Hello World.

If, by some strange happenstance, you have landed here because you were trying to find an old and rusty blog called pokerperspectives.com – you’re not in the wrong place. That blog is in semi-retirement, awaiting the day there might be a resurgence of that ancient art of poker-blogging.

This blog – Yes… a blog – is sloooowwwly transitioning to its new identity and location – oneonion.com – where, one day in the future, it is hoped that I can once again take up the keyboard and continue writing. Lack of inspiration and, more persistently, lack of motivation have hindered the progress. Let’s not omit the time-suck that is Facebook, either, that has also gotten in the way (I have all but abandoned Twitter, save for the occasional peep to keep the account active…).

Thanks for stopping by. Maybe we’ll see each other again sometime in the future. In the meantime, go take a walk. Breathe some fresh air. Read a book made of paper.

Ciao!

 

Goin’ old school

I have just wasted spent the entire day migrating this site to a new host. Does this mean I’m back to blogging? Can’t say for sure. But after all the work I put in today, I sure ought to so I can justify that time.

Actually, the reasons for the migration were two-fold – first to acquaint myself with iPage, which happens to be a green hosting service… yes, that’s true. It boasts of being 100% wind powered. 1 And for reasons I will later divulge – finding a green hosting service was perfect for my main task – which is to put together a site for a good friend. I used my blog to test out the set-up, migration, etc. Which didn’t go as planned. Never does. I’m supposed to be a project manager – you’d think I’d have put together a plan before attempting this. Hell no – I just started bumping around in the dark and a few too many bruises later, finally found my way to the light.

So, whaddya think. Is it worth it to come back here and try something more than a 140 characters at a time on a regular basis?

1 And, of course, if you click that link and follow through on signing up for the site, I get money. Just remember, I have less of my life in front of me, than I do behind. I’d like to retire someday. Or, failing that, have a well stocked liquor cabinet to help dull the pain…

Remember

Jan 3, 1941

The first thing Sunday morning after breakfast I heard a plane diving, I thought little of it at the time because the sky is always full of Army planes. We are stationed here next to Hickam field and are used to hearing and seeing practice dog fights over head. I thought it was a practice attack and paid little attention, until some one said “look there is a hell of a lot of strange looking planes up there.”
letter

They were diving from a very high altitude and what I thought was one or two planes turned out to be many times more than that. We still thought they were ours and stopped to watch what they were up to.

Just then, I saw bombs leave the belly of the leading planes. I ran for the barracks of our men and yelled “air raid” as loud as I could just as all hell broke loose. The men didn’t believe me at first, but just about then a bomb whistled to earth nearby and the concussion of the ensuing explosion was terrific; that was all that was needed.

Most of our men were lying in their bunks only halfed dressed, they didn’t bother to dress, they grabbed what was handy and scooted.

I saw the first bomb hit… It was too close for comfort. It hit directly in the center of the soldiers dining hall on Hickam Field. The men were at breakfast so you can imagine what happened.

One moment it was a beautiful building the next second it was a mass of flaming wreckage. It was such a total surprise. I was too surprised to be scared at first.

We all knew there was work to do so we started and, believe me you, I have never seen men go to work so hard and fast and with such cool deliberation. Machine guns were mounted and manned in a very few seconds. The sky was soon full of hot lead from the Anti Aircraft batteries.

I started towards the barracks and hangers, just then I saw a Jap plane come screaming down in flames – it crashed nearby. Those damned Japs would dive and drop their bombs then turn and machine gun us. We seemed to get more angry every minute. I think the anger counteracted our fear.

We started loading men into ambulances and trucks. And, Bud, what I saw makes me hope that if I am ever hit by a 50 caliber machine gun slug that it gets me in the head or heart. They simply tear you to pieces. One man was lying on the ground with the lower half of his right leg just a mass of shredded bones and meat.

We rendered first aid just as fast as we could to all those who we could do anything for. God it was awful.

The Japs kept coming – it seemed like they came over in waves about every 20 minutes or half hour. Their first attack had been a costly one in planes. But by the time of the second and third raids, some of our planes were in the air and boy did our boys make it hot for those Jap “sons of bs,–” They were shooting them down like flys.

