller asteroids like this one, are difficult to detect, and there are thousands of them out there in space. The cutoff size of what could cause major damage to Earth, such as a tsunami or an air burst, is difficult to state because it depends upon what the asteroid is made of, e.g., a metal asteroid vs. a soft one. Some sources put it at about 150 meters. 2014 BR57 is less than half that size...

Indoor humidity in winter all important!

Humidity levels averaged out at 32.6% over this 5 day stretch!
When the temperatures take a dive in the winter time, the humidity levels in my home tend to take a nosedive! Over the course of time, I've figured out that anytime the relative humidity drops below 30%, I will begin to experience problems with my nasal passages drying up and, oftentimes my throat will become sore and scratchy! A real bummer if you're trying to get some sleep! According to one source, you should try to maintain levels of 30-40%!

The problem is, keeping humidity levels up to at least the mid thirties requires a heck of a lot of water vapor! In a recent test I performed, I determined that a Duracraft humidifier I was using in my bedroom (size ~ 1600 cubic feet), was putting out over a gallon of water every day! That's a heck of a lot of water vapor for just a 13' x 15' x 8'  cubic feet of space! And, even with that unit running at that rate of consumption, I was able to only maintain a 32% average.

Next year, I plan to install an even larger unit in my bedroom area so as to insure a good night's sleep!

Friday, February 14, 2014

River Run Park! An alien invasion point?

Strangely, an aerial view of River Run takes the form of a bird of prey!
Nestled deep in Ozark country in an obscure location in southwest Missouri lies a federally run public use park known to locals as River Run. A place where strange events may point to an alien invasion as reported by Billy Sims.

Forsyth MO.- Located just to the west of the small town known as Forsyth Missouri, River Run Park looks innocuous at first glance. Seen from high overhead one is immediately struck with the appearance of the outline of a birds head! A bird of prey at that! With 32 camping/RV sites each with a covered picnic table, electrical power and water supply one would think it an average, garden variety park where people go to enjoy the great outdoors. That's what one would assume. But. Things may not be as they appear. Take those canopy covers, for instance. In early December 2013, 14 of them were removed along the river's edge leaving a forest of steel poles stretching skyward. Why was this done? To what end? Some of the local citizens think they may have answers....

Dan Owen, an aging local resident, has lived on the outskirts of the park for many decades. His home is strategically perched up on a hill that overlooks it, and so provides him with the perfect observation point with which to watch what transpires down below. According to Mr. Owen, over the years, this park has provided many a strange, and even possibly alien events over the years. I decided to let Dan describe some of these in his own words...


“Well yes sir”, Dan told the reporter one afternoon in the early spring of 2014, “that there place makes my skin crawl and I don't know why! It's just all them strange things I've observed over the course of time that's got me to wondering what the heck fire is going on!”

When Mr. Owen was asked by the reporter if he could be more specific, he related the following.

“ Why yes, I understand you young writer fellas wanting some detail. OK, well how about them lights! Yes sir, sometimes late at night, I get me a strange feeling. Kind of an electric tingle shoots through my body that gets me all jittery, so I get out of bed. Well sir, sometimes when I've gotten up and have looked out back towards the park, why I've seen me some looking strange lights that moved here and there random like!”

“Couldn't those have just been car lights?” The reporter inquired with a slight smirk on his face.

Dan's wrinkled face crunched up as he eyed the young man closely for a long moment. Then with pursed lips he stated a little tersely, “ Naw sonny, I know me the difference between car lights and lights that ain't on no car! Them lights were a moving, why they moved up and down and this a way and that a way. I'm telling you it just weren't natural looking!”

“OK...” the now skeptical reporter asked slowly, “what else have you seen, Mr. Owen?”

“Well now, just hold on to your garters, boy! This here tidbit is the real deal. I done saw them
Is this an alien antenna array?
government agents take the tops off 14 of the campsites. They done left nuthin but steel poles all sticking up skywards! Looked to me just like one of them NASA antenna arrays, I'll tell you right now! I thought to myself that just mebbe they was a transmitting something to the aliens!”

I could see that the old guy was getting a little worked up at that point and tried to calm him down somewhat.

“Now sir, I'm sure there is a logical reason why the Corps of Engineers would remove all those canopies.” The reporter continued. “I saw them laying around on the ground, in the park, when I drove through it on my way to your place.”

