Sunday, November 30, 2008

Two boys, a front-end loader and a roof...

I caught this with my cell phone.

Kids at party getting their ball off of a building.
(or "you just might be a redneck if...")

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Accidental Stampede

I started an accidental stampede this morning while cycling through the hill country. It seems that launching a snot rocket makes the exact same sound as a white tail deer's alarm/warning snort. The deer were not amused.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The price of butternut squash (they ain't cheap!)

Not wanting to come to the family Thanksgiving hoo-ha empty handed I decided to make soup. Butternut squash to be exact, especially since it is way easy to make and has a great 'wow factor'.
"You made this?"
"This is great, how did you do it?"
It's really simple, but I act like it takes a lot of skill or something. So I went to the store to pick up a few items such as, well, pretty much everything. The grand total was $50 (!). Who knew chicken stock, celery, onions, carrots and squash could be so expensive? I guess I shouldn't have picked up that six pack of beer (Saint Arnold's Christmas Ale) or that bottle of wine. However, the wine went into the soup so at least that part is justified (and you can guess where the beer went). I got to looking at the receipt and the two squash totaled up to over $13. Man. That was more than I wanted to spend on the soup, let alone just one ingredient. Anyway... here is my recipe (I'm not much on exact measurements so you'll just have to wing it.):

1. In a pot melt a lump of butter and a big glop of olive oil
2. Add in chopped carrots, onion and celery, salt, pepper and little bit of cumin and sautee
hint: buy baby carrots since they are already peeled
hint: break top of celery rib and pull down to remove a lot of the stringy part which will make your soup a lot less fibery/stringy
3. Cut squash in half, remove seeds, smear with olive oil and put on grill or in oven (cook until somewhat squishy and it'll be easier to peel)
4. Once veggies are sweated add some chicken/vegetable stock, a little white wine and/or water to cover them and let simmer
5. Peel squash, cut into chunks and add to simmering pot
6. Let pot simmer until all veggies are soft (check for seasoning)
7. Remove veggies and put in blender and add some of the water from the pot (but not too much - not quite covering the veggies)
8. While blending drop in a chunk of butter and pour in a splash of milk or cream
9. Check for thickness/creaminess/seasoning and your done

One whole butternut squash (half an onion, a handful of carrots and a couple of ribs of celery) makes about two blenders full. For extra consistancy mix the two or three batches into one container once they've all been blended.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Things I've seen on the Veloway...

1. Deer (lots)
2. Bunnies (lots)
3. Birds (scrub jays, cardinals, hawks, buzzards, misc. wrens/sparrows/jays)
4. Snakes (rattlers, coral, misc. garden snakes)
5. Road Runners
6. Tarantulas (more this year than ever)
7. A baby possum
8. Porcupine*
9. Armadillo
10. Fox (brown and red)
11. Coyote
12. Cats (domestic and feral)
13. Beetles (lots)
14. Random lizards
15. Squirrels (lots and lots)
16. Occasional mouse or rat

*favorite one so far

Friday, November 21, 2008

Today it is officially "fall".

It looks like today might be the first day of fall. Currently the temperature is 52 degrees and it's just a little after noon. The temps have been dropping down into the 40's at night but then quickly climbing up the 70's by mid day for several weeks now. Today is just different. There's a smell in the air that definitely says summer is over, welcome to colder weather. The trees have finally started to turn gold and red and yellow. What a nice time to be in central Texas.

Well, it's a week before Thanksgiving and they are already playing Christmas music on one of the local radio stations. Unfortunately there's only so many Christmas songs they can rotate in and out in a given day. So after about 8 hours of having the radio on at work you've pretty much heard every yuletide song there is. Now we are on day five of listening to the same set of songs. It's slowly driving me mad. I switch stations when nobody is paying attention but somehow the channel keeps getting changed back. Of course it's hard to complain about the Christmas music since that's kinda like saying you hate kittens and puppies or something. Sigh..

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Out of the mouths of babes..

A few years back my brother and his wife were preparing to move to a new house. They were in the process of packing everything up and my niece, who was about 3 or 4 at the time, was giving me a tour of all of the boxes stacked in their living room and kitchen. She was happily pointing out each box and telling me about the contents. When I asked her what was in one particular box her mother had just filled up she said, "A bunch of crap."
"Madison!" I said (trying not to laugh) as I looked at her and then at her mom.
Her mom just shrugged and said, "Well it's true," and then bent over and wrote 'misc. crap' on the flap of the box.

This memory came to me on Tuesday as I rode around the veloway. I often have time to think as I spend a couple hours banging out 25-30 miles around the track. I've tried listening to the radio or ipod and I don't enjoy it as much as I do the silence. I like having time to "just think".

