Friday, May 29, 2009

Pocket Cookies Sings A Little Anti-Ballad

For this week's video, we're reaching into the vault again to pull out a little something from back in 1999. Here I am as part of the acoustic duo known as Pocket Cookies rehearsing a tune we originally wrote back in 1993 called Nicole. It spins the classic tale of boy meets girl, girl ignores boy, boy has no recourse but to write a stupid song about it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

iTunes Spring Into Summer Mix

I fondly remember two Summers ago when Pepsi and iTunes teamed up to offer free iTunes download codes on an impossibly large amount of Pepsi bottle caps. I drank a lot of Pepsi that Summer and had a lot of dental work done that Fall. Still, it was worth it because I used those free codes to have my back catalog put into iTunes.

It seems that nowadays, iTunes can hardly be bothered to give anything away aside from their nearly always crappy "Single Of The Week". Enter iTunes "Spring Into Summer Mix" which is a 10 song compilation that the usually stingy folks over at iTunes are giving away for free via their Facebook fan page.

You'll find songs from The Decemberists, Dave Matthews Band (they're still around?) Bat for Lashes and more. It's actually a pretty good set of tunes, my own favorites being the offerings from The Decemberists, Elizabeth & the Catapult and Ben Kweller. If you've already got a Facebook account, it's worth becoming a fan of iTunes in order to get the tunes. If you don't have a Facebook account, I wouldn't go through the trouble of getting one just for this.

Here's the list of what you'll get:

  • Dancing Nancies (Live) by Dave Matthews Band
  • Percussion Gun by White Rabbits
  • Black Tables by Other Lives
  • Daniel by Bats for Lashes
  • Taller Children by Elizabeth & the Catapult
  • The Rake’s Song by The Decemberists
  • Go On, Say It by Blind Pilot
  • Airstream Driver by Gomez
  • Wantin’ Her Again by Ben Kweller
  • Cornbread (Live) by Dave Matthews Band

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Vacationing In Branson

With schools all over the country shutting down for the Summer, it is the perfect opportunity to start planning a family vacation. There's no better family destination than the entertainment capital of the Midwest, Branson, Missouri. There's always something fun to do there. Branson is home to 49 theaters which feature more than 100 shows and productions. There are also golf courses, lakes, museums and theme parks as well.

There are some great vacation packages available at the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing and at the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel. If you're a golfing enthusiast, you will want to take advantage of their Golf Package which includes a round of golf for two at Branson's newest golf course, the Payne Steward Golf Course. If you book between now and June 15, you can book two nights and get the third night free. Both hotels allow easy access to shops, boutiques, restaurants, and a river walk. They are situated very close to Branson Landing which offers waterfront shopping, dining and entertainment. I'd have to say that it is the attraction that appeals to me the most.

It wasn't so long ago that my folks packed all of us into the car and drove us down to Branson. I remember the highlight for us being the day we spent at Silver Dollar City theme park with the Branson Dinosaur Museum being a close second. My folks, of course, would cite seeing Andy Williams perform as their favorite part of the trip.

There's a lot going on in Branson this Summer. If I were to take the family there this year, I would want to be sure to:
  • Catch the National Kid’s Fest at Silver Dollar City which runs between June 6 and August 9 
  • Visit the Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum
  • Check out Branson Landing
  • Take a stroll around the riverwalk
  • See Andy Williams, just so I can gloat to the parents.






Post?slot_id=38697&url=http%3a%2f%2fsocialspark

The Wonder Stuff: The Eight Legged GROOVE Machine (20th Anniversary Edition)

I first became acquainted with The Wonder Stuff when Jim passed me a copy of their debut album, The Eight Legged GROOVE Machine, nearly 20 years ago. I was completely blown away by the groups combination of raw musical energy with the sly intelligence of their lyrics. I could tell that this was a band that was hungry for success, but would be doing it on their own terms. If you want to know where Oasis stole all their style and attitude from, check out some early clips of The Wonder Stuff and prepare to weep.