We saw one of our boys tangle in a terrific dog fight which would end with the Jap plane plummeting to the ground in flames. It wasn’t long before our boys had all of those who weren’t shot down on the run.

One of the most spectacular things I have ever seen, and something which I will never forget, was the first destroyer which left the harbor to pursue the enemy.

Ships leaving the harbor pass within 200 yards of us here. As this destroyer left the harbor every gun was manned and the air above her and all around her was filled with the flames from her guns.

She was going full speed which is plenty of knots. For a moment or two I thought her wake would cause damage to our boats at the dock, but a large dredge lying just off the dock broke up the swells and little or no damage resulted.

A moment or two later we got our torpedo or Mosquito fleet under way and they headed to sea at full speed. As each ship of our fleet passed us headed to sea to find the enemy, our men would let go with a loud cheer.

Believe me, you folks on the mainland can well be proud of the men in the armed forces out here. Every man pitched in with everything he had. Great numbers of them gave their lives. I lost several very good friends as many others did but there wasn’t a man who stopped or hesitated.

We were caught napping but there is no crying over spilt milk. We all know we have a job to do and that is to pay back double, no treble for every bit of damage they did in their yellow sneak raid. And believe me you can’t force a man to quit his job, every man is determined to stick until the Yellow Sons of the Sinking Sun are smashed.

We don’t expect to do it in any fortnight, we know now the Japs are powerful, but if it takes a lifetime we shant quit until the job is done.

The morale of the men here has never been higher, although we have to live under restrctions. I haven’t heard of a man complain. There is no crying about the raid. In fact there are many stories about the humorous things that hapened during the raid which has given us many a laugh.

I saw a man go into the bombardment squadron barracks. He had just disappeared from sight when somewhere in the building a bomb exploded and he was blown out through a screened window he was standing near. He just sat there and rubbed his head then looked up and said “God, what lousy hospitality.”

On one of the battleships, the Anti Aircraft batteries were rendered useless. The captain ordered the men to run to the spud lockers and get sacks of spuds. He then joined the men in throwing spuds at the enemy planes as they swooped low to machine gun the decks. They threw spuds until the ship started to capsize and the order to abandon ship was given.

I wonder why there is humor in every tragedy.

The lesson we learned here is one you folks there can well profit from. You may think it foolish to have to stand lookouts on the beach, etc. but it’s not. We thought no-one would dare attack such a well fortified place such as this, so we got sort of lax in our look-outs and patrols. Ammunition wasn’t ready etc.

It won’t happen again, which we proved that Sunday night when enemy bombers tried to sneak back for another raid. They didn’t get to drop a single bomb before our guns got their range and finished them off..

We have had several alarms since then; either the enemy never got this far or it was sounded for some other reason. We all know that they will probably be back, but boy are we ready for them, and believe me you, they shall never surprise us again.

I guess I was lucky to get through it with my life. It isn’t the enemy bullet with my number on it that worries me, it’s the one that’s sent “to whom it may conern.” Never fear, though. I’ll be back there before you know it – beating your pants off of you in pinochle.


At the time of this letter, Kenneth Bracken was a 28 year old sailor, posted to the Small Craft Disbursing Office at Bishops Point, Oahu, Hawaii. November 24, 1943, he was on board the USS Liscome Bay when it was torpedoed and sunk following the invasion of the Gilbert Islands.

Out of 912 crew members, my Dad was one of 272 survivors.

The above is excerpted out of a letter he wrote to good friends a month after the attack on Pearl.

Fall Seasoning

Shortly after I began my new job the expected “how do you like” queries filtered in from friends. Experience has taught me to be cautious so I answered with “ask me in six months.” I enjoy starting new things and, as jobs go, there’s usually a grace period of easy forgiveness for a few weeks or months as you learn the ropes. It’s after that grace period ends when true attitudes begin to creep forth and you learn just how diligent you must be to watch your back.

I’m two months shy of my six month milestone and I have to say – I’m waiting for the shoe to drop. This job just can’t be that good. But so far, it is. I really like my co-workers. I’m laughing a lot. And I’m learning a lot – in an eager and non-judgmental atmosphere to boot. Sure, there are things to complain about but, really, those things are so minute as to not even be worth mentioning… yet.

