31 August 2009

Friday Monday Cat Blogging

As promised, no red:

Raxi, curled up on my new comforter.

30 August 2009

Photo of the Day

Courtesy of a friend of mine (via Facebook):
(seen in Alabama)

29 August 2009

Sign of the Day

On a restaurant toilet in Sri Lanka:
(h/t to a cousin on Facebook)

Business Before Everything or All Hail Capitalism!!!

(click picture to sign petition)
We've rallied, we've sent messages to the EPA, and we've shown that Americans overwhelmingly support a clean energy economy that creates jobs and fights global warming.

Now the US Chamber of Commerce wants to silence us by threatening to sue the EPA in an effort to put "the science of climate change on trial." This ridiculous and dangerous stunt is engineered to undermine the EPA's authority to fight global warming, which we fought so hard to support.

Send a message to US Chamber of Commerce member companies telling them that this case is closed--responsible businesses know climate change is real and that we need to do something about it now.

The Chamber of Commerce already had an opportunity to air any legitimate concerns when the EPA held a 60 day comment period on its finding that global warming poses a threat to our health and welfare.

Where was the Chamber of Commerce then?

The Chamber wants to pretend that the 41,000 comments we collected supporting the EPA were never written, that the 2,000 people who rallied at the hearing in Seattle never showed up, and that the people speaking out in favor of action to fight global warming at the hearing in Arlington, VA did not out number the skeptics by 9 to 1.

It's time to tell responsible companies to stop letting a handful of polluters use the Chamber of Commerce to hold our Country hostage to last century's dirty energy technology--Sign the petition today!

Earlier this year, a group of big companies like Nike and Johnson and Johnson sent a letter to the Chamber asking them to more accurately reflect the majority of American businesses who are well aware that the science of global warming is settled, and who want to move the U.S. into a cleaner energy future.

But it seems the Chamber is siding with a minority of polluting energy companies, even though it is now clear that reducing global warming emissions is good for both the economy and the environment.

Sign our petition to these responsible companies urging them to back up their words with action--the U.S. Chamber of Commerce needs to come to its senses and side with the majority of its members who support action on global warming, or these companies should resign their memberships.

Thanks for all that you do to protect the environment.

Mary Anne Hitt
Sierra Club Big Picture Campaign

28 August 2009

Friday Kitteh Blogging: Red Scare Edition

Those of you who know me on Facebook saw a similar photo yesterday, but I wanted to post this one, too:

We got a new cover for the couch (okay, it's actually a fitted sheet, but whatever), so there will be no more RED pictures. I hope you enjoyed them. :)

27 August 2009

Hey Birthers, This One's For You!

(h/t to PZ Myers)

Ooh, Shiny!

Well, it's been two days, not one, but as promised, here are some photos of the continuing progress on the dining table.

First, a couple of shots after staining but before the finish coats (in this case, polyurethane):

(the sun came out from behind clouds between the first and second shot)

Then two photos taken after I had applied a coat of poly to the top and base. The sun was totally out at this point:

I'll put at least one more coat of poly on the top, which will make it really shiny. Just my personal preference here, but I don't understand painting wood. It's so beautiful as it is.

26 August 2009

Sad News First Thing In The Morning

(image by Doug Mills/New York Times)

Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, a son of one of the most storied families in American politics, a man who knew triumph and tragedy in near-equal measure and who will be remembered as one of the most effective lawmakers in the history of the Senate, died late Tuesday night. He was 77. (link)

Farewell, Senator. You were one of the best.

25 August 2009

Wherein I Don't Talk About Jen's Buns

There are a lot of things about living in Costa Rica that are different from living in the States -- or, at least, the part of the States from whence I came. The climate, the language, the entire culture.

Those are obvious differences. But there are also differences that are different without you even knowing they are different until they reach up and smack you in the (metaphorical) face.

Case in point -- remember this post? Wherein I told you of working on a new table for us? Well, I hadn't done anything more to the table since then, mainly because of Jen's dad's visit (we were using the table about every night, and so I couldn't disassemble it and have it in pieces all over the place while finishing and tweaking it).

Today though, we finished the sanding and began putting the finish on it. We picked out a "Honey" colored stain and set up shop in the garage to apply it. I don't know if you've ever stained any furniture, but it's not that complicated. Just put the stuff on as evenly as you can manage, and let it dry.

