Thursday, July 31, 2008

Splitting hairs. (Hares?)

I was reading a book review this morning and the reviewer paraphrased the author's description of translation as being "more an art than a science." This is a pretty common phrase. I've always thought they aren't mutually exclusive. It's really more a matter of degrees. There's no rule that says you can't be systematic, disciplined and creative.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's my idea and you can't have it.

I had a great idea for a commercial for an exterminator service. Or, pest control service. I guess "exterminator" is a little strong for people nowadays. Anyway, I've seen the Orkin ads a few times, and had an idea of my own. It's pretty vague and needs to be flushed out, but this is the gist of it. A woman is following a trail of ants through her house. Of course it's a woman, because guys don't even notice ants in the house. At least not in commercials. Guys don't notice much of anything in commercials. Caked-on crap left on the dishes from the dishwasher. Foul odors. Skid marks. This stuff just doesn't catch a man's attention.

Anyway, Mrs. Housewife is following the trail of ants, and she is on the phone. She gets more and more agitated as she describes the scene: "They're in the bathroom. They're in the kitchen. Oh my God, they're everywhere!" The voice on the other end of the line says, "Stay calm, ma'am. You have to find the source. You need to find out where they're coming from."

She starts to tear apart some cabinets, and pops up into view with an anguished, almost maniacal look on her face. She screams, "Oh My God! They're coming from INSIDE the HOUSE. They're COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!!"

Get it? Well, that's my idea. MY idea. Don't you go stealing it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


2 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
~1 lb chicken breast, cubed
~3 cups broccoli crowns
~3 cups (uncooked) penne pasta
salt and pepper
grated cheese

Start the water for the penne. Anytime you make something with pasta, the very first thing you do is start the water. If it boils before you need it, just shut it off (or turn it down); it will wait for you.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed large pan. I have a large, stainless stew pot that works well. Add the garlic. Let it just start to get brown. Add the chicken. Put some salt and pepper on it. Cook it well on one side, then turn it. Cook it so it's a nice, golden color. When it's cooked all the way through, take it out of the pan.

Toss the broccoli crowns in the pan with about 1/4 cup of water, give it a quick stir, and cover. Turn the heat down to low. Let that steam for about 5 minutes, then toss the chicken back in, leave the lid off, and toss that around. The penne should be ready to drain by now. Toss that in with every thing else, turn off the heat and throw some grated cheese on top. Eat.

This is one of the easiest things in the world to make, other than a steak or a pot of boxed mac 'n cheese. Somehow, though, Lisa enjoys this as much as if it were 4 star cuisine. It's the gustatory equivalent of a bouquet of roses for me: no matter what I've done, I'm pretty sure I can get off the hook with a batch of chicken penne (not that I've ever needed it).

Monday, July 28, 2008

Some Things Are OK to be OCD About

I have to do the dishes before I go to bed. If I wake up in the morning, and the coffee pot isn't clean and ready for me to use, my day is shot. I used to be a lot more of a slob, but nowadays a mess makes me nervous. Especially dishes in the sink. Now I need to develop some kind of neurosis about leaving a mess on my desk.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Good Eats

I love tacos. Usually, I don't like things that involve cramming a bunch of different food together and eating it at once. I like to pick at things separately. I always enjoyed TV dinners when I was a kid, because everything had its own compartment. It isn't that I don't want my food touching; in fact I like to mix some things together. I don't normally like peas (I don't really do anything normally), but if you give me peas, mashed potatoes and gravy, I'll clean my plate. And if you put the peas in a vegetable samosa, I'll give you $7.95 and clean my plate. But I am not a big fan of burritos, fajitas or most casseroles.

Tacos, however, I love. And I love them crammed with all kinds of stuff. FULLY LOADED. GIVE ME THE WORKS! Meat, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, salsa, Tabasco sauce, sour cream and guacamole. Did you know guacamole was an Aztec word that means "sauce (mole) of the avocado (guavacado)?" At least I think that's what it means; I read it on Wikipedia. So, anyway, I love big, loaded tacos. And now, I am aided in my pursuit of fully stacked tacos by Old el Paso's "Stand and Stuff" taco shells. (Stand and Stuff - sounds like something I always wanted to do on an elevator). These shells have a wide, flat bottom (just like me) so they don't tip over when I add the fifth layer of toppings. Of course, they still promptly fall to pieces at the first bite, but that's part of the fun of tacos.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Bright Idea

Lisa and I took a walk around Jamaica Pond today. We saw geese and ducks and ducklings and dogs and JP's mascot, the albino squirrel. This little fellow is known far and wide in the neighborhood, and has even had a story written about him/her in the JP Gazette. I said to Lisa that there should be a flag for JP with the squirrel on it. I think it would be perfect for this neighborhood. A green background with a white squirrel with red eyes on it. Maybe there could be a slogan, too. Something like "Different and Happy" or "Stand Out In The Crowd."

