Friday, August 31, 2012

Homemade Ice Cream and Memories

 Having staggered home last evening after a long and taxing day, there was some raw meat, thawed and ready to cook that needed attention. The fact that I was tired of leftovers was the major impetus for creating something new.

Opening a fave old southern cookbook a piece of paper fell out and floated into my lap. When I read it a chill (no pun intended) ran through me.  It was a recipe I extracted from my grandmother's memories back in the 80s when I was picking her brain for any and all recipes I loved while growing up.  She was not one to write things down, nor was she one who measured everything.  She was never a baker - thank G*d!

This was a recipe for homemade ice cream that required no ice cream freezer/maker and one I remember vividly. I decided to make it and see if it held up and was as smooth as I remembered it. After a quick run to the market around the corner for a pint of heavy cream, I was ready to go.

Thirty minutes later, the mixture was in a container, freezing for a taste test later. The bowls and mixer washed and put away, I prepared my evening meal.

(Note: When I was a child the ice cream freezing process was a tedious chore, requiring lots of ice chunks, and rock salt, then hand-cranking the damned machine for about 45 minutes - see the image above. This was usually my job.)

Then a few hours later before bedtime, I tasted the ice cream and OMG, it was just as I remembered it.  Flashback to when I was a kid, sitting in front of a high speed box fan on a hot summer afternoon (we had no AC back then) savoring the smooth, creamy texture of this remarkable ice cream miracle.  Which it was, at least to me.  I thought of my tiny grandmother, hot and humid New Orleans summer days,  and special treats like this one.

I'll enjoy a dish again tonight and give thanks for little things that fall from obscurity into a lap of memory and love.

And so it goes.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Isaac Takes Aim at New Orleans

This isn't ironic, it's downright fucking scary! Isaac is expected to make landfall on the exact date and time that Katrina's storm surge slammed into Mississippi &  Louisiana and the NOLA levees broke seven-years-ago. And Katrina was not a direct hit.

I just talked with the sister and she's decided to ride it out.  No mandatory evacuation has been issued for New Orleans, or Metairie (where she lives) - only the parishes that are nearest the Gulf - and she's staying put.  She's prepared for just about anything thrown at her and I believe she'll be OK.  She has her land line phone (thank G*d) and emergency cellphone, which will be useless of course, if the towers go down as they did during Katrina.  Most of the other tenants in her complex are hunkering down, as well. Bless them.

FEMA is present again, but this time they seem to have the whole situation well in hand.  Well, at least let's hope that's the case.  The sister seems to think it is.

The only variable is if Isaac slows down and makes landfall at high tide.  That could mean major problems.
Tropical Storm Isaac is intensifying and now expected to make landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday on the northern Gulf Coast as a hurricane, forecasters said on Monday.
The storm--with sustained winds of 65 mph--is moving northwest at 14 mph. According to the National Weather Service, New Orleans is in the projected path of the storm. Wednesday marks the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005.
Hurricane warnings have been issued along the northern Gulf Coast from Morgan City, La., to Destin, Florida. According to the National Hurricane Center, a storm surge between six and 12 feet could threaten the northern Gulf Coast if the storm makes landfall during high tide.
[Slideshow: Tropical Storm Isaac]
Isaac was blamed for as many as seven deaths in Haiti on Saturday and forced the delay of the start of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, where GOP leaders are still mulling how to hold a convention as a hurricane concurrently thrashes the Gulf Coast.
"Even if the storm largely bypasses this region," the New York Times said, "it holds the risk of creating an uncomfortable split-screen image, especially if it continues barreling toward New Orleans."
Wait, wait...Excuse me, we're talking life and death issues with this storm and the NYT is concerned about satellite feeds and split screen images of storm coverage beside those of the Republican Convention.  PR is a bitch! Then, just cancel the whole stupid thing!  Problem solved. You can't make this stuff up!  No, really, you can't.

