Saturday, November 03, 2007

Good Eats

Here...Try This...

I think that I mentioned previously that we've been doing a good deal of cooking and entertaining--mainly menu re-runs--here over the past few months since we moved into the new house down on our little island.

For instance, last weekend I cooked not one but TWO 16" pizzas for guests that came out pretty well, and last month I did my low country boil for the same group (the dish is a no brainer but still I've seen people screw it up.)

In addition to those events, I'm brining and smoking a half dozen racks of baby back ribs for guests next weekend and I'm handling most of the cooking for a fairly elaborate Thanksgiving lunch for six or eight folks here on the 25th.

Since the weather has cooled off a little, some soup/stews have also been on the dinner menu--things like Seafood/Chicken Gumbo and a Caribbean Jerk Stew I tried out the other night which was served on top of boiled potato and onion pierogies.

Pat and I have also eaten our way through most of a prime twenty pound Angus Beef Tenderloin and of course loads of things like my Chicken Picatta and various pork dishes because, as I said before, I HAVE A FREEZER.

Last night, after meeting friends for drinks on the deck of a local restaurant (yes it was over 70 degrees here at 5 PM,) I put together a made up dish I been working on for the third or forth time that I think is worth mentioning if you're interested and you like fish. It works best with Tilapia, but I think that you could use any mild fish like Flounder or Orange Roughy, etc.

Here's what I did to make dinner for two:

2 Tilapia fillets

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp white pepper
1 tbsp sweet paprika
pinch of baking powder

a splash of milk in a bowl

1 slice of a large sweet onion, separated into rings (more if you want more onion rings

1 small can sliced green olives (drained)
1 small can sliced ripe olives (drained)
2 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup of chicken stock
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
1/2 cup white wine

3/4 cup of long grain rice

Peanut oil

Here goes...Dice up your tomatoes, then toss them into a large skillet over medium heat while you dump in your green and black olives, the salt, Cayenne pepper flakes, and the chicken stock. Get everything up to a good simmer adjusting your heat as required, and let it cook for a good fifteen minutes. Add your wine and lemon juice and keep simmering.

Meanwhile start cooking your rice according to the package directions and mix up your flour spice mixture in a shallow dish and splash the milk into another shallow bowl. (Don't forget to slice your onion rings.)

Now put enough of the peanut oil into a large heavy skillet to make a 1/2" deep puddle of oil. Kick the heat up to medium high under the skillet and shoot for 375 degrees F. (It really helps if you have a thermometer that clips on the side of the skillet to tell you the oil temp continuously--I do.)

The key here is to get everything done at the same time, so you need to keep cooking down your tomato/olive mix while at the same time prepping your onion rings and the fish fillets.

Dip your fillets and onion rings in the milk, then dredge them through the flour to get a nice thin coating on all sides. Reserve them on the side on a plate or foil.

Once your tomato/olive mix is cooked down nicely and your oil is up to at 375, drop your onion rings into the oil and fry them for a couple of minutes on each side, then drain them on paper towels.

Let the grease come back up to temperature, then toss in your floured fillets and cook them for two or three minutes per side, until they're flaky. Place them on paper towels on the side to drain. (Your rice should be done by now and you might preheat a couple of big pasta bowls in the oven if you want to.)

Plating it all up (it's real hard):

Dump some rice into your bowls, place a fillet on top of each rice pile, dump half the tomato/olive mix on top of each serving, then lay two or three onion rings on top, Grab yourself a fork, and EAT.

I've got to go finish making Pizza now...Y'all have a nice evening.

Forty Acres And A Mule?

How About A Freezer And A Three Dollar Turkey???

Dang I LOVE having a chest type Deep Freezer. I've already got frozen meat running out of my ears, but regardless I just got home from a Harris Teeter "three day" pre-Thanksgiving Day sale and get this...

I bought a 11-1/2 Pound Turkey for $3.34 plus tax ($0.29 per pound).

My bird is now residing comfortably in my garage freezer along with a big plastic bag full of giant Alaskan King Crab clusters that were also on sale for less than half price. If I didn't have the volume of cold real estate in which to store my prizes purchased on sale, I would be forced to pay full price over the next few weeks for my holiday meals.

I think that instead of just handing out food stamps to people that the government should drive a truck around poor minority neighborhoods public housing developments up to the front door of the recipients of the public largess and dump a deep freezer off and chain it to the back porch of every address.

Then once a month (every time the local grocer has a sale) the truck would back into the driveway and deliver whatever was on sale that day.

