You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2010.

It made John laugh, and generally that’s good enough for me so go on over to the “Write On” page for a little Halloween candy gram from me to you.

Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

K-Pam the Adorable

It’s a grand day for finding the bestest of things and stuff!

In my email, I found a random photo of K-Pam looking adorbz and all in a new snow suit, with her little puggly buddy Puck telling the photographer, “I’m paying you premium price here to catch the essence of her mega-cuteness, bub, so double-check the lighting and the angle. Hey, I don’t think you’re doing it right, man. Ah, hell, she’s so cute, she can even make you look good, dude.”

And it ain’t so much in the unbearable adorableness of being department, but just so you know, I wore my winter coat today for the first time since last spring … and found my missing glasses. How pumped am I now?

I’m totally buying a lottery ticket tomorrow at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

I’ve been paddling around here in the deep end, pondering this question: Is there any food that isn’t enhanced by the addition of good ol’ Philadelphia cream cheese?

Fruits, desserts, any bread-related product, vegetables, you name it, scrumpdillyiciouser. Meat, you say? Steak — mix a dollop of cream cheese with horseradish as a condiment. Mmmm. Chicken — add onion and celery, instant sandwich spread.

I admit that I’m limiting my “any food” to mean, generally American food. I’m quite certain that if someone plunked down a bowl of steaming sheep’s eyes in front of me or handed me a Melba toast spread with monkey brain pate’, there wouldn’t be enough cream cheese in all of Philadelphia to make that right. But I think we’d only find a handful of people in the continental United States that would dig right into the middle of that meal. So foods like that don’t count. Ever.

There is, however, one American “food” sold in a store near you that stretched the limits of the phrase “enhanced by the addition of cream cheese”: canned asparagus. (I can’t hardly even type the two-word name without my gag reflex twitching.)

I’m just as certain about this as I am about the monkey brain pate’ thing: Canned asparagus is so horrible that it’s against Geneva Convention Code to feed it to prisoners of war. I bet Gitmo is still in operation only because officials are torturing prisoners with daily servings of canned asparagus and they fear the news will leak to the general populace if the prisoners were held on American soil — where we would witness the atrocity of truckloads of canned asparagus being unloaded at the jail facility every day. I weep from the horror.

In the end, I decided that if I apply the “enhanced” phrase to my personal recipe for the most palatable canned asparagus I’ve ever made then, yes, the cream cheese does enhance the canned asparagus. To prepare this dish, you simply open the can of asparagus, drain it carefully and thoroughly, rinse the salt from the asparagus and redrain, then chuck it into the garbage — can, green mush and all. Eat a spoonful of cream cheese to cleanse your palate and your brain things of the sight and smell of that ghastly food-like monstrosity.

I just had to consume ten Nilla wafers spread with cream cheese to find my happy place.

My cream cheese heaven is at: pam@viewfromthenorth40.com

An annual rite of passage into winterness occurred today: I had to cover the window which has the air conditioner mounted in the lower half. Winter, yuck foo. Less light in the living room, ugh.

To dispel this gloom and doom I give you uplifting news links from the week:

First up is a young girl who sacrificed her “cheer-full-ness” for her very mature convictions.

Eleven-year-old cheerleader Faylene Frampton was kicked off her sixth-grade cheerleading squad in Ashland, Neb., for refusing to participate in a cheer that required the girls on the cheer squad to point their backsides toward the crowd and shake their booties.

In a note of irony — which I’m normally four-square in favor of — cheerleading coach Tina Harris kicked Frampton, who had complained about the cheer several times previously, off the squad for insubordination, but Harris also dropped the cheer from the squad’s repertoire since someone found it offensive. This is the kind of logic that gives cheerleaders a bad name.

The article quotes Frampton, the oldest cheerleader in her squad, as saying in her interview on the “Today Show” that: “It just felt wrong. I don’t know why. I just didn’t feel it was a cheer that was appropriate for kids of my age or younger.”

Rock on, little sister.

Calgary, Alberta, elected the first Muslim mayor in any of Canada’s major cities. Way to see past the obvious issues, voters of Calgary. May Allah guide you in the light of the Mother Ship, Amen … Ooooohmmmm.

After her adopted hometown Praxedis G. Guerrero, Mexico, went without a police chief for more than a year, 20-year-old mother and student Marisol Valles Garcia decided to step up to be accountable. What makes her desire to serve in this very public capacity remarkable is that Praxedis is located in the middle of the drug and gang wars of the Juarez Valley. Valles Garcia’s predecessor was gunned down, and since then many of the male police officers have quit. Still she refuses to carry a gun. Valles Garcia has chosen to focus on crime prevention and share her duties as law enforcement chief with the mayor who is more experienced with enforcement matters.

