Saturday, October 9, 2010

Too Neat to Not Share

Rest your weary sea legs: Divers explore pristine alpine park that turns into a lake for half the year

I thought this was too cool to not share. A friend of mine sent me this article from the Daily Mail, a Scottish newspaper. I want to learn how to scuba dive so I can go to this park!

"The emerald green waters of this mountain lake offer some of the most unique diving in landlocked Austria. On the bed of the lake underwater explorers will discover fish swimming though the branches of trees, a floor covered in grass, benches, bridges and a landscape that looks like it belongs overground. And that's because for half of the year it is overground."





Friday, October 8, 2010

If I Were President

In all honesty, there’s no way you could ever pay, beg, cajole or force me to be President. I know from my own life I really can’t handle severe stress with any grace. At some point, I’m gonna crack.

But I was reading Ted, White and Blue: The Ted Nugent Manifesto and I got to thinking. I needed something different to cleanse the mental palate from the usual Stephen King, Debbie Macomber and Max Brooks books I’ve been reading lately. Woman cannot survive on zombies alone. I’ve got a stack of fiction books three feet tall in my crafting room and a handful of small business books waiting to be read, but I thought I’d switch to something totally different. Chapter Three is entitled, simply enough, “If I Were President.”

In it, “Uncle Nuge” (as he refers to himself quite a bit throughout the book—which I found endearing in kind of a Stephen King-esqe kind of way), he lists all the things he’d do between being sworn in and having breakfast that first day. “If America operated in the same manner as the Nugent family, the spiritual suicide wreaking havoc upon us would simply not exist. As the head of my household, I instinctively know what to do.”

I have to admit, I scanned most of the second half of the book as opposed to reading it. I didn’t disagree with everything he said, but Uncle Nuge is so SET and DEFINITE in his opinions that even if you agree with everything he has to say, it’s a little too much to read through. It’s a little tiring.

Anyway, Uncle Nuge’s list was  more than 50 items long. The thing is, he could probably make most of that list work, since he’s given it a lot of thought.

But what would be my list? That’s what I started thinking about while reading his.

1. Find out what school minimum requirements are, across the country, in terms of when a student is legally allowed to drop out of school and then abolish them.(It looks like the legal age to drop out of high school is 16 years old.) I would have Congress enact new educational laws across the board on a federal level that require a student attending school (be it public, private or homeschooled) to graduate with a high school diploma by the age of 18. GED’s would become a thing of the past, because if you can get your act together enough to get a GED, then you can get a high school diploma.

I could make sure there would be special amendments for those students who are health, developmentally or mentally challenged. The main one would be no age limit for them.

I don’t know what would be a good enough “punishment” would be for those students, and their parents, that didn’t earn their diploma by age 18 (I’m not going to squabble and bitch about the age of kids starting kindergarten and what if my kid were just slightly over 18 when they graduated…that’s just silliness.) Forced military service wouldn’t be good, because you don’t want to force the members of the military that want to be there, serving our country, with a bunch of twits that couldn’t manage high school. That’s an insult to our service members. Maybe forcing those deadbeat students into something like Job Corps, combined with required classes and tutors they have to pay for, until they graduate, might be a way to go.

We keep hearing how other countries have better, smarter students that rank higher than American students. Let's put a stop to children dropping out of school. In all honesty, a GED will not get them as far as a diploma will. 

2. To go along with my school requirements, I have some curriculum ideas. I would have our students start reading more in middle school, but not just anything. I want them reading banned books and have their literature classes become more like open discussion groups. I think by starting with the sixth grade, it would help them to learn some deeper reasoning skills if they are taught what books were banned and why. Pick a couple for each semester, from different periods throughout history. Make them include both American history and world history. It would broaden their horizons to know there are other countries out there that banned books because of their perceived fears over those books.

I didn’t have the reason to read banned books when I was in school. But when I started learning there were books that had been banned throughout history, my interest was piqued and I sought those books out at the public library to read. So far, I've read Catcher in the Rye, Flowers in the Attic, The Grapes of Wrath, and The Handmaid's Tale.

3. Instead of having school nurses only on campus occasionally, make each school have a full-time nurse on staff. The military doesn’t allow it’s service members to just call in sick when they don’t feel good. They have to get up, get dressed and go to Sick On Call to be determined if they are truly sick. Make the parents have to bring their children to the school nurse when they don’t feel good. If they are just faking, it’s off to class with you. It would make it harder to skip by faking sick.

