Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Reasons You Don't Want Swine Flu

  • Your bones and muscles ache so much you convince yourself that you’re growing a tail.
  • Isaiah said that when you fast (of necessity in this case), your “health shall spring forth speedily.” He obviously didn’t have swine flu, which was against his religion anyway.
  • There comes a time when you believe and then hope you will die. So you watch El Cid, knowing that this epic movie will spur the desire. Unfortunately, Death does not embrace you with his black cloak, which would at least block your view of the TV for several minutes.
  • The Relief Society, discovering that you are home alone, calls and asks if you need anything, and all you can think of is Pepsi, which you know might shake some people’s faith enough to burst new bottles.
  • You long to be fit enough to return to work and watch condescending training videos.
  • Events come along that under normal circumstances would warrant attention, like having your dog die.
  • You pray for a miracle with the same fervor you prayed for BYU to beat Oklahoma. 1 out of 2 isn't bad, so unfortunately, regarding the flu, those parts of D&C 122 that you’ve accidently memorized keep coming to mind.
  • You call your doctor, and all you can do is oink.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Cold Sasparilla

The food at Philmont is great, wonderful, fantastic . . . at least to those who have been eating beef jerky and tropical gorp for ten days and burning 15,000 calories a day out in the back country. To adult leaders who have been sitting in training for quite a few hours however, Philmont food is fine for a few days, but . . . We had chicken-fried chicken one evening. It was good, but they put it on top of a bed of pasta and drowned it with what they smilingly referred to as gravy. I told the server that I didn't want any pasta, and he said, increduleously, "What? No pasta?" I should have said, "Give me pasta but no gravy."
So, it was with some relief that we were invited to go with our District vice-president of something into Cimarron to get a green chili cheeseburger at the world famous . . . I forget its name. But upon ariving at the dinner hour we were greeted by a sign, "CLOSED! GONE FISHING."
So, never fear, we had another option, and that was to drive . . . and drive . . . and drive . . . to a fine dining establishment named "Cold Beer," which is eighteen miles east of Cimarron, a few miles past Ted Turner's buffalo herd. You can look at it on Google Maps to see how it is the only sign of "civilization" for miles.
Not everyone gets to see a herd of buffalo on the way to eat. We also saw a flock (or herd or whatever you call them) of wild turkeys . . . and a bear . . . and lots of deer (Cimarron has deer all over. We had to tell one to get out of the way at the ATM).
So, we arrived at Cold Beer, and we ordered our food. They offer pizza, and green chili cheeseburgers, and a few other specialties. I had to try their Green Chili Philly Cheesesteak, which promised to deliver the best of Philadelphia AND New Mexico. And it did. It was really good, although it was in a hamburger bun, which would be treated with scorn in the city of brotherly love. I recommend it to those of you who find yourself in Cold Beer, NM. I'd also recommend the sasparilla they serve (actually you just grab one out of the cooler) at Cold Beer for those who don't drink beer at any temperature.
I ordered my Green Chili Philly Cheesesteak with Cole Slaw, which, when it arrived in my basket, looked strangely like French fries. But it didn't matter. It could have been served on a bed of pasta with gravy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Irons in the Fire

High in the back country of Philmont, Scouts can brand their shoes, their Nalgene bottles, and if they're feeling really destructive, their nylon caps.
Down at the training center, the adult leaders get to have their belongings branded by girls. These girls, on staff at Philmont, are difficult to watch by one who has branded hundreds of calves.
First, they don't know exactly how to heat up the iron. Second, they hold the iron up in the breeze before branding while saying things like, "Did you see what Kathy did today? . . ." Meanwhile the branding iron is cooling from "not really red hot" to "warmish." Third, they brand the shoe, but it is more of a sunburn than a brand. Then they say, "Do you think it needs a little bit more?"
Then they repeat the process, placing the somewhat cooled iron sort of where the original brand was. It took three attempts before I said, "Looks fine." Although a calf would be ashamed to have such a faint brand.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Driving to Philmont

