Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Yankee Doodle Dandy

Since 1976, every time I hear the song, “Yankee Doodle,” I get a mental image of Senator Edward Kennedy. The image has aged in the thirty-two years since I first made the mental connection. With the recent diagnosis of brain cancer for Sen. Kennedy, I worry that my image of the Yankee Doodle Dandy will soon be frozen.

Why Edward Kennedy became my visual representation of Yankee Doodle, I do not know, but I have some theories.

1976 was a big year for “Yankee Doodle” in the third grade circuit. As part of the nation’s bicentennial celebration, such patriotic ditties made a daily appearance in the curriculum. Somehow Kennedy’s Massachusetts connection made him the perfect Yankee Doodle in my mind. Along with that perhaps some of his playboy ways came through to a ten-year old mind and I associated him with “dandy.”

However it arrived with me, the connection stuck.

Having been born between the assassinations of his brothers, my entire life has been somewhat steeped in the Kennedy mystique. Teddy Kennedy was the only one around to live in that out in my lifetime. Whatever the event, Kennedy’s voice was always one that was heard. Even when I disagreed with him, his voice always shaped my thinking.

While the prognosis does not look positive in the long term for Sen. Kennedy, I’ll never shake my mental image of him with a tri-cornered hat with a feather.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Hand-Picked Goodness?

I don’t know why I do it, but I keep reading packages. The latest to catch my eye was the latest flavor of Miss Vickie’s potato chips. I couldn’t pass up the idea of “Hand Picked Jalapeno” I just had to find out what made it so very special.

I’m a pepper freak and have every type of pepper I could find in the garden shops in the area, and as I’ve posted, they have been producing like crazy – and everything there is hand-picked. But honestly, in the peppers, I’ve never noticed much different between the flavor of the hand picked ones from my garden and the ones I purchase in the off-season from the supermarket.

So I bought a bag.

I was disappointed to find that there was no email address for Miss Vickie* so I could ask her about her hand-picked jalapeno secrets. However, the bag did offer some tips such as, “picking the jalapenos by hand when they are perfectly ripe.”

I think she meant to be talking about the tomato that goes with the jalapeno in salsa. Jalapenos when “ripe” either become woody or mushy and sweet.

I was also a little baffled at how the pepper went from “perfectly ripe” to “jalapeno powder.” Something gets lost in that translation. I want to take a tour of the process to see just what they do to preserve the hand picked goodness. The powdering process seems to violently diminish the gentle care of hand picking.

Despite all this – yeah, they’re good!

*Miss Vickie is a little sister to Frito Lay

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


After 17 years, it was time to get a new washing machine. My old one worked, but it really liked to go on walks - so much that I had to leave the laundry room door open if I really wanted to get my clothes back.
So...I went shopping and found a great front loader. I'm being good to my clothes and the environment.
I am enjoying doing laundry again - as all the blankets, towels, pillows (and my clothes) now know well enough. It is so much quieter, I have to listen carefully to know when it is done.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Garden-y Goodness

The picture above is some of today's harvest from my garden. Fresh basil, oregano, fennel, tomatoes, yellow and zucchini squash, various peppers. At the rate things are going, this is going to be a very good summer for me. I may have to purchase a second freezer to save everything.

I made a pesto of oregano, basil, and jalepeno and mixed it in the bread I baked tonight. I'm going to be eating good for the next few months!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Music Review: Noise Cancelling Headphones

Another music review and I’m not talking about music. This weekend I finally bought a pair of noise cancelling headphones. I have been thinking of getting some for the times when I’m traveling on planes or staying in a hotel and find myself surrounded by unfamiliar sounds. The basic concept behind noise cancelling headphones, is that they create a counter-sound wave to whatever sound is coming in from the atmosphere that essentially leaves one hearing no sound, so whatever sound, if any, you have coming from the computer or device is all you hear.

I was prepared to have a white noise creator, so I purchased a mid-level headphone set. I am amazed at how well they work. The music I listen to, the podcasts I like to keep up with, all sound worlds better without any interference coming from without. I am normally sitting in my recliner next to my aquarium. It always has sounds coming from the air pump, the water, and the fish splashing around. The first time I turned on the headphones, the aquarium disappeared as background noise.

When the headphones are turned on, there is clarity to the sound that I’m not familiar with and I’m finding that it works really well with all kinds of music and talk. Because I so enjoy my music, I am seriously considering purchasing a higher end set for home use. With a little longer cord, I could plug into the home theatre system and listen to everything that way.

One side effect I noticed is that I have to have my cell phone sitting on my chest while I’m working on the computer with the headphones on; the phone ringing is drowned out by the noise cancelling feature. I think that may become my new excuse – “I’m sorry, the headphones hid the sound.” I may not have to ever hear a salesman knock at the door, a phone ring, or my dogs fight again.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Music Review: Hard Candy

Ok. It’s a Madonna cd. I’m gay. I’m obligated to like it.

And I do.

I have to confess that one of the reasons I like Hard Candy is that it reminds me of “Early Madonna.” Only now, it is contemporary Early Madonna. All the beats I loved in high school and college are there with a techo twist I want to dance to (while fantasizing about Justin Timberlake). It sounds like now and reminds me of then.

Too bad I’m old and dance like a white man.

Despite liking this cd, it has taken some time to grow on me. The first time I listened to it, I did not fall in love and I’ve only listened to it since its release when I made a conscious effort to do so. I’m challenged to come up with a reason not to like the cd and cannot say that there is one reason I don’t. I like it, just not as much as I want to.

Every single on the cd is pure Madonna. She stamps each one with her personality and style and each one is well produced, but after listening to the entire cd, I find myself still wanting more. Kind of like hard candy, each piece contains tremendous flavor but only makes one crave more; I find myself stuffing one after the other in my mouth. On the cd, each single has its burst of flavor, and I listen intently from one to the next, but at the end, the cd as a whole does not leave anything satisfying or memorable.

The songs on Hard Candy will be ones that have a place on play lists and mix cds for years to come, but I don’t expect to listen to the cd all the way through many times. It belongs in the music library of anyone who enjoys Madonna or even contemporary music, but it won’t be at the top of the stack.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Degree Queen

As a person in an oft discriminated against group, I have worked hard to identify any personal prejudices I have and to consciously guard against them. I only have one that I am clearly aware of. It has nothing to do with race, age, or gender. It has to do with size. I have an immediate internal, physical reaction to people who are grossly obese. I know it is not rational, but I do.

In the last two weeks, I have discovered another bias. A quite handsome man who is the right age for me (over 30) has been expressing interest. He really wants to get to know me and date me. I enjoy the conversations I’ve had with him. And then comes the “but.”

As a gay man, 90% of the people reading my bias about size earlier immediately thought one thing until I clarified.

Which comes to the “but,” and the other bias I discovered.

It’s not what’s hanging in your pants that impresses me, it’s what’s hanging on the wall.

No matter how sexy a guy is, I don’t find him attractive for more than a roll in the hay unless he has a degree. And the more degrees, the more attractive he is. I don’t think I can date someone who does not at least have a bachelor’s degree and I fear that may even rise as I begin work on my second master’s degree next month.

So all you non-obese, 30+ men with degrees start lining up!