Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why I Never Eat McDonald's um, Food

Happy Meal Photography project. Showing the progression from day one to day 137. And be afraid, be very afraid.  Only a few fries have changed shape a little.

I'll make my own burgers, thank you very much.

More later.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Disappointed, Yes - Surprised, No. The Saga Ends...

It's an uncomfortable Friday afternoon work environment.  The DQ is again on the floor and the other servers are nervous. He's not communicating with anyone. At 2 pm the boss calls a meeting with DQ and me. What!  What?

We sit equidistant around a large round table; Able to look one another in the eye, or pretend one doesn't exist. The boss informs us that we are going to be "co-managers of the front end" and that we will "work together to make the dining room run smoothly and efficiently." 

Say, what!  Has he lost his mind? Is this a last ditch effort to salvage the reputation of a longtime employee? Makes no sense, otherwise.

If I remember my training over the years correctly, managers lead by example and no job is beneath them when they are needed.  I say (looking at DQ who refuses to meet my eyes) that I would not call DQ's recent - or present - behaviour Managerial or Professional.  This comment is ignored.  The boss's outline is vague and there are many loose ends (you betcha!) to be tied up, but in the his head this is going to work.  It'll be great! Uh-huh!

At the end of this bullshit extravaganza, I am asked if I am on-board.  My response (again, looking directly at DQ who will not look me in the eye) "I don't think this is going to work. If he pulls his little show again, he's not going to have anyone to manage.  I will send him home again, unless you choose to do otherwise.  In which case the staff will simply walk out." The boss winced at that, but said nothing.

Fast forward to Saturday evening - DQ is tending bar when the boss suffers chest pains and is convinced to get to the hospital. Three hours later, his life partner, boss 2, returns to do some juggling of personnel to accommodate the late night crowds, especially those arriving for Karaoke.

Boss 2 chooses to bring a relief bartender in to keep the bar flowing smoothly.  DQ has a problem with this person and (again) launches into another hissy fit. It becomes painfully clear to boss 2 that DQ isn't concerned for the restaurant, bar, or the health of boss 1;  that this is all about him.

DQ is sent home and it is decided the next day that he be fired. A longtime employee and hard worker in the past had become self absorbed, felt entitled, and really didn't give a damn about anyone or anything else.

While I wasn't involved in the conversation I am sure letting him go was painful and not easy to follow through on, but it was the right thing to do. The 2 bosses are emotionally devastated, and with good reason. It isn't every day that a longtime, trusted employee shows his true colors of selfishness and arrogance in an emergency situation where a life may be at stake.

Turns out the tests showed that there was no heart attack involved, just heavy duty stress, which caused the chest pain.

Boss 1 is back and a little more playful than last week. He came to realize that he has nurtured a good staff of caring people who begged him to go to the hospital, and he knew the restaurant (and both bosses) were of primary concern, which is what ultimately was the deciding factor in his going to the hospital.

Today, everyone was grateful that the petty ugliness, and bitchiness was at an end. The collective sigh of relief was unmistakable. There was some shock about the firing, but no one was sad that the drama has come to an end. Time to move forward.

And so it goes.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Saturday, August 28, 2010

1 Day 2 Year 5: A Photographic Journal

From nolafemmes.com:

My childhood home – upper 9th ward...(click to embiggen)
After being born at Ochsner, I was brought back to this home. I lived here the first 8 years of my life, in the upper 9th ward. My parents were poor, their first home was in the Desire housing projects, then they moved here several years before I came along. We lived here until my parents were able to purchase their first home.
My dad parked his old Chevy in this garage. It was flooded out by Hurricane Betsy in 1965, but he was able to salvage it by drying out the gas tank and then drove it for a few more years until it rusted out. I learned how to ride a bicycle along this sidewalk.
Read the rest of this story and view the photos HERE.

And so it goes.

Full Moon: The Aftermath

Oy! Such a Day!

I awoke this morning with the waltz "I don't want to know" from Jerry Herman's musical Dear World running through my head...that should have been warning enough.

Humming that tune, I neglected to close the lid on the Senseo while making a cup of coffee this morning. I immediately knew what I had done AFTER the boiling water began spewing all over the counter and before I had the good sense to turn the machine off.  Clean up on table 1!

Relieved another box of its contents of mixing and serving bowls of various size and depth. Had to adjust the height of  a cabinet shelf to accommodate the new additions. Unfortunately, I didn't replace one of the clips that holds the shelf above in place.  While attempting to remove a breakfast plate from that shelf, its contents began to cascade onto the counter and floor below.  I caught most of the dishes, but lost 2 plates, 2 breakfast bowls, and a saucer.  Could have been worse. Swept and vacuumed the kitchen floor and counter-tops.

Planned to put together an asparagus salad, and a cucumber salad, but thought it unwise to risk cutting off a finger in the process. The only good news of the morning is that I didn't drown in the shower or slit my throat while shaving.  Yes, it's the little things...isn't it?

At work the computer system is down; I inform the boss, we're up and running in about an hour.  The staff begins to arrive and every one of them is coming down with something, probably a summer cold (the worst kind) and their sniffles and sneezes are only muted by the vacuum cleaner and the pounding dance music blasting from the speakers in the bar and dining room,  making it hard to think and almost impossible to have a phone conversation. The volume is eventually turned down and the station changed to one of sane music at opening.

That we were unprepared for the onslaught of little ones (toddlers mostly - the darlings - as the doors opened on a beautiful day we thought would entice everybody to the beach) would be a gross understatement.  (Why do parents have to bring the kids who are already tired and sleepy to a restaurant?  (Is this a family plot to force everyone else to suffer what they do at home?)  If I had a dime for every screaming, crying kid we had to endure today, I would never have to work another day in my life. All servers and myself had pounding headaches by the end of the shift.

The bar area was unaffected - kids are not allowed in there - so I seated many adults at the hi-tops in the bar to spare them the assault on their senses.

I was screamed at and cursed out by callers totally pissed that we were no longer taking reservations for the evening.  Try planning ahead instead of calling on a Saturday afternoon for a reservation that evening.  What were they thinking?  I did what I do in such cases; hang up on them and defy them to call back with the same attitude. If they don't get the message I hang up again. My parents didn't treat me that way and a stranger isn't about to do that either.

I know this may sound bizarre, but I still enjoyed the day. There were many other diners who made up for all the stoopid, and they were a blessing.

I savored a very, very, very large Cosmo as my after-shift drink and enjoyed the quiet walk home. I am about to prepare dinner and pray that I don't cause the stove or building to explode in the process.  Wish me luck. 

And so it goes.

