Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dream On - Ronny James Dio & Yngwie Malmsteen




Middle Earth rocker, Ronny James Dio, does a better job than Aerosmith but Yngwie Malmsteen (Not his real name. Really.) makes the guitar sound magical. Try not to look at the slideshow, it's mostly Dio and the never ending goat hands. Ronny James Dio's voice was bigger than he was and way better looking. Malmsteen did not make Rolling Stone's top 100 guitarists of all time but Eddie Van Halen did. To me that indicates an extremely low credibility level. But then according to that list the best guitarists of all time came on the scene in the mid sixties. Sure. Sure.





Yngwie Malmsteen playing some guitar with the Japanese Philharmonic. Yngwie's real name: Lars Johan Yngve Lannerbäck I can see why he changed it to something much easier.

I hate when they do this to songs

Even a song I wouldn't identify as one of my favourites


Tiny bubbles
In the air (???)

Way to screw up the cadence and rhyme scheme, Nestle. Whomever owns the rights to this song, shame on you. I like the vocals though.

How It's supposed to be



Tiny bubbles
In the wine
Make me happy
Make me feel fine

Tiny bubbles
Make me warm all over
With a feeling that I'm gonna
Love you 'till the end of time

What's that thing singers from this era did with their voices? That jumpy, warbley thing. My dad does this. I don't get it.

I freaking love Soundhound!

I've used Soundhound quite a bit to identify songs I'm listening to but this week I had an ear worm and couldn't nail it. I couldn't search lyrics because it was sung in Spanish (update: Meissa, in the comments, told me it's Brazilian Portuguese) and it wasn't playing anywhere for me to capture it. So I hummed the tune into Soundhound and voila!


Bear in mind I didn't say I loved the song, I said I couldn't get it out of my head.




In spite of me humming it, it picked out what song it was supposed to be. Technology is amazing.

Soundhound is music retrieval program that can identify songs by 'listening' to them and comparing them to a database. It is available for iPhone and Adroid. Check it out here. The free version has ads but I don't notice them. I like it a lot better than Shazam.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Street Musician Violin



I always enjoy watching someone who really feels their music...wait...was that a mouse running across the sidewalk?? Anyway, this guy layers several captures of himself playing and while he starts out simply, ends up with a huge sound. I wonder where his amp is plugged in?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sweet, Ambiguous Chiroptera

Quick, what is this?


Hint:
Upside down: Cute and adorable



Hint: Right side up: Disgusting and creepy

Few creatures on this earth suffer from the bad press bats receive. Why? Bats have long been associated with witchcraft, black magic and darkness. I aim to change this. So let's talk about some of the misconceptions or skewed perceptions connected to bats.

Bats = Vampires. So, a few bats incorporate blood into their diets. Lions, tigers, wolves, and dare I say it, some monkeys aren't vegetarians and yet they enjoy great popularity. In fact of the over 1200 species of bats, there are three that consume blood exclusively as their diet. Three out of 1200 is exceedingly low. Of the big cats out there, what percentage of the various species consume blood? One hundred percent because felines cannot be vegetarian and live.

Did you know, in mythology, vampires can shape shift into wolf form as well?



Relaxing!

When it comes to diet, almost three-fourths of the world’s bats are insect eaters. Insects consumed by bats include both aerial insects, and ground-dwelling insects. Each bat is typically able to consume one third of its body weight in insects each night, and several hundred insects in a few hours. This means that a group of one thousand bats could eat four tons of insects each year. If bats were to become extinct, the insect population is calculated to reach an alarmingly high number.

If I were to ask myself what I prefer, relaxing under a night sky populated by bats or filled with clouds of swarming, stinging mosquitoes, that would be a no brainer.




But they're just so ugly



Vomit!!



Frightening Honduran White Bat



Beware, brushing bats is the number one cause of injuries
needing emergency care on Saturday mornings.



Cuuuute!!!! Not.

Lots of animals have family members that lost the gene pool for beauty. How about those famous ugly dogs. And when you think about it, what besides companionship do dogs actually contribute to our lives? I'm not minimizing companionship but I'm also not seeing dogs doing their part to eliminate the annoying insect population. You have service dogs who are trained to help humans who need assistance but percentage wise, few dogs do anything actually practical or constructive.

