Yak Attack

A place to unwind and spend some time yakking.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Young at heart and a golden soul

If there are days you feel too old and worn out, you need to read this article.

Mr. B, as he's affectionately referred as, is one spiffy gentleman. At the age of 96, he's the oldest volunteer at Providence Mount St. Vincent's assisted-living home. He's also a resident, along with his wife, Alean. By the way, they've been married almost 70 years.

He does incredible work. Mr. B. reached out to a brain damaged young woman named Jennifer Graham. Every Friday, he picks her up for the resident sing-a-long. He's helped her relearn a few words. One of the symptoms of her brain damage is called echolalia, which is a condition where someone mimics words said to her without appearing to understand what the words mean. Through much work and immense patience, he's helped her relearn how to say simple phrases like "Yes please," when offered a piece of candy.

I hope to cultivate, within me and my home, just a smidge of Mr. B's upbeat attitude.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I love my cat, I love my cat (I keep telling myself)

Gray Kitty picked up a horrible habit in the past few days. She's taken to sleeping on my pillow, right next to my slumbering head. You know how cats can make themselves into one long, thin line when they sleep? Gray Kitty does just that, slipping herself between my bedhead and my headboard.

She used up one her nine lives last night when she bit me-- yes bit me-- at 2:30 am. I must have flung my hand into her face one too many times, and the little shithead kitty sunk her fangs into my ring finger and pinky. She must have made a swipe at my hand with her claws, too, because when I was washing away the blood, I also had a scatch on the palm of my hand.

Lew picked up a horrible habit last night. He laughed at me when I woke up involuntarily screaming. He hasn't stopped laughing about it yet, even though he's at work. When I called him this morning, he still chuckled about the weird noise I made when I woke up. I wonder what kind of noise he'd make if he woke up because he got bit at 2:30 am? Just keep it up, buddy, and we might find out.

Kirsten's Fake Band of the Week

Kirsten, over at Enjoy Every Sandwich, declared the Bob-Whites of the Glenn as her fake band of the week (scroll down to bottom of the post). Oh, the memories Kirsten dredged up!

As the youngest member of my sibling clan, the books on the family bookshelf were pretty lame when I was a precocious youngster. My sister wasn't a big reader, and so most of them were from my mother's pre-WW2 youth. In among the Cherry Ames and Nancy Drews, there was a jewel in the rough-- Trixie Belden and her buddies the Bob-Whites.

My relationship with Trixie lasted for 33 books. Those were some good times. She was spunky and outspoken. She had heart. Rock on Bob-Whites of the Glenn.

Monday, March 27, 2006

lewlew's orangie goodness

Last week, Rosie, Tee and Zander were all sick with that nasty viral deal that's going around. They coughed. They ran fevers. Their throats felt like they'd been rubbed raw by sandpaper. That's what got to me. I can deal with coughs, sniffles and fevers, but there's not much I can do to make a seriously sore throat better. They were all groaning, "My throat hurtssssss," and I wanted to make it all better so life could resume its normal pace.

I do my best thinking in the shower, so while I bathed I had a eureka moment. I'd make them orange smoothies reminiscent of an Orange Julius (tm). After getting myself all put back together, I went into the kitchen and made the most kick-ass smoothie ever.

I puzzled over the milk element, since dairy products tend to make the phlegm folk more phlegmy. Milk is what gives the Julius its creamy goodness, however. It just so happens that I dig soy milk, vanilla soy milk in particular, so whilst the children of Lewville lounged in front of the TV eradicating a few brain cells, I slipped it into the mix. That was the magic ingredient, because my finished product could have been served to acne-troubled teens at the mall without them blinking an eye.

I don't measure as I cook, so what follows is the closest I can come to a recipe for my orange smoothie. Give it a whirl, and see what you come up with.

lewlew's orangie goodness(and sore throat fixer):
  • crushed ice
  • vanilla soy milk
  • orange juice
  • granny smith apple
  • green grapes
  • granulated sugar
Fill up your blender half way with crushed ice. Pour in the liquid-- I used 2 parts juice to 1 part soy milk. Wash and core the apple, then chop the apple into smaller pieces (do not peel); throw in a handful or two into the blender. Wash the grapes and throw a handful into the blender. Add 2 tablespoons, or so, of granulated sugar. Blend.

