From Poor Clio (a newish & very well done weblog) comes the CornCam from Iowa Farmer Today. Watch the corn grow! Thanks to this, I can re-live my tenth grade geography class. It was tought by Mr. “Action” Jackson (retired as of last week) — a tall redhead with a low monotone voice. He spoke in cliches, and his catch phrases were very predictable. So predictable, in fact, that to keep me and my friend Ryan awake, I created an “Action Jackson Baseball” game. <Warning: Nerd alert!!!> I spent several weeks analyzing his catch phrases, coming up with the statistical probability that each would be uttered. I then matched them up with plays from baseball that had close statistical matches (Say, batters hit a single 7.3% of the time; Mr. Jackson said “You betcha” 7.1% of the time. Therefor, “You betcha” equaled a single.) based on numbers from a sports almanac. Once done, Ryan and I, sitting in different rows, could play baseball games against each other by carefully listening and documenting the utterance of the catch phrases. Oh, what fun! Well, it was something to do, anyway. It’s strange, now that I think about it, that I then taught Junior High geography for a while. But, I digressed somehow. The CornCam. I distinctly remember (though my mind may be exaggerating a bit) a slide show that Action Jackson gave us titled “My Vacation to Iowa”. I think it was a multi-day presentation. It went something like this: “<click> Here you see another typical Iowa corn field. You’ll notice my lovely wife standing next to the boulder. That boulder was transported here by glaciers thousands of years ago. <click> Here you see a typical Iowa corn field. If you’ll look closely at the dirt I’m holding in my hand, you’ll see that it’s very black. Iowa dirt is very fertile. <click> This is an Iowa corn field. The large boulder there at the side of the road was transported here by … ” Ahhh… high school! Oh — Mr. Jackson: If by some wonder of the modern age you are actually reading this… it’s been thirteen years now since I had that class. I’m sure my memory is playing tricks on me. I’m sure you were a great teacher.
Lee Iacocca is peddling an electric bicycle that I’d love to own. (Sorry. The wording was hard to resist.) I saw some at my Saturn dealer last time I was in. I’m going back Friday for a service visit. Of course, I have no money for an e-bike… but maybe they’ll let me have one for free to ride around Athens on and drum up business for them. Yeah! I’ll ask them.
“That dirty little coward that shot Mister Howard has laid poor Jesse in his grave.” Or, maybe not. The body of J. Frank Dalton, who died in 1951 claiming to be Jesse James, is being exhumed for testing to see if it really was. Did he fake his death in 1882 and live to be 104? We’ll know in three months or so. One of the James’ Gang’s hideouts was Meramac Caverns, just a few miles down the interstate from my Missouri hometown. If you take the tour, they’ll show you “Loot Rock,” where they divvied up the gold. You know, the caverns has advertising painted on every other barn from Utah to Ohio, but I can’t find a single official website. Hrmph.
I spent the last two nights sitting in the director’s chair auditioning strangers. How strange it was, too. I’ve been to so many auditions now that getting up there and doing cold readings or prepared bits doesn’t even phase me anymore. Recite Mary Had a Little Lamb while pretending I’m a blizzard? No problem. It’s just not stressful or nerve-wracking like it used to be. But this, watching all these people go by, was something new. “Read this,” I’d say, and they’d read it. “Try that,” I’d say, and it was tried. I’ve never had to do this before. This’ll be the fourth play I’ve directed (not counting the years of radio drama), but I was able to hand cast the others. “I’m doing this play. You’d be great for one of the parts. What do you say?” And it was cast. Here, I was bound to have open auditions. Published in the papers and the whole bit. I didn’t know hardly anyone there. And I was nervous. Me! Here I was, giving people two minutes to show me if I could work with them for the next two months or not. Some of them needed more time to show me, so I called them back for more. “Thank you. Next!” A parade of hopefulls, showing me their best. Now it’s cast. The mold is set. Wonderful people were turned away out of necessity. We’ve all got a week and a half now to collect our thoughts, catch our breath, and then it’s seven weeks of rehearsals. Whew!
While flipping channels the other day (going from the Food Network to The Simpsons, no doubt), I ran across Donutman, Duncan, & the Donut Repair Club. Apparently, life without Jesus is like a doughtnut. Which means life with Jesus is like an apple fritter. Sweet, sweet apple fritter…
“She ruled with an iron fist and she was a cruel leader, to put it bluntly. She even kicked out her own mother.” And now she’s dead, killed by those she ruled: Mutiny in the Druid Peak Pack.
A three minute Real Video preview of the live action The Tick pilot episode is now online, courtesy of The Four Color Review. It’s looking good!
France Telecom is the new Orange. Sorry… bad graphic design joke.
Banana sex appeal rejected — The BBC knows how to write a headline, eh? It’s too bad the story is so depressing.
WARNING!!! This entry is all about food. If you don’t like food, you may want to check back later for something non-food related.
Anyone leave? Didn’t think so. I just finished a homemade brunch I’d been anticipating all week. Yes, I’m odd that way. My mind’s on good food, so here’s some links.
