SLIDESHOW EXPLANATION

THE PHOTOS SCROLLING BY IN THE SLIDESHOW ON THE LEFT ARE ORIGINAL AND CAN BE VIEWED OR PURCHASED AT WWW.WIZARDPIXPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

HOW DOES EUROPE LOVE MITT? LET US COUNT THE WAYS...


          I happened to be in the car today when Rush Limbaugh's radio diarrhea started with a diatribe about the liberal mainstream media trying to make it appear as if Mitt Romney's hugely successful foreign policy trip had somehow been a gaffe-tastic disaster.   El Rushbo was furious in his denials, calling Romney's little foray into European politics a 'grand slam home run.'
          Wow... a homer, eh?  Let's see... Mitt insulted the Brits on the day their Olympics were to open, called the Back Garden of Downing Street the "backside," then mentioned to the press that he'd been given a foreign policy briefing by those good folks at MI6... an secret intelligence organization one simply doesn't discuss in England.  Great start, Mitt.  Why not bitch slap the Queen on your way to the Opening Ceremony?




           From there Mitt traveled to Israel, where he took his left foot out of his mouth and inserted his right one.  He praised the Israeli economy and their technological innovations, then said the reason the Palestinians had it so bad was because of their "cultural" differences.  He didn't bother to mention the economic embargo surrounding their squalid settlement camps in that assessment of Palestinian incompetence, but hey, why bother letting facts ruin a good narrative?


          He followed that blunderful mouthful by suggesting his administration would be 100% supportive of a pre-emptive Israeli military strike on Iran, if they wanted to start a middle eastern conflagration.  Thumbs up!  Time to get back on Air Farce Uno, the BainMobile!

          During all of these travels Mitt has carefully avoided answering questions from the attendant American press corps assigned to follow him from place to place, and at a stop in Poland some of them began to yell questions Mitt's direction as he left Warsaw's Pilsudski Square.  One of Mitt's advisers took offense, telling the reporters to show some respect, adding they could "shove it" and "kiss my ass" for good measure.  When candidates are often judged by the people surrounding their campaigns, Romney might as well have had Hannibal Lector leading him around in public.
           But to people like Rush Limbaugh and his acolytes at Faux News, this trip was a resounding success.  In their eyes, Romney looked presidential and in command of all he encountered from start to finish, earning high marks for diplomacy and tact every step of the way.
           The fact-free diet these people subsist on is beginning to affect their logic in ways rational people can't explain... and yet they can't understand why everyone doesn't see events the same way they see them:  spinning wildly to the right and coming up roses at every turn.

            Anyone who tries to make you believe Romney's misadventures overseas were anything less than an unmitigated disaster is selling you the Kool-Aid they've already consumed.


TENNESSEE MAN FINDS PHOTO OF ANOTHER MAN ON GIRLFRIEND'S FACEBOOK PAGE, CHARGED WITH DOMESTIC ASSAULT (the man? Willard Mitt Romney...)


        The magnificent specimen you see in the Anderson County Sheriff's Office mugshot is one Lowell Turpin, age 40, of the Claxton, Tennessee community.  Lowell was snooping around on his girlfriend's Facebook page and found a photo of a strange man he didn't recognize.  When he asked his girlfriend about this mystery dude, she tried to tell him the man in the photo was the presumptive Republican nominee for President, Willard Mittens Romney.
         What happened next, according to the police report, is that Turpin became enraged, snatched her laptop out of her hands, smashed it against a wall, and then punched her dead in the face.

         Whether or not he was angered by her political choices is unclear.  What is abundantly clear is that his girlfriend has absolutely lousy taste in men, which is par for the course in that part of the state, especially when it comes to politics. 

          Lowell's girlfriend probably bailed him out so they could go back to the trailer for some hot make-up sex.   

HANDY, DANDY PRODUCTS THAT CAN MAKE MISERABLE CHORES LESS ANNOYING

         I don't want to turn this post into one of those late night television commercials where some extremely loud sales-barker is pitching the latest "As Seen on TV" product guaranteed to make your life wonderful, but I do have a couple of gadgets in mind as I write this.
         We've been making salsa here at Chateau Squatlo for the past month, and the results have been outstanding.  My lovely (and dangerous) wife is the salsa queen, and the recipe she follows renders a finished product that can bring tears to your eyes (especially if I'm left alone in the kitchen long enough to add more hot pepper ingredients to the stock pot...)
          But making salsa is a pain in the ass.  Blanching and peeling hundreds and hundreds of ripened tomatoes, one after the other, day after day, would be enough of a disincentive to chase away all but the most dedicated of canners.  But the endless chopping of peppers and onions makes the endeavour almost (almost...) not worth the effort.
          You have to imagine the scene.  We have a small kitchen with limited counter top space on which to work.  When you have to dice up quarts-worth of peppers (jalapeno, habanero, cayenne, banana, chili, and bell) and then suffer through your tears to dice up equal amounts of onions BEFORE you even begin to blanch, peel, core, and dice hundreds of tomatoes, well, it's easy to understand why more people don't make their own salsa.
           But our lives were brightened by way of a device loaned to us by our buddy BJ last week, and before we EVER think of making another batch of salsa we shall acquire one of these gadgets of our own.



