The Cynics Workshop

Where I can try to influence the world, one word at a time.

Month: August, 2012

Fate

I believe in fate.

I believe I was supposed to be born in the Midwest.

I believe I was supposed to be the baby of the family.

I believe I was supposed to begin my migration East shortly after birth.

I believe I was supposed to end up in New York City.

I believe I was supposed to be in Hoboken on that warm March Saturday 7 years ago.

I believe 28.May.2010 will always hold a special place in my heart.

I believe I am supposed to be a student of History.

I believe that the killing of President John F. Kennedy was probably the darkest day in the history of our Country.

I believe that the Holocaust was probably the worst event that happened in the history of our planet.

I believe that karma will eventually catch up with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

I believe that the drive to succeed, the perseverance, and the love of family and education that Jewish people have is proof that good can come from evil.

I believe that Al Gore was supposed to lose that election.

I believe that climate change is real.

I believe Republicans are too far right and Democrats are too far left.

I believe the middle is usually always better.

I believe everything in moderation is a good philosophy.

I believe our Country is headed in the wrong direction.

I believe Steve Jobs was overrated.

I believe people need to re-think how they view President Theodore Roosevelt.

I believe Romney and Obama each have no clue.

I believe education should be the biggest issue in this election.

I believe natural disasters are Mother Nature’s way of letting us know we are getting a bit too big for our britches.

I believe when it’s nature versus nurture, nature always wins.

I believe bad things happen to good people too often.

I believe good things happen to bad people too often.

I believe technology is only slightly making things better, and is hurting us more than we know.

I believe Facebook is evil.

I believe I was born about 25 years late.

I believe Charles Barkley was right when he said he wasn’t a role model.

I believe 2,476 stars on the Hollywood walk of fame is a few too many.

I believe Hillary Clinton was wrong when she said it takes a village to raise a child.

I believe Larry David is underrated.

I believe Christopher Columbus did not discover America.

I believe the glass is half empty.

I believe time is running out.

Who is Alex Trebek

That is of course the answer, with the question being…who I want to come back as when I die.  I am an avid Jeopardy fan, have been for years, and the more I learn about him and the show tells me that he has it made!

They shoot multiple episodes a day, and for the most part, they are shot in real time.  So for the span of a month or so, he does actually work…not hard, but a lot.  They will shoot an episode, Alex will go back and change his suit, and the returning contestant will change their clothes, then two new contestants will be ushered in and they will shoot another episode.  They can get through multiple episodes in a day so do the math, it doesn’t take long to get through the whole season.

In addition to that, the guy is actually pretty smart.  I can’t comment too much on his intelligence prior to him hosting the show, other than knowing that he graduated from the University of Ottawa with 2 degrees in Philosophy…but he has clearly gotten smarter as the years have gone by.  The evidence presents itself when contestants give wrong answers or mis-pronounce a word, more often than not Alex is there to correct them.  ‘Oooooh, I’m sorry, Nicholas I died of pneumonia, it was Nicholas II whose family was killed by the Bolsheviks in their basement…pick again Emily.’

So when you boil it all down, the guy gets paid millions to travel the world, learn new things, and to work 2 months out of the year.  Not bad for a guy from Canada ‘eh?

Who would you like to come back as?

Why do we Celebrate Dead People’s Birthdays?

If you happened to visit Google yesterday, as I do at least 37 times each day, you noticed their cute little depiction of the word Google appeared as a cartoon Julia Child.  The reason, because yesterday was Julia Child’s 100th birthday…well it would have been if she weren’t dead.  That’s the whole point…she’s dead!  Why are we celebrating her birthday?  If you’re happening around the internet today, you are starting to see Elvis (*sigh*) articles all over the place.  The reason, because today is the day Elvis died.  He’s dead people…let him go.  I get it if he died last year, it’s a moment for all the die-hard fans to remember what it was like when he was alive, how their lives were so much better, how the world was a better place to live…but do these people realize he’s been dead for 35 years?  In the year 2112, are there really going to be droves of idiots going to Memphis to celebrate the 135th anniversary of his death?  Probably.  It’s time to move on, we as a society have too big of a problem letting go.  I really don’t care much for Elvis, so he had a few decent songs, appeared in a few movies, but without Forrest Gump teaching him how to move his hips…where would he be?