The Summer of 1989 proved to be a great one, and The Eight Legged GROOVE Machine provided the soundtrack for much of it. I listened to The Eight Legged GROOVE Machine until the cassette I had recorded it on wore out. I can remember popping it into the deck of the car I was assigned to for driver's training and the burn-outs in the back seat saying how it sounded like pop/punk fusion (but it needed to be LOUDER!!!) and how they could get into it after a few drinks.

Nothing good can come from rehashing former glories. It's like going out drinking with your old college buddies. Sure, it's fun to talk about the old days, but you soon find that you can't drink nearly as much as you used to and that you can't stay up nearly as late as you used to. Plus, when you eventually wake up the next day, through the haze of a nagging hangover, you have to wonder why the hell you tried to relive the old days in the first place. Twenty years after its release, The Wonder Stuff decided to re-record their debut album. I feel a massive hangover coming on.

The Eight Legged GROOVE Machine (20th Anniversary Edtion) is certainly very listenable, but it is only inevitbale that it will draw comparisons to the original. The lyrics are as witty as ever and are sung with the same "devil may care" attitude. The music is pretty well polished but lacks that certain hunger that the band exhibited during the recording of the first version of the album. The band sounds too comfortable. The album essentially sounds a lot like a well produced live album rather than an attempt to re-interpret a classic recording. Something is obviously missing, like getting together with all of your old college buddies and finding that the craziest one of the bunch couldn't make it because his wife was being a total bitch.

It's not that this version is bad. It's actually very listenable. I just have to wonder what the point is. It doesn't improve upon the original in any way and will probably not go a long way towards increasing the band's fan base. I guess that I could see it as a valentine to the fans, but don't we deserve something that had a little more thought put into it?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Best Crazy Religious Manifesto I Have Ever Read.

One of the things I like about Chicago is its diverse population of religious whack jobs. The following is a manifesto that was handed to me by a lady who smelled like she hadn't showered since Clinton was President.

Dear Friend:

"This is your life." If you love it and cherish the lives of others, I hope God will lead you to have this letter published. I come to you in peace. This letter is not meant to cause panic or harm to a single life, but to save lives and to alert you of the times and what to do about them. "If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet and warn the people" (Ezekiel 33-3). We are living in the period of the first resurrection. People who have died are coming back (Revelation 20-5). Many people are dead and impostors are in their places. They look and act just like you and I, but have the wisdom and power of God, almost. Bible days have returned. I have met bible characters as far back as Adam, Abraham, Moses, Job and Zachariah. This is not a religion, only fact.

God the father, Satan, the anti-Christ, demons and aliens from other planets are here on earth with us. These people come to earth through birth, live normal life spans and die like everybody else. Though the aid of make-up and disguises, another person can be made to look eacactly like you. All of thse people except God the father are killing us like life is going out of style. They even marry us to trick us to our death, but we first have to sin. Demon doctors are killing us. Nine tenths of the people diagnosed with cancer and other deadly diseases are perfectly healthy. God permits our death because of our sinful lives.

People are being tricked and pressured by imps directly from hell, and that is the reason for mass suicides. "He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath and indignation and trouble by sending evil angels among them" (Psalms 78-49). This is the final eternal judgement when Satan will be chained in the bottomless pit a thousand years and people will reign on earth with God and Christ a thousand years in paradise. We are all undergoing our test every day, by the way we conduct our lives and treat our fellow man. Cheating, lying, stealing, robbery, gambling, murder, swearing, smoking, drinking, homosexuality, sexy outside of marriage, oral and rectal sex are wrong. We who are guilty must stop now and as God to forgive us. God said he will forgive any sin if we repent and ask.

Since this is a war between God and Satan, they don't let the right hand know what the left hand is doing. I am the only one who knows these things. You will never imagine the persecution of my children and me in an effort to kill us and keep me quiet. Through guidance from God and his angels, I have kept the world from coming to an end for 27 years. God said the whole world is cursed and that is the reason for fires, floods, hurricanes, droughts and earthquakes. All of thse disasters could be averted with repentance and prayer. In the future, all jails and prisons will be closed and all debts will be canceled.