Lesson for a Caturday

More later.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What Obama Should Say in NOLA this Weekend

By Harry Shearer via HuffPo:
My fellow Americans, we can't move ahead successfully until we recognize the true nature of what happened here. Five years ago, while the Mississippi Gulf Coast was savaged by a hurricane, New Orleans was savaged by the mistakes and misjudgments of a federal agency mandated by Congress to protect this city.
Our federal taxes ended up killing nearly two thousand people here in the Crescent City. Acknowledging those facts, which are there for all to see in two painstakingly investigated independent reports, helps people here deal with the pain and the disappointment. That's why there's now a state historical marker at the site of the worst of the more than 50 failure points, the breach of the floodwall at the 17th Street Canal.
But that's just the first step. It's easy to pledge that such a horrible event, born in the good intentions of Congress to protect this area, won't happen again. So far, it's just been words. The same agency that failed you, and us, is using the same low factor of safety, much lower than they use for rural dams, for a system meant to protect a large urban area. And we're still making our water policy, in a century of rising sea levels, the old-fashioned way: one pork-barrel project at a time. Other cities, supposedly protected by federal levees, face the possibility of the same horror New Orleans experienced.
That's not good enough for America. That's not good enough for the 21st century. So today, I'm announcing a new initiative -- a national water policy to deal with situations where, because of hurricanes or flooding, there's too much water, or with situations where, because of drought, there's too little. We'll assemble a group of scientists and engineers from across the spectrum of studies -- from geography to hydrology -- and we'll invite our friends from the Netherlands, who have seven centuries of history in learning how to live with water, to join in drafting a policy that can adapt with the changes that we know lie ahead.
If we have to, we'll create a new agency to execute this policy, to work with state and local partners in a constructive and cooperative way. Not because we want to add a new agency to the federal government, but because the old one clearly hasn't worked. When you kill the people you're pledged to protect, that's reason enough to change.
What will the President say in New Orleans this weekend?  Will it be anything new or just the same old rhetoric of the past 5 years?

To learn more about Harry's documentary "The Big Uneasy" click the link.
And so it goes.

2 Days 2 Year 5

Go HERE for more.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Disappointed, Yes - Surprised, No. A Saga Begins...

Note: Longtime employees don't always have the best interest of their employer, other employees, or the business in mind. Sometimes they tend to work the system for their advantage to the detriment of others.  Can't say this was unexpected, but it was more childish than anyone could have imagined. Here's some background.

A drama quean of the first order was out from work for almost a year, having had knee surgery then milking the healing process so as not to return to work until the season was in full swing. This guy has been knocking around the business for over 25 years, (he's worked here for almost 10 years!) so he knows the ropes and how to maximize his return. 

Needless to say methods, procedures, new and better service options were implemented in his absence. When he returned he pulled every drama scene possible to get attention, using the old standard "this isn't the way I'm used to doing it" as a wedge to get other servers to do things HIS way.  It's called BULLYING!  If that doesn't work he has a hissy fit until he gets his way. That hasn't worked with me.

Last Monday he was scheduled to serve the lunch shift. He arrived hot, sweaty, and pissy (for some reason unknown to the rest of us) and announced that he wanted a specific section of the dining room.  I knew I would need him in the section already assigned. He backed off gloating on the knowledge that he was sorely needed, that he was all that and a bag of pig skins chips.

As other servers arrived, enduring the same heat and discomfort, with smiles and hugs all round he promptly shut that down by bossing everyone (except me) around, ordering them to do this or that the "right way" (read, his way). For the most part they humored him, but ignored his orders.  This made him furious.

My primary concern was for the 3 relatively new servers working that day who had not handled more than 3 or 4 parties at one time. I was depending on the DQ (drama quean) and another seasoned server to pick up the slack when we got busy.

An hour into the lunch shift all servers have 2 tables, DQ has 2 parties of 6 and is seated with a 2-top.

Red alert!!!

DQ flies across the dining room screeching to a halt at the host station and announces to the entire city, "I will not do this! I will only take 2 tables from now on, or I'm going home."  The customers were not interested in his hissy fit and I was shocked that a "seasoned profess----whatever" would act out in public. I looked at him calmly and said, "well Kenny will be here in 10 minutes, so why don't you go home."  By the pained expression on his face, you'd have thought I shot him.  Turning on his heels and realizing that his bluff had been called, he went on to take orders from that party of two I had seated minutes earlier.

He continued to use every trick in his bitch-arsenal to make all servers miserable.  I had enough.  I went back to the office and told the boss (only the second time I have done so) that DQ was working my last gay nerve,  disrupting the flow and atmosphere of the afternoon, and I was not going to tolerate his tantrums any longer.  He could send him home, or I would.

The boss took the shrieking harpy aside and calmed him down somewhat. I sent him home an hour later to the relief of the entire staff.  I am not good at this kind of altercation and try to avoid them whenever possible.  But, in-yer-face situations involving a public display really make me angry.

This isn't over. (I wish it was over) I just wanted to share. This has been a wonderful work week, otherwise, but the tension continues. DQ is no longer talking to me - or most of the staff, for that matter. Stay tuned.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

4 Days to 5th Anniversary

Counting down 2 the 5th Anniversary of the breached levees that flooded NOLA .  From nolafemmes.com:
"I saw a lot of homes tagged indicating that dead pets were found inside – or were being fed and watered, hence the F/W on many homes – however it was difficult to find one that had a number other than zero at the bottom of the X-mark. Any marking at that position on the X indicated a body was found inside, and there were many homes where more than one person perished.

Many people refused to leave because they could not get accommodations for their pets, and chose to stay at home. Besides, why leave for what turned out to be a Category 3 storm Winds were clocked at no more than 110-115 mph in the city? They never dreamed that the steadfast levees would break, flooding and trapping them and their beloved pets inside.

Someone told me that “officials” made extra efforts to make sure homes where a person/persons were found dead inside were demolished. That could possibly explain the reason for all of the empty lots in Lakeview and the Lower 9th ward…"
My friend's remains were found under some debris in what had been his backyard. I guess they just bulldozed everything into the back of the property.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Loose Ends

OK, with all the madness and cloak 'n dagger stuff going on last week, I have been remiss in updating a few recent posts, so here goes - and if I forget something, I am sure you will let me know about it.

My senses of taste and smell returned late last week and while I have not yet attacked the crawfish, I have savoured the Beef Daube I made last Wednesday. The rest is in the freezer.

The bartender arrested in the "sting" did everything right - except the Math to determine the correct age of the decoy.  Entrapment?  Yes, maybe.  All they did was take him to be fingerprinted, and issued a summons to appear before a judge to explain what happened in his own words. He will face a substantial fine plus court costs totally about $600.00.  The restaurant owners must appear before a judge and will probably face a fine of about $1250.00 plus court costs. The bartender and the restaurant owners will also have one point each against their ABC license. (Three points within 5 years and they shut you down) Let it be known here, Delaware is the only state enforcing such archaic laws, so rest comfortably you in the other 49 states.