Stay strong. And if you won’t carry a gun with which you can aim small, miss small, then at least walk softly and carry a big stick.

And if that’s not enough heroism for you, then watch this video of a guy who jumped down onto the tracks of the D.C. Metro Railway to save a stranger who fell off the platform while suffering a seizure. The train driver saw the two men on the tracks and realized they wouldn’t be out of harm’s way in time, so he stopped the train short of the station.

Which means, our Good Samaritan very likely could’ve been shmooshed for his efforts … and he did it anyway. Thanks, man. You renew my faith in hooman beans.

The ultimate good news, of course, is that the Earth will most likely not end Dec. 12, 2012, as is possibly, maybe, predicted by the Mayan “Long Count” calendar. The only negative part about all of this is that scientist also say that according to the calendar, the Earth may have already ended. In which case, this is some kind of screwed up afterlife.

Then again, it would explain a lot at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!!” Poor middle-child Jan would cry because that rotten Marcia was prettier, always got the boy and always came out the winner, and her stupid good looks trumped Jan’s brains every time. We feel your pain Jan. We still hate your whine, but we feel your pain.

And now every mining industry-oriented nation in the world feels your pain as well. The cry, “Chile, Chile, Chile!” whines from their citizens’ collective lips.

And why not?

Stupid Chilean miners getting trapped alive 2,040 feet below the surface of the world and all 33 of them coming out alive — after a record 69 days buried alive — by way of a hastily dug quarter-mile tunnel and a for-specially made escape pod.

Chile came out the winner against seemingly unbeatable odds, it got all that free stuff (including 33 pairs of those cool $450 shades) and it hogged all the media attention. Now the whole world loves Chile for its tale of triumph. Total strangers without enough Spanish know-how to pronounce “tortilla” properly, randomly chant Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le!

Or is that just me?

Just so you know, Marcia never did much for me … but I couldn’t get enough of Chile!

Except now I feel bad because immediately following Chile’s triumphant rescue, miners in Ecuador and China experienced cave-ins:

Ecuador: four guys trapped 490 feet down beginning Oct. 15.

China: 11 guys (maybe) trapped 165-260 feet below the entrance beginning Oct. 16.

And I’m all, like, “Meh, whatever. Rescuers oughta have ’em out in a couple hours. In the meantime, you looky-loo-ers invading the base camp come up with a catchy chant to rouse the world upon the completion of the thrilling rescue. Aw-ight?”

And you know what? The media’s right in there making casual with me. After two miners were found dead in the Ecuador cave-in, mainstream American media got bored. They were sailing on a 100-proof, high-octane, revenue generating elixir. Who wants a buzz-kill of death when there’s just a few folks involved to begin with?

I had to google the stories for updates — a far cry from a streaming video of a rescue pod operation.

The China thing was looking like a disaster from the beginning, so hey, let’s see if we can rustle up an exclusive interview or a good hook with our old friend Chile whose disaster was so much prettier than the other nations’ disasters.

I almost don’t like myself, even though, or especially because, my brain still spits out the occasional “Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le!”

Chile, you’ve set the bar so high at: pam@viewfromthenorth40.com

Driving a plain, tan, four-door car is kind of nice in an “I can pretend I’m a kick-ass CIA agent driving around incognito, blending in with the native hicks,” Double-O Pam, kind of way.

No one recognizes us because there are so many plain, tan, four-door cars out on the roads right now.

Therein lies the problem: The car is so friggin’ incognito that sometimes I can’t even find it myself.

Two months after we got it, I pulled into an on-street parallel parking spot right behind another tan four-door something and went into the takeout-only restaurant for my food, passing by someone exiting the building as I went in. I got my food, held the door open for someone to enter the restaurant and went out onto the sidewalk heading to the second plain Janer in line.

As I walked and balanced the food in my arms and pushed the door unlock button on the key ring (our first ever), I noticed that the first tan car was beeping and flashing and thought, “Oh, we must be on the same wavelength, ha ha.” And then I noticed the lei hanging of “my” car’s rearview mirror and realized, “Hey, that’s not my car, the first one is. Stupid tan cars.”

No that’s a lie, I stopped walking and thought, “WTF does my car have a lei hanging off the mirror for?” Whatever. Shut up.