Until I was 40 years old, I had never seen the inside of a jail or mental institution. But since that time I have been picked up from the street almost like dog catchers would pick up dogs. I have been picked up as many as three times in two weeks and was taken off a train once between Chicago and California and didn't even know where I was. It got so bad that when I left home in the morning I didn't know if I would return or be picked up. I could continue to tell you of the harassments that I have undergone.

For 20 years they tried to pressure me out of the church, but I refused to be driven away. So one Sunday six people including two armed guards threw me out. I have been spat upon in the church, demons would shout to hit me and one stood behind me and chanted, kill yourself! I had gone to all phases of the law for help, but they were paid to ignore me. Even though I was not thinking rationally, I thought, if the time has come when one cannot go to church without being thrown out, it is time to help myself. So I returned and fired some shots. Since I have been allowed to think, there is no justification for my actions. I should have waited for God. He said vengeance is mine. I have humbly asked God to forgive me for my crime, now I am asking the public. I have learned more about God, feel closer to him and love him more. He has lifed me from a world of confusion to order. Wrong things that I have done in the past will never be repeated.

If you have not accepted God as your personal savior, do it now. Repend, be baptized, read the bible every day and pray. Go to the church of your choice. Read and heed the ten commandments. People are going to live by God's laws. Pray that God speeds the process.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Need Some Opinions On Lighting

One of the reasons I am selling ad space on this site is so that I can make enough money to finanace various movie projects I have had in the queue for some time. The biggest flaw my movies seem to have is the lighting. I do the best with what I've got (which is nothing), but the productions would greatly benefit from some sort of professional lighting equipment. Certainly, I'd need some sort of studio lights along with a diffuser.

So, for those of you out there with knowledge, what do you think I should get? I'm looking for equipment that isn't prohibitively expensive but will still light up a small studio decently.

Chicgao Area Acupuncture

The following is a sponsored post. Please help support this site by visiting the sponsor below.

I nearly destroyed my right hand 21 years ago in a pizza making incident. While working with a deep dish dough kneading machine, my hand slipped between the rollers and I broke four of my fingers, which included a nasty compound fracture of my middle finger. There was a fair amount of nerve damage as well. It was a long road to my recovery, but I eventually got nearly full use of my hand back. Part of my therapy included acupuncture in the hand and wrist area to relieve numbness and pain.

For those of you who don't know, acupuncture is an oriental medical technique where small needles are inserted into specific points on the body and are manipulated to relieve pain or for therapeutic purposes. Alternative medicine proponents will tell you that the needles manipulate the body's natural energy flow, or qi ("chee"). I can't claim to understand or really even care about the possible metaphysical aspects of it, but I can't argue with what worked for me personally. For me, the acupuncture treatments lessened my pain and helped me regain full use of my hand. Also, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes acupuncture as an effective treatment for a number of issues.

One of the newest Chicago acupuncture centers offers consults and treatments at reasonable prices. If you're so inclined to look into acupuncture as a treatment option for a number of possible diseases, and you are in the Chicago area, check out the Tiffani Kim Institute Your insurance provider might even cover the treatments.

I Have A New Favorite Snack Food

Okay, maybe they don't taste as good as Oreos, but the name alone makes it worth the purchase price. It's nice to see that the marketing value of the double entendre hasn't been lost on today's marketing gurus.

Creme Betweens

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Computer Is Dead

Looks like my HP Pavillion desktop has died. I am not sure exactly what is wrong with it yet, other than the fact that It hangs on the bios screen at start up. For now, I am updating the blog via my iPod Touch.

Maybe if I just leave the computer alone for a while, it will spontaneously resurrect. Perhaps it is just on strike, protesting the harsh computational demands I have put upon it and deplorable working conditions in the sweatshop like atmosphere of my home office.