If the smoothie is too thick, add more liquid (keep in mind your ratio). Too thin, add more ice, apple and grape. Sweeten to taste; add more sugar if two tablespoons doesn't taste sweet enough. I like the fruit taste better, myself, so I didn't add a bunch of sugar.

Slush it into a glass and enjoy.

The kids loved it and it made a vast improvement in the nerve endings lining their esophagi.

Yakking about Emergency Prep-- How are you going to fix that food?

Back in February, we yakked a bit about storing up extra food for an emergency. You've got some extras set aside for a rainy (or windy, quaky or TSHTF) day, but do you know how you are going to prepare your meals in an emergency situation? Those cans of chicken noodle soup, while filling, aren't going to taste that good on the way down if served cold because you forgot that the stove might not turn on in an emergency.

Do you have camping equipment? Do you know where your camping equipment is, if you own some? A camp stove is invaluable in an emergency. If you do not have one, put it high up on your prep list. They're compact and are easy to use. They can be used in the city or the country; by home dwellers and apartment dweller. They transport well, due to their size, if bugging out it in order.

Propane grills are also a great option for cooking. Even if they don't have the burner on the side, you could still set a pot on the grill, along with cooking other things directly on the grill surface. Lots of the newer grills have the option to turn on one flame at a time, which saves fuel and concentrates the cooking flame for smaller portions. The draw back to most grills are their large size. If you think you might not be able to stay put in an emergency, a camp stove would be the better bang for your buck.

Make sure to have plenty of fuel on hand to power your cooking options. Here in Lewville, we have a propane tree, which is basically a long tube with lines coming off of it. We can hook up a bbq, camp stove and a lantern to the same propane source, which is the same size as a bbq propane tank. If you have a tree, or decide to go that route when purchasing your stove, remember to have some smaller (full!) propane bottles on hand for bugging out. A safety reminder, when cooking with propane-- don't use it inside the house. Cook outside or in the garage, with the door open. Ventilation is important.

What are some of the appliances you rely on for preparing food. How many of them need to be plugged in to work? If most of the things you use do plug in, what are you going to do if the power is out? Purchasing some non-electric tools is something to think about. I recently purchased a Quick Chef from Tupperware. It chops, mixes and whips by hand power. I've been putting it through the wringer, to see how it performs, and so far I'm impressed. Besides chopping up the typical onions and garlic,I've thrown in hard veggies like carrots and celery. The hard vegetables aren't as pretty of a finished product, as it would be with an electric food processor, but it works. That's what counts when the chips are down. My one concern is blade breakage. I'm going to check and see if replacement blades are available, because there's two screws holding the blade in place, so it would be an easy fix if the right blade was on hand. Ikea has a people-power chopper in their cookware line up. I haven't tried it myself, but it looks cool. If anyone has one, post your review of its performance in the comments section, please. I'm eager to hear how it works.

If you're a coffee hound, like I am, having a way to brew a pot is imperative. Take a look at a coffee press or a stove top espresso pot. Even an old fashion percolator will work, but if you want your coffee in a timely manner, these other options are better. Just make sure to have some ground coffee on hand.

If you have some extra money available, then Lehman's is definitely the place to check out. They have a large assortment of products that run solely on elbow grease. Their products are expensive, but I've heard nothing but praise from people who shop at Lehman's.

Once you have a store of food and a way to prepare it set up, you are well on your way to providing for yourself in an emergency. Remember, Uncle Sam and his cronies aren't going to ride in on their white horses and save the day. Assemble the white horse ahead of time, through your own personal exertion.

I'm feeling sassy...

