Sunday, January 31, 2016

Random thoughts to close out January 2016!

Cranking out some incredible barbecued chicken lags!

Yes, it was a warmer than normal Sunday in late January. A time of year when most everyone should have been found hiding inside as the cruel winds of winter raged outdoors. Only, that wasn't the deal down here in southwest Missouri at least on this particular day! Happily, from time to time, us 'pseudo southerner's' get a much needed reprieve in the form of dishwater styled southerly winds. And then, as soon as the mercury gets much above 60 degrees, those of us that like to grill are out doing our grilling thing. Note, however, the strange behavior of the outside temps early on...

Tongs in hand and a hot charcoal grill set the stage for one aging gnome standing on his condo balcony in shorts! I had placed eight check legs into the grill about an hour earlier and was getting ready to slather them with from official KC Barbecue sauce. Does it get any better than this? I mused to myself as I idly contemplated the word 'slather'. That word sounded somehow both sexy and a little sick at the same time. (According to the Webster dictionary, to slather is to spread or smear (a substance) thickly or liberally. As in to "slather on some tanning lotion"). The chicken took a lot longer than they had last time I grilled, of course it was in the 90's then.

'Well!' I said to no one. 'I'm gonna slather the living be-jesus out of these legs!' I then got down to the business of turning a so-so gathering of cooked chicken flesh into a tangy assembly that made my mouth water in anticipation! That job accomplished, I eased myself down into a cheap folding chair to better contemplate strange English words, hot n tangy chicken and my place in the scheme of things. As I sat there, sipping my beer, I thought about grilling and temperatures.

What's the perfect grilling Wx temperature, anyway?

While there is little scientific evidence to go on. My best guess is that for most, there is an acceptable 'grilling range temperature' below which grilling is not done. (Sure, there are a few hardy souls who grill out all year. But, those are the really oddball types who do all sorts of zany things anyway. While they are fun to watch, the more sane members of the grilling clan choose to get their equipment cranked up after the mercury is above at least sixty degrees). Other factors that may influence the decision to grill out probably include; the chef's state of sobriety, clear or partly clear skies and calm winds. (As I can only speak for us men, I can tell you from experience that alcohol consumption often sometimes plays a pivotal role in there somewhere)! Getting that urge to grill is also linked to the first day in the new year when a really awesome weather day presents itself. Sort of like it did on January the 31th!

On that day, I arose promptly at about 9AM and gathered together all the tools I needed to proceed. I had purchased some chicken along with a six pack the day before and thus shuffled out onto my condo third floor balcony to go and 'get er done'.

As you can see, my minimal efforts paid out as just an hour later the chicken looked freaking awesome! 

Iowa voting could be impacted by blizzard!

'In the end, the direction of American politics may all come down to a snowstorm.
Months of fierce campaigning have left both party leadership races too close to call in Iowa as the rural state prepares to become the first, and most influential, to pick candidates for November’s presidential election.

Opinion polls suggest a narrow lead for Donald Trump among Republicans and a near dead-heat between rival Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ahead of the caucuses on Monday evening.

Yet Trump and Sanders are very dependent on support from younger voters and anti-establishment types who tend to turn up less reliably than the party faithful backing Clinton and the more traditional Republicans'. [Excerpt from another news story]. The bottom line? Be sure to tune into your media outlet of choice as this vote will be fun to watch as a good old fashioned blizzard roars into the Iowa state!


The story behind the Iowa story will be the frenzy among media people as they try to 'get out of Dodge' before the full fury of Mother Nature is unleashed. The timing of the approaching blizzard, it's true potential and how it will impact travel is hard to say as of this posting. Here's the most recent forecast for Polk County, Iowa where many are situated to cover the voting:

I'm guessing that many will be stuck in Des Moines, leaving media outlets like Fox News scrambling for fill ins at their studio in New York.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Critique: Analysis of the value of a can of ravioli!

