Saturday, July 30, 2011

Maker's Mark

Finally cracked open that bottle of Maker's Mark.
Nose: buttered corn with a hint of candy; yellow cake.
Heavy up front, in the mouth it's like a butterscotch candy, sticking to the taste buds, with a peppery finish. A hint of oak wood and not much else in the back but burn.
Similar in character to Rebel Yell, but smoother and more refined.

Maker's Mark tips the scale at 90 proof. Not as high as some but stronger than most offerings.
Trader Joe's price: about $24. For less than half that, you can get Rebel Yell for $10. Sure, Rebel Yell isn't as smooth or impressively marketed, but it's still got the coolest name around.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Just An Idea

Detroit is offering cash incentives to workers who agree to buy or rent a home there.
Hey, I heard how they got some real issues in that town with all the vacant buildings, crime, a shrinking population...

I seen an aerial photo of a 'typical' Detroit neighborhood, and it looked to me like fully 1/3 or more of the city was vacant: abandoned homes and empty lots. My suggestion is to allow the neighbor of any vacant lot to assume control and ownership of said lot with the understanding that the property be kept up (no trash piles, over grown weeds, junk cars) while also not acquiring any increase in property tax liability.

Now, with all these homes that possess larger yards, the vacancy issue goes away while the values of the homes increase (somewhat). Keep the crime rate in check and you'll eventually find people who want to live in these restructured neighborhoods.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Caveman Cuisine

The Paleolithic Diet, often referred to as the Caveman Diet, is a nutritional plan based upon the presumed hunter-gatherer diet of our paleolithic ancestors. The regimen consists of meats and fish, vegetables and fruits with a decided lack of processed/refined sugars and fats, grains, spuds, alcohol and dairy.

The concept here is that man (or human person, if Your Name Is Amanda) is more genetically suited to eat the way he evolved, or something like that...

Much of it makes sense to me, but upon further reading of various articles it appears that too many can not agree in it's application. I don't like complicating the simple, yet I haven't seen mammoths walking around in numbers sufficient to support even a token human population anywhere. Add to that, if everybody alive today hunted, there wouldn't be anything left to eat next year, and we'd be back to farming again, killing ourselves until the next nutrition fad came along to save us.

Short opinion shorter: yeah, whatever...

But I would grant more credibility if so many of the studies were not based upon the energy levels of athletes and marathon runners cause there is no evidence that human Paleolithics engaged in systematic weightlifting or jogged 20 miles just for the fun of it.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Things I Learn From Blogging

Among them: there is a sizable interest in Wild Turkey bourbon among the British google searchers, if Stat Counter results are any indication.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Getting Gouged

Toward the end of last April, I paid another follow visit to my ENT specialist. At this point, I had run out my 90-day follow up period included with the surgical package from last December. My insurance changed January 1, from an 100% coverage HMO to a PPO 80/20 type thing.

This was my first visit under the new insurance coverage.

The doctor did what was expected: as an ENT specializing in laryngocolgy, he used a scope to quickly glance down my throat into my larynx.

All was well, and I went home.
I received the bill two weeks ago:
  • Physician $136.00
  • Surgery $243.00
What surgery? I called billing and informed them that I did not have surgery that day. They looked into the matter and informed me that that was just the code entered for billing, and I was actually being charged for a laryngoscopy (the scope down the throat thing).

Oh, I see... And what is the 'Physician' charge for? To see the physician, she says.
O.K... so, you charge me to see the physician but I get charged again if the physician actually sees me back? I don't think so, ma'am. Try again.

She explains that the laryngoscopy is billed as a separate procedure that I need to pay for. By this time I was getting pissed.
"He's an E.N. fucking T! A laryngocologist. He supposed to look down my throat. That's his physician job."

Then she goes on about how I could make payment arrangements.
I told her that I am refusing to pay for the laryngoscopy. Remove it from my bill, or forward to collections, it matters not. The result would be the same.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cool Deals...

About six or seven years ago, I was helping a distressed friend move out of her townhouse. It was a messed up affair: she was 8 months along, her jackass husband had left for another, her rent was months past due, and she had to leave.

Among the stuff she was tossing were several bottles, most unopened, of some of the finer priced hootch. Seems Jackass had some image conscious tastes: Patron Tequila, Stolichnaya, Hieneken, some cognac I couldn't pronounce, Ballantine's, other stuffs ...and Maker's Mark whisky. She told me to go ahead and take it home. I did, and most of it ('cept for the Stoli and the Hienies, which I kept) ended up with friends and step-sons.

Personally, I'm not much impressed with labels and price tags and was even less so with this collection, which I had disparaged as 'Jungle Juice', in honor of Jackass's ethics and ethnicity.

Recently, I had a slight change of heart at the local liquor store when I saw Maker's Mark on sale for $16.99. It's normally closer to the $25+ and up range, and I'm like "Oh?"...
It was a holiday, as in last Christmas, 'gift pack'. OK, so this hootch has been sitting a while and now they want to move it. Cool, I'm in.

The gift pack consisted of a bottle of juice, some extra packaging and a goofey bauble to go with, which turns out to be a not so goofey bauble after all.