The drive to Philmont from Angle Fire is spectacular, and exciting--especially at night when you get to dodge deer every quarter mile.
My most unforgetable drive along this road was when I was taking scouts home from a winter camp at Philmont. I was navigating the winding road well, considering I was in a Ford F150 pickup. Scouts were slumbering in the back seat. It was a great time to contemplate the beauties of the world.
Suddenly, one of the scouts awoke. Let's call him Howard. Howard said, "I don't feel very good." It took my brain a few seconds to interpret this, and I screeched to a halt at a small turn-off. About the time I stopped, something happened inside the cab that caused me to take on the expression and (unfortunatley) the language of a resident of Pompeii when Vesuvius let go. (Vesuvius smelled better and covered less area.)
I spent the rest of the trip trying to figure out how I might set my pickup on fire and make it look like an accident.
Today's trip was better.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What do you hear when you step on a grape?

A Little Wine
Few think of Latter-Day Saints as wine critics, unless you think about what “wine critic” really means. I’ve never drunk wine. I’ve eaten it . . . in cheese balls and things. You take a taste and say, “Hey! There’s rotten fruit or something in this,” and then you think ‘Oh . . . wine.’” My mother-in-law is one of this world’s great cooks. But she occasionally adds a bit of wine to things, which to her is “flavor,” but to me is “rotten fruit or something.” This is a minor issue—harmless really. It’s nothing like serving drinks to minors, which is illegal and which she would never do. Although she did it once. She gave the kids a “virgin” drink, first asking us if it was okay. But the unfortunate thing about being over fifty is that it’s often difficult to read labels. After the kids had quaffed their drinks, she suddenly realized she had fed the kids a beverage out of sync with our religion. She felt bad, and I consoled her, saying, “It’s okay. Just give them some coffee to sober them up.”

Beer, its all over the place
I once tasted beer, when I was about thirteen. I was out hunting pheasants in the field, and I came across a tall can of Coors lying there fading in the sun. Some weird thought in the back of my head said, “Why not open the can to see what happens?” So I popped the lid. It basically exploded all over my face, and I can honestly say I don’t like beer. Maybe it’s better to drink than to wear. Maybe it’s better if it’s chilled, not left sitting in a can in the warm sun for several months. No one noticed my smell when I came home, which would have required some explaining. “I was attacked by a wounded can of beer.”

At my wife’s ten-year-anniversary class reunion, our five-year-old son Erik was athirst, and he saw a tableful of glasses filled with apple juice. After downing a few swallows, he became aware that this brand of apple juice tasted pretty bad, so he asked his mother what was wrong with it. It turned out that the actual apple content was quite low.

Wine, as a weapon
Here in Los Alamos there are several people who make their own wine. We do, but we drink it within a few hours of squeezing our grapes. Others let it ferment. There’s a place in town where they bottle the stuff and sell it under the trade name La Bomba with a picture of a nuclear mushroom cloud on the label. This is not the high water mark in wine marketing. If the man were smart (and he probably is, living in Los Alamos) . . . If the man had any sense, he would have gone with a French name . . . Le Conetete'Bombe Atomique Vin du Los Alamos. “La Bomba” will probably not become a New York five star restaurant label, but it has made a name for itself within Washington circles.

Los Alamos had, until recently, a local eccentric named Ed Grothus who, before his death, was well known but not universally admired in the community, for several reasons.

  • He wrote highly inflammatory and increasingly incoherent letters to the editor railing against everything nuclear.
  • He owned the “Black Hole,” an old supermarket filled with excess materials from the Laboratory salvage yard. You want motor starters, capacitors, ancient computer parts, switches, pipe, wire, alarm lights, something you can use as a dog dish? Ed had it—literally floor to ceiling. It is said that the original Star Wars movie was stocked with tech junk from Ed’s Black Hole.
  • He purchased a couple of very expensive, carved stone obelisks (in excess of $100,000 each) from China and then asked the county council for a place where he could put them. The county council, choosing their words carefully, said they had no public place available and Ed would have to figure out where to put them. They’re still within the gravitational field of the Black Hole.
  • But he outdid himself one day when he sent a bottle of La Bomba wine to the White House, claiming it contained plutonium. President Clinton, a fellow democrat with Ed, was so amused and grateful that he sent a contingent of Secret Service representatives to Los Alamos for a brief discussion and photo op with the proprietor of the Black Hole.
  • When you went to the Black Hole, Ed was always quite friendly. He was going deaf, so he would greet people at about one hundred twenty decibels, “Welcome to the Black Hole!”