I got up at 5:30 this morning (yes that is A.M. and on a Thursday) and went for ride. Around seven the sun came up and there was a slight mist in the air. The morning light caused the trees that have started to turn red, yellow and gold to just "pop" with contrast. It was then that I was glad I got out of bed after all. Wow! What a way to start the day, even if I did freeze my butt off. Of course now, I'm really dragging and plotting some way to catch a quick nap by crawling under my desk or something. I can't wait to get home.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Morning

The world is too much with us
as I slip on my jeans,
bare feet plodding
across a wooden floor,
not mine.

The world is too much with us
as Sunday starts,
saffron rays sending messages,
the day is yet.

The world is too much with us
while the smell of coffee fills the room,
asking questions so early,
always there,
while dust plays in the sunlight.

It's Sunday morning and I'm on my second cup coffee (waiting for it to finish dripping actually) while I wait for the outside temperature to slowly climb high enough that I can go for a ride. Mountain biking to be exact. It's supposed to warm up to the mid -seventies this afternoon but I can't wait that long. The weather channel shows it's still 45 degrees but I think they are lying. I'll give it another hour and head out anyway.

The above snippet of a poem is something I came up with at a creative writing class years ago. Our instructor gave us the first line and said, "You have 20 minutes, create something." So I busted out a short poem. That was 18 years ago and that poem is still in my head, although it never gets reproduced the same way twice. I always manage to find a new word or line that I seem to like better at the moment. What made me think of that was the coffee, btw.

I knew it! I told you they were lying! I just poked my head out the door and there's no way it is still 45 degrees.. it's gotta be in the mid 60's by now. I don't know why they always try to make the weather sound worse than it is - maybe it's so you'll stay inside and glued to the TV (and therefore supporting all of their advertisers)? Yep, I was right. Just checked for myself and it's 66 degrees. In another 45 minutes I'll be able to wear shorts and a t-shirt. This will be a good morning to ride.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A little inspiration goes a long way.

My friend Tracie Harris and I were at the grocery store purchasing the following items (as part of bigger scheme): a box of condoms, a six pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, a jar of vaseline and a roll of duct tape. When we got to the check out line the cashier (a girl of about sixteen) asked if we found everything okay. I asked her if they sold gloves - the big yellow disposable kind. "Aisle 16," she said, and never flinched.
Tracie has a very mischievous sense of humor and at work we were always coming up with interesting ways to keep ourselves entertained. Actually, she came up with the 'ways' and I just followed along for lack of anything better to do. Most of them were pretty benign and some were even officially condoned by TPTB. We held a raffle, an auction, an easter egg hunt, and a poster coloring contest just to name a few of the more 'tamer' ones. All the contest/events ended with some kind of awarding of prizes. The prizes were usually things such as stickers, candy, squirt guns and other items obtained from the Dollar Store. However, once our coworkers learned of an event I was amazed as to how many would volunteer or donate items for the bigger prizes. One would contribute a (nice) bottle of wine, another would offer an 'undistributed' gift that never quite made it to its intended recipient (a birthday party never attended, a christmas present never shipped to a relative, etc.) It was really like the modern version of making 'stone soup'. There was usually some good loot involved by the time it was all said and done.
The poster contest surprised me the most. It was Easter and we had copied a couple of like-wise themed pages out of a child's coloring book for everyone to take. The posters were done and everyone got to vote on their favorite with prizes awarded for various places, runners of up, etc. What amazed me the most was the creativity expressed and the way many people think out of the box. Most people colored theirs with crayons/markers, but some were painted, one was done with painted macaroni, another was done with balsa wood cut-outs to fit the sections (also nicely painted) and glued to the paper.
The reason we were in the grocery store check out line buying such a strange assortment of items was the 'Romantic Weekend Getaway' prize that was the grand prize to one of our events (no not the Easter thing - that would have been sacreligious). In addition to the condoms and duct tape we also included a pair of handcuffs, a toilet plunger and a couple of other interesting 'items'. Of course, we rigged the deal so that the guy in the office with biggest sense of humor would win. BTW, the prize also included some kind of hotel accommodations at a Marriott or some equally nice place (which was the 'real' prize).
Those were the days...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