You see, it says right there, on the overstated packaging, that this bauble is actually a hand-dipped (Maker's Mark employs a marketing fetish that involves wax dipping of it's hootch bottles) Christmas Tree ornament, special edition... the design of which was personally chosen by a named distillary supervisor.
Imagine that...

Knowing that I might have an actual collector's item of some value, I did a search of Ebay. I found none listed.

I'm guessing everybody else is holding on to theirs, waiting for the price to go up.

Monday, July 18, 2011

"No, I'm not moving."

He honestly believes that he owns this chair.

Saturday, July 16, 2011


The Famous Grouse: a tickle of alcohol in the nose that gives way to slight honey; spicy burn up front, almost peppery with a smooth dry finish. I get the thought that something is missing or incomplete. Similar in character to a more complete Grant's, but not as sweet.
About $20 at Trader Joe's for 1L bottle. My advice: go with Grant's at the more agreeable $12 price.

Safe to say this is my first and last bottle of The Famous Grouse. It's a decent sip, but when Grant's can be had instead, why bother? That, and I think I'm becoming more of a bourbon drinker than scotch sipper.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Taking Sides

Baseball great Roger Clemens has found himself in a bit of a pickle with the feds. Last year or so, he proclaimed his steadfast innocence before a congressional bullshit committee investigating something we that all know is a primary constitutional concern for the federal government: steroid use in Major League Baseball.

Seems there are a few snitches who've been ratting Roger out as a steroid user. Like who the fuck cares? All of major League Baseball was shooting up for years, the League knew it, the fans loved it, and the money was being made hand over fist by all involved.
It's called entertainment. What's the big deal?

Now, Roger faces trial for 'Lying to Congress'. You kidding me? Why is lying to Congress a crime when Congress is itself a pack of liars? Lying to Congress is like cheating on a whore. It should not be a crime.

Fight The Man, Roger!
I'm on your side.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

If you ask me, 'Life In Prison Without Parole' is way too lenient for what this bitch did.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Coming Soon To A Blogger Near You...

Arytenoid Adduction:
"Sometimes the gap between the vocal folds is too great to be closed with an implant alone. Additionally, a very large gap can significantly impair the swallowing, with liquids frequently going down the "wrong pipe." In these cases, it may be preferable to move the cartilage of the vocal cord as well as placing an implant. This procedure is called an arytenoid adduction, and is done in conjunction with medialization laryngoplasty.

In contrast to just placing an implant (medialization laryngoplasty), repositioning the cartilage (arytenoid adduction) is much more involved because this cartilage is on the back side of the voicebox. The goal of the procedure is to move the vocal cord cartilage into the middle, closing the gap between the vocal cords which contribute to to the voice and swallowing problems "


I will effectively be out of options if this procedure fails as well. I will also be looking at an early medical retirement (to the Ozarks, baby!)
The retirement part doesn't seem so bad when I stop to think that all of this laboring toward a future has just gotten me treading water anyway. I may be better off claiming my bennies early than waiting longer for them to be cut.

In either event, I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Capital Injustice

One massive change in California's criminal justice may be coming around the corner with recently proposed legislation that would ban the death penalty.Capital punishment in California has become as much a mockery as it's budgetery process.

As we reported last week, California spends about $184 million each year on the death penalty alone. That may not sound like a tremendous amount in a state with budget deficits in the tens of billions, but put it this way: Taxpayers have spent more than $4 billion on capital punishment in California since 1978 when the death penalty was reinstated. Over that time, they have executed 13 people. That means that there was about $308 million spent on each executed prisoner.

It's really quite ridiculous when you stop to think about it.
The System in California has been flawed almost from the time it was reinstated (by demand of the voters, in 1978). Jerry Brown, a full red-shirted liberal and avid Death Penalty opponent, was sitting in the Governor's mansion at the time. He threw several wrenches into the system prior to leaving office with his judicial appointments. Justices who used some pretty unsound reasoning's to commute Death Sentences to LWOP (Life With Out Parole), such as those who were removed from the Supreme Court by the voters in the late 80's.

Since, challenges to executions have been successful on such stupid reckonings as: how safe is the execution drug?; expiration dates and shelf lives of the drug; is the needle properly sterilized?; the execution chamber is too old; is the execution chamber sterile?... the list goes on ...stupid, stupid idiotic shit all for the sake of preserving the lives of people like this (go ahead, read it, then come back. I'll wait for you.)

And then read this one.

And then this one.
There are more, but I think I've made my point.

I am opposed to Capital Punishment as a general principle. That does not mean I must oppose proper justice for certain pieces of human trash that float through our usually civilized society.

The failure of California's criminal justice system in carrying out death penalties is not an accident. It's a carefully choreographed attempt by some of the worst legal and moral minds to subvert a proper system in order to protect the 'sanctity of life' of the very worst of the worst criminals in our midst.

