Friday, November 28, 2008

barcelona. in arts.

the museums in barcelona are pearls embedded in the antique alleys, where I was a fish swimming.
 
in museu nacional d'art de catalunya, I discovered mariano fortuny and romon casas whose works deeply impressed me; museu picasso materialized the artist's wish (to leave mark in barcelona) by the contribution of jaume sabartes, his close friend ever since their youth and personal secretary from 1935 onwards. there, equally interesting was the las meninas series - a hugely rich interpretative analysis on velazquez's famous work by various following artists including picasso himself - quite an obsession was my impression. the modern museum macba was recognizably richard meier - all white, featuring stairs as show piece which I often find wasting space in a way. whilist the most enjoyable journey was surprisingly taken in the dali collection of real circulo artistico - considering I haven't been a crazy fan of dali's. it was intimate and dramatic, over 700 pieces between sculptures, watercolors, drawings, engravings, lithography's, photography's and singular objects met in the daliniano 3d universe, maximum exponent of the surrealismo. the walls were packed with works that presented to me a much warmer and textured character. I loved him so much that at the end left him my leg behind the theatrical velvet curtains - with three band-aids on the foot.
 
...so much walking was taken without notice that my feet swelled and sweat at night, but so was my heart - swelled and wet: after eyes saw something wonderful and vulnerable as good arts. and of course, I didn't forget to seize the opportunity to enjoy an opera night at the flamboyant palau de la musica! where at one point, the tenor came to the balcony and sang right besides!
 
 A big fan
 
 

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bond

The villains have captured Bond and what follows then is pure torture. For the audience that is. The latest in the Bond franchise, "Quantum of Solace" is not only the worse Bond movie ever, it is also one of the worse high profile movies of this century.

First of all, it is very difficult to discern a storyline or plot. First, Bond and Mi6 are being challenged by a supposedly evil organization that is everywhere and higly secretive. But in reality, the villain seems to be rather tame: there are gangs in my town that are a lot more scary. There are two subplots:one in which Bond is trying to get to the guy who was responsible for the death of his love interest in the previous movie, and the second is of the "Bond girl" trying to take revenge on the murder of her family. The girl, however, is actually capable of doing it all by herself, thank you, and with little help of Bond. Bond is seen hopscotching from Italy to Haiti to Bolivia, but he might as well have gone from North Beach in San Francisco to Tijuana with much the same effect. The locales chosen for this film were just there to add color and a flavor of exotism.

Some of the characters were quite stereotypical: the corrupt Latin American general and the "bad" CIA guy are straight from a bad B movie, In addition, I have seen better acting by the girls of VH1's Charm School. Some of the supporting charcters performances were forced, unnatural and stiff. Perhaps it was because of the dialogue they were given. High school students could have written better dialogue. Whereas we have come to see powerful Bond girls in recent movies, the current girl is much less interesting. And could they not have cast a Latina acrress in a Latina role? Daniel Craig's and Judy Dench's performances were fine, and you can get the feeling that Bond and M's relationship is becoming special, but they by themselves they could not carry the movie.
The photography and especialy the action scenes were at the same level as we have seen in most recent action movies, though I could do without the excessive "handheld" camera effects. The motion on the screen was at times too jittery. In addition, the editing of the action scenes with quick back and forth cuts made me dizzy. There was just to much imagery to process. The combination of the wobbly camera positions and quick edits made some of the scenes a mess. It is as if I was looking at one of those modern paintings which appear nothing more than a splattering of colors and forms that make you go "huh, what was all that about?". And in other scenes, the opposite occurred. Some shots and edits went on and on, and the scene itself did not add anything to the story.

As to the action: there is plenty of it, but it is rather predictable: the obligatory car chase, a boat chase, and then in the end, the total destruction of real property. The last item was truly unnecessay... we have seen in it all the Bond movies, and in this installment, was really not necessary. But I guess that a Bond movie must have its formulaic dosage of pyrotechnics.

And my final gripe... no special Bond gadgets in this movie. Aaww, come on, what is a Bond movie without some "wow" gadget. OK, the displays at MI6 HQ were neat, but we have seen that setup in other movies before.

In summary, I don't think I would even want to rent this movie on Netflix. I'd say, wait to see it till it comes on TV. At least, at that time, you'll have the option to switch the channel.

Flatscreens

When buying a new TV these days there are a number of things that you would want to consider before doing so. Now a days, there are only 2 types of televisions to choose from and they are both flat screen TV's. Both of these TV's are high definition sets but where they differ is in their performance and their display capabilities.

There are two types of flat screen televisions and they are the Plasma and LCD type screens.

Plasma TV's work on plasma gas and LCD's work on a liquid crystal display. There are a few differences also between these two televisions. Some have 720 capabilities and others have 1080 capabilities meaning pixels per square inch which equates to the resolution of the screen and clarity of the picture that is being displayed on your TV.

Another difference between a plasma TV is that some of the older TV's have a considerable amount of glare to them for the fact that they have glass screens that reflect light, so if you are deciding to put a TV in a room, such a plasma, with a lot of light you might want to consider LCD first or think about moving it to the basement. Plasma TV's are much better for capturing faster moving images such as sports and action movies and are typically better for home entertainment theater systems.

The LCD TV is a better all around television. LCD televisions typically have a longer shelf life than a plasma TV and don't run the risk of burn it.

Plasma televisions sometimes, if you leave the TV on, one picture, for a long period of time can actually burn the picture into the TV.

One of the other great differences in TV's now a days is the frame refresh rates, that belong to certain TV's such as 60 Hz and 120 Hz. These capabilities are found in both plasma and LCD and provide a much more life like and more realistic image for viewers. It makes the movie less cinema like and more digital and animated. It is great for cartoons and fast sequence films.
When buying a TV it is always good to look at buying an extended warranty for the mere fact that newer televisions now a days can cost the price of the TV for repairs and if something were to happen, you usually only have a one year manufacturer warranty to cover the costs of repairs, but if something happens beyond that point, all costs are your own responsibility and could potentially leave you with a TV that has become nothing more than a paper weight if you cannot afford to fix it.

Time Management

Time management is required in order to accomplish everything that a person needs to accomplish from day to day. People who have good time management skills can accomplish more in a day than those who don't have time management skills.

One thing that is important to have in order to have good time management is to get a big calender. A few calenders will make your schedule easier to keep track of and will enable you to accomplish more throughout the day without forgetting about important meetings. It is a good idea to purchase a few highlighters to use on your calender to remind you of special upcoming meetings or other events. Here are five tips for time management.

1. Always wake up a few hours earlier in the morning. You will be amazed at how much more you will accomplish through the day when you wake up a few hours earlier in the morning. You will get more tasks accomplished in advance before the afternoon. The rest of the day will be quite easy since most of the tasks for the day will already be accomplished by the afternoon.

2. Make sure to get enough sleep each night. When you get enough sleep each night then you are able to function better during the day. You will be able to work to the fullest potential since you will have enough energy for the entire day. When you get enough sleep then it is easier to be able to waste less time through the day.

3. Write your schedule and to do list for each day during the week. You want to know what your schedule is going to be like for the entire week so you can plan in advance which will reduce less wasted time. You don't want to schedule too many appointments or tasks during the day. You want your schedule to include time to relax for a little while during the day so you don't become very overwhelmed.

4. Always plan enough time in your schedule for a long lunch each day. You want to have a healthy lunch that isn't rushed into a extremely busy schedule. You want to make sure to have a healthy lunch so that it will help you stay energized and be able to focus better on work.

