Friday, November 27, 2009

Funny T-Shirt Day - Soak It In Cider

I have a goal for the "Soak It In Cider" funny t-shirt of the day. I would like to see it worn by a 24 year old guy that is 6' 1" and 145 pounds. He should need a shower, have a 2 day beard and a drinking problem. He should be wearing the t-shirt as he comes out of the trailer only to be arrested on the show "Cops".

What would help, would it being about 95 degrees, early evening with a fat neighbor lady in a moo-moo coming out of here trailer just to shake her fist and put in her two cents.

The "Soak It In Cider" Tee is a heather gray wife-beater tank top that would be a great trailer-trash gift as it only costs $9.89 cents. SPECS: "heavyweight pre-shrunk cotton tank for men has matching jersey-knit trim on neck and arm-holes and a double-needle stitched bottom hem. Keep cool in the summer or at the gym (or an episode of COPS) with this 100% cotton shirt with a fabric weight of 6.1 oz.

The Soak It In Cider t-shirt is available at

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bluffton Man Wins 2 Million Dollars With Scratch Off Lottery Ticket

Let me start out that I hope that there is a higher power guiding people to make the choices they do. And also may I say that my opinion will probably not be too popular on this matter. It is just I have a few observations that may even be based on the jealousy I have for this man's good fortune.

Mick Brickley of Bluffton Indiana buys a $30 scratch-off lottery ticket and wins 2 million dollars. On the surface we can say this is a great thing, but the article at goes on to state that Mick has been laid off from his job since June of this year. So here is where I start to examine the big picture more closely. For one, I wonder what business a laid off guy has buying a $30 scratch-off ticket. I can only assume that Mick has a family that may have benefited from the $30, as money is probably tight. The second problem I have with this scenario, is I can also assume that Mick is receiving unemployment compensation. This money is intended to keep one and one's family fed and housed. By me contributing to the fund, indirectly I helped pay for Mick's ticket. Strangely enough, this purchase burdens me with a bit of guilt because of the despair I have observing the decline of the economy and (ironically enough) increased unemployment.

Going one step further, my financial contribution to Mick's ticket should give me legal rights to a portion of Mick's winnings, albeit it would only amount to probably 12 cents. Or better yet, Mick should return any unemployment payments he received and have it redistributed to those who REALLY need it. So who is to blame for this? Is it my fault for looking beyond the obvious just for a gratuitous blog post? Is it the Lottery's fault for victimizing the despondent by selling ridiculously high priced scratch-offs? Is it Mick's fault for spending money that could have been put to better use on a lottery ticket?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Health Care Reform Means Health Care Rationing..

I didn't think we would see it this soon, but the news over the last couple weeks seems to be the first steps towards the slippery slope of health care rationing. First was the news from the "U.S. Preventive Services Task Force" claiming women under 50 don't need mammograms. The news on the radio said the new guidelines were "doctor recommended", but according to, "They did not have anybody on their panel who were experts in the diagnosis or treatment of breast cancer. They did not ask for any public input and their literature search was not subject to peer review."

Then a few days later, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend women in the United States should start cervical cancer screening at age 21 and most do not need an annual Pap smear. They also say women younger than 30 should undergo cervical cancer screening once every two years instead of an annual exam. And those age 30 and older can be screened once every three years.

It is my opinion, but most doctors are "for profit", and testing is one of the easiest money-making opportunities. So I don't see these recommendations actually endorsed by practicing doctors. Plus identifying and preventing full-blown cancer should be paramount in any medical game plan. Saving money now only pushes the expense onto a future administration. (a great political ploy) So in my cynical view, I think this is related to the proposed "health care reform bill", and what are today recommendations, tomorrow will be the law. By getting new recommended guidelines on the table before the health care reform bill passes, makes further changes more acceptable to the population.

So in the coming weeks, I see new recommendations for rectal screening and prostate exams. So instead of grabbing our ankles, we should stock up on turmeric and start grabbing our ankles. (kudos to you if that sentence makes sense to you.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Funny T-Shirt Day - Shiite Happens

Shiite Happens T-Shirt The "Shiite Happens" a great tongue-in cheek take on the "shit happens" t-shirt that was so popular in the 80's. You could show your friends that you are brazen yet sensitive to the Muslim cause. The hottest thing on the liberated streets of Baghdad. The Shite Happens tee will at least be a conversation starter at the dinner table.