Bats - disease. Bats carry rabies. So do monkeys, raccoons, foxes, wolves, coyotes, dogs and cats. In fact any warmblooded mammal can be infected and pose a threat to humans. Bats occasionally carry fleas but are one of the few mammilian orders unable to support a community of lice.

Other things bats contribute

Macrobats like the large fruit bats love to eat ripe fruits. As the seeds pass through them, they spread them all over the forest. A fruit bat can disperse thousands of seeds to help replant the forests that they live in.

There are many bats that live on the nectar from the flower of plants. There are some flowers that only bloom at night and the bat is the only animal that assists in the pollination of these plants. Cactus like the Agave are an example. Blue Agave is where we get tequila.

Bananas, avocados, dates, figs, peaches, mangoes, cloves, cashews, and agave are other trees that all benefit from bats as they pollinate or spread their seeds.

Besides eating harmful insects and pollinating plants, bat guano is actually a very beneficial fertilizer. It is so strong that people who collect it have to wear gas masks and protective clothing. Farmers benefit greatly as guano is the best fertilizer.

People also are finding that Vampire bats contain a blood thinning chemical that can help stroke victims and others that need it. Also their ability to use echolocation is very interesting as we research to learn how it works and how it may benefit humans.

Wild bats, like any wild animal, must be respected and treated as a wild animal. I'm not suggesting that we go out and adopt wild bats. They do carry disease and unhealthy bacteria in their droppings (guano). I'm just suggesting that this is no reason to hate them. All wild animals carry disease. Not all wild animals are hated just for being what they are.

The benefits that bats provide should have ameliorated their bad press a long time ago. Think about this the next time you hear about a monkey eating someone's face off.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Queen - Save Me (live Montreal 1981)


It starts with a piano and a voice and it sounds as good as the studio version. Maybe better. That's how they did it. No auto-tune. Actual real voices.

Pasta

The juxtaposition of this post and the one before borders on the offensive but it's time for some comfort food and that means pasta.

Waiter, why is my pasta shaped like a radiator?


Gigli - Lilies
This Italian pasta consists of flower shapes.
It's good with hearty, chunky sauces.





Fusilli - spring
A good choice for pasta salads and casseroles or thick, hearty sauces



Farfalle - butterfly
This Italian pasta resembles bow ties or butterflies.
It's often served with chunky sauces or in pasta salads.



Radiatori - radiator
These resemble small radiators.
The "grills" do a good job of scooping up chunky sauces.



Creste di galli - cockscomb
Good for chunky sauces and salads



A flow chart about all the different pastas and their names:

What kind of pasta is on my plate?
(click on it for a larger version you can actually read)

Here's a cool thing about pasta you may not know: The different pasta shapes are not meaningless. There isn't a shady organization of pasta designers trying to trick people into buying arbitrarily shaped pastas for no reason. Different pasta shapes serve different functions.

Some are good for soups and broths. Angel hair is better for thinner, delicate sauces, and spaghetti is better for thicker sauces. Fusilli (the twisty kind) is good with any sauce, but cavatelli (the little hot dog bun kind) is best with thick, chunky sauces. Hundreds of years ago, ancient pasta architects used science and alchemy to come up with the noodle designs that were most conducive to catching and storing different sauces, because they want you, the eater, to have the best experience possible.

I like my pasta thin if it's paired with a marinara sauce. Or stir fried with veggies. Capellini d'angelo which I think means angel hair is the thinnest I can find around here. I like orzo, or rice shaped pasta, for salads like Greek Pasta Salad because I'm not a huge fan of Uncle Ben's white rice. I like fusilli with heavier meat and tomato sauces.

I hate penne noodles. I know pasta shapes are all made with the same dough but the thicker the noodle, the less I like it and penne is served everywhere. Yuk.

Pasta cooking myth: Add oil to the water to prevent it from sticking.