5. Make sure to always leave enough time in between appointments or tasks so you aren't rushed. You don't want to always be in a hurry to do everything otherwise you will get overwhelmed. It is important that your schedule leaves enough time in between tasks and appointments so you can relax for a few minutes without feeling stressed out.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Business Opp

As a young boy of eight years of age my life included not much more then school, work and sleep. Each aspect of my life took approximately eight hours and constituted a third of my daily time within any twenty-four hour period. From morning until night my hand was flipping through pages of books, blistering my small hands on a hoe, or clenching my white bed sheets with my hand. My hands were always put to good use. Despite my mundane style of early life I have learned to listen for business opportunities and harvest the results.

Farming as a major occupation has now ceased to be for the majority of Americans who have become accustomed to food in a can and a few hundred television channels. Apple pie, chords of wood piled in the back yard, and draft horses sound more like something from a Christmas carol or a Budweiser commercial then from a true way of living. Yet this simple lifestyle, and the values that come from it, have taught many worthy Americans how to run and succeed in business. Have you ever heard of Henry Ford, George Washington, Isaac Newton, or Thomas Edison?

Before one laughs at such an odd conclusion they might consider that a farm is a business. The same skills that would be required for corporate success often present themselves daily to farmers. Children learn early how to calculate the yield of an acre and how much a bushel will earn in one's local economy. Of course, such an education wouldn't be complete unless their fathers stopped scanning the local newspapers to find out how much corn is trading in Wall Street for on any particular day.

Certainly the hard skills of math, commodities, production, supply chain and economy aren't the only skills needed to start a successful business. Business gurus must also learn how to set a goal and meet that goal, be persistent enough to wake up every morning to tackle business problems, and need the mental toughness to defeat challenges as they present themselves. In other words, they must have the right personality traits to succeed in business.
Kids on a farm know hard work. Shucking corn, pulling weeds, hauling wood, pushing old Betsy out of the creek, and skinning chicken isn't anything if it isn't hard work. Farm kids wake up every morning to a long list of chores and work each day and complete them without complaint. They learn by the age of eight to handle responsibilities and tackle their goals. Their blisters and responsibilities ensure that they can face any challenge that may present itself in the future.

As the snow sloshed under my rubber boots, and my scarf waved in the wind, at the age of eight I came to the realization that I will someday live farther then "a stones throw away" from all of my other relatives. Since that time I have devoted myself to the scholarly pursuit of business and the rewards it has to offer. Deep nights have been spent in hermit like solitude thinking about the next great business opportunity. While other kids collected baseball cards, I was watering the fields and thinking about a more efficient method of finishing the job.

On his eighth birthday my son received an ear of corn which he examined closely with curiosity. Passing it from hand to hand he kept looking at me and back at the corn in hopes of figuring out why his father would give him such a ludicrous gift. The poor boy finally decided he was going to investigate what was under its wrapping. As he pulled the ears back in hopes of finding some money or other hidden oddity I said, "This ear of corn listens for the next great business opportunity".

Macy's Parade

In 1621, the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians shared the first Thanksgiving dinner. However, they did not give it this name because to them Thanksgiving day was a complete different holiday. Thanksgiving was celebrated by going to church and giving thanks to GOD. The feast the Pilgrims shared with the Wampanoag Indians, were to share the harvest of the crops.

The Pilgrims menu for this event is different than the one we share today. They did not have any pies because they had no oven to cook them in. They also did not have any mashed potatoes, corn or on the cob, or cranberry sauce. However, the Pilgrims might have ate lobster, claims, wild turkey, duck, goose, indain corn, pumpkin, peas, carrots, plums, grapes, wheat flour, walnuts, chestnuts, and some seasonings.

Their feast lasted them three days. The food was served all at once instead of having courses. Also, they did not pass the food around, they just simply ate whatever was closes to them. Since they did not have any forks to eat with, they ate with spoons, knives and their fingers. For napkins, they used a piece of white cloth. This feast that was shared by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians was not repeated again.

In 1817, New York State adapted Thanksgiving as an annual custom. In the middle of the 19th century, many other states adapted to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the date for Thanksgiving to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. The congress passed this day as the day we celebrate Thanksgiving in1941.

A major tradition we celebrate on Thanksgiving is the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. In the 1920's, some employees, that were first generation immigrants wanted to show how proud of their new American heritage, by having a parade on this holiday. The employees marched from 145 street to 34th street in New York. The same route is still used to this day. They dressed up as clowns, cowboys, and knights. They also had many floats, bands and even some live animals from the Central Park. Large balloons were introduced in the 1927 parade with Felix the cat.
In the 1940's, the parade seemed to be at the end because of World War 2. In 1945, the parade had resumed and was televised for the first time. In the 1950's celebrities started to make appearances in the parade including Sid Ceasar, Danny Kaye, and Howdy Doody. In 1971, winds were to strong that they had to cancel the balloons. Viewer that were at home watching the parade had to settle for clips from the 1970 parade. The 60's, 70's and 80's brought some of the favorite balloons including Snoopy, Kermit the Frog, Garfield and Superman.

This beloved tradition is still going strong for over 75 years and will not let you down this year

A Thanksgiving Story


Are you interested in learning about the history of this fall holiday? Are you wondering when it is celebrated? Were you ever curious about how we determined which day to celebrate this post-harvest holiday?

When is The Holiday Observed?

Thanksgiving Day in the United States is always observed on the fourth Thursday in the month of November.

In Canada, this harvest holiday is celebrated in October, not in November. The Canadian holiday is not on the fourth Thursday of the month, but on the second Monday in October.

When Was the First Holiday Observed?

The first Thanksgiving was held in 1621.

Important Dates and Milestones for this Autumn Holiday

1621: A harvest feast was held by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag (Scholastic.com)

1777: George Washington calls December 18, 1777 "a day for solemn Thanksgiving and Praise."

1817: The State of New York adopts Thanksgiving as an annual custom. (http://www.holidays.net)

1863 President Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation. It was this proclamation that determined that the holiday should be held on the fourth Thursday of November. (http://www.holidays.net)

1927: The first giant balloons appeared in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (macy's)

1934: The NFL game that may have started the whole football on Thanksgiving Day is believed to be the game between the Lions and the Bears (Pro Football Hall of Fame).

1939: President Franklin Roosevelt changes observance of the holiday from the last Thursday in November to the third Thursday in November. (Scholastic.com)

1941: President Franklin Roosevelt give this feating holiday a fixed celebration day: he signed the legislation that determined the fourth Thursday in November was Thanksgiving.

1971: Actress Christina Applegate was born on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1971.

The Friday After The Holiday

The Friday after Thanksgiving has gained status as its own kind of holiday of sorts. For some, the day after Thanksgiving is also known as "Black Friday." Black Friday is officially the first day of the holiday shopping season. Many retailers hold special sales events on this day.

The Friday and the weekend after the celebration is also a traditional day for early birds to find and purchase a Christmas tree. Christmas tree farms tend to open on the Friday after the holiday celebration, or on the weekend after the holiday.

The Friday following the holiday is also a day when some people choose to hang up their holiday decorations.

