January 28, 2009

A little toast

My first piece of toast at home since I was a kid was a bit of a let down. I searched and searched for a fabulous toaster, one that would make perfect toast for Mad Munkey. Not too toasted, not too light. And warmed just enough. My search led me to stores far and wide (ok, a few internet clicks and some time reading reviews). My search led me to the Breville at Williams-Sonoma.

Now, if you just clicked on the link, you are probably aghast at the cost of said toaster. But, read the reviews. This is really the best toaster since sliced bread was developed. Extra wide slots for bread (anyone know where I can buy Texas Bread? those thick slices that make the best French Toast. Anyone?), bagels and even pastries. When you decide to cook the pastry, I want pix of the aftermath. All I can think of is warm fruit goo oozing into parts of my toaster that didn't need or want goo in them.

There is a two and four slice version. I opted for the two. It's smaller and takes up less counter space which I don't have to begin with. The average customer rating is 4.9 out of 5 stars. Sign me up coach. I'm salivating for my toaster already right? But wait, there's more!

The thing is all automatic. You push buttons and magical things happen. The toast lowers itself, a neat cage closes around your bread to keep it evenly spaced on both sides. A 'lift and look' feature and an audible signal indicates your toast is done. But wait, if you order in the next millenia, This toaster also sports a button for 'a little more'. Your bread will be begging for entrance into this amazing brushed stainless steel masterpiece. Your bagels will be clamoring from the freezer to use the 'defrost' function.

That is sexy and all, but at the end of the morning, it's just toast right? So, why was I let down? Perhaps it was the bread, but I'm betting on lack of toaster experience. After all, it's been more than a decade or two since my toast wasn't delivered by a waiter (which has it's own inherent problems lemme tell ya.) Perhaps after a few more trial and errors, I'll find the perfect combination for the perfect toast. Then I can complain that I forgot to buy chunky peanut butter.

January 23, 2009

The god of choo choo

When I was a kid, I lived near a railroad track. You'd think two steel rails supported by oiled wood and held down with thick spikes would quickly bore a young ming in lust with adventure. Not so. The gleaming steel against the red gray quartz bed and the oiled railroad ties was centermost in my childhood forays. Trains go places, you know? I'd watch the train thunder (lumber?) by on a sunny Saturday afternoon and I'd be transported in my like a hobo on an adventure. A modern day Hobbit perhaps? My goods wrapped in a bandanna and tied to a stick (never did figure that one out correctly) and slung over my shoulder like I was in the know.

When I wanted a little excitement, I'd lay pennies or nickels on the tracks for the train to flatten into shining new disks that were smooth as glass. Never a trace of the famous face remained. I don't recall what I did with these tiny treasures, but it was fun to play. I'm sure once or twice I was flush with cash and laid a quarter on the tracks to see what would happen with the copper and silver, but honestly, I don't recall the results of said experiment. Perhaps I was disappointed as we so often are in these times.

The ditches on either side of the tracks became my trenches for warfare with imaginary foes. The culverts under the road were cool caverns on sunny days to hide in. They also became war tunnels for various campaigns I waged with a ragtag army of my imagination. Often wounded with red food coloring blood staining my 'play, play' clothes. White stripes dyed red for bloody bandages replaced the real thing. I ideal of being a 'walking wounded' hero deep set in my mind from civil war books from the library.

At the end of the day, I always triumphed. Returned home from the wars, the victor, to eat dinner under my mothers watchful eye. Those were the days when anything was possible and if I could think it, it came true. Even if it was just in my mind for a short while. Revolutionary fighting the redcoats, Union blue fighting the wild Indians (feather, not dot), Civil war blue fighting the confederate grays, WWI soldier fighting in the trenches on the cold battlefields of France. The war never took more than a day and we never lost. Come to think of it, the enemy though slaughtered never lost either. It was just a day of the same. Cold rations eaten by numb fingers in the twilight. 'cept I never played war in the cold. War is summer game after all.

January 16, 2009

My little secret

I just visited Post Secret after a long hiatus. I thought of a little secret I'm actually willing to share. Don't worry, it's not going to shake the ground you walk on or make your eyes burn with tears that won't fall or even give you a tiny ache in your throat. When I started this blog I was traveling a lot and recorded many amazing adventures about where I had been. During that time, I coined a phrase for myself, "I never want to look back and say, 'I wish I had...'". The simple truth is that I was afraid I would never get to the point of being old enough to look back on my life and say, " I wish I had..."