Forget letting our benefactors buy cigarettes and ground beef to feed their dogs, I say that if they want to participate in "assistance programs" that they do like this mean old angry white arrogant "rich guy" and get themselves a freezer and a three dollar turkey rather than waiting until Thanksgiving or Christmas eve and spending $16 of taxpayer money on the exact same meat.

Just call me pragmatic insensitive, I guess...

Friday, November 02, 2007

Sauce For The Goose

How Do They Keep A Straight Face?

I was cruising around this morning looking at what was happening in the world when I came across this story on the "Editor & Publisher" website about the announcement of yet ANOTHER circulation decline over the past six months for the major print newspapers.

...The push to herald total audience is coming not a moment too soon since paid circulation continues on a downward slide. According to industry sources speaking to E&P, daily circulation for reporting papers in the six-month FAS-FAX period ending September is down about 2.5% while Sunday is expected to fall 3.5%. Those types of declines -- in the 2% and 3% range -- have been occurring as far back as the March 2005 period.

E&P has learned that several major papers have suffered declines in daily circ of over 7%, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Miami Herald and The Dallas Morning News.

Asked for comment, publishers of these papers blamed the decreases partly on the cut back in other-paid circulation -- which includes Newspaper in Education, hotel, and third-party copies. And papers have been chopping distribution areas--it's too expensive to serve outlying communities, at least in print.


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's circulation fell about 9% for both daily and Sunday. "Those loses are in-line with our expectations," Robert Eickhoff, senior vice president of operations, told E&P. "We are focusing on individually paid and marching down a very strategic path." [emphisis mine-VRR]


Daily circulation at The San Diego Union-Tribune declined about 8.5% while Sunday was down about 7.9%. The paper has almost completely eliminated third-party copies and reigned in some of their bonus days as well as discounted copies. Bill Nagel, the vice president of circulation, noted the paper's total audience reaches more than 60% of the market.

Combined circulation for The Miami Herald and Nuevo Herald declined daily and Sunday about 8.4% and 12.3%, respectively. Terry Whitney, vice president of circulation, said the papers were cutting back on third-party and event copies under a two-year plan.

These people kill me. They are explaining rearranging the furniture on the deck of the Titanic like they're just doing a little planned redecorating.

They simply can't bring themselves to publicly admit that they are losing readers because their product SUCKS--either because of or in spite of all of the Columbia Journalism Grad school alumni they have hanging around their offices.

I, your lowly unpaid Internet blogger, tilt my head back and laugh to mock the dead tree legacy medias' fate as you keep your quarters in your pockets to feed the parking meter rather than paying fifty cents each day for want ads and useless false ASSociated Press stories about jobless recoveries and death and doom in Iraq.

How long will it take for them to figure out that they will either improve the quality of their product, else ultimately be forced out of business?.

It's not a question of IF, it's just a matter of when...


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Political Activism

Blogging On The Back Burner

Sorry folks, but I'm busy these days doing some real writing on a story about Political Polling, and this morning I had to take time out to write a letter to the State Republican Party headquarters on behalf of my County Commissioner Cap Fendig's campaign for President.

I know...I know...I know, Cap stands a snowball's chance in hell of actually getting elected, but the assholes in Atlanta geniuses on the Republican Executive committee jumped the gun this week and tossed their slate of candidates for the February Republican primary to the Secretary of States' office with only the nine national candidates names on it--omitting Cap entirely.

Apparently they knew that he had qualified with the Federal Election Commission, that he was already on the New Hampshire and South Carolina primary ballots, but the "powers what be" are afraid of a two term county commissioner and what he might do to the state wide pecking order for offices like Senator and Representative and Governor if they allow people to find out about him by letting him on the presidential ballot.

Well, you know me, I couldn't just silently sit beside the process as it goes on (the deadline is November 17th), so I sat down at the keyboard this morning and blasted this off to Sue Everhart, Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party:

Chairman Everhart,

I am writing to you this morning to express my dismay over the state Republican Committee's decision to limit the slate of Presidential candidates in the upcoming State Republican Primary to the nine national candidates, in the process omitting Glynn County commissioner Neil H. "Cap" Fendig, Jr.

I believe that the committee owes the Republican voters of the state of Georgia the opportunity to consider the candidacy and, as a result, to potentially vote for any legal resident living within the borders of the state of Georgia that spends the time and money required to qualify to run not only for President, but for any statewide office.

I find the words "Grassroots Leadership" plastered all over the home page of the Republican Committee's website, yet apparently the words have a different meaning for the committee that they do for myself and the other Republican and independent voters down here in Glynn County.

It seems that you and your fellow committee members believe it prudent and fair to allow 56 people on the Executive Committee, mostly from the Atlanta metro area, to decide that Georgia voters aren't sophisticated enough to read ten names on a ballot, therefor limiting our choice to nine. (One has to wonder how many other excellent but as-yet unknown candidates' efforts have been stymied in the past here in Georgia by this same heavy handed political tactic?)