Apparently, the person I passed going in was the driver of the plain tan car that was originally ahead of me — and they left — and the person I passed going out was the driver of the tan car that ended up behind mine. Those people pulled the ol’ switch-a-roo on me.

I’m ashamed to say that it worked … and it took me the longest 10 seconds of my life (standing out there on the busiest street in town, pushing the unlock button over and over, and looking back and forth between the two tan cars) to figure out that, well, I’m rather dull-witted. That was the important point of the moment.

The incident made me more conscientious about keeping track of where I park. And I hung a Christmas ornament off my rear view mirror, so there’s that to help me.

It’s been a few years since I screwed that one up, really badly anyway, but I learned yesterday that I’m not immune to further misadventures in mistaken car identity under the right circumstances.

While in line at the checkout counter, I conversed with the cashier and the guy ahead of me in line. It seems he was buying clothing for the two (of his eight!) children still living at home. The cashier and I were making appropriate-sounding noises that masked our dismay at having that many children, so it sounded as if we were enthralled. Then the guy asked if I had any kids (“Heh, heh,” nervously, “No.”) and kept insisting that I was “young enough to have lots of kids.” (“Heh, heh. No!”)

After leaving the store, I walked down the sidewalk apparently enthralled at the idea that I am still hot-looking enough that I could be mistaken for someone in the reasonably child-bearing years. Well, OK, he didn’t say “hot,” but young enough, anyway. I was feeling pretty good about this, laughing to myself with just a hint of cockiness. And you can see where I’m going with this story, right?

Yup, right past my car and pushing that friggin’ door unlocking button thingy at the wrong. plain. tan. four-door. car.

But now I have experience, now I’m a little smoother operator, and now, thankfully, the battery is low on the thingy so my car didn’t beep and flash its lights behind me. I did what any reasonable person would do. I pretended that I hadn’t hit the button, suavely looked at my watch and mimed an “Oh, shoot! I don’t have time for that errand. I just remembered I need to go somewhere else … in my car … that’s back that-a-way.”

Yeah, if only I could’ve tripped over my feet in that about-face and picked myself up the ground with a mimed, “OMG, I meant to do that so I could pick up this awesome nickel! I better get to my car — quick — before someone comes back for their lost treasure!”

It would’ve been an Oscar-worthy moment at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

Remember the old joke about getting points for hitting certain people out in the street with your car? I don’t remember the punchline, but in the end, the actual punchline isn’t the important part. And I don’t mean that as a pun.

The important part is the idea of a point system and, of course, the laughing every time you mention how many points people are worth when they walk out in front of your vehicle. Right?

Oh look, an old lady, she’s gotta be 50 points, easy. She’d be more, but she’s looking pretty spry. Hey, a one-legged guy on crutches, 75 points. Pregnant woman — score!

I have to be honest though. I never understood the point system. Yes, I know it’s just a theoretical point system. But still, it’s flawed. The principle is that the more feeble, aged, infirm, vulnerable or pitiful the person, the more theoretical points you earn.

Backwards. Even in theory.

It always seemed to me that the more fit, agile and mobile a person is, the more points you earn for running them down, theoretically speaking. Because it’s harder. Right? Am I right?

Skip the ol’ fart slothing the crosswalk in a standard, silver, aluminum walker. Y’know the kind where they cut out the tennis balls to cap the tips of the legs? Yeah, you know. Old dude ain’t worth any points. Hell, my grandma could’ve run him down in her self-propelled wheelchair.

On the other hand, some whipcord teenager with is hat on backward and that just right amount of his boxers showing over his pants ripping along on a skateboard, now he’d be hard to hit — score 85 for bouncing that quick sucker off your bumper. An even 100 if he isn’t distracted by an iPod or texting when you do it.

See what I mean? That would be a feat worth scoring.

Of course, this is all theoretical because no one actually tries to hit the people. Right? You’re just entertaining yourself (in a macabre way) while waiting waiting waiting to drive or while brake-checking yourself into a minor case of whiplash because someone darted out in front of your car and you just saved the fool’s ungrateful life.

I bring this up now, not because I’ve been running down innocent bystanders in the streets, but because of the guy who sneaked up on that 8-year-old boy and knifed him four times in the back because he wanted to know what it was like to kill a kid. Seriously.

23-year-old Evan Sachs of Nassau County, N.Y., spent several weeks scouting malls in his area before finally executing his insane plan one day at an arcade. He waited until the randomly picked boy’s parents were distracted for a moment then attacked. And, yes, Sachs really is working his way up the crazy ladder of success, according to his mother.

