Archive - July, 2011

Food I don’t agree with

This is the time of year I refer to as Dishmas. Why? Here’s why:

July 31 – my son’s birthday
August 1 – my dad’s birthday
August 2 – my sister’s birthday
August 2 – my daughter’s birthday
August 5 – my birthday

(I also have a brother-in-law, sister-in-law, niece and several friends with birthdays right around this time of year.) President Obama’s birthday is August 4, but we don’t exchange gifts.

My dad lives in Austin, my mom and sisters live here in Houston. Both my kids are young enough to still want parties with their friends on their birthdays–one paintball party down, one slumber party to go. It’s a busy, hectic time of year and frankly, by the time my birthday rolls around on the fifth, I’m just ready for all of it to be over with and wish I had a fifth. Of Wild Turkey.

My dad is traveling this year, so our usual trip to Austin to celebrate birthdays was not on the agenda. Birthday Palooza with my sisters and my mom was celebrated Sunday afternoon at Brio Tuscan Grille. If there’s one within driving distance from you, I would highly recommend it. The food is fantastic. I recommend the crab and shrimp cakes or the lasagna. I had a little of both. Everything they brought to our table looked absolutely delicious.

Except for the appetizer. My sister ordered Calamari Fritto Misto. That’s fancy talk for fried squid. At first glance it didn’t look so bad. Sort of like tiny little onion rings. I actually put some on my plate:

Thank goodness I didn’t see what else was on that plate:

It’s not enough to have battered and fried squid rings on the plate. They have to throw in some tiny, fully formed squid–legs, tentacles and all–just in case you didn’t know what you were eating. That’s just wrong. I like hot dogs, but I’m pretty sure if someone brought me a plate of hot dogs accompanied by what went into making said hot dogs, I would never eat them again.

Sort of like calamari.

There’s actually a whole host of foods people eat that I don’t understand. Here are just a few:

Caviar – I will never understand why people pay money to eat fish eggs. They taste like salty, fishy jello. And hello! They’re FISH EGGS!

Frog Legs – I’ve tried to eat them. Went so far as to put some on my plate. But I could not bring myself to eat any part of a frog. Friends have told me they are delicious; that they taste like chicken. You know what taste like chicken?

Chicken.

Besides, I’m no expert on anatomy, but based on the above picture, you’re not just eating frog legs, you’re eating some frog butt, too.

Sushi – Yes, yes. I know. I’m half Japanese. I’m supposed to like sushi. My mom and sisters love the stuff. Me? I like California rolls. Know why? Because there’s no raw fish in them. I know there are millions of people who love the stuff, but be honest–the first time you ate it, you were just trying to be cool, weren’t you? Thought so.

Kimchi – Kimchi is a Korean dish (often jarred) made from fermented vegetables and spices. Here’s a snippet of conversation from the day I discovered this popular oriental food:

Me: Why does the refrigerator smell like feet?

Mother: I bought a jar of Kimchi. Would you like to try some?

Me: Um…no.

Raw Oysters – Okay. Truth be told, I used to eat raw oysters on a regular basis. Every Friday after work I would meet friends at an oyster bar, order a few ice cold beers and suck down a few of those slimy little things.

But I used to drink a lot…

How about you?

What’s on your “food that must not be eaten” list?

So, you’re going to be a dad…

During a recent game of Words with Friends, the following conversation took place with Ricky, aka Bob, aka Arthur, aka Ricky Bobby:

1357bob: Nice start.

Katdish10: I’m gonna beat you someday.

1357bob: Yes you will. Wanna write a guest post beforehand?

Katdish10: That was very subtle.

The rest of the conversation involved me asking him what he wanted me to write about and him telling me he was about to be a first time dad looking for some sound, deeply intellectual advice from me. Or something like that…

To find out what advice I have to offer for first time dads, follow me over to Ricky’s Blog.

Life is…

image courtesy of photobucket.com

My soon-to-be 14 year old son has never been one to ease into a conversation with small talk. Such was the case when he came into my office and asked, “Mom, what is the meaning of life?”

How does one give an adequate answer to a question that philosophers have been wrestling with for centuries? I could have given him canned, Christianese answer, but not one that would satisfy his honest inquiry. And I didn’t feel right telling him the meaning of life is to love God and love people when I don’t always subscribe to that philosophy myself. I knew he was looking for a better explanation.

