Friday, August 28, 2009

Keep it simple in the summer...(plus dogblogging Friday follies)

sunflowers in vaseThis time of year, I cannot be bothered with any recipe that calls for use of the oven (such as any type of casserole, even if it involves peppers and other summer standbys); if it can't be divided so that it can fit in a toaster oven, it doesn't get baked.

Thus, summer squash (which are not my favorite vegetables anyway, although I will slip finely chopped squash into a gumbo) such as zucchini do not get made into zucchini bread or muffins. Too hot for that mess, tasty as they can be.

However, one great summer recipe for zucchini is for mock crab cakes (Kim O'Donnell's version), which are easy to make and turn out well, especially if you don't make the cakes too big. The result is an easy, scrumptious meal (video via the saminal's flickr stream).

can of Old Bay seasoningYou must, however, use the original Old Bay Seasoning for any mock crab cake recipe; the other brands contain even more salt, and are thus dilute and bland. (I've checked the labels of the pretenders, and they don't even come close.)

Your great reward at the table:

zucchini mock crab cake
(Photo by Kim O'Donnel of the Washington Post.)
So, don't be too surprised if your cakes are lapped up in double quick time because everyone can't get enough of them (I know I can't)...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

One--with passion--made, and makes, a difference...

Senator Edward KennedyThe death of Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy, whose tenacity over the decades in pressing to improve the lives of many (civil rights legislation, the current healthcare reform, etc.), though he hailed from a wealthy background, makes you think about the impact one passionate person can make in improving the world.

Of course, we cannot forget his sister, recently deceased Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who helped millions lead lives of dignity, particularly those with mental disabilities. One can only wonder what kind of storied dinner table conversations went on in Joe Kennedy's house that propeled so many of his children (and now, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren) to take such prominent public service roles, whether in government or out.

Photo via Wikipedia.

* * *

guitarist and electric guitar pioneer Les PaulUntil a couple of years ago, I was unaware of the achievements of the late music pioneer Les Paul, and his instrumental role (pun intended) in the development of the modern electric guitar and studio recording techniques. He played 'til he could play no more, as he had a recurring gig at the Iridium Jazz Club, until recently, sharing his talents with the world until the end. The best way to go.

* * *

Still rocking, hopefully for many years to come!

Chuck Brown the godfather of go go Local music legend, the godfather of go go, Chuck Brown, recently celebrated his 73rd birthday, and even had a street named after him. How many other people can claim to have invented a genre of music? Not only that, but music listened to by Washingtonians of all stripes, an alternative to the overly synthesized bull that too often passes for music on the radio and in clubs.

Thankfully, he doesn't plan on slowing down anytime soon, as he has concert dates scheduled for September. Anyway, if go go music doesn't get you dancing, get your pulse taken, 'cause you must be near dead! You've got to move when you hear jams like Chuck baby...

...or the classic, Bustin' Loose...

...and the classic that's all too appropriate nowadays, I Need Some Money...

Friday, August 21, 2009

Wisdom, after more than a week of foolishness

It's safe to assume that anyone who's old enough to get Medicare has lots of time on hand, even after listening to the coarse vocal tics of Limburger. (It would also be true that such people were young adults when Medicare was passed in 1965, and have heard the original debates about that legislation. Which you'd think would be remembered by the town hall yellers who don't suffer from dementia.)

Thus, such folk have enough time to read and listen to various informed opinions, such as a great post (followed by intelligent comments) about healthcare reform from Siditty, who used to be a health insurance underwriter (the horror!), who advises us to get real about healthcare reform.

One of the (many) scary points mentioned:

..."Ask me how often a medical treatment that is considered mainstream and widely used can be considered experimental under regular insurance policies." ... Yikes!

What I don't understand is, don't these folk have children and grandchildren? Don't they want their progeny to have what they have?

All this ranting can't be primarily over health care, else why would you behave like this...

This video of Sen. McCaskill's town hall was obtained by Dem. strategist Peter Glickert. While he can't (and probably wouldn't) claim to be an unbiased source, it is telling that this more complete video was only shown by CNN. Apparently the news editors at ABC, NBC, CBS, and MSNBC (FOX goes without saying) agree with the crowd cheering at the woman dragged out of the town hall. What ugliness.

My puzzled reaction on seeing such raw nuttiness on shocking display is similar to...

Find more videos like this on

A good group gathers...

mural off 18th street in northwest dcThere are many good things about living in the DC area. One of them is the variety of people of various backgrounds that you come across, who even get together from time to time.

One such group met yet again the other night, at Madam's O, and, as usual, a gabby good time was had by all. (Inexpensive drinks, like beers and vodka cranberries for $2.75, tend to help this along.) What's great about DC bloggers is that there's a mix of tech types along with us non-tech types, sharing tips, advice, and straight-up silliness to go with the seriousness. Of course, because you can find at least one of anything in this area, local bloggers also write, pontificate, and bloviate about a variety of topics--or even nothing special at all (as all three readers of this site already know). Here's the most recent mix: What you didn't know about HR (and sports!)... Unrestricted thought. Hmm... Good tips for online businesses, such as SEO strategies, etc. Thoughts about the random craziness of politics, art, and music in DC (and elsewhere). About old and not-so-old movies. A nice trip down memory lane. About free arts happenings in DC--what could be better? Science fiction--cool! Fearless! Great advice for those in the PR and marketing fields. Funny and serious musings from our feisty organizer.

A good mix--and I think I'll be going back for more, if only for continued proof that not everyone in DC with an opinion is a blowhard. (Then again...)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Not for potheads only...

entrance to the Capitol Hemp store in northwest dc
Now that I've trekked to the Amsterdam Falafel House and noshed on its duo of delectable fried treats), it was only logical that I next check out the Capitol Hemp store, which I did yesterday.

