Thursday, January 31, 2008

I'm Losin' It

On work days, I get up at 4:48AM. Yeah, that seems pretty random and it is. The real weird thing though is that I don't use an alarm clock. Oh, the clock is there on the nightstand, I just don't set it to ring. I don't think I have ever used an alarm clock except for if I have to get up at some weird time like 2:30AM to go to the airport or something. I just wake up pretty much when I need to. And that has been at 4:48AM.
Except this morning.
I cracked an eye open and looked at the clock....4:20! OMG! I'm late! I think I even said "OH CRAP" aloud. I did all my things and started on my way to work. The announcer on the radio was different, but I thought maybe the usual guy was out. When I got on the freeway there were like, NO CARS! Which I thought was a little weird, but hey, maybe Rideshare Thursday is catching on.
I continue on my merry way and was already off the freeway when I finally hear the radio announcer say..."And now the news AT 5 O'CLOCK! WTF?!?!? I'm like an hour EARLY! Then I remembered....4:20 Why the heck did I get up at 4:20? OH Geez am I a loser.
So there I was at work at 5:15 am. We just remodeled at work and got a brand new couch, so I got out my little blankie that I keep for such occasions and I took a nap until my co-worker came in at 6:30.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Oh Yeah.....

President Dumb-Ass is coming to Torrance tomorrow.
(in fact, about 1/4 mile west of the photo below)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sunday Grab Bag

Remember the wild weather I was talking about earlier? Sure, I was complaining a little, but in the whole scheme of things, rain is a good thing. However, I swear if I hear that phrase "Yeah, but we need it" again any time soon, I may just hit someone with my overworked umbrella. I did think it was a little ironic to hear that LosAngeles has more rain-to-date than Seattle.
Anyways, one of the BEST things about the rain is that when its all over, we get some pretty awesome views of the snow-capped mountains. The air has been washed clean of all the particulate matter and everything is all bright and sparkly. This is just a quickie shot I took yesterday of the SanGabriel Mountains. They are about 50 miles away. If I would have continued up the road and got a few hundred feet higher, I could have gotten a nice panorama. Maybe today I'll check it out.

Yesterday was a big day at "DadTech", a division of "DaleTech". This is a view of what's inside a laptop. Circuit boards. This is my world, people. That's what I do, right there.

Well, at least I tried. Last summer when the peach tree was going insane, I froze two bags of peaches. The plan was to bring them out in the dark, dreary days of winter and make something with them. That was supposed to happen yesterday. But it didn't. Why? Because instead of thawing into somewhat peachy chunks, I ended up with two bags of peachy goo that wasn't even good to make a smoothie with. *sigh*

Friday, January 25, 2008

Toto...I think we're in Kansas again!

Here's something you usually don't see around here. A real tornado warning on the tee-vee. Just like in the Midwest. Except now I don't have a basement to hide in. Someone told me to go in the bathtub instead. But I did gather some flashlights and the crank-up radio and made sure my shoes were next to my bed.
We have been having very stormy weather this week. Every day there has been heavy rain and last night the wind was pretty strong--I guess strong enough to make a tornado. Torrance was in the tornado watch area.
Forty miles of the state's main highway, Interstate 5, was closed for about 24 hours yesterday due to large amounts of snow.

I took this shot on the way home from work Thursday.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Let The Healing Begin

I promise (with fingers only slightly crossed) that this will be the last Packer-related post until August. I never intended for football to be such a recurring topic, but I got swept up into all the excitement. But its over now and I'm over it. Movin' on.

My cousin Doug is a pretty funny guy. A raconteur. He writes good stories about growing up and family stuff. To help deal with his grief over the Packer loss he came up with this 'lil "poem" (Apologies to Lennon/McCartney)

Green Bay losses seemed so far away,
Now it looks as though they're here to stay,
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Sudden death,
I'm not half the man I used to be,
There's a kicked ball hanging over me,
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Why Brett
Had to throw I don't know, he wouldn't say.
I said,
"Run the ball!" now I long for yesterday.

Green Bay had an easy game to play,
Now Favre needs a place to hide away,
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Why he
Had to throw I don't know, he wouldn't say.
I said,
"What the fuck!", now I long for yesterday.