Home Insulation Basics: Higher R-Values = Higher Insulating Values

Whether you live in Bangor, Maine, or Bakersfield, California, your home will be more comfortable and energy efficient with the right insulation. Insulation helps reduce the costs of heating and cooling your home. Here's how: Heat travels. In the winter, heat flows out; in the summer, heats flow in. A properly insulated home reduces heat flow, using less energy in the winter for heating and less energy in the summer for cooling. That could mean money in your pocket.
To help you get the most for your insulation dollar, the Federal Trade Commission offers answers to some basic questions about home insulation.
Q. What's the first thing I should look for when buying insulation?
Look for the "R-value." "R" means resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulation power. The R-value must be disclosed for most insulation products. (Pipe and duct insulation are the exceptions, although duct wrap is covered.) For instance, if you buy loose-fill insulation with an R-value of 38 from Company A, it will have the same insulating power as loose-fill insulation with an R-value of 38 from Company B. You also can compare the R-value of one type of insulation to another, such as loose-fill to blanket.
Q. How do I know how much insulation R-value my home needs?
Several factors affect the R-value your home needs:

Where you live — You'll need a higher R-value if you live in the Northeast than if you live in Southern California. How your home is built — For example, is it a single-level or multi-level structure? Do you have cathedral ceilings? Is there a basement or is your home built on a slab? How you heat and cool your home — Do you have a furnace, a central air conditioner, or a heat pump?
Q. Should I use the same R-value of insulation throughout my home?
It's more efficient to use insulation with higher R-values in the attic and in rooms with cathedral ceilings than in wood frame walls and basements or crawl spaces with walls.
Your local home improvement store (or its website) may have information to help you calculate your insulation needs.
Your state energy office, local building department, or your gas or electric company, can tell you how to conduct an energy audit to help detect waste and gauge the efficiency of your current heating system. Your utility company may offer free or low-cost energy audits, or you can conduct your own. The Department of Energy offers instructions at www.homeenergysaver.lbl.gov.
As the colder weather sets in, I hope that this information is useful for you. At the same time, if you or someone you know may be thinking about buying a home or refinancing an existing home, please give me a call.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pirates

Prior to the 19th Century (and even during that century), everything that went long distances went mostly by ship. Supplies for trade, for war, and passengers were all carried across the seas in ships. And that meant that there was another occupation that relied on ships: piracy. Pirates came in two primary categories. The first were "legal" pirate that had letters of marque from nations that authorized them to attack enemy ships and keep the spoil. The second were of the variety that answered only to ship's captain.

In the hey-day of pirates, ships had to be fast yet with a shallow draft. They needed to be able to hid in coves and go into reefs to get away from pursuers. Yet they also needed to be able to hold fighting men and loot. Some of the more popular types of ship were made to do just these things. Here are the five main types of ship favored by pirates.

Schooners. Beautiful and elegant, these were among the fastest ships. Clippers, which came later, were modified schooners. Schooners had such a shallow draft that they could out run their targets and the effectively hide almost anywhere. Schooners were especially used in the Atlantic and the Caribbean after the Americas were colonized. They did come with a drawback: with such a shallow draft, the hold could not hold as much booty.

Sloops. During the late 1600s, these ships were extremely popular. They had shallow draft (but not so shallow as a schooner) and was very fast. It was also extremely maneuverable. It was easy for a sloop to get away from a warship because it was fast, light, and could make sudden moves.

Galleys. The Barbary corsairs favored galleys as their pirate ships. This ship was long and slender. It was fast and could hold a fair amount of spoil. The famous Captain Kidd had a galley called the Adventure built for him in 1695.

Brigantines. These ships are larger than sloops or schooners. They were ideal for holding more guns and fighters, making them more suitable for sea battles than many other types of pirate ship. These ships were popular in the Mediterranean, where trade had flourished for thousands of years, the loot was grand, and usually better protected.
Junks. In the Far East, these were popular pirate vessels. Junks have rudders with adjustable heights, which add to their maneuverability. A wide, flat-bottom design made junks perfect for moving with speed, and for fast movement in different directions, while full of treasure.

Model Worship

Building a model warship can lead to a fulfilling lifelong hobby. Although it may be a challenging endeavor, the finished product will probably be well worth all the painstaking effort. Here is a beginner's guide to building a model warship. The best way for a beginner to build a model warship is to purchase a kit and build the model out of the box. Once the model warship is built, you can add your own minor details from scratch, using pipes, platforms, domes, lighting, and whatever else your imagination dreams up. The best way to decide on which details to add is to look at an actual picture of your warship, which can be found in history books or downloaded from the internet. You can then mount the model on a base, creating a waterline which depicts movements like wakes and ocean waves.

Your first step in building a model warship is deciding which type of warship you'd like to build. You can build a modern warship, such as an aircraft carrier, or an ancient warship, such as the ships the Vikings used. At modelshipgallery.com, you can find various ideas for model warships, including battleships and battle cruisers, guided missile cruisers, destroyers, frigates, submarines, transports and liners, amphibious support ships and more.

At modelwarships.com, you can find numerous links to helpful sites and retail stores that offer model warship kits. The kit you purchase will include instructions on how to build the model warship and what additional materials you'll need. You will probably require a special glue, paints and specific tools, depending on which model is being built. You will also want to add your own details, as mentioned above. The sky is the limit on additional materials you can use to make your model warship more authentic.

The most common materials used to build model warships include wood, plastic, metal, and paper. If you are skilled and cautious, you can carve a wooden warship from a single block of wood. The metal used to build model warships is typically cast lead or other alloys. Steel, sheet tin and aluminum may be used for adding specific details.
More than anything else, building a model warship requires patience. If you decide to purchase a kit, be sure to find the kit that's right for you. You'll be spending a lot of time with it. You can find model warship kit reviews at steelnavy.com, including photographs of all materials that come in selected kits. Enjoy your new hobby.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Raymond.. Love him?

Abrasive, weird, and completely unafraid to say what was on his mind, Frank Barone was the best character on "Everybody Loves Raymond." Raymond's father Frank was the perfect sidekick for Marie, who more often than not stole the show. His constant barrage of insults brought her down to earth, when everyone else was afraid to stand up to her. And had any other character uttered Frank Barone's lines, they would have become instantly unlikeable. But Frank Barone remained loveable throughout. Here is why Frank Barone was the best character on "Everybody Loves Raymond."

"Everybody Loves Raymond" was one of the most critically acclaimed American sitcoms of its time. It ran from 1996 to 2005, and can still be seen in syndication several times a day all over the country. I admit I was one of the few American viewers who didn't love "Raymond" during its initial run. I found Ray Romano's character Raymond Barone incredibly annoying, what with that nasal voice and pathetic fear of his beautiful wife Debra. I didn't care much at all for his brother Robert, played by Brad Garrett, either. He was nothing but a big goof and the character was overdone, overacted. But I did love "Raymond" when I began watching it in syndication on TBS, not because of Ray or Robert, but because of their hilarious parents, Frank and Marie.

Frank Barone was played by legendary character actor Peter Boyle, who passed away in New York on December 12, 2006. His trademark "Holy crap!" was hysterical, and just about every line he uttered during the show's long run was perfectly delivered. With Frank's strange look and attitude, the character could have been easily dismissed as nasty and mean, but quite the contrary, everybody loved Frank.

And Frank Barone loved Marie's cooking, and deep down, he even loved Marie herself. The insults, the one-liners, it was just the way they were. Everybody used to get a few digs in on Frank, too. They remarked about his baldness, his weight, but Frank Barone always had a comeback, and when he didn't, he simply brushed them off.
"I'm not some trophy wife!" exclaimed Marie, portrayed by Doris Roberts, on one occasion. "What contest in hell did I win?" said Frank.