Alas, Ed is no longer with us. I have no idea what became of the La Bomba wine. It’s probably under heavy guard somewhere.

NM Wine
I have a friend at work who makes his own wine, and he claims it’s very good, especially his green chili wine (Vin vert eau de feu) and his red chili wine (Vin rouge brulez vôtre bouche). I don’t want any, but it sounds very interesting. One sniff of the cork, and you clear your sinuses. It might really liven up a cheese ball. I foresee the day when the waiter will approach the table and say, “Fajitas? Excellent choice, Sir. And what wine would you prefer . . . red or green?”

Dazzled by a Star

I’m in Burbank for a technical class, so I thought I’d go down to Hollywood to see what there is to see. I parked for what most places charge for a lobster dinner and then walked up and down Hollywood Blvd. Crowds had gathered near the Chinese Theater for the premier of what is sure to be a classic hit movie Drag Me to Hell or some such title. Bright lights had been set up and red carpet rolled out for the imminent arrival of the famous, blond teen starlet, ?? . . . I have no idea what her name is, but here picture was festooned everywhere. Soon she would arrive in a stretch limo to be dragged or drug (or some such verb) inside.

Most people, given the opportunity to catch a glimpse of a Hollywood starlet would have waited for hours, or perhaps minutes, but I am not most people. I moseyed onward, glancing at the stars beneath my feet. I decided to take a picture with the digital camera that I so often forget is included in my phone’s features. But of which star? Who among all this fame and fortune deserves my attention and devotion? After waiting 54 years for this privilege, which of all these well trodden stars should I capture and cherish in my memory and share with my friends and family?

And there it was.

This should make you green with envy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It is a far, far better thing that I do

I volunteered to bring English food to a church event, so, which of the following delicacies would you prefer to sample?

1. Bubble and Squeak
2. Beans on Toast
3. Steak and Kidney Pie
4. Toad in the Hole
5. Yorkshire Pudding (Just remember: Yorkshire Pudding is to Pudding as Basset Hound is to Turnip)
6. Bangers and Mash
7. Traditional English Breakfast: Pasty, bland sausage (if you cook these sausages too fast you understand why they’re called “bangers”); cold, burnt toast with marmalade; fried egg still swimming in lard; fried tomatoes; room temperature milk; and what the English smilingly refer to as “orange juice”
8. Trifle
9. Curry – from the colonies and which actually contains spices
10. Fish and Chips, wrapped in newspaper (not the Sun) and doused with salt and malt vinegar - with a pickled onion on the side
11. Squash and Biscuits
12. Tea (without the tea)
13. Brussels Sprouts, boiled to perfection

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hi . . . Look at your nose!!!!

For those who, like my young buddy Angela, et.al., have been fortunate enough to read "Three Men in a Boat," here's a web site with pictures along the upper Thames.

In the forward of my copy of the book, there's an account of three men who decided to recreate the epic c. 1880 journey. As they were stowing their gear in their boat, a crusty, ill-dressed, old river man watched their progress, and as they neared completion, he yelled, "Don't forget your tin opener!"
Angela will understand this. The rest of you will have to read the book.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lewis and Clark and I

On Friday I drove from Seattle—where I had been in a training class—to Portland—where I visited with friends. On Saturday, I drove in the rain along the Columbia River, past fishermen anchored mid-stream and up to the Columbia River Gorge to Multnomah Falls.