Let me begin by saying that I like to eat beef ravioli. And of the choices out there on grocery shelves, a can of Chef Boyardee is one of the most tasty in my limited view. Each 425 gram can cost me $1.09 each when I purchased a couple of cans from a Country Mart store located in Forsyth MO. Now there are cheaper versions out there, but most are a poor second in the taste department. That said, let's take a deeper look at this particular brand.

Each regular sized 15 ounce or 425 gram can contains the following key nutritional ingredients per 1 cup or half can or 246 gram amount:

Calories  - 220      ( Cost per gram eaten equals 3 one hundredths of a cent)
Fat fr calories -  60
Total fat -  7 grams    (About 11% of your recommended daily intake)
Cholesterol -  10 mg   
Sodium -  750 mg    (Through the roof at 31% of your daily allowance)
Carbs -  31 grams
Protein -  7 grams

Most people I know don't eat ½ a can. They eat the whole thing all at one sitting! That also changes the dietary impact considerably as you'd get over half you daily allowance of salt in one meal! The better news was that you did get a decent shot of calories (think energy for your metabolic battery) in that one meal. And so, for about a buck in cost, that wasn't too bad a shot of food!

But wait! That ain't all! Remember that canned foods are also PROCESSED FOODS and that means that some really strange sounded ingredients get added to help preserve the contents. Let me see now... enzyme modified cheese, yeah that sounds safe. Then there's that xanthan gum for you know... Just remember! When you eat something, your body has to deal with that substance or substances on a molecular level! That's exactly why I like to eat fresh.. when I can afford it. And, did you know that you can easily make your own? Please check out this great article!

In today's economy, a can of CB ravioli does make sense, as long as you make to sure to balance it out with some fruit or a decent vegetable salad!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Fox News and the much needed mute button!

Just as the content of Fox News in often inspiring an professional, so it is also true that their paid advertisers are often insulting, misleading, disgusting or just plain frightening! Here's a list of five I assembled for my reader's edification;

  1. Rosland Capitol – This idiot company airs something like 30 times each day. Always with that moron William Devane and always with the same morbid story; that things are crappy and are going to get crappier, so why don't you go out and buy some metal? What a pant load of sheer claptrap. I'm sick of him and the firm he represents! If you want to invest in something, invest in guns and ammo.. you're going to actually need those!

  2. Idaho Potatoes – Give me a break, we poor people are already buying those five pound bags for three American bucks. It's about all we can still afford, living under Obama and the Progressive Left's shadow all these years!

  3. Prevagen, Nocaderm, Viagra and all the other RX crap. Let's face it! Pharmaceutical firms are out for only one thing. Your cash! As much of it as they can get! And they often get it by scaring the living shit out of you! Wise up people and hit the mute button. The real person to seek out is a qualified doctor who will often times steer you towards the generics or even homeopathic solutions that will not put you in the poor house.

  4. Any car commercial! Let's face it! With prices starting at 30K, most of us Americans have been shuffled out of the market. And those with an excess of pride, will buy them and then suffer with those payments on what becomes a worthless rust bucket long before they're  paid off! (A better investment would be to buy a hammer with which you can smash a finger or two anytime you get the urge to throw your money away in this insane manner).

  5. Mediacom – Ever since I made the mistake of signing up with Mediacom for my TV and Internet coverage, I've had cause to really question my sanity. I think of this company in the same manner I would a used car lot full of crooks. (It's also managed about the same). And, yes I know that most of us have only one or two choices as to a provider and that most of them really suck. My advice. Toss your computer, plant flowers in your TV and go outdoors for exercise and maybe even to meet some real people now and again. You'll live longer, be healthier and richer as a result!

    Once again, Fox News is not a bad outlet when compared to the rest of the sheer crap out there. And, I know they have to sell the crud I've mentioned above.  I just wonder if they understand that very often, I don't hit the mute button, I turn the damn channel off and find other stuff to do.

Men's church breakfast discontinued!