Peter Boyle gave the character of Frank Barone heart and warmth, and the legendary actor is already missed, as is the show, "Everybody Loves Raymond." Boyle's seamless portrayal of Frank made him the best character on "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dunkin Donuts

You are already aware of the health benefits of drinking moderate amounts of coffee, one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. But by taking your coffee black you not maximize the health benefits and experience of enjoying a good cup of coffee, but also cut back on calories and save money. We'll look at a few key ways that drinking black coffee can be beneficial and even dispel the common belief that many people have that black coffee tastes terrible.

Taste-

Since this is the most common reason cited for people putting other things like cream and sugar into their coffee, we'll tackle the taste debate first. For first time coffee drinkers, the experience to having a first sip of coffee is like taking your first sip of beer. It often isn't a pleasant experience and as a first time taster, you wonder why anyone would ever consume such a thing. Of course for most people, over time a favorable taste for alcohol occurs, while coffee additives like cream, milk, sugar, or the specialty drink treatment (think Starbucks) can completely mask the 'bad' taste of coffee.

The problem doesn't lie with the bad first impression of a bitter, bad tasting hot beverage, rather that there are easy options to dilute the coffee and minimize the taste of the actual coffee. Another problem is that too many people either settle for average coffee or only ever experience ground coffee, or even worse: instant coffee. Coffee beans as soon as they are grounded up begin to lose their natural flavor, aroma, and taste. Packaging and freezing can protect some flavor, but the best coffee taste comes from freshly ground coffee.

Not everyone has time to shop for whole beans, grind them, and brew them although there are a lot of great consumer products to make at home coffee brewing a worthwhile experience. That said, when you drink coffee that has been diluted or flavored up with things like cream and sugar you might be missing out on the taste of the coffee itself. If one considers buying high quality coffee (even the pre-ground kind), not taking it black means you could be losing the chance to taste a high quality, complex beverage.
Good coffee is meant to be taken black, but you may never know if the coffee you drink is good without trying it black.

Health-

Besides the growing amount of research on the health benefits of coffee, coffee also has a dark side (and I don't mean the color of coffee taken black). With so many researchers touting the health benefits of a cup of coffee, people have increased consumption of the drink. But for many people the idea of coffee includes coffee 'drinks' which contain minimal amounts of actual coffee, coffee filled with cream and sugar, and drinks laden with everything from whipped cream to chocolate in them.

The truth is that if you take your coffee black, you are also taking your coffee in its healthiest form. Black coffee is not diluted which means you are getting the maximum amount of antioxidants from each cup. And yes, you are also getting a stronger cup of coffee for added energy. If you drink specialty coffee drinks and think you are getting a healthy drink, think again. Those frothy beverages can contain anywhere from 200-400 calories per drink as well as fat and loads of sugar.

Even a simple cream and sugar addition to your cup of coffee adds obviously some sugar and also adds calories and fat depending on the milk/cream that you use. And artificial sweeteners aren't much better for you either.

Coffee itself when taken black is naturally calorie and sugar free and while you may have to wait a few minutes for it too cool down to drink, it is well worth the wait. You'll keep excess calories and sugar out of your diet while still being able to enjoy coffee each day.

Cost-

Some people may argue that premium coffee brands and blends might cost you more than cheaper mass produced blends. Besides the obvious point that you might spend a little extra for a better beverage, consider all that is spent on adding something to your black coffee. Specialty drinks found at places like Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts can cost upwards of 4 dollars a drink. If you drink your coffee at home and add cream (or milk) to your drink, you'll be spending a few dollars a week on milk or creamer alone, an item that adds little value to your coffee.
Also if you are someone who buys specialty coffee drinks often, the expense of buying good coffee to brew at home is still cheaper than paying for a store made drink daily. Therefore when you buy decent whole bean coffee or even ground coffee, you are reducing your need to buy 'good tasting' store made drinks and also eliminating the need to flavor up the coffee further with cream and sugar.

If you still decide to buy your coffee on the go, cup by cup at stores such as Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts, check out their menu. The black coffee is often the cheapest drink on the menu board, no matter what size you order.

Energy-

Caffeine junkies of the world will rejoice, once they discover the quick and clear hit of energy they can get from an all natural cup of black coffee, without the crash. Without any sugar to cause a crash later and no milk or cream to slow down absorption, energy from coffee can be experienced within a few minutes of drinking a cup and sustained longer then sugar filled drinks. Plus it is energy with healthful benefits.

Overall the choice to take your coffee black or not is up to you the coffee drinker. Coffee is an acquired taste for many people, but a good way to get used to black coffee is to slowly reduce the amount of cream and sugar that you put in your daily cup(s). Taking your coffee black eliminates sugar, fat content, and calories from your daily pick me up. It also can save you money and allow you to discover great tasting coffee.

Winter Coffee

Music then glass walls and two doors.
Sunshine and cold; coffee and steam.
The mind is quiet walking over a thousand miles of thought.
It knows no fear, no pain.
It is contentment and silence,
intimacy and peace.
Two doors become comparative reality,
leading to two choices down one tunnel.
The mind becomes a blossom opening to all.
Etched in diamond rock is the opening - the unveiling.
Self created reality stripped from the senses is
the purity in all devastation.
Depths of depression
heightened awareness
tears and beauty
terror and hells
all surround in their own furies
becoming their own selves.
Beyond the reckoning of reality
Beyond the knowledge of selves
What is there?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Picnic in the Winter

Who says picnics are only a warm weather activity? After being shut inside our dry, stuffy homes during the winter months, enjoying the outdoors and some fresh air may be just what we need to get us over that winter slump. A winter picnic takes a little more preparation than a warm-weather outing, but can be an enjoyable excursion for the whole family.

You'll want to check the weather forecast ahead of time. Plan your winter picnic for a day that is expected to be sunny and clear, with temperatures over 20 degrees. You know you can't always count on the weather, so you'll want some sort of shelter in case the weather changes. A canopy with attached sides that can be closed is perfect. If the picnic area you choose already has shelters available, bring some tarps and bungee cords to make wind breaks if you need to.

Take along a folding table and chairs, since you probably won't want to sit on the ground at your winter picnic. The kids might not mind, but we older folks will want dry, comfortable seating. Take along a propane heater or outdoor heater to provide extra warmth inside the canopy. Bring along some thick blankets to cover laps or wrap the kids or older folks in if they get too chilled.

The food provided for your winter picnic should be warm and nourishing. Chili soup, hearty stews, and casseroles are great winter picnic fare. Warm beverages such as coffee and hot chocolate will help keep you cozy in cold weather!

You may enjoy cooking over a campfire at your winter picnic. Bring some dry kindling and firewood with you if the weather has been wet or snowy. If campfires aren't allowed at the picnic spot you choose, you could bring a portable grill, or bring warm food in a thermal container. If electricity is available, you might want to bring food for your winter picnic in a crock pot or roaster.
Plan activities that will keep you warm and work up an appetite. Snow boarding, snowball fights, sledding, skiing and making snowmen are popular activities, if you have snow for your winter picnic. Otherwise bring along a frisbee, bats and balls, or other outdoor game equipment. You might bring a few board games as entertainment for the older folks or others who aren't able to indulge in strenuous physical exercise at your winter picnic. Wear layers of clothing, so you can add or remove them as the weather and activity level demands. You don't want to work up too much sweat, which will make you feel colder.

Picnics are great fun, and there's no reason you have to wait until the weather is warm again. Consider having your next Thanksgiving or Christmas gathering in the great outdoors, instead of crowding everyone inside the house. You might just start a family tradition!

a day of renaissance

...I saw some of the most beautiful Renaissance architecture in
Spain...the Granada cathedral, the Charles V Palace in Alhambra, or
the Oval room in Seville Cathedral (Even though it's considered
world's largest Gothic cathedral)...They'd buffer me well from getting
Stendhal syndrome in Florence someday...:P

...the most famous Renaissance Spanish artist - El Greco (1541-1614),
whose paintings were often found being painted after by Picasso,
etc...