And so it goes.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

14 Hours of Thunderstorms Dump 7.5 Inches of Rain.

Brutal thunderstorms, high winds, and dangerous lightning hit this small beach town at about 3 pm Saturday, August 25th and didn't let up until 5 am this morning.  I've lived through hurricanes that were not as damaging as this series of non-stop storms.  At 3 am - and wide awake - I sat mesmerized by my bedroom window watching the cloud-to-cloud lightning dance in the western sky.
Turns out the town didn't fair well as can be seen in the photo at right of the Brighten Suites Parking Garage. (click image to embiggen.)
The Cape Gazette:
Heavy rain Aug. 25-26 flooded the Cape Region, including the majority of downtown Rehoboth Beach. Reports show hotel basements, parking garages and elevator shafts flooded, especially those on the south side of Wilmington Avenue.
Mayor Sam Cooper said the water around town receded around 4:30 a.m. He said the flooding damaged a lot of private property, but not city property. Cooper said two places with the most substantial flooding were at Funland and Brighton Suites’ underground parking garage.
Rehoboth Beach Police Chief Keith Banks said 25 to 30 cars stuck in the flooded Brighton Suites lot had to be towed out. He said no injuries were reported as a result of the weather. Banks said the water began receding around 2 a.m. before breaking at 4:30 a.m.
Cooper said he is meeting with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get an idea of the extent of the damage and how they plan to respond. He said much of the flooding on Delaware, Wilmington and Brooklyn avenues was caused by backed up stormwater outfall pipes.
After walking home in a heavy downpour, I received a coastal storm warning and sent a text message to the locosguys detailing the info I had just received.  The storms looked enormous, coming up from the south west, heading north east, and straight for Rehoboth and the Atlantic. The front hit at about 6 pm, and by 7:30 all non-essential electrical appliances were off and unplugged.  I didn't want to chance losing anything to a sudden power surge, or blown transformer. 

The restaurant closed early because water was entering the building from behind the main electrical panel. There was a fear of electrical fire and/or total power outage, so the building was evacuated for the safety of everyone.

The threat of more storms looms large this evening, but none are said to be as dangerous as the ones last night. Oh, and by the way, this weekend last year we were boarded up and facing the approach of hurricane Irene.   Last night's storms did more damage than that hurricane.

And so it goes.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong: R.I.P.

I have vivid memories of these events. I was living in Greenwich, Connecticut at the time.
I recorded hours and hours of relevant information on to reel-to-reel tape via microphone placed in front of the speaker of my TV set.  The set remained tuned to CBS News with coverage anchored by Walter Cronkite.  Sadly, those tapes were lost in the settlement of the previous life.

Watching this video I remember how fearful I was for the safety of the men on this mission, and how thrilled I was with these events happening in my lifetime.

And so it goes.
BTW: I was not quite 23 years old at the time.

Caturday Planning

More later.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Creationism Not Appropriate for Children

From Bill Nye the Science Guy.  This should have heads of creationists and dominionists all over the world exploding right now. What a visual THAT is!
Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. According to Bill Nye, aka "The Science Guy," if grownups want to "deny evolution and live in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them."
Because you and your stupidity will be dying off soon and your kids are the future.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

New Glasses and an Eye Exam

I have new glasses.  No, not just that kind. Wait for it.

I have been eying (sorry!) these Bormioli Rocco Murano Rocks Glasses for almost a year.  Last week their price suddenly dropped and I decided to make the purchase. They are tapered, will be much easier on my arthritic hands, and the hammered exterior texture makes for a secure grip. No need for plastic cups anymore. Yay!

(That's a sample at left.) The package arrived this evening and I am so pleased with them. Sturdy, tapered, simple design, but not too heavy in the hand.

Yesterday (my day off) was a washout. Had an appointment with the eye doctor at 9:15 am, had the usual exam followed by dilation and photo of each eye.  All seems OK, but I learned that the constant tearing and burning I've experienced over the year is partially due to the arthritis and I am now using artificial tears to relieve that problem. I also have a new, stronger prescription and two new pair of eye glasses are on the way.

Unfortunately, dilation knocked me out of any useful activities, since I couldn't see and sunlight was painful - even with the protective sun-shields. So I drove home - very carefully - and laid down until I could see again, about 5 hours later.  All errands, shopping, and chores were put on hold again until next week.

Of course there are a few items "needed" from the market, so I will make a mad dash tomorrow morning at 7 to snag those. The rest will have to wait. 

