In which I need a time machine

photoI need, need for it to be about four hours in the future, y’all.  Four hours in the future (hell, maybe three by now, I dunno) is when I get to eat my dinner, and I’ve spent most of the last two days wanting to eat today’s dinner.  And some cole slaw.  And maybe some chips and French Onion dip.

And maybe six hours of treadmill/exercise bike time after that.

Mmmmm giant slab of piiiiiiiig.

Been tossing around ideas for ways to make more money lately, and I think I may have to see if I can work with a homebound kid next year.  This would mean that in addition to my regular classroom duties I’d spend two hours a day after school working with one kid, someone who for some reason (generally, behavioral) has been deemed unable to attend school with everyone else and thus has to receive his education in an alternate setting.

It’s going to be a lot of work, but my brother did it last year and it’s really good money for the extra work.  Whether it’s enough to make it worth it will no doubt depend on the kid I end up with.  Even the worst-behaved student is often easier to deal with in a one-on-one setting where they don’t have anyone to show off for, so hopefully that’ll work out decently.  If not, these types of things are generally relatively short-term, four to six weeks at a time with one student.  I can put up with anything for a month and a half, right?  He said?

I dunno.  I’m turning 37 next week, which means I will officially be in my Late Thirties, and it’s kind of messing with my head a little bit.  Generally I haven’t been too affected by my birthdays; I was happy to turn both 30 and 35, but 37… yikes.  I made a lot of bad decisions about money in my twenties (some more justifiable than others) that I have spent most of my thirties trying to undo.  I had a solid plan at one point to be free of credit card debt by my fortieth birthday; it’s not as on track right now as it was at the beginning of 2013 because everything in my house keeps exploding and my son had to have tubes put in his ears and my car and blah blah blah life intervenes in your plans, but I’m not too far off, especially if I manage to find a way to bring in some extra funds.

“Write a book!” my brain tells me.

“Shut the fuck up, brain,” the rest of me tells my brain.

Anyway, a homebound kid is more realistic.  I’d basically never be home from school before 5:30, and I’d have to shift some things at Other Job around once it kicked in, and it’s entirely possible it’ll make me crazy, but it’s better than being broke, right?


In which I post about nothing in particular

originalCan I just start by saying that I’m planning on making pulled pork sandwiches tomorrow for dinner and I’m going to have to get up early to get the meat seared and into the crock pot and that I could not be more excited about the prospect of getting to eat pulled pork? I can’t explain it. I’m just glad I’m married; my wife, who is smarter than me, pointed out that we absolutely needed to hit the grocery today if we wanted to get all the ingredients, since one of them is beer. I don’t drink– at all– and the fact that you can’t buy beer in Indiana on Sunday because the same god who turned water into wine once will get angry or something had temporarily slipped past me.

Anyway, point is pulled pork sandwiches tomorrow, mmm.

Interesting phenomenon the last few days; hits on the blog fell through the floor for no clear reason. I go back and forth on why I write online; some sort of engagement with people is certainly a good thing (at least, most of the time) and the fact that I was regularly getting thirty or forty views a day (spiking at one point to 59) after only a few weeks of the blog’s existence certainly seemed to indicate that sooner or later comments would start showing up from people I didn’t already know. Granted, yesterday’s post was a one-liner, but I went from an average of 39 views a day last week to, in the last three days, less than ten.

In the long run, of course, it makes no difference at all, but it’s curious.

We took the boy to the zoo today. One of these days, the emus are going to boom while I’m there. I’ve heard the lions roar from fairly short range, but the emus have been annoyingly quiet every time I’ve been out there. An emu boom is supposed to be audible from a couple of kilometers away so you ought to be able to hear them from anywhere in the zoo if they’re bothering to make noise.

The boy’s favorite animals? The birds, interestingly. And the turtles. He thought the alpacas were geese, which entertains me; it suggests that the neck is the most salient characteristic of each of them for him.