Our team had an easy game to play,
Now they needs a place to hide away,
Oh, I believed in my Green Bay.


Saturday, January 19, 2008


I'm just gonna throw this one up there and not comment. I'll just say...."interesting" and leave it at that.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Eli's Coming

Things are starting to get exciting around here. A sense of electricity in the air. High anxiety. Even my clients at work have sent me "Go Packers" emails.
The media is in high gear cranking up the hype machine over the playoffs and "The Big Game". I'm trying not to think too much about it and not make myself nuts.
I was reading the local paper today and came across this picture accompanying an article about Eli Manning. I knew just the right spot for it.

I heard this works to put the "chill" on the opposition. But then I hope it doesn't help to acclimate him to the frigid temperatures predicted for Sunday's game.
And now you know what I have in my fridge.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Green Chicken Chilaquiles

Tonight's dinner was one of the specialties of Fartwood Manor...or should I say "Casa de Fartwood"? (I don't know the word for *ahem* fart in Spanish, sorry)
This recipe comes from "Mesa Mexicana", a cookbook by two of my favorite chefs: Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. I have always loved their restaurants and food..way back when they had a little place on Melrose and after that at City, and now Border Grill and Cuidad. Most of all I like their pioneer spirit of being women chefs. Sure they weren't the first, but to me they had that sort of "grrrl power" thing going on back in the day. They were one of the inspirations to me to try my hand at the professional cooking thing.
Chilaquiles are a casserole-y type dish and a good way to use up leftover tortillas and meat. It is pretty much like lasagne, with tortillas instead of pasta. The tortillas sort of disintegrate into the sauce and form almost a pudding. There are probably as many recipes for this as there are cooks. The one I make is green, but red salsa is also used. Here's one of Mary Sue and Susan's recipes for a red one.
Because I don't like to eat dinner really late, I got my prep going yesterday. I made the Tomatillo Salsa and cooked and shredded the chicken. I even made stock out of my chicken poaching liquid. Today, all that was left was grate the cheese and assemble the dish.
This is really great salsa to use for dipping too.

Salsa ingredients: tomatillos, jalapenos, cilantro and onion.

This is a pretty spicy dish--I use 3 chiles--it clears the sinuses! Bueno!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday Supper

Tonight's menu at Fartwood Manor was Cod with Black Bean Sauce, Julienne of Sweet Potato with Ginger and Greens with Garlic.
I'm trying to cook more fish, and this was a fast and easy way to do it.
I got to watch the last 10 minutes of the Cowboy-Giants game. Yipiee! I could feel the collective sigh of relief breathed in Wisconsin all they way out here. All's I can say is Jessica Simpson better get in the Witness Protection Program--fast.

Snow Job

Footballs, snowballs.....either way, I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of one of Brett's.

Well, now begins a long week of waiting. How much Pepcid I'll require won't be known until after the Cowboy-Giants game.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I Heart Lolcats!

Until about two months ago, I always thought of myself as pretty Internet-savvy. I might not be a super user Web designer, I've never been friended, or even involved with much beyond buying crap and using email, (well, I DO have this blog...) but I thought I was a little more informed than the average Joe. For instance, I was the first to clue my co-workers in to Google and You Tube.
Two things happened recently that made me suddenly and sadly realize that I am just a lame, old has-been that don't know shit. As Grampa Simpson so eloquently said...."I used to be with it. But then they changed what it was. Now what's it just seems weird and scary. And it will happen to YOU TOO!"
The first thing that happened was the "word of the year" choice: w00t. What the hell is that?!? OK. Yes, I know what gamers are. Yes, I know of l33t-speak and that whole universe. Yes, I know all about that breakdown of the English language used in texting. But I had never, EVER even HEARD of this term before. And here it was...word of the year. How did I miss that? Loser.
The second thing that made me realize how out of it I was actually turned out to be a really cool thing that I'm happy I learned about: I Can Has Cheezburger. This is the best. Site. Ever. Srsly.
Started a year ago yesterday, ICHC is a site that gathers and captions pictures of cats which are called "lolcats". The captions that are added to the pictures are written in a blend of butchered syntax and grammar with texting shortcuts like "thks" and "u". The captions give the impression that the cats themselves are doing the writing. This link explains it better than I can.
The site has stock images for you to caption, or you can use an image of your own. After an initial screening, the hopefuls go on a "voting page" where users award cheezburgers to their favorites. The winners are then added to the front page.
Here is the original image.