I stopped in the parking area between the east and west freeway lanes, and I parked my car facing the spectacular falls. What a view. It was raining, but I thought to myself, “What would Louis and Clark do in my situation?” and so I got out of the car and went over to stand in the tourist information gazebo. Drinking in the view, I saw a walkway under the eastbound freeway lane inviting me to a restaurant on the other side, so I braved the elements and went nearer the falls. There, near the restaurant, was a sign informing me that if I were to walk along the trail for 0.2 miles, I could reach the bridge above, where there would no doubt be a stunning view. So, I walked in the rain past beautiful moss-covered trees until I reached the bridge. It was a postcard view. The water fell from above into the pool below causing explosions of mist. The stream rushed below and cascaded down another fall.
A lady came up the trail with four small boys, futily telling them to stay out of the mud. She also stopped to admire the view, but with four small boys in one’s charge, admiring scenery has to be done quickly when standing on a narrow bridge above a raging stream. Small boys are attracted to water, no matter where it is or what it is doing. They left after about ten seconds. I stood and admired the waterfall for another couple of minutes, watching water fall from the top to the bottom. Then, I looked at the trail ahead. The sign below had informed me that if I were to walk from the bridge another 0.8 miles, I would reach the top of the waterfall. So I thought to myself, “What would Louis and Clark do in my situation?” and I figured that they would say, “It’s raining. Let’s head back to the car.” So that’s what I did.

I’ve seen Multnomah Falls. It was spectacular. Now I can check it off my list of things everyone needs to do before they die.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Marching Away From No Sugar

Both of you who read this blog have asked me to relate how it went—my goal of a sugar-free February. Well . . . (I do not mean it went well) . . . well, it was ok except for the incidents already noted. It is difficult, as already related, to eschew sugar when Wendys hands you a free Frosty. It is equally difficult to avoid consuming significant quantities of sugar when you are making chocolate chip cookies. I will here add that it is impossible to not scrape the bowl and consume half the batch when one is making penuche, especially when it turns out well.
There were, however, positive accomplishments. I sat, for example, in an all-day meeting in Washington DC with a bowl of miniature Hershey chocolates sitting in a plastic bowl in front of me, and they disgusted me. Both the chocolates and the bowl looked equally yummy. El Cheapo chocolates have disgusted me for a long time now, ever since I went sugar-free for several months in preparation for hiking up and down mountains at Philmont with the Boy Scouts.
And I was able, during the post-Valentine’s Day days of February, to withstand Easter candy, most notably those rich Cadbury eggs. And its funny, I ate one of those a few days ago in March, and though it was wonderful, it nearly killed me. It reminded me of the time I was in a training class in Phoenix and I bought a six-piece-box of Sees truffles and ate them all in one sitting—and then I couldn’t sit still in my class. My legs wanted to climb Mount Everest and then run the Boston marathon, but I was in class, and I had to sit still.
So, I’m still feeling the positive results of my almost-sort-of-totally-sugar-free February. Cake, the kind of cake they serve at awards banquets with Crisco frosting is disgusting. It always has been, but I hadn’t noticed. Both donuts and doughnuts are revolting. Jelly beans, though plentiful this time of year and quite appealing, can kill you if you eat more than six. And non-diet sodas taste like carbonated maple syrup. So it’s a good thing to cut the sugar. It takes away the craving for the worst of junk food. Tootsie Roll, anyone? Yuck!
But now in March it’s nice to be able to wolf down a few world class cookies and to savor some exquisite candy—as I had done when I stepped over the line a few times during my sugar-free February and then afterward had to look honestly at myself in the mirror and say, “Wow! That was delicious.”

Monday, March 09, 2009

Quit Your Job Now

So - please tell me what bugs you about working at your job - either as a Blog comment or as an e-mail - superbee70@hotmail.com

Reasons why you’re afraid to quit your job and strike out on your own.

1)Because the phrase “strike out” has two meanings.
2)You enjoy living in a house, wearing clothes, and eating food.
3)You love your job.
4)Number three isn’t true, but it sounds good.

Reasons why you ought to quit your job and strike out on your own.

