Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Book Review: The Lincoln Lawyer

( #LincolnLawyer, #MichaelConnelly )


I finished reading "The Lincoln Lawyer" by Michael Connelly last night and here are my thoughts about the book...

I equate reading Michael Connelly's novel "The Lincoln Lawyer" to eating McDonalds; it is geared for the masses, not great for you, but satisfying in that "know what to expect" and "good for what it is" kind of way. The story borrows a little bit from every kind of male-centered story:
  • Motivated, success driven male lead (with "cool" career like doctor, lawyer, or journalist)
  • Loyal friend that helps the lead and pays the price for the lead's arrogance, which just helps the lead focus on success
  • The women in the lead's life love him, even though they leave him, but still take care of him and want to get back with him
  • Unbelievable, evil enemy to overcome
  • Crazy fight and/or car chase (yes, in a book about a fucking lawyer)
Even though the main character's personality has been built from the "frat boy charm" template (the character listens to TuPac, loves Guinness, does freebies for prostitutes because his Daddy would want him to), it is still a fun read. I think Michael Connelly just decided to throw in whatever the hell he could to see if and when the editors would call him out. It doesn't look like they did. The Mickey Haller character is completely unbelievable as a real person. If you try to identify with the character on a human level, it won't work. Try to get into the mindset of Haller as a cartoon or a Stallone character, then you will enjoy the hell out of it.

While I am poking fun at the book, I read it all the way through and I wanted to know what happens next. This is the perfect read if you are stuck on a plane for 5 hours. You will knock it out, enjoy it, and never think about it again.

Saying all of this, look who they got to play the lead in the movie version...


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rant: Joey vs. Perfume

( #perfume, #terrible)


This is going to be short and simple readers, because there is not much to say...I hate perfume.

Hate it.

It is horrible going into the office and being trapped in an elevator with some man or woman doused in sweet, flowery, headache-inducing evil. I would rather someone rip a raunchy garbage-in-hot-weather fart and be stuck smelling it for 10 floors than even catch a whiff of perfume. I don't understand why more people don't talk about this problem. Getting crop-dusted by an over-quaffed perfumed dandy can ruin my day or at least a few hours of it.

Don't people realize that these scents can adversely impact their co-workers? Let's brainstorm readers: what can we do to protect our noses from these daily chemical attacks? Share your ideas on the feedback form, and I will update this article.

For the perfumers out there, next time you go out and buy some starlet's fragrance, remember that other people have to smell that stuff and it will probably make them want to vomit.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 03: Issue 42

( #SundayLeftovers )



Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! This was a pretty crazy week! Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and flooding. Having survived all of the natural disasters its time to open the fridge and throw a bunch of stuff out because it went bad. Or we can do Sunday Leftovers...

[The Back Window]




CREDIT: 6 String Drag - She's a hurricane

[Recipe of the Week: Baked Onion Tarts]

I saw Jaime Oliver do this recipe 10 years ago and remembered it. I couldn't find the recipe on his site, but found a similar one for the cook times and then I just meshed my own ideas between the two.

INGREDIENTS:

4 tennis-ball-size onions (8 to 10 oz each), peeled but not trimmed
4 (4-inch-long) fresh rosemary sprigs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 oz finely grated parmesan (1/2 cup)
Fine sea salt to taste
4 slices thick bacon (like really thick)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Cook onions in a large pot of boiling water until tender but not falling apart, 25 to 30 minutes.
2. While onions are cooking, gets the fresh rosemary and take the "leaves" off and keep the sprigs (use the sprigs as skewers). Mince the rosemary, enough for 1/2 teaspoon.
3. Remove onions from pot with a slotted spoon and, when cool enough to handle, cut off top inch of each with a sharp knife and finely chop tops.
4. Trim root end of each onion slightly, if necessary for onions to stand up without rolling. Scoop out about a heaping tablespoon from center of each onion (basically, you want to make a cup out of the onions) and finely chop, adding to rest of chopped onion.
5. Transfer hollowed onions to an oiled 8-inch square baking dish.
6. Preheat oven to 400°F.
7. Cook chopped onion, garlic, and chopped rosemary in oil in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until onion is softened, about 3 minutes.
8. Stir in cream and remove from heat. Stir in parmesan, sea salt, and pepper to taste.
9. Fill whole onions with some of chopped onion mixture and spoon remainder around whole onions.
10. Wrap a slice of pancetta around middle of each onion and secure with a rosemary sprig or wooden toothpick.
11. Bake onions, uncovered, in middle of oven, until very tender, 40 to 50 minutes depending on size of onions.