THIS THING IS AWESOME!!!!                                              

Normally, I spend at least an hour dicing up the peppers alone for a batch of salsa.  But this handy little chopper turned that into a five minute process, and all of the pieces were uniform and perfectly diced.  Instead of spending the rest of the day and evening with burning fingers from handling extremely hot peppers in massive quantities, I was able to make short work of both the pepper AND onions. 

It's a labor saving miracle, and I highly recommend one if you've got a lot of dicing to do.  So far this summer we've made 60 quarts of salsa (actually 59... one jar shattered just as it was placed into the boiling water bath... too bad you weren't here to watch grown people cry)

The other labor saving device that's found its way near and dear to my heart is a cheap attachment for my lawn's weed whacker.  Nothing is more frustrating than trying to keep the lawn trimmer string from binding up or snapping off during trimming, especially if you have to carry the weedeater back to a garage to replace or rethread the line every time it malfunctions.
The motor unit on those weedeaters almost always perform flawlessly, but the trimmer heads are maddeningly frustrating.
If you find yourself spending more time rethreading the line on your weedeater and want to make your yard chores a LOT less miserable, find and purchase one of these:


The one I purchased at a local big box home improvement store was slightly different than the one pictured, but this is close enough for illustration

You have no idea how many times I've said the following words aloud after using one of these attachments:  "Best product improvement EVER!"

Instead of stopping at least once or twice (and sometimes half a dozen times) to mess with the line advance head on our weedeater, I now complete the entire yard every time without stopping.
It's like taking 75% of the misery of lawn work out of the equation.  If you're one of those folks who's fighting with his weedeater more than he's using it, get thee to a Home Depot and buy one of these universal string trimmer attachments.
Your life will be better for it, I promise.

If you have a product improvement the rest of us need to hear about, PLEASE toss a comment to the blobber gods.  I'd love to know what handy, dandy labor saving device has brightened your life lately!

Monday, July 30, 2012

WHEN A RACIST TROLL CROSSES A LINE


         I like to think I'm open minded about most things.  Not empty headed, open minded.  But when it comes to blatant racism, I don't have any patience.  I consider racism to be one of those character flaws that reflects an irredeemable personality, and unless you're a relative I have to tolerate at family functions, I'm not wasting time in your company.

         I'm damn sure not putting up with your ass on my own blog.

         An asshole who goes by Theo, or Stanley Ann Dunham, or any number of other nom de plumes to avoid revealing his actual identity, has posted some rightwing comments on this blog from time to time.  I've posted some, and warned him to avoid homophobic or racist comments in the future.  He's cleaned up his act for some of his comments, and those have been allowed to stand. 
        
         Just so you'll understand why I feel the way I do about this individual, I'm going to post the photo that was attached to his last email to my address. 


       This was captioned "First Sheboon"...   hilarious, huh?

         He claims to be "working" on his own blogsite, one he promises to call "Michelle's Big Beaver". Of course, he's promised/threatened to start his own blog before, but never quite manages to follow through.

          Apparently, it easier to snipe from his cave than to actually stand behind what he writes.
                   I've enabled comment moderation to avoid any future comments from this individual, and apologize again for having allowed his sick voice to be heard on my site.

        Hard to believe this kind of thing passes for humor, even among knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing troglodytes.

AND NOW, SOME PERSONALIZED GUANO FOR MY FAVORITE TROLL

     You know who you are... this one's for you!


          
         "Go away, or we shall taunt you a second time!"

IS ALGEBRA TO BLAME FOR OUR HIGH SCHOOL DROP OUT RATES? SHOULD IT EVEN BE REQUIRED?


