Monthly Archives: August 2012

House is a Holmes

The next two episodes of TV Tuesday concern two shows that are easily in my Fave Five and sure contenders for Top Three. As I mentioned in the first post, there are two that really vie for the top slot, and one that would probably win. This episode is about that show.

This episode is about House, M.D.

As I’ve mentioned before, I watch television for stories that engage me, but more than that I watch television for the characters. This is one place where television shows—especially long-running shows—are superior to movies. A well-drawn character on a television series has a longer “life span” than any movie character can. To approach the life time of a TV character’s life, even for just a single season, requires something like the Harry Potter movies (eight movies amounting to almost 20 hours).

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Hook Up the Cable

TV Tuesday now takes a slight detour from the public airwaves and shows of our past to consider what’s been happening in the cable TV world. Some of the shows mentioned here deserve their own article, but in this post I’m going to fly over the landscape as quickly as I can manage (those who know me are laughing their ass off about now). If I don’t (at least try), this will be even longer than my usual lengthy longitude.

The problem is that the landscape has gotten huge! Even taking just the “premium” cable channels, such as HBO and Showtime, I find a large selection of shows to mention. In fact, HBO and Showtime each offer so many shows, either one alone offers much territory to explore. With that in mind, the flight won’t be stopping at any one destination very long. We have a very tight schedule today!

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Unreality Shows

Before TV Tuesday can proceed to the television I love, I need to clear the airwaves regarding an entire genre of television I cannot stand.

I suspect I’m about to offend some people while causing others to cheer. To those who cheer, you are clearly members of a discerning, intelligent television audience. To those who are offended, your presence in the gene pool is no longer required, please hit the showers.

As you may have gathered, yep, it’s another opinionated rant. This one is about what I consider the worst thing to hit television since Manimal or The Ropers. In fact, it’s worse, far worse, than those two combined, plus Cop Rock and Mr. T. and Tina.

It’s about the form of video excrescence known as “Reality TV.” And that really does need to be in quotes, because there isn’t one thing “real” about it. Quite to the contrary, a more accurate term is “Unreality TV.”

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TV Tuesday

Welcome to TV Tuesday here at Logos CC. Today begins a series of posts concerning that daily invader to most of our lives: television. For good or ill, television has become a fact in the fabric of our families. And certainly there is both much good and ill to be found on the video airwaves. That is an ongoing topic on this blog, but this series is about the shows I love (and some that I don’t).

I suppose TV Thursday might have been a more logical choice, though it doesn’t have quite the same ring. I say that because Thursday nights was the NBC Must See TV night that brought us such classics as The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, Friends, Night Court, Mad About You, Seinfeld and Wings. (How many old friends did you find in that list?)

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BB #8 – RSVP

I was wondering what, if anything, to post today. I woke up with a headache (okay, a hangover), and I find it hard to focus on writing when my head hurts. And today begins what is seeming more and more likely to be my last three weeks in a 33-year career. So I’m feeling a bit down, which also makes writing difficult.

I have been writing a lot lately. Some of that is catching up after nearly a year of writing very little here. I started strong a year ago July, kept it up for two months and then fell off the metaphorical horse. There was a personal and a work-related aspect to that. The latter involved beginning new tasks at work, so there were new systems to learn, and that took a lot of energy. The former is private; suffice to say it involved one of those life disappointments that takes some time to absorb and integrate.

The longer I didn’t write, the easier it was to not write. (Exercise is the same way for me.) I tried several times to get back into it, but never really got up a head of steam.

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Simple Tastes

I wrote recently that I have fairly poor eating habits despite much effort on the part of my parents who do have better sense with regard to food. Part of the problem may have been a counter-lesson involving food-as-reward. We were fairly poor growing up, so getting a pizza (which was a fairly new thing back then) or ice cream was our reward for good grades in school.

I always got pretty good grades in school (although not really for the food reward; I just really liked learning).  But food did become associated with good times, not that there’s nothing wrong with that. I seem to have dodged the bullet of using food as comfort, but I have discovered I eat more when bored or frustrated.