The Governor and Lt. Governor of Delaware are dining with us at lunch tomorrow morning, so it will be a tight window of opportunity to get out, get back, put things away, and get to work by 9 am.  I can do it. I know the store and can sail through, list in hand, and know exactly where everything is. I ought to be out in about a half hour.  The rest is practiced chaos.

And so it goes.

Alligator House - New Orleans

This affordable home is being built as part of the Post-Katrina rehousing effort in New Orleans. buildingstudio approached  one of its clients in Boulder, CO to see if they'd be willing to contribute toward an affordable home for a Katrina refugee. Not only did the clients generously give their own money, they went into their community and raised additional funds towards the cost of construction. When finished, Neighborhood Housing Services who promotes and markets low-cost properties will offer the house at a vastly reduced rate.
 One of the most inventive and creative ways talented people are helping solve housing problems in post-Katrina NOLA.  I love the design. To read more of the story, click the link.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Delaware Native Explains Why VP Biden Is Not a Racist

This arrived in my inbox this morning, thought it quite telling,  and I wanted to share.
AlterNet / Eugene Holley, Jr. 

Uncle Joe Unchained!

A recent comment by Biden was racial, but it wasn’t racist. And truth be told, it needed to be said.

I know what you’re thinking: There goes gaffe-prone Vice-President Joe Biden again, putting his foot in mouth, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, causing headaches for the Obama administration. His latest offense : speaking in Virginia, the VP spoke to a cadre of Democratic African-American supporters, telling them how a Romney presidency would "unchain" Wall Street and “put y’all back in chains,” setting their hard-earned economic and civil rights back toward the dark decades of segregation. It didn’t take long for the usual traducers to accuse Biden of interjecting race into the campaign.

But here’s the problem – what Biden said was indeed racial, but it wasn’t racist. And truth be told, it needed to be said. A great many black Democrats in this country would agree with what he said, this writer included.

Why was it necessary for Biden to go for the metaphor of bondage? Because, as the great hip-hop trio De La Soul said, “The stakes is high.” I have personally heard some African Americans disenchanted that Obama is not the super-bad, black radical president they thought he would be say that they will sit this election out because Obama is just a politician, and the Democrats are just like the Republicans, so it doesn’t matter who wins. That defeatist mentality is dangerous when you consider how, if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s fiscal policies take effect, Medicaid, Medicare and other "entitlement" programs will be cut and will push the poor, minorities and women who depend on those programs further into the Tea Party-soaked quicksand of debt bondage.
In an age where political correctness is the overdosed order of the day, Vice-President Biden delivered the right kind of castor oil to cleanse the toxicity that obscures truth-telling in the hypersensitive era of the supposed, post-racial Obama presidency. In this kind of atmosphere, politicians are always, in the immortal words of James Brown, “talking loud and saying nothing.” With Biden, it’s more like deeds, not words.

As a native Delawarean and African-American, I always chaffed at the caricature of Biden as forgetful loose cannon, ‘cause I (and we First Staters) get Uncle Joe! He is the living embodiment of the small-wondered complexities and contradictions of the nation’s second smallest state; simultaneously Northern and Southern, urban and rural, equally distanced from New York and Washington, DC; the first state to ratify the Constitution and the last to end slavery. To be a politician in this state (with only three counties), Biden learned how to navigate between the urban New Castle County, where Wilmington, the state’s largest city is based; Kent County, home to the state capitol and the Dover Downs Speedway; and Sussex County, “downstate,” or “slower-lower," to us city-fied Wilmingtonians. The Vice Prez has spoken candidly and bluntly to whites and particularly, to blacks.

I know a host of old-timers who remember Biden when he was a teenaged lifeguard at Prices Run Swimming Pool in Wilmington’s East Side, which was (and still is) black. He was there when Martin Luther King Jr. was killed in 1968. “I was a fascination to everybody at Prices Run,” Biden wrote in his memoir, Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics . “Most of the people I got to know there had literally never really talked to a white person.”

Black Delawareans have known this fact about Biden ever since he began his political career in the late '60s, and against local custom, campaigned in black neighborhoods.
Read the rest at the link above.

And so it goes.

Monday, August 20, 2012

R.I.P Phyllis Diller

One of the best troopers, and a gifted musician. This tribute was put together by the Archive of American Television.  Watch this short clip and then click on over to read and view the rest of the interviews.
Dead at 95, she was gifted with a long life and made millions laugh and cry.