“Oh, yeah!” he responded. “You tell me, reporter man, why someone would go to all the trouble to take off that many of them metal tops! Why they must weigh a couple of hundred pounds or more each! No, I'm purty sure that we gonna have us an alien invasion and it's gonna be pretty darn soon!”

“Well, I can see your point,” he told him as he packed up his gear. “ I guess we'll just have to wait and see what develops. Meanwhile, I'll be sure to get this story in the local paper, Mr. Owen.”

With that the reporter took his leave. As he departed, the old man gazed after him and muttered, “well boy, I'm gonna keep watching the sky over that park, I'll tell you sure. Yes sir, you betcha. I'll be watching the sky...”

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Critique: Ole South sausage links!

If you want to indulge your body in some fast fat, few things can top a pork sausage link!

This package of Ole South Pork Sausage Links caught my eye at a local grocery store and I purchased it even though just 8 links cost cost about a buck on sale. Normally, they cost $2.29, so I thought this a rather good deal. Nutritionally, they really suck as each sausage link contains 87 calories (most of which is from fat), 17 mg of cholesterol and 170 mg of sodium. The good thing is that they can be microwaved in just 40 seconds. So, I consider that to be pretty much of a wash!

Taste-wise, these links are OK to eat even if they are very greasy. This is the kind of product I'd pick up to eat only very occasionally or to have on hand to serve to friends I'm secretly trying to kill. I scored it a solid 7 and would recommend it as a sometimes item to serve with your scrambled eggs.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My new and modified Paleo Diet!

After giving the standard Paleo Diet a good go for the money, I've decided that a life without at least some dairy and bread products was just not for me.

Last December, I embarked on a new 'natural' diet aka the Paleo Diet that consisted of the kinds of foods that our long distant ancestors ate for a million or so years! It consisted of fresh meats, fish and poultry, vegetables and fruits. What was left out was practically everything else! No diary, no breads or pasties and definitely nothing out of a can or box wit the exception of frozen veggies. This life style did have one perk – it made a trip to the grocery store a breeze. However, I quickly found that eating fresh also translated into eating myself into the poor house! My grocery bills had skyrocketed and with other rising costs in my life (Obamacare), I quickly realized that I would have to either abandon or quickly modify this approach to healthy eating.

To that end, I decided to make do with a mixture of both approaches. That is, I would keep eating a lot of fruits and vegetables (assuming they were on sale), while also not shunning the occasional sandwich or glass of milk. Still on the 'severely limit' list were such items as processed meat and any of the canned goods that are mostly packed in salt.

So far, this modified approach seems to be working for me. As far as weight control, I learned long ago that it doesn't matter what you eat just so long as you control the amounts you eat! For instance, whenever I have stir fry or pasta (two of my favorites), I make sure to weigh them down to the gram to make sure they are fitting in with the overall number of calories that I can consume for the day. In my particular case, that's about 1600, assuming I also exercised on that day.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Banana bread, in a jar!

After living all these years, you'd think I would have seen most every way that a food can be prepared. Not so, as I discovered that when a wonderful lady by the name of Sunny gave me a gift of banana bread in a jar!

Now, while I'm not really sure when or where this idea originated, I' was very happy concerning this women's wonderful generosity. I hold banana bread right up there as one of my most favorite
comfort foods as it makes a welcome ending to most any meal! And, this banana bread tasted beyond belief!

Thanks Sunny! You are the best!!

Induction cooking- wave of the future or just a passing fad?

Note: Do not trying frying eggs on stainless steel - use a non stick pan instead!
My very first induction cooking device arrived on this date. A Duxtop 1800 watt model that was ordered through Amazon just a couple of days ago and I was excited to see what it could do. I bought it more out of curiosity than for any other reason. The information at the site assured me that induction cooking was faster and more economical than using either a regular electric or a gas stove top. I wanted the find out if that claim was really true.