On the other hand, in the last few weeks, I seem to have reignited my childhood love of Kraft Mac and Cheese. It’s a dish most kids love; I was no different. The cafeteria at work has been offering a version they make with smoked Gouda cheese and bits of bacon.

I’d forgotten how much I loved it, so I’ve been buying the Kraft versions lately. I suspect looking for some sort of comfort from the work situation does play a role here. Pasta and cheese; hard to go wrong there, and you can add things to it for variety (toss in some chunks of white meat chicken, and you have chicken pasta alfredo).

Back in the day, on Sunday after church, my mom would make the traditional fried chicken supper complete with potatoes and a side dish of formerly fresh boiled vegetables (the boiling possibly explaining a bit about my dislike for veggies). With that in mind, I thought I’d connect back to those days with Simple Sunday and write about food ala Me.

I’ll warn you now, it will make many of you cringe. I have very simple tastes in food, nothing too fancy for me, please. I was also a very picky eater as a kid. When I saw pizza for the first time (a home pan recipe my mother tried; remember, this is back when it wasn’t a commodity food), I sniffed it for five minutes before I would eat it. (Turns out it became one of my favorite foods, second only to Tex-Mex!)

I’ve also been on my own most of my life, so I’ve been the main chef (well, the only chef usually). As I say, my tastes are extremely simple. Some Triscuits, some cheese, some raisins, a couple of beers, and I call that dinner. Or a nice bowl of popcorn tarted up a bit with Parmesan cheese and spices.  (Even my margarita recipe is simple and easy to remember!)

Over the years I’ve developed a few ways of making simple things just a little bit more fun and delicious. I thought I’d post some here on Simple Sunday.  As I say, some of you will cringe.

We’ll start with breakfast and work our way through the day…

Thompson Breakfast Bagels

Toast a bagel and then make a sandwich using cream cheese and salami. When I first heard of this (apparently available in a vending machine at work), it doesn’t sound good. Cream cheese on a toasted bagel, of course. But cream cheese and salami? That sounds… weird.

Turns out they’re delicious! I use onion bagels (good ones, real ones, not bread pretending to be a bagel), the Philadelphia Chive & Onion and three or four slices of a nice hard salami. (As I was exposed to more of the food world, I learned that sausage and cream cheese is actually a common combo.)

I call them Thompson Breakfast Bagels because that was a common breakfast we made on our fly-in fishing trips on Thompson Lake.

Cayenne Melt Sandwich

This one goes way back to my college days when a friend of mine opened his own health food store. He had a sandwich bar, but none of the sandwiches quite tickled my fancy, so I invented a new one.

Toast some good whole wheat bread and then melt Swiss cheese on both slices.

Sprinkle a bunch of cayenne pepper on the cheese (or use a good spicy salsa) and then a big bunch of mung bean sprouts for crunch and contrast. You can use the alfalfa sprouts in a pinch, but they don’t have that nice crunch.

Sautéed Hot Dogs w/ Swiss

Grilling hot dogs is wonderful, but not always possible or easy. So I start by boiling them in a frying pan with beer (real beer, something with flavor). I throw in a bit of butter and boil until the beer is gone. You finish them off by sautéing them in the butter for a “grilled” outside.

Meanwhile, toast some hot dog buns (this is a rare place where you do want to use white flour buns) and then melt Swiss cheese on the buns (toaster oven works good for this and the sandwich above).

Serve with a good brown mustard; the kind that looks filled with pebbles.

Plain Old Pasta

A fast and delicious hot dinner. Angel hair pasta cooks in four minutes. I throw some olive oil and pepper (black and red) into the water.

Drain. Stir in a few pats of butter and serve with Parmesan cheese and some spices; some fresh garlic is nice. (I just picked up a spiced Parmesan cheese, Mama Francesca, that I’m going to try tonight!)

Brown Sugar Fudge

Homemade “maple sugar” candy. Melt brown sugar with butter. You need high heat to melt the sugar, but don’t overdo it or you’ll end up with caramel, and if you really overdo it you’ll ruin the pan (the stuff hardens quickly and can be impossible to get out short of chisel and hammer).