-- Post From My iPod Touch

Friday, May 22, 2009

I'm Embarassed To Be A South Sider Now

When I was in junior high, one of my classmates was a huge White Sox fan. The poor kid cried like a beaten step-child when they traded Ron Kittle away. Wherever my old friend is now, he is most certainly dangling from the business end of a noose today. The White Sox were up against the Minnesota Twins, a team that lost their last six games. It was shaping up to be a crappy road trip for the Twins, when, somehow, some way, the Twins spanked the White Sox hard, 20-1, making it one of the worst losses in White Sox history.

Joe Mauer humiliated the Sox by hitting a grand slam, two doubles and driving in a career-high six runs. Michael Cuddyer, Joe Crede and Matt Tolbert also hit homers as part of a 20-hit Minnesota blitzkrieg that made the White Sox look like a marginal jr varsity high school ball team. The only thing that kept this embarrassment from becoming an example of ass-clownery was Carlos Quentin’s eighth-inning RBI single off Jose Mijares, The three White Sox fans remaining in the ballpark did the wave.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Radio Dinsey Stars At Morey's Piers

The following is a sponsored post. Please help support this site by visiting the sponsor below.

My daughter is a huge fan of Radio Disney. I had been planning on taking her on a trip to New York and New Jersey with me. While looking up various New Jersey attractions, I noticed that Morey’s Piers in Wildwood, NJ will host weekly live concerts featuring Radio Disney’s up and coming stars this Summer, starting June 29. So far, this year, they've booked Jonnie and Brookie, Ashlee Keating, Brock Storm and Tiffany Giardina, with more concerts to be announced soon.

Morey's Piers is beachfront amusement park and water park complex located in Wildwood, New Jersey. They have three large amusement piers and two water parks. There are over 70 rides and attractions plus plenty of entertainment options for you while you're there (including the Radio Disney stars concerts). Sounds like a fun place to go and I'm thinking that my daughter and I will have a great time while we're there.

On Being Named A Blog Of Note

I jokingly bugged the good folks over at Blogs Of Note to feature me. I believe I offered to tell them the secrets of life in exchange (there's more than one). Well, they did indeed feature me yesterday and I have been humbled by the experience. My traffic spiked incredibly, which was to be expected. The real surprise came with all the nice comments and expressions of support.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who dropped by to check the site out and to those who took the time to leave a nice and/or insightful comment. I hope you'll keep coming back on a regular basis.

Looking At Web Hosting

I've often gone on about the miserable experience I had with GoDaddy as my web host. It won't be too long before I'm able to start re-considering my web hosting options. The problem with web hosting, however, is that there are so many options to consider and providers to choose from that it makes picking a web host a frustrating experience. There has to be an easier way to break down all of the information.

I was checking out the folks over at Web Hosting Geeks and found that they have a lot of very useful, easy to digest information. Not only do they write reviews, but they also break down the various web hosting options into easy-to-understand categories and put them on the right hand navigation bar for easy access. Want to cut to the chase and look at the absolute best hosts available? Web Hosting Geeks gives you easy access to the best providers in a number of categories. Do you want to look at web hosts that offer free incentives for using them such as free domain names or free Google ad words? Web Hosting Geeks has you covered with that as well.

Each host listing contains a number of reviews, space allocations, price considerations and traffic limits. The listings are presented in such a way that you can quickly move through all of the information and eliminate hosts that don't meet your various requirements.When I'm ready to move this site to a web hosting service, I'll be using Web Hosting Geeks to do my research.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Two Story Outhouse

Jason and I paid a little visit to the tiny town of Gays, IL earlier this week to check out their legendary two story outhouse. This was serendipitous because I had to take a leak really bad. Trouble is, the damn thing was locked. What's a guy to do? Check out the video.

The Ethical Hacker

I was speaking with a former student of mine the other day. He's going into the IT Security field and is hoping to become what is known as an "ethical hacker". A lot of you are probably unfamiliar with that term. You no doubt think that a hacker, by definition, is unethical. That's not necessarily the case. An ethical hacker works to ensure that a company's information systems are secure and are considered an integral part of any company's IT strategy.