And now, from the I Don’t Feel Like Talking About It But You Should Read These files:

Actually, one thing on Deen: I had an interesting conversation with my wife this morning where she suggested that sexism forms a nonzero portion of the reason for the truckload of shit that Deen’s taking where other male celebrities, Michael Richards, Mel Gibson, and that not-Howard-Stern radio idiot– Don Imus!– got away with similar outbursts with less of a massive impact on their careers. I don’t want to discount the idea, but I can’t think of another example that quite fits the same situation that Deen has; Imus lost his job, Richards and Gibson don’t have endorsements to be fired from, and all three handled their respective PR disasters with something less than the complete idiocy that Deen’s been putting on display lately. I said something on Facebook recently about how Deen seems to have managed to find a way to shove her foot into her mouth and her head up her ass simultaneously, which is a pretty impressive feat; literally every time she opens her mouth she makes shit worse, which I don’t quite feel like the other three did. Plus, as the Rude Pundit points out in the link above, Deen’s not in trouble for what she said however many years ago so much as her unbelievably poor treatment of her employees and complete inability to figure out why people are mad at her. There’s more to this than just language.

I dunno. I hate the word “mansplaining” a lot; maybe I’m doing that here. Sexism probably does have something to do with it insofar as it’s a woman we’re discussing and it’s always going to be difficult to tease out this-is-sexism-and-this-is-not whenever we’re talking about an issue this complicated. I’m just not sure at all how much.

(Also: you don’t get to use “from a different generation” to defend yourself when you were in your early twenties during the Civil Rights movement. Your ass has had plenty of time to learn better.)

Anyway; I gotta go to work. It’s raining; we’ll see how busy I am tonight. Last night was completely dead until 8:00 and then batshit bugfuck insane for two hours where we made as much money as we usually do on a Friday night except in 1/3 the usual amount of time. I came home freaking exhausted last night.

Not in the mood today, sorry.

Not in the mood today, sorry.

In which iceballs are awesome


This is Europa.  Europa is the most interesting of Jupiter’s 67 moons.  Io is the second coolest, if you happen to be wondering, and S/2003 J 2, which has a dumb name and is only two kilometers wide, is the least interesting.

Europa has at some point (and that point may be now) harbored life.  Yes, I’m phrasing it that definitively.  I don’t care.  I’m a rebel, dammit!  Plus I’m right.  Do I mean, like, little green dudes who might eat us?  No; probably bacteria of some sort, although something more complicated is certainly possible.  But Europa is basically a giant ball of ice with a water ocean underneath it.  The surface features, you see, change on a fairly regular basis, and Europa is the flattest object in the solar system– it doesn’t really appear to have a lot of craters.

That no craters thing is a huge key to the existence of the ocean, see; the idea is that that frozen surface is continually cracking (being as close to Jupiter as it is means that the planet’s gravity is wreaking havoc with Europa’s surface) and the liquid water underneath is coming up and re-freezing the surface.  Which, as you know if you’ve ever seen ice, tends to create a pretty flat surface.

Our experiences on Earth have taught us just how hardy life is.  Basically, anywhere there’s water, there’s life.  Hell, even in places where there’s barely any water, there’s still life.  I have a lot of trouble imagining that this moon has literally a planetary-sized ocean (the estimate, if you didn’t read the Wikipedia article, is twice the volume of Earth’s oceans) with absolutely nothing living in it.  Granted that “I have trouble imagining” isn’t the greatest example of scientific reasoning in the history of time, but whatever, my nonexistent reputation as a scientist will survive.

(Also: one of the greatest things about being an amateur astronomer is just how fast the field changes.  When I was a kid, the thought of extraterrestrial planets was considered vaguely ludicrous, as we hadn’t found any yet.  Now that I’m old we’re finding twenty Goldilocks planets a month and there are at least half-a-dozen moons in our solar system alone that we think could potentially harbor or have harbored some sort of life.  The possibility of life outside Earth has gone from a massive improbability to something that seems virtually certain.  All these planets, all these moons, and life nowhere but here?  Bullshit.)