Take it off the heat and stir in a bit of milk and lots of confectioner’s sugar. Whip it up good into a smooth, firm mixture and pour onto cookie sheets or tin foil. If you did it right, it’ll harden into a melt-in-your-mouth smooth sugar treat very reminiscent of maple sugar candy.


I can sense all the real cooks out there shuddering at my incompetence in the kitchen. Well, we can’t all be chefs. I can design & build computer systems or build a dog house or bookshelves that last for years, so I’m not ashamed. (At least it beats ordering pizza every night!)

In closing, a favorite bit from a movie I’m very fond of.

To say I was a picky eater is not to say a squeamish one. I’ll try anything once, so I’ve had rattle snake (yep, exactly like chicken) and octopus tentacle (rubbery) and those little tiny squids you get in some seafood salads (kinda tasty, those). And I’ve learned that snails, when done right, are pretty good (garlic and butter mostly).

If you’ve seen the Stallone/Bullock movie, Demolition Man, you might recall the scene where Stallone gets an underground burger. It’s the first decent food he’s had since they thawed him out from his deep freeze prison. He learns the burger is actually made from rat (“Do you see any cows around?!”).

His response matches what mine would be (and I’m so glad they played against the “Ew! [spits]” trope). “Not bad,” he replies, “Best burger I’ve had in years.”

If it tastes okay and won’t kill me or make me too sick, then it’s fine with me.


Sunday Drivers

I was on a supply run to the grocery store this morning and was stuck behind a Toyota Camry for most of the way. The entire trip takes place on two-lane roads that are hilly and curved enough to prohibit passing, so I was trapped. It’s a mellow Sunday morning, and there’s no use (ever) letting other drivers get to you. I’m not one to play the tailgating game, but the four vehicles stuck behind me were stacked up tightly.

In fact, once I realized it was a Camry, I started laughing. For a long time now, I’ve had a perception that when you’re stuck behind a particularly bad driver—one that stands out from the usual bad drivers—there is a good chance the car is a Camry. I’ve discovered that I’m not the only one with that perception; I’ve heard others make the same rant.  But it is a fact that there are a huge number of them on the road, and they age well, so odds are high on any car in front of you being a Camry.

This is related to the “full moon fallacy” which is based on the perception that, for example, cops and ER workers have about full moons definitely resulting in weird things. And they have first-hand experience to support the assertion!

The problem is confirmation bias. Weird things happening outside a full moon are ignored as background, but when it is a full moon, then it’s a data point. No objective analysis supports the idea of full moon weirdness. (I wish I could mount a camera on my car to record every truly bone-head driver. Then I could analyze this objectively. Who knows; maybe Camry drivers really are that bad.)

That said, it sure seems that some of the most bone-headed things I’ve ever seen were committed by Camry drivers. This morning’s example can be Prosecution Exhibit A.

Now, it’s a trivial aggravation being stuck behind someone who is going a few miles under the speed limit if you feel conditions justify, at least the speed limit. When the weather is clear and both pedestrian and auto traffic is light or non-existent, even a few miles over the limit  is okay in my book.  I feel that, when conditions are good, up to +5 on surface streets, and up to +10 on freeways, is acceptable.

But you really can’t fault someone for driving the speed limit or even just a few miles below it. Going 30 in a 35 (as the Camry was doing) starts to get into WTF territory, but no laws are being broken, and it’s really just a minor inconvenience. It turns your 10-minute trip into an 11.7-minute trip. Big deal.

It could be they have good reason for being slow. They could be timid behind the wheel or old or inexperienced. Maybe they are especially law-abiding or playing it safe in a suburban neighborhood.  If going slower were the extent of things, I wouldn’t be writing this post.

Many years ago I lived in a rural area south of the city and drove a long two-lane road back and forth to work every day. Most of that road was posted for 55 MPH. As it neared my small town, it went down to 45 MPH and two miles further down to 35 MPH for the stretch through town. Much of the road was too hilly or curved for passing, so a slow driver traps you.

A thing I noticed is that some people drove 50 on the 55, but also 50 in the 45. They might slow down to 40+ in the 35 zone. So it’s clearly not a matter of being especially law-abiding or generally slow, and it’s certainly not a matter of being especially safe (since you’re speeding in the one place where it’s worst to do so).