III Forks Steakhouse

In honor of my brother's birthday, we all went to III Forks Steakhouse on Saturday; he turns a year older and I get free food & booze.. I'm kinda liking the way this thing works, I could get use to this. I'd never been to this restaurant before, but it's pretty much on par with Ruth's Chris Steakhouse - except III Forks doesn't char the living dog crap out their steaks. (I've only been to Ruth's Chris once but their whole claim to fame is some kind of patented crazy-insane broiling method that instantly converts a steak into a smoking lump of coal.)
The place was pretty snazzy and I felt waay under-dressed in jeans and polo shirt. I'm soo glad I didn't stick with the shorts and flip-flops I originally planned to wear. However, with Austin being the slacker-friendly kind of town it is, I sincerely doubt the "maitre de" would have flinched if I did show up in shorts.
Our reservation was for 7:15p but we got there around 6:30p to take advantage of the live Jazz in the lounge, which of course promptly started just about the time we were to be seated (far far away from the lounge). Oh well. But we did hang out in the lounge long enough to have a couple of cocktails. My brother and I had a glass of red wine, my sister-in-law ordered a dirty russian martini and the bartender showed no visible irritation whatsoever when my niece ordered a virgin daiquiri. Normally bartenders *hate* making virgin drinks, but our guy was a real trooper.
Next I decided to try a martini except I wanted mine with gin. After a brief question-and-answer session (brand? olive? twist? vermouth? - I didn't realize a glass of gin could be so complicated) the bartender produced a glass of gin. I gave my brother his present (Matthew Sweet's latest CD) which he duly noted was wrapped with christmas paper - hey, at least I wrapped it. We sat around and chatted and just about the time we started to get restless, my nephew and his new gf showed up and viola our table was ready.
It was basically steaks all around, except for my niece, who had a wedge salad, but not before she dug all of the soft chewy centers out of the loaves of bread on the table - leaving only the brown crusty hollowed out hulks, which she piled on my bread plate so I'd get the blame. Oh, and AW's new gf had some kind of marvy fried shrimp platter that totally put any $50 steak to shame. The steaks were expensive, but they were also like 16-18oz slabs of meat too. Service was good and not overly pretentious either, meaning no one came by and refolded our napkins or used a little swiffer thingy to roll the crumbs off the table. Another glass of wine followed by another martini and I decided dessert was not in my best interest. In fact, everyone was soo stuffed nobody wanted dessert. Our waiter didn't seem too disappointed, I think he was probably glad to have the table back. Happy birthday bro.

The back of my niece; AW's new gf (don't remember her name, but she IS cute); my brother and his wife. Nephew isn't in pic since he had to retrieve his own vehicle (the valets couldn't get the alarm to stop going off.)

Stuff you CAN'T sell on Craigslist..

It's a wonder they even feel the need to list some of this, but you know how people are...

*Offer or solicitation of illegal prostitution.
*Weapons and related items, including but not limited to firearms, disguised, undetectable or switchblade knives, martial arts weapons, scopes, silencers, ammunition, ammunition magazines, BB guns, tear gas or stun guns.
*Items issued to United States Armed Forces that have not been disposed of in accordance with Department of Defense demilitarization policies.
*Fireworks, including but not limited to "safe and sane" fireworks or any destructive devices or explosives.
*Controlled substances or illegal drugs, substances and items used to manufacture controlled substances and drug paraphernalia.
*Alcohol or tobacco products.
*Prescription drugs and medical devices, including but not limited to prescription or contact lenses, defibrillators, hypodermic needles or hearing aids.
*Nonprescription drugs that make false or misleading treatment claims or treatment claims that require FDA approval.
*Blood, bodily fluids or body parts.
*Household pets of any kind including but not limited to dogs, cats, primates, cage birds, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, fish. Re-homing with small adoption fee OK
*Pet animal parts, blood, or fluids - including but not limited to stud/breeding service
*Restricted or regulated plants and insects, including but not limited to noxious weeds, endangered plant species, or live insects or pests.
*Pesticides or hazardous substances, or items containing hazardous substances including but not limited to contaminated toys, or art or craft material containing toxic substances without a warning label.
*Illegal telecommunications equipment, including but not limited to access cards, password sniffers, access card programmers and unloopers, or cable descramblers
*Stolen property, or property with serial number removed or altered.
*Burglary tools, including but not limited to lock-picks or motor vehicle master keys
*False identification cards, items with police insignia, citizenship documents, or birth certificates.
*Counterfeit currency, coins and stamps, tickets, as well as equipment designed to make them.
*Counterfeit, replica, or knock-off brand name goods.
*Material that infringes copyright, including but not limited to software or other digital goods you are not authorized to sell, warez, bootlegs (without consent of the band).
*Airline tickets that restrict transfer, and tickets of any kind which you are not authorized to sell.
*Coupons or gift cards that restrict transfer, and coupons or gift cards which you are not authorized to sell.
*Gambling items, including but not limited to lottery tickets, sports trading card 'grab bags', raffle tickets, sweepstakes entries or slot machines.
*Used or rebuilt batteries, or batteries containing mercury.
*Used bedding and clothing, unless sanitized in accordance with law.
*Non-packaged food items or adulterated food.
*Bulk email or mailing lists that contain names, addresses, phone numbers, or other personal identifying information

Damn! They just won't let me have any fun!!

New Page

Some of these will be reposts of what's on myspace. Some will not.