         There's an article in the New York Times that caught my eye, mainly because I was one of those unfortunate souls who suffered mightily at the hands of the Algebra Gods in high school.
Andrew Hacker's essay about the staggering effects of our insistence on requiring algebra in high school hit a nerve with this blogger.
         I took four years of high school algebra.  Flunked Algebra I, took it my sophomore year and earned a charity "D" from a teacher who had mercy on my ignorant ass.  Little did she know I would be forced to sign up for Algebra II the following year and that she would have to put up with me again.  I flunked Algebra II with even worse scores than I'd brought home the first two years.  My senior year saw me suffering through Algebra II a second time, again dragging home a "D" I probably didn't deserve.
         I'm not an idiot.  I'm actually pretty decent with numbers.  But for some reason, when the numbers are mixed in with half of the alphabet and strange symbols are tossed into the soup for added confusion, my mind just locks up.  You might as well be screaming at me in Hungarian.
         Here's what made it even worse for me:  Whenever I asked the adults (who insisted I would need algebra) to give me one good example of how it was necessary in their adult lives after school, all I got for an answer was "Well, it's a requirement, so you have to take it."
         WTF?  Now, I'm not blasting mathematics.  Kids HAVE to learn basic mathematics skills, and more advanced courses in geometry and trig will have to have a basis in algebraic ability.  If someone is employed as a tool and dye maker, or an architect, I can see why mastering algebra would be essential to those occupations.  But why is it required of all high schoolers?
          Here are some boring ol' numbers for you taken from Hacker's article:  one out of every four 9th graders in America fails to receive a high school diploma.  In South Carolina, 34% dropped out in 2008-9.  In Nevada that percentage was 45%.  One of the primary reasons for the high rates of failure?  Algebra.  National transcripts show that math courses account for twice as many "D"s and "F"s as any other subject.
          Schools now require exit exams, and almost all of them contain an algebra component.  Don't pass the exam, you don't graduate.  33% of high school seniors in Oklahoma fail the exit exam.  That number is 35% in West Virginia.
           Here's another stat you can ignore:  only 58% of college students manage to earn a bachelor's degree.  The primary drop out cause?  Mathematics, with algebra being the main culprit.
           How many kids who might have excelled at subjects other than math have been denied high school diplomas or a chance to attend a college or university because of their struggles with algebra?  How many writers, historians, sociologists, or biologists have seen their dreams crushed because of a math course they probably never would have needed in the real world?
          Personally, I've never once had the need to break out an algebra formula in my adult life.
Not once.  I don't know anyone who has, actually.
          And yet, there it is.  Required.  Like oxygen.  You pass these mandatory torture sessions or you don't pass go and you don't get the $200.  No college for you!  Line up at the unemployment office, we'll see if we can find you something in fast food in a year or two.

          Isn't it time we removed this ridiculous stumbling block and allowed our kids to reach their potential?  I'm not trying to dumb down our school systems.  God knows, that would be hard to do.  But in the case of algebra, maybe it's time we took a long hard look at the devastating effects that requirement has taken on our schools' graduation rates.
 
           If I'm wrong about this, I'd love to hear the reasoning.
        

TAKE YOUR RPG TO WORK DAY, COURTESY OF THE SECOND AMENDMENT? SCALIA REMINDS US THAT ELECTIONS MATTER...



          If there's a reason for a sitting Supreme Court Justice to be featured on a Sunday morning cable news talk show, I can't think of one.  I remember when the viewpoints of these men and women were tightly held, lest they reveal a potential bias in a case yet to appear before the Court.
          But this particular group seems to revel in the political realm more than any other.  Scalia and Thomas, in particular, seem quite eager to take part in highly partisan political events and commentary.
          Scalia appeared on Faux News Sunday for an interview with Chris Wallace, and in it he suggested Americans might very well have a right to "bear arms" of the rocket-launcher variety, as long as they're hand held.  See, as long as you can "bear" the arm, it's potentially legal to his way of thinking. 
          When you start to discuss sane solutions to the gun culture violence in this country a lot of the bullshit you hear is from people who have knee-jerk reactions from either side of the controversy.  It's almost impossible to have a rational discussion about limiting the number of bullets carried in a clip, for example, because that is the foot-in-the-door weakening of our 2nd Amendment rights the lunatics of the radical fringe swear Obama and liberals are out to deny the American public.
           But surely we can agree that James Holmes wasn't entitled to carry a rocket propelled grenade launcher into a theater, right?  Isn't it safe to assume there are SOME limits to what a person can legally "bear" from arms manufacturers?  Are bazookas okay?  Is it a little over the line if a person wants to take his street sweeper 12 gauge riot gun to the little league game?
         