Anyway, here’s the reason I’m even talking about this:  A movie that I’ve been excited about for a while, Europa Report, comes out today, and it’s doing so in an interesting way: it’s in theaters in limited release but you can also stream it through iTunes.  The film’s creators appear to have put a lot of effort into making the film scientifically plausible, at least up to a point, and I’m super excited about watching it– probably not tonight, as I’ve got plans to eat massive amounts of sushi after work and will want to come home and die– but this weekend.

I like living in the future.

On the literal death of the blues


Bobby “Blue” Bland died a couple of days ago.  He was 83.

I’ve written this post before; a bunch of times, in fact.  I wrote it when John Lee Hooker died in 2001.  When Ray Charles died in 2004.  Robert Lockwood in 2006.  Koko Taylor in 2009.  Etta James, last year.  I’d have written it when Junior Wells died in 1998 if I’d had a blog at the time.  I’ve loved blues music for a long time but it’s getting to the point where everyone who ever mattered in the genre is dead.  BB King is still touring; he’s 87 goddamn years old and the last time I saw him will be the last time I ever see him.  He’ll die on stage one day.  Taj Mahal is 71.  James Cotton (who, Wikipedia tells me, is Bland’s half-brother, and they only just found out about it) is 77.  Buddy Guy is 76.  Blues musicians live a long goddamn time, apparently, but surely most of them will be gone within ten years or so.

I was about to mention Billy Branch as one of the few greats who is still relatively young and then I looked him up.  He’s 61.  Sigh.  Bonnie Raitt’s only 63.  Comparatively they’re young’uns.

I don’t know that I have a lot to say about him, actually, other than I’m tired of RIP posts about blues musicians.  I know that there are younger musicians out there who call themselves blues singers but it’s not the same at all.  I haven’t discovered a “new” blues singer who was worth the title in probably fifteen years.

Do yourself a favor.  Even if you’re not into the blues all that much, track down the two live concerts that Bobby and BB King did together in 1974 and 1976.  The albums are still out there– hell, you can probably download them from Amazon (yep:  here and here) and they’re two of the greatest live concerts I’ve ever heard.  There’s a bit at the end of Together Again… Live where they literally pull a woman named Viola out of the crowd to sing The Thrill is Gone with them and she turns out to be a good enough singer to easily share the stage with the two of them; it’s brilliant.  Together for the First Time has a fourteen-minute medley piece where the two of them are just strumming along and singing bits of different songs, ad-libbing.  I’m listening to it right now. It’s wonderful.  You should check it out.

IMG_0175I made this yesterday, from a recipe on Facebook.  Looks crap, don’t it?  It was actually pretty good: basically you just boil a couple/three chicken breasts (we used three) until they’re cooked through, open up a couple of cans of crescent rolls, and then shred the chicken and stuff a spoon’s worth or so into each of the crescent rolls.  Put ’em into a glass pan and bake them at 350 for about five minutes (I gave it seven; my oven is perenially slower than what recipes call for), just long enough for the rolls to get a little crispy but not enough to have them completely cooked.

Now, since we did three chicken breasts, I had a fair amount of chicken left over.  I put some curry powder on the rest of the chicken (a few shakes; I didn’t measure it) and mixed it in with the two cans of cream of chicken soup that the recipe actually called for.  The whole mess goes on top of the crescent rolls and then back in the oven for another ten minutes or so.  After that, a cup of shredded cheese on top and another ten minutes, then out of the oven and serve.  There’s really no way to make it look like anything other than horror-glop that I’m aware of, but I was surprised at how everything came together– I would have thought that twenty minutes under the cream of chicken soup would reduce the crescent rolls to a soggy mess, but they retained their crispiness and buttery flavor perfectly.

The next time I do this, I think instead of the curry powder (which, btw, wasn’t in the original recipe) I’ll put some taco seasoning in with the chicken and then use a Mexican cheese mix instead of cheddar cheese.  That ought to come out tasting something like crescent roll enchiladas, which sounds pretty damn good.  I had the leftovers for breakfast this morning and threw some sour cream on top just to see what it was like; it worked out pretty nicely.  I can imagine a world where some salsa works, too.  It wouldn’t help with the gloppiness but at least it would add a color that isn’t beige and yellow.

It’s gonna storm all day today.  Good day to listen to the blues.