You know what happens when you add oil to pasta water? The pasta, regardless of the shape, will be so slippery that it will no longer absorb your sauce. After all of the work that those diligent pasta magicians went through, you ruin all of it by pouring oil all over your pasta, and it won't even keep the pasta from sticking together.

This post was cobbled together with plagarized borrowed exerpts from the site I got the pasta pics from which is here, Cracked.com where they list nine popular food myths most people believe, and What kind of pasta is on your plate? by Charming Italy.

If 30,000 Gorillas died over 3 months...

...the uproar would be deafening.



Halima Hassan holds her severely malnourished son Abdulrahman Abshir, 7 months, at the Banadir hospital on August 14, 2011 in Mogadishu, Somalia. The US government estimates that some 30,000 children have died in southern Somalia in the last 90 days due to famine and drought. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)


My kid is 6'3" and 200 lbs because of genes and because he had enough of the basic necessities of life to grow up and grow up healthy. Every child is worthy but, on this planet, few children are born that lucky.

Happy Birthday, Spawn. May you have over 9000 wonders left to explore.
PS: The Game

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Perspective is Everything


WTF Blogger? Why can't I resize my picture?

So It's been in the -40's the last week (windchill factored in) and today it's -16C (3F) and I'm happy! It's almost balmy out there. I think the gods have taught us a valuable lesson here and I for one will never complain again.

Except for this snow scraper I bought. It's super duper awesomeness seduced me and I bought it without examining the scraper blade.

For some reason manufacturers like to put a little curve in the scraper blade. Why? Because the windows on the cars are slightly convex? Clearly these designers have been sitting in their air conditioned offices in Texas thinking that the glass in autos etc is slightly curved so we'll design our blade to be curved as well.



Earth. Round.

Bad idea. That's like designing a shovel with a curve in the blade because the earth is round. Sure, it has a curve to it but not the one foot wide path of earth my shovel is scraping.

My ice scraper successfully scrapes off about a centimeter (quarter inch) on both edges and leaves the rest of the width within those edges untouched and pristine. When it's 40 below I don't have time for that shit.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I Hate Fanatics - Sports


I hate all fanatics whether they are political or religious. Today I will confess that I loathe sports fanatics and sports because of them.

I am was somewhat of a natural athlete like my whole family. Whatever sport I chose to participate in I managed to do fairly well out of the gate and got better from there. Except for basketball and it wasn't because I didn't try. So it's not that I loathe sports because I lacked the health or physical ability to play sports.

So maybe it's more accurate me to say I loathe the fixation with sports.

Let's not even discuss the unbalanced, obsessed parents who live their lives through their children's achievements in sports because that's a whole different topic.

I'm also not talking about parents who support a child's desire to be involved with a sport but who are balanced about its importance in the grand scheme of things. ie: keep up a B average, do your chores, winning isn't everything etc.

I mean the adults, living in an adult world who cannot converse in detail on any other topic and who laughingly dismiss anyone who cannot relate like they're entitled to laugh at these poor souls. Souls like me. The former spouse mocked me, and told me I was in a very small minority of those who do not love sports and that perhaps I need to seek out mental help to get to the root of my abnormality. He said that like it was in insult, like he 'owned' me in an argument. That's the mentality to which I'm referring. The one that does not allow a person to entertain any other subject to the point where a person not sharing that same obsession is a defective person.

Why can't I respond to sports lovers with the same incredulity and be taken seriously? (What you enjoy sports? What are you an idiot?!) Just because a misguided majority believe something doesn't mean I'm defective if I don't join in. Hello? Right wing fundamental conservatives?

I hate the way fanatics tune out the entire world when they're watching a game. Life is allowed to interrupt during intermissions and commercials, for example. I hate the way they can rhyme off stats on players and game wins/losses and can't remember when they got married. I hate the way they actually parrot this information like it has any kind of value and they spew it at me knowing I could care less. I hate the overpaid, egocentric, entitled jocks who are idolized for doing nothing but taking a projectile from one end of a playing surface to another. I hate the way those who choose not to bother themselves with sports are treated like they are defective humans. I hate that the only conversations I remember having with my former spouse - if you can call them conversations - involved him listing statistics in sports, setting up back ground information on a specific play with details so intricate I wanted to kill myself all so I could share his excitement when he explained how someone got a goal. Or home run. All of them involving numbers with incomprehensible letter combinations that did not make words or worse, they made words but not any word meaning that made sense to me. RBI, ERA, and WHIP for example.