4. And there would be no more having doctors write excuses to get students out of gym classes or swim classes. When I was in high school, I know firsthand there were overweight students that were embarrassed by the way they looked and managed to get doctors’ notes to get them out of those classes. It meant not having to change clothes in front of their peers in the locker room and not being seen in a swim suit. If I were Pres? FORGET IT. Unless you were on oxygen, your butt better get changed and get in the gym. I would make sure that our gym teachers could create a range of classes, suitable for the age ranges of their students, that everyone could take part in. No matter your size, you can exercise. If it’s a running class, then you’re going to start out walking. Halfway through the duration of the class, you’ll be power walking. Even if you didn’t become a runner at the end of the class, you’ll at least be jogging. Everyone can do SOMETHING.

Those parents and doctors weren’t helping those students any, and having asthma is not an excuse (although that’s the one I heard the most often). People live with it everyday. Shoot, I’ve got very mild asthma myself. It was worse in high school and I survived high school gym classes.

5. In something unrelated to education, I would find out what unemployment’s minimum requirements are, across the country, in terms of what the barest number of jobs a recipient of unemployment benefits has to turn in to continue those benefits, and then abolish them. Across the board on a federal level, you will have to provide proof that you are actively looking for work by applying for no less than four jobs a week. I know in Virginia, as someone who was on unemployment for four months, I was only required to show proof of two applications a week. This makes it too easy to remain on unemployment, if that is your goal. All you’d have to do is apply for jobs you are over- or under-qualified for.

I was guaranteed something like 26 weeks of unemployment through the state, provided I did the 2 per week plan. At 26 weeks, I was told I’d have to reapply for the unemployment again. That part can remain in place. If you’ve been canned, whether or not you deserved it, you should get some help until another job comes along. Afterall, you’ve been working and having taxes taken out of your paychecks anyway.

Unfortunately, this is pretty much where my mind shut off. I couldn’t come up with any more ideas on what I’d want to enact as President. I did agree with quite a few of Uncle Nuge’s plans.

1. End diplomatic immunity.
2. Make English the mandatory American language. Uncle Nuge had a really good point later on in the book that tied in with this: if you’re going to allow immigrants to come to your country and you know they need to adapt to our country, then offer classes in English.
3. Instruct the Attorney General to issue federal arrest warrants for any elected official who has created or supported a sanctuary city. Immediately suspend all federal dollars to those cities.
4. Make it legal for armed U.S. law enforcement officers with just cause to enter any nation—especially Mexico and Canada—in pursuit of any wanted criminal.
5. Eliminate any cushiness, comfort or convenience in all jails and prisons. Make prisoners clean up America and plant trees. (My addition to this thought is to continue having prisoners train some service animals. If they can’t be trusted in the outside world, even as a trustee, then they can still work in this capacity from within their prisons.)
6. In every school in America from the fourth grade on, show films on the Nazi concentration camps and the Japanese military atrocities, along with the unedited French documentary of September 11.  (I would include Pearl Harbor and the after effects of dropping the A bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Students need to learn both sides of war, and they need to learn there are good and bad sides to every country involved.)
7. Encourage all states to expeditiously execute all convicted child molesters.

Oh hell, I agreed with enough of what he had to say that if he ran for President, I’d vote for him just after reading this book! We had one president that was an actor and the current Governor of California is an actor. Even Sonny Bono was a member of Congress and a Mayor, Clint Eastwood was a Mayor, Jesse Ventura was a Governor, and Al Franken is a Senator. Maybe politics and entertainment aren’t so different.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Another Christmas Gift Finished


I just finished another Christmas gift tonight. It's another blanket, this time for my mother-in-law. (I'm not too worried about her finding out about it here, since she doesn't have a computer.) She tends to do the same thing we do: always keeping a blanket or two out on the couch so I figured this might be something she'd enjoy.

I crocheted it on an N sized hook. I made four regular granny squares and did a border of HDC's around each of them. Then, I crocheted them together. You can see the "seam" here in this photo. Once they were together, I did a series of rows around them of HDC's and finished it off with a scalloped edge. It's finished size is 62" square.

This is the first project I ever did that I blocked it as I went. It was a real rough version of blocking: kind of a quick and dirty one as I went. "...it’s actually one of the most important steps to successfully completing your garment. In essence, blocking is a method of shaping and molding your crocheted pieces to match the measurements and shapes on the schematics."My version was a dry blocking, where I hung the blanket up, first as 4 individual pieces, then 2 larger ones and then the entire blanket itself, in my laundry room, where I stretched it out the best I could. Even working loosely like that, I could see an actual difference in the before and after sizes, especially within the four granny squares.