This site is becoming a bit of an obsession for me. Every time I go there I laugh so hard my stomach hurts. Some people are really gifted at captioning. I'm just a lurker actually. I don't vote and I haven't yet thought of a good caption. Hell Cat is not a very inspiring feline. I did make a few "lolbrett" images for this blog that I thought were good though.
If you have a need for a real time-waster or just want to have a good laugh, check out the magic that is I Can Has Cheezburger. You, too, can be hip and with it.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Hana Hou!

In an interview in the Biloxi Sun Herald, Brett Favre indicated he expects to play next season. YAY!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sunday Supper

The rain came back today with on-and-off squalls throughout the day. This front is more of a soaker than the windy storm of Friday night. Our only "casualty" of that storm was the "Torrance Wild Animal Park" sign blew off its hook.
There is nothing better on a cold, rainy night than a hot bowl of soup. I made one of my favorites...Szechuan Beef Noodle Soup.
I first had this soup at a local restaurant. I think the real name was just Szechuan Restaurant, but since it was pretty much one cavernous room, we dubbed it "The Big Chinese Place". I used to go there all the time for lunch and order this soup..well, its really classified as a noodle dish. The restaurant is no longer there, which is sort of weird, since the place seemed pretty popular.
So I was glad to run across this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, "China Express" by Nina Simonds. One of the things I love about this cookbook is that the recipes are "accessible" as well as pretty easy. Probably not all that authentic and more geared to the American palate. But I like 'em.
Chunks of beef are cooked in a stock flavored with ginger, chiles, garlic, scallion, orange peel, cinnamon stick, and star anise. Once the meat is cooked, mix about 2 cups of chicken stock with 2 cups of the strained cooking stock in a separate pot and bring to a boil. Put a handful of fresh spinach in the bottom of a big soup bowl, then a mess of cooked spaghetti noodles and top with a few ladles of this broth. Top with the meat chunks and you have a fine bowl of soup for a cold day.

Our fireplace is nice and warm and we're just waiting for tonight's new Simpsons. Move over Obama....its Ralph 2008!

Friday, January 4, 2008

Storm Watch 2008!!1!!

This could very well be my last post judging from the way the weathercasters are talking. Since Tuesday I have heard such dire predictions of not one...not two...but THREE HUGE STORMS headed our way. Ten inches of rain! Batten the hatches! Get your sandbags! Build an ark! Get new wiper blades! Oh, the humanity!
The first storm was to come late on Thursday, followed by a real doozy all day Friday, and the final blow on Saturday. Well, here it is Friday night and the rain finally started about 5PM. More of a blowing mist than a downpour, although now it is a little heavier.
The weather reporting in Los Angeles is an example of pure frenzy-making sensationalism. I'm sure it is born of the fact that for most of the year the weather really is unchanging and predictable. So any time there is a chance for a drop of water or a gust of wind all hell breaks loose and they have reporters everywhere. You get cameras trained on storm drains. Reporters covering the reservoirs and river channels. Someone goes to interview the salivating ski resort operators. This year the big story (and rightly so) is the very real possibility of mudslides and debris flows in the areas that burned this fall.
All their hype did get me sort of thinking that I have to do SOMETHING to prepare or else I would be somehow diminished as a human being. Yesterday I did remove what Xmas decorations I could. I put a tarp over the bags of topsoil that I haven't yet gotten into the garden and I put the firewood under the patio cover. I patted myself on the back for getting the wiper blades done last month.
I guess I'm just a little jaded on this "severe weather" stuff. Blizzards, hurricanes, prairie twisters...been there, done that. Coming from the Midwest it takes a little more than a rainstorm to get me nervous. Don't get me wrong....these Pacific storms are insane when they are bad. It can rain for 24 hours straight. One hundred feet of the beach disappears. I've seen my floor-to-ceiling windows bow out from the force of the wind.
For all the media hype and hoopla surrounding the few storms we do have, I don't see the wacky hoarding phenomena that I have seen in Wisconsin and Hawaii when big storms are predicted there.
In Wisconsin, when winter storms were predicted, people would go nuts and buy up all the bread and toilet paper in the store. The shelves would literally be bare. Hmmmm....blizzards always make me crave toast. Toilet paper? I would think if you ate lots of the bread, you wouldn't be needing too much TP anyway. I'm just saying.
Hawaii was a little different. You'd get maybe one or two of these "Pineapple Express" storms every winter. Huge amounts of rain and wind lasting about 24-hours. Then of course, the hurricanes, but that is not every year. The demographics of the islands provide a different pre-storm hoarding scenario. The local people buy ALL the rice up. Just like the haoles in Wisconsin with their toast and toilet paper, the locals don't want to be caught short on rice. Fifty pound bags of rice flying off the shelves.
Then you have the tourists. I'll be the first to admit I was never one to be up on the latest news when I was there. One morning I was at the grocery store, it might have been 8am. The parking lot was JAMMED! The store was really crowded and the register lines were huge. The middle-aged, fat, sunburned man in front of me at the checkout had like five gallons of assorted booze, all sorts of snacky things like Fritos and Doritos, soda pop and other assorted junk. I looked around and everyone else was doing pretty much the same. So I finally asked what the heck was going on and someone said that a hurricane was coming. Doh! So I went back and got a bag of rice, a 12-pack and some TP, just in case.
Hurricane Iniki was not all that bad on Maui where I was. Not as much rain as you would think, but the wind was unbelievable--strong and never let up. A constant intensity. I got the day off work, since my restaurant was open-air and had to shut down.