Sergey, the one who left without saying 'good-bye' (click the image above to embiggen) replied to a note I sent responding to one of his posts on FaceBook and he sent a message:
I'm really sorry because of it. Today I wanted to say "Good-buy" to you personally and other stuff. But you know about such strange and taught relationships b/w me and Joe. That is why today I run away from that incomfortable situation in order to avoid a conflict.
You are brilliant, very kind and best of the best... It's true. You tought me and explored me so many interesting and important life things. I love you *****. I consider you as my friend, and I want to continue comunicating with you.
Hope to be in touch.
I was unaware of any conflict between Sergey and my boss. I have not yet responded to his message, but I will when I have time to breathe life into the brain.

If I have forgotten any other loose ends, please write a comment and I will be happy to answer, if there is an answer.

And so it goes.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Katrina Remembrance: First Louisiana Historic Plaque Unveiled

August 23, 2010.  (click image to embiggen.) From Levees.org:
Under a blazing sun, Levees.org unveiled its first Louisiana State Historic Plaque at Ground Zero of the 17th Street Canal levee breach in the Lakeview neighborhood of New Orleans.
The informational plaque is adorned with the beloved state bird, the brown pelican, and to the delight of the audience today, a lone pelican alighted atop the floodwall directly behind the new plaque.
The ceremony began with piper Marta Vincent who played “Amazing Grace.”
Sandy Rosenthal founder of Levees.org spoke a few words before unveiling the plaque. Everyone read the words aloud together. It was an emotional moment.
Many elected officials attended the solemn event including New Orleans City Council President Arnie Fielkow, and Vice President Jackie Brechtel Clarkson and City Councilwoman Susan Guidry. Mayor Mitch Landrieu sent one of his senior advisors, Scott Hutcheson to say a few words on behalf of the Mayor. Also present was Representative Nick Lorusso.
Actor Harry Shearer, director of The Big Uneasy joined the Ceremony and spoke a few words.
The ceremony closed with the trumpet music of 17 year old Doyle Cooper who performed a beautiful rendition of “A closer walk with thee.”
This is the first of many. Levees.org will hold fundraisers to raise the money for plaques at other breach sites in New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish.
The countdown is 6 days to the 5th anniversary of the levee failures that flooded New Orleans. Please keep those who died, those left behind, and those who still haven't been able to return home, in prayer.

More later.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tourists & Life Working the Last Gay Nerve

It's been quite a week - good and not so good - and I must say the drama did make the time go faster, even if it was a bit unnerving at times. Most of the drama occurred at work, with only minor blips on the personal front.  Those are best left to another time.

Monday: Boss 1 is stopped and ticketed by RB police for expired registration (sound familiar!) on a vehicle seldom used. It expired in February!! He plans to spend the day at the DMV as I did a while ago. 
Boss 2 discovers his driving license expired on his Birthday in May!!! He takes off in the vehicle with the expired registration (panic ensues) and is told by phone to get off the road before he gets stopped by state troopers.  The expired registration is bad enough, but coupled with an expired license he'd be arrested immediately.

Five hours later all is in order. A huge sigh of relief from both bosses.

Then to top off a spectacularly negative day, a brawl broke out during Karaoke that night between 2 redneck gay guys and a straight family.  Things got ugly, police were called, one redneck was arrested. You can't make this stuff up!

Tuesday:  Dept. of Health visits (three weeks late!)  and I do everything according to the book.  The inspector is taken anywhere they want to go and two (very tense) hours later there is sense of pride as the restaurant is given a glowing 'thumbs up' for cleanliness and safety. 

Wednesday: My day off is enveloped in heavy rains and thunderstorms.  With little accomplished, I don't care what happens in the restaurant.

Thursday: Like it or not, I am brought up to date on the hysteria and madness of Wednesday.  Rudeness, nastiness, and anger topped the list for what was a very busy day. Glad I missed all that fun.

My Thursday lunch crowd was a happy group, anxious for good food, laughter and awaiting the weekend.

Friday: As I prep for the day staff members arrive in a somber mood. Few smiles and almost no personal interaction. It was only when the bar and wait staff arrive that I learn that there was a sting operation the night before, where a 20 year-old was served at the bar. The offending bartender was arrested. The restaurant was issued a summons and a fine will be imposed after the court hearing. It's a long and sad story.

Note: in a future post I will explain why this is an important issue in Delaware (and no where else!) and why it is important for anyone licensed to serve booze in this state to take what happened here very seriously.

Somehow they make it through dinner and karaoke last night, but not without further incident...the Fire Marshall pays a visit and discovers 2 dining chairs near the fire exit in the rear of the dining room. No fine. Just not a good report.

Saturday: Upon arrival I find certain things out of their normal places, and a few things lying around that do not belong in the place at all. Leaving these things where they lay I get the morning prep work out of the way before the kitchen and bar staff arrive. Turns out everything Friday night was hit-or-miss.  Obnoxious people in the majority, and congenial folks in a tiny minority. A night in Hell for everyone - servers and kitchen staff alike.  Hey! It's August, after all. What do we expect?

Lunch today was a joy, some new customers dining for the first time (the restaurant having been recommended by a friend) mingled with regular customers having just arrived for their holiday week and dining with us before checking into their lodgings.Cross chatter between tables was the norm.  All in all the afternoon went surprisingly well. I worked past my shift and had the chance to work with the night staff I like and admire and who anticipate every need in the dining room which was filling up fast.  Loved that!  This was also their first time working with me and we got along very well.

I was spent when finally relieved of duty and thoroughly enjoyed my after shift cocktail with another co-worker young enough to be my granddaughter!  She's quite an old soul, lesbian, a heart of gold and pretty centered for a youngster of 23 years. Our conversation was very deep and personal so I guess she trusts me enough to talk freely and confide in me. I feel honoured.

Well, this week is over, but not to be forgotten any time soon. Time for dinner and a show cocktail.  Yes!

And so it goes.

Caturday Warning

It's been a very busy weekend, and only two more to go before it's all over for another year.

More later.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What Tarot Card are You?

Stopped by Hayward's place this morning and decided to take the quiz.  Thanks, Hayward, I think.  Results are below.

You are The Wheel of Fortune

Good fortune and happiness but sometimes a species of
intoxication with success
The Wheel of Fortune is all about big things, luck, change, fortune. Almost always good fortune. You are lucky in all things that you do and happy with the things that come to you. Be careful that success does not go to your head however. Sometimes luck can change.
What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Yes, well I am not sure I always have good luck. The past 4+ years can vouch for that truth. Of course, I am always happy with things that come my way. Grateful, too.

More later.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Restock, Replenish, & Rain - Mostly Rain

Ya' know, some days you're the windshield, other days you're the bug.  This bug could have phoned the day in and stayed home.

If you want to make G*d laugh, make plans!

Started out in heavy rain at 7 am; cooler and lists in hand. And the best I could do was ultimately about 20% of items on the various lists. Practically every stop on the list was out of what I wanted, that was on sale. Frustrating, doesn't begin to cover it. The rain would taper off as I arrived at each stop, then come down in sheets as I made a dash to the car. 

Hey, we need the rain here.