We put idiots like Elvis on higher pedestals than we do Presidents.  Quick, what was the date that Abraham Lincoln died?  Without Google, you don’t know.  When was the last time you turned on the news and saw a tribute to Abe’s 203rd birthday?  Or when you paid your taxes this past April, did you think to yourself…wow, good ole Abe’s been dead for 147 years…I can’t believe it’s been that long.  If you’re a betting person, I would bet that next (insert date here when Michael Jackson died) you will see Google do one of their famous animated logos*, and it will probably be of Mike moonwalking.

There are sooooooo many people whose birthday or deathdays we should be honoring ahead of Julia ‘potential CIA spy’ Child, or Elvis ‘without Forrest I would be nothing’ Presley, or Michael ‘hey your son is cute’ Jackson.  It is just another illustration that our priorities are so far out of whack.  We are a society that is so fixated on celebrities it’s scary.  Forget about the whole Princess Diana thing, how is there no law here to curb the insane measures that the paparazzi go through to get photographs?  They are literally hanging out of trees to get a shot…nothing wrong with that, there are hords of the walking backwards down a street so we can get a shot of some actress walking…that makes sense.

If you want to honor some dead celebrity, then do us all a favor and do it in your own home…and please keep all pertinent info related to dead celebrity off the internet.  If you are that pathetic, then there’s a good chance you aren’t ready for society anyway.  Take the day off work, play all their records/cd’s, watch all their movies, think of all the ways their life was better than yours, then move on.  In case you need some assistance, the key to that last sentence was the part about MOVING ON.  Chances are the celebrity you are honoring is literally a pile of bones…so when you think about it, you are honoring a pile of bones…aye.

*Note – if you work at Google, please tell them I love those animated logos.  The ones depicting sports during the Olympics were great.

How I let American Express rip me off

I know the title sounds bad, but I actually don’t harbor any ill will towards AMEX, I have been a loyal user of their card for years and I will continue to be in the future…especially since (and in spite of the fact that) my Visa card was cancelled (through no fault of my own except lack of use).

Throughout my tenure of being an AMEX card member, I have amassed approximately 150,000 rewards points.  For those of you unfamiliar with how these work, you more or less are awarded a point per dollar spent…so yes I use my card a lot.  During lunch the other day with a friend, he convinced me to put those points to good use.  I was simply going to allow them to add up until I amassed more points than any other person (I don’t think there are official rankings for things like that) or until AMEX decided to do away with them, thus leaving me with a pile of unused points and increased blood pressure.

Yesterday I decided to hit up the membership rewards website to see exactly what I could get with my points and much to my surprise, I can actually get a 50 inch, 3D ready, 1080p Plasma TV with HDMI cable.  I’m not going to get that, but I was very surprised that I could.  What I did decide to get for 63,400 points is Rosetta Stone Spanish, level 1-3.  I actually took Spanish in high school, but in classic form I didn’t think I would need it in life, so I forgot most of it.  I have been wanting to re-learn for quite some time because there are instances in my life where it would come in handy, so I figured this would be a great opportunity.

While looking at their site, it did get me thinking.  If I am awarded approximately 1 point per dollar spent, is American Express saying that Rosetta Stone Spanish, level 1-3 is really worth $63,400?  I went to the Rosetta Stone website and the same product sells for $399…although now it is marked down to $369.  I know you are waiting to hear that I called AMEX up and got into a heated discussion with them about how they are ripping me off…but it didn’t happen.  I have had prior conversations with them about how unbalanced their rewards system is, but I haven’t gotten them to budge at all…so I didn’t feel like going through the aggravation again.  That was partly the reason why I had planned to simply allow my points to accumulate until I was the unofficial official king of AMEX rewards points…but that would sort of being like biting my nose off to spite my face (thanks to my Mom for that killer analogy).  That along with my friend convinced me to bite the bullet and succumb to the fact that AMEX is simply going to rip me off…and I had to let them.

NBC’s Olympic Coverage

Please allow me to join in on the NBC Olympic bashing, partly because they suck, and partly because I am an idiot. Because I work during the day (or as I like to refer to it, contributing to Social Security so old people can live comfortable now and use up all the money before I can get back what I contributed), I have not been able to see as much of the Olympics as I would have liked…although last night I did get to see some indoor 2-man bike racing! I go to bed at a reasonable time, around 10.30pm, but that isn’t good enough to be able to see some of the events I would like to because NBC insists on showing events later in the evening so people on the West coast can enjoy them.