[DIY of the Week: Grappling Hook Launcher]

Want to be Batman? Check this shit out.



[Video of the Week]



[Conclusion]

Sorry to make this one short, but I have a room to finish painting, outdoor furniture to get out of my garage, and general disaster recovery. If you need to reach me, you can do so here. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Twitter | Facebook

Friday, August 26, 2011

Storm Preparation

( #Hurricane, #irene)

This is going to be a long post, but should contain all the basic information needed. The majority of this information comes directly from 72hours.org

After a major disaster the usual services we take for granted, such as running water, refrigeration, and telephones, may be unavailable. Experts recommend that you should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days. Store your household disaster kit in an easily accessible location. Put contents in a large, watertight container (e.g. a large plastic garbage can with a lid and wheels) that you can move easily.

[Emergency Supply Kit]

Your basic emergency kit should include:
  • Water: one gallon per person per day
  • Food: ready to eat or requiring minimal water
  • Manual can opener and other cooking supplies
  • Plates, utensils and other feeding supplies
  • First Aid kit & instructions
  • A copy of important documents & phone numbers
  • Warm clothes and rain gear for each family member.
  • Heavy work gloves
  • Disposable camera
  • Unscented liquid household bleach and an eyedropper for water purification
  • Personal hygiene items including toilet paper, feminine supplies, hand sanitizer and soap
  • Plastic sheeting, duct tape and utility knife for covering broken windows
  • Tools such as a crowbar, hammer and nails, staple gun, adjustable wrench and bungee cords.
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Large heavy duty plastic bags and a plastic bucket for waste and sanitation

[Go-Bag]

A component of your disaster kit is your Go-bag. Put the following items together in a backpack or another easy to carry container in case you must evacuate quickly.
  • Flashlight
  • Radio – battery operated
  • Batteries
  • Whistle
  • Dust mask
  • Pocket knife
  • Emergency cash in small denominations and quarters for phone calls
  • Sturdy shoes, a change of clothes, and a warm hat
  • Local map
  • Some water and food
  • Permanent marker, paper and tape
  • Photos of family members and pets for re-identification purposes
  • List of emergency point-of -contact phone numbers
  • List of allergies to any drug (especially antibiotics) or food
  • Copy of health insurance and identification cards
  • Extra prescription eye glasses, hearing aid or other vital personal items
  • Prescription medications and first aid supplies
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Extra keys to your house and vehicle

[Storm Preparation]

Severe storms can cause landslides, flooding, uprooted trees, and downed utility lines.
Call 3-1-1 for information on free sandbags to protect your property from flooding.
  • Tune to KCBS 740 AM or local TV channels for emergency advisories and instructions.
  • If water has entered a garage or basement, do not walk through it – it may contain hazardous materials.
  • Do not try to drive over a flooded road. If your car stalls, abandon it immediately. Attempting to move a stalled vehicle in flood conditions can be fatal.
  • If you are asked to leave your property, disconnect all electrical appliances.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you must walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Stay clear of water that is in contact with downed power lines.
  • Do not allow children to play around high water, storm drains or any flooded areas.
  • If you are asked to leave your property, shut off electric circuits. If advised by your local utility, shut off gas service as well.

[Treating Water]

In a disaster, water supplies may be cut off or contaminated. Store enough water for everyone in your family to last for at least 3 days.Store one gallon of water per person, per day. Three gallons per person per day will give you enough to drink and for limited cooking and personal hygiene. Remember to plan for pets.

If you store tap water:

Tap water from a municipal water system can be safely stored without additional treatment.
Store water in food grade plastic containers, such as clean 2-liter soft drink bottles. Heavy duty, reusable plastic water containers are also available at sporting goods stores. Empty milk bottles are not recommended because their lids do not seal well and bottles may develop leaks.
Label and store in a cool, dark place (replace every 6 months).

Treating Water after Disaster:

If you run out of stored drinking water, strain and treat water from your water heater or the toilet reservoir tank (except if you use toilet tank cleaners). Swimming pool or spa water should not be consumed but you can use it for flushing toilets or washing.