...so I decided to redecorate a bit here at Yak Attack. Besides adding a few throw pillows, a vase of fresh flowers and a chenille throw, I spruced up the links on the right side of the page. A big thank you to my interior decorating advisors, Kirsten at Enjoy Every Sandwich and Gospazha at Lunaya Pravda. They schooled me on the proper html to make my links all pretty.

With the new look and all, I decided to add some of the blogs I frequent. Please check out Ghetto Puppet, The Picket Line, FreedomSight, South Puget Sound Libertarian, Sunni and the Conspirators and the new blog on the block,Lunaya Pravda. I'll be adding more content to the blogroll in the next few days, so I'll hope you'll stop back by and check it out.

As I was painting and shopping, it turns out Jed, over at FreedomSight, was also doing some redecorating over at his place. He added Yak Attack, along with five other blogs, to his blog roll. Thanks Jed.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Online wildlife viewing

Lew read about this in the newspaper. Sprinkled through out King County are some stationary cameras set up for wildlife viewing. He read specifically about the eagle cam, which shows two views of an eagle's nest in the Kent valley. However, there's a drop down menu with cams for an owl box, a heron's nest, a blue bird nest (kind of lame) and salmon (kind of lame; I think the views are of the Ballard locks). The bat and seal cams aren't working right now.

Check it out. My favorite is the heron cam. The heron laid eggs and sometimes you can see the eggs in the nest as the heron move around.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The dog was just barking

When I read about Bush's press conference in yesterday's paper, I saw an article talking about the military trial of a dog handler stationed at Abu Ghraib. I don't live under a rock-- why was this my first exposure to this trial? I read the paper a lot, and watch the news every day. I missed the little reporting done on this particular trial.

In today's paper, his sentence is reported. You can read about it here.
He received a sentence of 179 days, for using his canine charge to scare prisoners and even having a contest with another handler to try and make the prisoners urinate and defecate on themselves.

In the article I read yesterday, one of the defense attorneys is reported to have used the defense tactic that all that the dog did was bark at the prisoners. The breed of the dog the soldier handled was Belgian Sheperd. These type of dogs are not easy to train; they develop intense bonds with their humans and strive to please. His dog was unmuzzled and lunging at the prisoners. That's a bit more than barking, in my opinion.

The sentence this soldier received is a slap on the wrist. Eugene R. Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice, is quoted as saying "...it's [the soldier's sentence] not impunity, but it's getting real close."

Now, what's in that cup?

Universities are using an online website to check out potential rule breaking by their students. Facebook.com, a collegiate venue similiar to the popular MySpace, gives college students a place to share their experiences and photos. If they share the wrong things,though, they could get in trouble from their schools. Some have even been expelled, using information gleaned from Facebook.

Read the story here.

America's new M.O.

"There's no question that if we were to prematurely withdraw and the march to democracy were to fail, then al-Qaida would be emboldened," Bush said. "Terrorist groups would be emboldened. The Islamo-fascists would be emboldened."
Edit: When I first posted this entry, I thought the press meeting was Wednesday March 22nd. I was mistaken. I've made a correction to the post below, noting it was Tuesday. LL

At Tuesday's press conference, Bush inferred that he has no imminent plans to withdraw troops from Iraq. In fact, he's quoted as saying that our nation's continued presence in Iraq "will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq."

As the Bushism quoted at the top suggests, he's showing concern that a withdrawl from Iraq will demostrate American weakness, and thus "embolden" bad guys. What is kind of left hanging, though, bookended by mention of two Muslim groups, is the vague term of terrorist group. What does he mean by that vague term? A blog entry by Thunder over at Wolfesblog might give us a clue. At least in the state of Virginia, if you are a property rights activist, animal rights activist, environmental activist or considered a religious extremist by the State, then you just might be a "terrorist." Another example of guilty until proven innocent, the new American modus operandi.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Proud Mom moment

Tee raced in the Big Climb on Sunday. He raced up 69 flights of stairs-- that's 1,311 steps-- in about 12 minutes. How I managed to spawn this child, I have no clue. I'd still be there, walking up all those stairs =).