Returned home soaked and cold to the bone.  Was going to stop at the new (Pennsylvania) Dutch Pantry market nearby but was too wet and uncomfortable to make the journey.  This store carries various flours, grains, spices, and more. The owner buys in bulk, repackages and passes along the savings to the consumer. His previous store was too far away and I only made the trip 2 or 3 times.  Now that he's closer, visiting will be easier.  Maybe next week.

I unearthed the recipe collection, like discovering the tomb of some ancient Pharaoh, and out of sheer desperation (read tired of leftovers) put together one of my faves the other night. A Beef Daube! Almost all ingredients were on hand, except for the fresh mushrooms (canned worked just fine, though) and it was delicious just as I remembered it. Looking through the files I became aware that my spice collection needs some replenishing, too.  I found lots of recipes that I used to make all the time, but couldn't after I moved into the previous apartment without a proper oven.

Then there are those posted by Dutch blogger and friend Peter, that I saved for future use. (I guess somewhere deep inside I knew I would have a place of my own again - just couldn't see through the haze.)

I also discovered that my kitchen utensils, baking pans, and casserole dishes need replenishing as well. These will begin being purchased when the financial hole I am currently in (thanks to the extra expense of the move & medical bill fiasco) eases somewhat, which will probably be mid-October.  There is light at the end of the tunnel that I cannot see, yet.

One step at a time.

So, I figure that if I choose one recipe a week and purchase the herbs and spices for that, I will eventually have all the ingredients I need, plus enjoy some great meals in the process. Simple things like, turmeric, whole cloves, fennell, curry powder, celery seed, cumin, allspice, cinnamon sticks, etc. I lived the past 3 years without these, with only the most basic ingredients, but I don't have to anymore.

And may the crock pots gather dust in their hidden places while I get back to real, hands-on cooking this Autumn and Winter.  "Make Way, I Take Large Steps!"

Too bad, there's only me to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I am not into fancy, hours of preparation, kinds of cooking, just healthy, hearty, comfort food from whatever country that hits my taste buds just right. I'll try anything (really!) at least once. More on this later.

OK, now get your mind out of the gutter, rinse it off, dry it, and put it a clean, safe place . For Shame!

No, don't worry, I am not going all Julia Child with this stuff - just the basics for baking, roasting and broiling will suffice. I mean, I don't even have a simple garlic press. We had three before the split - I have none - I guess he thought he needed all of them. Never mind. 

It is what it is.  No, really!

And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Protest Signs: Gays are Funnier Than Homophobes

Well, we knew that already.  Thank G*d we have a sense of humor.  I believe it is what helps us get through the crazy, the bigotry, and ultimately survive whatever gets thrown at us. That's why I am posting this video. I laughed out loud (um, sorry LOL'd) at first viewing.

Ya'know, after all these years of activism I am weary, almost exhausted, until I see something like this video. It is only then I realize our earlier work was not all for nothing. Some of the younger generation "gets it."

"The world only spins forward." Yes, that's it.

And so it goes.

Live Recordings of Jazz Greats from the 1930s

Just another one of those fascinating stories that I love so much.  The man pictured is an obscure audio engineer and lover of jazz and the big bands of the swing era. This story is long, but if you love American jazz, it will be a pleasure to read and, well, savor. Today's Gray Lady:
For decades jazz cognoscenti have talked reverently of “the Savory Collection.” Recorded from radio broadcasts in the late 1930s by an audio engineer named William Savory, it was known to include extended live performances by some of the most honored names in jazz — but only a handful of people had ever heard even the smallest fraction of that music, adding to its mystique.

After 70 years that wait has now ended. This year the National Jazz Museum in Harlem acquired the entire set of nearly 1,000 discs, made at the height of the swing era, and has begun digitizing recordings of inspired performances by Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Bunny Berigan, Harry James and others that had been thought to be lost forever. Some of these remarkable long-form performances simply could not fit on the standard discs of the time, forcing Mr. Savory to find alternatives. The Savory Collection also contains examples of underappreciated musicians playing at peak creative levels not heard anywhere else, putting them in a new light for music fans and scholars.
“Some of us were aware Savory had recorded all this stuff, and we were really waiting with bated breath to see what would be there,” said Dan Morgenstern, the Grammy-winning jazz historian and critic who is also director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University. “Even though I’ve heard only a small sampling, it’s turning out to be the treasure trove we had hoped it would be, with some truly wonderful, remarkable sessions. None of what I’ve heard has been heard before. It’s all new.” 
As I said, it's a long piece with many possible side roads using the abundant links in the story. Enjoy it HERE.

More later.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Time Goes Quickly and End of Season Bits & Pieces

Another summer weekend is over and we're only 2 weeks away from Labor Day Weekend, the traditional end of the season. I cannot believe the time has gone so quickly.

Working long hours 6 days weekly keeps one occupied, but out of the loop and definitely away of any social activities. Not that my mailbox was stuffed with invitations, or anything like that, it will be nice to come up for air after Labor Day. I know the dos locos (Joe in white and Darryl in blue pictured at left) are more tired than the rest of us.  They are in the restaurant every day, arriving shortly after I do. Joe runs the restaurant side and Darryl the bar side. An excellent arrangement for everyone involved.  I love them both and appreciate the incredible effort they put into the place at every level.

I can't (and won't) complain. I've moved into town, walk to work, close to the boardwalk and beach, continue to empty boxes from the previous life and gawk in amazement at their contents, and though climbing out of the added expense of the move (movers, utility & Verizon deposits) will be a struggle for a while, I ought to be out from under that too, by October. Then there's the Hospital Medical Bills which were finally addressed and the latest charges added to my existing balance, adding an additional 9 months of payments, which is OK and preferable to the outstanding bill being put out for collection because of stoopidity, that  would have ruined my credit rating - which I may need again someday.

Worked with an incredible bunch of people today; a good team attentive to detail - for the most part - you know, 1 or 2 always develop senior moments, but I chalk that up to the busy-ness of the day. We all worked hard and I felt better for it.

Had a Golden Margarita after-shift because I still have no sense of taste/smell and to have anything else would be a waste of good liquor. Dr. Eddie, our resident Romanian Bartender gave me a shot of Jameson's Irish Whiskey with a wedge of lime.  Instructed me to knock back the whiskey and follow up quickly by sucking the lime. I did as the Dr. ordered and not only was the combination a surprise treat, but within minutes my voice was almost back to normal and less like the Brenda Vaccaro voice that's been with me all week. Colour me surprised and amazed. Oh, and tipsy...

Bland leftovers and a G & T are on the menu for supper then I will shower and hit the sheets praying for the ability to smell/taste by tomorrow.

And so it goes.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Rockin' Caturday

Woke up with Beatles "When I'm 64" running through my head, and then I remembered - I AM 64!
Have a great day.

More later.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday the 13th, Black Cats, Soft Shell Crabs, & Happy Tourists.

Quite a mix.  You got a problem with that?

I successfully avoided black cats and walking under ladders today (Friday the 13th), but so far, still no return of my sense of smell or taste. Those crawfish and beer will have to wait a while longer. I am not going to waste either if I can't enjoy them. This is a frustrating situation for one who loves food.

