Saturday, October 27, 2007

Your standard pan, you know, cake

Saturday morning. Nice day. Good night of sleep. I decided I would make the lovely Violet a pancake breakfast, which was to consist of pancakes. (I realize using the term "breakfast" may be misleading - it sounds like there were side dishes, OJ, etc. Nope, just the cakes.)

So I pulled out the pancake mix and began the preparation. It wasn't long before I realized it wasn't your standard pancake mix, it was something quite alien. By alien, I mean it was the manual mix.

Damn. I hate the manual mix. If a recipe requires more than adding water, I'm lost.

No worries, I thought. I can do this.

So I pulled out the other ingredients - oil, eggs, milk. I stood gazing at the recipe for about ten minutes, trying to reduce the "8 to 11 cakes" down to four. Finally, I decided, screw it! I didn't need this Jemima bitch telling me what to do. I tossed in a couple of eggs, a drip of oil, then mixed in milk until it was the consistency of... something that would be, you know, a similar consistency to pancake batter.

Apparently it wasn't thick enough, because when I put it on the griddle, the cakes immediately ran together. I tried using the spatula as a batter-dam for a while, but gave up when it oozed around the edges and made contact anyway. "Just let the bastards cook," I said to myself, "and see how they come out."

Then I began to experience cake-flip anxiety. Will they flip cleanly? Will there be side-slippage? Overlap? Will the color be consistent? I broke a sweat.

By that time, not only had they run together, but also in the other direction, all the way to the lip of the griddle. So I would have to flip them with a sort of diagonal gesture, a fluid motion. This would require a level of grace I'm simply not known for.

Upon flipping the first one, all of my fears were realized. Slippage, overlap, burn. Half of the first cake flipped off the edge of the griddle, the other half went on top of the second cake. Long story short, I had to abort the entire first batch of cakes.

Luckily, the kitchen sink was directly behind me so at least THAT motion was graceful. I cursed the stove manufacturer, the rough edge of the spatula and whoever invented the dish. Sir Richard "Flap" Jackson, if I'm not mistaken.

Upon beginning anew with a fresh, clean griddle, I applied the batter, only less this time. Suddenly, I realized I had started without allowing proper warming time.

The new, smaller pancakes ran like a mother.

This time I was able to salvage them by turning the burner to the "spot weld" setting for about two minutes. It froze the cakes in their tracks and restored my smile. Which, at this point, had become more of a smirk. I was ten seconds from hitting the McDonalds drive-thru.

Anyway, the second batch worked. They weren't great, but at least edible. Em dutifully consumed the cakes with a smile. Maybe more of a smirk.

I snapped this picture of the aftermath. Some of the mess is visible, but it's not a perfect representation of "pancake ground-zero." Note that the cake is quite well done. That's from the "spot weld" maneuver. Also note the clear signs of side-slippage.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

10 signs we should have seen that Dumbledore was gay

These days, it's chic to be a can-diver. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

The new social trend is the "coming out," and actors, neighbors and even spouses are doing it. And that's great - if you're gay, you might as well live an open, happy life. (unless of course you're in the military)

But now it's chic for even fictional characters to be gay, as J. K. Rowling has brought her Harry Potter character, Dumbledore, out of the closet.

I hope she gave him time to tell his parents first.

Yes, Dumbledore is a donut puncher, and children everywhere will be thumbing through their books ravenously, looking for signs. Sort of like the first time you leave a ten-year-old alone with a dictionary. The first word they look up is "vagina." He he he he he!!!

We should have seen this coming all along. I've not even read the Potter series, yet I had my suspicions. So I've compiled a list of signs we all should have seen that Dumbledore was a "confirmed bachelor:"

1 - All those "layovers" in the Minneapolis airport.
2 - First name? Albus.
3 - His title was Wizard, but they all called him Queen.
4 - He was the "headmaster" at the school of wizardry David Copperfield attended. (allegedly)
5 - In the movie series, he was first played by Richard Harris. HELLO?!?
6 - He always tried to show Harry what he called "the headmaster's log."
7 - He always tried to get Harry to touch his "magic wand."
8 - Middle name? Percival.
9 - That whole stint working part time at Deb.
10 - Griselda Marchbanks, Head of the Wizarding Examinations Authority, remarked that the young Dumbledore had "...done things with a wand I'd never seen before."
I spent my entire breakfast writing this. Note to self: Find a hobby.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Wii, the people

Emily, regarding whether we should order dessert last night: "The baby wants some, I can't help it."