For what ever reason, I received a call from a friend informing me that the monthly men's breakfast at a local church had been discontinued. Why that that was so, he wasn't sure. I, however, had a few ideas.

It's possible that the breakfast was wither growing unpopular or maybe it was considered an unnecessary expense at a time when many places of worship are suffering from declining attendance.

It's also possible that as my Republic becomes ever more secular, that people coming together in the name of God is now looked upon poorly... Perhaps the PC crowd is just getting their way, I'm not sure.

What I do know is that in the future, humanity will rediscover God, togetherness and family through the purification of very hard times....

Warming trend for last week of January 2016!

The last week of January 2016 was looking to go out on a warm footing down in southwest Missouri with temperatures well above average.

Flu season 2015-16 a flop?

The red line in the above graphic depicting the rate of influenza in Missouri tells the tale for the 2015-16 flu season! It all but flat-lined and for that reason, many have cause to be thankful. For me, I was a bit troubled. In general, when a fast mutating bug like the flu virus lies low, you can bet it's up to little or no good. For instance, there are troubling reports on the avian flu front world wide....

Time will tell as to how the balance of the flu season will pan out. The full pdf report for Missouri for the week end 1/162015 can be found here.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Another bad breakfast? Hell no!

Two eggs, sunny side up, some toast and hash browns! What's not to like? Well, just you wait...

A tasty breakfast, is truly in the eye (or more precisely in the stomach) of the eater. I believe that! However, at any given time, nutritionists and other so-called food experts have nixed and then re-supported many foods. Eggs have almost always been on their radar due to the high cholesterol content. And, hash browns! Don't even go there! Fried foods have been a no-no for about ever.... But, ever so often there is a medical reversal that has some import. Take whole milk, it turns out that it ain't so bad as was thought. The 2% stuff is actually worst for you to consume! And those eggs, well some scientists now think that some people naturally produce a boatload of cholesterol – a genetic thing. The real comparison, that must be observed, is the ratio of LDL versus HDL in a given person's bloodstream. As long as that ratio of the two is close, no problems baby... Who knew?

Note: Does not apply to sex!
And, those hash browns! Well, they are much more problematic due to the saturated and carbonized fat content you get after drying in hot oil. I've personally got problem with admitting that eating foods cooked in boiling oil are likely bad for our bodies. Over time, that is! The thing with eating these foods has to do so in moderation. [Hey, you knew I'd get Thoreau in here someplace]. Yes everyone! 'All Things in Moderation', should be a tattoo we get stamped on our foreheads shortly after birth! (It would also have have to be stenciled in reverse so that it would be readable as we stand in front of the bathroom mirror each morning). We'd then out there into the world would DO THINGS IN MODERATION! See! Easy greasy. You'll likely live a great existence as you go forward sampling bacon strips, hash browns and fermented liquids, all in moderate style! But, I'm mentally wandering and need to get back to the business at hand...

When I make this sort of breakfast, I like to use a counter top induction cooking stove because they are so insanely efficient, energy wise! I also make it a point to use stainless steel frying pans as opposed to non-stick as I'm hesitant to use a surface that flakes off with age. And, no, stainless pans do not cause a sticking problem if used properly. That's an old wives tale, in my view. I also generally like to make the hash browns from scratch using potatoes and a method as seen here. (No, I do not like to reinvent what others already have mastered)! And, when I'm not in the mood to mess with making hash browns, I will often simply peel and then slice a potato into thin 'British dollars', flash cook them in oil and then splash on a small amount of A1 sauce! An awesome taste!

That chore done, I'll take my still hot frying pan, cool it down a bit and then break open two farm fresh eggs. To these, I add just a splash of water and cover it using the induction stove top set at the lowest setting. While the eggs are cooking, I'll throw in a couple of slices of white bread into the toaster. Yes, I use white bread! (That goes back to the moderation thing. I'll generally make this meal only a few times a month).