Personally, I think it would be very cool to work in such a field, helping corporations tighten their IT security. Working as an ethical hacker can be a very lucrative career choice, commanding a salary of anywhere between $97,970 and $123,900. Ethical hackers also work in the field of penetration testing which means breaking into computer systems via brute force or social engineering methods. The only real downside is that you won't get to have the spiffy sounding "ethical hacker" as your title. You'll end up with something more professional sounding like "security specialist", "forensic investigator", or "network defense architect".

The thing is, if you want to go into this line of work, you're not going to be able to do with the hacking skills you've developed while working late at night on your computer. You're going to need some form of formal education. If you're looking to go that route, the folks over at EC-Council can help. They will help you become a Certified Ethical Hacker by offering classes on:
  • Security Fundamentals
  • Ethical Hacking
  • Penetration Testing
  • Computer Forensics

  • Disaster Recovery
  • Secure Programming 

Post?slot_id=38064&url=http%3a%2f%2fsocialspark

The Almighty Dollar

First and foremost, I have created The Virtual Sink to serve as an outlet for my creative urges. Still, it would be nice to be able to make a little money off the site. I'd like to make enough to cover the site's operating costs, which don't amount to much. I would be incredibly happy if I could make a bit more than that, which I would put towards making more produced and scripted movies such as Invisible Ninja, but I know that's not going to happen for a long time.

One of the ways to generate some revenue is to solicit sponsored posts on a pay-per-post basis. I'm somewhat leery about doing that unless the post is somehow germane to this website. I could also solicit links on a pay-per-click basis, which is a bit more palatable but the monetary return is less reliable. Either way, I am going to have to score a higher ranking in Google keyword searches somehow. That means driving in more traffic and getting more links from external sites. I should also do some sort of search engine optimization, which is a task I have been avoiding.

So, in short, expect to see some ads here in the main section from time to time. I'll keep them to a minimum, though. If I do ever accept a sponsored post, I'll mark those posts as such with a graphic specific badge.

I now return you to you regularly scheduled Virtual Sink post.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This Bird Has Flown

A number of very powerful storms rolled through the area last week. I haven't seen the birds sat all since then. I left the webcam on for 12 hours yesterday and didn't catch sight of the birds at all. For a while, I had thought perhaps the birds were busy with flying lessons and foraging lessons, but, alas, the nest has truly been deserted.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I Sliced My Finger Open

I sliced open the tip of my left index finger last night while cutting into a small wedge of Havarti cheese (you may insert your own "cutting the cheese" joke here). Maybe it was the pain clouding my mind, but I thought that perhaps the cheese had bitten me as an act of improbable culinary revenge. I spilled a significant amount of blood from the wound, yet, as I bled through several dressings in an attempt to stop the gushing, I began to ask myself if this was an injury that truly required a visit to the ER. It's a sad commentary on the cost of health care in this country when I have to debate whether an injury is serious enough to justify $100+ in co-payments.

I did the best I could to treat the wound myself (using gauze and duct tape). Wanting a second opinion, I called Jason over several hours later to have him look at it. Jason is an expert in the field of self-triage, having been both accident prone and uninsured for the past several years. First, he poured alcohol on the wound, which felt as if he had taken a blowtorch to my finger. Then, he filled my bathroom sink with water and iodine, and had me soak the wound for five minutes. He patched it up the best he could with Neosporin, gauze, stretchy bandages and duct tape. Not a bad job.

The next morning, I found myself wondering when my last Tetanus shot was, so, before work, I stopped into my doctor's office to explain the situation. The nurse was a soft-spoken older lady whom I had not met before. Upon being asked how I had injured myself, I decided to try to lighten the mood by saying "It was a petting zoo accident. Apparently goats will indeed eat anything".

She could tell, upon examining my wound, that it was a knife wound, not a bite wound. Still, she remarked on how unusual the cut itself looked, stating that it was the strangest kitchen wound she had ever seen. I had apparently sliced into my finger at such an odd angle; nearly any other angle would have required stitches to repair. She then informed me that she would have to remove a flap of sliced skin that was clinging to the wound.

