Saturday, January 29, 2011

It was bound to happen eventually

We think Tate is just the cutest cat...
So we are not the least bit surprised to find out that there is a street named after him now.

Cream rises...excellence is recognized...and Tate Lane sounds just perfect.
He is just a little guy after all. 
Tate Avenue would be much too grand of a name for a just starting out Faithful Orange Cat.
Yes, Tate Lane is just right.
We are so proud.

Frenchie isn't  nearly as excited as we are about all this.

(Frenchie: Oh ptttthhhh....)

Well, come to think of it....

Having a lane named after you is really nothing compared to having a entire country and people named after you, is it Madam Frenchie?

And you really do look quite fetching as part of an artistic composition of monochromatic study of textures and stripes.

Yes you do.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Here we go...again.

So last night the US Army's Dugway Proving Grounds went into lock down.  No one was allowed in or out of the base for 12 hours; one woman went into labor and was airlifted out.  They were that serious about the situation.

Dugway is roughly 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, and has been used as a set for a lot of movies, including the blockbuster movie Independence Day.  One of our staff members just told me that he used to work as a barber on base. His folks drove down there with their aged dirty RV with black smoke billowing away behind them as they went.  They stopped for a bite to eat just outside the base and when they came back to the RV, there was a note saying that they would like to use their RV in a movie...and that was how it came to be that his parent's RV was one of the ones in the Independence Day movie.


Being a rather dull time of year, the news that one of our proving grounds got locked down is giving us locals something to get a little excited about.  The army is being tight lipped about what happened; former army guys are commenting that bases get shut down if any item is misplaced after field trials.  A missing rifle bolt, a reflective belt, a stray bit of ammo is enough to lock down a base.

Talk about doing a buzz kill with that kind of explanation.

Like I said, we need some excitement around here.  What we need is news of a zombie invasion at the base.
Just remember this if the Salt Lake City zombies can not be contained:

Shoot them in the brains.  It is the only way to kill a zombie.  Otherwise they will eat you ALIVE!  And then YOU will turn into a zombie TOO!


The Army has promised a news release at noon today.  Only about 90 more minutes to go before life returns to normal around here.

Maybe.  Or maybe they will be posting the information that is regularly covered in the Continuing Education classes around here about Zombie Invasion Preparedness. (See HERE for more information!)

I kid you not.  We take zombies very seriously around here.

Maybe you should too.  Because you just...never...know....

UPDATE:  The Army said it had misplaced a quarter teaspoon of a nerve agent which they have since found.
Sound like something that could spark off a Zombie invasion to me. 
Aw shucks.
Probably not.  
Darn it...well, I guess it is back to just getting through another plain old kinda boring day in January.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

FYI Scummy dishes: It is not your fault

It was reassuring to me to read THIS article this morning. It explained why I am not crazy and just imagining that my dishes are no longer coming out clean from my dishwasher.

The columnist was sharing how she has been annoyed by the way her dishes are coming out of her dishwasher. She accused her family members of inappropriately loading the dishes, topped off the sheeting action fluid and did everything else she could think of but after awhile, she realized that something more was going on.

I have to give a wry smile.  The same thing has been going on in my house.  I have been having to dip all my "clean" dishes, glassware and flatware in vinegar or an anti-lime solution to get rid of the "splashed in dirty milk and left to dry" appearance.  You would not have enjoyed listening to me rant about having to do that re-do procedure to a full load of dishes last Saturday morning.  Gail, poor thing, had the misfortune of calling me just as I was finishing up and got an earful about it from me. It took her a good ten minutes for her to finally calm me down!

Anyway, here's a short summary of what is up with all that:

The US gov. has decided that phosphates in our rivers causes algae bloom and that suffocates fish.  That fact is true, however the amount of phosphates coming from dish washing detergent is something like 1.9%, while the rest of the phosphate comes from fertilizers and manures.

Seventeen states have now banned phosphate from dish washing detergents. Most folks use up their old formula detergent, buy a "new" (and NOT improved) version unwittingly and start noticing that their dishes aren't coming clean anymore.

Plumbers are called, and the truth is revealed.  Worse, the fact that the phosphate that used to prevent food particles to from attaching themselves to dishes also used to keep the dishwasher motor free of build up.
The new formula will cause the dishwasher motors to burn out much more quickly than before. 

And yes, the plumber must be paid for delivering this disheartening news that nothing is wrong with the dishwasher right now, and there is nothing the plumber can do to prevent the burn out in the future.

The article had multiple comments and included a few tips that I thought were worth passing along. 

The first tip is to sprinkle a quarter teaspoon of the cleaner TSP in with the detergent.  The P in TSP stands for phosphate, which, guess what? means that it is now banned in 17 states.  Apparently it can still be bought on line, so it may pay to stock up or find a dealer in a non-banned state.