           But I think the larger, and far more insightful conclusion one should take from Scalia's comments should be this:  it matters who wins the White House in November.
           With several elderly Justices on the verge of retirement, and the very real possibility of two or more Justices being named by the next President, we all have a vital stake in making sure those nominated aren't cut from the same partisan cloth as Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas.
           When legislatures around the country seem to be in a competition to see who can most severely restrict abortion rights, contraception, and voting rights, the possibility for those issues to be argued before the Supreme Court are likely.  The landscape of America as we know it depends on the makeup of the high court.
            This asshole scares the living shit out of me.  I don't care who you are or what motivates your politics, you should be able to recognize the absurdity of having no limits to the reach of the 2nd Amendment beyond "what a person can physically carry."

            Register, and vote, if they'll let you...


           
            I think Chris Rock's solution to gun violence might be the best.  Make bullets cost $5,000 each.  No more innocent bystanders.   

MONDAY GUANO AGAIN? SHIT! DIDN'T WE JUST DO A MONDAY??? (how flime ties)
















Sunday, July 29, 2012

HOPE THE SPAM FILTER ON THIS BLOBBER NEVER GETS CLOGGED UP... 'CAUSE THERE'S A STEADY STREAM OF CRAP COMMENTS


         I hope I'm not the only blogger who opens his email to find dozens of bogus comments snagged up in the spam filter.  It's an everyday thing...

         "Thanks for the useful information!  I am impressed with your knowing of interesting facts and will return to inspect future wonderful!"  or  "Great post!  Gucci purses discount!"

          Every now and then I like to click over to the blobber dashboard to see if any of the crap has slipped through, but for the most part the gods at Google manage to keep the site relatively bullshit free.
          Except when Theo wants to comment.  I don't think the blobber gods have figured out a way to tell the difference between blatantly commercial comments and blatantly partisan.  Maybe that's an algorithm they can work on...

         In the meantime, "Happy to found your blog!  Most fantastic information, and gratitude for contents much!  Celebrity porn here!"

Saturday, July 28, 2012

HAHAHAHAHA!!!! SOMEONE ELSE IS SICK OF NBC'S SAD AND DREARY "UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL" OLYMPIC COVERAGE!

         "You're gonna cry... real hard."



COUPLE DENIED CHURCH WEDDING IN MISSISSIPPI BY CONGREGATION ( THE PROBLEM? NOT SAME SEX... JUST TOO BLACK FOR THE FIRST BABTIST CHURCH OF CRYSTAL SPRINGS)

          Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson
 
           Let's say you've been attending services at a church for a couple of years, but hadn't officially become members of the church.  Let's also say you've decided it's time for you and your significant other to tie the knot, so you approach the church minister and schedule a wedding date at that church.  You send out invitations, you finalize your plans, and you take care of the millions of little details that go into having a church wedding.
           Then out of the blue you get a phone call from the minister telling you you won't be allowed to be married in that church, after all.  The reason?  Some members of the congregation pitched a fit when they found out you were planning on being married in their church.  Raised so much hell that the minister was afraid he'd be voted out of his position within the church if he followed through and performed the services there.  So he arranged to perform the wedding at another church in town on the same day, just to keep the peace.
            What possible reason could the congregation have against your wedding?  Quite simple, actually.  You're too black to be married there, that's all.  They don't have a problem with your contributions to the collection plate on Sundays, but a wedding?  Not happening.
            According to this article, here's what happened:
 
"The church congregation had decided no black could be married at that church, and that if he went on to marry her, then they would vote him out the church," said Charles Wilson.
"He had people in the sanctuary that were pitching a fit about us being a black couple," said Te'Andrea Wilson. "I didn't like it at all, because I wasn't brought up to be racist. I was brought up to love and care for everybody."
 
            The minister of the First Babtist Church of Crystal Springs, Mississippi, Stan Weatherford, says he was surprised by the reaction of some members of his congregation.

"This had never been done before here, so it was setting a new precedent, and there are those who reacted to that because of that," said Weatherford.

Weatherford went on and performed the wedding at a nearby church.

"I didn't want to have a controversy within the church, and I didn't want a controversy to affect the wedding of Charles and Te' Andrea. I wanted to make sure their wedding day was a special day," said Weatherford.

           A recent poll of registered Republicans revealed that 30% of them believe interracial marriage should be illegal.  Apparently, the Christians who attend services at the First Babtist Church of Crystal Springs don't even like the idea of black folks getting married, period. 

           Jesus...

           What year is this, again? 

          

          

MARY POPPINS? JAMES BOND? FRIGGIN' SHEEP? AM I THE ONLY PERSON WHO THOUGHT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE OLYMPICS SUCKED???