...Scott Ross. Differencias.
Antonio de Cabezon (1510-1566). Spanish composer and organist of the
Renaissance...was blind from early childhood, traveled widely in
Europe and settled in Madrid Spanish royal court.

A big Fan

Difference btw piano and organ...

There are two major differences. One is capacity, range of expression,
and the other is mode of playing.

The piano is a percussion instrument, whose sound production is
elicited by the striking of a mallet on a string. The sound thereby
can be sustained for a progressive diminution of duration by means of
a sostenuto pedal being depressed by ones foot.

The organ is a wind instrument, whose sound production is elicited by
means of wind being blown thru a pipe(if a pipe organ- not familiar
with other kinds) the initiation of which is caused by the depression
of a connected key. A key on an organ has a different engineering: it
will cause the pipe to sound indefinitely as long as it is activated.
But when unpressed, the sound production is immediately, and totally
stopped. That of a piano as noted above, can be sustained for a
limited amount of time. And on the organ, there are doors that can be
closed, which make for a far off distant sound, and volume pedals for
volume control; plus multiple stops for all kinds of different sounds,
mimicking those of orchestral instruments or just about any kind of
sound you can think of, on the older theatrical organs.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How To Lose Weight During The Holidays!

It's the dreaded time of the year,the food filled holidays. It's not
that you don't like food. It's just the opposite. You love food. But
you are working hard to lose those extra pounds you have been carrying
around and you don't want the holidays to undo all that hard work.

Many weight loss experts will tell you to not bother trying to lose
weight during the holidays and to just try to maintain your current
weight until after the holiday season. They probably think that
because the average person gains three to seven pounds during the
holidays that maintaining your current weight means you are doing
great. I do agree to a point. Being able to not gain weight during the
holidays is a pretty good feat considering all the delicious foods
many of us have available to us in staggering amounts.

But I think a person can continue to lose weight during the holidays
without feeling cranky the whole time or feeling completely deprived.
I lost weight during the holiday season and I have a friend who was so
determined to lose the extra pounds she was carrying around that she
started her diet on Thanksgiving Day (yes, on the one day of the year
that people traditionally pig out the most) and went on to
successfully lose 35 pounds and keep it off. And nobody was even aware
she was starting her diet that day.

So how did I survive Thanksgiving dinner while on my diet and how did
my friends successfully start her diet on Thanksgiving Day?

It's all about choices -
First of all I'll tell you what I didn't do. I didn't have any
alcoholic beverages because I wanted to chew my calories that day and
not drink them, and because alcohol tends to weaken my resolve. And
I'm not the only person whose resolve weakens after having a few
drinks. Who do you usually see dancing on top of the pool table or bar
when you go out; a sober person or a person who has had a few drinks?

This is what I did do:
Had small portions of the foods I really like so that I wouldn't feel
deprived (turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and half a dinner roll). Had
large portions of raw vegetables from the veggie tray and lots of the
steamed cauliflower and green beans that were served that day. Drank
lots of ice water. I love pumpkin pie and whipped cream but I ate a
small piece of it later on in the evening when everyone else was
pigging out on leftover turkey, potatoes, stuffing, etc. The pie along
with more of the raw veggies completely satisfied me and the scale was
still my friend the next morning.

This is what my friend did:
Took reasonable portions of everything she really liked but didn't go
back for seconds and thirds like she did other years. My friend enjoys
cocktails and she had a few, but to keep the calories down she had
Jack Daniels and Diet Coke which meant each drink she had was less
than 75 calories.
That afternoon when everyone was watching football, she went for a
long walk. She politely declined taking home leftovers.

You can survive Thanksgiving dinner while dieting. And it doesn't have
to be a painful experience. Make smart choices, have small portions of
what you really like, skip the things you don't really love, and fill
up on the low calorie veggies and salad. And, if the Thanksgiving
dinner you attend doesn't traditionally offer any low calorie foods
like raw or steamed veggies, don't be shy about starting a new
tradition and bringing them yourself.

Fettuccini alfredo

A crowd pleaser on the menu in most Italian restaurants is fettuccini alfredo, a deliciously creamy mixture of fettuccini, cream, butter, and cheese. Although this dish is most certainly mouth watering, it is also waistline expanding, as it contains an astronomical amount of calories and little nutritional value. While most people who mind their cholesterol and do their best to maintain their bikini body would not dream of indulging in such a dieting disaster for a meal, there are healthy alternatives to make this Italian classic approachable for all dinners. The diet friendly version may not be offered in many dinning establishments, but within the comfort of your own home, this Italian favorite can be lighter and healthier. For example, using whole-wheat fettuccini makes the dish rich in fiber, while adding chicken and broccoli boosts the protein content and helps to make it a well-rounded meal. So the next time you're craving some comfort food, but would still like to button your jeans Friday night, try this healthy version of the classic fettuccini alfredo.

1 lb whole wheat fettuccini alfredo

1 lb chicken tenders(or chicken-soy based substitute)

2 heads of broccoli

2 tblsps butter

1 pint of fat free half-and-half

1 cup pecorino romano cheese

Boil water and add fettuccini. Cook until al dente

Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then sauté in olive oil. Once cooked, drain the oil, add the butter and half-and-half. Pour everything over the fettuccini.

Steam the broccoli for 4 minutes and add to the mixture once the pasta is cooked. Add black pepper to taste.

"Mangia Bene, Vivi Bene"

1 minute. little man.

the little man who wasn't there
 
as I was walking up the stair
I met a man who wasn't there.
he wasn't there again today.
I wish, I wish he'd stay away.
 
- hughes mearns (1875 - 1965)
 
 
one minute sculptures
erwin wurm. australian artist.
 
 
A bigfan

artful instrument

Scott Ross (1951-1989). Sonata D Minor, K1.
Scarlatti (1685-1757), Neapolitan Baroque composer who drew most inspiration from Iberian Peninsula.
 
Jan Vermeer (1632-1675).
 
Attached: Mechanics of Harpsichord.
 
...I think it would be nice to make instrument after retirement. :)
 
 A big Fan
 
 
From Harpsichord to Piano
 
The modern piano is a marvel of acoustical and engineering design. The modern piano in its various configurations from upright to full grand, however is a fairly recent invention with its roots dating back over seven hundred years to the invention the piano's distant relative, the harpsichord. In 1397 a gentleman named Hermann Poll invented an instrument made up of many tensioned strings, each stretched to a specific pitch. By pressing the keys on the instrument a small quill was thrown upward, plucking the string much the way a violinist can pluck a string with his finger. The sound and tone of the instrument lent itself well to the composers of the time period with some composers, such as Rameau and Scarlatti, relying on it heavily.
 
The harpsichord evolved into several similar instruments created by changing the orientation of the strings and the shape of the resonating chamber. The original harpsichord looks much like the baby grand pianos of today, albeit much more angular and of lighter construction. In later centuries the harpsichord was altered into a much smaller version called the spinet which was easily portable and able to fit on a normal sized table. The spinet was made more compact by altering the orientation of the strings so that instead of running parallel to the keyboard (as in the piano and harpsichord) instead the strings ran at an angle to the keys allowing the entire instrument to fit into this smaller triangular shaped spinet package.
 