So – when it came time for the “birthday pot-luck” I gladly volunteered to add my award-winning chili to the menu. I had planned to document the process, with pics and instructions, but as I got going, I couldn’t manage the logistics (there’s irony there, considering my job-title).

The recipe won me a first-place plaque in a chili cook-off years ago. It’s changed over the years, and is still changing – so it’s open for interpretation and improvisation1. For instance – the birthday potluck recipe included a couple of roasted chilies my boss bought from a road-side vendor on a trip back from Dallas. I added a poblano and a bell pepper as well. The beef was chuck roast instead of venison or sirloin… So have fun with it and enjoy!

Madre del Bambi Chili

1 lb Italian Sausage
1 lb Regular Sausage (mild or hot – whatever is your taste)
1 lb Venison or Sirloin – cut in small cubes (salt and pat dry before cooking)

3 16 oz cans tomatoes
2 red onions – chopped
4 – 6 bell peppers (or mix your peppers – poblano, etc.) – seeded and chopped
1 – 2 heads of garlic, minced

3 oz cumin
2 oz. chili powder

Improvised – start in small amounts:
Oregano (if fresh, chop a tablespoon first)
Basil (same as above)
Marjoram
Crushed red pepper

Teeny-Tiny – 1/8th to 1/4 tsp. each:
Cinnamon
Nutmeg (fresh grated is best)
Ground Clove

1/2 bottle Worcester Sauce
1 sm. jar Taco Sauce
1 jigger of whiskey (Wellers or Jack Daniels)
Tobasco – to taste (optional if you want to back off the heat)

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown the sausages and drain on paper towels. If needed, add a little oil (veg. or grapeseed) to the pan, brown the venison/beef. Remove the meat and put into a big stew-pot along with the drained sausage. Add a little more oil to saute pan if needed and saute the onion and peppers until soft, add the garlic, cook til garlic is fragrant. Scrape up the sucs (browned bits of cooked meat). Add the veggies to the stew pot.

Add the seasonings, tomatoes, taco sauce, Worcester, Tabasco & whiskey (in short: everything else). Bring the pot to a simmer. Taste frequently and adjust seasonings – salt & pepper, etc. Add liquid if you feel you need it.

Cover and put in the oven for 2 to 4 hours. You’ll know it’s done when you can easily fork shred a piece of the venison/beef.

Cool down the pot quickly in an ice bath (I do this in the sink with ice and water) then refrigerate over night. This is a critical step – the cold bonds the flavor and seasonings.

Reheat in a crock-pot or over the stove. Serve with some luscious corn bread and a hearty beer and your done!

chili


1 EXCEPT: Do not under any circumstances put pasta in this chili. If you do, I will have you assassinated. If you must have beans, you may provide them on the side.

 

A pinch of salt

One year ago I was a week and a half unemployed. I’d started school full time at the local career-tech (new century speak for vo-tech), which was my way of treading water until I figured out how to handle this unplanned for life detour. Even with the loss of the job I was fairly fortunate, though. No debt and a modest reserve fund provided a strong safety net. The unemployment compensation also helped to keep my head above water – in spite of the fact that no less than a quarter of it went to my COBRA payments so I could hang on to my health insurance. I was forced to scrutinize my spending and devise a realistic budget, and a budget with very little wiggle room.

It’s been a number of years since I’ve had to be uber budget conscious. The last few years especially nice with a bit of extra income filtering in allowing me such niceties as travel and relatively unfettered shopping (mostly gadget related). I was now going to have to dust off some of my grad-school/starving artist survival skills and knuckle down to a tight, tight budget. The travel and shopping were reluctant but easy cuts, that left a couple of not-so-easy cuts to examine.

Now, I am basically a lazy person; that is to say I tend to look for the shortest possible route between two points. Or even better, find a way not to have take the route in the first place. This has resulted in certain luxuries I’ve indulged in, such as having a housekeeper in every other week to clean, a yard guy during the spring and summer and eating out or take-out on a regular basis.