My first test involved using a ceramic covered iron pot (a small 1.5 qt LeCreuset) to make up some pasta on both my regular electric stove top and the new Duxtop. To be considered for this test, was the power used to cook the pasta as I assumed that the speed of cooking would be about the same (i.e. 12 minutes) but, I was also quite curious to see just how fast the water boiled so that was timed also. In order to do this accurately, I employed the use of a Kill-A-Watt meter for the Duxtop and also the services of a whole house monitoring device known as a TED or Total Energy Detective. Each device would (hopefully) give me a general idea of how much electrical power in kilowatt hours would be needed to simmer the pasta for 12 minutes. The winner would be the device that cooked the pasta for the least amount of power used. Here are the results:

Device      kWh used      Time to boil             Comments
Duxtop         2                  4 minutes                power setting at 8
Stove top      3.5               6 minutes                dial set to high

Technical: The amount of spaghetti pasta used in both tests was about 100 grams with each bindle broken in half to better fit the pot. The water used was ordinary tap water, and it was measured at 65F at the start of each run. The amount of water was about 6 cups, in both cases. In both tests, the ceramic pot was left uncovered. No salt or other additives were used in either test.

The bottom line is that induction cooking may be somewhat cheaper than the electric stove top. For sure, the cooking temperatures are much more precise with induction. I'd give this concept a thumbs up! Just make sure to get one with the timer feature. I found that being able to set a precise temperature range and time worked out very well when making stuff like soup.

Ten signs that you've had enough to drink at a bar!

  1. You can no longer quite make out the bartender's face.
  2. You suddenly realize that all the ugly, single women in bar have left and were replaced by extra hotties! Lucky you!
  3. You think up an invention that will make you millions (really it will), and then promptly forget about it.
  4. You cell phone rings, it's your boss and you tell him what you really think!
  5. Throwing up suddenly seems very doable.
  6. Your car keys are missing and you spend an hour looking for them. Hint: The bartender took them.
  7. You realize that you are the most intelligent man at the bar and then proceed to let everyone know this ....for hours.
  8. You can't quite get your head around the concept that your credit card is maxed out! 'No, seriously bartender try swiping that sucker again!'
  9. You take a selfie with your tongue hanging out and then post it on Facebook! Which your boss also sees...

    & finally...
  10. You're in a really crowded bar and yet, for some strange reason, the stools on either side of you remain completely empty!

Critique: HC Roasted Chicken and Potatoes!

According to the package this 180 calorie entree has 'savory slices of chicken breast with redskin potatoes, crisp carrots and tender pearl onions all in a light chicken and herb sauce.' How, I wondered can you go wrong with that offering from the folks at Healthy Choice?

I posted a glowing review concerning their Chicken and Spinach Alfredo offering some time ago and still feel that it was one of the best TV style dinners I've ever had. It is one of like seven of their 'Baked' microwave meals that run on sale for about $2.80 plus tax here in Forsyth Missouri where I make my home.

This meal, like the Chicken and Alfredo also boasts only 560 mg of sodium and just 35 mg of cholesterol! However, please remember that this is an entree and as such, you don't get all that much to eat. But, when combined with a vegetable salad on the side, it does make for a good sit down meal.

Also, like the other entree I have reviewed, it is a slit and nuke affair that doesn't take much over five minutes to get on the table. (I like that in both my TV dinners and my women)! Once again and not to belabor the point, for under $3 you are getting something that is considered a fast food, yet is also healthy for you to eat! If I remember correctly, my last outing to McDonald's netted me only a hamburger and medium fry for something like $7! It was also over 900 calories and chock full of cholesterol and salt! And, while I do admit to slinking over to the 'Golden Arches' from time to time, I surely do not make it a regular habit.

Overall, the taste was pretty durn good! Maybe the carrots were a tad too crisp while the potatoes seemed somewhat so, I guess it's a preference thing. The sauce they used, compliments the entire entree and the chicken tasted like... chicken. Another winner! Score of 8 on a scale of 10.

Random thoughts for February 10th!

Snow snow, please go away!!

Old Man Winter, you've been a total grouch this year! So, get outta here! And, please take your crappy low temps with you when you hit that door marked exit! As of the tenth of the month, we've had just one day where the high temperature exceeded the daily low from last year! That truly sucks. And, to make matters worst, the snow is hanging around making my home in southwest Missouri more reminiscent of Nome Alaska. Oh, and yes, I just saw a snow plow going down my street... because it's been snowing once again!

A snappy and healthy pasta meal!

Never one to miss out entirely on the joys of eating pasta (while staying on a diet), I've come up with a filling luncheon style combo that works for me! OK sure, the amounts are a bit small, with the pasta weighing in at only 45 grams. But, as you can see in the nutritional panel, this is a very doable diet-minded entree. The spaghetti sauce was homemade and is also low salt. I used romaine for the greens, in the salad mix, as it is much more nutritious that what you get from the mostly water filled iceberg varieties. Now, I wonder, why it is that I'm still craving a Big Mac??