A few minutes later, it's time to assemble the ingredients. Everything then goes onto a microwave safe plate and is nuked for about 12 seconds on high. (This insures the meal will be uniformly hot to trot). [In days gone past, I'd also have a 'Steak and Eggs' meal deal, but can no longer afford buying good meat].

On shrinking budgets and cheap wine!

Recently, I began to get a serious budget together. A painful process. As I'm on a fixed income, I spent most of the time trying to figure out how to stretch what amounts to an unlivable income. The only shining light in early 2016 has been the shrinking cost of gasoline, something I fear is being corrected by the Obama administration even as I write.

After carefully going over my fixed expenses; mortgage, utilities, insurance, etc. I came to quickly focus on two areas of my life that needed to be drastically cut back. One of these was my credit card spending. Thankfully, I had a zero balances and so was able to simply turn off that spigot. [Somewhere in the distance a bell tolled as I knew I would have to start making do with what possessions I had around me].

The other area of 'manageable' expenses items was my grocery list. Apparently I was living too well, at least as far as eating went. That, I discovered much to my dismay, would have to change. I quickly came to the realization that I needed to cut my grocery spending in half! ( A process made all the more problematic as grocery prices continued to spiral upwards)! But, with a brave heart and growling stomach, I got down to the business of cutting away various foods in order that I might meet my goal.

The first item on the cutting board was most forms of meat. And, while I could still afford some packaged and processed meats (when they were on sale), items like chicken, steak and ham had to go. I figured I could sub-in peanut butter.

Next on the list was the 'snack' category. Over time, I had developed a habit of purchasing name brand chips that were also low in sodium. No more. I needed to redirect my tastes to generics that were also loaded with salt. This same directive also had me cut out any fresh produce (which can spoil) in favor of the canned alternatives which were, again, loaded with salt. Do you see a trend here? Now, while I was fairly certain that this 'change of the guard' would lead to future health problems, that was OK with me as my health coverage was still good to go.

Other fringe items that needed attention were such staples as bread – I had to change, once again, from name brands to the cheap and tasteless generics. Beer also had to be severely curtailed, but thankfully a loophole existed in the form of really cheap wines. (Looking at the revised list, I realized I was going to transform myself into a somewhat bloated wino). 

Meanwhile, in far and distant Washington DC, the party of incredible excess went on... Gee, I wonder what those fat cats are eating tonight?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Forsyth Missouri water quality!

As the horror that was the Flint Michigan drinking water disaster recently unfolded for shocked Americans, I've had a few who have asked me if I knew anything about the quality of the water serving many of the citizens of Forsyth Missouri. I told them no, but that I would do my best to see what I could find out.

Almost immediately, a web search led me to one Michael Cole, the laboratory Directory for the Taney County Planning Commission. I called him and learned that for $10, they would be happy to test a homeowners drinking water for 'biologics (sp?)' (bacteria, microbes, etc) or other harmful substance that might be present. The lab is located in the Taney Country Regional Sewer District Office over from the Post Office and near the License office (see map). You can obtain free sterilized plastic sample bottles on request at that location.

Mr. Cole was very friendly and professional sounding when I talked with him over the phone. He informed me that should I desire a complete water quality report, that they are available at the Forsyth City Hall building on request. This would be the report that anyone who is on City of Forsyth water will more than likely want to see if they have any concerns. Mr. Cole informed me that most of our water wells (I think he quoted four) are quite deep (many 300 to 500 feet down with some over 1000 feet) and that the water from them is relatively pristine in nature as there are no nearby industrial sources of potential contamination to worry about. He said that everyone in his office were very concerned about frequent inspections and about maintaining a high degree of safe water levels for the citizens of my home area.

You can reach Mike's office at 417-546-7225 during normal business hours to make inquiries or express any concerns. The office is located at 207 David St, Forsyth, MO 65653 in case you might need written correspondence.

