Saturday, April 01, 2006

Is There An Artist In The House?

I’m Not One…But I Play One On TV…

Well, yesterday was the day that I’ve been looking forward to for the past couple of weeks now—because I was supposed to have “THE” interview Friday morning.

I was sort of surprised that I managed to maintain a “devil may care” attitude through the entire ordeal, but it was not without some conscious effort that I was able to avoid getting myself all lathered up and nervous in the process.

“THE” interview I’m writing about here was the one I had scheduled with Mrs. Mildred Wilcox, proprietor of the Left Bank Art Gallery.

One of her assistants had earlier indicated that my pen and ink drawings of local churches and landmarks could be of interest to Mrs. Wilcox, and to my surprise I had the opportunity to present my work—hoping to display some or all of it for sale under her tutelage.

Mrs. Wilcox and her family are the acknowledged experts on all things Island and all things Art and all things Island Art for the past forty years here on St. Simons Island. The gallery is full of paintings by famous French Artists, along with a bunch of popular local artists that sell their work for tens of thousands of dollars each.

Am I audacious or what?

Things didn’t start out on an encouraging note, however, because when I arrived at the Left Bank Gallery yesterday morning about 10 minutes early, there was no one in sight.

The doors were locked and the lights were off.

No big deal…art gallery personnel keep bankers’ hours, so I wandered over to a nearby shop where I knew some of the employees and showed them my pen and ink drawings.

Yada yada…yacka yack…

By a few minutes after 10 AM the gallery employees had arrived and opened the doors, but by 10:25 I was distraught and discouraged because I was standing around by myself—no Mrs. Wilcox.

I handed the young woman at the front desk my business card, and I politely excused myself.

Just Damn…

In a fit of sanity, I decided to run down to another gallery in Redfern Village to check out their interest in the original drawings and possibly some stationary and note cards featuring my images.

Things were going well and while in mid “sales-pitch” mode, my cell phone rang, and Pat told me that someone from Left Bank Gallery had phoned and sent Mrs. Wilcox’s apologies and had asked that I stop back by the gallery on my way home.

Just Damn again…

My nerves were starting to wear thin, and my gumption was ebbing.

Remember that I’m and engineer, not an artist, in real life—at least not in the recent past. I have to psych myself up to do this stuff and play the part, and I was really ready to just go home, have a stiff drink, and take a nap or something while I licked my wounds. (Mental pictures of people tilting their heads back to laugh hysterically at my efforts come to mind…)

So any way, I went back to Left Bank Gallery, Mrs. Wilcox arrived, and forty five minutes later I was walking out the door with a grin that extended from ear to ear.

Double Damn…

She loved my work, expressed an interest in showing at least a dozen pieces, and took pictures of some of my drawings to include in her monthly newsletter along with a biography highlighting THE UPCOMING EXIBIT FEATURING THE WORKS OF VIRGIL RAYMOND ROGERS, III.

The only problem I have now is that I just put four of my best drawings in the Glynn Art Association’s Georgia Coastal National Juried Exhibition that runs through the month of April.

If I manage to sell them, then I have to reproduce them again for this new endeavor. That’s OK, because each time I draw a building I get better results because I’m more familiar with the details of each structure.

I’ve got to go now… where are my pens…

Friday, March 31, 2006

Absolutely Amazing

Really...It Is Amazing...

If you have high speed internet, you MUST look at commedian Chris Bliss doing this.

(Hat tip to my blog idols over at Powerline for the link)

Victory (And A Recipe)

Elvis Has Left The Building...

I'm pleased to report that, after a month in refrigerator induced "Appliance Hell," our lives are back to normal again.

Actually, things are better than normal, because we now have a shiny new 28 cubic foot side-by-side fridge sitting where the old piece of crap old one formerly resided.

I stood by here as long as I could today waiting on the old fridge to be removed, but I had to leave to run errands late this afternoon, and when I returned it was gone.


Praise Allah

Amen Brothers & Sisters

Even though there are only two people in our household, our fridge is a VERY important part of our kitchen. I cook dinner five or six nights each week, prepare breakfast one or two days, and do a hot lunch two or three days each week.

I mean real cooking--not Hamburger Helper.

I was extremely concerned that we were going to lose $800 worth of frozen food and ingredients/condiments if we didn't get things straightened out, not to mention the added cost of eating out in the mean time.

Don’t get me wrong here—I love eating out, but the quality of MY food cooked at home generally exceeds that of all but the best restaurants here on the island.