Seattle keeps riding that pony

Once again, Seattle is riding the do-gooder pony, with Mayor Nickel's latest, hush-hush plan to curb greenhouse gases. A quote from the Seattle PI article, Climate of Change, outlines what is thought to be the heart of Nickel's possible recommendations:
The city must slash its production of heat-trapping gases to levels 7 percent lower than its 1990 emissions by 2012 to meet the goals of the Kyoto Protocol, the international climate change accord that President Bush declined to sign. It's likely everyone will need to contribute in some way, making sacrifices, embracing low-polluting innovations and just changing his or her thinking.
"Everyone will need to contribute in some way, making sacrifices..." I think that's code for, "Watch out for a new round of mandated don'ts in Seattle." It doesn't take much reading power to recognize the word no. Will we morph from the most literate city in the US to the most 'whipped?

The article taps vehicle emissions as the top culprit of Seattle greenhouse gases. Will pizza parties for kids stop the idling in the loading zones at school? Does all that idling really widen the hole in the ozone layer? How about we work together to make streets safer, so parents feel okay with their children walking to school. More legislation won't make us feel safer. We've got tons of bills on the books named after victims of violent acts, but have any of these bills made a difference in protecting kids? Since the parents are still there idling, I'd say no.

Using more public transportation makes sense. But wait-- in the greater Seattle area, we have virtually no public transportation options. You can take the bus or a train into the city. A million stops or three choices a day to get into, and out of, Seattle. A bonus, though-- the buses hook up to electricity when they get into the city.

The monorail bit the dust, surrounded by a maelstrom of debt. We've been picking our noses, when it comes to public transit, as long as I can remember. "It's too expensive; I don't like that; this won't work for me," the people of Seattle whine. Well, let's buy an electric bike like it says in the article, to tootle around the city. "It's like swimming with flippers," said Eric Sundin, the [Electric Bikes Northwest] shop's founder. "Or walking on a moving sidewalk." Wowza, that's as cool as riding the monorail!

If you get a chance to read the article, don't forget to check out the .pdf sidebar. A local cement company is looking into ways to use tires as a cleaner alternative to coal. Now, aren't burning tires one of the most toxic substances? Isn't the pollutants released when the tires burn environmental bad juju? Does that bit, alone, in sidebar make you scratch your head in confusion?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The Tale of Two Bands

I've been to two school concerts in the past seven days. Last week, Lew and I went to Zander's spring concert. This week, we went to Tee's. While I support the arts, sitting through two school concerts within seven days is a bit rough.

First of all, the concerts are too long. Have you sat on a hard bleacher seat for almost two hours? Holy Hiney, Batman, but my a$$ hurt! The folding metal chair which cradled my hind end for over 90 minutes wasn't much better. The teachers talk too much in between songs. The more they favor the group performing at the time, the longer the chatter. Come on, let's hear the songs. That's why we're here.

Zander plays the cello, and one of the two songs his orchestra played featured the cello section. The first chair cellist played solos through out the song, and she totally rocks. Her playing could make you smile involuntarily, or sob, depending on the movement within the piece. Yowsa. I call foul on Zander's orchestra teacher, though. She always puts them on first; they can't leave until the whole concert performance is over, and they never play more than two songs. Plus, this concert, one of the two the orchestra played was a repeat song from a year ago.

When the last group settled into place, the audience perked up. We were almost dismissed! When the teacher introduced the band, and revealed they were going to play one song, the energy in the gym was giddy. One song. Then the swift kick into our sore ends-- the song was fifteen minutes long, with four movements, AND it was based on Moby Dick, one of the most boring works of classic literature. It was like the wave at the Mariners' game as shoulders sagged in the audience. Fifteen friggin' minutes about Moby Dick! Okay, I must admit the band was pretty good, even though their ONE song was too damn long. The oboe player was incredible and I whispered to Lew," The oboe is so cool", and asked him why bands don't utilize this instrument more. He shrugged-- he's not keen on woodwinds.