Friday, July 25, 2008

Perfect Storm

The stars have aligned to make this a costly summer. I dropped off my car for some routine maintenance and a sticker, and ended up needing lots of work. I wasn't going to bother, since I just signed up for a ZipCar membership, but I figure I can sell the car now and get at least enough to cover what I spent on repairs. I'm sure some college kid will pay a few hundred bucks for an old beater. (Comment here with an email address if you're interested in the details.) I am a little unsure if I want to be totally dependent on the ZipCar, but I work with a few people who live in the city and use it exclusively, and they say it's great. I can at least give it a try for a while.

On top of the auto issues, I spent three hours in the dentist's chair this afternoon. I wasn't even thinking about the cost of that, and when I went to check out, the bill was almost as big as the bill for the car. But I only have myself to blame for that (I only have myself to blame for any of my problems, really) so I ponied up the cash with a smile on my face. A nice, clean smile, too.

One thing to consider if you haven't been to the dentist in a while and are trying to find someone to go to: try to get a look at the size of his/her hands before you commit to any work. You don't want someone with mitts the size of Johnny Bench's trying to cram them into your tiny mouth.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Don't you need a license for those things?

This morning at 8:10 I boarded the Orange line at Forest Hills and watched a woman feed her little boy Cheez-its for breakfast. When I got to work, the first story on that caught my eye was about a judge in New Zealand ruling that parents could not name their child whatever they wanted. The parents in this particular case wanted to name their daughter "Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii." Actually, they did name the child that, and the judge made her a ward of the court so he could legally have it changed. The poor child was so embarrassed by the name that she never told any of her friends what it was, and asked them to just call her "K."

For the most part, I am completely noncommittal when it comes to raising kids. I don't have any of my own, so I am not about to tell other people how to raise them. But as I get older, I see more and more instances of blatant stupidity on the part of parents, and I have to almost bite my tongue to keep from saying something. Doesn't anyone with a shred of common sense know that Cheez-its are not breakfast food?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Like frikken Sisyphus

On the evening of the 3rd of July, I chipped a molar. On a chicken tender, no less. A chicken TENDER. I didn't bite down on something hard and feel a crunch; it was more like something between my teeth. And when I went to remove it, it was my tooth. Long story short, I hadn't been to the dentist in years, and I found one the following Monday that was taking new patients. I went in, got a cleaning, and made about a half-dozen more appointments to have various issues dealt with.

Anyway, ever since the hygienist got my mouth nice and clean, I want to brush (and floss!) my teeth as soon as I'm finished eating anything. Suddenly, I am constantly staring at myself in the mirror, counting to thirty while I concentrate on going up-and-down and not side-to-side on each quadrant.

*Snoopy brusha brusha toothbrush, when you wake up in the morning...*

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Did you know that if you have rows or columns hidden in an Excel spreadsheet, and you select a big part of the spreadsheet and then press the control and semicolon keys, that you are selecting only the visible cells? And then you can copy and paste just the visible cells to another spreadsheet, and leave behind all the hidden stuff? Did you? You did?

Well, why didn't you tell ME, you JERK!? Coulda saved me a lot of time.


Monday, July 21, 2008


I don't remember the first time I noticed it, but there has been a dilapidated white Ford Thunderbird sitting in the driveway of a house on the VFW Parkway in West Roxbury for years. Based on the pictures I found on the web, I'm guessing it was a 1960, because the rear end (the only part I got a decent look at) didn't have the two big round taillights, but a row of smaller ones. A few months ago it got so rotted out that the trunk popped open and then the sheet metal on the deck lid slid off and left the frame sticking up in the air. On Friday, when we went to drop off some laundry, it was gone. I always thought I would end up watching it slowly melt into the blacktop of the driveway, and now it's just - poof - not there.

Anyway, no big revelation. Just thought I'd share.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Better than fireworks

If you ever have the chance to ride out a thunderstorm on the bandstand at Jamaica Pond, you should - it's a great view and a perfect spot to take advantage of the cooling breeze that comes along with the storm.