And so it goes.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Pet Shop Boys: "The Way Through The Woods"

This new piece is unlike anything they've done before.  Different on so many levels and hard to put into any particular category.  Turn up the volume, close your eyes, and just listen.

And so it goes.

Lazy Summer Caturday

Just a follow-up to last night's post.

More later.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Meat-heads, Moans, and Meatballs

Sorry, I've been out of commission lately. Working so many hours I haven't the presence of mind to write about experiences in a coherent manner.

I am mystified watching young people at work fall apart before my eyes. August is always the most difficult month of the season to navigate and they are not handling things well. I think it's just too much partying after work with friends.  Then, when morning comes and it's time to go to work they bitch and moan about being too tired.

Too hung-over is more likely the case. Hey, if I can work 8 to 10 hours daily, they can too.  I have (and show) no sympathy for them.

Met repairmen at the restaurant at 7:30 this morning and I just arrived home at 5 tonight. I am tired, but plan to make homemade meatballs - just because I think I need the therapy.  If that makes any sense.

While prep is quick they take about 3 hours to cook, so they will not be for supper tonight. No idea what I will have, but there's always something in the refrigerator, and I'll have plenty of time after making the balls and having a cocktail to figure it out.

Two weeks - three days til Labor Day and the formal end of the season. And yes, I am counting.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"One Term More" - Broadway Calls the GOP BS

This is magnificent and not connected to any campaign or party. If you know Les Miz you'll recognize the music.  The important thing here is the lyrics.  They are creative, insightful, and mostly on the money.  The vocal talent is, well, Broadway quality.  Enjoy.
And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Australian Billionaire To Build Titanic II

Maybe it's me, but this smells of politics and sensationalism of the worst kind. Especially with all the interest in the 100th anniversary of the sinking this year, the new museum and the Titanic Quarter in Belfast.

And Titanic II is to be built by the Chinese, no less. The jokes start there. From BBC News:
Clive Palmer, one of Australia's richest men, has commissioned a Chinese state-owned company to build a 21st Century version of the Titanic.

The mining billionaire told Australian media that construction would start at the end of next year. It would be ready to set sail in 2016.

The plan, he added, was for the vessel to be as similar as possible to the original Titanic in design and specifications, but with modern technology.

Mr Palmer told Australian media that he had signed a memorandum of understanding with CSC Jinling Shipyard to construct the ship.

"It will be every bit as luxurious as the original Titanic but of course it will have state-of-the-art 21st Century technology and the latest navigation and safety systems," he said in a statement.

Titanic, the largest luxury ship in its time, struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. It went down on 15 April 1912, leaving more than 1,500 people dead.

"Of course it will sink if you put a hole in it,'' Mr Palmer said in response to questions from reporters on whether the Titanic replica would sink.

The new vessel is scheduled to sail from London to New York in late 2016, if all goes as planned.

"It is going to be designed so it won't sink,'' he added. ''But, of course, if you are superstitious like you are, you never know what could happen.''

The cost of the construction is not known, a spokesman for Mr Palmer told Australian media.

The mining magnate from Queensland, who has strong business relations with China, has expanded into tourism. He owns a luxury resort on the Sunshine Coast and has plans to build a fleet of luxury liners.
Nightmares are made of stories like this, indeed.

And so it goes.

Rita Hayworth & The Bee Gees

No, I'm not making this up.  Rita & the Bee Gees doing "Stayin' Alive".  This is a very well done, well synced video. A compilation of Rita's dance routines from a number of films.  It's cute, fun and brought back lots of memories.  Enjoy

I needed this tonight.

And so it goes.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Rehoboth Beach Fun & Petty BullS**t!

 For the first time in a week the day dawned without immediate threat of thunderstorms and high winds.  As I walked to work I found it easier to breathe, telling me that the humidity was down a bit, too.

People were already streaming down the streets toward the beach at 7 AM.  There was a line of  about 30 people outside the bakery, but not Starbucks.  WTF?  That's a switch. It's usually the other way round.