The National Food Safety Database is a wonderful resourse, and an example of tax dollars very well spent. So much stuff to dig through, and not just botchulism warnings. Of special interest to me this morning is the So Easy to Preserve Canning Guide (Jellied Section) (direct from the University of Georgia here in Athens). Homemade jelly and jams are so very easy to make and better tasting than most anything you can find at the store. You don’t even need fresh fruit — frozen works very well. If you’re planning a special brunch (even if it’s a brunch for one, as mine was today), make some jam. You won’t be disappointed.
When I left for college, my parents gave me their copy of The Fanny Farmer Cookbook. It is one of the best material things they have ever given me. I’ve used it so much that the covers fell off a few days ago. It’s the 1965 eleventh edition. Fanny Farmer published the original in 1896, and the last edition completely written by Farmer was published in 1918. Where am I going with all of this? That 1918 edition is entirely on-line, thanks to Bartleby. There’s some great cookbooks out there (and I own a few), but you’ll be hard pressed to find any better than Mrs. Farmer’s.
Next time you make homemade hashbrowns, grate a turnip and beet in there with the potatoes. Of course, they’re better if they’re straight out of your garden, but the produce section of the market can set you up, too. The mix I prefer: five smallish potatoes, two medium turnips, and one medium beet. This year, I’m growing “bullseye” beets (instead of red throughout, there’s rings of red and white). It’s amazing what this adds to the hashbrowns.
Finally, a non-brunch related item. This comes from the Food Network. Emeril, to be specific. He made a dish with collards and mustard greens that looked mighty tastey, and I’ve got plenty of greens in the garden, so I’m going to make it. Maybe for dinner. Here’s the recipe: Smothered Greens with Ham Hock Gravy. While I’m on the subject of the Food Network, is Good Eats a great show, or what?
I bent the mouse trap triggers ever so slightly last night, and woke up this morning with two fewer mice in the house. Sigh. I warned them. They can’t say any different. They are the brown field mouse variety. Perhaps they were chased in by the black snake longer than I am that lives in the old well outside my back door. Wherever they come from, they have to understand that they need to find another place to live. There’s a perfectly useful old barn just across the road that will serve them well.
From today’s Chronicle of Higher Education: The Lessons of a Lost Career — How one unsung professor played by the rules, worked hard at the same university for 27 years, and died worrying that he couldn’t pay his bills.
Over the years, I’ve been amazed (and, sometimes, disgusted) by the junk that gets sold as candy. When I was little, candy cigarettes, complete with powdered suger smoke, was pretty facinating. Now, the selection boggles. I’m sure you’ve seen the bins of stuff at the checkout lines — gummy rats, bubblegum cellphones, etc. Thanks to the fine folks at stupid.com, you can get all the stupid candy you want online. The selection ranges from inspired (a labelmaker that prints messages on bubblegum strips), to useful (a swiss-army style kit with lollipop), to tasteless (Chocka Ca-Ca: Chocolate fudge in a diaper). If candy’s not your thing, you might enjoy browsing the stupid gift department.
The last World War Two Japanese soldier surrendered in the Philippines in 1980, ending a stream of holdouts. This is their story.
“When we say, ‘It’s the Cheese!’, we’re telling a story 200 years in the making. Californians know that only one cheese — Real California Cheese — can claim “It’s The Cheese.” You gotta have a slogan, I guess, but “It’s the Cheese!”??? I don’t know…
Tony Robinson’s cunning plan — Baldrick’s on the Labour Party’s National Executive Council. He’s also hosted a BBC archaeology series? I wish I’d seen that. With this election, Tony’s apparantly “chuffed to pieces”. Now where’d I leave my guide to British slang?
ABC News has a good story on NASA’s plans to crash the scientifically valuable Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory back into the earth next week. Should one of the telescope’s two remaining gyroscopes fail, it would crash uncontrollably, and it’s so large it would not completely burn on re-entry. Rather than risk life on the ground, NASA will crash it while they still have control. The story also talks about space junk and the new telescope in New Mexico that can track objects as small as buckshot(!) from the ground. While an astrophysics student in New Mexico, I got to tour the NORAD telescopes in the northern end of the White Sands Missile Range used to catalogue and track space debris. Both MIR and a shuttle were up at the time, and we could see both as if we were looking at a jet liner with nice binoculars. The astonishing part of the evening, though, was when we saw a cylindrical object tumbling end over end as it passed overhead, and were told it was a mere three feet long and an inch or so wide. (ObSimpsonsQuote: “Three cheers for this inanimate carbon rod!”) It’s a pity that we have to use telescopes so good to keep track of our junk.
My house mouse (or a relative) didn’t heed my warnings and ate some of a small piece of leftover poundcake. I set traps the last two nights, but the mouse ate the peanut butter without setting the traps off each night. Tonight, I’ll try to set them ever more gingerly. I tried looking up “How do I set mouse traps so they go off every time” on the various search engines, but couldn’t find anything of use, other than the knowledge that you can do plenty with mousetraps besides catch mice.
Call Your Grandma! I haven’t figured out yet if this site is liberal propaganda or conservative propaganda, but either way, if you give them your mailing address, they’ll send you a free 10 minute phone card so you can call your grandma (or whoever you want, I suppose) and tell her what’s at stake with prescription drugs and medicare. Or ask for cookies. Mmmmm…. sweet, sweet cookies…