So, the stain comes in a little quart size can. Up in the States, I've always used MinWax (or other, very similar, stains), and it's very easy to work with. I've done large projects where we've used rollers and trays and the whole thing. And when you use anything for to apply stain, you've pretty much consigned that thing to the rubbish, because, well, it's stain. So, I've used those disposable plastic roller pans and li'l plastic paint buckets.

Imagine my surprise today when the li'l plastic tubs we poured the stain in (so Jen and I could both apply stain at the same time)... melted.

(click to embiggen for the full effect)

Luckily, we hadn't gone to the recycling place lately, and therefore had a ready supply of empty tuna cans.

It was going on dark when we finished, so I didn't get a photo of the table. I'll do so tomorrow, so's y'all can see it. :)

24 August 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

(or, grammatically correct, "Be Careful For What You Wish")

When Jen's dad was getting ready to come down for his recent visit, Jen and I came up with a list of things that aren't readily available or exorbitantly expensive here in Costa Rica to request that he bring.

I had discovered that corn meal is unheard of here. There's corn everything else, but not corn meal. So I asked for some, and he brought a 5# bag of it for me.

Today I tried a new recipe for hush puppies, using the corn meal. They were really good, light and not dense like you will find a lot of times, and I enjoyed them a bunch... at first. Then the oil in which they were fried asserted itself and my tum-tum got all queasy. For several hours.

Next time I'll try something different.

23 August 2009

Sunday Night Kitteh Blogging

And Raxi continues to grow*...

*as one would expect, I suppose, but still........

22 August 2009

Anál Nathrach, Orth’ Bháis ’s Bethad, Do Chél Dénmha

Via Brian (over at Incertus), I find out that Bryan Singer wants to remake Excalibur, and, as Brian points out, this is part of the continuing trend to attempt to strike gold a second time. All Hollywood seems totally enamored with remakes, and they rarely even approach the quality of the originals.

Anyway, whilst reading through the comments on the post Brian links, I saw this:
My dad took me to see [Excalibur] AND 'Conan the Barbarian'--my first two R-rated movies--when I was like nine years old. Now I can't have sex without having a sword in the room.

and laughed my ass off.

On a related(ish) note, myself and three friends spent a couple of days in the library at NC State one weekend long ago, trying to find the translation of the quote I used for a post title. It's the "charm of making" that Merlin uses in the movie. We weren't very successful, as I recall, probably because none of us knew Gaelic (Welsh?) from Maori.

Also that title reads (roughly) "aNAL NATHrak, ooth vas BETHud, do kyel deeeYENvey" in case any of you aren't familiar with the movie in question.

21 August 2009

20 August 2009

Wherein I Begin To Understand Why Some People Aren't Lovers Of The Bagpipes

Yeah, that's pretty harsh (and quite funny).

That is just plain funny.

Just to finish it out with some Uilleann (elbow) Pipes, the great Davy Spillane.

18 August 2009

Conversations With A Table

I was going to post about something else entirely, but I saw this clip (h/t) and was reminded, once again, that a) the people protesting against health care reform are clueless sheep who do whatever Faux Noise and Hate Talk Radio tell them to do -- sans any relation to reality -- and, b) I wish Barney Frank was my Congressman.

From the YouTube page:
At a Barney Frank town hall meeting in Dartmouth, MA, a constituent asks, "Why are you supporting this Nazi policy?"

Frank responds: "On what planet do you spend most of your time?" He then calls her approach "vile, contemptible nonsense." He closes by saying: "Trying to have a conversation with you would be like arguing with a dining room table."

17 August 2009

Old -v- New

I've been using one of Jen's old Spanish/English dictionaries for my classes (both learning and teaching):

But, as you can see, it's... well-broken-in.

Jen's dad is visiting, and brought me this:

Thanks, Dick!

16 August 2009

In Case You Want To Try It

I fixed dinner tonight for all of us (including Jen's dad, who's in town for a visit), preparing one of my favorite dishes, tuna casserole.

Now, I suspect many of you have had tuna casserole (or "hot dish", for some of you), but I doubt you've had it the way I fix it -- which I learned from my mom. So here you go....

(Bob's) Mom's Tuna Casserole

1 medium onion
2 T butter
1 1½ cups uncooked rice
3 cups water
1 cube (or equivalent) bouillon -- I use beef, but others would work
1 can Cream o' Mushroom soup
2 cans tuna, drained (save "juice")
As much Colby Cheddar as you can stand (or a 12 oz. package)

Preheat oven to 325°F (170°C)

Melt butter in sauce pot, chop onion and lightly sauté in the butter. Add rice and stir. Add water, tuna "juice" and bouillon and bring to a boil. Cook rice until done (approx 15-20 minutes, depending on location and altitude).