What it is, and there is no other way to put this, is being a fucking moron.

This morning’s Camry driver proved to be exactly such a moron. She rolled through the first red light right turn as well as the only stop sign a mile later. In both cases, during the slowest part of the “stop” her car was halfway beyond the stop point and protruding into the intersection. Then she turned into the grocery store parking lot entrance and cut diagonally across the lot, weaving through parked cars, to the Nail Salon at the other end.  A far smarter, safer, move would have been to take the next entrance and the short parking lot lane to her destination.

So we’re clearly talking oblivious, mindless, clueless fucking moron.

Maybe it’s that I learned to drive in Los Angeles, a place where they take (or took; for all I know that’s changed) driving very seriously. Older readers may recall a rash of freeway shootings (no one was killed, if I recall correctly), and in all cases the cause of the shooting was bad driving. (That business was parodied in one of my all-time favorite movies, Steve Martin‘s L.A. Story.)

Someday I’ll write a series of posts about bad driving and how to drive better, but for now this is just a captured morning moment. It’s a very trivial thing compared to, say, the atrocities of war or violent assault or poverty or starvation, but in terms of those everyday things, bad drivers rank high on my list of irritations.

At least in part that’s based on how we all take it for granted as a casual, daily thing, but we’re controlling heavy machinery with the power to maim and kill. Traffic accidents are a leading cause of death in this country, so clearly we could do better. (Traffic collisions rank 6th as a cause of preventable death in the USA; over 40,000 die per year, and over two-million are injured.)

There’s a thing about driving and sex. Everyone thinks they’re pretty good at it while, at the same time, thinking it doesn’t require any real training. Meanwhile the reality is that most people are a lot worse at it than they believe and could really use the training.

With regard to speeding, there is a traffic engineering rule (85th percentile rule) that says traffic goes at a natural speed for the road and the conditions, regardless of posted limits. An implication of this some people just don’t get is that, if the traffic is going ten miles over the limit, but you’re doggedly sticking to the limit, you are a traffic hazard!

The irony is that you are probably sticking to the limit in the name of safety and wishing every one else would do the same. It won’t happen. Ever. So get your head out of your ass, keep up and stop being a hazard. It’s that simple.

Driving in traffic is like a dance, and everyone needs to keep in step.


The CASA Boogie

The other entry for Skydiving Saturday is another USENET post I made to rec.skydiving in August 1999.

And there’s a nice connection to posting these in August as I did with the three last year describing the first and second Tandem jumps and the first AFF jump. The girl friend and I made those two Tandem jumps in August of 1997, so August is the month it all began.

While we started AFF school that September, and finished the following March, the day of jumping described below (one of our most fun times as the drop zone) took place on a very hot day in August of 1999. A lot of things started to go downhill after that, so in a number of ways this represents one of the high points in our lives. It was definitely one of those days to press in your memory book.

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AFF Graduation!

It’s Skydiving Saturday at Logos con carne! I’m working on the upcoming TV Tuesday, so this weekend I’m going to coast a bit with some easy posts and archive excavations.

It’s also a good time to enjoy the end of lazy summer before we go back to school. After all, Logos CC is also about philosophy and computers and science (oh, my).

There are many meaty topics on the grill for later, but for now it’s free fall time!

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Dung Beetles

Let us speak now of a form of life so low and loathsome that, in comparison, the worst person you ever had to spend time with is a saint, a paragon of human virtue and charm. I’m speaking of a form of life that is the biggest waste of human flesh this world has ever seen.

I’m speaking of a form of life so useless, so revolting, that a universe in which just one of these disgusting creatures lives, albeit even on a distant planet beyond the reach of any space ship, is worse than living in a house filled with giant, raving, rabid human-hating scorpions.

I’m speaking of a kind of sub-human so offensive in the face of all that is good and right they should be forced to live their miserable lives wearing cactus-lined underwear while Prometheus‘ Eagle takes a break from his usual duties to come to eat their livers and hearts. (Except, of course, they have no hearts.)