I never imagined I would someday be looking for ways to smuggle TSP into my home, but these are difficult times and one must do what one must do to survive.

The second more expensive option was to put a good squirt of lemon juice concentrate in with each load.  I suppose a little plastic lemon on my counter wouldn't look too bad...

 I had heard that Koolaid would also work (it didn't work for me) or Tang (didn't try that).

I have also tried putting vinegar in with little success. 

If you don't live in a hard water area, or you do your dishes by hand, or you haven't needed to wash down walls with TSP before painting, this whole post probably sounds a bit crazy.  Trust me...if you had been dealing with scummy dishes for the last few months, you would understand how crazy making this situation really is.

And as long as I am venting a bit...why on earth can't dishwasher detergent manufacturer and dishwasher designers come up with a formula and setting for washing fine old china with metallic edges.  I just read that century old family china is now being ditched all over the place because the current generation is unwilling for the most part to take on hand washing their great great grandmother's china.

One article stated that a fine china table settings for twelve with all the service pieces are routinely being priced at between $300 and $400 and are having no takers.

Come on scientists!  Get to work on solving this chemical problem so old china patterns can be enjoyed regularly once again without needing to roll up sleeves to do the dishes after a lovely dinner party.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Love to learn!

I actually like knowing the details of where my foods are raised. 
Sometimes I read food labels just to find out where the food I am eating came from, and then I take a moment to bless the people and area that were involved.  I think about what a vast team is needed for me to be munching:  the person selling the seed or the animal, the person tending, harvesting, shipping, the trucker, the person who stocks the shelves and rings up the purchase.

I get a kick out of seeing the name of a town that I know printed on the product: a town in British Columbia cited for having raised the blueberries I sprinkle on my morning cereal, which in turn was from a company in my home town in La Jolla.

Aiming to be a locavor, or one who only eats locally grown products is a good thing; I believe in supporting my immediate neighbors as much as possible.  But there still is some quite good about recognizing the global unity of food production.   

Anyway, I decided to post about this topic as I was drinking some tea this morning.  It was a nice green tea, with roses and hibiscus and cherry blossoms and such.  The thing is that just recently I have discovered that my level of tea sophistication is a lot lower than I had imagined.  

I was searching for a resource for a good oolong, when I came upon THIS site. (click on each picture to get more details about each tea.  No really...take a moment and explore a will be amazed.)

The site's home page.HERE

Oh my goodness.  

Suddenly I realized I was like the high school kid who has been swilling Boones Farm Strawberry Hill and thinks they are totally knowlegeable about wine.

I know nothing...nothing! about tea.  I know even less about the geographic areas of tea production.

But soon, very soon, I hope to remedy that fact.

Do tell: I am the only one who was clueless about artisan teas? Have you ever steeped a cup of Monkey Picked or Dragon Ball tea? Or savored a cup of Hairy Crab Oolong with a friend?

Does the idea of paying $50 for a quarter pound of tea leave you shaking your head? (Even though a quarter pound of such tea will result in many more servings than a $50 bottle of fine wine.)

The antioxidant value of red wine has been praised as being good for one's health; the antioxidant value of tea is the same or better with a lot less calories. 

Something to ponder.  Maybe being a wine snob will eventually be inferior to being a tea snob.

And at least I can drink tea at work...which I am running late for as usual!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Stick in the eye....

Grandcat Cheeto looks wise as he ponders a stick.
We had dropped by his place after we had taken a bit of an ill advised hike.

Bernie and I had just started to hike up into a nearby mountain when the snow really got going. 
We kept on  plowing up the hillside following a faint deer trail, trying to obtain the mountain ridge, but soon found we were mired in bare brush that tangled all about us. 
There was no more trail to be seen. 
After about an hour of puffing and pulling to try to get to the top, we decided this wasn't really the perfect day for this particular adventure and gave up.

It wasn't too great of a loss; we were only a few miles from home anyway, and even less miles away from where we could go see our two grandcats and their owners (AKA: our son and DIL.  It really is all about the cats when we visit though.)

Proof that the snow really did fall as we hiked.  The ground was snow less when we started out!

Jeff was working on trimming a Japanese maple that he had acquired and asked Bernie for his insight and couching. 
Notice how Cheeto is also paying close attention to what Bernie had to say.

OK...enough with the easy going chit chat. 
What I would really like to talk about is trimming down another Asian group, namely the Chinese.
Much ado was made of the state visit by the Chinese Chairman/President last week. 
Chairman/President Hu Jintao and Mr. Obama were meeting to promote US and China trade.
On January 19th a state dinner was held in honor of our Chinese guests.

