Sunday, June 24, 2018

To Live and Die In A ... Walmart Parking Lot

Surprising news.  According to the news, finding dead bodies in Walmart parking lots is not that unusual.  God knows there are enough parking lots.  Walmart has 4,177 US stores and employs 1.4 million people.  It is said that 90 percent of Americans live within 15 miles of a Walmart.  Going further, I read that if Walmart were a country, it would rank #26 in worldwide standings.

That's a hella lot of Walmarts.  In a community-minded  contribution, Walmart management allows overnight parking in their lots, if this policy is agreeable to local law enforcement.   Said parking lots are host to the homeless, truckers, immigrants - legal or otherwise presumably, druggies, the suicidal and the very ill.  What causes these unfortunates to be discovered (as often as not rigor mortis has come and gone) is the smell.  Even so, one woman was discovered dead after three months in her vehicle.  The people at that location may not be the most observant there and most certainly are olfactory challenged.

Despite their parking lot hospitality, the stores do not hire and use night security personnel.  And in the daylight hours, it must be assumed that incoming shoppers are so anxious to get to the bargains and the outbounds are so eager to get their spoils home, that no one really notices the reek.

If I were the County Coroner and had to deal with bits and pieces of decomposing bodies because all deaths unattended by a doctor/medical staff are suspect and thus autopsied,  I would ask Walmart to augment rolling night shift cops in tagging vehicles by date observed - and subsequent dates.  After three nights when the vehicle has clearly not been touched, it's time to bust a window.    Fresh is better than not, if you follow my thinking.

Living in a vehicle in a parking lot is one thing, but reports of a 14 year old boy living in a Walmart attic are inaccurate.  Snopes derailed it.

Keep an eye and a nose working after you park at Walmart.  Happy and productive shopping. Oh, wasn't that old VW van just there last week?  Hmmm... "Thank you for welcoming me to Walmart; now an I see the manager?"

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Get Out! Pumpkin Spice Cough Drops? Spicy Dill Pickle Potato Chips?

Pumpkin Spice Cough Drops
CVS sells them as an "own brand."  Out of sheer curiosity I bought a smallish bag of 30 individually-wrapped lozenges.  Just unwrapped one and inserted it into my curious mouth.  I am disheartened to report that it is strongly flavored of menthol with no hint of spice, pumpkin or kumquat or whatever.

So I read the list of ingredients which is a bunch of chemicals including but not limited to:  natural and artificial flavors, medium chain triglycerides, propylene glycol, soy bean oil, sucrose and water.

No mention of pumpkins spiced or not.

When I think of all of the traditional flavors - cherry, honey-lemon and honey licorice, known to all of us since childhood … I have to wonder why?  Especially honey-licorice when licorice was absolutely forbidden if one was taking an antibiotic.  Minute amounts... must have been.  Licorice is a strong flavor and a little goes a very long way.  But pumpkin spice?  Nothin' but menthol, darlin'.

Spicy Dill Pickle Potato Chips
A proud product of Deep River Snacks which donates 10 per cent net of profits to charity.  They also use the back of their bags to promote other charities that have personally affected employees and families.  The charity is featured on the back of the bag and changes.  This bag features Caroline's Miracle Foundation for children with inoperable brain tumors.  I like their motto which really expresses their charitable philosophy - "Because We Give a Chip!"

They are located in Deep River, CT. and I bought this 2 oz. bag at Ralph's by the deli counter.    The whole bag is only 290 calories and I like that part.  I would report on taste, flavoring and so forth but it's right before dinner.  Richie is making Beef Fillet Tips a la Eugene and if it all works out will give you the recipe.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

"Nature, Red of Tooth and Claw"

Charles Darwin on his treatise of natural selection/evolution.  We had a peak at Nature just last night.

We were sitting in the living room, contently watching an episode of "Law & Order" when from out on the balcony came a thundering CRASH!

"What the hell was that?" howled Richie.  "Squirrel must have over-weighted one of the hanging flower baskets..." I replied.  "But did his weight uncurl the hanger-style hook that holds it up?  Is that even possible?"

Richie, with some difficulty - Streak, our lap junky cat, was rudely disturbed and, of course, protested mightily - got up and flipped on the balcony light and the flower baskets were safe, but the hummingbird feeder lay, smashed, on the balcony floor.  

Apparently a local squirrel had an attack of sweet tooth.  I would bet the horrendous CRASH startled him/her as much as it did us.

This is more than likely the squirrel that loves to torment Fred the cat by climbing up the avocado tree next to the office window.   From his vantage point (freedom) he does the equivalent of flashing Fred who, frustrated, twitches the very end of his tail and crouches on the window sill, eyes mere slits.  Not for the first time, am I glad that we switched out the old single pane windows in the house and installed doubles.  After all, Fred weighs 20 lbs.  And is motivated.  Bad combination.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Run, Chickens! Richie's Got A New Recipe!

Bon Appetit thoughtfully includes calories per serving - 270; fat 12 grams and fiber - 0.

Chicken with Tarragon and Quick-Roasted Garlic

Richie had to go out and buy the tarragon.  He remarked that none of his other recipes called for it and I replied that tarragon is considered kind of exotic in most circles.  In fact, the only other tarragon dish I can think of is BĂ©arnaise Sauce.  Quickly followed by the thought that this dish could use a little of it on the table.  So -

3 large, unpeeled garlic cloves
4 small skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 T butter
1/2 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay in his case)
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 T tarragon
2 T heavy whipping cream (omitted)

Roast the garlic cloves in a small saucepan.  When it's brown in spots and you can easily pierce it, take it out of the skillet and set it aside to cool.