In a restaurant, an equivalent dinner to that served at my house would cost you $15 to $20 each, without drinks, almost every single night.

Any way, it all worked out when it was all said and done.

I celebrated the arrival of our new appliance by stopping by the grocery store to buy some giant Sea Scallops and a big bag of baby Spinach, and when I got home I improvised a dish that I call Scallops Piccata. (It was based on my Chicken and Veal Piccata recipe.)

Try it out when you have the time (the quantities are for dinner for two):

Six Sea Scallops
2 tbsp lemon juice
Six strips of thick cut bacon
1 large bag of baby Spinach

8 oz (1/2 pack) Angle Hair pasta

1 cup white wine
¼ cup of Capers
1 clove of garlic, diced fine
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup of Chicken stock
¼ stick of unsalted butter

First things first…

Since Scallops spend their time lying around on the bottom of the ocean in the sand, they are understandably…SANDY.

I don’t know about you, but since I don’t like gritty food, I recommend that you rinse those suckers, then rinse them again, and Again, and AGAIN, and when you’re done rinsing—toss them into a bowl with a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice.

Now let your Scallops swim around in the lemon juice in the fridge for a couple of hours if you have the time, thirty minutes as a minimum.

When you’re ready to start cooking, fire up your charcoal grill. (If you are a gas grill weenie, you can wait a few minutes and save your precious propane if you want to)

Next, heat up a large, heavy skillet on the stove top and cook your bacon strips until they are at least half way done. I like my bacon crispy, so I cooked it pretty well. (Save a little juicy fat on each strip for cooking on the grill.)

After you pull your bacon strips out, let them drain and cool on some paper towels on the side. Spoon any extra grease that you don’t want to eat out of the skillet. Being a good southerner, I left my bacon grease in the skillet.

Deglaze the skillet by pouring in the white wine and chicken stock, scraping the bottom with a spatula to remove any juicy bits.

Now add your capers and lemon juice and turn things down to a slow simmer.

Take your bacon strips and wrap one around each scallop, securing it with a couple of toothpicks.

Is your grill hot now?


Well, then heat that sucker up…

then toss your bacon wrapped scallops on the grill and cook them on each side for eight or so minutes, being careful not to burn them.

Put your Angel Hair pasta in a boiler of lightly salted water with a little butter or olive oil. Be careful not to overcook it, it only needs about three or four minutes because it’s so fine.

Put your plates in the oven to warm.

Meanwhile, back at the skillet, when your scallops are almost done, open your bag of baby Spinach and dump it in on top of your sauce.

Stir, stir, stir…you want the spinach to wilt.

Now comes the fun part…plating it all up.

Put your warm plates on chargers, pile half your drained pasta on each plate, spoon out the wilted spinach on the pasta, and top with three grilled bacon wrapped scallops.

Drizzle your wine/caper sauce over the top of everything.

Doesn't that look nice?

Well then, sit down at the table, grab yourself a fork, and EAT.

And by the way..try not to pass out before you push back from the table…

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Fridge Still Struggling

Elvis Is Still In The Building...

We received the new refrigerator about 11:15 this morning, but the old one refused to turn loose of the ice maker water line that it wasn't using except intermittantly. The stupid old copper line has a stupid old copper valve with no handle that won't close so we have to turn off the water to most of St. Simons or something in order to connect the new unit.

We now have the old fridge sitting unhappily beside the new fridge while we wait on the water company and a plumber to come remedy the situation.

If I owned this condo we'd be done by now, but since it's not mine I'm at the mercy of the so called "professionals."

Pray for us...

Kitchen Difficulties

Our Fridge Is Possessed…

Anyone know a good Exorcist?

I’ve been wrestling with our kitchen fridge for the past month or so, and it’s been winning each round of the fight.

The fridge and I have sort of a “love hate” relationship…I love to hate our refrigerator.

I guess it’s not surprising that we’d have trouble with it because it would appear that it is pretty old and that the gentleman that rented us the condo probably took his good fridge with him when he moved out.

I don’t know if he bought this one at a used appliance shop or found it sitting beside the road or in the dump, but I’m 99% sure that old man Schwaller (our original landlord) didn’t keep his food in this beautiful piece of plastic and steel and chrome.

It has a crappy amateur spray paint job on part of it, rust on other parts of the cabinet, and it has generally looked like heck from the very beginning of our tenancy, but we’ve gotten by with it because we didn’t own the place and didn’t want to put the money into buying our own unit.