The store is small but substantive in the variety of items stocked--books, jeans, shirts, dresses, socks, shoes, shampoo, hemp milk (yuck!), paper--and pricewise, are on the slightly high, but not ridiculous, side. Soon, I'm sure it won't be strange to print business cards on hemp stock or letters on hemp paper, if ordinary U.S. currency is now infested with traces of cocaine! However, I wanted SOCKS, because I've heard of hemp's vaunted durability and I go through socks faster than the cartoon Tasmanian devil creates whirlwinds, but none of the soft footies available were in my size. Bummer.

Reluctant to try the personal care stuff, because I've been underwhelmed by hemp-based products like Merry Hempsters lip balm (doesn't moisturize the kisser nearly as well as other non-petroleum ones, sorry), I decided to risk some dollars on a lip plumper from Phat. (I've been told that this company is not associated with Kimora Lee Simmons.) I guess my score is now 0-2 in the hemp-based lip products, because I've noticed no more plumpness in my lips than before. Oh, and the stuff is strongly scented, like some weird mix of mint and eucalyptus, too medicinal to wear in public. Which is kind of a shame because it's very shiny, more of a lip gloss. Whoops, I noticed that no ingredient list is on this product--although someone kindly (?) placed one on this forum.

Hemp--you can't smoke this stuff!

P.S. Had I seen the website for Phat beforehand, might not have bought the stuff--being that it gives you "sexist" lips and all!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Come on, ring my bell! (Brown, why you gotta get me down?)

Recently I've made a number of orders online. While this innovation is great, frankly I'm surprised that Internet ordering has become as popular as it is, given that UPS is usually the company delivering the goods.

Don't get me wrong--the electronic package tracking system is great, but what good is it if Brown doesn't do one simple thing (which FedEx, which delivered one of my packages, did)--ring your bell (or use your door knocker)--to let you know they delivered your package? I mean, they recently delivered a package when I was at home, with the car in front, and STILL didn't ring my doorbell to let me know that it had arrived; only because I decided to track to see if my package was delivered did I find that it had been delivered a couple of hours earlier. This has happened a number of times, to me as well as to others (a former co-worker had a package delivered, when she happened to be at home, with no notice of course--I had tracked her package and let her know that the person had delivered it to her garage).

Sheesh! I'm sure the FedEx and other deliverypeople occasionally have to haul packages as heavy as anything that Brown's carriers have to, yet still are able to gently take a finger to ring a doorbell, which is probably the easiest thing any of them have to do in the course of a day.

Really, UPS, it's just this easy...

(OK, so this song by Anita Ward is the most annoyingly catchy song ever from the disco era. Still.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Ah, cooling it...

cooling treesEven a morning scene like above is not enough to cool you down with brutal temps in the 90s, like today! Thankfully, the a/c was working everywhere I needed to go, as well as at home, and I carried the trusty water bottle around. (I like to freeze three or so partially full water bottles, and fill one up with plain water to take around with me, so the water remains cold for hours. Unfortunately, this only works with Fiji bottles--others are too fragile, and most of the environmentally friendly brands are not transparent.)

After an appointment, I was in the vicinity of a Whole Paycheck, er, Whole Foods, and picked up a couple of things. I was thirsty, but wanted something a bit feistier than plain water, but not too sweet, if possible. I was a bit sickened when I looked in the beverage section, because I saw a few of those *@& vitamin "water" type drinks, or so I thought. Before leaving in disgust, I spied an unusual drink, an herbal water.

I chose the lemon verbena-rose geranium flavored herb water, which, like it says, is simply water with herbal extracts added--just enough to give it a lift without overpowering its wateriness. I like that it's not sweetened and not carbonated, because any drink with carbonation had better have some sweetness or alcohol to keep me from hurling. The presence of carbonation coupled with the absence of sweetness is why I would not be interested in the dry soda put out by a Seattle-based company, as interesting a concept as it is. Much more to my liking is the slightly sweet, mildly carbonated ruby grapefruit juice squeeze put out by Crystal Geyser, which is one of my favorite drinks, when I can find it, that is. (Last place I spotted it was Rodman's.) Ahhh....

Friday, August 07, 2009

Sad but true...

trees over hill What appears to be a group of trees over a hill in the great distance is just a few trees on the other side of a mound--not so substantial after all. Even less substantial is the so-called health insurance that most Americans have, which led to this week's detailed lament on The Baseline Scenario site, You Do Not Have Health Insurance. That's right, unless you're over 65, you do not have health insurance, for any number of reasons, based on the fact that it's employer based and the health insurance market is not regulated enough. The money quote, ..."you can't count on your health insurer being there when you need it."

Michael Hiltzik's recent article in the LA Times, What's so great about private health insurance?" and Matt Miller's op-ed in the Financial Times (!!!), America's healthcare should no longer be tied to jobs," (based on the models of Holland and Switzerland) are additional wake-up calls regarding the state of health care in America; anytime a major financial publication, which are not known for their liberal ideas, is in favor of universal healthcare, it's time for even Republicans to get the memo (or e-mail).

* * *

The truth is that there's been a limited form of universal healthcare in the U.S. for decades, and it's been a raging success. (I'm not speaking of Medicare, thought that has also been a success, for the most part.) It's rare to hear of an American child falling ill to any of the former "childhood diseases," because almost all American children are inoculated against them. That's because regardless of family income, vaccinations are available and are in fact mandatory before entering public school. Thus, while there are regrettably other forms of infant and childhood death and illness that occur (often because of a lack of prenatal care), the diseases that formerly ravaged children (measles, rubella, mumps) before the age of five are no longer a scourge, because we, as a society, decided that everyone was to be protected from these diseases, and expense was to be no object in providing such protection.