Just for curiosity sake, I plan to have this lab test my drinking water and also plan to visit City hall to get a copy of their most recent Water Quality report. Note that the report I received was a couple of years out of date!  I'll append the drinking water testing report to this post at some later date.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Critique: Subway's Cold Cut Combo!

At some point last summer, I stopped at a Subway located near my home in Forsyth Missouri and fell in love with their Cold Cut Combo 6” meal deal! (A great lunch time selection and hopefully a  healthy addiction over time)!

And so it was on one of the coldest mornings of the 2015- 2016 winter, that I stopped at the 14974 US Hwy 160 venue, just to the north of Forsyth Missouri on Highway 160, to get a midday fix!

The Combo is just one of many sandwich offerings to be found at Subway, but it had tickled my fancy mostly because it was a combo of veggies and meats on bread - simple and wholesome, just like myself. OK. So, maybe I'm just simple.

I arrived at the popular eatery a little bit early on a Monday morning, around11:30 AM, in order to skirt the crowds that show up at about the noon hour. I ambled on in to the always spotless eatery and found that there was only one person at the order counter. Perfect. Now a word of caution! As you approach that counter, there is a great looking display of all kinds of chips-in-bags, just begging to be snatched up. Don't do it! These little bags of joy are actually 'caloric bombs'! And when they detonate, they can wreck even the most carefully devised diet! Thus, as I approached the counter that morning... I quickly grabbed myself a bag of Lays chips! [So, go ahead and sue me]!

Bag in hand, I then got the attention of the person I like to call the 'Facilitator'. (That's the guy or girl who assembles your sandwich according to your instructions). From a strictly procedural standpoint, you first call out the base and style of the sandwich. 'White bread, 6 inch cold cut combo,' I stated assertively that morning. The Facilitator eyed me casually and then asked, 'Ya'll want that toasted?' 'Yes, I do', I answered right back. (My mouth had began to drool a bit, at that point. A troubling, but well understood development from past visits).

That chore done, the last item in the order process was what most always got me flustered. My 'virginal bun' had just come out of the flash oven and it smelled terrific! It was hot-to-trot and merely awaited my personal selection of veggies from what looked to be a cornucopia of mouth watering selection bins. (On this day, excessive drooling, forced me to forego normal speech in favor of animalistic grunting and pointing. Thankfully, the Facilitator interpreted these strange gyrations correctly). [FYI - I prefer hot peppers, mayo, lettuce and onion on my cold cut combo]. In no time, the meal was expertly 'wrapped up'  and I then paid up.

OK, just a word about Subway and the cost of their food. It's atrocious! Seriously, I sometimes feel like an addict scoring some drug for a hundred dollars. OK, may be not as bad as all that. Still, the 6 inch sub and the bag of chips cost $5.25 including tax! Personally, I think that a little costly! But hey, I'm a true culinary addict, like I said...

On eggs and fajitas!

Farm fresh eggs!

Experts will tell you that there is absolutely no difference between white and brown eggs other than the color of their shells. They are simply produced by two differently colored hens! However, they will also tell you that there are differences in the nutritional value depending on what the chickens were fed. I firmly believe that open range chickens from small home sized farms tend to not get fed any antibiotics, tend to be less stressed and most importantly - a dozen of their eggs can often be had for a lot less money! [I paid only $2.50 for eggs pictured above]!

Stir fry fajita?

I'm not really sure if this breakfast dish qualified as a fajita or not. I do know that it tasted pretty darn good for morning fare. I made this dish by cooking beef chunks, bell pepper and onions in a frying pan over medium high heat using just a bit of oil. I seasoned this creation with just a dash of Tabasco and taco sauce. Not too shabby!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Two out of three!

According to the wise Doctor McCoy - 'The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain.' What that means, exactly, I don't quite know!

OK listen up! You veil comply or else!


