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Oh my poor baby.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Mike is our youngest son. Academically he has always struggled. His ADHD is rather severe but medication makes him feel worse. Besides, after a certain time, all I can do is remind him to take them. And of course he didn't.

He was invited to attend Mount St Joseph High School not on the basis of his test scores but on the weight of his older brother's performance there. Mike struggled there for four years, always right on the cusp of failure.

Then came college acceptance time. None of the colleges he applied to wanted him. Finally one day a letter arrived form Alvernia University in Reading PA that began "Dear Parents, Congratulation on your son Michael's acceptance to Alvernia University." The letter went on to discuss various payment options.

When Mike got home from school, we were all over him. Why didn't you tell us? He was totally confused and produced for us his rejection letter from Alvernia. Fortunately, his principal went to bat for him, using his influence as the principal of a major Catholic High School to gently twist the arm of the Admissions Dean of a minor Catholic University. They took on Mike as a probationary student.

I have always had the opinion that many, if not most, of the student in college don't really belong there. As it turns out, Mike was one of them. He failed all but one course in his first semester and has been struggling mightily in the first four weeks of the second.

Today he called and I knew something was up. He and his counselor jointly decided that now was not Mike's time for college. I think he was afraid to tell me. Tonight he called again and he was in great distress. I know he felt like a failure. But I reminded him that I didn't even start college until I was 27, almost 28 years old. "Really?" I could hear the "I'm a failure" burden lift from his voice. I know he was expecting me to be hard on him. I can't because I understand him better than he thinks. I too am an ADHD boy. When I was in school they called it lazy, unmotivated, stupid, undisciplined. I got punished and even clobbered for bad grades. Nobody had special program for boys like me as the do now days. Medication was unheard of because it wasn't a medical problem but a disciplinary issue.

Now he has to get a job. I am going to try to convince him that a turn in the Air Force or Navy would do him a world of good.

Scatter shot post

Monday, February 06, 2012

Some observations:

Mike drives in Pennsylvania now since that is where he goes to school. He found it amazing that a police officer pulled him over to give him a warning about driving in the left lane.

Me, too! I have never heard of such a thing!!

When he was learning to drive, I warned him that when he was following a car down the on ramp, he should pay attention to the license plate of the car in front of him If it was a Pennsylvania plate, he should prepare to stop. Now he reports that he now knows why; Pennsylkvania doesn't have on ramps as long as almost any other place he's ever driven. So in PA, you kind of have to stop.

Ah. Then last week we both got a PA eye-opener. He got pulled over for a speeding ticket. Eh, it happens. 61 in a 55. The fine is $37. Still no big deal. Then there are commonwealth-mandated fees: EMS $10, MCARE $30 (Medical Care and Reduction of Error - gives me a warm feeling), JEP/ARJ $10 (this buys laptops for the cop cars), and Costs $36 (no further explanation). That's $86 in sundry fees!.

Lesson? Don't speed in PA.

Today I was at Sams CLub. They sell gas at a members' price of $3.35. That's about 12 cents a gallon savings. On a twenty gallon fill up you save $2.40. People are lining up for more than 30 minutes for this savings. I wonder, if people did the arithmetic would they line up like that? I know my time is worth more than $5 and hour.

The Super Bowl Halftime show this year? Madonna? Who is she kidding? At age 53 it's pretty safe to say her pop-tart days are way behind her. And yet she tried to remind us that she was the original. Oh Well. I never much liked her anyway.

I don't generally watch much football. I never got the habit. But I did watch half of last night's game. She(WMBO) was watching on of those real estate reality shows on HGTV. I finally got her to change channels just in time for the Halftime Show. She liked it. I think She has bad taste. But I did get to watch the second half and it was a good game. It really kept my attention until the end.

Use that microwave oven

Monday, February 06, 2012

I remember the Christmas my mom got her first microwave oven. Back in the early 1970s, microwave ovens were the next big thing in cooking. Everything could be cooked in a flash. Mom even tried to cook her turkey in it.

Yeah. We had spaghetti and meatballs for Christmas dinner that year.

Have you ever really tried to cook anything in the microwave? It is easily the quickest way to ruin a good piece of meat. Shoe leather anyone?

For a long time my use of it was reduced to heating water for tea and thawing things out. Then they came out with those bags of popcorn. Even those were a disaster. Either the bags and the corn burned or you had only half the kernels pop.

With a little practice and a little searching there are things you can do with the microwave oven.

Egg mugs -- Hungry Girl has a whole series of things she calls egg mugs. She stole the idea from me. Early on, I would spray a coffee mug with Pam and scramble an egg in there. But Lisa Lillien took things a little farther and was putting things other than cheese into the mug. She has some tips here: www.hungry-girl.com/newsletters/raw/

Sterilize and deodorize sponges and cutting boards -- Engineers at the University of Florida demonstrated that microwaving a completely wet sponge for two minutes kills over 99% of harmful bacteria. To avoid a fire ensure your sponge is totally wet and heat for no longer than two minutes. Also, be careful not to burn your fingers when removing the sponge from your oven. This method works for sterilizing cutting boards, too. Scrub thoroughly, then heat on high for one or two minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the board.

Revive dry mascara -- Gunky mascara giving you blobby lashes? Heat the tube on high for 30 seconds, then test consistency and heat longer if necessary. I had no idea! Of course why would I?

