Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Came across this today and thought it was interesting. It's from the site National

Taxpayers in Asheville, North Carolina have paid $101.2 million for the Iraq War thus far. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:

21,681 People with Health Care or
80,313 Homes with Renewable Electricity or
2,592 Public Safety Officers or
1,898 Music and Arts Teachers or
20,114 Scholarships for University Students or
8 New Elementary Schools or
958 Affordable Housing Units or
48,280 Children with Health Care or
13,738 Head Start Places for Children or
2,099 Elementary School Teachers or
1,549 Port Container Inspectors

Not that the money actually would have spent on anything as remotely beneficial as the list above, of course.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lights Out

I think there's something weird in the electrical wiring of my apartment. Either that, or I have a poltergeist with a vendetta against light bulbs. In the four years I've lived there at least 8 table-type lamps have burned out and I've had to replace numerous appliance bulbs (refrigerator, stove light, etc.). Not a simple case of the bulb burning out with the lamps though, we're talking sparks flying, the flash of a short circuit, and that wonderful ozone smell kind of thing. When that happens I toss the lamp since I don't feel particularly safe using it again afterwards.

On Saturday I lost my 3rd pole-type lamp (the cheap ones with the halogen bulbs). I was sitting in the computer room and it started to get noticeably darker. I heard a slight sizzling sound and realized it was yet another lamp in its death throes. Then last night I went into the kitchen and the bulb over the table flashed three times and died. So now I'm down to 2 lamps in the house that work and I'm wary to spend any kind of money on new ones. Maybe I should look into some kind of battery powered lights. The little voice inside wants to take this as some kind of sign. There are too many ways to see this as a "darkness is coming", "my lights are dying out" kind of thing though so I'm purposefully avoiding placing that type of significance on it and going with the faulty wiring angle.

I've had some odd experiences with electricity in my life, so maybe it's me doing all this. Is there a way to have your magnetic field measured?

When my parents were building their house back in the early 80's I had a transformer blow up on me (burned a hole in my shirt and sent me flying backwards a few feet). A few years later a lamp in my bedroom had burned out (sound familiar?) and I was playing with the wiring from it. I spliced the ends, plugged it into the outlet, and like a scene from TV touched the ends of the bare wires together (DO NOT try this at home kids). The flash blinded me for a few seconds, fused the wires together, and kicked the breakers in the house off. Luckily the parents weren't home so I was able to hide the evidence, but it was probably the stupidest and most dangerous thing I've ever done.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

New Toy

Behold the awesomeness that is iPod Touch:

It's like I've been awoken from some long boring dream and handed the most wonderful toy ever. My inner geek giggles with delight every time I push one of the virtual buttons. If it came with Star Trek-esque sounds and graphics I think I'd pass out from sheer pleasure.

Tuscan Chicken

This week’s cooking attempt was Tuscan Chicken. I roasted some baby potatoes and had a small salad with it also, and it turned out well. It would have been good over some pasta so I’m going to cook a bit of linguine for the leftovers. At any rate, here’s the recipe I used:

Potatoes: I just threw some stuff together, didn’t really follow a recipe.

1lb baby potatoes
Olive oil

Place the potatoes in a roasting pan. Mix the spices in the olive oil and pour over the potatoes. Bake at 350 for about an hour.

Tuscan Chicken: I took the majority of the recipe from a cookbook, but changed a few things to keep it low-sodium and according to what ingredients I had on-hand.

1 teaspoon olive oil
6 skinless chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 garlic clove (I put in 3-4 cloves, I love garlic)
1 ½ cups tomato sauce (I used 1 can of diced tomatoes [no sodium added])
½ cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon oregano
14 oz can navy or white beans (I used pinto beans I froze from a previous Sunday Dinner)
3 tablespoons bread crumbs
salt and pepper to taste (I left out the salt)

Add the oil to a non-stick pan and fry the chicken until done. (It doesn’t have to be completely cooked, just get it most of the way there). Remove the chicken and set aside. Add the onion and peppers to the pan and cook until soft (don’t brown them).

Add the chicken back to the pan and put in the garlic, tomatoes, wine, oregano, salt & pepper and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 30-35 minutes (until the chicken is tender and doesn’t run pink when punctured). Stir in the beans and simmer 5 more minutes.

Transfer to an oven safe dish, sprinkle with bread crumbs, and broil until golden brown. (I skipped this part and it turned out rather well despite the bread crumbs).

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Chef T

I didn't really feel like doing something involved for my meal this week so I went with Honey and Orange Glazed Chicken, with baked potatoes and a Caesar Salad. I had everything for it already except for the orange and orange juice so it ended up being a pretty cheap meal too, which is always a good thing. No pics yet since it's still in the oven cooking, but making the glaze for it beforehand smelled awfully tasty so I'm hoping it turns out well.

Got an angel food cake for dessert (with strawberries). I've heard their pretty simple to make so I may try to bake one of those in the coming weeks.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Yet another slow week. My emotional state has been happy at times and depressed with life at others (and pretty much everything in between too), so while dull the week's at least been kind of interesting from that perspective. To be happy and content with your life in the morning and then be depressed about how your life is a complete failure and happiness is an illusion by nightfall gets a bit tedious every day though. Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.
Shelbster seems to be feeling better. Her appetite is way up but her water intake is back to normal. She feels like she's loosing weight though; I can feel her spine in a few places and the skin around her back legs looks a little loose. Her energy levels are good though and she acts happy, so I'm not too worried about her overall.
Saw my first daffodil of the year yesterday as I was leaving work. It's in a junky little parking lot near the lot at work, but it's still a pretty sight to see. Especially since it's rainy and cold today.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sunday Dinner

Making a huge meal for dinner (lunch) on Sundays was always a tradition in my family when I was growing up. Granny would start cooking early in the morning and by the time church was out there wasn't a spot on any counter top or table that didn't have some kind of food on it. And we're talking real food too, all of it made from scratch...fried chicken, corn bread, beans, biscuits, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, cakes, pies, and wonderfully over-sweetened iced tea (with saccharin!) to wash it all down.

And the people came. At least a dozen or more every Sunday. When you have as large a family as we had it's hard not to draw a crowd when everyone knew Granny was in the kitchen (dad has 4 sisters & 3 brothers, mom has 7 sisters). Imagine being 5-8 years old, having a half dozen or more cousins your age around every weekend, and all of you being hopped up on sugar and greasy food and then let loose in a yard surrounded by woods and pastures. It was heaven.

Of course things change, families grow up and drift apart, and those afternoons of running and playing for hours on end get filed away as fond memories. But there's always been something about having a big meal on Sundays that's stuck with me. I love to cook, but being single and living alone makes cooking a real meal for 1 person something of a bother at times. So odds are when I do cook something substantial it's usually going to happen on Sunday. That gives me leftovers for most of the work week, I have all day to cook it, and it lets me flashback to the days spent in Granny's kitchen eating all that wonderful food.

Last week was Chicken Tetrazzini from a recipe I found at the Food Network's site (here's a pic). This week I decided to get back to my roots and made a big pot of pinto beans, baked some corn bread (from scratch), and had some boiled cabbage. I found some uncured bacon that had no added nitrates or nitrites and about half the sodium of regular bacon, so I used that to season both the beans and the cabbage.

Very tasty.