Form-fitting Unisex Eco-Heather Crew Shirt, 38% cotton (6.25% organic cotton), 50% polyester (6.25% recycled poly), 12% rayon, Brand: Alternative Apparel As a unisex shirt, it is recommended that men order a size up for a more roomy fit and women order a size down if looking for a tighter fit.

You can get your Shiite Happens T-Shirt at You can also open your own T-shirt store for free and design your own shirts HERE.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Another Rant On Going Green..

More cities are encouraging and even mandating that residents who don't compost at home take time to divide their food and yard waste from other trash so it can be recycled elsewhere. San Francisco is implementing a new rule requiring that its citizens separate their household waste items into green "composting" carts or potentially face fines.

It might just be opinion, but I think the landfills NEED some organic materials in the pile. That way the brew can start cooking to create the heat to allow the rest of the inorganic materials to decompose quicker. For example, if you just have a stack of newspapers (in the landfill) the size of a house and don't add any goodies like grass clippings, egg shells, meat scraps and the like, and you dig it up in a thousand years, it will still be a stack of news papers the size of a house. So in the long run, we come out even. And a lot of businesses and factories fuel their plants with the methane created by the mixture.

Also, they want us to separate all our household waste down to it's lowest common denominator, they should lead by example. If it is true we could compost all our household waste right at home and not end up with just a big heap of garbage in the yard, then why don't they just do it on a bigger scale. We should be the largest producers of black dirt on the planet. And if they can't separate it themselves, I have a great solution for that too. You can read more about my idea HERE.

Several years ago, I thought I would go green and build one of those grass clipping yard / kitchen waste composters. I used the pallet method and ended up with 2 compartments 4 feet by 4 feet. The theory is, put your grass clippings and waste in one compartment, and every week or so transfer the mess into the other compartment. At the end of the year, all I had was a stinky mess of grass clipping slime. I even broke down and bough some of those granules (expensive) that are supposed to make grass clippings break down faster. Even next spring it was not good for anything, so I threw the mess in the trash. So much for that. I have a smallish lawn, so I am skeptical on the whole yard waste composting campaign.

I am somewhat green though these days. I use the "Jerry Baker Lawn Tonic" twice a year. It helps the grass clippings break down quicker when you mulch (among other things). I will not try to compost my own grass clippings even if someone gave me one of those funny looking composting balls that you fill with clippings and roll around the yard to stir it. I hope I see someone in my neighborhood with a composting ball rolling around their yard, so I can go down there and laugh my butt off.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Face On Mars..

This controversy has been going on for many years, but I am sure this post will set the record straight once and for all. There are several reasons why we want to believe there is a face on Mars. Outer space is vast, and the immensity of it all can make us feel very small, a mere pinhead in the totality of it all. We want to feel important. We want to feel like a part of the universe, and seeing a face on Mars would give us a connection that would make us feel like an important part of the grand scheme of things. It is human nature to express dominance over it's surroundings, and a face on Mars would be like "Yeah, we conquered mars". Albeit, it was a millenia ago and we don't have the technology now, we see a human face, so it had to be us.

Well I hate to bust the space bubble, but it boils down to imprinting. All animals (including humans) come out of the womb and as soon as they are able, the "imprint" on on their mother's face. When mom is not available, they imprint on the first face they see. It is instinct to look for 2 eyes, a nose and mouth on an oval shaped blob. They may not have the best of vision, but that face is ingrained into their brain. This is what they will look for when they are hungry, scared, cold or lonely. Animals never really grow out of this deeply seeded instinct, although it is not needed as much as we grow older.

An example of this in my life, is we have a faux sponge painted wall in the bathroom of our house. I can guarantee that the paint was applied in random motion with varying amounts of paint and pressure. Yet. when I look at the wall, I can see areas that resemble human faces or bodies better than I could draw if I sat down with paper and pencil. Some are very small and only require a few paint dabs for my brain to decipher them as relevant. A brain will fill in the blanks to satisfy it's need to make sense out of apparently random facts and figures.

