Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Floor Salmon

While grilling some salmon earlier this week, I was reminded of a story involving grilled salmon that happened several years ago.

I'd had a pretty crappy week. Things had generally not been going well and work had gotten exceptionally busy. I decided that night to treat myself, so, with my daughter in tow, I drove 15 miles out to the nearest butcher shop and purchased a very fine looking salmon fillet. I proudly showed it to my daughter, who was about 4 at the time. She wasn't interested so much in the fish as she was in the details of how one's body turns food into poop. That's a topic for another post.

I brought the fine fillet home with me. I was low on funds, and the fillet had cost much more than I had expected, but I was certain that it would be worth the expense. I eagerly prepped the outdoor grill. I gingerly placed the last of my charcoal into it (the sadist in me likes to make a little house out of the briquettes and put a little matchstick men in it and around the outside). Soon, bright orange flames were happily licking the fillet, cooking it to perfection. I was so proud of this salmon that I called a number of close friends while I was grilling it.

"You hear that?", I would say, placing my cell phone near the flames. "That's the sound of the most perfect fillet of salmon being grilled".

When I was satisfied that my meal had been grilled to perfection, I placed it on a plate and came inside. I sauntered to the wine fridge to retrieve a bottle of Pinot Noir, a gift from a good friend. As I turned around, one of the cats had gotten under foot. I can hardly blame him, for the smell of the salmon was heavenly. He couldn't help but heed its redolent siren call. However, his presence in my path caused me to trip. It was all I could do to prevent myself from tipping over. While I attempted to regain my balance, I dropped both the salmon and the wine. They fell to the floor together in a crash that not only ruined my dinner, but broke my heart as well.

The cat ran off to hide, and I would not see him for the rest of the night. I could only stand there, transfixed by the events that had just occurred. As I stared down at the wine-soaked remains of what had once been the perfect fillet, I could only hold my head in my hands and silently lament its passing. My daughter, upon hearing the commotion, came into the kitchen. Upon seeing me, she ran up behind me, hugged my leg and said "It's okay daddy...you can cry if you want to...".

Monday, June 28, 2010

Relax, It's Just McDonald's

I was in a McDonald's during a particularly busy breakfast rush recently. The teenagers behind the counter were hopping along as fast as they could, but it seemed that, for every order filled, two more customers came in. I was anxiously awaiting my sausage biscuits that were to go along with my large black coffee when my ear caught a snippet of conversation. A rather haggard looking lady was grousing about how, when ordering her meal from McDonald's the day before, it took nearly ten minutes for her burgers to show up.

"And they didn't even apologize.", she bellowed to the man next to her, loud enough for the folks behind the counter to hear her complaining, which was the point. Her companion was emphatically nodding, indicating his frustration at having to wait a little longer for his food.

I couldn't handle the passive-aggressive bitch session any longer and spoke up before I could stop myself. "If you got such crappy service last night, why the hell are you here again this morning?", I asked. The lady looked at me, dumbfounded. It was as if I had set off a logic bomb in her brain. "If this is the worst thing you have to deal with during the course of the day, you're doing pretty well.", I continued. "You'd do well to keep that thought in the back of your mind".

Still no response. She glared at me as if her brain had gone into maintenance mode to check for bad sectors. While her mental faculties were busily cleaning up unindexed entries, her friend chimed in angrily at me. "And you would do well to move out of the way. You're holding up an order line". He was right. While waiting for my food, I had stepped aside into the domain of a register that, while unoccupied when I first got there, had opened up right when I turned to confront the bitchy lady. I stepped aside. Problem solved. Just then, my order came up. I inhaled the decadent aroma of the greasy goodness and made a melodramatic face at the angry couple.

"I hope they spit in your breakfast burrito", I said as I walked off.

My point here is that I never understood the need certain people have to bitch when it turns out that their fast food doesn't arrive as fast as they expect it to. If you can't handle waiting a few extra minutes for your Big Mac, why not go home and make one yourself? Well, a recent study determined that just looking at the logos of fast-food companies can trigger behavior associated with expectations from the brand -- namely immediate gratification, even if that means getting something that isn't as good as what you could get by waiting longer. "Fast food seemed to have made made people impatient in a manner that could put their economic interest at risk," concludes the study, from the University of Toronto.