One time I decided that I had had enough of one sided conversations where I tuned out and he droned on and I thought maybe I should pick a sport and get to learn it, maybe I might like it and at the very least it would give me some frame of reference in conversations where I was forced to listen to this shit. So, I chose baseball. Baseball is played mostly in the summer so it doesn't involve ice. I liked that idea because even though I'm Canadian I hate hockey mainly because it's played on ice. With metal blades strapped to a person's feet. Sadly I chose to follow the Toronto Blue Jays during the two years they won back to back World Series trophies.



Back...



...to back


Not only did the Jays never do anything remotely interesting after that, the lad's father proceeded to start following even more sports which left me behind. Again. This is the crux of my hatred for sports. I feel that was intentional. I feel the men in my life, including my father, use sports to shut me out. When the lad's dad pointed out to me that there are many women who love sports I told him it's because it's the only subject they have in common with their boyfriend/husband and if they didn't they'd have nothing to talk about and I like talking about almost anything else in this world except sports. He told me I was delusional. (well, maybe religion. sports and religion but everything else is an excellent topic)

Did you know...



This was a blue jay long before...


...this was a Blue Jay?


Anyhoo, I am female and that means when I dismiss conversations involving sports I am patronized more than vilified. I pity the guys who feel the way I do. Oh yes! There are men, with actual testicle balls, who do not like sports.


"Call me stubborn in my refusal to get interested, but I have better things to do with my leisure than surrender it to the commercialized, banally competitive, jargon-ridden, overexposed, overbearing domination that sports exercises over our culture." This person, let's call him An Actual Man, posted about this on his blog. He went on to say:

I do resent it that so much of my society's time, money and attention is consumed by something I don't care about. I do resent it that even close friends become droning pod people when sports comes up. I do resent it that sports talk serves as such a casual superstructure of exclusion for so many men in the office, the tavern, on the radio, or wherever.

But mostly I just hope for a crumb of reciprocity. I don't assume you want to hear my thoughts on, say, the use of bottle caps in folk art [Well....], so perhaps you could back off when your concern for some quarterback drains the life from my face.

Drains the life from his face! (Oh see, that's where I got the word "drone" I guess) This is what sports fanatics never see. Even religious fanatics see this reaction. They start talking religion and see the other person's eyes glaze over and even they know enough to stop talking. But sports fans start talking sports to someone and they are so confident, so complacent, in their belief that I'm interested that they do not see the life draining from my face. Or the fact that I am already tuned out and making a grocery list in my head. Former Spouse never noticed this. In fact he never noticed I left him entirely as a wife. My body resided in the same household and I said "hmm" and "really" at the right points in the conversation, resigned myself to sex occasionally and that was enough of a marriage for him. Years later I would tell him that I wanted a divorce and it would come as a complete shock and it devastated him. Imagine my surprise.

In the meantime, the only haven is across the gender divide where, sex-role stereotyping be praised, sports talks intrudes only rarely. Subjects like shoes and child-rearing may not be my favorites, but even at its most retro, thank god for the company of women."

"Thank god for the company of women". See that? A non sports fan who enjoys the company of women. Coincidence? More from this article here.
I read some of the comments left by men who feel the same and found it enlightening.


This quote is from a blog post entitled "I hate sports".

"I hated seeing so much time and effort put into sports and sporting events, making small celebrities out of the athletes while at the same time, those who were in school for the actual purpose of school - to be educated, were sidelined. I hated seeing all those letter jackets for the sports people when there were no equivalent letter jackets for scholastic achievement or even for those who excelled on the debate team or other intellectual teams for the school. (And again, this isn't because I wanted such recognition - I was never on any of the scholastic teams.) It seemed to me to be sending the wrong message - a focus on the wrong priority. You are told to do well in school, but then those who do so are ignored and sidelined as nerds while those who do poorly but can throw a ball are heroes.