Emily, explaining how she knows: "Have YOU ever had a child? It told me telepathically, through the umbilical cord."

I wanted to make a record of those quotes, I'm sure we'll want to reference them at a later date.

This probably won't be the last time the baby will be used to get her way... in fact, I'll bet it's the BABY that doesn't want me to have a Wii. It already has Dad wrapped around its little finger. Apparently, telepathically.


Speaking of dessert, it was only yesterday that I divulged (on Annie's blog) that Em and I are vowing to eat at home for 30 days. Just for a change of pace, we're preparing menus, power-grocery-shopping, etc. in order to prepare each evening's meal ourselves.

About six hours after I told Annie of our "dine-at-home" plans, we were sitting in Bristol's restaurant browsing a menu.

It's not that we're weak. Em found out late yesterday afternoon that her classes had been canceled for the week. Since she isn't usually home Monday nights, we hadn't planned dinner.

At least that's the excuse we're going with.

Monday night is my "night out" when I generally watch Monday Night Football on TV at a bar somewhere and have beer and a salad. Spending it with Em was MUCH more fun... although there was nothing on television except football.

We could have played the Wii, I guess...


This little piggy said "wii, wii, wii..." all the way home.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Technology is a reckless, take-no-prisoners force, relentlessly moving forward in fits and starts. Unstoppable. Sort of like Rosie O'Donnell at Old Country Buffet.

As I was eating cereal and listening to Dwight Yoakam's version of Wichita Lineman this morning, it occurred to me that as technology progresses, there will eventually be no more linemen. Granted, it will take a while, but within my lifetime, cellular and wireless will replace the need for phone lines. Underground power lines will carry electricity to houses, and, with rare exceptions, they are nearly maintenance-free.

The linemen are a disappearing breed.

Few images are as stirring as a view down a long, straight highway, with lines and poles running alongside, heat causing the mirage of puddles of water... until the curve of the earth takes it all over the horizon. Those lines have carried generations of telephone conversations, power for bedside lamps, and television signals.

I feel a little misty. While some consider them eyesores, there is something nostalgic about them. And the lineman is sort of a heroic figure, sometimes.

From vinyl records, to drive-in theaters and VCRs, technology is leaving quite a path of destruction. Movie rental stores are succumbing to pay-per-view, malls are giving way to online shopping. Most board games come on DVD now.

Not that I'm anti-technology, I am quite the eager consumer. My home is a monument to the electronics industry. My cars have all the latest gadgets. Heck, I used to have a car with a refrigerator in the back seat.

But I miss the old stuff sometimes. I wouldn't want to have to drive on hilly, narrow, curvy Route 66. But I sure wish I still could if I wanted. And all along it, there were telephone lines, and linemen keeping them in working order.

Where will all the birds sit?

I'll bet you can think of other cultural icons that will soon be going away.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Insurance sucks. Wii rules. Did I mention insurance sucks?

I knew I disliked living in this area for SOME reason... (no offense to minivan owners, it's just a thing for me)

This confirms why. Fuzzy picture because I had to snap a pic from the television.


Honesty is not the best "policy."

When applying for health insurance, do yourself a favor, if you don't already - lie about everything. Pre-existing conditions, pending babies, recent colds... everything.

Recently, when filling out an application for individual insurance, I (mistakenly) answered the questions honestly. I admitted we were having a baby.

Apparently in Missouri, when an insured person has a child, their insurance company is required by law to cover the baby from birth to a certain age. Therefore, if they approved my application, they might be liable if we have any kind of problems with the baby.

They declined me in SPITE of the fact that we're insuring the baby through Em's work insurance.

Fucking blood-sucking bastards. Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield is the culprit, but I'm sure it doesn't matter WHO you apply with. They are all the same, sadly.

For the moment, I am without health insurance. Oh, and if you ever WANT health insurance, do yourself the favor and DON'T call anyone at the Brooke Insurance & Financial Services agency. They are a waste of time.


Life is GREAT right now! Things are coming together around the house, Em is ever-so-slightly showing, which makes her even more beautiful, and I'm almost caught up with paperwork and stuff in my office.

We're starting to put money away for the baby and wedding, so Emily is insisting I DON'T buy a Nintendo Wii. But the more I play with Dr. Mike's Wii (that didn't sound right) the more I think I will sneak to Best Buy early one morning and grab one.