"Just so you know, this is not going to be pleasant," she said.

"Oh, I realize that.", I replied, "It's not like this is the first time I've had to have a hand wound looked at."

I then gave her the grand tour of my hands, pointing out a half dozen scars that littered the landscape. The nurse reacted with a mixture of genuine shock and dumbfounded awe. She asked if I worked in a kitchen for a living, obviously thinking that it would explain the unusually large number of scars on my hands.

"No, I'm just a klutz", I replied.

The visit took only about 45 minutes and cost me just $15, which was infinitely preferable to spending several hours in the ER and having to shell out upwards of $100. I'm lucky that I am insured. I can only imagine the debate that the uninsured must go through when this sort of thing happens to them. It shouldn't be this way. One shouldn't have to worry about risking one's financial health whenever one's medical health is in question.

It's a politically precarious situation. Having the government involved in health care would potentially water down the quality of care, would possibly overwhelm the system from the ERs to the accounting office and would stir up fears of Socialism (from the sort of people who have no clue what Socialism really is). Really, though, something needs to be done. I just have no idea what.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sand Sculpture

The art of sand sculpture is a fairly under-appreciated one these days. It's basically one step below origami in the sculpture medium respect-o-meter. Origami wins out just because it has a cooler name.

Still, some companies do operate in this niche market and easily make a tidy profit. They specialize in creating sand sculptures intended to dazzle guests at a special event. Have a look at the sculpture below. It was created for the Celebration Of The Arts Festival 2009 in Charleston, IL on May 1.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pepsi Throwback

I picked up a 12 pack of Pepsi Throwback this weekend. Not since the introduction of Pepsi Blue have I been so apprehensive about purchasing a niche beverage. Pepsi Blue looked like someone had piled a bunch of smurfs into a blender and hit "liquify". Worse, Pepsi Blue tasted like someone had dropped a vat of berry flavored popsicle mix into a vat of Pepsi. And, I'm not a huge fan of Pepsi to begin with. Two tastes that I never thought should ever go together finally had, and the result was Pepsi Blue, which was eventually banned by several UN anti-torture statutes.

So, it was with much trepidation that I picked up a pack of Pepsi Throwback. Pepsi Throwback is sweetened with natural sugar (an unknown combination of cane sugar and beet sugar) instead of high fructose corn syrup which Pepsi had been using since the early 80's. Upon opening a can of Pepsi Throwback, I immediately noticed that it wasn't nearly as fizzy as so-called "Regular Pepsi". The fizz was so muted that I almost thought I had gotten a bad batch. I'm not complaining about it. In fact, it's quite pleasant to open up a can of soda without fearing that the stuff will explode all over the floor.

But, how does it taste? Pepsi Throwback tastes like Pepsi, but without the syrupy texture and without the signature heavy after-taste. This stuff actually makes me like Pepsi again. If they keep this stuff in production, rather than retracting it in a few weeks as planned, I might even forgive Pepsi Co for releasing Pepsi Blue into the world.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Feeding Time

All three of the robin eggs have hatched and the little buggers seem to be constantly begging their mother for food. The webcam caught a feeding cycle yesterday. The baby birds beg for food for about two minutes before the mother flies in and delivers the goods.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Real Story Behind Cinco De Mayo

They layperson believes that Cinco de Mayo is simply a celebration of the Mexican army's defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla, which took place on May 5, 1862. Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín is credited with bringing about this unlikely victory, which really didn't amount to much because a year later, French forces successfully occupied Mexico City, installed their own Emperor, and didn't withdraw until they were pressured by The United States to do so (you're welcome, Mexico, by the way).

So, why is it that this seemingly insignificant battle seems to be celebrated so heartily world wide? The truth has been covered up over the years due to Mexican nationalism and European shame. The truth is that a greater victory was won at the Battle of Puebla. The truth is, May 5, 1862 was the day that Mexico captured the secret recipe for Mayonnaise.