Of course, such luxuries cost some coinage and my new cinched-in budget meant I needed to cut back. But, I wasn’t about to sacrifice the housekeeper and with winter on the way, I wouldn’t need to worry about the yard until the spring. That left my dining habits – convenience was going to have to make way for practicality and budget cuts.

Translated – I was going to have to start cooking for myself. And this was a Big Deal.

I didn’t grow up in a house centered on the kitchen. My mother was great with a few dishes (brisket being no. 1), but on a daily basis our meals tended to be boiled and bland. Canned vegetables were a god-send to her (hence a lifetime disdain for green things) and when TV dinners were invented I think she must have done a private little happy dance. My grandmother wasn’t a cook either – her maid Pearl was and we were not allowed in her kitchen. No ma’am, nuh-uh. It’s no accident, then, that when I left the nest, my culinary skills were sorely lacking.

I had a few of my Mom’s better recipes, but too many failures and my lazy tendencies pushed me farther and farther from the kitchen just as the rise of fast-food and the restaurant boom was getting started, not to mention the burgeoning industry and magic of prepared, frozen and processed foods. It was a hungry lazy person’s era of nirvana.

It’s an expensive (and unhealthy) nirvana, though. Now with my shrinking budget, here was my opportunity to change some bad, bad habits and learn another skill in tandem with my daily lessons in accounting. By day – honing my expertise on budgets and such, by evening putting a budget into practice and learning to cook.

Adding motivation for these efforts was a network of foodie friends who love to discuss, blog and tweet about food (as well as eat), complete with illustrations and video. And, ironically, I happen to be a Food Network junkie. It was time to start the clock and put Rachel Ray to the test…

I began by collecting Food Network recipes – I’d record my favorite shows, play back and pause while logging the recipes in a notebook1, craft my shopping lists and hit the grocery store. I also added numerous food blogs to my Google Reader, starring and sharing recipe after recipe. And of course, there’s an app for just about every culinary need occupying space on my iPhone. In short, and really it’s no surprise, I became obsessed. In a good way.

A year later I have to say I’m doing pretty good – I cut my food spending by twenty percent. My lazy side does nags at me – but I’m able to quiet it with some marathon cooking and freeze sessions which allows me to, for instance this week: pull some homemade tomato sauce and some meatballs from the freezer, some fresh basil from the garden and in no time have a home-cooked meal, nothing out of pre-processed and preservative laden jar and far better than a Sonic burger or a packaged meal.2

My iPhone is filled with food porn – shots of my efforts which have joined the meal tweets on Twitter. Once re-employed after my first paycheck, I indulged in the purchase of a Shun Santoku 10″ chef’s knife3 and I joined an online cooking school to learn more of the basics in the kitchen. I’ve learned how to enjoy cooking – even my failures. I’ve discovered an elegant poetry in the process, the prep, the building of a dish, the chemistry, rhythm, flavor profiles, serendipity of an idea that just happens to work (ever try throwing in a couple of spoonfuls of orange marmalade in that chicken dish?).

Fast and pre-processed food no longer has the allure it once did. I’d say I’m a fan of the slow-food movement – it’s far more satisfying without a doubt.

I may begin sharing some of those efforts here. I’m inspired by my no. one favorite food blogger Dutch Girl Cooking, who combines two loves – cooking and photography, producing posts with photos that make me hungry even on a full stomach.

So, with that said – got a recipe to share?

mise-en-place

_______________
1 Yeah, I know there’s a website with the recipes – but this was more immediate and I was getting the low-down on technique as well.
2 Not that I don’t indulge or have fast-food relapses. A drive-in burger is a convenient treat, for sure… and I know where the best ones are in my town.
3 Just as any carpenter will tell you – you have the right tool, you can build anything. The same is true for kitchen tools.

Of Double D’s & Memory Lane

One of the nice things about my relatively new job is the work schedule. Being a green company, we’re encouraged to adopt a 45/35 schedule resulting in every other Friday off – thus saving gas and commuting costs. As eco-aware as I am, I was attracted to the idea of a string of three-day weekends more than the idea of being ecologically conscientious. In fact – I’ve used my car more on those Fridays off than the the five minute commute to work each day.