Yeah that's what I said.*


I'm about to kick off the weekend. First, I will go to McGurk's outside patio and have 2 martinis and an order of wings or rings. (or lings, if you're asian) Then I plan to relax a lot this weekend, probably watch some television, maybe go on a bike ride. Weather will be perfect, 78 degrees both days.

Have a great one.

*of course I will have to deal with Em's wrath, but hey, I'm 40-something. I do what I want.

Monday, October 08, 2007


It is a frustrating combination to be a credit card user and a resident of a town with an apostrophe in its name.

To complete an order on the internet, usually you must provide the billing address for the card you're using. I live in O'Fallon, and sometimes the card companies use the apostrophe, sometimes they don't. It's a bitch trying to remember which card is which, so tonight I decided to give up.

I think I will start paying for everything with live chickens, like back in the day. Unleaded gas, three and 9/10 live chickens. A Bud Light 20-pack, fifteen live chickens.

I wonder, could you pay at KFC with live chickens? Would the ratio be 1:1?


I sat at the bar at Chili's tonight watching Monday Night Football and eating salad. This has become my Monday night routine.

The bartender had an obnoxious habit of calling me "partner," "bud," and "champ." I tipped him one percent less with every nick-name infraction. He ended up at something around seven percent by the time I finished my food. "Thanks, zippy."


We're getting extremely excited about the arrival of the baby. Every time Em talks to her mom, she asks if we know the sex of the baby yet. Every time, Em reminds her we'll find out right around Thanksgiving.

The funny thing is, she will be present when we find out, or will be the first person Em calls.

Speaking of the baby, mommy has had a few instances where she thought, just MAYBE, she felt the baby move. They all turned out to be gas bubbles.

Apparently we're going to have a cute little fart.

Oh, and until we decide on a name, the baby's official nickname is Sparky.


Why do I keep getting drawn into political debates? The world is wound so tightly right now, nobody gives an inch. No compromise. No shades of grey. Each side is practicing the ready dispensation of lies, half-truths and bullshit. Mostly bullshit.

To me, arguing politics is like lighting a fart. Just because it burns doesn't mean you can read a book by it.*


I'm sick of the buzzword "terrorist." It's so overused, it has become a synonym for bad guy. Ahmadinejad is a terrorist. Hugo Chavez is a terrorist. Fidel Castro and Kim Jong Il are terrorists.

They certainly don't instill terror in me... they're just bad guys. And they probably all smell funny.

But as tired buzzwords go, "terrorist" is the mack daddy of the 21st century so far.

Other buzz phrases or words I'm finished with:

  • Pull the trigger
  • Synergy
  • Mission critical
  • Paradigm
  • You're doing a good job, Brownie
  • Outside the box
  • Peel the onion
  • Test the waters
  • Big picture
  • Outsource
  • Forward thinking
  • Evil-doers
  • (anything) 2.0
  • Execution
  • Cluster
That's all I can think of right now.

Conversely, one of my favorite new buzz phrases is, "Don't taze me bro!"


* I can read that line one time and it sounds brilliant. The next time, it hardly makes sense. So my advice to you is to read it until it makes sense, then look away.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The War

As I wind up the weekend, I am sitting down to watch another installment of The War on PBS. After watching the first 2-hour segment, I just sat in the dark for a while, thinking.

This is an amazing documentary which focuses on the people, the heroes, of WWII... those Tom Brokaw called the "greatest generation." I am positive I wouldn't be here today without the sacrifices made by these people.

There aren't enough Veterans or Memorial Days.

Tonight I'm watching segment two. The whole experience is very moving.


My daughter made a rare appearance at the house this weekend. She came to town Friday night and left this evening. It was a nice visit. She definitely has some issues in her life, and continues to struggle to get a handle on them. I'm doing all I can, but at this point, she will have to decide when she is ready to make some changes.


We went to the Botanical Gardens today, and although I had to leave early, it was a great day to get outside. I had to sweat out some of the wine consumed at the Oktoberfest celebration in Hermann, MO, yesterday.

One of the many blessings of fatherhood is having a nine-month designated driver.


My friend Mike and I are talking about playing hookie Thursday and doing something outside. The hot weather is supposed to break Tuesday, and it will finally feel like autumn. I think August lasted three months.

One 35-year-old guy died and hundreds of people had to be treated for heat-related illnesses today in Chicago during a marathon. Heat-related illnesses in October??? Where are we, Death Valley?


Kramer the cat is staring at me, wondering when I'm going to hit the 'play' button on the Tivo. He is really into The War, too. Talk to you guys this week. I will start blogging more often. I mean it this time.