I’m speaking of a critter so despicable that dung beetles, in comparison, appear as cute cuddly puppies. A form of human slime so noxious that living life in a fume of farts would seem the sweetest scent of roses.

I’m speaking of spammers.

(We shall not use that name again here, least we invoke their demonic presence.)

They visit our blogs daily and leave their diseased rat droppings before they vanish into the sewers from which they slunk. They usurp our email addresses and send their foul seeds far and wide, and we get the bounces and blacklists.

Hyenas and vultures have better manners and aspect. Hyenas and vultures serve a purpose. If every spammer vanished from the Earth, the world would be a far better place. And we would rejoice.

As much as my heart burns with hatred for the idiots who drive and cell phone, it is nothing compared to the diamond hard volcanic rage invoked by these useless boils on the ass of humanity.  There is no punishment cruel and unusual enough to serve justice to such as these; no death lingering and mortifying enough; no shame sufficient. They are surely the best possible argument for both abortion and capital punishment.

I’ve long thought we should send in SEAL teams, as we did with that bin Laden fuck. Treat them as terrorists, our deadly enemy and wipe them out. Maybe if we began displaying their heads on pikes and parading their flayed bodies through the streets we might make our point and get the message through.

In case you’re not quite clear on my point, I don’t much care for them.

I’m eternally grateful WordPress manages to siphon them off for us (thank you!). At first I found reading their weak attempts somewhat amusing, but that wore off long ago.

It is somewhat interesting how their tactics evolve as they try to get a finger-hold. Flattery, of a sort, is the usual tactic:

I’m usually to running a blog and i actually respect your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and hold checking for brand spanking new information.

Uh huh. From your insightful comments I can tell you’ve read my stuff.  This one at least tries a little harder:

Im speechless. This is a superb blog and very enticing too. Great work! Thats not in point of fact so much coming from an amateur publisher like me, however its all I may say after diving into your posts. Nice grammar and vocabulary. No longer like other blogs. You really recognize what you?re speaking approximately too. So much that you just made me want to explore more. Your weblog has grow to be a stepping stone for me, my friend.

Speechless, eh?  If only you were lifeless instead. Not quite sure, but this one may have been sniffing glue on the way to work:

Someone necessarily help to make severely articles I would state. This is the first time I frequented your web page and up to now? I amazed with the research you made to create this particular submit extraordinary. Wonderful job!

Er, thank you? This one seems to be departing, but sadly not permanently:

I simply couldn??t depart your web site prior to suggesting that I really enjoyed the usual information an individual supply in your guests? Is gonna be again frequently in order to investigate cross-check new posts.

Here’s another that almost seems like… no,… no it doesn’t:

What i don’t understood is in reality how you’re no longer actually a lot more neatly-appreciated than you may be right now. You are very intelligent. You already know therefore considerably in terms of this matter, produced me personally consider it from numerous various angles. Its like men and women aren’t involved except it is one thing to do with Girl gaga! Your personal stuffs nice. At all times take care of it up!

Girl gaga, huh? Pretty sure I’ve never written a word about her (P!nk is way cooler anyway). Lately I’ve noticed a new trick; they try to make it look like a trackback:

… [Trackback] …
[…] There you will find 47011 more Infos: logosconcarne.com/(link)/ […]

Nice try, toe jam, but no cigar.  I’ve also noticed a trick where they complain about images, or the whole blog, not loading well and piteously ask if anyone else is having trouble. The comments in these usually don’t contain the hidden links (which WordPress shows us anyway), but the Gravitar links back to their crap. And finally, there’s the interesting trick of not trying to flatter me:

Hello, you used to write excellent, but the last few posts have been kinda boring?K I miss your great writings. Past few posts are just a little bit out of track! come on!

Nice try, scrotum pimple, but no cigar for you either (unless you’d like to try one of my “special” cigars… I know they look like sticks of dynamite, but that’s just branding… they’re a good smoke, really… trust me).

I feel better now, getting the poison out. And I can delete the text file of their “comments” that’s been squatting toad-like on my file system. And best part? I can’t wait to see the flattering “comments” this post gets!

And just in case any of you cockroaches are reading this:

Eat. Shit. And. Die. Mofu!