Many have attempted to explain what life is:

“Mama always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” – Forrest Gump

“Life is a ticket to the greatest show on earth.” – Martin H. Fischer

“Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once.” – Lillian Dickson

“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

– William Shakespeare

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.”

– Mother Teresa

“Life’s a bitch and then you die.” – Nas (Nasir Jones)

“Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent.” – R. D. Laing

“Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it.” – Christopher Morley

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

“Life is a long lesson in humility.” – James M. Barrie

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it.” – Jack Handey

“Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint on it you can.” – Danny Kaye

“Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.” – Bertrand Russell

And the folks we rented a RV from over the weekend even put their two cents in:

"Life is a journey and only you hold the map."

When faced with the question of the meaning of life, answers reveal more about the person responding than they do about its real meaning. In answer to his question, I told my son he will probably spend a lifetime in an attempt to answer that for himself, and that if he figures it out I would be grateful if he shared his answer.

Funny, my favorite quote about life comes from “Author Unknown”. Probably because rather than answering the what of life it addresses the how. Which I suppose also says much about me.

“There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart . . . pursue those.” – Author Unknown

What is the meaning of life?

And what does your answer say about you?

The perfect swing

I come from a family of golfers. Me? I’ve never played nor have I ever been inclined to do so. I’ve always shared Rosie O’Donnell’s opinion of golf: “Golf is not a sport. Golf is people in ugly pants walking.” (It should be noted that I don’t share the vast majority of Rosie’s opinions, just that one.)

My son took to golfing at an early age. He has what family members and more than one seasoned golf professional have called a perfect, natural swing. I’ll have to take their word for it. I wouldn’t know one if I saw it, although I will say his golf swing is a thing of beauty. He can drive the ball 280-300 yards on a fairly consistent basis. Which is pretty impressive for a 13 year old. Or so I’ve been told.

But natural ability is not enough.

Excellence requires persistence and dedication.

Persistence and dedication comes from a passion to pursue a goal.

My son isn’t interested in playing golf right now, and because of cutbacks in school programs next year, there will be no golf team to try out for. No short term goal to strive for.

I hope my son takes up golf again someday soon, not because I want him to, or his dad or his grand dad or his aunts and uncles want him to.

But because he wants him to.

“Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

~ Calvin Coolidge

***

This post has been part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Swings, hosted by the lovely and talented Peter Pollock. Please visit his site to read more posts on the topic or link up one of your own at

Expected losses

I went camping over the weekend. Away from the news for three days. From what I’ve seen of this morning, most of it was bad. Very bad. People died. Many people died for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, their deaths seem somehow more tragic because they were so completely unexpected. Madness which turns a troubled soul towards the destruction of others is always shocking. We try to make sense of it after the fact, piecing together all the red flags we missed leading up to the tragedy so that it doesn’t happen again, all the while conceding to the sad fact that it probably will.

Madness which turns a troubled soul towards its own destruction is rarely shocking. Singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse was found dead in her home on Saturday. The official cause of death has not been released pending autopsy, but I doubt there is anyone who has ever heard of her who assumes it wasn’t drug and/or alcohol related. Her addictions were well documented and played out in front of the world, her talent overshadowed by our fascination with her self destruction.

Amy Winehouse, dead at 27 years of age to no one’s surprise. Perhaps that’s the saddest element of her death.

On God and King

image courtesy of photobucket.comConfession: I’m a little overwhelmed right now. Not in a bad way. Not all all. But I’ve got pages to read and projects to contribute to, and then there’s the kiddos at home for the summer with whom I want to spend time with because I know I’m going to blink my eyes and they won’t be kids anymore. There was a time when I posted here seven days a week–two guest posts plus five from me. I have no idea how I ever did that, but I do enjoy blogging immensely. Since this has been a pretty crazy-busy week, I haven’t set aside time to write like I typically do. But rather than run a repost, I wanted to share a quote I found earlier this week while I was researching my latest Why I hate Writing post.

As I’ve said many times before, I think Stephen King is a fantastic writer. I don’t read his work because I’m a science fiction or horror fan. I read King because he is a master storyteller. I’ve read some interviews with him and know a little of his background–he was raised Methodist, his wife Tabby Catholic. I’ve also read that he reads the Bible, believes in a god, just not necessarily the God, and I’m pretty sure he’s not a huge fan of organized religion.