In casserole dish, layer rice, tuna, cream o' mushroom and cheese -- twice. I like to mix the tuna and cream o' together for ease of layering.

Bake for 30 minutes*, serve, and enjoy.

*You want to have a lightly browned top layer of cheese in the final product, so in an electric oven, place rack at bottom of oven, and use both top and bottom element. In a gas stove, put dish in broiler for a couple of minutes at the end -- but make sure you don't burn the cheese.

I would have included a photo of the finished product, but I didn't think about it before we ate.

15 August 2009

The New Nexus of Computationing

As Jen has said, we now have a new blogging ops (h/t to Lisa) downstairs.

First, I had to learn how to use Google SketchUp, which, with a li'l help from Jen, I think I managed alright, and came up with this layout:

Then it was get all the stuff in there and set up. It's still a bit of a pile of stuff right now, but we'll get it all smoothed out and arranged to our liking soon, I'm sure.

Also, sorry about the poor quality of these pics, they were taken after dark and my camera isn't the best.

I had to stop taking pictures then. As you can (sort of) see, Raxi was giving me the laser eye from the chair in the lower photo. I've learned it's best not to push teh kitteh.

14 August 2009

Yes, Another Sunset Post

This was Wednesday evening. Jen and I were sitting at the new table playing cards and fixing dinner, and I looked out the window to see....

13 August 2009

The Guitar Jams in Heaven Just Got Even Better

Les Paul, the man who "was a pioneer in the development of the solid-body electric guitar", "Paul was dissatisfied with the acoustic guitars that were sold in the mid 1930s and began experimenting with a few designs for an electric model on his own. Famously, he created 'The Log,' which was nothing more than a length of common 4" x 4" lumber with bridge, guitar neck, and pickup attached." (Wikipedia), died this morning at age 94.

Here he is, at age 82, playing the hell out of the instrument he helped create:

12 August 2009


Busy day today, and we were watching the first few episodes of Torchwood tonight. Yes, I've hooked Jen on another TV show.

Peace on ya, y'all!

11 August 2009

The Bottle Was Dusty But The Liquor Was Clean

Today in my Level III Class (#1 -- I now have two of them) I got to talk about The Grateful Dead and Deadheads.

How cool is that?

10 August 2009

This Is Almost Perfect...

...except for the fact that it denigrates the Viking Horde:

And this picture is definitely worth at least a thousand words:

These and many others over at Teh Kos.
(h/t to Gordon Smith over at Scrutiny Hooligans)

09 August 2009

Get The Government Out Of The Public Sector!

Found via Dr. Zaius, the perfect rejoinder to those "get your gummint off my bidness" morans:

randomnoise Dec 20, 2004, at Something Awful....


this morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US department of energy.
I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility.
After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the national weather service of the national oceanographic and atmospheric administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the national aeronautics and space administration. I watched this while eating my breakfast of US department of agriculture inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the food and drug administration.

At the appropriate time as regulated by the US congress and kept accurate by the national institute of standards and technology and the US naval observatory, I get into my national highway traffic safety administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the environmental protection agency, using legal tender issed by the federal reserve bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the US postal service and drop the kids off at the public school.

After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the department of labor and the occupational safety and health administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to ny house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and fire marshal's inspection, and which has not been plundered of all it's valuables thanks to the local police department.

I then log on to the internet which was developed by the defense advanced research projects administration and post on freerepublic.com and fox news forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can't do anything right

I'm pretty sure I missed a few. I wonder what kind of fun could fall out from cleaning it up a bit and tossing it at a few newspapers comments sections

edit: needs some consumer product safety commission somewhere at least

08 August 2009

Tipping Point?

So I've been mulling over this whole load of crap that Big Insurance and Big Pharma are trying to pass off as "grassroots" opposition to health care reform -- which, by the way, polls are consistently showing around a 65 to 70 percent favorable, so it appears that the Loud Noises campaign isn't working -- and I've wanted to write more about it.

Then I read this post by Chet Scoville.

So, what he said.