Segue – I have a huge issue with the East coast/West coast bias, whichever it is, because most major sporting events (World Series games, NCAA Basketball Championship, etc.) start at around 9.30pm on the East coast thus allowing us to not see the end of them…unless you want to stay up until 12.30am. I have always been of the mindset that the games should start at around 8-8.30pm on the East, 5-5.30pm in the West, which would mean that the people in the East would then get to see the whole game…maybe they would have to stay up until 11.00pm or 11.30pm at the latest. It would unfortunately mean that the West would miss the beginning…but they would get to see the end…which is usually the best and most important part anyway. The whole point of this mini rant is that if someone is going to get screwed and miss part of the game, it should be the West so they miss the beginning, not the East so we miss the end…geez networks, get your head in the game.

Back to NBC sucking. The other night NBC aired one of the signature events of the games, the men’s 100 meter dash, at around 11.30pm…11.30pm! Why was this race not shown earlier in the evening? The entire race lasts 10 seconds, you’re telling me there was no way for them to squeeze that in between 8.42pm and 8.43pm? Why not eliminate one of your self-promoting commercials for some show that I am not going to watch once the Olympics are done so we can see more of the games? Speaking of more of the games, last night during the Track & Field portion, NBC would show the race, then instead of going to a different venue or staying at the Track to show a different event, we are forced to sit through yet another excruciating post-race interview where some nimrod from NBC peppers the runners with those incredibly rhetorical questions.
Here is a perfect example:
NBC Reporter: Great race, tell me what was going through your head at the start, it looks like you got off the blocks quick?
Runner (what she said): Well, I was really focused with getting a good start, my coach and I have been working on our starts quite a bit during the year.
Runner (what she should have said): Thanks, I didn’t fall down, so obviously it was a good race.
NBC Reporter: Midway through the race, we saw your opponent from Jamaica start to creep up on your inside, what did you do to hold her off?
Runner (what she said): Yeah I saw her come up, my coach and I really put a lot of time in during the year on making sure I keep my focus, I reached down deep and found the strength to hold her off.  But I give her credit, she is a great runner and she ran a great race.
Runner (what she should have said): I simply ran faster when I saw her.
NBC Reporter: You coasted across the finish line to win your heat, what are you going to do to prepare for tomorrow’s final to ensure you are strong enough?
Runner (what she said): Yeah, I just want to thank God for giving me this opportunity, I am very blessed to be here, hopefully God will bless me tomorrow night.
Runner (what she should have said): These other runners had no business running tonight, they should have given me a bye right into the final.  Tonight, I am going to eat a nice meal (on the British taxpayers), then I am going to get a good night sleep, then tomorrow I am going got come out and run as fast as I can…that is all I should have to do to win.  Praise Jesus.
NBC Reporter: Thanks for your time, good luck tomorrow.
Runner (what she said): Thanks
Runner (what she should have said): Have you not listened to anything I’ve said, luck has nothing to do with it…idiot.

Mean while while this whole idiotic exchange is happening, I can literally see events going on in the background.  Why can’t NBC show those other events?  Then after that idiotic exchange is over, does NBC do the right thing and show us more events, no…they force us to sit through one of those equally painful “Olympic profiles.”  Listen, if I want to know anything extra about any of the athletes, I will Google them.  I don’t need NBC to tell me about the past struggles of this runner, how she blew it 8 years ago in the Olympics by coasting across the line and losing her heat, and how she decided to have kids, but then suffered from depression and couldn’t run, but now she has turned things around and is running to create a legacy…hold on.  Sorry, I just threw up again because I had to re-live that story!  NBC has 1 job, and that is to show me as many Olympic events as they can squeeze in between promoting their own shows and showing us somehow more gymnastics…possibly a replay of the magnificent 9…or whatever it is.  Somehow I think even Kerri Strug is sick of seeing herself carried off the mat by that old guy who can’t seem to find the courage to retire.  Speaking of gymnastics, how funny was it that the commentators spent 36 minutes hyping up the USA vaulter, how great she was, how this was her event, how she was forging history, only to watch her fall on her butt?  Tough break kid…let’s kick a little love over to that girl from Romania for not choking.  Biggest stage in the world…some have it, some don’t.