Anyway, this quote from his epic novel The Stand has me pondering some things about trusting God. Not about whether or not to trust Him–I’m hoping to trust Him more each day–but rather how it is that some seem to have a blind trust in God. And for the record, I don’t share this quote because I necessarily agree with his assertions or his characterization of “religious mania”, it’s just got me thinking. Here’s the quote:

The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance…or change. Once such incantatory phrases as “we now see through the glass darkly” and “mysterious are the ways He chooses His wonders to perform” are mastered, logic can be happily tossed out the window. Religious mania is one of the few infallible ways of responding to the world’s vagaries, because it totally eliminates pure accident. To the true religious maniac, it’s all on purpose.

Can blind faith be deep faith? And can a faith that’s never tested be faith at all?

Pondering…

Valuing your friends

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This wonderful advancement in technology known as the DVR has distinct advantages over regular television viewing. Chief among them is the ability to fast forward through commercials. I find most commercials annoying, but every now and then one comes along that really gets under my skin. It’s silly, I know. There’s plenty in this world to be concerned about without wasting my energy being bothered by a commercial, but still…it bugs me:

“You value your friends. So does Directv. Meg’s worth a hundred…”

Maybe what really bothers me is the sense that it doesn’t really bother anyone else.

That people are commodities.

That relationships are categorized into “those who can do something for me” and “those who can’t”.

That it’s getting harder to trust that anyone’s motives are unselfish in nature.

Or maybe I’m just grumpy…

Why I hate writing, Part 10: writing, reading and ranting

If you’ve read this blog for very long, you know that I prefer Twitter to Facebook. Having said that, I will also say I’ve found some great links and conversations on Facebook which don’t lend themselves to the 140 character limitation on Twitter. Such was the case last Saturday when I found the following quote via Sarah Reck’s Facebook status update:

Found this quote online today. It’s attributed to Stephen King but I haven’t found a source.

“Harry Potter is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”

Like Sarah, I was unable to find the original source of this quote, but I have found a couple of articles where King has been openly critical of Meyer’s Twilight series, including an interview published in USA Weekend in February, 2009:

“…when (Richard) Matheson started to write about ordinary people and stuff, that was something that I wanted to do. I said, ‘This is the way to do it. He’s showing the way.’ I think that I serve that purpose for some writers, and that’s a good thing. Both Rowling and Meyer, they’re speaking directly to young people. … The real difference is that Jo Rowling is a terrific writer and Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good.”

Mr. King’s criticism isn’t just directed at Meyer, however. He goes on to say:

“Somebody who’s a terrific writer who’s been very, very successful is Jodi Picoult. You’ve got Dean Koontz, who can write like hell. And then sometimes he’s just awful. It varies. James Patterson is a terrible writer but he’s very very successful. People are attracted by the stories, by the pace and in the case of Stephenie Meyer, it’s very clear that she’s writing to a whole generation of girls and opening up kind of a safe joining of love and sex in those books. It’s exciting and it’s thrilling and it’s not particularly threatening because they’re not overtly sexual. A lot of the physical side of it is conveyed in things like the vampire will touch her forearm or run a hand over skin, and she just flushes all hot and cold. And for girls, that’s a shorthand for all the feelings that they’re not ready to deal with yet.”

I’ll admit I was caught up in the Twilight series when it first came out. Meyer is certainly no Steinbeck, or Rowling for that matter, but I did get caught up in the story. About halfway through the second book however, the story wasn’t enough. I finished the second book and began reading the third but didn’t finish it. Life’s too short to read bad books. I realize what constitutes a good or bad book is subjective, and what compels one reader to keep reading is different from another. I tend to relate to characters in the stories. I found Bella so completely annoying and self-absorbed that I no longer cared what happened to her. I don’t necessarily have to like the main character, but indifference is a real buzz kill for me. I don’t begrudge the millions of readers who loved the Twilight series and cudos to Stephanie Meyer for the incredible success of those books. I’ll save my true book snobbery for autobiographies written by celebrities and quasi-celebrities writing about themselves via a large pool of ghost writers trying to make a living. And I certainly don’t begrudge ghost writers trying to make a living.