The restaurant received a new order of fresh soft-shell crabs and they are large beauties and thankfully, we saute them (not fry) at the restaurant.  Oh my, are they (as I remember) delicious.

The workday was a joy and very busy. There were 6 servers scheduled, 3 are relatively new, I was hoping they could hold their own under pressure. Especially if the rains came again we would be inundated with not only rain, but with diners, too. While the rain held off until this evening, it was far from a beach day and customers began flowing in as I opened the doors.

The flow of diners was measured and I was able to spread the parties among the 6 server stations without overwhelming them in the process. The mix was good and those lingering over a glass of wine or margarita gave servers the time to bus their other tables for the next seating. I am glad the servers felt comfortable with the method of seating implemented, because I was totally confident in their ability to keep up. Maybe I projected that.  Who knows? Who cares?  It worked!

The minor glitches were the fault of the kitchen staff, so while I was annoyed for the diners, I was grateful that the servers caught potential problems before the meals were delivered to the tables.  A good job all round.

No major customer freak outs or  craziness to report, so I am sorry if this post disappoints you. I know some regular readers always look forward to the "you can't make this stuff up" stories, but nice, sane people were the order of the day.

Leftovers and a gin & tonic are on the menu this evening. Just to keep the body and mind (what's left of it) going til tomorrow, when (hopefully) those 2 senses return,

And so it goes.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Queen Guitarist Brian May Discovers 150 year old Village in 3-D

 I meant to post this last week, but life got in the way. From the files of  " I love stories like this"  there this one. (click image to embiggen)
Thirty years ago, the young guitarist and songwriter dropped out of school to see if his college band, Queen, would go anywhere. Did it ever! The group made 15 CDs, sold 300 million copies. Songs like "We Will Rock You" and "Bohemian Rhapsody" brought Queen to the height of British rock -- you won't be mocked if you argue that this was the best English band of all time. And let's not forget Freddie Mercury, the lead singer, lost to AIDS and still mourned by millions.

When Queen quieted down, Brian May completed his academic work and earned a PhD from Imperial College, London. (You can buy his thesis on Interplanetary Dust, A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud.) As a mass communicator, he had an interest in a more direct explanation of the way things work, so he co-authored a book, Bang! The Complete History of the Universe.

And now the versatile Dr. May has topped himself -- he's taken a lifelong interest in stereoscopic photography and produced a picture-and-text book that is at once a historical chronicle and a work of art. "A Village Lost and Found: Scenes in Our Village" comes in a slipcase; in a separate folder, you get a 3-D viewer that May and his collaborator, Elena Vidal, created for this project. [To buy the book from Amazon, click here.]

Where does a fascination like this come from? You guessed it -- May's childhood. As a boy, he liked to let his eyes relax as he looked at the wallpaper in his room; eventually, it moved, popped, acquired dimensionality. Later, a cereal box contained a prize: a 3-D viewer. He started exploring three-dimensional art, making pairs of sketches with the central object of one frame set just slightly off-center. Voila! 3-D!
 The rest is HERE. Also contains videos and 3-D slides.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Katrina Remembrance: A Slide Show 5 Years On.

Little has changed in greater NOLA. As we run head long toward the 5th anniversary of the failure of the Federal, Army Corps of Engineers levees  in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, this slide show was posted on 7/30/2010 at the mid-way point of this remembrance. For the most part, these are recent photographs; From NOLAfemmes.com. Here's a snippet:
Since we’re at the mid-way mark of our journey to August 29, the 5th anniversary of the failure of the federally built levees in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, (whew!) I’ve put together all the photos from the previous 29 days into a slide show.
Many thanks to the people who have contributed photos to this project so far. All photos except five (that I’m aware of) were taken within the past four weeks with the others taken in the past year so we’ve captured a pretty accurate portrayal of  some of New Orleans’ neighborhoods as they are today. We’ve got the good and the bad, the neglected and the restored. Every home and community is a part of our shared experience, our city and our lives whether the occupants are here or still in exile.
Once a New Orleanian, always a New Orleanian.
Visit and view the slide show by going HERE. You will even see part of my childhood stomping grounds flash before your eyes. The show is difficult to watch at times, but worth your time in case someone tells you that everything is just swell in New Orleans.  You know the truth. Share it.

And so it goes.

Cajuns & Crawfish: Perfect Together

Forget that "New Jersey and You" slogan!

You cannot imagine the double-take I experienced this morning at the supermarket of choice,(I almost got whiplash) so I'll tell you. See that picture on the left?  Know what those are? Yeah cher, Crawfish (some spell it Crayfish, but what to they know?) and they were discovered in the seafood department. (click image to embiggen) They are fully cooked, and it was like I died and went to heaven.

I had to buy a minimum of 4 lbs (like that's a problem?) because the clerk said they had to be sold quickly while fresh. Besides, I know they freeze well. I bought the 4 pounds for $8.00, not in the budget but I don't care. I'll get 3 meals or more out of these and that's worth the cost.  As if I needed an excuse! I was told that if these sell well, they will begin to carry the frozen variety from the same LA company in the Fall.

The other purchases were items that needed replacing or replenishment and I raced home as quickly as I could. The crawfish were packed in ice and I wanted to make sure I didn't have any disasters like last week. I separated them into 1 pound portions and put them in the freezer double-bagged and over-wrapped in foil, just to be sure.

I told my neighbors of the find, probably coming off like a squealing school girl, but I didn't care. Next thing I know Meghan is at the door holding a can of beer.  Leinenkugal is the name, and she said, "well, you can't eat crawfish without beer and I thought maybe you'd like to try one of these.  They are delicious in the summer and go great with boiled shrimp, so try it and tell us what you think."  How thoughtful...

Now I'm not much of a beer drinker - preferring wine, gin, and whiskey - though I do occasionally enjoy a cold Blue Moon Ale with an orange wedge on hot, humid summer days. This Leinenkugal "Summer Shanty" is made with lemon and honey and sounds like an interesting combination...what a hell of a time to lose a sense of taste and smell.

Oh, I don't think I mentioned this new wrinkle in my life. For some reason (unknown to humankind) I awoke Monday morning, poured a glass of orange juice and brewed a coffee.  Put lots of ice in another glass and poured the coffee in to chill.  I love iced coffee on hot summer mornings.  When I took a sip of the OJ I had the strangest experience.  While I could tell it was sweet/tart I could not taste orange flavour.  Same with the iced coffee. Made toast smeared with butter and strawberry preserves - the texture was there, but no flavour. No matter what I eat or drink, there is no flavour though I can detect hot and sweet, bitter and sharp.  I'm not eating for the pleasure of it right now and I hope this is a temporary situation.

Another surprise awaited me when I went to take a shower that morning.  I looked in the mirror to find a rash of pink blotches on my chest that neither hurts, itches, burns, nor stings. It isn't sensitive to the touch, either. I don't know if the two maladies are connected or coincidence.  I'll give both a few more days and check in with the doctor next week if the rash persists.