This emulsified sauce concocted from the fusion of olive oil and egg yolks was created by French Chef Marie-Antoine Carême while trying to create a cheap substitute for ketchup. The sauce, which Carême had called "Creme de Vomit", was quickly confiscated by the French government after they discovered it had many strange and unusual properties, the most obvious being its ability to adhere sliced meat and cheese to bread.

For decades, the recipe was a closely guarded secret overseen by the Duke of Meyenne. When General Seguín defeated the French on that fateful day, a French courier happened to be among the men who were captured. That courier had been planning to bring a copy of the recipe to the Russians for a joint venture to create a yogurt substitute (which would eventually become Thousand Island dressing) but his transport had gotten re-directed to help with the Mexican affair. General Seguín, upon winning the Battle of Puebla, intercepted the copy of the recipe for the glory of Mexico.

Losing control over the recipe for Mayonnaise was akin to allowing the serfs to discover movable type. Enraged by the global implications of this loss, the French military finally felt their testicles descend and sacked Mexico City in a futile attempt to contain and re-capture the formula. By then, it was much too late. The recipe had been leaked to high ranking officials in the U.S. Government in exchange for putting political pressure on the French to end their occupation. Soon, a German-American double agent named Richard Hellmann won the recipe in a poker game against President Theodore Roosevelt and decided to make it commercially available via his delicatessen which served as a staging point for French/German negotiations over the First Moroccan Crisis.

What Cinco De Mayo really refers to is not, as is commonly believed "The fifth of May", but rather, "The Five Mayos" which refers to the five internationally recognized types of mayonnaise. While the condiment has many minor variations, only five versions are recognized by the International Condiment Commission. Those five varieties are:

  1. Traditional: Made by slowly adding olive oil to an egg yolk, while whisking vigorously to disperse the oil. The oil and the water in yolks form a base of the emulsion, while the lecithin from the yolks acts as the emulsifier that stabilizes it. Mustard is added to sharpen its taste, and further stabilize the emulsion.
  2. Russian: Made with sunflower seed oil rather than olive oil and quail egg yolks. 
  3. Japanese: Made with apple cider vinegar with MSG in place of mustard. 
  4. Miracle Whip: Created in 1931 by Cafe owner, Max Crosset when he accidentally dropped a mixture of high fructose corn syrup and various spices, which was meant for his own soft drink concoction (which he called Tab Cola) into the mixing bowl where he had been making mayonnaise.
  5. Vegenaise: A vegan friendly mayonnaise made with soy products and the tortured souls of the damned.
Over the years, the reason behind celebrating General Seguín's victory became lost as mayonnaise became more accessible around the world and as dislike for the French increased. Hence, Mexican citizens went from seeing Cinco De Mayo as a victory for condiment lovers around the world to celebrating the fact that they kicked some French ass.

That's your history lesson for today. Just remember, it's pronounced "Cinco de May-o" not "Cinco de MY-o". Now go out have a margarita with a pastrami on rye with mayo.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Aint Too Proud To Beg....For Spare Change

After the Cubs game last week, my brother, Chris, and I hopped the El back to the train station to head home. When we got to the station, we noticed a street musician rocking out by the platform entrance and we decided to join in the fun. I tipped him $10 for dealing with us.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Eggs Are Hatching!

On Wednesday afternoon, I noticed the robin standing on the side of its nest, appearing to be dropping food into it. Not wanting to get attacked by a territorial poop machine, I waited until the nest was unattended to swoop in for a quick picture. It's obvious that two of the eggs have hatched. Whether or not the third is a dud remains to be seen. Also, I am not so sure that both of the chicks are alive. That one with its head buried in its breast doesn't seem to be very active, though I may have caught it during nap time. From the closed eyes, it's obvious to tell that the chicks hatched only recently. Only 25% of hatchlings survive their first year.

I checked on the mourning dove egg and it remains unhatched. I have not seen the mourning dove in quite some time, so I wonder if it has been driven away.