Now I am not discounting the whole alien theory, or the theory that there have been several technological superior civilizations that have lived and died right here on Earth, I am just saying not to bank on the face on Mars to be the evidence...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

So You Are Ready For A Diet...

The hardest thing in changing your eating habits (I don't call it a "diet") is getting started. It may seem like "what's the use?, this is going to take forever". And in reality, it will. If you are obese, then you probably do have bad eating habits (excluding medical conditions), and a complete lifestyle change is needed. I am no doctor, but I have lost 20 lbs in the last 5 weeks just by using the following tricks. I will admit, I do not exercise much, so there is really no excuse if you have been considering shedding a few pounds.

1. When sitting down for a meal, immediately take half of it off your plate and put it in a storage container. Put it in the refrigerator.

2. Eat more salad, but cut back on the dressing. You do not have to get "fat free" dressing (yuck), but dilute it heavily with apple cider vinegar (organic if you so choose). Store-bought dressings are too thick anyway. To keep yourself from burning out on lettuce salad, try different types of greens like a Bok Choy Salad or fresh spinach.

3. Substitute low-fat cottage cheese for sour cream. Especially great on Mexican dishes.

4. Have rice instead of mashed potatoes. Make it with chicken broth to enhance the flavor.

5. Have fresh fruit handy. We all love bananas, apples and oranges, but sometimes it is just easier to grab the potato chip bag while watching tv. A better snack would be a low-fat yogurt on top of apple and orange slices covered with a sprinkling of Grape Nuts cereal. Also prunes, (yes, prunes) Sometimes a change in diet can lead to constipation, eat 5 prunes every day, preferably in the evening.

6. Take a multi-vitamin every day. That way if you decide to skip a meal (nudge, nudge) once in a while, you will still get the nutrients you need.

7. Drink more water. Soda and beer are a waste as a food product. At least switch to a light beer or diet soda, and no more than 1 a day, sorry.

8. Have something around the house you can just "pig out" on. There is nothing more depressing than having 7 good days on a diet, then backsliding on something you know you shouldn't have eaten. It can derail your whole outlook when you see yourself as a failure. I like to use unbuttered (lightly salted) popcorn. It keeps well and if you HAVE to have that full feeling once in a while, popcorn can fill the void. Slow cooked rice is good too, it is filling! Also great is some lean protein like pinto beans and great northern beans. Randall makes a variety of beans in a jar that are ready to eat and are completely fat free. The great northern has a "cooked all day" taste, but my favorite is the jar of pinto beans. Mildly spicy and extremely filling, and also fat free. Canned cooked black beans are great. When I need something to pig out on, beans are what I choose as not to ruin my diet

9. Don't be afraid to throw (old) food out. Just because there are leftovers, doesn't mean you need to eat them. I know we did good in step 1, but in a smaller household, sometimes leftovers need to be pitched. Coming from a poorer large family, this is one of my hardest things to do.

10. Weigh yourself EVERY MORNING at the same time and track your weight loss results on paper or on the computer. Having a visual record makes it more of an event instead of just a thought. It is also important to see your results in the long term. You may lose 5 pounds, then be STUCK there for 2-3 days. At the time, this is discouraging, but seeing the overall picture with a gradual decline will make those days easier.

Now I have posted this for me as well as for you. I have a responsibility to lead by example and keep on track.

*With any change of diet, you may want to visit your doctor to make sure you are otherwise healthy.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Obesity Epidemic

Everyone is looking for someone or something to blame for the obesity crisis. According to the CDC website, "In 2008, only one state (Colorado) had a prevalence of obesity less than 20%. Thirty-two states had a prevalence equal to or greater than 25%; six of these states (Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia ) had a prevalence of obesity equal to or greater than 30%". That does not even count those that are just "overweight".

Personally I blame it on fast food restaurants like Burger King, McDonald's, etc. It is way too convenient to just stop and get burgers and fries on the way home than to cook a decent meal. And with the politically correct world we live in, we have to cater to the kids' likings. McDonald's and Burger King is great because EVERYBODY likes it. You don't have to argue with the kid to eat his broccoli.