Tee plays the saxophone. Unlike Zander's orchestra, Tee's band always plays last. We couldn't catch a break. The first year band students were pretty good-- I was impressed with how much they gleaned in six months' time. The intermediate band was a stinker this concert. The teacher picked songs that were way beyond their ability. The intermediate band had two oboe players, and it got so bad, I turned to Lew and whispered, "Remember what I said about the oboe at Zander's concert? Forget I said it." Tee's band played three songs that were pretty difficult, and they all sounded terrific. Not bad for students that rarely practice at home.

Tee was disappointed with the song selections for this concert. His band has been playing Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen, during class, and he hoped to play it this go around. "But no, we had to play the stupid songs," he lamented. Hopefully, I can wear my Wayne's World hat to the end-of-the-year concert. It would be shame to practice the song for the whole second half of the year, and never get to showcase it.

Of course I'm slightly biased, but both Zander's and Tee's groups were the best performances of their concerts. It's definitely heart warming to see them play so beautifully and grow in their ability. So, I guess it's worth a sore rear and boring gum-flapping every now and again to see the outpouring of their talent.

Let's Yak About Art-- Goya continued

Goya's work has always captivated to me. How could this guy paint such light, delicate works like Don Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zunica, and have something as horrific as Saturn Devouring One of His Children flow from the same brain and hand?

Despite the risk, he called his contemporary society to task, lifting the Spanish rock to reveal the squirming slugs and larva underneath it. He produced Los Caprichos and Disasters of War to reveal the weirdness and cruelity of the time period. He tried to publish Los Caprichos, even though he almost was summoned by the Spanish Inquisition. Later, he went ahead and produced Disasters of War, even after the canning of Los Caprichos before it's publishing debut. He wasn't afraid to use his craft to stimulate outrage at the social and political climate of his time. Look at Charity from Disasters of War. That couldn't have been easy to create and make public.

Another point from Goya's history is the quandary of the Black Paintings. Goya painted this 14 work series in his private residence, when he was elderly. He worked directly on the wall, and each work was for his own reasons, rather than commissioned. The theme of each work is dark, often violent. Obviously, he was grappling with some personal demons, whether they sprouted from his revulsion of the current climate within Spain, as art historians speculate, or if they came from deep within.

I firmly believe Goya didn't intend for these paintings to be made public. These were strictly for him. Was it right for the Black Paintings to be transferred to canvas, to preserve them, and be donated to the Spanish state by their owner (this was decades after Goya's death)? How much should be done to preserve art for arts' sake, even if it might go against the deceased artist's wishes? Since the works were left to someone after Goya's death, and that person chose to donate the paintings to the Spanish state, the recipient of Goya's major love, hate attention, does that ownership supersede what Goya may have intended? It seems to me that the donation of the Black Paintings to Spain's government is kind of a kick in the teeth to Goya and his life.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Let's Yak About Art-- Francisco Goya

There aren't many artists that are as compelling as Spanish painter Francisco Goya (1746-1828). Although he started his career painting buildings and working in the Royal Tapestry Workshop, as he aged Goya didn't back away from the ugliness of truth and the darkness of fear. His work runs the gamut--portraits and frescoes, political drawings and prints, cartoons; from delicate, playful Rococo style paintings (Sleep) to squeamish, frightening scenes.

His portraits were often comissioned by Spanish royalty. His years with royalty patrons left a bad taste in his mouth. He created a series of aquatint prints dubbed Los Caprichos, which examined those parts of society we tend to ignore or dismiss. Goya described these works as "the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilized society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance, or self-interest have made usual." The production of this set of prints almost landed his hind end in front of the Spanish Inquisition. Out Hunting for Teeth and You, Who Cannot Do It are two prints from the Los Capricho series.

The painting that did land Goya in front of the Spanish Inquisition was The Nude Maja. He was commanded to report who comissioned the painting; if he did reveal who did, the information wasn't ever made public. Goya did paint another depiction of the same woman, dubbed The Clothed Maja, because of pressure from Spanish society. He refused to paint clothing directly over The Nude Maja. According to the Wikipedia article on The Nude Maja, it's supposedly the first painting in Western art to include pubic hair. In 1930, two sets of stamps of The Nude Maja were produced in Spain, but the US barred the risque stamps and sent back all mail with the offending images.