At first it was the ice maker that made us crazy.

Ever since we moved in it has made hollow ice cubes. There’s no adjustment or other control on the unit, and I guess that hollow cubes wasn’t really a big deal except that a cooler full of hollow cubes doesn’t have the same cooling value as a cooler full of solid ice cubes.

We’ve elected to just live with it anyway.

Next the icemaker started taking what we called random “vacations.”

When we had visitors or otherwise needed it the most, it would just stop making ice. I would then go out and buy bags of ice, and almost every time the machine would start producing its own ice again in a fit of jealousy or something.

Most recently the icemaker stopped putting the water into its ice tray and started dumping it down the back of the inside of the fridge into the bottom of the freezer section and ultimately out into a puddle on the kitchen floor.

At that point I took the irritating thing (the icemaker) apart, fiddled and fumbled around with the pieces, then put it all back together again. I even managed to not have any screws or other parts left over when I was done.

I couldn’t find anything obviously wrong with it, but guess what?

It worked…

For exactly one day.

Once I had prematurely declared victory, then it went back to dumping water on the floor.

I simply turned the blasted thing off and I have been buying ice ever since.

This week the feces hit the proverbial fan when Pat took a swig of 1% milk that was less than a week old and nearly spewed it on the ceiling.

The milk was sour, as was the other half gallon of whole milk (my beverage of choice.) I’ve been afraid to check the half and half and whipping cream, but I think that they’ve succumbed to the same fate.

It was at that time that we realized that our old friend and my nemesis, “Mr. Fridge,” was dying.

I, personally, didn’t know whether to celebrate or cry, but I finally called the landlord yesterday morning to report our difficulties.

The dentist that is our current landlord bought the condo the month we moved into it. In retrospect we missed an awesome real estate deal here, but we didn’t realize what we were looking at, being unfamiliar with St. Simons island property values when we arrived.

Any way…

The Doc came over twice within a couple hours of our phone call yesterday and by noon he had a nice new side by side fridge on the way...

AND HE RAISED OUR RENT $50 A MONTH to pay for it.

Gosh darn it, WE could have bought a new fridge for $50 a month ($1200 in two years) and owned the darn thing when it was all said and done.

Well, at least we don’t own the condo or the new fridge when it blows away in a hurricane this summer.

It would appear that by raising our rent $600 per year, my old nemesis “Mr. Fridge” got in one final parting shot as he goes out the front door this morning.

I think that I’ll give “Mr. Fridge” a nice kick in the door once it is safely outside the building…

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


The End Is Near

A little over a week ago I mentioned here on this blog that my Paternal Grandmother was hospitalized in serious condition. The response I received in comments and E-mails was overwhelming, and my family even had a glimmer of hope when she improved slightly and was moved out of intensive care that she would be able to beat the odds yet again.

I received word last night that that was not to be the case.

My grandmother in fact has a living will, along with the other necessary documents allowing her to choose further medical intervention, and as of yesterday she has elected to refuse additional efforts to provide nutrition.

It’s just a matter of time now—one to two weeks under the care of hospice personnel.

It’s hard for me to accept, but it’s her decision.

My Grandmother Rogers was and is an amazing woman. Born in 1913 in eastern Kentucky outside the coal mining community of Grayson, she left high school to marry and raise my father and two uncles after relocating to Boone County West Virginia.

Grandma worked hard to elevate herself and my family above the squalor and ignorance common in the 1930’s and 1940’s in the coal mining “camps” of Appalachia. They started out in a two room house with no indoor plumbing, but before retiring to central Florida in the mid 1970’s she and my Grandfather managed to earn enough money to own the only brick house in the town of Prenter, WV.

After raising her family, she returned to high school at the age of 42 to receive her own diploma. When I last saw her healthy this winter she was talking about attending her 50th high school reunion this summer. I’m sorry that she won’t make that milestone.

Her oldest son, my father, was the first person in our branch of the Rogers family to graduate from college when he received a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Kentucky. Both of his brothers followed suit with degrees of their choice.

My sister and I were the first of our generation to graduate from college, and I believe that my sister is the first with a post graduate degree—an MBA from Emory University in Atlanta.

We’ve all worked hard in our own right to attain our individual successes, but none of us would be where we are today without our little 5 foot tall firebrand--Grandmama Rogers.

I hope the end comes quickly and peacefully.

I’m going miss her.