Washington, D.C. — On Friday, January the 8th, the Department of Homeland Security released updated information regarding the national identification card known as the REAL ID. Beginning January 22, 2018, all airline passengers will need identification cards that are in compliance with the more secure features required by the REAL ID Act of 2005. The REAL ID Act was passed in response to the 9/11 attacks, as part of the global War on Terror.

But wait! This gets even better...

Until this deadline, all states driver’s licenses and passports will be valid for airline travel. Currently, five states and one territory – Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Washington and American Samoa – do not comply with Real ID standards. Several other states are reportedly taking steps to update their identification cards between now and the deadline. These standards include invasive biometric measures.

Travelers in states that do not comply with the stricter security measures will be forced to use an alternative form of identification recognized by the Transportation Security Administration. These options include a permanent resident card, an airline-issued identification or a tribal identification.

Most unnerving of all is the fact that the REAL ID requirements extend to driving privileges in addition to airline travel. That’s right. If your state driver’s license does not meet REAL ID standards, you will need to carry another acceptable form of identification, and likely will not be able to legally drive.... My reaction -  WTF?

…. Hitler would be so proud....

Global economies: And then they all fell down!

'Hip hip, hooray for the U.S. economic recovery! Unemployment is down, consumer confidence is up and the "animal spirits" that keep America Inc. hopping are finally reawakening. The Federal Reserve feels optimistic enough to have turned the page on the Great Recession earlier this month by raising interest rates for the first time since 2008. Phew, glad that's over.

Or is it? Although most professional forecasters expect the U.S. economy next year to continue its slow trudge back to respectability, some experts see danger on the horizon.

In a December report, Citi Research analysts put the probability of the U.S. entering a new recession -- two consecutive quarters of shrinking economic growth -- at 65 percent. That prediction is partly rooted in history...'. [excerpt from CBS Money Watch]

While I'm certainly no market analyst, I can clearly see which way the winds are blowing. Considering the facts that China's economy is currently imploding, that the global emerging markets are slowing and oil was sliding below $30 a barrel with no end in sight - one can easily see why so many investors are getting just a teeny bit jumpy.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Tricia Sawyer working makeup on a super model!

Critique: Ragu spaghetti sauce!

In past times, I've pretty much thrown together my own home brew sauce to throw over pasta. I had abandoned the store sauces, for the most part, due to their bad taste of objectionable amounts of sodium. And, then I tried Ragu!

After inspecting the label for the presence of any strange sounding chemicals, (there were none), I recently picked up a small 14 ounce glass jar that cost me a little over two dollars and took it home to try. One of the oddities I noticed as I prepared to open the jar was the advice they have printed on top which states 'Shake before opening'. I could not, for the life of me, figure out why you would want to do that and so I contacted Ragu via the net with an inquiry (I'll post their response in an update). While visiting their site at, I noted that the company got its start back in 1914 when an immigrant by the name of Assunta Cantisano came to New York, planted a backyard garden and began brewing her own sauce that she sold from her front porch to neighbors in 1937, during the height of the Depression. [Please note that the company she started, RagĂș Packing Company, could not have gotten started in the 21st Century due to intense over regulation].

From a strictly nutritional standpoint, the serving size of half a cup (125 grams), yielded only 80 calories! Not too shabby. In addition, the sodium content of that serving was a modest 480 milligrams! [Note that this is considered modest for a 'processed food']. So, Ragu's Old World Style is low carbohydrate 94%), low sodium (20%) and has lots of vitamin A and C. So, what's not to like?

As to the taste? No complaints from me! When I've used this product, I often like to add in a little browned hamburger and canned mushrooms – ingredients that help make the eating experience truly enjoyable. I would highly recommend this product to everyone and plan to stock it on my shelf.

Side note: Ragu is available in all sorts of 'flavors' and can be purchased over the net. I noticed that Amazon carries the full line, and since I'm a Prime Member and I can get this product shipped free of charge via two day air, I plan to order their 'marinara' version as my local store does not offer it.