The spinet evolved into an even more compact and portable form in an instrument called the virginal. In the virginal the strings run perpendicular to the keys and are housed in a blocky rectangular case. In both the spinet and the virginal very elaborate cases were the norm with artistic paintings and carvings adorning the covers. Another evolution of the harpsichord is known as the clavichord. Designed much the same was as the virginal with rectangular cases the clavichord used a different mechanism for creating sound from the strings Instead of the harpsichord's plucking mechanism a brass plate was pressed against the string creating a less staccato and more delicate tone.
 
The harpsichord, virginal, spinet, and clavichord are all related to each other in many ways. Although they each differ in size, shape, and mechanical engineering, each iteration of the harpsichord helped pave the way for the invention of the modern piano in the early 1700's.
 
- Chad Criswell

Monday, November 17, 2008

a furious devout drench

'Water'

If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.

Going to church
Would entail a fording
To dry, different clothes;

My litany would employ
Images of sousing,
A furious devout drench,

And I should raise in the east
A glass of water
Where any-angled light
Would congregate endlessly.

    - Philip Larkin (1922-1985)
... 'a furious devout drench' - sounds so good for the dry and smoky day. :)
 A big  fan 

baroque

the fire in the mountain has been burning for days...the streets are under bbq air...surreal like the end of the world.
 
for a whole day I feel vulnerable. not doing anything is like being naked.
 
I'm used to...after work go to school, after school go to library, after library drive home...sometimes look at the moon through the car window as if I've never seen it before, wondering about the fact that it's up there...or, occasionally go to a late night concert.
 
...the other night I was in doheny mansion listening to richard egarr, the 'bernstein of early music', playing harpsichord. it was an intimate chamber setting in the living room. he played and tuning keys right in front of us. otherwise, bach and the sounds of this ancient instrument at late night could be too remote to reach my heart...
 
I got to chat with egarr and an old student of his, another harpsichord player, whose profession is researching dynamites for the defense dept...the math of people's life I don't try to figure out. but what they create can move me.
 
last night in a party, friend said - we haven't heard you talking much about spain. oh yes, I haven't finished reviewing it...
 
...tracing the baroque sounds of harpsichord, I remember the elegant baroque town in the northern spain - salamanca. its beauty in the full bloom of churriguera style felt quietly kept to itself...walking down an alley, I saw an antique iron patio, the kind where you expect to see skirt, but the branches leaves and lights gushing out - there was nothing behind but wild trees. I felt surreal standing underneath...
 
in the salamanca university, I walked into those empty classrooms. in one dark room, there was a dome of painted constellations - there, my breath left me and tears arrived. things that moved you once always do...the alter piece by the window in toledo cathedral, juan de valdes's ceiling fresco in seville...etc etc.
 
sometimes at night they emerge with hints of music. when they do, I'm urged to share and to get busy again...
 
 A big  fan
 

Friday, November 14, 2008

Winter is coming...

After such a warm summer it’s almost hard to believe that winter will soon be here. Living in Nebraska I know that even early fall is never too early to prepare for the first snow or cold days. This is a good time to get out your check list and make sure you are ready in case of emergencies or accidents.

1) House: weather-stripping and/or storm glass for windows. Weather-strip your doors. Every year do the candle test for drafts so they are all plugged or fixed. If you have wood floors throughout, this is a good time to get the winter rugs down to help hold in the floor heat. Make sure all emergency supplies, radio, and winter food pantry is stocked, have batteries, and all in good working order. That includes replacing everything in the first aid kit in both you house and vehicles that you used from them in the last years. Cut and stack wood for any wood burning appliances (check all smoke alarms). Replace spring/summer wardrobe with fall/winter wardrobe in clothes. Remake beds with winter blankets and sheets. Bring out throw blankets and extra pillows you may need. Check cots or inflatable beds for leaks or broken pieces. Find all extra linens and towels. Go through coat closets to check coats for any needs (replacements, repair, washing, throwing away) and restock with winter coats and accessories. Check hot water tank for winter readiness.

2) Outside the House: Check leaf and snow blowers and give them maintenance checks. Check garage and clean to make room for bikes, sleds, boat, both cars…..etc. Drain hoses and roll them away to be stored. Do final maintenance on lawn mower after last lawn trim. Finish yard maintenance (fertilize, draining small ponds, ..etc) to ready your yard for winter (lawn, trees, shrubs, and flowers).

3) Vehicles: Emergency kit with flashlight that doesn’t need battery or flashlight with extra batteries. Protein and energy bars, bottled water, radio, thermal/solar or regular blankets, extra socks, boots, candle, tin can, waterproof matches, car tools, small shovel, ..etc. Your kit should contain as much or as little as your driving commutes or driving conditions in your state recommends. (more for northern states much less for southern states). It also depends on how much extra room you have in your car for your kit. Always pack a bright orange flag or big bright rag so your car can be spotted from sky or if the car is partially buried. Have a sharpie marker and cardboard to write on too if possible. Use your head folks but I’d prefer to be over prepared then under myself. Never allow your tank to get less than ¼-1/2 a tank a gas (depending again on your driving circumstances). Keep all fluids and oils full and well maintained. Keep maintenance schedule appointments. Check tires for correct thread depth before winter sets in. Have correct tires on car for winter months.

4) Family: Begin dressing in warm layers. Always have gloves, hat, and scarf in the car if you are not going to be wearing them. It’s always a good idea to have an extra coat in the car just in case. Check weather report before dressing for day. Keep an extra pair of boots in car. Know the directions to where you are going before you leave the house. Check road conditions is you are going a far distance or if there is a storm forecasted. If you have kids “practice drive” with them when road conditions are poor to make sure they are comfortable driving and can “handle” the vehicle on bad roads. Take a cell phone with you and with each of you family members who have to leave during storms or bad roads with plans on keeping in touch every ½-1 hours depending on your schedules. Or have someone monitoring a home phone for “I’m ok” calls on storm days/nights when more than one family member must be out of the house/on the road. If you are going to be home late, just call and let them know…don’t try and make up for lost time on bad roads. Remember that a shortcut that was fine in the summer could be a mess in the winter months and will only get you stuck, not home any faster. Stick to well traveled, well maintained, roads if at all possible for your trips. Never pull to the side of the highway or road unless you have no other choice and it constitutes a real emergency. Always try to wait until you can find a gas station, parking lot, or another well maintained road to turn off onto to safely park, and then stop.

I’m sure there are things I have left out but these are some of the most basic things you should be thinking about as fall is beginning to turn into winter so you can be ready when the first snow or ice storm hits.

No one cook...

Once the fall chill creeps in, it's hard to resist turning on the oven to bake or roast something on weeknights. After all, don't we sing the praises of comfort food these days? But in some coastal areas (i.e. Florida or Southern California), the heat can hang on until the "official" start of fall (late September) and then some.

So, it's important to have a few no-cook fall recipes at the ready. Some of my favorites include:

Gazpacho: Otherwise known as "cold tomato soup," this ordinarily summer favorite can be an ideal fall dish. Since autumn is a time when most garden harvests are in full swing, you can throw this together quickly with tomatoes and cucumbers right out of the backyard. Peel and dice them, add some vegetable cocktail juice (you know, the brand with a letter and a number in its name), a little minced garlic, and a drizzle of olive oil. If you like some zing, shake in some bottled hot pepper sauce. Pair with your favorite dinner bread, and you have yourself a meal.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches: Okay, maybe this is cheating, because it does call for you to cook an ingredient at one point; obviously, pork isn't safe (or desirable) any other way. But if you have leftover roast pork from a previous night, serve it cold on kaiser rolls with a cole slaw piled between the layers. They key to success for this one is making sure the pork is sufficiently pulled; if it wasn't pulled at the time of cooking, go ahead and shred with a fork and knife right there in the storage container. You can also stir in some BBQ sauce - chipotle is super-popular right now - to elevate the texture and taste of the cold pork. Yum!