What I’m wondering is if you think Stephen King serves the writing community by being openly critical of other writers. King has been the recipient of some of the same kind scathing criticism of his own work, and while I think he’s an incredible writer–probably the best of his generation–he’s written a few dogs himself. My personal opinion is that King’s criticism is less about professional jealousy (as some have suggested) and more about his love of the craft. He takes bad writing personally because he’s done the work, bled on the page and sacrificed so much for the love of the story.

And hey, he’s Stephen King…

What do you think about writers being openly critical of other writers? (I know they’re privately critical of them, because I know how you are, writers.)

What writers have inspired you? (Besides me. Snort!)

Apples to Apples

There’s a whole lot I like about Twitter. There’s a whole lot I don’t like, but that’s another post altogether. One of my favorite things about Twitter is that people on there are so helpful. Last week, when I tweeted that I was looking for some family friendly games, folks were very generous with their suggestions. Many suggested Apples to Apples, and since both of my kids have played this game with friends, I decided to purchase it.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the game, here’s a brief description via the fine folks at Wikipedia:

Rules:

Each player is dealt seven “red apple” cards; on each card is printed a noun or noun phrase, or possibly a gerund.
The judge (a chosen player) draws a “green apple” card on which is printed an adjective (“scary”, “frivolous”, “patriotic”, etc.), and places it face-up on the table for everybody to see. Then each player (except the judge) chooses a card that they think is the best match for the green apple card, and places it face-down. The judge shuffles the red apple cards, reads them (often aloud), and decides which noun is the best match for the adjective. This decision is subjective; the official rules encourage the judge to pick the match that is “most creative, humorous or interesting”.

The player who submitted the chosen red apple card wins the round, and takes the green apple card to signify the win. All players then draw red cards until they have seven again, and the role of “judge” may pass to another person (generally going to the next player in line, though some rules have the round’s winner becoming “judge”). Some editions of the game suggest discounting the last red-apple card played, to encourage players to place their cards down more quickly.

The winner is the first player to accumulate a pre-designated number of green apple cards; the more players, the lower the total.

I had never played this game before, but it only took me a couple of hands to figure out that the key to this game is understanding how the person holding the green card (the judge) thinks.

For example, if, as judge, a person were to play this card:

you would have to know what that person might consider vile. My daughter might choose one of these cards:

Actually, my daughter played "Oil Companies" when this card was selected at which point we reminded her what her dad did for a living.

while my son would most likely choose one of these:

my husband would probably choose any one of these cards:

whereas I would most likely choose one of these:

Note: I should clarify. I don't think all Reality TV Shows are vile. Just the ones where people are shown at their worst in order to make the viewer feel superior by comparison. Deadliest Catch and pretty much any show Mike Rowe has anything to do with are excluded from this list.

The object of the game is to guess what the judge will consider the closest match, not what you think it is. I’ve only played it with my immediate family, but I have to think it would be the ultimate ice breaker game. What better way to get to know other people than playing a game where knowing what a person cares about and what he doesn’t means a better chance of winning in the end? Where letting others know what you think is less important than paying attention to what others think?

There’s a life lesson in there somewhere.

What do you think?

Ever played Apples to Apples?

Sky Mall: It’s been too long

Ah, dear readers (and the rest of you), it’s been way too long since I’ve perused the pages of the wonderful world of the Sky Mall catalog! Who says America is in a horrible economic mess? Pish-posh says the fine folks at the Sky Mall. They have hundreds of products to spend your boat loads of disposable income on!

And who better (besides yourself, of course) to spend all that money on than man’s best friend? Does your dog’s bed have “old world ethnic charm”? I know mine doesn’t…

Notice the shame? The humiliation associated with sleeping on a dog bed without “old world ethnic charm”?

Why put your pampered pooch through that kind of stress when for a mere $349.99 plus shipping and handling you can provide all that “old world ethnic charm” with the Makati dog bed?:

The Makati Dog Bed will add old world ethnic charm to your home with the intricate scroll work and distressed Walnut finish on this wood bed. These furniture style dog beds are made from the finest furniture grade materials that include solid wood and exotic wood veneers. Each bed includes an ultra plush cushion covered in upholstery grade, durable, neutral-colored fabric. Your pet will lounge in comfort and style with the Makati Furniture Style Dog Bed!

And as any dog owner knows, off-white is an excellent color choice for a dog bed!