Take my most recent free Friday, for instance. My trek took me northward to the the big city in search of that holy grail of the female persuasion: a comfortable bra. My research pointed me to a little shop in a neighborhood I am well familiar with and as a result, I took a side trip down memory lane.

A few weeks ago I’d made contact with my best friend from high school. After about thirty-five years of wondering where each other was, Facebook provided the conduit for our re-connection. A few e-mails and a long phone conversation later, I was immersed in a flood of memories. I’m still searching for photographs after receiving some from her of the summer of our trip to Europe. But I digress…

When I got to the city, I drove by a couple of my childhood homes and went looking for my old high school. My last visit was with my brother ten years ago, but, oddly, I had difficulty finding it. I thought driving the route my mom took every school day would spark my memory of how to get there, but after winding through old familiar neighborhoods, I gave in and relied on an iPhone gps app to get me there. Embarrassing.

My school is abandoned now. Fifty-nine years old and she’s a decaying, weed-ridden and rusty old lady. As I drove around the building, echoes of memories bounced off the graffitied walls. My mind’s eye filled with ghosts of the football team practicing on the over-grown field, class-mates filling the breeze-way between the cafeteria and the main building; running down the hall to choir class…

Champions of Yester-year

Champions of Yester-year

I ‘came of age’ while at that school. From seventh through twelfth grade I matured from a goofy thirteen year old to a rebellious-ish hippie by graduation date. I found my ‘clique’ in tenth grade, fell in and out of love in pace with my surging hormones, experienced a string of ‘firsts’ and graduated amidst a torrent of teenage drama and looming adulthood. They were some of the best years of my life.

There have been some odd parallels to that time within the last few years of my life – not that I’m regressing to my teen years, merely experiencing changes, growth, new friendships, hormonal shifts… That high-school version of myself is always with me, though, reminding me to lighten up and keeping me as immature as I ever was.

I’m glad she’s stuck around. And sad that a symbol of that defining era will soon be eradicated and replaced to be remembered only within the yellowed and cracked pages of dusty yearbooks and a dwindling number of alums left behind.

Rest in peace old girl.

John Marshall HS 1950 - 2007

John Marshall HS 1950 - 2007


Pics: Sign: iPhone; Hallway: from Abandoned Oklahoma

Karmic retribution

Those who know me well are keenly aware that I am a heathen non-believer1 when it comes to higher power type beings, but also know that I embrace the concept of karma – simply stated as what goes around comes around. Yesterday’s melt-down, I’ve come to believe, was no less than my just dessert, the karmic animal that turned ’round to bite me squarely in the butt.

Metaphorically speaking.

You see, it all started like this:

A few weeks ago I decided to migrate this blog to a different host – one that supports WordPress. I’d been using Blogger and my own custom template but finally got fed up with blogger’s bugs and lack of extensibility. I knew WordPress was a fairly decent CMS2 and, of course, free.

My hosting service included WordPress in the price of hosting the blog and one click installed it. My next step was to redirect the DNS3. Actually, that wasn’t my next step – it was my first mistake.

TIP: when changing hosting services, do not redirect the DNS until everything is ready to go on the new server. IE: get the house built before you move in….

My second mistake was in thinking all I had to do was to replace Blogger template codes with WordPress template codes to get up and running. Nope. Not that easy. WordPress wants you to have a theme.

Thus began my decent into hell.4 Yes, it woud’ve been far easier to pick one of the bazillion free themes and go from there, but that would have meant giving up control – and, again, those who know me know control is not something I’m happy departing with.

I searched for theme producing tools, tried a couple on trial, then found one that looked like it’d be just the ticket. Now here comes the karma bit.

A lot of the tools out there that can help you put together web-pages, blogs, etc., offer “free” trials before purchasing. Not a bad deal – I’ve gone that route many times, buying some and not buying others.

I’ve also taken advantage of free trials when I knew I needed only limited use of the product. Such was the case with the software I found to help me generate a WordPress theme. I thought, “Okay, I’m only gonna need it for one theme, the trial is all I need…”

Cue ominous underscoring.

I downloaded the software and got to work. In no time, my theme was put together with only a tiny bit of tweaking in the css left to do. I hit export, tweaked, uploaded and….