We have already abandoned trying to make a fire in the fireplace. The wind is too strong and is blowing down the chimney, so we got too much smoke. We've been listening to the scanner all night too. Right now the City Yard guys are yakking about picking up the downed tree debris...and the Laker game.
With luck, I will post an update in the morning. Good thing I stocked up on TP last week.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

How Long is Too Long?

How long should I keep the outside Xmas lights on? January 1st? Epiphany? Go wild and keep 'em on all year? I'm in the Epiphany camp myself. I just don't want to appear like one of those "christmas-all-year" nutjobs. Regardless of when we stop lighting them, Dale hurt his back which means the lights around the eaves won't come down until he can stand somewhat upright without too much pain. I do the ladder work, but I need a little help handing things down. I could probably get the lights off the bushes myself.
I'll take the tree down this weekend. The last day for tree pickup is next Thursday. When I was a kid and we had an artificial tree, I think I remember the tree still being up one time on Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

First Post of 2008

One of my Xmas gifts was this cool molcajete. Its from Mexico and made of lava rock. I have wanted one for some time now and I'm happy to have it, but I hope that lava rocks removed from Mexico don't carry the same bad luck curse that Hawaii lava rocks have.
I used it for the first time last night to make some guacamole. Earlier in the day, I "seasoned" the molcajete first by pounding some raw rice in it to get rid of any grit or debris still loose in the stone.
My usual method of preparing guacamole is to chop up the avocadoes with a pastry blender (the hand-held wire thingy); add a brunoise of roma tomatoes, red onion and jalapenos; then throw in some chopped cilantro, lemon or lime juice and salt. I prefer a chunky guacamole and I like the uniformity of the chopped vegetables.
I knew the molcajete would require a different approach. First off, I didn't have any tomatoes. I roughly chopped the red onion, cilantro and jalapeno and then pounded them a bit in the molcajete. After that I added the chunked avocado and lime juice--not too bad and still chunky. My technique will require a little fine-tuning.
We had a quiet night. I grilled some steaks. The temperature was a little too warm for a fire, so we skipped that. We pretty much sat around and played records. The police scanner wasn't that active either. People seemed to be behaving themselves for a change.
This morning I watched the Rose Parade on KTLA. It has been two years now since they canned Stephanie Edwards. I was really bummed they did that since half the fun was listening to the strained banter between her and Bob Eubanks. Torrance's float looked great and won an award. There were quite a few "unofficial" signs shown during the broadcast. Signs for Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul as well as a few impeach Cheney and Bush posters. Last year I saw only one. Power to the people. =)
I had everything going to make some Hoppin' John for lunch. I purchased some "prepared" black-eyed peas but when I opened the tub, they were all moldy! Dang! So we had our Hoppin' John with green peas instead. And it was great!