Now, I wish I could share all the memories I've had. Not just in the last few years, but my life. One of my old roommates asked me to write a book about my life. "I think it would be very interesting," he said. I have moments of perfect clarity sometimes. Windows into what used to be. Places "Where I have been."

The cold night that the guys in my brothers Boy Scout troop took me 'Snipe' hunting and I promptly ditched them and went back to my sleeping bag, My silent snickers at how dumb they were to think I'd believe that there was such a thing as a Snipe. Thinking about the dead deer I'd discovered earlier in the day and wondering how it had died. I paused for a long time on that one. Something about the woods makes the world seem just that much larger.

The beaten earth on the floors of the long unused barn at summer camp. Wandering through and smelling the summer dust mixed with straw bits and forgotten leather cooked over decades of neglect. Beams of dust clouded sunlight through the milky dirty windows that were still left in the weathered frames. The mewing of the kitten that had lost it's group. Watching as it explored the shadows while in the distance I could hear the laughter and cries of the other kids at the camp engaged in the scheduled activities.

See, it's not a fear of not being able to enjoy a memory, but the fear that I won't have enough time to share Where I've been. I've been here, I've been there, I've not been everywhere. Even as broad as my mind is, I can't imagine seeing it all. And if you did, who would you share it with? Really. Think about it for a minute. Are you sharing? Shame shame on you.

January 09, 2009

Random ions

Why do we feel entitled to things? I deserve X.

If you deserved it, you would have it. You'd have worked for it, found it, acquired it and moved it into your space. You aren't entitled to anything. Accept things the way they are or change them yourself. You simply whining "I deserve it" doesn't mean jack sister. As time passes we feel an increasing degree of entitlement.


On the news this morning, I heard the interest rate in the UK is the lowest since 1690. SIXTEEN FREAKING NINETY! That should be better stimulation than Jenna Jameson with a piece of ice in her hand achieves. I wonder where the world markets are really going? So much Consume in our mindsets. Not just in America, but around the world. We are going into a time of being closer in. Less travel, less bigger everything.

It'll be interesting to look back on the decade prior to the meltdown and see exactly what we did that caused all of this. I hear a lot of finger pointing, but overall, we all got greedy. Bottom line. We all want the trappings of success (whatever those might be). We manipulated systems to achieve those things. In the process, we racked up more debt than anytime previously in our history. Individually and collectively. It's time to go back to a cash based system. If you can't afford it, don't buy it. That said, if you have some scratch lying around unused, now is a great time to buy things like art (record low prices). Might as well beautify that home you can't afford to sell for the next decade.

January 08, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness redoux

Today at the deli I was on one side of the register and a coworker and another woman on the other. Even though I was in a hurry, when the cashier tried to ring me up after my co-worker, I stated accurately that the other woman had been there before me. Had I been selfish and let myself be rung up, I'd have missed the mini-drama about to unfold.

I'll spare you the long drawn out details because I want to go to bed, but the woman ended up being $2.31 short to pay for her order. "Do you take credit cards?" NO "Is there a cash machine somewhere?" NO

I chimed in with, "just add mine to hers and I'll pay for both". The woman graciously accepted and wanted to pay me later. Whatever. She gave me the $6 she had and after I paid, she'd worked out a card for me to contact her. "I'll send you an e-mail," I said.

I did. I told her it was my pleasure to help her out of a bind and that if she really felt she needed to repay, that she vow to commit at least 5 Random Acts of Kindness. I figure that's the best ROI I could ever get. Besides, I spent the afternoon smiling because I helped someone in need. Even if a tiny need. Who knows, maybe after she reads my e-mail, she donates $25 to a charity and some researcher uses that $25 for a test that finds a cure for a deadly disease. Or stops IBS, or invents the fountain of youth (OK, now I'm just getting carried away.)

Random Acts of Kindness. Your friendly reminder to make someone else's day and you might just make your own.

January 07, 2009

Saving my mind

A few months ago, I started taking Krill Oil to assist with my cognitive difficulties. We've all heard the benefits of Omega 3 and fish oil. It's not a miracle cure, but most people want every benefit they can get when they can get it. Perhaps a few more hours or days, but they add up don't they? You read that all the time. You lose 5 minutes for every cigarette you smoke [i don't], by inverse logic, you'd gain five for every one you didn't smoke. Doesn't really work that way does it? However, doing what you can to enhance your system must add up somehow. Unless you get hit by the proverbial bus everyone talks about (funny, I've only heard of one person in my whole life being actually hit by a bus - well two, but they were together at the time).