The benches lining the sidewalk on the Avenue were filled with folks munching pastries, drinking coffee, and reading the Sunday papers. The Washington Post is most prominent here, followed by the NY Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Though we served around 300 diners at lunch yesterday, over 500 more were served last evening - and the evidence was everywhere.  No problem.

We opened on time and were set upon almost immediately by groups - large and small - wanting a meal before hitting the beach, or ordering items to-go to enjoy later.

By 1:30 pm, I stopped taking reservations for the evening.  We were totally booked.  I spent the rest of the afternoon being insulted (until I hung up on them) or explaining why a last minute party of 30 would be impossible.  People have no idea what it takes to take care of that many people while handling other reservations and those we call "walk-ins".

Although the restaurant wasn't as busy as in recent days (thanks to the good weather) the incessant, arrogant phone calls began taking a toll. So, I was happy when my evening replacement arrived and I could come home.

I am enjoying an early evening. I plan to run a load of laundry in the morning before going to work.  Tuesday (my day off) is already smothered in lists of things that had to be put off last week due to the dead car battery crisis.

Nonetheless, I am looking forward to time away from work to tackle other things in other places. Need a new Messenger Bag (my canvas one is falling apart) and headphones for the Kindle for music and audio books.  It will be a day well spent.

And so it goes.

Friday, August 10, 2012

'S' for Storms, 'M' for Movies

Thunderstorms began rolling through yesterday afternoon forcing everyone off the beach and into Happy Hours.  All in all, a cheerful bunch with the occasional grump thrown in to keep us on our toes.  (Of course, you KNOW that whenever it rains at the beach, it is automatically OUR fault. Look it up.)

Coastal Highway traffic was a nightmare and crew couldn't get in on time, so we juggled tables and servers as we could to keep up - but it was a stretch. I am changing my name to Juanita; I never want to hear my name whined as often or as loud as it was yesterday.

Walked home in yet another storm, was soaked to the skin when I arrived...but I didn't care.  I was HOME!!!  Slipped out of the wet work drag and into a dry martini as I prepared a light supper.

After that, I decided to stream a movie via Amazon Prime and chose "The Big Uneasy" by Harry Shearer - the true story of the Katrina debacle, coverup by the Army Corps of Engineers, and the ultimate truth destroying the ACoE's stories.  Well done and something everyone ought to spend 90 minutes watching, because the area you live in may be next.

BTW, the 7th Anniversary of the Katrina disaster is coming up on August 29th and I am sure there will be precious little coverage in the press, but much to-do in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

It was still early and I was still revved up from the day, so I found another interesting film (also on Prime - free) called "Forks over Knives" yes another documentary, but this one about how the so-called "diseases of affluence" that afflict us can be controlled; or even reversed; by cutting back, or rejecting most of our animal-based and processed foods. It made some very good points and the folks involved are top-notch in their fields.

While I could never see myself as a true vegan, I like the Asian diet of mostly fresh veggies, rice, sprouts, and a little meat on the side for flavour.

There!  I knocked out an entire evening that would have been boring otherwise, went to bed and slept like a rock.

Today was again filled with thunderstorms and the Crazy.  More on that later, maybe tomorrow. Another storm is upon us, so I'll end this and shutdown everything in case of a power-surge or outage.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

No Waking the Dead

Reusable grocery bags and a fist full of lists (say that fast 3 times!) in hand, I stumbled down the stairs to the car this morning. A turn of the key resulted in a clicking sound but the engine didn't turn over. I realized the worst had happened.  The original battery had finally bought the farm. It was dead. Well, after all, it was 7 years old - in a 2005 model that I purchased in 2007.  During the "dark period."

Since moving into town and walking everywhere, the car is driven once weekly and not far enough to actually keep the battery charge high. Yes, I take it for a longer drive once in a while - at highway speed - but the end was near and inevitable.

First called a friend for a jump, then the mechanic to purchase and install a new battery.  Friend arrived; jump was successful and I now own a pair of jumper cables.  Mechanic found a replacement battery, but their more urgent appointments would set me back a few hours.  What else could I do?  Drove to the repair shop and read for the time it took to replace the battery and send me on my way.

(Did you know that Robert Heinlein was a cat lover? He wrote a few books about them.)  Anyway...