In any event,  the beer is refrigerated and I am praying for some hint of flavours when I eat the crawfish with that beer and fresh corn. Maybe by the weekend, please G*d!

More later.

Monday, August 9, 2010

"GOT CRABS?" I Humbly Suggest a New Billboard

It may not be the funniest, but it gets the point across.   I suppose I still retain some of that old Cajun humour, after all. So, what do you think?
Got Crabs?
Get Oil of BP
Alleviate the Problem
This is what made me think along these lines. From AP:
Crabs Provide Evidence Oil Tainting Gulf Food Web
BARATARIA, La. — To assess how heavy a blow the BP oil spill has dealt the Gulf of Mexico, researchers are closely watching a staple of the seafood industry and primary indicator of the ecosystem's health: the blue crab.

Weeks ago, before engineers pumped in mud and cement to plug the gusher, scientists began finding specks of oil in crab larvae plucked from waters across the Gulf coast.

The government said last week that three-quarters of the spilled oil has been removed or naturally dissipated from the water. But the crab larvae discovery was an ominous sign that crude had already infiltrated the Gulf's vast food web — and could affect it for years to come.
"It would suggest the oil has reached a position where it can start moving up the food chain instead of just hanging in the water," said Bob Thomas, a biologist at Loyola University in New Orleans. "Something likely will eat those oiled larvae ... and then that animal will be eaten by something bigger and so on."
Tiny creatures might take in such low amounts of oil that they could survive, Thomas said. But those at the top of the chain, such as dolphins and tuna, could get fatal "megadoses."
Marine biologists routinely gather shellfish for study. Since the spill began, many of the crab larvae collected have had the distinctive orange oil droplets, said Harriet Perry, a biologist with the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Laboratory.

"In my 42 years of studying crabs I've never seen this," Perry said. She wouldn't estimate how much of the crab larvae are contaminated overall, but said about 40 percent of the area they are known to inhabit has been affected by oil from the spill.

Tulane University researchers are investigating whether the splotches also contain toxic chemical dispersants that were spread to break up the oil but have reached no conclusions, biologist Caz Taylor said.

If large numbers of blue crab larvae are tainted, their population is virtually certain to take a hit over the next year and perhaps longer, scientists say.
There is much more HERE.

Makes me sick. Does anyone care? Anyone? (crickets)

And so it goes, sadly.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sun & Sadness, Tropical Breezes & a Tropical Long Island Iced Tea

Saturday was a smooth and easy day at work and personally. Another person from the past came in for lunch and we had a nice chat. He's no longer involved in the "old" crowd (read clique) and while he enjoyed a terrific meal, we enjoyed catching up. Hope to see him again though no plans were made to do so.

Meanwhile the digital cameras were out and flashing away which means that a sad time is approaching as some students begin leaving for their home countries and the new school year over the next week, or so.

It is what it is.  A new watch-cry for me. Another reminder of that which I would rather not face right now, but must.

On a happy note, arriving home there was yet another package waiting for me, the major parts for the large bathroom shelf/rack thingy. I put it together and in it's place following supper last evening and made good use of the extra space right away.  Everything looks better now. And, I am no longer tripping over hulks of metal every time I forgot the damned thing was in the way. Happy, happy!

So, this morning with everyone in a buoyant mood I decided to take a few more pictures, especially of those that mean so much to me. The photo above is; from your left - Sergey (not that one) with us for his second summer who has grown to twice his height of last year. Me. And Andri, as tall as Sergey and just as happy and positive - all the time. (Click to embiggen)  Andri has managed to learn much of the kitchen duties as well as the computer system in the retail store adjacent to the restaurant. He has been promoted to a prep cook position and is having the time of his life.

Sadly, Sergey (yes that one; original story and update) after working the lunch shift yesterday, departed for home last evening without saying good-bye, instead texting the boss that he would not be coming in today. Most of us were heartbroken, but I kind of understand why he chose this exit. He couldn't bear to say good-bye in person.  Yes, he's young and may regret that decision later in life, but for now it has to work for him. Unfortunately, it put us in a bind as we were short one vital person to get the place ready to open today.  We all had to work extra hard - and fast - to make that happen.  I didn't mind pitching in to help, but the servers grumbled a bit. It is what it is.

We were very busy today and tonight promises to be even more so.  Thankfully, diners were in a good mood, or I helped put them there, and the entire restaurant seemed to hum with precision. We were on a roll and worthy of it. By the time my shift was over I realized how much energy was expended and I felt totally spent. Sasha escorted me to the bar for my after-shift cocktail and Scott took care of the rest. With help from the ever devious Rob, Scott concocted a "Tropical Long Island Iced Tea" although Long Island is no where near the tropics, unless, of course, you've had one or two of these delicious cocktails. Then anything is possible. Seriously, this is an amazing cocktail. So smooth I didn't feel that it was an alcoholic beverage, until I tried to rise from the bar stool.The sign of a master mixologist.  I am sure they are still laughing.

As you can tell, I made it home under my own power and even have the ability to cook supper all - by - my - self.  Hey!  It is what it is.  And, I am what I am...and like that.

And so it goes.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

From the Great Depression: Rare Color Photos

No, not this depression, that other one...
These are beautiful and just the entrance to the gold mine offered through links in the post.

I used this image ( click on it to embiggen) because it brought back memories of childhood when JAX and Regal were the most popular beers in my hometown. (The JAX brewery is now a mini-mall of stores and restaurants. At least the building is still there.
Looks like many of these images were shot using Kodachrome 25, pretty much the finest transparency (slide) film of all time. Enjoy.
These rare color photos from the Great Depression were compiled by the Farm Services Administration from 1939 and 1944, and were recently gathered by the Denver Post's excellent photo blog.
All told, there are some 1,600 pictures which are now available online thanks to the Library of Congress. The photos, which depict small town life, industry and recreational activities during the Great Depression included in a 2006 exhibit "Bound for Glory: America in Color."
Check them out.
Most of  us are familiar with the stark and tragic black and white images from that period taken by many notable photographers, many of whom were on the payroll of the WPA at the time, but these are breathtaking.Check out the link to the Denver Post first, then when you have more time,  peruse the images at the Library of Congress.  These are a true treasure.

It starts HERE.

More later, maybe.

Crazy Caturday

More later, make it a great day.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Churchill Ordered UFO Cover-Up Fearing "Mass Panic"

Seems "Winnie" got his knickers in a knot over these reported sightings during WWII, since clearly, his hands were quite full, you know, fending off the Nazis. The last thing he needed was a close encounter with aliens of ANY kind.

Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered an alleged UFO incident in the 1950s be kept secret to prevent "mass panic," according to claims made public in the UK on Thursday.
According to reports, the grandson of one of Churchill's personal bodyguards, wrote to the British Ministry of Defense in 1999 hoping to learn more about the incident. His account, along with Churchill's claimed reaction, were among a new batch of files released from Britain's National Archives, though the man'sidentity was not released.
The letter describes how the man's grandfather, who served with the RAF in World War II, was present when Churchill went to discuss a UFO sighting with Dwight Eisenhower. The incident involved an RAF reconnaissance plane, returning from France or Germany, that was said to have been intercepted by an unidentified metallic object near the English coastline.
As the Daily Mail reported, the letter read as follows:
"During the discussion with Mr Churchill, a consultant (who worked in the Cumbria area during the war) dismissed any possibility that the object had been a missile, since a missile could not suddenly match its speed with a slower aircraft and then accelerate again.
He declared that the event was totally beyond any imagined capabilities of the time. Another person at the meeting raised the possibility of an unidentified flying object, at which point Mr Churchill declared that the incident should be immediately classified for at least 50 years and its status reviewed by a future Prime Minister."
 It's interesting to note that in recent years the number of reports of UFO sightings over the UK, France, and Spain have increased dramatically.  Wonder if these sightings have any connection to the release of the letter.

More HERE.

And so it goes.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

There's Good News Tonight

Work day was fun though more challenging than usual.  I am amazed by mood swings of some of those with whom I work daily and how those moods affect their customers and co-workers. Drama Queans, be they gay or straight.  Let's just say, it is not a positive atmosphere. So I'm called upon to salvage a negative situation.  Once or twice is OK, but doing this repeatedly can be exhausting. We got through it.

Found the replacement parts to one of the bathroom shelf units on the doorstep (go here for the back story) when I got home, so after making a festive cocktail and shedding the work drag, got down to the business of final assembly. Took less than a half hour and the unit now resides in the bathroom where it ought to have been living for days.  Still, better late than never.

I hope the parts for the other shelf/rack thingy arrive as quickly so I can get that monster off the living room floor and into the place of honour in the bathroom, and be done with these assembly projects for a while.

Finally talked by phone with the sister - after almost 3 months - and filled her in on all my news, the move, the long hours, the work week, and all that. She has been evacuated from her apartment (on the 9th floor) twice in the past 2 months because the fire sprinkler system malfunctioned - once on her floor, then again two floors above. Flooding her apartment both times.

This isn't healthy for one who lost everything to the floods following Katrina.

Background: Her lovely brick home in Chalmette was swept off its foundation during the flooding while she was evacuated to Houston, where she remained for the better part of a year before returning to NOLA and finding an apartment in Metairie sponsored and subsidized by the RC Diocese of NOLA.(How did that become one sentence?)  Many of her friends from Chalmette who also lost their homes are now her neighbors once again.

We talked about the BP mess and how locals are being bought off or threatened not to speak out. How extended family in Delacroix and Grand Isle have lost their livelihood/business over-night, after more than a century. We both cried a bit knowing that the world for those people has changed forever.  For all of us, really.  She is feeling the change daily. We (and she) have yet to feel the full impact of this mega-disaster.

She is still living without baseboards, kitchen floor tiles and little furniture.  As we spoke the repairmen were installing the new tile floor in the bathroom. How much more can these people take?

Her tone was a bit muted and tired, but there was that sense of humour that kicked in as I told her of my life over the past months since we last touched base. The conversation ended on an up-beat. We needed this contact, if for nothing more than to spew a bit of anger and share the good that's come our way.  The update and conversation were shared blessings for us.

A thunderstorm front has moved in and is dumping needed rain on the area. However, that could also mean power surges or outages, so I'll end this and post it now.

And so it goes.

Tutankhamen's Chariot Arrives in NYC

OK, so you already know I love stories like this, so let's cut to the chase, so to speak.  From the NYT:
As 18th-Dynasty pharaohs’ chariots go, the one that arrived in Times Square on Friday night was not a Mercedes or a Bentley. There was no gold leaf or fine animal-fur interior or richly appointed cartouche-ing. It was more like a teenager’s dragster stripped down for speed, just a lightweight frame of tamarisk, elm and birch, missing only its two-horsepower engine.

Though there were much fancier ceremonial chariots among the six discovered, in 1922, in the tomb of King Tutankhamen (as his name is often spelled), this one — to be unveiled on Tuesday as a late, crowd-luring addition to “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs,” the commercial exhibition of Tut treasures at the Discovery Times Square Exposition — is considered uniquely amazing by scholars because it is the only one that shows signs of wear and tear. So it has long been thought that it was the chariot actually used by the boy king for battle or, more likely, for hunting. 
Read the whole thing HERE.

At least my chariot is legal again for the next 2 years.

More later.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Adventures on My Day Off...

...by the cajun.

6 am - scrambled egg on toast sandwich & iced coffee for breakfast.

6:30 - ran a load of laundry (whites), wash, dry and put away.

7:30 - set out on grocery shopping mission, with a stop at hardware store for a few necessities.

9:15 - pull into driveway to unload and notice that I was followed home by an RB police cruiser.

9:20 - learn that auto registration expired in June. Colour me embarrassed.

9:30 - receive ticket for expired tag for $50.00 payable to the RB Court.

9:50 - unloaded car, checked today's DMV hours (noon to 8 pm).

10:20 - on the road to the DMV hoping to be one of the first in line. Don't want to waste the entire day.

12:05 pm - pass inspection and must visit the registration desk in person.  Bother!

12:15 - given ticket # C 432,  and wait. They call C 398 as I find a seat.

1:40 - there is an unpleasant altercation at window 9 and guards are called in. Not pretty.

2 pm - C 432 is called to window 7.  Nice reception by a very cordial man. Present inspection results, license, insurance card, and blood sample, and expired registration card.

2:15 - all information is updated in the DMV database, (including email to receive notice of the next impending expiration date) $90.00 is charged to my credit card; $80.00 for a two-year registration plus a $10.00 charge for the expired one.  Bummer, but could have been worse.

3:30 - stuck in traffic on the way home, tourists and road construction create nightmarish conditions.

4:15 - arrive home hot and exhausted with a splitting headache.  I realize I've eaten nothing all day since that breakfast sandwich 10 hours ago.

4:30 - throw a salad together and wolf it down with a leftover Chesapeake spicy sausage link. Feel better fast!

4:45 - get out sewing kit and replace missing buttons on 3 shirts, and it ain't easy with these old eyes.

5:15 - glass meets ice, gin, olives, and a touch of vermouth. Immediate temporary bliss.

5:40 - 'hello nurse!' prepping dinner while nursing the martini.

6 pm - the entire day is shot and there is little to show for it, at least, in the 'fun' department.

6:20 - post this useless time-line to the blog in a desperate effort not to feel sorry for self.

Only good news is the Prop 8 was over turned and found to be unconstitutional.  Woo Hoo!

And so it goes.

CA Prop 8 Unconstitutional - We All Win!

A hot bit of good news, finally. A few moments ago.