So, how big is your heating bill gonna be?

$$Ca-Ching$$! Talk about getting slammed in the old cojones! We've had back to back to back really cold months that have jacked up everyone's heating costs big time! (That is, unless you have a lot of free wood for a fireplace, or are using and averaging plan from your electric company). And, you propane users - Well, I've heard you really got screwed this year!

As of the tenth of the month, my area near Forsyth Missouri is averaging fourteen degrees below normal and at the noon hour, it's just 23F outdoors. And, we're it not for a warming trend arriving in a few days, I'd start to wonder if I was caught up in some weird Stephen King novel.

What would make this winter's cost much more bearable for everyone, is if we have a prolonged and mild spring to help even everything out. (By prolonged, I'm talking through September of this year with maybe a warmish winter to follow... I know I'm dreaming).

Those wonderful Facebook photos!

Oh gosh, those are all so good!
Most every day, someone is kind enough to post pictures they took on my Facebook page.  More oftentimes than not, they are pictures of children, adults with children or all the above with a pet thrown in for good measure! I particularly enjoy looking at the groups of six photos that are poorly framed and out of focus, with each frame more poorly composed than the one before it.

It would be seriously refreshing if everyone would put a just little more thought into what they desire to share with all their 'friends'. A good picture tells a story and communicates more than words ever could.

Troubling times!

Living in America, these days, is certainly no cake walk when it comes to individual or family economic survival. There was a time, not long ago, when jobs were plentiful and (if you had to) you could easily hold down two jobs at once! I remember those times, and you know what – I worked a full time and a part time job in order to put food on the table and to pay the rent! Those times were tough in that I remember I was always tired, but I did survive and over time things got better for me and other that I knew.

Sadly, those days maybe long gone. The fact is, even finding a single low paying part time work is a real challenge – and that's disheartening. Even if you have a job, constantly rising grocery and energy costs at happening at a time when the value of the dollar is going down! So, you could say that under the current administration, the average Middle Class worker is also going downhill. You could also say that things probably are not going to improve very quickly as the mechanisms that supported a recovery in the past are no longer in place or valid. Currently 43% of the adult population are on some form of government assistance and those numbers continue to rise as more and more individuals drop out of the work force. At this rate when over 50% are on support – one wonders who will pay the bills? Correction: 49.1% of the population is receiving government assistance as of the 2011 census!

On a parting shot, I did go to McDonald's, ate a Big Mac and blew my diet all to hell and gone!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

On Democrats and Coddled eggs!

After doing a recent post on poached eggs, I got to thinking about the many different styles of fixing eggs and the people that like to eat them a certain way.

In my world view there are exactly four different crowds who like their eggs a certain way. Not surprisingly, they also tend to fall into certain political buckets, A place from which they never seem able to climb out of....

The hard boiled crowd!
Icon: Billy Joel  Theme song: A Matter of Trust!
This beer drinking, hard working bunch of guys and gals can be found in any city where things are happening. Why? Cause these are the folks that make things happen; be it construction, power generation, mechanics or whatever! They tend to be Independents politically and they take life like they take their eggs hard boiled and tough!

The sunny side crowd!
Icon: Ray Stevens  Theme song: Everything is beautiful!
Here we find all the 'artsie fartsies'! They are talented, gifted and want everyone to know it! Money is never a problem for them and life is so beautiful they almost can't stand it. Politically they comprise the part of the Democratic Party that is so far to the right that they almost aren't in the left!

We're all scrambled and loving it!
This is most certainly the largest crowd out there. It's comprised mostly of the middle class who all are struggling to make ends meet and who will listen to anyone who shouts loud enough to be heard. You'll find a confusing...well scrambled mix of just about every party here, all moving this way and that without rhyme or reason.

Those egg sucking aristocrats!
Icon: President Barack Obama   Theme song: The Barack Obama Song
My personal favorite crowd. You'll find them are most any Democratic rally. These folks have a singular and awesome talent to share with the rest of us boobs. They can adroitly talk out of both sides of their mouths, while sucking a coddled egg down, all at the same time! President Obama is their charismatic leader for life. A man who can talk for hours, saying nothing, but lifting your wallet all the same. Ya just gotta love someone with talent like that!