1.Training meetings
I went to a six-hour training meeting. Let’s face it. Sitting through six hours of training is like being a galley slave. But, you might ask, “HOW is sitting through six hours of training comparable to being a galley slave?”
  • You’re required to sit there from beginning to end.
  • You're encouraged to participate.
  • It's tempting to envision other things you'd rather be doing.
  • They tell you when you can go to the bathroom.
  • Someone up in front is talking to you, telling you how to work better.
  • Your brain becomes numb. So do other parts of your body.
  • If someone next to you passes out or dies, it’s understandable. It's even enviable.
  • You begin to fantasize about the person in charge being eaten by a shark.
  • You begin to fantasize about being eaten by a shark yourself. It would not be the most enjoyable way to spend your afternoon, but at least it would be exciting. And your butt would stop hurting—depending, of course, on where the shark takes his first bite.

2.Performance Reviews


Monday, February 09, 2009

Sweet Success II

When one sets out to achieve a monumental goal, like eliminating sugar from one’s diet for a month, one feels the urge to report on one’s progress in the condescending tone of one who overuses the word “one.” So, those of you who are addicted to éclairs, chocolate orange sticks, smooth Swiss chocolates, Milk Duds, etc. let me tell you how you too can be sugar-free.

February 1 began well, and I was the perfect example of sugar-free martyrdom. I had taken brownies out to share with the family in Utah. But most of the family in Utah never saw the brownies because I opened the container in the presence of my pregnant daughter, and she decided that a little chocolate in the bloodstream would be a good thing for all those relying on her bloodstream for flavor and nutrition. Her husband also decided to put some chocolate in his bloodstream. So did my wife. But I was iron-willed and refused to think about the brownies, their sweet scent filling the air and the vision of the little chocolate chips sprinkled with care on top and how the bottom was smooth and gooey. To shift my attention away from the brownies, I decided to drool a lot.

For dinner that evening we ate a wonderful meatloaf, baked potato, and some . . . uhm . . . banana bread—fresh from the oven. Now, I don’t know whether or not the banana bread contained any sugar, and like the wise attorney defending an axe murder, I didn’t ask for specific details. I just made the assumption that the banana bread might well have been made from unusually sweet bananas. So I had a piece to test this theory. I couldn’t tell from tasting one piece so I ate . . . uhm . . . several pieces. I could tell that the bread contained bananas and wheat, both of which are very good for you. But I don’t know for sure why it tasted sweet.

The next morning, Groundhogs Day, I began the day by reading the ingredients of breakfast cereal and then made the much healthier choice of eating several more pieces of the banana bread made from unusually sweet bananas. There is not a finer breakfast unless it’s the French Toast I made the following morning all covered with maple syrup, which is actually a “natural” and therefore healthy product made from the sap of trees.

I continued my fastidiousness for the next few days without incident, except for that incident at Wendys. We were in a hurry to leave town to drive back home, so we drove through the drive-through (a.k.a. drive-thru) and ordered 1 chicken club, 1 chicken something else, and 1 spicy chicken sandwich. My spicy chicken caused a bit of uproar, Utah apparently being a state where no one ever eats spicy chicken. They told me to go park and they would bring it out to me after they cooked it. So I waited. And I waited. And I waited. Eventually I walked over to the drive-thru window and inquired about my spicy chicken sandwich. They had forgotten all about it, so after six spontaneous and animated Spanish conversations subsided for a moment, I told them that a chicken club would be fine.

So, they gave me my chicken club and as a gesture of corporate altruism, they handed me a Frosty as an apology. What was I to do? One doesn’t accept a Frosty and then chuck it into the trash. They might see this shameful act and become bitter toward their customers, changing their policy of handing out free Frostys when they make the occasional el goofo grande. So, I had no choice. I ate the Frosty, but out of devotion to my sugar-free goal, I let my wife have some.

Now I’m back home where I have a better routine to help me achieve my month-without-sugar goal. And it’s going well. Today I ate a peanut butter and honey (I used honey instead of sugar) sandwich for breakfast. Then I took an apple to work. When, later in the evening, my wife offered me cake, I refused the temptation, although once a cake has passed its prime it’s really not a temptation.