Monday, March 27, 2006

If I Were Standing In the Legal Line

I'd Want My Money Back...

Does anyone but me find it sort of weird that we're having to have a DEBATE about the topic of ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION?

I mean, what is there to not understand about this issue?

Either you're born in Alabama with your banjo on your knee...and you're an American citizen...

Else…You're born in Ethiopia or Mexico City or Rio and you’re not an American citizen—at least you’re not without jumping through some legal hurdles.

(Notice that I didn’t say jumping across a fence or the Rio Grande)

If you meet the second criteria, you shouldn't be too surprised to find out that you’re a resident of an impoverished African country or that of Mexico or Brazil--at least until you get a passport and Visa and/or apply for immigration privileges and future US citizenship.

It all seems simple enough to me.

Both sides of my family did it (immigrated) a couple hundred years ago when things were a bit simpler, but they paid the price and I'm proud to be here today in spite of the sorry state of the mentality and morals of much of our population.

Most of us (my family) have also followed the laws and paid our own freight to maintain our existence since then. Some of us have even become wealthy along the path of following the American dream.

So what the hell is going on when a half MILLION Mexicans take to the streets downtown in an AMERICAN city to protest the proposed change in US law making entering our country illegally a felony

Again I ask, what is there to not understand?

Break the law, pay the price...

What I want to know is—why didn't the police and armed forces just walk in, fly a few helicopters overhead, and arrest everyone in sight that couldn't produce proof of citizenship?

OH…Nooooooooo…..can’t have that…German Gestapo tactics….ooohhhhh aaaaahhhh

Of course, as is usual with the liberal media when covering these type events, the estimates of attendance varied widely. I've heard 500,000 in the LA streets from the AP reports, and at the same time I heard that the number was closer to 100,000. I’ve found that the AP tends to overstate attendance when it fits their agenda, while at the same time understating the numbers when it advances a cause they don't agree with (the number of red state voters comes to mind in this instance.)

Any way…

Rumor has it that there are somewhere near 11,000,000 illegal immigrants here in the United-by-God-States of America today.

I suspect that that number to be a bit low.

How the hell can anyone in the government keep a straight face while talking about that number of infiltrators?

11 illegals is a non-issue.

110 is worth having a meeting every now and then.

1,100 is a real issue.

11,000 is a serious situation.

110,000 is more than a bit of a problem.

1,100,000 means someone in the government needs firing.

11,000,000 is in fact's a NATIONAL DISGRACE.

I don't give a tinkers damn what Julio and Migael and Virgillio and Pablo say about their rights and intentions, ELEVEN MILLION people that don't belong here is ELEVEN MILLION too many.

Let me tell you, I've spent my fair share of time working with and around Mexican “immigrants” and I say that they all basically fall into three categories.

The first category is rather obvious...what I call the “poster boy/girl” immigrant. They’re industrious, honest, sincere people that are looking for a better life and fully intend to integrate themselves into most of the American lifestyle. Of course I can't blame them if they avoid a big piece of our culture like Hollywood and some of the other pop culture crap that has developed here in the last fifty years.

The second group is the real problem...criminal immigrants that would be considered a pestilence in any country and any culture. These people are mean, dishonest, greedy, robbing, thieving, drug dealing, scumbags that Mexican Presidente Vincennes Fox is happy to be rid of.

Finally, there is a third category that burns my ass, but there isn’t much that we can do about them until the government gets their collective heads out of their asses and stops the flood influx.

These people are here illegally and they know that there is nothing that the average citizen like me and you can do about it.


These people have no intention of assimilating into our country and our culture, they just want to stay here and start Mexico North.

Or is it North Mexico?

They are just as surely a problem as the outright criminal immigrants are, because they intend to take over the country by gaining citizenship and a vote, even as they subvert our immigration laws.

All I know is that I’m glad that I’m 46 and not 26 or 16 because the America I was born in is rapidly disappearing and the one I die in is likely to be a place I don’t recognize. I come...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Have I Got Memory?

200 Gigabytes Worth…

There was a time when I was always on the cutting edge of PC computer technology at work and at home.

I lived and breathed computers--it was both a hobby and a business tool. I even had a subscription to “Byte” magazine, the ultimate computer nerd magazine of the 1980’s.

I was always head computer nerd everywhere I worked, so as a result I got to make the purchase decisions and I generally had one of the fastest PC sitting on MY desk.

My tastes in computers trickled over to my home PC equipment also.