Pre-cooked meat skewers: Chicken, shrimp, and scallops can all be purchased pre-cooked in some form or fashion today, and the skewer is a fun way to serve quickly put a meal together; think protein and vegetables all in one bite. And while we don't hear about it often, there's no reason they can't be served cold. Choose your favorite of the aforementioned meats, and place on a skewer alongside cherry tomatoes and pineapple chunks (or, if it's to your liking, raw zucchini or squash). Again, if you need a little starch, serve with bread or a pasta salad.

Pasta Salad: Well, speak of the devil! The quintessential potluck dish, pasta salad can actually be good at home too. The key to turning a pasta salad from the deli counter into a signature meal is, of course, the add-ins. Again, your pre-cooked chicken strips are a good (if not expected) way to go. But why not shake things up a little? Try rolling up some black forest ham slices with cream cheese and olive filling, then cut into pinwheels. Three slices of ham should yield about twelve of these (more if you cut the wheels thinner). If anyone asks, call it "Mediterranean fusion." Enjoy!

There's no shame in stretching out summer-style eating into the fall. It can help to save on energy costs, and increase comfort for those who aren't privy to cold weather yet. And, if the above ideas aren't your glass of iced tea, get creative and dream up some of your own.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Origin of Wii

No evening staring at the tube would be complete without knowing the origins of these terms essential to the couch potato's vocabulary. And just for the record, the term couch potato first appeared in the late 1970's.

Remote
Which came first, the TV or the remote? Well, in this case, the use of the term remote control dates back to 1904, while the term  television first made its appearance in English around 1907, Television wouldn't exist for another two decades or so, but at least the name was ready. The word remote comes from the Latin remotus, which means "far off." People have been getting that far off look searching for lost remotes ever since.

Television
The word is comes from the Greek root tele- meaning 'far" and from the Latin, visionem meaning "the act of seeing". The abbreviated form, TV appears to have entered our language around 1948. Other potential names for  television were telephote and televista, but "Hey honey, what's on the telephote tonight?" just didn't sound right to prehistoric couch potatoes.

Potato
You say potato; I say let's eat. We can thank the Spanish conquistadores for this one. The word comes from the Carib term for sweet potato, batata. This word was corrupted in Spanish to patata and later entered English as potato. The first potatoes were sweet potatoes, until the Peruvian white potato was discovered. This potato was considered inferior to sweet potatoes and was used as a cheap food source. The rest as they say, is history.

Couch
Chances are, no couch potato is a couch potato at all - but rather a sofa potato. Couch as we know it is from the Old French coucher or "to lie down". This term derives from the Latin collocare, which means "to lay". Technically the word couch refers to seating with an upraised head area and half a back. A sofa on the other hand is what most of us refer to as a couch, with its upraised sides and full back. So when your snooty friends refer to you as a couch potato, feel free to correct them to the more proper "sofa potato."
Snack
This word is probably derived from the Dutch term, snacken, which means to "snatch" and appears to have entered English as a term for a light meal in the early 1800s.

Chips
The word chip derives from the Old English term, forcippian, which means to "pare down by cutting". From this comes cipp meaning a "small piece of wood." Chips, specifically potato chips began in the mid 1800s.

Salsa
We're not talking about the dance, after all no couch potato in his or her right mind would even think about expending that kind of energy - we're talking about the condiment. As you can guess, this term came to us from Spanish via the Latin term salsus, meaning salted.

Drink
This is one of those words that gives English a bad name. No lofty Latin roots here. This word is pure English from the Germanic root drengkan and the Old English drincan.

Channel Surfing
The word channel comes from the Latin canalis, which means a "groove or waterpipe". This would be the same root used for canal. The term came to refer to a "circuit for telegraph communication in the 1840s and was used to describe radio and  television band widths in the late 1920s. Surf has a more mysterious origin, but it is thought to derive from suffe which was used to refer to the coast of India. The term is thought to be a phonetic spelling of sough, which originally meant "a rushing sound". To surf, as in riding waves, began in around 1917 and surfing the web around 1993.

Boob tube
Darn those Romans; they keep inventing our words. Boob comes from the Spanish word bobo meaning a "stupid person." Bobo seems to have its roots in the Latin word balbus which means "stammering" and of similar decent to the word barbarian. If the phrase stammering idiot has any meaning, then perhaps the roots of this word make more sense.

Tube comes to us from the Latin root, tubus, meaning pipe. It's reference to  tv comes from the cathode ray tube, which after being shortened to tube, came to refer to  television in the late 1950s.

As you can see, being a couch potato has a long and honored place in the rich history of our language. Now hurry up, my show's about to start.

15 ways to become a couch potato

To become a successful couch potato, one must follow the rules outlined in this article. Some steps may be more intense than others may but practice makes perfect. I became a couch potato when I retired with disability and injured my back. There are many reasons why people become couch potatoes--especially those who are injured and bed bound. Of course, this is dependent on number, age, independence of children if any available.

Perform important tasks (if able) prior to entering the couch potato mode

Choose a comfortable reclining chair with a small table to hold your foods and drink. Pillows are also helpful

Make sure there are no other couch potatoes present because someone will be needed in order for you to continue in your mode. You don't need competition

You will need someone to refill your drink, etc. Ask in a nice and appreciative manner. Absolutely not in a condescending manner

Keep medications in reach, especially pain medications

Take restroom breaks on commercials or pause TV

Have all TV and Cable remotes available and TV guide on arm of chair. Always have reading materials on table. I have a two tier small table

Keep money on hand in case someone needs to go to store. Also, have checkbook.

Use closed caption when someone is present and will not shut-up or when you are unable to hear TV set

Position chair near door in case someone knocks or ring bell

Always have a cell phone or home phone with in reach

Have a garbage can near you

It is beneficial to own a lap top computer with a lap top table that fits over lap

Do not forget to exercise your legs to avoid developing blood clots that can occur if blood settles in the small capillaries. May slow blood flow and possibly lead to clots, which may break off to the lungs. One of the early signs is pain in calf area, never massage area.

Being a couch potato may last from 2 hours to 8 hours or more a day. It may lead to a better mood and a mental rest, which avoids exploding at family without reason.

Having an electrical plug within reach is very helpful, like for plugging in computer
While being a couch potato, be mindful of eating more junk foods than healthful foods. I munch on yogurt and broccoli. My motive is not to become lazy and gain weight. Your significant other may oppose to your self-imposed time out. It is like stepping out of you to view life afar and thinking of new strategies. Maybe it is doing better with budgeting, shopping only for immediate needs, decreasing eating out, and the need to take a break from the children or life while you and husband go on weekend vacation and stay in a hotel, rekindling the marriage.

Sometimes it is difficult to become a couch potato if you have a family to tend to; but remember you can participate in video games and read to your child while still being a couch potato. Remain reclining at all points (if able) but that does not mean you cannot become one once they settle down. I like to look out my window at my cardinals and their babies eat out of their container.

Good luck!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

4 shows I love to watch

I'm clearly in an unhealthy relationship with my television. It serves up a load of superficial, predictable plot lines, poor acting, and eye-rollingly bad dialogue, and I eat it up with the spork that came with my TV dinner. Here are four of the worst of my secret pleasures.