I used seven skeins of Lion Brand Holiday Homespun boucle in Mistletoe (#203). It's a dark red and olive green combination with a fine gold thread running through it. The edging is almost one skein of Red Heart Jockey Red (#902).

The Mistletoe is, of course, new. The Jockey Red is new and old at the same time. My parents have been clearing out some of my grandmother's things from her home, as she passed away late this spring. She used to crochet. Mom sent me a bunch of the yarn that was left. This Jockey Red was a part of that stash: 26 years old, never used, with the labels and store tags still on the skeins. This was bought for $1.59 at most likely a Ben Franklin store back home. The price label says "Variety Stores." I think this skein would go for about $2.89 a skein today...not a bad price increase for yarn over 26 years.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Finally Got Some Breaded Pork Tenderloins!

The last time I got home was in February. When I was there, I got the chance to have one of my favorite sandwiches: a breaded pork tenderloin. A grocery store chain, Hy-Vee, carries them in their meat department but I haven't been able to find them locally out here. Schwan's Home Delivery offers them, but I've been frustrated as they were out of stock the last time I tried to order some. So, since February, I've been grousing to myself because I can't find them out here.

Until lo and behold, I was watching one of my favorite shows, Man v. Food on the Travel Channel. I love Adam Richman...he looks like our kind of guy, someone you could hang out with. Mostly, I like his show because you never know when you'll learn about a new restaurant on there. But I'm getting off track here. I don't remember where he was on this particular episode...Ohio, maybe Connecticut, but it was definitely somewhere on the eastern half of the country. He was trying out a restaurant known for their monster sized breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches.

My heart skipped a beat. It wasn't home, but it would do.

Then, my heart just about STOPPED. On this particular episode, the restaurant went INTO DETAIL on how they made these sandwiches! Happy day! I could make them myself now, and that's exactly what I did for supper tonight.

I had my husband pick up the smallest pork tenderloin he could find at BJ's. I sliced it up when I got home from work, into slices about 3/4" thick.

  • 4 tenderloin cutlets
  • Canola oil--enough for frying
  • 1 sleeve of crushed Saltines
  • Black pepper
  • Garlic salt
  • Milk
I put the cutlets, one at a time, into a plastic bag and beat the holy hell out of them with a wooden rolling pin. They went from about 3/4" thick x 3" x 2" to about 1/4" thick x 6" x 5". I'd pound on it in one direction and then flip that bag over, and flatten it out the other way to keep some uniformity about them.

I added the pepper and garlic salt to the crushed Saltines. While I was letting the oil heat up in a skillet on the stove, I put two of the cutlets in to the milk and then in the Saltines. I actually let them sit in the Saltines once both sides were thoroughly covered. I kind of figured they might cook a little better if they weren't still sopping with milk when I put them in the fryer.

On Man v. Food, they actually did the milk and crackers twice, but when I tried that, my crackers started washing off in the milk, so I only coated mine once.

Once the oil was hot enough (my skillet was really only big enough to be able to turn 2 tenderloins at a time), I laid the tenderloins in and fried them. I don't really know how long I let them fry for, maybe 5-7 minutes on each side, but then I was done, they were the most beautiful golden brown! I was amazed with them...normally I'm not so adept at frying.

These turned out so well! And they make the greatest sandwiches! We had ours on regular sesame seed hamburger buns with pickle spears on the side. Thank you, Adam Richman!

Musical Monday

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Another Fun Email

Geeze, I need my life to settle down a little bit! Do you know how long it's been since I've picked up a crochet hook?? :)

I was copied on another fun email about B the other day. This one was a letter of recommendation from a friend named Joe for B. B is trying to get into the fire academy and needs four letters of recommendation. Nicole the Knitter's dad is going to write one, since he knows B, and Joe wrote one as well.

Joe did write a legitimate letter about B but apparently, he was having fun and wrote two letters. :)

To whom it may concern:

Mr. B likes Guinness.
He likes it quite a lot.
He likes it less than violence,
but he likes it more than pot.

Guinness in his mash potatoes
Guinness in his Lucky Charms
It makes him fight like Kato,
And fuels the muscles in his arms.

Guinness is for Mr. B
What water is to trees.
And if you get him angry,
You’ll see just what I mean.

Sincerely
Joe, Madman