Don’t worry, cat lovers, I’ve also found something for your feline friend. How many of you keep your cat’s litter box in the guest bathroom? Sort of embarrassing when guests come over, isn’t it? Well, no more, thanks to the Kitty Washroom Cabinet for only $99.98.

Hide the messy litter box inside this handsome piece that instantly enhances the look of your bath, kitchen or laundry room. Designed with wainscoting in a clean white finish, it has a 7″x 8″ portal for kitty. The front swings open like a door so you can easily scoop or change the litter. Two shelves offer added storage and display space; the stainless steel bar gives you a convenient place to hang your scoop.

Most of your guests probably won’t even realize there’s a litter box in there. Except for maybe the overwhelming stench of cat urine and feces. If this seems troublesome to you, why not get rid of the litter box all together with the Cat Toilet Training System for only $49.99:

The best way to deal with the unpleasant task of cleaning out the litter box is to do away with it for good. With the Litter Kwitter 3-Step Cat Toilet Training System, you can teach your cat to use any human toilet in eight weeks or less. The age or weight of your cat doesn’t matter and it works in multiple cat households too. This award-winning product has proved itself effective for years, and has been recommended by vets. Enjoy a cleaner home and say good-bye to the litter box forever.

No more worries about litter box odor! Of course, I’m pretty sure seeing a cat pooping on a toilet is one of the seven signs of the Apocalypse, but I could be wrong about that…

And speaking of toilets, are there ever any heated discussions around your house about the menfolk forgetting to put the toilet seat down? Technology has come to your rescue, my friend.

Introducing the Sensor Toilet Seat, $159.99:

A toilet seat that automatically raises and lowers the seat Some men have a hard time remembering to put the toilet seat down after use. Now the Touchless Sensor Toilet Seat is good news for your household. It raises the lid automatically as you approach the toilet. Wave a hand over it one more time and the seat rises. Then both the lid and seat close automatically 15 seconds after you step away. The unit is easy to install and because it’s touchless, it helps prevent germs and bacteria from spreading.

Once less thing to argue about. That’s worth 160 bucks plus shipping and handling, no? (Note: Not recommended to be used in conjunction with the Cat Toilet Training System.)

I don’t know about you, but around here summertime means looking for things for the kids to do. There are trips to the library, the swimming pool and the occasional trip to the mall or a movie, but sometimes I wish my kids would just go outside in the fresh air and play. When I was a kid, the great outdoors didn’t have to compete with non-stop programming via the satellite dish. But alas, nowadays there’s always something on television. Why go outside for entertainment when you can be entertained in the comfort of your own home? Now the folks at Sky Mall bring you the best of both worlds:

This 55″ all-weather outdoor rated HD LCD television lets you enjoy your favorite entertainment while soaking up the tranquility of the great outdoors. Engineered for permanent outdoor installation, the TV is designed to withstand rain, snow, dust, insects and extreme temperatures. It’s perfect for sharing a romantic comedy while lounging in the spa, catching every second of the game while grilling steaks and its completely at home mounted on watercraft. The anti-reflective and scratch-resistant screen increases contrast and makes for crystal clear viewing.

Oh sure, at $6,995.99 it’s a bit pricy, but can you really put a price on fresh air and sunshine for your children? Me thinks not.

As we come to the end of this umpteenth installment of the Sky Mall shopping guide, I’m afraid this humble blogger has found one product that I cannot in good conscience recommend:

Removes unwanted moles, warts and skin tags! Dermatend is a breakthrough all-natural mole, wart and skin tag remover that’s safe to use in the privacy of your own home. Unlike surgery, you won’t be left with unsightly scars or a large doctor bill. And best of all, it’s guaranteed! Dermatend permanently removes all your unwanted moles, warts, and skin tags quickly and easily. Boost your self-esteem, improve your looks, and finally get rid of all those pesky skin problems! All extra strength DermaTend’s include a free healing balm which helps speed the removal process giving you the best results possible. Extra Strength DermaTend with free Healing Balm Removes 15 moles, warts and skin tags.

Please, people. If you have a mole the size of a pencil eraser on your face

Skip the DermaTend lotion and go see a dermatologist.

This concludes the summer edition of the Sky Mall Shopping Extravaganza. Operators are standing by to take your orders. Tell them katdish sent you.

On second thought, better leave my name out of it. Happy Sky Malling!

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