Warm plates in the microwave -- Food stays warmer longer on a warm plate. Sprinkle each plate with water and place in a stack in the microwave. Heat on high for about 30 seconds.

Save crystallized honey -- They tell us that honey is the one food that apparently never goes bad. They have found perfectly goo honey in the pyramids! So what is up with that grainy stuff in the jar marked honey in my pantry? Well, it's not bad. Simply heat the honey until the crystals melt. A great trick to know about since quality honey is expensive!

And while we are at it ... Soften brown sugar -- Brown sugar can get hard and lumpy over time. Place hard sugar in a plastic bag with a few drops of water or a segment of fresh apple. Microwave for 20 seconds then stir. Now want to stop it from getting hard in the first place? Drop in a slice of bread. And keep some molasses on had. Never seen that go bad either. With molasses and white sugar, you can make brown sugar. Cool!

Proof yeast dough in the microwave -- Boil some water and pour it into a coffee mug. Place the mug at the back of the microwave, then place a very large covered bowl containing the dough in the center of the oven. Heat on low for three minutes, leave to rest for three minutes, then zap on low for another three minutes. Let rest for six minutes. The dough should double in size ... in far less time than it normally takes dough to rise.

Roast garlic in a flash -- Slice the top off a head of garlic to expose the flesh of the individual cloves. Place in a dish and drizzle with olive oil. Add a couple tablespoons of water to the dish, then heat on medium for around seven minutes.

Prep veggies for the grill -- Zapping vegetables in the microwave just prior to grilling cuts down on cooking time. Great tip if you're cooking for a crowd and need to cook lots of veggies fast.

Popcorn -- Wait a minute! I do that all the time. Act II, Orville Reddenbacher, Pop Secret all have microwave popcorn. Yep, but they are expensive compared to what they ought to cost. We got a 5 pound bag of corn and keep in it a sealed plastic bowl and it has lasted for a couple of years. We have a large plastic bowl and use a plate as a lid, dump in a couple of teaspoons of oil or butter, or not, and 1/4 cup of corn. Cook for as long as it takes for the popping to stop and you have popcorn. For about 1/3 the cost of those bags. I was doing it in brown bags until I let one go too long and it caught fire. Or you could purchase a microwave popcorn popper. Just Google microwave popcorn popper. Here's one:


Now you know. Your microwave is not just for baking potatoes, boiling water, popping corn or taking up space on your counter.

There is something missing from my life.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

I was cleaning out the back room today and I came across something I haven't touched in years.

My music.

You read my blogs and you might think I am about running and exercise and food and weight loss. And probably in recent years, I have gotten that way.

I looked at my instruments and I wondered why I had packed them up and not touched them in years. Was it a sign that I have become skewed, out of balance? I am going to find a place for them.

I know why I packed them up ... we had many guests over for Christmas and I needed to get them out of the way. But I never put them back out. Not at all in the entirety to 2011!

I allowed my running to replace this pleasure in my life. That must change.

A mandolin or a banjo I can easily set in a corner and the will be out of the way. Unfortunately, I never really got good at them. Some of the finger contortions required to make chords on a mandolin seem impossible to me. The banjo is easier to play but something odd happens to my fingers when I do. I understand the development of callouses on your left hand, but I get hangnails on my right hand from using the finger picks required for picking in the Skruggs style. It's always on my index and middle fingers where the metal picks are used. So I never really got the hang of banjo picking either.

But I am willing to give them another go because I like the sound they make.

My other instruments are not nearly as mainstream as the mandolin and banjo ... if you can call those mainstream. I never bothered wth guitar or piano.

One is called a bowed psaltery.


It is a trianglular sound box that is strung with 24(?) steel strings across which you pull a bow. It has a squeaky ringing sound that is not as unpleasant sounding as that description makes it seem. This link has is a video of a psaltery trio playing Come Thou Fount (AKA Infant Lowly, Infant Holy):

Unfortunately one of my children at some time in the past cut the horsehairs on my bows, probably the same one who tried to wreck my Sabatier knives when he was angry at me. I know where I can buy new horsehair and the resin to fix them. But what a pain.

Then I have a couple of Appalachian or mountain dulcimers.

Here's a video of Joni Mitchell playing one in concert:

I don't play that well, and I for sure don't sing that well and I am not coordinated enought o do both at the same time. But I can play nice.

By far my favorite intrument is the Hammered dulcimer. These things are rather large and even when not set up, take up a lot of space. It one of those instrument you have probably heard and didn't even know it.

Here is a video of Stringfever demonstrating their virtuosity:

The long side of that trapezoid is 46" on mine. So you can see it takes up quite a lot of space. But it is fun to play and I actually play it fairly well.

Or I did.

I need to pull at least my dulcimers out and start playing around again.

There is no explaining ...

Friday, February 03, 2012

... why I feel like I do today.

I am feeling a little blah. Not like a cold or flu is coming on. So that's not it.

I am not in pain from my recovery, so it's not that I am rushing things.

When I went to fix dinner, I turned to She(WMBO) and asked her if last night's soup would be ok. I didn't feel like cooking and when I looked at the bowl of soup, I didn't feel like eating.

So I am keeping tonight's post short and heading for dreamland early tonight.

I just know I will feel better tomorrow.

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