The Ghost Whisperer
I have to admit part of my fascination with this cloying "mystery" show is seeing the beautiful Jennifer Love Hewitt, playing the supernaturally gifted Melinda, try to hide her ginormous behind beneath all those weird clothes. It doesn't take a psychic to figure out why she is constantly wearing knee length coats and sweaters. The actress seems to use her pull as Co-Producer to ensure there are very few camera shots including anything below her waist. I developed a drinking game in which you take a drink every time there is a shot revealing her zaftig posterior, but alas, I can't be expected to make it through that entire show sober.

The feminine charms are only half of the attraction of this absurdly predictable, Scooby-doo-style drama. The freakishly-handsome and perfectly-built David Conrad plays her perennially half-naked husband. When he is not saving lives as an unstoppable paramedic, he is up half the night humoring his adorably deluded wife while she attempts to sort out the problems of her co-dependent imaginary dead friends. This fantasy husband character is even less believable than the sub-par special effects on this seemingly endless CBS nail-biter.

Las Vegas
There is really no excuse for my dedication to this insulting piece of all-American trash slightly veiled as a casino crime-surveillance dramady, but if I was going to attempt one: What do you expect? I was raised on exactly this sort of offensive garbage. This show is clearly based on that irresistible 1970s formula of the thread-bare quasi-serious suspense plot lightly sprinkled on soft-core porn (i.e., Charlie's Angels, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, etc.). Basically, they could give each of the Casino Hosts' boobs a name and have them act out the scenes in the Montecito Luxury Hotel, and it wouldn't be that much different.
I am mesmerized by the endless supply of trampy clothes available in this vulgar, money-grubbing, sociopathic "fictional" Las Vegas world; but I am even more appalled that I get sucked in every week. I find myself actually giving a crap if the bad guys get one on the "good" guys. The good guys, incidentally, don't bother troubling the legitimate justice system with their weekly casino cheating robbers. James Caan and his ebony and ivory stooges just exact revenge through you know, just some old-school (wink-wink) threats and torture, and then it all wraps up in a sexy dance party usually hosted by Jewel or the Black-Eyed Peas or some other entertainment business whore of the week. Sadly, I have to admit it, when that Elvis theme music and that montage of spinning roulette wheels and hotties around a pool starts, I am rapt.

Seventh Heaven
As I was once told by a very wise TV watcher, this show exists in a totally different solar system than the rest of television shows. {By the way, I am planning on ending up on any one of the other six heavens.) I suspect this show exemplifies how Jewish Hollywood imagines the way Christian Mid-westerners see themselves (or wish they could).

The whole SH community seems to rely on the adorably naïve and befuddled but loving Reverend Camden. Who doesn't want an unthreatening father figure in their lives with the patience of Jesus and an open-door policy on dinner or anything else you might need or want? Lately, this seems to include his crop of bitchy daughters, angry and confused sons, and sweet-natured, recently orphaned hangers-on, all who are constantly teasing the audience with threats of quasi-adulterous behavior and pre-marital sexiness. Of course, under the guidance of The Rev. and his sickeningly maternal wife, the road to hell is temporarily diverted. I am stubbornly waiting for the episode when the blond, youngest twin robot boys turn on the family and then the planet, like in the movie Children of the Damned from where they all clearly harken.

CSI: Miami

At least I am not alone in my mad devotion to this cinematically perfect freak show. Evidently, it is the most popular one on the Earth! I have to give David Caruso his propers for drawing the multitude of fans. There is something indescribably charismatic about his consistent one-note performances. Somehow he delivers a scornful line to a perp exactly the same way as he does a consoling one to a child victim, and they both work! Caruso is at once sexy and repulsive as the corners of his mouth creep up his hard-worn impish, Grinch-who-stole-Christmas face. His cock-sure manner is somehow tempered with this aura of the secretly broken man. Like his fellow superheroes, something horrible happened in his past: is it this or his superpower, his ability to turn comforting words into sardonically humiliating ones at the twitch of an eyebrow, that keep him from actually getting close to another human being. Like the other CSI gorefests, there is always a weirdly sexy evidence-analyzing scene with accompanying disco music signally its dénouement. On the Miami version, it is usually being performed by lingerie models dressed in lab coats on a set borrowed from a futuristic sci-fi movie. Who thinks this wonderful drivel up?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Different Turkey

Thanksgiving can be a time of wonderful family gatherings and warm memories. It can also be a very stressful time for the people hosting Thanksgiving dinner. Whether this is your first time or your twentieth time cooking a turkey, you know it is imperative for it to come out perfect. The Thanksgiving turkey is talked about long after the wishbone has been broken and it will either come back to haunt you with delightful memories of how delicious it was, or your family will be groaning about how badly the turkey turned out. To increase your odds of having your Thanksgiving turkey go down into the Hall of Fame memory vault, here are some tried and true turkey recipes and tips for preparing your turkey.

Brine Turkey

One of my favorite secrets to a juicy, delicious turkey is to brine it. Brining means allowing the turkey to marinate in a bath of ingredients consisting of water, salt, vegetable broth, and spices. The brine seeps into the meat while the salt prevents the turkey's natural juices from escaping during cooking, leaving you with a moist, tender turkey packed with flavor. The time needed to brine is dependent on the size of your turkey.
Allrecipes is a website that offers free recipes and user reviews. To find the perfect brine recipe for your turkey, simply go to the website and type in "brine" into the search field. Once you've picked out your recipe, you can adjust it to fit the size of your turkey. It's as simple as that. In addition, once the turkey has been cooked, you can use the juices as a base for the gravy.

Roast Turkey
If your main concern is a dry turkey (and who isn't fearful of this), try roasting the turkey instead of cooking it in a conventional oven. This is a very simple solution to a common problem. Although a roaster can take up quite a bit of under cabinet storage space, it is worth its weight in gold. Most roasters come with an instruction
booklet and some recipes. Find the recipe for roast turkey and follow the directions. Typically, the directions will consist of telling you what temperature to heat the roaster to, and how to calculate the roasting time based on the weight of your turkey. It could not get any easier. The beautiful thing about roasting a turkey is that it is virtually impossible to screw up. The turkey will be so moist and juicy that it will literally be falling off the bones when you take it out of the roaster. Another benefit is that the roaster frees up the oven so you can bake other things at their proper temperatures.

Organic Turkey

Although hard to find, some people swear that once you go organic, you'll never go back to store brand turkey. Even when prepared in a conventional oven, organic turkey tends to come out juicier and more flavorful. This is due to the freshness of the turkey. It never gets frozen, which is where much flavor tends to get lost. Also, an organically fed bird tends to naturally have more flavorful meat. Organic turkey is generally not sold in local chain super markets. Try butcher shops and natural food stores to see if they are planning on getting a shipment of organic turkey and then reserve one if you can. If that doesn't work,
Williams-Sonoma offers fresh organic turkeys through their Internet ordering system. Be prepared to pay more for this level of freshness and flavor, as organic turkeys are in limited supply.

When in Doubt, Order Out

If cooking
the Thanksgiving meal is just too daunting, or you absolutely cannot risk any errors, you always have the option of ordering a turkey and have it shipped to your home. Places such as
Hickory Farms offer fully cooked Thanksgiving turkeys in addition to all the trimmings. The birds ship frozen but fully cooked. Simply thaw and then pop it in the oven. Nobody will ever know the turkey was not homemade and you can bask in glory as your family members praise your fine culinary skills.