So Krill Oil. The product of something other than whale dreams. More Krill, more krill, more krill. I must eat more krill. A whale can eat it's weight in krill in a single day. Tons in other words. For a creature that is at the very bottom of the food chain and only ranges from 1-5 cm in length, this is impressive indeed that it's been 'discovered'. The fame, the glory. GImme my krill dammit. Don't worry, we are hardly going to wipe them out. there are 500 million tons of krill in the vast oceans. We harvest a mere 110,000 tons annually. We aren't even making a dent in the whales food supply.

We are however powering the mind that types these letters to become the words that you read on the screen. You see, when I don't take krill oil, I have a few decent thoughts a day. I have no desire to record these for any kind of posterity either. On the oil, I almost feel like my mind is as it was before I fell down and went boom on my head. Things become clearer, leaps of intuition occur with greater frequency. Look at it like this. The oil from this tiny creature is like the gas and oil pipelines that feeds the furnaces of the entire Northeast all winter. Without them, the region would probably grow dormant. I went three or four days without the oil and the fog rolled in and the frost settled into the dark corners. I haven't found a way to really get the blast furnace going, but I now have hope.

Sing it with me. Long live the Krill. Long live the Krill. OK, maybe you didn't pack your singing lesson voices today. I forgive you.

January 03, 2009

RIP my friend

Putting the Christmas tree to rest today. I feel no ill will toward my green needled friend. It's just his time. He's served his purpose. It's time for him to go. Time to strip his raiment of shiny glass bulbs, brightly colored lights, silver beads (did he go to mardi gras?), and the tilted star on this noggin' that never really sat right. I think that merits a trip to the grave as well. Sorry bud, but if you can't sit straight there isn't much I can do for you.

The pine needle trail is somehow lacking without the white crust of snow to provide contrast. The dull gray sidewalk, just doesn't muster much for my visual system (eyeballs that is). How is it that no matter how careful I am I I get sap on my hands. Sticky, gooey, with that faint fresh smell of the outdoors you lose after the tree has been in your house for a day or two. A quick splash of goo gone and the sap goes into the memory box somewhere in the back of my mind, never to be seen again. Perhaps years from now when I get it on my skin again I'll think of this year and the smile on my face as I wiped it off.

It's the holidays after all. Even the momentary setback of some goo on your hands shouldn't keep the smiles from curious faces. The memories of this tree will fade and hidden for years to come, but his memory will return with a smell, a song or a soft touch. Perhaps the sound of ripping wrapping paper and a delightful shriek over a simple gift inside will trigger the visuals of this christmas past. Perhaps then, I won't still be dreaming of a white christmas.

January 02, 2009


Do mushrooms have any food value other than as a seasoning? Are there articles somewhere on the great effects mushrooms have on your mind (and no, I'm not talking about magic mushrooms). I don't ever recall seeing mushrooms in the food pyramid. Carrots, taters, tomatoes, peas, etc... sure. But where do mushrooms fall? Is there a hidden magical part of the pyramid? The mushroom food group. Perhaps this is where all mystery foods should fall. The mystery food group. Undeniably tasty, but no redeeming value to your nutrition system. Perhaps these fungi are loaded with vitamins or something I'm simply not aware of.

January 01, 2009

Was i there?

A few weeks ago I was watching Four Christmases. There is a scene where the family is going through the photo album and showing pix of her childhood. I've spent many minutes thinking about that scene in the time since seeing the movie. I don't have any pictures of my childhood. No baby pictures, no shots of early birthdays with cake smeared on my face, no pictures of little munkey bundled in snow clothes to braves the slopes of the front yard with a sled in the frigid winter.

No high school prom photos. I didn't go to prom, but that's a whole different story. Even if I had, I wouldn't have the pictures. The earliest photo I have is probably me as a junior in college. A few shots of friends from that time that were given to me. I didn't actually have a camera. I had one for a short while one semester in college because I took a photography class. I didn't take very good technical photos then but the creativity was definitely there. I miss the darkroom and printing my own work.

Getting a digital camera was a huge boon to me. In the last few years, I've accumulated more than 8000 photos in my library. Snap away, it's free. I've traveled far and wide and still have very few photos of myself. I hate seeing myself in pictures. I'm not so concerned I don't have photos of my childhood. I just think it's odd. Most people have baby pix of themselves (at least I think they do).

It's sad to see the demise of the film camera. There is something special about advancing the film wheel manually. The slow whirring grind as the gears inside the camera engage the holes in the sides of the film. The long rewinding of the film into the roll at the end of shooting. The satisfying thunk as it hits the bottom of the film canister. Maybe it's time to get the old manual camera out and into action. Is it self portrait time? Hmmm...