Treatment Process:

Strain any large particles of dirt by pouring the water through layers of paper towels or clean cloth. Next, purify the water one of two ways:
  • Boil – bring to a rolling boil and maintain for 3-5 minutes. After the water cools, pour it back and forth between two clean containers to add oxygen back; this will improve its taste.
  • Disinfect – If the water is clear, add 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of water. If it is cloudy, add 16 drops (1/4 teaspoon) per gallon. Make sure you are using regular bleach— 5.25% percent sodium hypochlorite— rather than the “ultra” or “color safe” bleaches. Shake or stir, then let stand 30 minutes. A slight chlorine taste and smell is normal.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ryan Adams: Lucky Now

( #RyanAdams, #FireandAshes )

DRA has a new song floating around the internet, here is a live version....

Monday, August 22, 2011

Customer Service and Social Media

( @petershankman, @Mortons )

I read this story over the weekend and feel like I needed to pass it on. In short, Peter Shankman is a writer and a speaker who loves Morton's Steak House. Morton's is a chain and this fellow travels quite a bit, so he frequents Mortons throughout the country.



Mortons has documented in their system that Shankman is a good customer.

One night while on a plane, he tweeted that he was craving Mortons and when he got off the plane, there was a care-package waiting for him. He of course wrote about this story on his blog (and he has 100,000+ twitter followers) and the whole situation went viral.

It should.

How much did the meal and the travel time cost Mortons? 100 bucks? And now they are getting great word of mouth and public interest. Hell - even with my butcher father, I want to check the place out. I'd love to have this set up with an outfit, so the moral of the story is that it pays to be loyal. And for businesses, it never hurts to be a little creative and willing to think outside of the box.

Kudos Mortons.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 03: Issue 41

( #SundayLeftovers )



Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! Yet another long work week full of financial reviews and business cases. The weekend offered no reprieve as the wife and I cleaned out closets, readied old cloths for good will (I found so many old running shoes to donate), hung a tv on the wall in the guest room, and cleared our other guest room out because we are having the floors replaced. Basically it was an "average American" kind of week and I didn't log many personal computer hours, with that said, lets open the fridge and see what is leftover.

[The Back Window]
I don't normally do videos for back window, but the visuals are perfect...

CREDIT: Bon Iver - Holcene

[Recipe of the Week: Easy Pulled Pork Sandwiches]

INGREDIENTS:
2 lbs of pork tenderloin
18 oz bottle of bbq sauce
1 can of root beer or 10 oz chicken stock
8 nice sandwich rolls
** You need a crock pot or other slow cooker **

DIRECTIONS:
1. Put the pork in a crock pot and add the root beer/chicken stock. Set the crock pot to low setting for 6.5 hours (basically you want the pork to fall apart with gentle push from a fork, but don't shred it all just yet)
2. When cooked, drain the pork from the liquids (it is better if the pork is in bigger pieces)
3. Shred the pork and put it back in the crock pot, add the BBQ sauce. Mix it really well and set the crock pot to warm until you are ready to eat it.

[DIY of the Week: Picnic Table Suitcase]

This is a neat DIY. It is a little suitcase that turns into a table with built in speakers.

Check it out: Instructables: Suitcase Picnic Table

[Video of the Week]
Saying goodbye to summer...


[Conclusion]

Sadly I have more home projects to attend to... If you need to reach me, you can do so here. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Twitter | Facebook

Friday, August 19, 2011

Rant: Politics and the lowest common denominator

( #rant, #teaparty )

I keep hearing the conservative rally call that the government should be smaller. "Big Government" is bad. "All of these social services are making the country go broke." At the same time, I have to assume that like most Americans—tea partiers, republicans, and general conservatives (and their extended families) depend on services like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. What happens if/when those services get shut down?

I don't think that Tea Party members are rich or members of the elite. I think they are average Americans. Which is why I can't understand why they won't support tax increases to the wealthy. They say it hurts business. Who wants to tax business? Tax individual incomes. They say "that penalizes success". Don't tax the wealthy MORE than I am taxed; the rich should pay their fair share. If you haven't already, read Warren Buffett's essay in the New York Times. This guy is loaded and his tax rate is less than most of the people in his office. No more tax accountant trickery, just pay what you owe (I can make a case for a flat tax but I don't want to blow up the internet).