But, still, dude. Killing a little kid is the craziest thing you can come up with? Especially some little kid hyper-focused on a video game? I say no score. (And the kid lived, so double goose eggs to ya.)

Want to earn some serious points? Let’s see you try scoring a hit on, say, a special ops member in a toe-to-toe dust up. Or, here’s an idea, take your crazy knife show on the road to Sturgis and see how you do against a pack of those Hell’s Angels fellas. Now, that right there would be some crazy shit on the scoreboard.

Seek more help, dude. Seriously. In a lock up facility somewhere. Please.

Just had to get that off my chest. Now I can go back to watching the Chile miners emerge from their 69-day confinement 2,041 feet beneath the Earth’s outer crust. Godspeed, gentlemen.

Ever wonder how many points you’re worth while jaywalking at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

Random view: Jilly and leaves in the morning sunlight.

I have been tired all week and managed to rustle up a cold for the weekend. A beautiful fall weekend when I could be out riding or, uh, working.

I’d like colds better if they weren’t so inconvenient, y’know? If they were at least fun, but no. Colds are like those “friends” that you can’t claim as friends without explaining something about them — the thing that makes you mime quotation marks around the word friends — like, “Oh, well, we really only know them through so-and-so, and they just sort of stop by on occasion.” Or, “Well, yes, he’s a nut-job that should be kept at arms length, but he’s always been pretty reasonable with us.” Or, “What am I going to do? Be rude to her?”

Colds are boring. You never get anything done while you have one, not work, not good rest, not a lick of thinking. They’re such a burden. They never like what you feed them, so you have to keep feeding them a variety of foods (or is that just me?). And they always show up at the wrong time.

What’s that all about? at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com

It is important to note that A) it was not an accident; B) I am almost totally recovered; and C) I had a lot of fun.

Road construction crews have been working on the highway improvements along our little stretch of pavement. Right now, they’re scraping and leveling the land along the south side of the road, our side. As I’ve watched their progress I’ve thought three things: 1) Wow, this is changing everything; 2) Wow, this is a pain in the butt; and 3) Oh man, I sooo want to gallop my horse over the dirt humps and swoops they’re making.

I couldn’t take it anymore, and Wednesday I became a galloping vigilante to pursue that third thought.

Surreptitiously, I tacked up Jilly while waiting for the crews shut down for the day. Cooper and I (and the horse) took a casual stroll to the north fence line to make certain the coast was clear. Nary a worker was in sight and the machinery was quiet, so (and this was the only truly bad part) I put Cooper in the house because I didn’t want him along the highway … and he can’t keep up with a galloping horse anyway, poor little brick bullet that he is.

I got out onto the dirt stretch, let my horse trot for a bit to warm up her muscles and acclimate her brain to all the highway traffic and construction stuffs, and then we were off. There was wind and thundering feet and dust and breathing like a race horse.

It was exhilarating and I’d love to say that we galloped forever, but I have to say, that the two of us are seriously out of shape, so all that exhilarating stuff occurred for as long as, and only whenever, we had enough oxygen for it. So we galloped like a Hollywood scene aching for a little dramatic background music to accentuate the wind in our hair and thunder of Jilly’s hooves. Then we’d walk gasping like fish out of water. Then gallop. Then gasp.

During the walking parts, we did a pretty good job pretending that we were out strolling along because we wanted to check out the scenery. We do have some pride. And I made sure we always had enough air to gallop the swoopy parts. That was the purpose of mission after all.

I figure we went about 3.5 miles, plus the another .75 miles with Cooper (to make amends I retrieved him from the house, and we took him down to the creek for a swim).

Jilly, who John calls the hippo, and I (if he has a nickname for me, he wisely keeps it to himself) were a tad bit stiff-muscled the next day. She seemed to be pretty well recovered yesterday, though I have a few spots like my hips and those pesky core muscles that still feel a little tweeky.

But it was totally worth it.

My PSA for the day is this though: Physical fitness is a precious thing. Don’t squander it on junk food and a good brisk sit. Keep it, cherish it, let it know you appreciate it. If you’ve lost it or killed it off with neglect or let it age away at an accelerated rate, go build yourself some new fitness. Feed it properly. It may not be like the original fitness, but it’s better than no fitness. Hold it and squeeze it and pet it, and call it George if you have to, to make it feel loved and appreciated.

My George is small and weak, but growing at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40.com