$159.00 and 2 hours later, I was on the road making a half-hearted attempt to scratch items off my lists. The 2 appointments were already history or rescheduled; the Italian deli was not open and the supermarket parking lot was packed.  Too late to get anything done. I will be there tomorrow at 7 am before work and before the visitors awake.  Even the trip back into town was a nightmare.  A half-hour to drive the 2.5 miles from the supermarket to my home.

Summer at the Beach!!!

Back home, I grabbed my large reusable tote bag and headed to the Farmers Market.  Since the sky was overcast and there was a threat of rain, the crowd was smaller than usual, so I picked up fresh New Jersey tomatoes and small, sweet local cucumbers, a sour dough loaf and sausages (1 for me and 2 for a co-worker who loves the stuff) some combinations that were new to me. This was the only real accomplishment of the day, but at least it was something.

I would take myself out to dinner somewhere, but having spent that $159.00 I can't justify the added expense. So, leftovers it is...and it's 5 o'clock somewhere and I smell olives!

And so it goes.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Poor Man's Lasagna - Hamburger Helper

A few years ago I pinched every penny til it screamed, just to get by; the crock pot was my choice for tough, cheap cuts of meat, and extra pocket money was non-existent.

Somewhere during that period I found a product I had never purchased before called, "Hamburger Helper" - it was on sale and there were many varieties to choose from.  I bought one.  Cost was $0.50.  It was the Lasagna Hamburger Helper, to be exact.

In that bleak period I also realized I couldn't afford the ground beef to create the dish and it remained on the cabinet shelf, eventually moving with me to this place. Don't ask.  I have no idea why.

I found it this morning (it expires on September 20, 2012, this stuff could survive the next ice age!) so I thought I ought to prepare it as a reminder of the way things used to be. Knowing that it could be that way again at any time.  Sobering, that.

I have no idea how it will taste, but the fresh garden salad and garlic bread ought to make it edible for one meal.

Ah, memories.

And so it goes.

BP Reports $2.2 Billion Loss

 Pardon me for not shedding tears over this news.

LONDON (AP) — Oil company BP has reported a loss of $1.4 billion pounds for the second quarter on the back of lower prices for oil and gas as well as reduced output.
BP reported Tuesday that its net loss compared to a net profit of $5.7 billion a year earlier. Revenue was down 9 percent at $95 billion. The company also made an additional provision of $847 million for the Gulf of Mexico oil rig disaster and cleanup, taking the total provision to just over $38 billion.
Underlying replacement cost profit for the period was $3.7 billion, down from $5.7 billion a year earlier. The figure excludes non-operating items and accounting effects.
BP said non-operating charges totaled $4.8 billion and mainly related to a lower value assigned to U.S. shale gas assets and some refineries, and the decision to suspend the $1.5 billion offshore Liberty project in Alaska.
"The underlying results were depressed by weaker oil and U.S. gas prices together with reductions in output due to extensive planned maintenance, particularly affecting high-margin production from the Gulf of Mexico," BP said.
It said the average price of Brent oil in the second quarter was $8.75 per barrel lower on average compared to a year earlier, while production was down 7.4 percent.
In addition, BP said it had lower income from its Russian joint venture, TNK-BP.
BP shares were down 2.8 percent at 432 pence in early trading London.
"The company itself recognizes the weakness shown in this quarter and has implied that it will continue into the next," said Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Securities.
"More positively, BP is attempting to position itself for the future, focusing on higher margin fields whilst disposing of what it considers to be non-core assets," Hunter said.
The additional charge of $847 million for the Gulf of Mexico reflected an increase in various costs and litigation, BP said. As of June 30, BP said it had paid nearly $8.8 billion for individual, business and government claims, advances and other payments.
In June, the court-supervised settlement program received 23,950 claims in addition to 1.09 million previously submitted. BP said it expects to begin making final payments in the third quarter.
Nothing else need be said, only...
And so it goes.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Birthday Celebration 2: Shots, Food & Friends

Oh, my!  Birthday celebration Part 2 (the event of the evening) was pulled together by the lovely, talented, chef/cook, Nicole (seen at left) with Pig & Fish as the venue of choice.