I had an 80 Mb SCSI hard drive when everyone else suffered along with 40 Meg IDE drives. I had a HP laser printer while my friends waited on noisy old Epson dot matrix printers to print their letters home to mom or “honey.”

I had a Dell notebook PC back in 1993 in the days before every other seat on an airplane featured some bored executive pounding away on the keyboard of one. I could barely get any work done because people kept stopping to ask “hey, isn’t that one of those new Dell’s?”

Darn it was fun, but it was EXPENSIVE buying a new computer every two years or so, particularly when I was spending an average of $3000 on each new platform.

Things have changed a good deal for me today, as my computer needs have been drastically reduced and my computer budget has fallen along with them. While I used to run AutoCAD every day and spend hours in Excel Spreadsheets and running custom programs that I had written, today my computer use consists primarily of writing Word Documents, editing photos in Photoshop, and surfing the internet.

I haven't read a computer magazine in years, and today I resort to invesitgating our technology needs as they arise, sort of on a "need to know" basis rather than sitting around lusting all the time over things that I don't need and/or can't justify the cost of owning.

Today I don’t really need screaming processor speed, the standard resolution of most monitors and LCD displays is more than adequate, but what I do need is LOTS of hard disk space on which to store my photographs.

The problem became critical last week when I realized that one of our machines’ hard drive was 98% full. This explained while the performance was crawling. The older laptop which I use primarily was in the same situation.

I hate to admit that I didn't have a clue what our options were, so I called my former college roommate Andy to ask for an opinion. Andy still lives on the cutting edge when it comes to information and computer technology as an executive at a division of Intergraph Corporation.

When Andy turns on his computer system, the lights in all of western North Carolina dim slightly. Andy's computer storage capacities are in the three TERRABYTE HOME.

Andy suggested that as a solution to our storage woes that I forget looking at USB flash drives or replacement internal hard drives and instead consider the inexpensive USB external drives.

Saturday afternoon we wandered across the Torras Causeway--back to the real world to do some shoping. Pat went to Bed Bath and Beyond while I visited Staples and Circuit City.

When we left the parking lot on our way back home to our little island, I was so excited that I almost wet my pants.

No…I’m really not that simple minded…it’s just that I realize how amazing it is today when it comes to where we are with computer hardware.

We paid the clerk at Staples for a Maxtor 200 Gigabyte USB Drive ($119.00 plus tax), brought our purchase home, opened the package, plugged it into the computer’s USB port, plugged the AC adapter into the wall, rebooted the computer and….

instead of 40 Gig, Pat’s little Dell computer now had 240 Gig!

No driver installation from floppy disks or CD’s.

No special extra cost cabling or adapters.

No extra trips to the computer store

No e-mails to support websites.

No phone calls to tech support.

No bitching and complaining and shouting and scratching my head and/or ass, wondering what I’d done wrong.

There weren’t even any instructions in the packaging—just a reference to a website to answer questions to anyone unlucky enough to not know which end of an AC adaptor to plug into the wall outlet.


I guess maybe not--particularly if you are under the age of 35. Let me tell you kids something…things haven’t always been this way.

I remember back about 1985 when I managed to talk my boss into letting me buy a new hard drive for my IBM PC-XT.

You see, the old PC-XT’s originally came with a giant…get ready…10 megabyte hard drive.

My co-workers used to hang around my desk and gawk in envy because I didn’t need a stack of floppy disks to run spell check on Wordstar.

We paid nearly $300, as I recall, to double my capacity to 20 meg, and I had to replace the existing 10 meg drive to do it because “half height” drives hadn’t been invented yet and the old PC-XT chassis only had two drive bays—we needed to save one bay for a 5-1/4” floppy drive in order to install new programs and exchange data with other users on floppies.

Back then, adding or replacing a hard disk involved…gasp…OPENING UP THE CABINET of the PC, exposing sensitive things like the power supply and “mother board.” Then there was the inevitable extra trip back to the computer store to buy the cable that you really needed rather than the cable that they already sold you or that came with the new hard drive.

As I said earlier, today you plug the darn things in, turn them on, and start computing.

How easy is that?

Also, consider this statistic. Two Hundred Gigabytes in my new drive is 10,000 times larger than the 20 Megabyte capacity of that first drive that I installed 21 years ago.

Ten thousand times the storage capacity for less than half the 1985 price…

Sorry, but I'm still excited and I’ve got to go pee now…

(then I'm going to save some new pictures on our new hard drive)