Commissioner Fendig has an excellent reputation here in Glynn county, he meets all of the requirements to run for President to the letter of the law, and it's just plain dirty politics that you deny him the opportunity to win or lose his bid to be on the November 2008 ballot by letting the GEORGIA VOTERS DECIDE as the voters will be doing in at least two other states.

I doubt that the cost of the extra ink on the ballots or the pixels on the electronic voting machine display are going to break the Committee or the State's budget next winter, therefore I respectfully ask that you and the committee reconsider your decision.

Best Regards,

Virgil R. Rogers, III
St. Simons Island Georgia

Now let's see what happens...


I just received an E-mail from Commissioner Fendig thanking me. I copied my letter to both of my US Senators, and the two southern Georgia US Representatives who are also on the committee, and I really hope that they will reconsider.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

If The National Weather Service Were A Company

I'd Buy Stock...

These guys at the National Weather Service, or more specifically, the National Hurricane Center, are truly amazing. I was sitting around here this evening checking the progress of Noel, the latest storm down in the Atlantic, and I compared the current 11:00 PM plot against the plot done last Saturday (three days earlier.)

Take a gander at Point A on each of these charts:

Not to be insensitive because I realize if you were in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, or Cuba, things have turned out quite differently and even been deadly, but look how close they were with the track three days out.

It was supposed to be where it is now during the middle of the day on Tuesday, but that was because the actual storm track moved north of the models' projections and then deviated back to the south southwest during the day on Monday and Tuesday.

Next notice the 8 PM Thursday point on the Saturday projection matches the mid-day projection for Thursday on tonight's projection.

As far as South Florida is concerned, so far they've nailed it and they also correctly projected that it would not make it up to Hurricane strength.

Twenty years ago this kind of forecasting would have been impossible, and Global Warming aside I think that everyone here in the southeast can close the book on the 2007 Hurricane season.

Thank GOD...


Pumpkin Reruns

I'm Too lazy to Care Carve

Sorry folks, but the pumpkins available down here on our little island this year were basically overpriced and small, so my pumpkin carving efforts were put on hold for this season. I just couldn't get fired up for some reason.

For my new readers, here's some of my golden oldies from years past...

First a look at my own original design for 2004...John sKerry Herman Munster:

Here's a simple little haunted house I did for a friend's grand kids last year:

And finally, the giant 120 pounder last year with a more elaborate haunted house theme:

That big sucker kicked my butt--it took about three days to design the pattern on Photoshop and do the carving for the kids at the local Montessori School.

We ended up giving it to the local Nursing home the day before Halloween for them to display in the lobby.

After doing that one, I guess that you could say that I'm all "pumpkined out..."


After looking around on my external backup hard drive I found this one from 2005. Guess what it represents?


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Joe Torre and the Dodgers?

Some Personal Recollections...

Let me start out this posting by saying that I'm a real fan of Joe Torre, but not just because of his work with the NY Yankees.

In fact I guess that I should say I'm a fan in SPITE of his work with the Yankees since, currently being a luke warm Atlanta Braves fan, it was tough watching the Braves lose not one but two World Series to Mr. Torre's team.

Joe Torre won my favor way back in 1982 when, having suffered through the lows and lowers of watching the Braves since Ted Turner launched his "Superstation" on cable TV in the early/mid 1970's and broadcast every single game each season, he moved to Atlanta.

You see, the problem with being a Braves fan in those "Pre-Torre" days was that they lost more games than they won. They lost A LOT of games--a 199 versus 388 game record in the 1977-1979 seasons.

Don't believe me...look it up here.

When I moved from my childhood home in south Alabama to college in Atlanta in 1977, I started attending Braves games in person instead of just watching them on TV. In spite of their record, making the 15 minute drive down to the old Atlanta stadium from North Avenue was at least a monthly if not weekly event in those days.

Back then you could get in on "day of the game" outfield seating from something like 2 bucks and a beer cost you another $2 and you had yourself an evening with parking for about $7.

We used make an event out of watching the games in my dorm's common room or the Fiji fraternity house until the sixth or seventh inning, then if the Braves were winning we'd jump into my Camaro and run down to the stadium and park in the preferred parking area for free, then run inside for free also (after the seventh inning stretch they opened the gates and stopped charging admission) and grab some drinks and cheer the conclusion.

Sometimes the Braves would still lose, but it was the adventure, not the final score, that counted most.

Now back to Joe Torre's three year stint as Braves manager...