Next sprinkle each breast with pepper and sautĂ© it in the butter until browned.  Set aside

Peel the garlic (slit it and squeeze is easiest) put it in the now-empty small skillet and add the wine and mash them around together and cook until this sauce is reduced.  Then add the broth and tarragon and simmer a bit.  Put the chicken in the sauce to re-heat and serve.

1/3 cup white vinegar
2 T tarragon
2 egg yolks
4 oz. cubed butter

Boil the vinegar and tarragon together, reducing by half.  Set aside to cool 'way down because next you're going to beat in the egg yolks and they will scramble if the sauce is hot.  That accomplished start beating in the butter cube by cube.  When it looks glossy or creamy, it's done.  Serve on the side in a little pitcher or a bowl and spoon.

Merci, Bon Appetit 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Soccer, Vuvuzelas, Baseball and Sports In General

Sheila, Netanya, Israel:

I have always felt that the fact that America finds it hard to accept football is that they have to take the game as it is.

At school, I played (badly) net ball.  America took it, changed the rules 300% and called it "basketball."

Rugby … into American football.  Again 300%.

Rounders into baseball.  Again 300%.  Rounders is a game played by kids.

To my knowledge, not a professional game in all these games - the base is there.

I remember when Americans couldn't sell soccer to TV … no space for commercials.  The American crowd couldn't live with "nil - nil" so they tried a penalty shoot-out to end a tied game.

Okay in America, but not on the world stage.  And this is a world stage.  Look which teams are there world-wide.  Americans have qualified before and done very well.  This year they missed out, as did Holland, Italy - not exactly little teams.

In the past, England failed to get there as has France. In the US because you are not there this year, you are like the rest, didn't make it.

America was slow to take to football, but you are there now.  You will have good years and bad and because this is a worldwide sport; you may have to settle for not being THE GREATEST TEAM OF ALL TIME.  Sorry, Mr. Trump."

Doug V., Anderson, IN.

"I read McIntyre's article and your blog on the World Cup and vuvuzelas.  I approve of your position, and I would go a little further.

I hate soccer!  I could be more entertained drinking a beer while watching grass grow or paint dry, especially since there are no throngs of fanatics blowing vuvuzelas in my ears.

I tried to play soccer as a youth; even jointed a league for a short time, but I was so disgruntled by the coach (a former college soccer player) when he basically told us there wasn't much strategy playing the game; rather, it was mostly athleticism and endurance that produced winners.

Modern-day athletics has become that way, thus the less athletic among us are destined to be shut out of athletic competition and the opportunity to not only learn to love a sport, but to maintain fitness through participating.

I likened soccer to hockey when I was a youngster, but after playing both sports I found that hockey has far more strategy and requires, by far, a broader degree of physical endurance.  I was too short and slow to play competitive basketball, but I participated in football and played baseball and I ran distance races in track for a short while in prep school.  I found the games with the most strategic depth to be football and baseball - athleticism and endurance were good traits to possess, but everyone with skill had a chance to win.  Being too short and too slow, I found it tough to sit the bench in football, but baseball offered me the chance to play every day because I was willing to don the  "tools of ignorance" and sit behind home played in torrid temperatures as the "general" on the field.

Many complain that baseball is as boring as soccer and to those who do not think about the strategic options between every pitch, I am sure it is.  But to me, baseball is excitingly cerebral and there are no nut cases blowing vuvuzelas in my ears.

Soccer … I hate soccer!

Thank you Sheila and Doug for giving me permission to add your comments.  Much appreciated.  A new slant or a different opinion is always welcome here.

Monday, June 18, 2018

NOooooooo! Not the Vuvuzela!!!!!

The use of the vuvuzela at sporting events began in 2009 so we have only been annoyed by them at World Cup events every four years or 2009, 2012, 2016.  I think.  Am not good at math.  Save your scathing comments on it; have already heard them all.  "And, yet she persists …"

Wondering what corner of hell they had been sent to torture us, I looked them up.  They go far back to South Africa where they were used to summon far-flung villages to a meeting.  Since the advent of teleconferencing and Skype, I see no reason to keep them for any use whatsoever.  Moreover they disrupt the game since the players can't hear the coaches and the players are just as annoyed at them as the audience.

Did you know that their 120dB(A) is also the pain threshold for our ears and can cause permanent hearing loss if used less than 3 ft. 3 in. from our ears?  One vuvuzela manufacturer did have the class to sell a pair of ear plugs with each horn sold.

At least we only have to put up with them every four years whereas the wheezing 6-note fanfare of the  baseball organ is every game throughout the too long season.  If I didn't already find baseball as boring as doing the laundry, I think it's a pussy bunch of players.  "Ooo!  Ooo! He broke the little finger of his non-dominant hand!  OMG!" being an example.   I suspect that they all secretly wear bubble gum pink underpants or lacy thongs under those uniforms.  It would be appropriate.

World Cup at least has some interest in watching the players tear up and down an enormous field at full speed.  They do very little else, but at least there's an impression on the viewers that they're trying to do something.   Baseball?  Not so much.  They're rather sit on a folding chair in the outfield and count their money.

Still and all, it takes all kinds and good for those that love their sport.  Just - could you please leave the vuvuzela at home to scare midnight burglars or something?   Thank you.  Much appreciated.


Sunday, June 17, 2018


Hoping you have an enjoyable day and are properly worshipped as is proper.

This is a Website that made me laugh and then consider how much parenting has changed and especially for stay-at-home Dads which didn't exist in many of our days.  It's