I support the repeal.
As for those who made the repeal necessary: they can rot in hell. Or better yet, become victims themselves for the next serial-killer-rapist-mutilator whose life they think is so fucking sacred.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Laosy Lunch

Minced Beef Salad: Chopped beef and tender tripe, fish sauce, lime, cilantro, chilis and mint leaves. The mint leaves add a cool burn to accompany the hot burn, keeping your taste buds rather busy.
Steamed rice smooths the edges.

Shrimp: pan fried with garlic. I could eat this all day.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Would You?

You already know the story but I wanna take this into another direction...

Your daughter is facing serious felony charges, and a potentially life threatening verdict.

There does exist the possibility of a less unfavorable outcome if the defense is able to claim/allude to Father-Daughter child molestation.

Would you play along to save your daughter?

I would. In a heartbeat.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Going Home?

Earlier in the week, a longtime friend that I'd grown up with (actually, best friend of my sister) had listed Gardena, CA as her hometown on Facebook. In typical fashion, I commented "ha!, not me baby, no way", after which she went on to remind me that "Yes, You did grow up there. I saw it myself."

Thus began a bit of an 'off the wall' exchange concerning 'hometown', how it's defined, and what qualifies. After some thought, I have come to the conclusion that I have yet to come to a conclusion on the matter.

I was 3 years old when my family relocated from Chicago and settled in Gardena. So, yeah, while I am technically from Chicago (Cicero, to be precise) it's not something that I claim on any personal level. I'm not part of the culture there, nor have I shared in the Chicago-dwellers experience... ergo..there is no way I can claim Chicago as a hometown unless I was to be joking about it. Or lying.

Gardena was my city of residence until I was 24. I grew up there. I know it like the back of my hand after having spent my youth and younger adulthood roaming the streets and back alleys. I know all of it's secrets and treasures, where the bodies are buried, what blocks to avoid, and where the good eats can be found.
I knew most of the city council as well as those gang members whose friendship mattered. My mom still lives there, in the same house I grew up in. She is the only reason why I still end up in the old 'hood once a month because if I had my option, I'd just as soon forget as remember that I'd ever lived there.

It's not that I think Gardena was/is a bad place. I'd put it about in the middle when compared to neighboring cities within the concrete jungle of Los Angeles.
I can't deny that much of what I am and what I know was formed while living within it's embrace. At the same time, I don't get those warm feelings of familiarity whenever I 'return home' as some would call it. It's not home. I don't feel that way towards it. For every sweet happy memory of growing up, there is a bitter angry one to temper it.
How can a place like that be Home? It's not home.
It is history.
And nothing more.

That said... if you feel like chiming in, tell me what you think a 'hometown' should be.

Friday, July 1, 2011

California Dreaming

Demonstrating once again that nothing motivates a politician like his own self-interest, California now has a budget, and it's legislators will begin receiving their pay.
That's the short-lived good news. The budget is balanced on paper, but our deficits are like the blister that keeps returning: we can't cure this disease with the lifestyle Sacramento expects to lead.

Besides the usual rosie scenarios of economic growth, this budget contains two items that will likely prove to be the shams they really are:
  • An additional $12 'fee' on all care registrations.
  • An internet sales tax.
Like I explained before, all new taxes (and fees) in the state of California require a 2/3 majority vote. This was bypassed once again, and is facing a court challenge. My guess is that Governor Brown's strategy is to collect the fee while the challenge winds it's way through the courts, expecting it will be repealed, but he'll still be able to keep the ill gotten gains he's collected until that time. There is precedent for just that happening. This also breaks Brown's election promise of no new taxes without a vote of 'the people'. Typical of him, anyway.

The second point, the internet tax, will prove, and already has proven, to be more troubling. Currently, the legality of state imposition of sales taxes on internet sales are working their way to the Supreme Court. It is my understanding that (the plaintiff) is expected to win this fight eventually.

The argument for the States works like this: Since Amazon has affiliates in that state (California for the sake of this post), all sales from California are subject to sales tax with holding by Amazon (or whoever the retailer is). The SCOTUS has already ruled that a physical presence, (i.e. brick and mortar stores) within a state require online retailers to abide by tax law in relation to sales tax. This is where it gets tricky. The State of California is claiming that a website which contains a link to constitutes a physical presence within the state, and is deemed an affiliate.
Within seconds of Governor Brown's signature on the budget, Washington-based Amazon deleted all affiliates in California. This doesn't affect your favorite blog as I do not include an Amazon link on my page, but many monetized blogs do. It's been been reported somewhere that this amounts to several million dollars being taken out of the California economy in the form of Amazon kickbacks alone, but will have near zero affect on Amazon itself.

The good news is that I can still purchase from Amazon and avoid the sales tax. The bad news is that some blogger in Minnesota may receive the meager kickback for my doing so, unless I access Amazon directly. Which I normally do, anyway.

I'm really looking forward to several months from now, when the projections do not hold up, and Brown finds himself with a bigger hole to plug next year while continuing his campaign to convince a majority of Californians to approve still more tax increases while threatening to kill our children and burn our houses down if we don't. When they tried this two years ago, the vote was 2-1 against.

Brown forgets that months before the first 'Tea Party', Californians were already holding large and raucous rallies opposing new taxes. If he thinks he's got a chance this time, he's dreaming.