More of this article here

From the comments on this post:

Personally, I enjoy participating in various sports, but watching them on television is so boring, so lazy. And then talking about them ad nauseum? Come on. Get a life.
Truth be told, I've always thought that people who love watching and talking about sports simply weren't too smart."


A comment from the blog post "Why Do People Watch Sports" here


"I've always said if I ever became a millionaire, I would pay someone $10 dollars an hour to move a large rock from one end of a field back and forth to the other. People think I'm joking. The joke's on them. They don't realize there isn't any difference in terms of what this would accomplish, when compared to professional sports- except that I'm paying a few million less an hour to get it done."

I guess I'm with the comment who said "I've always thought that people who love watching and talking about sports simply weren't too smart". I believe it. I've known too many jocks and the fanatics who follow them.


There is a website devoted to people kind of like me. I wouldn't say I want sports eradicated, just treated with the seriousness they deserve in relationship to poverty, hunger, environmental and other issues like crime rates or even good comedy. At this website, they hate sports but they say that as if there are two groups in this world. Those that love sports and those who are geeks. You can find them here.

So, I'm not really a geek either. I tend toward geekyness at times but I'm not a geek. So am I destined to be neither one thing nor another once again? A bat, if you will, neither an animal nor a bird? I'm OK with that. Bats are cool as hell.





And, for you sports fanatics, I mean this kind of bat...







...not this kind

It's cold


Currently -30C (-29F) with a windchill of -40C (-40F). Once you get that far below zero, Celsius and Fahrenheit see eye to eye on the numbers.

Schools are closed which is a good thing. They never used to close - for any weather related reason - but last year during a cold snap, colder than today, one of the schools had a fire emergency and had to evacuate. You know what evacuations mean, right? Leaving immediately without stopping for non essentials like coats and boots. The entire school population of kids were out in -40+ windchill with no outerwear for way too long. Let's just say that experience has made the powers that be a little more wise when it comes to closing the schools.

So I'll be spending the next little while trying to stay warm. It feels colder even in the house. I know it isn't but psychologically it feels freezing.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Weird Flavours.

I was surfing the other night and came across a collection of photos on a post announcing weird flavours of otherwise familiar products. I don't know where this person lives, some bland, white bread, unsalted planet no doubt, but these are certainly not weird flavours in my opinion. I'll rate them on a scale of 1-10. O being a big yawn and 10 being the weirdest thing I ever ate which was...hmm...let's say cow tongue.


Oo! Salt & Vinegar. Ewww!!! Actually, this is my all time, go-to flavour if I'm craving potato chips. Here on the planet Canada, salt & vinegar is so common we even have crazy variations like Sea Salt & Malt Vinegar. I love those also.
Weird Factor: 0


This is the normal Pringles line up of flavours at my local Walmart.
I personally love Extreme Dill.
Weird factor: 0


Haven't seen these but I'd try them. Weird Factor: 3


These look awesome, where can I get some? Weird factor: 0



OK, this is different. Bolognese is a meat based pasta sauce. I don't see a problem with this flavour combining with potato chips. Since I've never seen this concept before I'll award it a higher score. Weird Factor: 5



I grew up on an Island on the east coast. This is about as normal as a hamburger for Sunday lunch but since you can order it at the local MacDonalds it gets extra weird points. In fact it's about as weird as being able to order a Filet O' Fish. Weird Factor 3


More fast food weirdness here. Some of the MacDonalds menus around the world do not look weird but actually look awesome.

So I decided to do my own search of weird flavours and was nauseated and delighted by some of the things out there. Here are some weird and unusual Kit Kat flavours from Japan. I'm not a chocolate lover so none of these really look appealing to me. What do you think?



Matcha Green Tea. I don't get the big Green Tea band wagon chefs have jumped on these days. It's ok, I suppose, but not worth making into a new flavour for everything under the sun. Flavours follow trends and I will join in IF I like what it is. For me, goat cheese will always taste like what goats smell like. Disgusting. I do not need to be trendy that badly.