Response from Ragu: 'Thank you for contacting us regarding Ragu Old World Style Traditional Sauce!
Shaking our sauce is not required but, as with any liquid or semi-liquid food product, a good shake will always help ensure even distribution of the sauce ingredients and optimal enjoyment.
Thank you so much for your interest in our brand!

Ragu Consumer Services'

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Random thoughts for January 2016!

On the left, (and mean that literally), we have the Democratic Party that is currently supporting a well known crook and and an avowed Socialist as model figures to lead this Republic forward. Not to be out done, the average Republican voter is championing anyone who can yell the loudest! And, that would be Donald da Trump, at this time.

As of mid January, the Socialist and the Wall Street aficionado appear to be headed towards the Presidential playoffs in November. [What happened to Hillary, you ask]? The FBI is preparing indictment papers, as I write this, so I’m pretty sure good old Biden will be tossed into the fray at the last minute. (The problem there is that the average Democrat will gravitate to whoever promises free stuff forever, and that would be Bernie)! So, there you go it will be Bernie, a man who is known to shout versus a man who shouts even when it’s not called for….

Exactly what the outcome will be in November is still unclear. But, what is for sure will be a country with most voters still literally at each others throats. I hear Fox News can hardly wait to cover that chaos!

On being politically correct!

Just like most fads (remember the mood ring?), the PC crowd will fade rapidly away as the real plight of the Nation begins to sink in over the next few years. The Middle Class, (what remains of it) will unceremoniously be dumped into the poverty level just a the uber-rich will begin looking for a new continent to fuck up. They will be following the stampede of corporations that will prefer to be anywhere but in America. More and more, this once great Republic will begin to resemble a scene out of Mad Max; as the poor, sick and starving elk out lives that will mostly be brutal and short! And, at some point along that road, the PC crowd will have evaporated like the morning mist.

Don’t want to pay income taxes?

Thank goodness we now live in a world where anything goes. That mantra includes doing pretty much whatever you want without any fear of reprisal – ever! Our political leaders, the Department of Justice and the IRA have faithfully paved the road for the rest of us. Seriously, the sheer bulk of corruption that innervates all of Washington would make even the most hardened criminal get a a hard on. And anyway, who really cares anymore? Not the Fed, that’s for sure! Our National Debt disgrace reminds me a lot of the game of Monopoly. As a youth, I played it a bunch and always knew when the end game was getting neigh. That moment when I would survey the board and see nothing but red plastic hotels on almost every square meant just thing! There was no point in playing any more – you just tossed the dice in a listless manner until that inevitable moment when your liabilities greatly exceeded your pitiful assets. Right now, I just tossing those dice….

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Khash! A truly International dish!

A few of my readers have commented that most all my food reviews are centered around American cuisine, and that that could be considered somewhat racist. To make amends, I would like to present here a truly 'interesting', yet international dish that is frequently eaten on the slopes of Armenia.

Take four medium cow’s hooves and ankles and 1 brain (strictly optional); boil this in a large pot of water for 32 hours (without seasoning); remove scum. Before you know it, you will have true Armenia-style Khash, “the masterpiece of Armenian cuisine”! A meal is apparently always eaten early in the morning. “It is not wise to eat it late,” my friend Chef, Shirak implored. “Khash is so rich, you need all day to digest it.”

He took me to visit the kitchen, the night before the big feast; I carefully inspected the great pot where four cow’s feet and ankles and one smallish bovine brain are bubbling. “It started cooking last night, because really great khash must be stewed for 32 hours,” stated Shirak. I agreed to meet with him when that time is up: I think it was about 7AM.

7:15 AM - After sitting down at a pitted but solidly built wooden table,  my friend and chef Shirak ladled out a heaping bowl of steaming Khash. While I waited for it to cool a bit, I inquired as to the name. Shirak responded that the name had something to do with with what most people do with their teeth when they first try this most interesting disk. Oh, I blurted out in surprise, 'You mean gnashed'!