Another set of aquatint prints produced by Goya were the Disasters of War. They are scenes from the Peninsular War, fought by the Spanish, Portuguese and British against Napoleon France. Que Valor! and It Cannot Be Changed are two of the prints from the series. Another work he produced, along the same theme, is The Third of May 1808.

Toward the end of his life, Goya painted 14 works onto his dining room and sitting room walls. They're called the Black Paintings. These paintings weren't ever meant to leave his home, and were untitled. They were eventually transferred to canvas to preserve them and titled by art historians. Atropos or Fate and Fighting with Clubs are two of the Black Paintings.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Question: Are you still eating poultry? Why or Why not.

In today's Seattle PI there's an AP article about Austrian cats catching the H5N1 avian flu. According to the article, the three cats confirmed to be infected withH5N1 were housed in the same shelter as chickens that also had H5N1. A cat in Germany died from the same strain of avian flu, possibly from eating an infected bird.

A comprehensive article on H5N1 appeared in the October 2005 National Geographic magazine. Here's a teaser on the article, from National Geographic Online. If you're interesting in reading more about avian flu, I highly recommend this article.

After reading the NG article back in October, I was very leery of eating any chicken. I've started eating it more, and fixing chicken for my family, but I wonder if that's a good idea. I've been fixing more turkey, but I wonder if turkeys are just as suceptable to the avian flu as chicken are. If you have any information to share, please post a comment.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

New blog alert and sending out a thank you

There's a new blog out in the blogosphere. It's called Ghetto Puppet, as is the nym the blogger goes by. Ghetto Puppet has stopped by Yak Attack before, and even posted a comment. Wander on over and check it out.

I'd like to take a moment and send out a huge thank you to Kirsten at Enjoy Every Sandwich. She's mentioned Yak Attack several times in her blog since I started up in July. Kirsten tagged me for the 4 meme back in January (I felt so cool!). Also, her site is one of the blogs I visit on a daily basis. If I'm in a reading mood, I'll pop over there a few times a day to check for comments and updates. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading her blog yet, get thee there at once! Kirsten is one of the wittiest bloggers I've encountered, to date.

I'd send Kirsten a hug, too, but I don't want to invade her personal space or chance getting a lethal paper cut, so I'll simply say, "thank you."

Thursday, March 02, 2006

more local news

The little boy from Ferndale, WA, who has been battling the Type-A strep infection wreaking havoc on his face and chin, is making a slow recovery. His community is going all out for him, too. The local Papa Murphy's donated 100% of their profit for one day to Jacob Finkbonner. A normal weekday for this pizza shop is about 150 pizza orders. In 60 minutes, double that amount of pizzas were ordered by locals eager to help the Finkbonners. See, this is what people can do to help out others around them. Neighbors helping neighbors is so cool to see in action.

I'm still here

No, I'm not falling off the edge of the world again. I had an interview article to finish up for a local e-zine and I've been working on a longer piece for Yak Attack. Also, I've been working on Lew to share. See, there isn't an I in Team. Now, there's an I in meat pie... Oh, sorry I got distracted. What I am trying to say is I'm doing more of the pick-ups and deliveries for our business, and so I've been driving around during prime writing times.

I did want to mention the stupid redefinition of a public structure by the officials in King County, WA. I guess a building or waiting area can include a measly covered seat. This covering might have one to three partial walls, but any walls present have several large openings to let the wind whistle through. This type of covered area, dear readers, has been deemed a "public place" by these do-gooder bureaucrats, so lighting up is a strict no-no. That's correct-- you can't smoke a cigarette anymore while waiting for the bus. You can, however, smoke your cigarette 25 feet away from the bus stop, but risk missing your bus if no other person is standing around at the stop. Brilliant!