07 August 2009

Duh Of The Day

Oddly enough, via Discovery Channel online:

Wildfires May Impact Air Quality, Damage Lungs

The article is informative -- it is Discovery, after all, but ... c'mon, that's like saying:

Mathematicians Discover That One Plus One Is Two

06 August 2009

A $73 Million Retirement Package?!?!?

CNN won't air this ad, but I sure will....

Hat tip to Michael J.W. Stickings, who points out that, despite the stated reason,
“This ad does not comply with our clearance guidelines because it unnecessarily singles out an individual company and person.”

they are most likely refusing to air the ad because Big Insurance and Big Pharma spend beaucoups bucks on advertising -- and CNN won't allow anything to hurt their bottom line.

Even the needless deaths of thousands of people.

Also, it's not too late to contact your Congressvermins (Representative and Senators) and let them know how you feel about the state of health care in the US.

The wingnut sheep have been reduced to trying to shout down legislators, so well-reasoned phone calls, faxes, and emails will likely be even more productive than usual.

05 August 2009

Also Too (También)

Remember my post on Monday? About the new class that was supposed to start a couple weeks ago, or maybe this past Monday, or possibly a week from next September????

It started tonight.

This is an upper-intermediate English (second language) class, and these folks are ready to rock and roll! None of your basic parts of speech crap for these people, oh no. Unfortunately, a lot of what I had for this first class was just that, because I didn't really know what level of expertise would be exhibited by this new group.

Best of all, they could understand me well -- which, I've found, isn't often the case for a person (or persons) listening to a non-native language.

This should be fun....


04 August 2009

(Found) Photo of the Day

(found at Bob Cesca's Awesome Blog! Go!)

Yeah, We Get Some Intense Sunsets Here In Costa Rica

Last night's sunset was so intense that if I was using film it would probably have burned a hole in the negative....

All I did was resize the images. No enhancements.

I went upstairs to ask Jen a question, and saw the edges of this. Of course, I had to go back down and grab my camera and go out into the street (there's a two-story house on the west side of our apartments).

After taking the first shot, I changed the "EV" setting on the camera, which is like a shutter speed (I don't know nothin' about this camera except that it was inexpensive and it has a take-picture-now button), to try and get a better shot. Still too intense.

So I went back inside and shot this out the kitchen window (see the aforementioned house?). Finally, a decent shot!!!

03 August 2009

And Another Thing...

Okay, it's not really another thing, but a thing.

At least I don't remember talking about this before.

Anyway, I have a new class that was supposed to start tonight. Another Level III (that's intermediate) Conversational English class. I had a private session with a student this morning (that is new, too), and whilst at the school, asked about the class tonight -- to clarify, because in one place I had written 5 August as the start date, but in an email, the date of 3 August was said.

"Oh, I think that's starting next Monday. Or maybe Wednesday. I'll find out and let you know after your session."

"Okay," I replied, and went off to work with my new student -- who, by the way, speaks very good English (and wants to be even better) and had not, before today, taken any classes. TV and movies. And books. Pretty impressive, IMHO.

So, session ends, I go back to the front desk to verify... "Sorry, he's gone."

"Ummm." Oh, did I mention that the person to whom I had asked the question is the only upper staff person who actually speaks more than a very broken English?

Later in the day, Jen called the school for me and the person who answered the phone (who is one of the front desk workers) looked it up and said, "That class starts next Wednesday."

Good enough.

Oh, by the way, I just logged into my email and had a message (timestamp 7:45 local) from the person to whom I spoke this morning, saying that the class does indeed start next week. On Monday.

And, his answer to my question came through 45 minutes after the class was to have started (if, indeed, it had started today).

02 August 2009

Wow, That Was... A Letdown

So, Costa Rica is a seismically active place. After all, there are active volcanoes here. I've been here a little over five months and hadn't yet experienced an earthquake.

Until sometime in the middle of the night on Fri/Sat. Jen told me when we got up yesterday morning that there was a small one.

And I slept through it. How unfair.

Well!! Last night, as we watched Alladin with Julia, I felt a tremor of the couch... and then realized -- just as Jen said it -- that my foot, which was on the tiled floor (on top of a concrete pad), felt the same tremor.

(image from here)

I have now experienced my first Central American earthquake.

01 August 2009

My Latest Project

There has been no finish applied yet -- hence the hippie 'tablecloth' -- and I have a couple other tweaks to do on it, but here's the new table I'm building for dining/sewing/gaming/whatevering.

Building furniture is made more complicated by a lack of power tools, but it's not too bad....