Apple. Apple & Chocolate?
Semi weird



Salted Caramel. The best sweetness ever! I'd even eat this if it was enrobed in chocolate.
Not even close to weird



Red Beak Soup.
I googled "what is red beak soup" and there is nothing out there.
Could this be a translation issue and it's supposed to be Red Beet soup flavour? ie: Borsht?
I love Borsht. I don't want it as a candy though.
Weird as shit if it's really about beaks


Pumpkin. I've seen recipes for chocolate and pumpkin. I wouldn't add chocolate to anything pumpkin but would you?
Not my taste but not weird


What an awesome way to ruin a potato!
Weird


I've seen terrible things done to sweet corn and this is one of them.
Weird


I think I would definitely try this. About the only way I like chocolate
is when it's mocha'd with coffee or espresso
Not weird


Again an espresso based flavour with the awesomeness of caramel.
So not weird I can't believe Starbuck's doesn't sell this.
Totally unweird


I love vinegars. This looks interesting. I wonder if it's chocolatey
Weird but I want to try it anyway

Unusual ice cream next


Spaghetti Ice Cream. Pasta is a neutral food which can be eaten either as a savoury or sweet dish. Like grits. Some like them with butter and salt and others with sugar. I don't think I'd try this but it isn't repulsive sounding. It looks repulsive, yes.
Semi weird


Really not much of a stretch from those molded jello salads usually found at pot lucks, this is strawberry ice cream with peppers, tomato and cuke.
Slightly weird


Squid Ink ice cream. Again another food trend I find unappetizing. Maybe it's the "ink" part. Who eats ink? Maybe it's the squid part as a dessert. I like Calamari...but ink?
Weird



While horses are worshiped here as romantic, intelligent creatures to pamper and indulge and accrue much debt for, in other countries they're considered livestock and delicious. I have no problem with that but as ice cream? Nah.
Weird but an awesome idea for what to do with a used horse.



Goat = pungent stench. Goat products = pungent noxious flavour
Goat anything = weird



Hot Chili ice cream. This looks awesome
Not weird


Someone always has to luxe up basic awesomeness by adding caviar even when it doesn't belong. You know, adding caviar to something doesn't mean you're classy and appreciate the finer things. It means you're topping something with fish eggs. You wanna be careful where you do that.
Whatever weird


Octopus bits in cherry slush. Oy.
Weird

Next up canned foods. To me, unusual food or flavours involve insects. I have never knowingly eaten one and I will never. I realize this is just a mind over matter thing. I don't care.



Really, there's nothing wrong with squid as a food. This just looks unappetizing.
Weird.



This is what I'm talking about. I'm not going to eat a scorpion but it's not so different looking than a lobster or shrimp when you really take a look.
Weird



Weird



I grew up in a household with a British background and this stuff along with organ meats were common dinners. I hated anything organ related - steak and kidney pie? Gag me - but I didn't mind tongue. Sliced thinly with some mustard it's quite good.
Not weird



Here on the planet Canada, Asian ingredients are found everywhere including grass jelly. The local grocery store even carries black skinned silkie chickens (including head and feet). This is a jelly made with a Chinese mint leaf.
Totally not weird.


Had 'em. They're good.
Not weird


Seriously? Escargots are delicious
Not weird



Not one of my favourite fishes but I've had them several ways and they're not hideous.
Semi Weird

Maple Leaf is a major food brand here in Canada.
They process meat among other things and this is a flavoured 'spam' if you will.
Not weird. Seriously.




This is just a bad idea.
Semi Weird




A food that bites back. If those are teeth, and it's hard to tell what this is, Russian herring gets a weird designation from me. I really can't imagine a herring with teeth like that. It looks more like a shellfish shell but I can't read Russian.


Canned meat only chicken.
What's weird about that? Unless it really isn't chicken.
Not chicken? Weird
Otherwise, not weird



Brains are in the same category as insects for me.
I avoid getting my cholesterol levels up this way
Weird




I absolutely LOVE conch. If I could get this product here I'd live on it.
This is SO not weird.

More unusual canned foods here