U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, chief justice of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, released his verdict in Perry v. Schwarzenegger just now and we've won. The case was brought by American Foundation for Equal Rights and argued by well-known attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, the conservative and liberal lawyers who faced off in Bush v. Gore.
We'll be updating this post throughout the day with statements from the various organizations and LGBT leaders after the jump. Of course, our contributors will be weighing in with their thoughts and photos/reports from the various marriage equality rallies happening across the nation in separate posts filed later.
There's more HERE and after the jump.

More later.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

New DNC Video is Old Thinking

What year is this, anyway? And was this video really produced by Democrats?  In 2010, the LGBT community deserves better.

This is an insult to us all. Kaine's delivery is almost as repulsive as that of LA Gov. Bobby Jindal's to Obama's SOTU speech. We are not children to be talked down to and won't take this kind of tripe anymore.

Watch this (try not to toss your cookies) and listen for the many topics asked in those 5,000 questions not addressed in this video release. It boggles the mind.

From Washington Blade online:
The DNC and the White House ought to be ashamed of this pathetic "effort" to answer a few thousand questions in a 3.3 minute video with no mention of some important issues and concerns.

Sorry Mr. Kaine you have to do better than this, and until you do, the GayTM remains closed here.

The story is HERE.

And so it goes.

Update from John Aravosis at AMERICAblog Gay:
Yes, the DNC did a video about us. All about us. And if it were 1985, we'd be on our knees thanking them for acknowledging our pathetic existence. But since it's 2010, it's not enough for the Democrats to keep doing these very public but very lacking in substance efforts to buy off our money and our votes.

I've made the comparison to high school before. And how when we were all insecure children, we practically waited on pins and needles for that one moment in the hallway when one of the popular kids might look our way and smile, or maybe even said "hi."

But we're not pathetic kids anymore. And doing a video about us, showing up at some organization's dinner, or throwing us a cocktail party in the White House isn't going to cut it anymore. We no longer feel the overwhelming need to be accepted into the cool kids club. We are the cool kids now. Our community has the money, the votes, the power. We are a key constituency of the Democratic party, and you'd better damn well be wooing us, because you need us. And we've finally come to realize that point. YOU need US.
Read it all HERE.

Furniture: Assembly Required, My A**

I am not the best do-it-yourself'er, and my thumbs don't work properly, (Arthritis) but one has to do what one has to do. Almost nothing for the home comes completely assembled anymore and I have had the worst luck with putting all the bits and pieces together following instructions translated from Chinese, or maybe Pig Latin, not sure.

Anyway, the only thing that's come with all parts (and none damaged) is an office chair from Staples that actually contained extra hardware. Everything else has been missing hardware, or contained parts damaged in production. Or, didn't belong in the package. Am I lucky, or what? Huh?

Most recently I purchased 2 storage shelving pieces for the bathroom. After struggling with the smaller one it turns out that the package was missing 2 screws and a stabilizing bar.  Shot off an email to the company, who begs you (in the instruction packet) not to return the product because they will take care of any missing or damaged parts. Maybe that should be printed on the outside of the box, (probably why is isn't) because when I read that bells went off in my head. They don't want to deal with returned, damaged merchandise, either.  No fools they.  Whatever. The bits for that one are on their way - will arrive in 5 to 7 working days. The half-assembled shelf sits in the corner of the bedroom like the carcass of a large bird.

OK, then yesterday, I set about removing the parts for the larger standing rack and shelf thingy, checking their quantity against the parts list in the instructions.  Great!  All present and accounted for. So begins the assembly process - word by word, picture by picture.  All was going well until assembly on the top half where I realize that one tube would not accept the other tapered one. Then, same problem on the other side. Both top back tubes are defective due to screw holes drilled improperly leaving behind the chunks of metal semi-attached to the inside of the tubes, blocking any effort to match hole to hole.  (I hope I'm explaining this correctly.)

Another email goes to the company (same company) and the response received last evening says that they are sorry for any inconvenience and will happily replace the defective parts - In 7 to 10 working days!!!

Zenith is the company and their products are available in better stores everywhere and are well reviewed by previous customers. Initially found at JC Penney's site, but shipping charges were way too high. I found these locally at the same price, without having to pay for shipping. Well, it could have been worse.

So anyway, there is a huge hulking carcass lying on the otherwise empty living room floor where it will remain for 2 or 3 weeks. I guess there is a good reason I don't have any furniture in there. I'm grateful there are no pictures of this little episode in my life.

My hands hurt and there is no finished project to show for the effort or additional pain. Well, I'm just going to forget about all this and get ready for work.  Looks like it may rain today, and we can use it. So, I may just be 'singin' in the rain' to or from work.  Sounds like fun to me. Yes, I am easily entertained.

More later.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Pride in Belfast, Northern Ireland

What a pleasant and refreshing surprise.  This area known more for religious and political warfare has embraced the LGBT community - especially the young ones.  This fills my heart with joy.

Respect, equality and diversity were the themes of the day as 15,000 people took to the streets of Belfast to celebrate the annual Gay Pride parade at the weekend.
Saturday's colourful ‘Outer Space’-themed parade, the culmination of a week of events to mark Pride's 20th anniversary, saw the city centre bursting with colour, noise and floats.
>>Video: Gay Pride 2010<<
Police maintained a presence at North Street and City Hall near two small groups of religious protesters who were met with boos by some parade-goers.
Founder member of Belfast Pride, PA MagLochlainn, said one of the main aims of the parade was to help “excluded youngsters”.
“We are bigger, happier and more inclusive than ever. People are here to have fun with more straight people, families and kids joining us than before,” he said.
“There are problems in the world such as poverty and slavery that are far more pressing than who someone sleeps with who,” he added.
Presbyterian minister Reverend Chris Hudson, of All Souls Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church in south Belfast, was named Belfast Pride ‘Hero of the Year' for his support of the gay community. 
There is the video at the link above, photos and more are HERE.

And so it goes.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

BP Dispersant Found in Blue Crab Larvae

 Just when BP PR is pointing to the surface oil dissipation as "great news" - today comes this. Disturbing as this sounds, it is only the beginning. 
A report today from New Orleans reveals that the "orange blobs found lodged in the bodies of tiny blue crab larvae collected from marshes that stretch from Texas to Florida" appear to contain Corexit, according to preliminary results from researchers at Tulane University.

The report says BP's dispersant "may do more harm than the oil itself."

University of New Orleans' Martin O'Connell, Ph.D said, "No one really knows" if Corexit will bio-accumulate. "If you're a small fish and you eat 1,000 of these small crab larvae and all of them have oil or Corexit droplets in them they could get into the fish — that little fish could be eaten and so on and so on."
The complete report (with video)  is HERE.

And so it goes.

Cinema's Pivotal Gay Sex Scenes

While I may not care for all of these films, I believe the writer makes more than a few good points. I would have added a few other films to the mix, but this is enough to wake up straight (and some gay) people, even if it's a bit of a smack upside the head. "My Beautiful Laundrette" is an all-time fave of mine.

The whole slide show is at Salon.

Welcome to steamy August, y'all.

More later.
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