So, when we order our burgers, we want them NOW. And if we don't get them within our the expected time limit we're more apt to bitch about it. In the end, though, the couple I confronted were bitching about McDonald's, which is pretty pathetic in the grand scheme of things. Now, if we had been at a Burger King, and those delicious double cheeseburgers hadn't shown up on time, that would be something worth bitching about.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Wen by Chaz Dean

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Chaz Dean. All opinions are 100% mine.

It's nice to be back in the Mid-West where the humidity is at a manageable level. Back when I was in New Orleans two weeks ago, it was so humid that my hair, which is usually wash and wear, would either frizz out or go flat. I've often been told that I've got movie star quality hair, but, the heat and humidity of New Orleans turned my locks into a depressing mess. I only wish that I had known about Wen by Chaz Dean.

The Chaz Dean name may sound familiar to you. He's the stylist to the stars and his celebrity clientele is a veritable who's who of Hollywood. After practicing his craft for several years, Dean channeled his styling talents and his passion for helping others into developing a line of hair care products that are free of the harsh chemicals that you'll find in most ordinary shampoos. Wen uses a blend of herbs and other natural ingredients to give your hair more sheen and better manageability while promoting color retention.

The proof in the hair, of course is in how it wears. I'm happy to report that Wen by Chaz Dean left my hair well conditioned, shiny and more manageable. I only wish that I had known about Wen a few weeks ago. I'm sure that my hair would have looked awesome despite the massive humidity in New Orleans

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Destroying Yet Another Wasp Nest

A new front opened up in my ongoing battle against the wasp invasion. I had indicated previously that I would be bowing out of direct conflict after getting stung by a few of them late last month, but their latest incursion onto my property necessitated that I take swift, decisive action. I found another nest in the process of being built and responded with some wasp spray. Check out the video below to see the carnage.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In Praise Of Board Shorts.

There are a few things I was convinced that I would never do. I was sure that I would never find Seth Rogan or Jack Black funny. I was certain that I would never replicate my Uncle Max's recipe for sheep stomach soup and I swore to every conceivable deity I could think of that I would never ever wear a pair of shorts again. This was mostly due to me suffering a sunburn on my legs back in 2001 that was so bad that I couldn't take a piss without my entire lower body erupting in excruciating pain. I suspect that Jenny Peterson calling me "chicken legs" back in high school gym class may have also had a major factor in my decision. Whatever the reason, my refusal to wear shorts has often caused me a lot of discomfort on especially hot days. I often said to myself that I was always willing to compromise comfort for style. After all, I look quite studly in a pair of jean, don't I? Don't answer that.

I started to notice the trend changing away from breezy short shorts late last year. Not being able to handle the Las Vegas heat during the War on Sobriety, my brother ChrisMac and I took to the Luxor pool and I brought my swimsuit with. It was the same swimsuit I had been wearing since the major sunburn incident in 2001. Soon after I dropped my towel to reveal my legs in their pasty white glory, ChrisMac asked why my shorts were so short. Looking around, I could tell that I was woefully out of style. The fashion tides had changed and board shorts were in. Why had nobody informed me? How did I miss the memo? Perhaps it got routed to my SPAM folder along with those forwards from my mother and all my pressing correspondence with that nice Nigerian Prince who promised to share some of his fortune with me.

So, with this Summer already heating up to the point where geriatrics start getting daily health check visits, I decided to head down to the local super-store to buy a new swimsuit and my first pair of shorts since the Clinton administration. I have to say that I like the fact that board shorts tend to be knee-length. This will minimize the potential impact of sunburns should I neglect to put sunscreen on for the billionth time.

In short, I'm not usually one to be a slave to fashion, but I'm pretty happy to take part in this trend. I might even go out and buy a pair of sandals.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Hate My HP Printer.