Sheeyit. All of the images, gifs – my own imported header gif were stamped with the word “TRIAL” all over them.

That – pissed me off. Weh-heh-elllll. I wasn’t go to let that deter me. How dare they – do they know who they’re messin’ with here?

Obviously not.

Soooo, the next day – yesterday – I embarked on my one-upmanship. And this included getting WordPress on my local machine and enabling the localhost capabilities of my mac so I could preview the site build as I went.

Once I got set on that (which was surprisingly not hard – I won’t say it was easy breezy, but it wasn’t rocket science… did you know that the internet is a fount of information?), I downloaded another freebie – the image editor Gimp which is a down and dirty decent open-source substitute for Photoshop.

Then I was ready to go. I opened up the image folder in that marked up theme and, one by one, eliminated all the stupid “TRIAL” stamps from the images. I was very, very pleased with my self as the fruits of my labor replaced their tainted dopplegangers in the image folder.

All the little corners, the drop-shadowed borders, boxes, icons, backgrounds, all of those suckers were wiped clean and made fresh again. All by my hand. And mouse.

Finally, after about ten – thirteen hours of image repair and tweaking the template, the theme was ready for export and uploading to the site.

Again – I was very, very pleased with myself. I had thwarted the beast and won one for all of us open-source acolytes across the globe.

But there was one little tweak more I had to do before uploading to the host. The template name the software generated was ugly and cumbersome. I wanted it to be simple – the name of the blog only. I accessed the theme folder, renamed the file and refreshed localhost.

The blog home page was blank. I went back to WordPress admin – yup, the theme was still there, with the old name. Hmmmmm. What could be the problem? OH I know -

I needed to load the theme again and reactivate so the templates would refresh the association with the theme folder. No prob… let’s just get rid of the old theme via the WordPress admin page – “delete this theme”, yup, click that… done… buh-bye, and then re-loa… er, wait, what????

Where’s my theme?? WHERE’S MY THEME????

It was a few seconds of stunned disbelief before I accepted what I’d done. With one click, I eliminated a day’s work. With one click, karma had the last laugh… the last belly laugh… the last “hardy har-har, up yours, bitch” guffaw.

And then commenced the meltdown which produced yesterday’s post. Not a proud moment, I assure you.

Today, I turned it around. After work, I went to the theme generating software site, gave them my credit card number and bought the license for the software. They got my $49.95 and in under and hour, I got my WordPress theme and here I am, by golly.

<reset>Karma</reset>

I still have some tidying up to do as I get used to the new digs and learn what WordPress can and can’t do. Any tips on widgets and plugins would be most welcome.

Thanks for stopping by this little narcissistic corner of the interverse.


1 Except to call myself a non-believer presupposes that I believe there’s something(one) to not believe in. Let’s call a spade a spade. I’m an atheist. Albeit a tolerant one…
2 Content Management System
3 You really think I’m gonna spell it all out for you?
4 Of course hell exists. I’m not stupid…

In an fucking instant

I am sitting here with weary tears streaming down my face. Why?

Beacause 13 hours of painstaking work building a wordpress theme for this stupid egotistical, self-centered craptastic shithole of a blog just disappeared in a single mouse click.

That’s why.

De-struction

At this time ten years ago I was in my second month of living in my new house. The seven months of its construction had been filled with anxious anticipation, frustration, glee – a virtual roller-coaster of emotions culminating with me crouched on the fresh linoleum of my shiny new bathroom leaning over the rim of the ”virgin” toilet puking my guts out from sheer exhaustion.1

Getiing this site up and running to my satisfaction in this wordpress thing is providing a bit of deja-vue. It’s proving to be quite a bit more difficult than anticipated. Really – why does this have to be such a bear? I just hope it doesn’t end with a repeat on the bathroom floor…


1 A scene that was reinacted nearly 10 years to the day later – only it was bad egg salad and not exhaustion. I suppose if I puke only once every ten years I can’t really complain, can I?

DIY – probably not

Wellll… this is turning out to be more of a project than I anticipated. Seriously – if anyone can guide me to the idiot’s guide for creating custom WordPress themes – I’d greatly appreciate it.

In the meantime, I’m gonna have some ice-cream.