A cell phone call at work early this morning from a frantic Nicole set up a day of many surprises.  She had left her expensive iPod in the player in the kitchen, was afraid it might disappear - this being her day off - and asked that I keep it safe for her.  Today was a beach day and she didn't want to be without her music.  I can totally understand.

When she picked it up on the way to the beach, she asked if I had plans for the evening.  Without thinking I said, no.  Her goal was to take me out for drinks celebrating my birthday, since I was ill on the original date. And I couldn't back out gracefully after showing my cards. She determined that we'd meet after my shift at the Pig & Fish for some laughs, munchies and drinks.  Knowing Nicole, I knew it was all about trying to get me drunk. She has tried for 3 years and I still don't know the reasoning.

I arrived at the appointed time and all was well. She ordered munchies, I ordered a glass of wine, and we talked about many things as I slowly came down from an horrific day - weather wise. We sipped our drinks and waited for the food to arrive.  Suddenly, Nicole asks the bartender if he knows about this new shot called, "Chocolate Cake" and he doesn't.  I am momentarily grateful; shots don't normally appeal to me. Shawn, the barman, grabbed his smartphone and hunted up the recipe and said, "oh sure, I can make these.  They sound great, but it will have to be SIX to make it worthwhile." Whatever that meant, I had no idea.

Turned out the recipe made 6, translating to 2 each for Nicole, Shawn, and me!  Oy! What had I gotten myself into? The first round was set up with a plate of lemon wedges and granulated sugar.  We covered the wedges with sugar, saluted with our glasses, then downed the shot followed quickly by the lemon/sugar.  And damned if it didn't taste like chocolate. cake!

The food arrived as we finished off the second round and I was very mellow by then. The mussels, blue crab dip, and goat cheese with fennel, olives, currents preserves and sopressato were set upon immediately.  While we were chowing down and blissfully unaware, the bar began to fill and suddenly there were 8 people we know (individually) ready to indulge in conversation, and be part of my birthday celebration.  There was brief fun in this interchange as I was given another glass of wine.

After a while, the bartender comes over and asks if I was doing OK. Feeling no pain, I lean over to him and ask how he is feeling.  His smile widens and he whispers, "I will have a great time tonight, thanks to you two. You made a day with an ugly beginning turn into a beautiful evening." The 2 shots and our lighthearted carrying-on must have taken him to a better place.  I am glad.

Walked home feeling tipsy, full, and happy. In no particular order.

And so it goes.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Casablanca Caturday

And lookin' damn good at 70 years old.

"We'll always have Paris."

More later.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Gore Vidal's Unfinished American Revolution