Instead of being leaders who work together to preserve a decent way of life for Americans, short-sighted trolls with foolish agendas get elected. The conservative talking heads feel like they can say whatever they want and nobody is going to call them out on it:

1. Just let these people have civil unions and shut up about it. It changes nothing except making people happy. It doesn't take anything away from heterosexual unions.
2. I didn't really want to use this clip because this woman's 15 minutes of fame should be over. But if you can't back up what you write, don't go on television and run your mouth. This is the exact opposite of how a public figure should act.
3. She planned to walk out. No doubt in my mind. Who has said the name "Christine O'Donnell" since she lost the election in Delaware?

Having a political philosophy based on marginalizing homosexuals, deporting immigrants, harassing minorities, and pushing a narrow Christian agenda is not clever, it is racist. Note to Tea Party Members: Nobody is being fooled, you are just outing yourself as a narrow-minded person. Also, now that I type it, it kind sounds eerily similar to the Nazi movement. Making statements like "the deficit is bad" is obvious and nobody is going to disagree, but supporting government shutdown proves what exactly? That we can get along fine without it?

Really? What do you think will happen when the extreme conservatives take power, farm social security and medical services out to private companies (introducing voucher systems). Service will go down, costs will go up, and some old white man in Washington is going to pad his pockets while utilizing a great private system for himself. Don't believe me? Look at the war that the US has been involved in for the last decade. Shouldn't war spur economic growth? Why isn't that money flooding back into the domestic economy? Private companies are getting hired, off-shoring the manufacturing while creating shoddy materials that are getting our people killed.



I am dancing around saying what I want to say, so I am just going to say it. Look at the people in the video above. They are stupid. People are frustrated with the economy, frustrated with "the government", frustrated with their lives so the mob mentality sets in.

Enter a pretty woman or a loud mouth guy and people will listen because it caters to the lowest common denominator. Sprinkle in bullshit words like "Freedom" and "Liberty", maybe a dash of "Values" and suddenly you have people eating out of your hand. The talking heads say the liberals are out to get the "Average Joe", they are persecuting them because they are Christians. I need to say this: the "liberal" media is not attacking anyone based on their religion; they are attacking stupidity. Don't hide your lack of intelligence behind organized religion, you are giving it a bad name.

It is easy to listen to the pretty lady or the loud mouth telling you it is going to be alright. But it isn't. America is in bad shape because we have been electing unqualified people into office for 30 years. They don't have a vision for America, because that costs money. They serve the agenda of 1% of the population because that is how they get funded and re-elected. You want someone to be mad at? Look in the mirror. Why the hell did you get that 2nd mortage on your house to buy a Hummer 5 years ago? You want to change things? Start at your local level and listen to what the issues are, volunteer in your local government instead of sitting on your ass and complaining about how things should be run. Electing unqualified people who string together crap you want to hear just makes for a shitty culture.

Good luck America.

Here is one last bit of advice: pushing people around to get your way will never end well. Just ask Hitler.

Book Review: Water for Elephants

( #WaterForElephants, #SaraGruen )



I finished reading "Water for Elephants" by Sara Gruen a few nights ago and decided to share my thoughts.

Who doesn't love the circus? Animals, peanuts, drunk little people. Writer Sara Gruen picked this fertile backdrop to tell a love story and it was a good choice because I hate reading love stories. Getting right to the point, the most interesting aspect of this book is the actual circus history that Gruen cherry-picked for the story. The background characters, the economics of the circus, and the stories about the animals sell this book.

The dynamic of the "love triangle" and the main character's circumstances are overly convenient and contrived. Within a few pages, the main character Jacob loses his family, his family's business, drops out of school, and magically finds a circus to work at. I can forgive that because Gruen gets right to the meat. The "love triangle" setup was harder to swallow. Like any other book that has a likable lead that hooks up with a married woman, the husband has to be a complete sociopath. The husband beats the wife, the animals, and throws sick employees off the train. The hero Jacob sweeps in to save the beaten Marlena, ensure the crazy husband gets what he deserves, and of course saves the animals. All is wrapped up with a pretty little bow (forgetting the characters that paid the price for Jacob to have his affair).

Gripes aside (because honestly I would have issues with any romance novel), I liked the book because it was well researched and told interesting side stories. Now I am going to go rummage through my DVD collection and start watching Carnivale again.

Oh yeah they made a movie out of the book too (I have not seen it).

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 03: Issue 40

( #SundayLeftovers )



Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! Another boring summer week for you guys reading the blog. Really busy a work, lots of late night contract reading... basically nothing to write about here. With that being said, I have some interesting things to share with you from the web, so lets open the fridge and see what is leftover.