But a Whopper has 670 calories, with 39 grams of fat. 11 grams of that is saturated fat. A medium Burger King French fries has 360 calories with 20 grams of fat. 4.5 grams of that is saturated fat. Add a medium chocolate shake and you get 690 more calories with 20 more grams of saturated fat. 12 grams of that is saturated fat. Total that up and you get 1720 calories and 79 grams of fat. There is no excuse to serve a meal like that. Based on a 2000 calorie diet, you are done eating for the day.
To burn those calories walking, the rule of thumb is 100 calories per mile for a 180 pound person. So you would have to walk a little over 17 miles that day. This works out great if you live 8 1/2 miles from a Burger King...
So it is how it is. You cannot have a government mandate forcing Burger King or McDonald's to serve healthy food because it would taste like crap and this is a free country. So the only thing we can do is educate your kids to make healthy choices as they grow older. And get them involved in a physical activity like Extreme Trampoline!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mom Made Beany Weenies For Thanksgiving...

With all the Thanksgiving hype on the internet, I thought I would share this experience that happened to me many years ago. I was about 13 and it was a day or two before the annual family Thanksgiving dinner. It was one of those years when it seemed like everyone was going to be in town. My mom was pretty much on her own cooking and it was starting to look like 20 or more family members were going to be there.

I know mom was making her plans on what she need to get at the store, when all at once the phone started to ring. Now I will be the first to say that our extended family did not get along all the best. (I didn't know it at the time, but my parents were contemplating divorce). One side of the family said "I don't know if I am going to be there if so-and-so is going to be there. And the other side called too and said the same thing, putting my mom in the middle. She did not uninvite anybody and she just told everyone to show up if they wanted to, and if they did not make it, it was their loss.

Thanksgiving morning came, and I went into the kitchen to see if there was any early Thanksgiving goodies I could snack on, but the kitchen was virtually empty. I asked my mom if everything was ok, and she said she had it under control and for me to go out and play. I figured she decided to have it catered, or maybe everyone else was bringing a dish. Well teenage hunger kicked in and guests started to arrive. but no one was carrying anything. I went back in the house, and my mom had a great big serving bowl in the middle of the table full of beany weenies! There must have been 20 cans of pork and beans and 2 packages of chopped up hot dogs. Other than paper plates, plasticware and some potato chips, that was it.

At first I thought my mom had lost it, but stepping back and seeing the big picture my mom was my hero. I was so proud of her for making a statement. She was able to spend time with the family members that WANTED to be there instead of cooking and cleaning. I didn't miss the turkey that year at all...

You can read a bit more about my mom at

Friday, November 6, 2009

Having A Savings Account..

Right now is a terrible time for living off your interest money earned from a savings account. But there are many elderly (and not so elderly) doing that right now. When interest rates were around 6% on a CD (certificate of deposit), a person with a life savings of $200,000 could expect to receive $12,000 a year, or $1000 a month. (taxable income) After the catastrophe of the recession (or whatever it was), interest rates on CD's are around 2%. So the same amount of money would earn only $4,000 a year, or $333 a month. This amounts to a 66% pay cut.

This fact is not talked about in the media today. There are millions of people living off of way less money than they were used to. These people do not have a "category" easily tracked by graphs and statistics. They are lost as a casualty of today's events. This also hurts the Federal Government considerably. Interest income is taxable. So the IRS is getting 66% less money from taxable income. In many cases, it amounts to even more than that because the loss of income for the recipient. This may push them into a lower tax bracket and they will pay even less tax.

That being said, saving in a bank account is a good habit long lost. Today's economy thrives (or at least used to) on credit purchases. I remember when I was little and got paid $5 to cut the grass, my dad would make me walk up to the bank and deposit half in my savings in a savings account. He would inspect the bankbook when I got home. At the end of the year, he would sit down with me and show me the benefits of interest earned. $100 became $110, add a little more and $150 becomes $170. That is great incentive for a 10 year old.

When I was a bit older, he also explained the shortcomings of negative interest. Negative interest is the interest YOU pay out on credit cards and loans. A 17% interest credit card is like a savings account in reverse. Not only are you NOT earning money with your money, you are losing money at a ridiculous rate just for the convenience of being able to make payments. Paying 17% and not earning 3% adds up to 20% more money that you should have. I know that is a crude example, but you get my point.