         Here's what the Mayor of London has to say about the opening ceremonies:

London Mayor Boris Johnson says he spent all night dreaming about the opening ceremony and thinks it was better than China's stunning show four years ago.
"Call me chauvinistic, call me jingoistic, but I think we knocked the spots off Beijing last night," Johnson said.
"From the beginning I was crying like a baby. I just thought it was brilliant."
He lauded the cultural complexity of Danny Boyle's production.
"We weren't just Beefeaters and Big Ben. It was the real story of this country," he said.

         Yeah, brilliant.  That's the word I was looking for...  But somehow I kept coming up with "bullshit" instead.

         I talked up the opening ceremonies around Chateau Squatlo yesterday because I was hoping to drum up a little enthusiasm for the Games, thus making them a part of the television schedule in the next two weeks.  My lovely (and dangerous) wife would probably prefer to lock the remote control onto the "Law and Order" network (there must be at least one of those, because "bonk-bonk" is  on 24 hours a day, seven days a week) so I like to prime the well in advance if I know there's something coming up I'd like to watch.
          So I made a big deal about getting dinner off of the grill in time for the opening ceremony.  We sat back, adult beverages in hand, prepared for the extravaganza.
          But it turns out we weren't prepared at all.

          About five minutes into the broadcast NBC had started the "up close and personal" interviews with a couple of American gymnasts, with Bob Costas telling them he had a package to deliver to them from Justin Beiber.   I did an audible face palm at that moment.  The network went to commercial break.  They came back.  It got worse.

           Half an hour into the actual opening ceremony my wife (bless her heart for being THIS patient) looked over at me and said, and this is a direct quote:  "Do we really have to watch this shit?"

           Yep.  It's historic.  Only happens every four years, like presidential elections.  We should be able to say we watched the Opening Ceremonies from London.  We shall attempt to watch this shit, at least until the athletes are introduced in the Parade of Nations.  Be patient, dear, perhaps it will get better.

           It didn't.

           I want my two hours back.

           And now my wife won't let me touch the remote control anymore.

           I think I hate England.

(heavy sigh...)
         

Friday, July 27, 2012

WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO PARTICIPATE IN A DRUG RECOGNITION PROGRAM? MINNEAPOLIS POLICE TROLL FOR FOLKS WILLING TO USE THEIR DRUGS FOR RESEARCH PURPOSES...




        

          If you were out on the street and a cop pulled up and asked if you'd like to "partake in this research" involving illegal narcotics, would you participate???
          This is supposed to have been filmed in Minneapolis.  You decide...
      

DOES A SEEDLESS WATERMELON TASTE AS GOOD AS ONE WITH SEEDS? (perhaps your nostagia for childhood seed-spitting is tampering with your taste buds, bud...)


           See those hard shelled black seeds in the photo of sliced watermelon?  Good luck finding one of those these days...
          NPR's food blog has an article by April Fulton in which she discusses the genetics behind the new wave of "seedless" watermelons, and whether or not the sweet taste of our favorite summer fruit will soon go the way of supermarket tomatoes... bland and flavorless.  Since the seedless varieties of watermelon are much more popular these days than the seeded varieties, most grocery stores only carry seedless.  If you're planning a seed-spitting contest you might have to visit a farmers' market for your ammunition.
           My lovely (and thoroughly dangerous) wife brought home a melon from Kroger a week ago, and that baby was delicious.  No seeds, other than a few flimsy (and chewable) thin white ones.  I ate most of that melon the day we sliced it, and finished it off the next afternoon.  As far as taste goes, it was one of the sweetest melons I can remember eating.  Of course, I prefer seedless grapes, too. 
           According to Fulton's article, the seedless thing is achieved by way of colchicine, a derivative from the crocus used to treat gout.  Plants treated with colchicine produce two chromosomes instead of one, and they have triploid cells incapable of maturing to hard, black seeds.  Since most customers prefer the seedless melons, they are becoming the most common varieties available for consumers.
           But some folks swear the seedless melons taste bland.  Since tastes vary ("Tastes very what?" as Latka would say on Taxi) it's difficult to say whether or not that's true.  All I can tell you is I ate a ton of watermelon as a kid, and the one we had last week was as sweet and flavorful as any I can remember.  And there were no seeds to mess with.

           If you've had a seedless melon, let us know what you thought of the taste in comparison to your last seeded one.  In the meantime, I'm going back to the store for another. 

MITT HAPPENS... GET USED TO IT, BRITS!



          The Daily Kos has a nice compilation of reports from London providing a glimpse into Mitt Romney's "Repair our Anglo-Saxon Relationship with Britain" tour.
          I'm afraid if we don't recall him to America before his next speaking engagement we'll soon be at war with the British again...

TODAY'S MOVIE? "NIGHT OF THE GUANO"...