[The Back Window]




CREDIT: The Dirt Bombs - Indivisible

[Recipe of the Week: Cheese Biscuits]
Credit: Simply Recipes

INGREDIENTS
2 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
dash cayenne
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons baking powder
7 tablespoons butter, cold
2 scallions, finely chopped
3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup buttermilk
Kosher, Maldon, or Black salt for topping (optional; not table/iodized salt)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 425F. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cayenne, black pepper, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. Dice the butter into small pieces. If they get too warm then place them in a bowl and put it in the freezer for about 10 minutes before continuing.
3. Toss the diced butter with the flour mixture until well coated. (Again, if into tossing the butter gets hot in your hands place the whole mixture in the freezer for a few minutes.) Add the scallions and cheese and toss until well coated.
4. Add the buttermilk and mix with your hands until it just comes together. You may find you need an extra dribble of buttermilk, if so then go right ahead but do so judiciously. Do not over-knead.
5. Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead once or twice; no more.
6. Form into an 8x8-inch square and cut into 2x2-inch squares and top with a bit of high-quality salt if using.
7. Bake for 12-16 minutes or until golden.

[DIY of the Week: Cable Management 3.0]

If you read this blog, you know how much I hate cables messing up work area. Here is yet another clever idea using PVC Pipe.

Cable Management with PVC Pipe

[Video of the Week]



[Conclusion]

I have boxes of hardwood to remove from my wife's car, so that is all for this week. If you need to reach me, you can do so here. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Twitter | Facebook

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 03: Issue 39

( #SundayLeftovers )



Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! My head was buried in spreadsheets and graphs this week, so I kind of disconnected from the computer and general reading. Instead I spent my free time exercising more and day dreaming about the last batch of home improvements I need to make. I am guessing that isn't very interesting to you, so lets open the fridge and see what is leftover...

[The Back Window]




CREDIT: Jeff Tweedy - Airline to Heaven

[Recipe of the Week: Goulash]

INGREDIENTS
2 lbs flank steak (cubed into nice pieces)
1 can crushed tomatoes (29 oz)
1 onion diced
4 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 cup oil (veggie oil is recommended)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon paprika
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon of salt
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 crushed chicken stock cube
1 tablespoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of A1 or Worcestershire Sauce

DIRECTIONS:
1. Get all of the dry ingredients mixed together (you don't have to, but it is just easier)
2. Mix the meat, oil, seasonings, steak sauce, onions, garlic, and tomato sauce in a large bowl. Seal (with tin foil) and refrigerate for 24 hour hours.
3. Preheat oven to 500 degrees (make sure your oven is clean).
4. Transfer the mixture into a pan, place in oven, let cook for 90-105 minutes.
5. Mix some flour and water together (1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup water) and stir into the pan.

PS: Make sure you take out the bay leaves!

Check out this Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives episode which inspired me to make this (I tweaked Polka's recipe slightly because I just didn't have some of that stuff).


[DIY of the Week: Wine Bottle Torch]

I cover alot of wine bottle tricks on Sunday Leftovers, and I am fairly certain I might have posted a torch DIY, but this one is easier and better...

What you need:
Empty Wine Bottle (Use any bottle as long as it’s glass and the neck is 1” in diameter. Be clever!)
Teflon Tape 1/2”
Copper Top Plate Connector (threaded for 3/8”-16 thread rod)
1” Split Ring Hanger (threaded for 3/8”-16 thread rod)
1/2” x 3/8” Copper Coupling
1/2” Copper Cap
Two Hex Nuts (threaded for 3/8”-16 thread rod)
Two #10 x 1” Zinc Plated Wood Screws (if you’re mounting it to wood)
3/8”-16 Zinc Plated Threaded Rod (I bought a 3’ rod and cut it down to 8, 4-1/2” rods with a hacksaw.)
Tiki Replacement Wick
Torch Fuel (For safety reasons, only use fuel made specifically for outdoor torches. i.e. Tiki brand)

Full Directions: Gerardo Tandco Blog: Bottle Torch

[Video of the Week]



[Conclusion]

Thanks for reading this week. If you need to reach me, you can do so here. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Twitter | Facebook

Monday, August 01, 2011

Debate on Catholic Church

( #StephenFry, #AnnWiddecombe )

I wanted to share this interesting debate between Stephen Fry and Ann Widdecombe about the Catholic church.