After beginning his major league playing career with the the Milwaukee Braves in 1960, in 1982 Joe came to Atlanta from managing the NY Mets to reunite with the Braves as manager, in the process inheriting a team that was moving forward but had not achieved their true potential.

I vividly remember a guy named Bob Horner was playing first and sometimes third base that season, and the Braves, under Torre's new supervision, opened with their best start ever...a 13 and 0 win loss record.

The city of Atlanta was ecstatic.

The Braves went on to become the NLCS champions that season, and I camped out with my roommate Andy and a few friends at the old stadium to buy a set of World Series tickets for something like $13 per game for four games. (Oh for the days before TicketBastard TicketMaster and the other online BS that favors the professional scalpers.)

Unfortunately, Atlanta lost their second ever NLCS appearance that year in an 0-3 sweep to the St. Louis Cardinals, and I never got to use my World Series Tickets.

A humorous highlight of that season was when an Atlanta pitcher named Pasquel "Perimeter" Perez missed a start at home during the regular season when he got lost on I-285, the perimeter interstate, and drove two or three 60 mile long circles around the town while his fellow players wondered where he was (Perez also pitched the final losing game in the NLCS series that season.)

So any way, Torre has most definitely gone on to bigger and better things, and with his departure from the Braves after the 2005 season due to Ted Turner's quirky management style I remember proclaiming that the Braves would suffer and Torre would prosper.

I was right, but thank god that Bobby Cox came along later and saved Atlanta from themselves and Generalissimo Turner.

I had to look this fact up here, but ironically Torre left management to become a TV analyst for six whole seasons for the California Angles before coming back into the front lines of the sport as their manager in 1990.

What a HUGE waste of talent, in my opinion, but I could see where he might be discouraged and burned out and based on his success since then I guess that his mother can forgive him.

After this season's unprecedented loss in the playoffs, Torre has been dealing with yet another wealthy megalomaniac in the form of George Steinbrenner, who's management style often resembles that of a pack of Meerkats or some form of mentally handicapped dwarf.

I felt that his treatment was deplorable, but Steinbrenner's got a long long history of bashing managers and then kissing and making up more than once (see Billy Martin.)

According to tonight's breaking news, Torre could take the helm of the LA dodgers as soon as tomorrow, certainly with a better deal than the one year pay cut that Steinbrenner offered him this month to stay with the Yankees.

I don't think that Joe Torre plays the "kiss and make up crap" that Steinbrenner loves, and therefore, all I can say is...



Monday, October 29, 2007

Porter Wagner's Dead

He's finally seeing "The Green Green Grass Of Home"

I think I've mentioned before that back in the late 1960's and early 1970's I was the world's worst guitar student. It's a funny thing what not practicing diligently does to your musical career.

Regardless of my ineptitude, one of the songs that I did manage to pick my way through mostly one note at a time with a few strummed chords thrown in was Mr. Wagner's 1965 hit "The Green Green Grass Of Home."

(If you look at the lyrics, the song is actually written from the viewpoint of a prisoner on death row dreaming about his home before he's executed. Fortunately Porter took a substantially different path to his grave.)

Living down in Lower Alabama back in those days, it wasn't uncommon for shows like "Hee Haw" and the "Grand Ole Opry"--which Porter joined in 1957--to flash across our new color TV screen every few weeks and there he was in his fancy sequin spangled suits singing and strumming away.

I have to admit that I wasn't a huge Porter Wagner fan, but I still have a great deal of respect for he and the other musical artists of his generation that put country music on the international map while making their meager incomes (by today's standards) from small venue live performances and radio, long before TV invaded the lives of most Americans.

RIP Mr. Wagner...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

When Fall Doesn't Give You Beach Weather...

Put On A Sweater

(That little pup sure loves her beach chair.)

Owl Gore and The Unwashed Masses Celebrate

But Hopes For New FEMA Disaster Evaporate Within Hours...

I just noticed that I had received an e-mail from NOAA announcing the formation of Tropical Depression 16 at 11:00 PM. I'm sure that there are fingers and toes crossing in the ranks of the Global Warming zealots as the drama unfolds over the next week.

Here's the path He/She is expected to take according to the weather nerds:

I did a little checking, and here's the surface water temperature chart for the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and Western Atlantic:

Anyone but me notice that hard turn to the North, then the northeast, that our newest threat to mankind and the most features of this hemisphere of the planet is expected to take?

You don't have to have a PHD in Meteorology to understand why.

It's because of this stupid stationary front that's been dripping and drizzling on everyone and everywhere from Savannah to Miami for the past half week.

Feel free to go back to sleep now, because the storm will be a total non-issue shortly...