Well, the food tasted a little strange to my American taste buds, but I soldiered on through it. Later on, I had to agree that the full feeling in my stomach persisted for the rest of the day; sometimes approaching, but not quite reaching a state of true nausea.... My advice would be to make sure an invite a small close group of people you really dislike, serve them this soup, and then only inform them of the ingredients once they've pushed back from the table! Bon appetite!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Critique: HP 8610 Ink jet printer scanner!

This critique will be of the informal variety and it will be somewhat drawn out with updates as the first printer did not work well.

As my old and venerable Hewlett Packard C6180 multi-function printer was getting along in age and was no longer working perfectly, I decided to pull the trigger on the purchase of a new model. As I've been a past customer of HP for some years, I decided that I wanted to stick with the brand an so limited my search field to just those printers that could get a couple of things done; mainly color printing and the ability to scan. The successful candidate also had to be able to work wirelessly and I wanted a small USB port so that I could archive scans onto a flash drive. The HP 8610 seemed to fill that bill at a cost of only about one hundred dollars.

I ordered my unit through Amazon as I am a Prime member (free 2 day shipping) and because I knew that they would take care of me in case a problem arose. Note also that HP's customer service does not allow a customer to send them an email, electing instead to use their cumbersome online chat vehicle.

On the day of the arrival I began to unpack all the components of the printer and was pleased to find that assembly was straightforward. I grew concerned, however, when I noticed that one of the ink cartridges appeared to be leaking – it was the yellow cartridge and there was ink covering the other cartridges as well. I cleaned these off as best I could and inserted them into the printer. Sadly, the very first test print indicated there was going to be a problem as it appeared that one of the colors was not printing correctly.
Test print..oops! Problems!

That prompted a call to Amazon's Customer Service Department where I was very quickly helped out. The representative quickly determined that something was amiss and offered to send me a replacement printer. I agreed to this and packed up the one I had received while waiting for a return authorization certificate to arrive from Amazon.

As the printer did work well overall, I decided to offer up some thoughts concerning the setup and the noise issues.
Surprisingly, scanning was soundless and fast!

Setup – Everything went swimmingly until I saw the blinking blue light that indicated the printer was not seeing my WiFi network. I had to perform a few gyrations to get it to finally work and I'm not sure the average customer would have been very happy as a result – The bottom line – the process of syncing up with a persons wireless router should be a little more seamless.

Noise – The HP 8610 is not what I would call a quiet printer. It had a tendency to grind through the printing process and I could see how this might get on someone's nerves over time. Remember, though, you get pretty much what you pay for and I would hazard a guess that the more top of the line printers made by Hewlett Packard are a lot quieter. On a good note, the scanner is whisper quiet and fast!

As the black ink output seemed unaffected by the problems with the other cartridge, I did print out a couple of samples and was pleased with the degree of fine smug free detail I observed. Thus, I will now await the arrival of the replacement printer (due at my place on Jan 8 2016) and will report via a future update...

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Forsyth's puzzling water billing practice!

Forsyth MOAfter recently moving from the outskirts of a small town in southwest Missouri to a location inside the city limits, I found that there were some new things to get used to....

Take my water/sewage bill, for instance. Apparently, even though city personnel do routinely read the meters, they don't actually record them on a consumers bill, preferring to estimated the amounts instead. OK, let me repeat that. They go to all the trouble of reading each meter (I've watched them) and then the City sends out a bill with what looks like a guesstimate! How do I know this. My meter reading always end up in even amounts! Hey guys and gals! If you're gonna guess at the readings, why did the City Fathers spend perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars to install accurate meters in the first place?

Maybe this practice will catch on with the local power co-op. They could send out an electric bill for a 'ballpark amount' of what they think you used and then you, the consumer could, send them a check on what you think you 'should' pay them... based on a really good personal estimate of course!

Update: Shortly after posting this, I received a new billing that seemed to reflect an accurate reading. Boy! Talk about a fast reaction!