I do not object to a credit card purchase as long as you pay off the entire balance every month! As a matter of fact you can actually make a little money by doing just that. As long as you pay off the entire balance at the end of the month, you have kept that money in your account until they actually cash the check.

My dad's theory was simple; if you cannot afford to pay cash for something, you cannot afford it. Period. He did not object to buying on credit, but it was a good check and balance of where you stood. By following this advice, I developed a habit that carries on 40 years later - put a little money in the bank whenever you can. And leave it alone!

Maybe it is because kids today can't fathom the mathematics, but I don't think we need to discourage young people from saving...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Save Money On Gas..

Don't Be A Sucker My blog post for today quotes an article straight from MSN's website in the Lifestyle section. It gives us "10 ways to save money on gasoline". You can read the full article HERE. Let's just say I am a bit skeptical, but I just love these type of gas mileage savings articles full of helpful hints. The author has good intentions, but let's break it down into real numbers.

#1. New air filter can save you 10%
#2. Front end alignment can save 10%
#3. Tune up can save 4%
#4. Proper tire inflation can save 2.8%
#5. Proper gas cap can save .5% (1 cent per gallon @ $2 a gallon)
#6. Slowing down can save 7%
#7. Driving Smoothly can save 33% (66 cents per gallon @ $2 a gallon)
#8. Laying off the brakes can save 35%
#9. Carrying less weight can save 1-2% (let's just say 1%)
#10. Don't idle can save 1 cent per gallon for every 3 minutes - I idle maybe 6 minutes a day for a 2 cent or 1% savings by turning off engine.

So if I add up all my savings, I can expect to increase my gas mileage by 104.3%. It looks like I will have to stop every few miles to drain some gas out of my tank.

If you believe all this, maybe you can tell me where the Missing Dollar went.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Casa Salad Recipe

There is a great restaurant chain here in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area called Casa D'Angelo. The Casa Restaurant Group currently has 5 restaurants in the Fort Wayne chain; Casa D'Angelo, Casa Mare, Casa Grille (2) and Casa! Ristorante. They all proudly serve their famous Casaburo Salad (Insalata). You can actually buy their salad dressing Here, but the "Casa Salad" recipe remains a closely guarded secret.

There are many websites that offer a recipe that is close to the Casa Salad recipe, but I think the Casa Salad recipe found here is close to the mouthwatering original. This will serve 2-4 people, depending on your appetite. You will need the following ingredients:
  • Approximately 1/2 a head of fresh Iceberg lettuce
  • Approximately 1 average size head of fresh Romaine lettuce
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 1/2 green (bell) pepper - 1/2 red (sweet) pepper
  • Approximately 20 or so black (ripe) olives
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • Anchovy paste (please don't omit, you can't taste it, but you need it)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Approximately 1/8 cup bacon bits
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • Approximately 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • Approximately 1 cup of large garlic / onion croutons
  • (optional) organic apple cider vinegar
  1. Clean and chop the lettuce into large salad (serving) bowl.
  2. Clean and chop green onions into the bowl.
  3. Drain and Chop black (ripe) olives into the bowl.
  4. Chop the peppers coarsely and add to the bowl.
  5. Mix olive oil, sugar, corn starch and red wine vinegar in mixing cup to start making the dressing. (optionally, I like to add a teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar)
  6. Stir in approximately 1/2 teaspoon of the Anchovy paste into the dressing. My anchovy paste came in a squeeze tube, so I add about 1 inch squeeze.
  7. Chop the garlic clove finely, and add to the dressing.
  8. Stir the salad dressing mixture briskly and dump over the salad mixture.
  9. Stir the salad mixture to evenly coat the salad with the dressing.
  10. Dump in the bacon bits and grated Romano cheese and stir the entire mixture again.
  11. Dump in the croutons and stir well one last time.

For best results, let the Casa Salad mixture set in a covered bowl in the refrigerator for around 1 hour. This will allow the croutons and peppers to soften a bit and the dressing will permeate the salad as it wilts down a bit. When you take it out, you can add ground black pepper and salt to taste. Leftovers will last for a day or two in a covered bowl in the refrigerator.

Of course, my Casa Salad recipe can be adjusted to taste and your feedback is always welcome!