So get this:

While she (Mrs. Obama) looked lovely in her fiery formal gown (that she wore to the state dinner), both the design house (Alexander McQueen) and the designer (Sarah Burton) are British, a bit of an odd choice while representing the U.S. at such a major event.  (Read full article HERE.)

Tacky.  There are plenty of good US designers that Mrs. Obama could have used.

But never mind.

That isn't the part of the official event that really has me really disturbed. 
It was the music played. 
A Chinese pianist chose to play a decidedly  (and well known in China) anti-American song.
And everyone in attendance clapped; the Chinese knowing what the song represented and the Americans because they were clueless good hosts:

Lang Lang the pianist says he chose it. Chairman Hu Jintao recognized it as soon as he heard it. Patriotic Chinese Internet users were delighted as soon as they saw the videos online. Early morning TV viewers in China knew it would be played an hour or two beforehand. At the White House State dinner on Jan. 19, about six minutes into his set, Lang Lang began tapping out a famous anti-American propaganda melody from the Korean War: the theme song to the movie “Battle on Shangganling Mountain.”

The film depicts a group of “People’s Volunteer Army” soldiers who are first hemmed in at Shanganling (or Triangle Hill) and then, when reinforcements arrive, take up their rifles and counterattack the U.S. military “jackals.”

The movie and the tune are widely known among Chinese, and the song has been a leading piece of anti-American propaganda by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for decades. CCP propaganda has always referred to the Korean War as the “movement to resist America and help [North] Korea.” The message of the propaganda is that the United States is an enemy—in fighting in the Korean War the United States’ real goal was said to be to invade and conquer China. The victory at Triangle Hill was promoted as a victory over imperialists.

The song Lang Lang played describes how beautiful China is and then near the end has this verse, “When friends are here, there is fine wine /But if the jackal comes /What greets it is the hunting rifle.” The “jackal” in the song is the United States.

(From HERE you can read more of the article quoted above.)

I was disgusted when a few months back Paul McCartney entertained at a White House dinner, and used the occasion to make rude remarks about former President George W. Bush, insinuating that Mr. Bush didn't even know what a library was. 

The fact that Mr. Bush's wife has a Masters degree in Library Science and that he also cut the check for an entire university library to be built to at his wife's alma mater suggests to me that Mr. Bush really, REALLY knows the meaning of the word "library" and personally supports them.

Regardless of nature of the insult, it is my understanding that it is rude to speak poorly of one's host's compatriots while breaking bread together.  Speaking rudely about any of the US Presidents in the setting of the White House sets my teeth on edge; when a non-American citizen does it, it really gets my dander up.

But "the Beatle" was allowed his joke, his audience (including Mr. Obama) laughed hardily and life went on.

It has been noted by many that Mr. Obama has traveled the world apologizing for America in the most appalling manner.  Apparently he feels that apologizing for the US is his job when he goes abroad.

I suppose the Chinese felt that as long as Mr. Obama thought America "sucked", playing a song that agreed with that point of view was a way of flattering their host.

Upon closer inspection, it would seem more likely that the Chinese thought they could play our President for fool.  They had done it before, when he visited there in 2009:

Shen Wu Men, which may be translated as Gate of Divine Prowess. CCTV reported that he exited through the Shun Zhen Men, which may be translated as “Gate of Obedience and Purity.”

In fact, the Gate of Divine Prowess is the outer gate and everyone must exit through it. However, Chinese media would not accord President Obama the honor of going through the “Gate of Divine Prowess.”

(Quote taken from previous article link.)

I can not think of a single culture where eating together is not a symbolic gesture of peace and good will between the participants.

To attack during such an event is nothing short of a betrayal.
I believe that on January 19 2011, we were formally betrayed by our Chinese guests.

I believe we should put our foot down and demand a formal apology immediately.
America has gotten poked in the eye with a sharp stick  by the Chinese twice now and each time America has brushed the affront aside.
I think it is time for this sort of behavior to be rebuked.
We have lost face, and apparently become blinded.
We can not allow for this ill treatment to go any farther, if not for ourselves, but for the sake of all those who are weaker than we are, and under threat by the Chinese government, especially the Chinese Christians who face merciless torture at the direction of their government.

It sickens me to imagine that even one dollar of my taxes went to feed the man Hu, who would allowed torture to be done to my Chinese Christian brother. (

Since Mr. Obama seems to think highly of apologizing for America when he is visiting other countries, I believe he should reasonably be able to expect that Mr. Hu should apologize for China while Mr. Hu is visiting our country.

And if Mr. Hu doesn't have the stomach for apologizing for that song, then Mr. Obama, I as an American am expecting you personally to apologize to those of us who paid the evening's dinner tab for the despicable behavior of your Chinese guests.