Things were going well. It’s nice to achieve your goals. Several more days passed without incident, which was no fun at all.
Then on the 8th, my resolution was tested. It’s nice to have one’s resolution tested because it gives one a sense of one’s resolve. So, I crashed a church pot luck lunch, an event famous for sugary desserts. And there they were. Did I win the battle? Yes!! I’m proud to announce, I abstained. I went mainly for the chili in the crock pot instead and ate a filling meal.
When I got home I decided to make cookies, not only to test my resolve, but because I needed to send some to my son. I mixed up the dough and baked a few dozen cookies, and did I win the battle? Of course not. I’m mortal. I ate a couple of cookies to make sure they were worth sending to my son . . . and a lot of cookie dough to make sure it tasted like cookie dough ought to taste.

You might think that this was a major defeat, but the way I look at it is, I used honey instead of sugar, and honey is a natural substance made by bees, and it contains vitamins. So I’m not considering it sugar.

You (both of you) who read this blog may think that I’ve deviated some from a sugar free diet, but in the famous words of Henry V, “The game’s afoot, and I’d kill right now for a few éclairs.” The key thing is that in the last nine days, I’ve lost five pounds. I’ll bet you disbelieve that dropping sugar from your diet causes significant weight loss. And you are right.

Diet books are published every day, but they’re written to make their authors fat. The best way I’ve found to lose weight is to catch the flu. I don’t have the flu, but I caught a cold, possible the one my daughter had. And a cold is basically the flu without the constant thought (or hope) that you might die. It’s a micro-flu, and it does wonders to cut the appetite for everything except cookie dough.

The next question is, how does one celebrate making it half through a month sugar-free without consuming chocolate?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Global Cooling

Why is it, other than comic relief, that whenever Al Gore arrives on the scene to make another glum speech about global warming, the temperature drops thirty degrees? Al Gore is scheduled before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday morning to once again testify on the 'urgent need' to combat global warming, and the weather calls for “significant snow... sleet... or ice accumulations.”
This has happened so often that his Chicken Little cry is no longer “global warming,” but “climate change.”
And the climate is changing. In fact, it's been changing for the last 60 billion years or so. It always changes. Otherwise, we would know that December 11th is always a bad day to drive through Flagstaff, but every year, December 13 is clear and sunny across northern Arizona.
So the news that the climate is changing is hardly news, but Al Gore continues to make money saying it.

Friday, January 09, 2009

A Sweet Vacation

I’m getting ready to set my annual Groundhog’s Day resolutions, and I think I’ll go off sugar for a month. I did this once before, and it was interesting.
It’s easy to get into the habit of having a candy bar at 10:00 a.m. and a root beer with lunch, then wolfing down a generous share of some gooey dessert that someone brings into work and leaves on the counter. Before you know it you’re up to twenty tablespoons of sugar a day.
Once you go off sugar for a month, it’s fun to then drink a root beer. It’s like drinking a bottle of maple syrup. And Hershey bars are awful.
So, misery loves company. I’m looking for volunteers to have a sugar-free February with me.
Those who survive the month sugar free are entitled to eat whatever they want on March 1.

Allowed: fresh fruit, sugar-free gum, one diet drink a day maximum, one glass of fruit juice a day, water, milk, prime rib
Not allowed: Candy, sodas, desserts

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Seaing the World

After Christmas we went to Sea World in San Diego, home of Shameau . . . Shamoo . . . Shamu . . . trained killer whales. One of the first attractions you encounter there is at an attraction called “Humans Standing in Line for Tickets.” We were standing in a line, and I sensed that the line next to us was moving. It was glacial speed, but there was movement. Then, after many minutes I realized that we were standing in one of two lines going to one ticket booth. And our line had people with infants in strollers, and these adults were paying attention to their infants (infants who couldn’t care less about trained killer whales), so naturally these adults were 1) oblivious to the fact that the other line was the only one moving and 2) blocking our view of the ticket booth situation. We eventually got tickets and went in.
We had a good time. We paid lots of money for Italian food for lunch, but after a week of places like McDonalds, it was worth every penny. I recommend the place.
We saw the killer whales, and I have two questions: 1) How do you stand on a killer whale’s nose without slipping off? 2) Why would you stand on a killer whale’s nose and not jump off . . . immediately? Sea World made me appreciate my own job.