I referenced earlier how I am an idiot, the reason is that during the day I continue to open the CNN Breaking News emails that are sent to me…even though I know they are going to tell me the results of the Olympics…for some reason I keep opening them!  Partly because they do pepper in actual news…but I can’t stop…it might be an addiction…I am seeking treatment.  So I actually knew that Michael Phelps would win 20 something medals last month, before he even got to London…I had to walk around all that time knowing the results ahead of time.  To sum it up, NBC needs a 6 hour delay for something that is 3500 miles away, but NASA only has a 14 minute delay for an event that is 155,000,000 miles away…you do the math.

 

Thought Provoking Question of the Day

With all the recent high profile violence involving guns, will Obama have the guts to tackle the mega controversial issue of gun control prior to the election?

Home Cooked Ribs

If you’re like me, and you love anything bbq, then you’ll definitely be happy to know that there is an easy recipe to enjoy bbq ribs at home.  A few months ago I started to do research into the easiest way to prepare the ribs, and it was quite a struggle.  I first looked into grilling them, which involved needing to keep your grill at a constant temperature, possibly going through at least 1 tank of gas, and to top it off, I would have had to put moist wood chips inside a ball of aluminum foil, then poke holes in them to create a mini smoker effect.  Of course if you already have a smoker, then you are well on your way.  After much research, I settled on the fact that I was going to have to use my oven.  I wasn’t thrilled about it at first, but the more people I spoke to, the more common I found this method was.  I worked at a bbq restaurant growing up, and even they used to boil the ribs in water, then they would throw them on the grill shortly before serving to give them that bbq look and texture.  You can certainly throw them on the grill after pulling them from the oven, but I decided not to and I don’t believe I missed anything.  To make my virgin attempt a bit more interesting, I also decided to do beef ribs, but I am certain the below recipe would work just fine for the more traditional pork baby back ribs.

The first thing you need to decide on, outside of what kind of meet you want to use, is how you want to flavor them.  I was really excited to try a rub.  In the past, I have been mostly accustomed to bbq sauce to flavor the ribs, but after a recent trip to Maryland where I had my first rack of ribs that were treated with a rub, I was pleasantly surprised with how good they were so I wanted to try it myself.  After much searching, I settled on the following rub recipe:

1/3 cup paprika
3 tablespoons dry mustard
3 tablespoons onion powder
3 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground basil
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons red pepper

My advice would be to buy your ribs a day or two before you want to cook them so you can let the rub set in and really flavor them.  Deciding to not follow my own advice, I bought mine the day I cooked them.  After getting back from the store in the morning, I immediately put the rub on and threw them in the fridge for a few hours.

The key to putting them in the oven is two words, low & slow.  You are going to want to cook them at 250 degrees for 45 min/lb.  Since I had close to 6 pounds of meat, I couldn’t let the rub set in for too long.  After a few hours of marinating, I got these things in the oven shortly after noon.  The hard work is over, and the oven does virtually the rest of the work for you.  The only remaining step for you is to cover the ribs with your favorite bbq sauce with approximately 30 minutes of cook time left.  The sauce will really set in and give the ribs a nice extra kick of flavor.  Again, you can throw them on the grill yourself for a few minutes to give the outside a nice crispy flavor.  Since I was salivating when I pulled them out of the oven, I decided to skip that step.

After a day, well really weeks, of anticipation, I put a rack on my plate and dug in.  After the first bite, I was in heaven.  The meat was so full of flavor and the best part was that it literally fell off the bone.  I had to let it sit for a few minutes because it was so hot, and I didn’t have room on my plate for sides…but it didn’t matter.  In fact after eating the whole rack, I was too full for sides so in the ensuing days, I decided to eat only a half rack for dinner so I could also enjoy some mac & cheese (which is a must if you are going to eat ribs) with them.

Ultimately, I was really surprised with how easy it was to prepare this whole meal.  The longest step, outside of the time in the oven, is mixing and applying the rub.  It is something easy that you can throw in the oven, then enjoy your day before enjoying your meal.  Happy eating!

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