Do real men eat poached eggs?

While most men will shrug at eating fried, scrambled or hard boiled eggs, they might take pause at the word poached!

A poached egg is one that has been cooked suspended in simmering water. A technique that often requires some practice; something I haven't had much luck at. In addition, some guys might think this method to be a bit too 'girly'!

Another, and I feel better method, involves using a steamer such as the Excelsteel egg steamer I recently purchased at Amazon. This four cup poacher literally steams the egg(s) into submission. The end result is a soft egg with barely cooked white and a runny yolk.

So, why bother to poach an egg in the first place? The answer lies with how well the protein in the egg survives the cooking process. When you fry, scramble or hard boil an egg some of the protein is damaged and therefore not utilized fully by the body. Not so a poached egg. As a matter of fact, an egg made in this manner is pretty much entirely absorbed by the intestines leaving little is any 'residue' to be excreted later. (A fact that was exploited in the early Apollo Space Program when food scientists were looking for foods that would not have the astronauts needing to take a dump during the early week long flights). Good steak works in a similar manner and, in point of fact, steak and eggs were the meal of choice just prior to liftoff!

Well, I think that answers that! If a poached egg was good enough for our astronauts, then it's good enough for us males! Next time, I'll discuss coddled eggs for all you Democrats out there!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

On pharmaceuticals and your doctor!

One afternoon, while sitting in my doctors office due to problems with anxiety, I was telling him about the drugs that I felt he needed to prescribe to me. Drugs I'd seen on TV.

“Doctor,” I intoned in my most knowledgeable voice, “I think my best bet would be for you to write me up a prescription for some Xanax”. I told the doctor this even before the examination had taken place. The doctor just looked at me and smiled. Then he asked, “what makes you think Xanax would work, Dan?”

“Well, gosh doc”, I answered now feeling a bit uncomfortable, “I just saw an ad on the TV, and uh, the drug company said it was very effective for all kinds of stuff like what I got!” I was now stammering a bit at that point.

The doctor smiled as he took my vitals, listened to my complaints and then asked, “OK, so let's say I write you a prescription for this drug. Have you any idea what it will cost?”

I shook my head in dumb fashion. “What? Maybe $20 or $40 bucks?” I hazarded a guess.

“Not really even close,” he answered in a quiet voice. “ Since you have no qualifying insurance, it would be closer to $100 for 30 tabs, and oh, did you know that stuff is pretty addictive?”

“No, I didn't”, I admitted with a frown. “ So, what do you think?”

My doctor was quiet for a moment and then laid this on me. “ Dan, one of the reasons I became a doctor was to help people like yourself. I worked long and hard for my certificate as an MD and have been in the business of helping people just like you for decades.” He paused for that to sink in. “ And, the reason you came to me is because of that knowledge – that is, knowing what might be the best drug or therapy for you to heal or get over a problem.” He sighed and then went on. “The thing is, too many of my patients watch the ads thrown on the TV by drug companies who have only one goal – for you to buy their stuff. And, they figure if you declare to a physician that you really want their junk, then said physician will be compliant and give it to you.”

The doctor then shook his head. “But that's a load of bunk! Remember son, I'm here to help you and that help also includes prescribing you the best, cheapest and most effective drug for a given situation.” He then stood up and asked, “ So, will you trust me and let me do my job?”

Feeling sheepish, I said yes and later left with a prescription for a drug called Buspirone that was; 1) non-addictive, 2) a long term treatment for general anxiety and 3) relatively cheap to boot!

The moral of this story – Ignore the 'crapola' you see on TV concerning drugs. Let your doctor do his job and get you the right stuff at the best price!

How lucky?

Lucky me, I got a flu shot, some weeks ago, and now I have caught the flu! Well, perhaps this bug will treat me in  a more kindly way as a result. All I know is that I feel terrible and can only wonder at how I might of felt without that damn shot!

How lucky for my little town. It's been colder than most of Alaska and soon everyone can look forward to ice skating on Swan Creek, as the arctic conditions look to be staying awhile longer!

How lucky for everyone in the US, that our President Obama-the-Man  is still on his throne! And, would you just look at all the progress he's made! In just half a decade, even while struggling with that mean old Republican Congress, he hasn't lost the faith! I feel your love oh Great One and, oh my goodness, we have three more years of your inspired rule yet to come!