Of all the obits, critiques of, and tributes to Gore Vidal I've read since his passing, this one hit me in the right place;  it jumped out at me.  I always loved his knowledge of history, the place of the elite property party in it, and Richard Nixon. This is the Vidal I remember best - especially his years in exile in Italy, and his enthusiasm for the 2004 Gore For President campaign.  From The Nation:
Gore Vidal loved America in the way the best of the founders did.
Indeed, he seemed at times, to be the last of their number—a fierce defender of the purest, most revolutionary of ideals at a time when the contemporary political class prattled on about constitutional principles they neither understood nor valued. (At the bicentennial, in 1976, Time magazine featured a cover with Vidal in historic garb, an honor that delighted him sufficiently to earn a place for the cover on the wall of his Italian villa.)
Vidal, who has died at age 86, was a great man of letters: an author (Julian, Burr, Lincoln, The City and the Pillar), playwright (“The Best Man”) and National Book Award–winning essayist (United States Essays, 1952–1992) on the literature of his native land and the world. To this he added status as a life-long challenger of the Puritanism that he regarded as the ugliest of American tendencies.
But I knew Gore as a political champion, who ran inspired campaigns for Congress, who demanded that presidents of both parties be held to account for high crimes and misdemeanors, who maintained a faith in democracy so deep and abiding that he called for a new constitutional convention to set right what was done wrong at Philadelphia and to realize the Jeffersonian requirement of revolutionary renewal. He was, as well, a scorching debater on topics political, as William F. Buckley learned to his chagrin in 1968.
Like most of Gore’s friends, I came to know him first on the page.
His epic 1972 essay “Homage to Daniel Shays”—written as voters in “the land of the tin ear” prepared to re-elect Richard Nixon, in confirmation of Gore’s observation that: “At any given moment, public opinion is a chaos of superstition, misinformation, and prejudice”—remains the greatest contemporary statement of American Revolutionary principles.
This was where our relationship began. I loved Gore immediately, for his dangerous wit, for his savage style, for his truth telling. “Policy formation is the province of a bipartisan power elite of corporate rich [Rockefeller, Mellon] and their career hirelings [Nixon, McNamara] who work through an interlocking and overlapping maze of foundations, universities and institutes, discussion groups, associations and commissions,” he observed. “Political parties are only for finding interesting and genial people [usually ambitious middle-class lawyers] to ratify and implement these policies in such a way that the under classes feel themselves to be, somehow, a part of the governmental process. Politics is not exactly the heart of the action but it is nice work—if you can afford to campaign for it.”
In his homage to the organizer of Shays’ Rebellion, Gore imagined a “Property Party”—or, to be more precise, he renewed an old populist critique that employed variations on the term—that was made up of Democrats and Republicans with shared loyalty to their paymasters on Wall Street.
In Richard Nixon, Gore found the crudest face—to that point, at least—of the Property Party.
“To maintain its grip on the nation, the Property Party must keep actual issues out of political debate. So far they have succeeded marvelously well. Faced with unemployment, Nixon will oppose abortion. Inflation? Marijuana is a halfway house to something worse,” he explained, in a soliloquy that, with the change of a few names and locations, remains fresh forty years after it was written. “The bombing of North Vietnam? Well, pornographers are using the mailing lists of Cub Scouts. Persuading the people to vote against their own best interests has been the awesome genius of the American political elite from the beginning.”
But, as delicious as his prose might have been, and as delicious as the filleting of Tricky Dick might have been, I loved Gore most for his possession of American history—and for his ability to use that history to fight contemporary battles.
“Property is power, as those Massachusetts veterans of the revolution discovered when they joined Captain Daniel Shays in his resistance to the landed gentry’s replacement of a loose confederation of states with a tax-levying central government,” Gore wrote in 1972. “The veterans thought that they had been fighting a war for true independence. They did not want London to be replaced by New York. They did want an abolition of debts and a division of property. Their rebellion was promptly put down. But so shaken was the elite by the experience that their most important (and wealthiest) figure grimly emerged from private life with a letter to Harry Lee. ‘You talk of employing influence,’ wrote George Washington, ‘to appease the present tumults in Massachusetts. I know not where that influence is to be found, or if attainable, that it would be a proper remedy for the disorders. Influence is no government. Let us have one by which our lives, liberties and properties will be secured or let us know the worst at once.’ So was born the Property Party and with it the Constitution of the United States. We have known the ‘best’ for nearly 200 years. What would the ‘worst’ have been like?”
Ah, now there was the question.
Do yourself a favor and go read the rest of this piece. HERE. You won't be sorry, and you'll probably learn something about Vidal you didn't know before.  I did.  Follow the embedded links and you'll find out what I mean.

RIP, yet again!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Flash! It Rained at the Beach Today

Can anyone tell me why people who have been swimming, sunbathing, surfing, body-boarding, or simply wading in the shallows ALWAYS scream like children and run like hell, attempting to protect themselves from a sudden downpour?  I am just asking.

No lightening or thunder, not even a strong wind - just a plain old mid-summer rainstorm. One would think that it was acid, not water falling from the sky.

I don't remember seeing this bizarre behavior when I was a kid, or even an adult when I was able to spend hours at the beach.

I mean, they're already in  swimsuits - and wet - so what's the panic all about? I suppose it's a good thing that they didn't stop and look up with their mouths open...could have drowned.

I am more and more amazed by the stoopid.

And so it goes.

R.I.P Gore Vidal

So much to say, but all inadequate at the moment. He was all the things written about him and enjoyed every one.  Especially those that were hateful, vulgar and patently wrong.  He will be missed.

And so it goes.

The Beauty of Magnolias

And the fragrance.  There is nothing like it. So far, this is the lone blossom on a large tree on my block and fortunately for me, almost at eye-level.  This is the best of the over-the-head shots. Had to share. (Click to embiggen.) More blooms are on the way to the delight of everyone on the block, especially me.

More later.
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