Anyone who has bought a printer in recent years knows that the manufacturers are screwing us harder than British Petroleum screwed the Gulf Coast. We're all well aware that inkjet printer manufacturers sell their printers at a near-loss and make their money by charging an arm and a leg to for the ink cartridges that power the printers. They know that after the one-time reach-around, you'll be back again and again to buy the ink that they recommend in the user guide. Want to go off brand for ink? Good luck. Most printers these days require ink sold from the original equipment manufacturer in order to work, using electronic chips embedded in the cartridges to ensure that the ink came from the same company that made the printer.

Up until recently, I've been pretty happy with my HP Photosmart C4210 printer. I ignored the fact that the HP install CD installed a bunch of crapware on my computer along with the drivers necessary to run the printer. I looked the other way when jobs kept getting caught in the print queue for no particular reason. I even bit my tongue when I had to shell out $25 to replace the ink cartridges. What's the ink made from, dolphin tears?

The one thing I cannot abide, though, is that, once the ink reservoir drops beneath a certain level, not only can you not print anything, but you also can't use the scanning function on the HP Photosmart C4210 printer. The ability to scan is not dependent on the ability to print. I called HP technical support on this issue and was told that with an empty ink cart, the printer will not enter ready status (this is in case you do need to print) and thus will not allow scanning. This, in my opinion, amounts to incredibly poor engineering or, more likely, a purposeful act of bilking customers out of money. And HP isn't alone in programming this behavior. A Google search indicates that the same sort of behavior is exhibited by both Epson and Brother printers as well.

I've got a work around that just might trick my pain-in-the-ass HP Photosmart C4210 into thinking that ink is available when it really isn't. There is a sensor in every HP printer that checks ink levels. This sensor employs a beam of light to do so. If the light bounces back, the printer indicates that there is ink in the cart and continues to operate. So, the next time I'm out of ink and in a pinch, I'll I place black electrician’s tape and around the ink cartridge's spine. Screw you, HP.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Naxx Online Web Hosting

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Nexx Online. All opinions are 100% mine.


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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Uh Oh SpaghettiOs!!

Campbell Soup Co. has issued a recall of more than 15 million pounds of SpaghettiOs with meatballs after a cooker malfunctioned at one of the company's plants in Paris, Texas, leaving the meat undercooked. This, of course, makes one wonder how long the tripe flavored meatballs need to cook. The USDA said there are no reports of illnesses associated with the product and a company spokesman indicated that the company has received no customer complaints to date. That's not surprising, really, because anyone who eats SpaghettiOs likely has a stomach made of cast iron.

Having a cast iron stomach myself, I often took cans of the stuff on camping trips. As a teenager, I'd throw the cans into the fire and pull them out when I thought they had been cooked enough. Once I reached adulthood, I didn't even bother cooking them and just ate them cold. When eaten cold, SpaghettiOs have a vague soapy taste to them, which is probably due to the Glycerin from the canned vegetable content. I still eat SpaghettiOs occasionally, usually with Tobasco and find them somewhat tasty and filling. Though, in light of the recent recall news, I'm inclined to start referring to them as SalmonellaOs.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Flickr Pro

I like Flickr, I really do. I just don't have a lot of respect for it. It reminds me a lot of my car. My car is old, isn't much to look at and has a number of simple yet fundamental issues that could be easily addressed if someone were to take the time to actually do it. Like my car, however, Flickr is reliable and familiar. I've been using the free version for quite some time now to publish picture sets on this website. Recently, however, I decided to upgrade to Flickr Pro. Here's my reasoning:

  • The 100mb per month storage limit of free Flickr is not enough. My pictures are typically 5mb each which would only allow for about 20 pictures uploaded per month. The New Orleans set has over 60 pictures in them. 
  • The cost of Flickr Pro, $24.95 per year, is a drop in the bucket for unlimited storage. 
  • Flickr pro allows you to access your original files which means it can be used as a reliable backup solution
  • There are tons of third party tools that expand the Flickr experience. 
  • Flickr Pro offers the ability to track numerous statistics related to my uploaded photos such as a counter indicating how many times a particular photo or set has been viewed. 
Although the above advantages sold me on buying the Pro account, there are still some simple things Flickr can do to improve the servce:

  • Although I can download my original files, those files will not include any tags or descriptions I have added to them. 
  • While storage space with a Flickr Pro account is unlimited, uploaded videos are limited to 90 seconds in length and 500MB in filesize. It would seem to me that the fine folks at Flickr could at least increase the time limit restriction. How about three minutes? Five, maybe? 
  • The overall layout needs some work. I'd like to see a three column view option. 
  • I wish there were a way to customize the display of photo descriptions and titles on each photo in a slideshow

    Monday, June 14, 2010

    Photos From The Trip

    Despite the heat and humidity, I had a great time on my recent trip to New Orleans. I took quite a few pictures along the way and am presenting them below in a convenient slideshow format. Enjoy.

    Sunday, June 13, 2010

    Thoughts On The New Orleans Trip

    Despite the heat, the humidity, the seafood induced heartburn and incredible bouts of homesickness, I had a very good time at Microsoft Tech Ed 2010 and in New Orleans. Looking back at the trip and what I have written about it, I would like to go over a few points that didn't easily lend themselves to individual posts.

    • I stayed at the Holiday Inn French Quarter on Royal Street. It was a nice hotel and the location was great. Being just one block off of Bourbon Street, I was in the thick of the excitement without having to deal with the noise of the street afterward. The staff was super friendly, knew me by first name on sight and every single one of them always had a smile on. The hotel itself needs a little updating, which, as I understand it, they are in the middle of doing. Should I ever go back again for business, I would definitely consider staying there again. 
    • I flew to and from New Orleans on AirTran Airways. Their fleet of planes is a young one, with no plane being older than five years. As an uneasy flier on a tight budget, it was nice to be able to fly on an airplane that wasn't built before SkyLab. 
    • New Orleans is a wonderful, vibrant, friendly city. It's rich in history, culture and tradition. I'm glad I got to spend some time there and experience a little of what New Orleans had to offer. 

    Saturday, June 12, 2010

    A Walk Down Upper Bourbon Street

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, for my trip to New Orleans, I booked a hotel in the French Quarter on Royal Street, just one block over from Historic Bourbon Street. The street, arguably the most well known in New Orleans was named in honor of the House of Bourbon, the ruling French Royal Family, at the time of the city's founding. Bourbon Street is home to many bars, restaurants, strip clubs, and souvenir shops. In the video, I take a quick trip down the street, stop for some food, and continue on my way.

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    The Walk To The Garden District

    While on our way to seek out Lafayette Cemetery yesterday, John and I passed through quite a few New Orleans neighborhoods including the Central Business District, Central City and the Garden District. The Garden District was once home to a number of plantations and was then sold off to affluent Americans who did not want to live in the French Quarter with the Creoles. Legend has it that the Americans surrounded their houses with the large gardens that give the district its name so that the Americans, who were downwind of the Creoles, did not have to smell them. Whether or not this is true, I don't know, but the area was certainly very pretty.

    Soon, however, it became apparent that we were crossing into a sketchier part of New Orleans. We had apparently veered into Central City from St. Charles Avenue and, while we felt safe at first, John and I slowly became uneasy. We passed by a number of vacant buildings which we thought were possibly attributed to damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. As we pushed further into the neighborhood, things became eerily quiet. There were no children playing, no cars moving, and no air conditioners running. Such extreme silence in a large city is never a good thing. Even the birds had stopped chirping, as if they had sensed some danger and gotten the flock out of there. As it turns out, back in mid-2006, Central City was considered the most dangerous part of New Orleans. However, a large part of Central City was above the flood level which devastated the majority of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This gave greater attention to Central City in plans for post-Katrina redevelopment of New Orleans. So, the neighborhood has been getting better. John and I learned all of this from a friendly AmeriCorps team we encountered about two blocks away from the silent zone.

    It's nice to see that a noticeable amount of attention is being paid to restoring parts of the city that were either damaged by the hurricane or fell into disrepair. Though my time in New Orleans has been very short, I have developed an admiration and appreciation for the people of the city and their unique culture. I'm glad New Orleans is making a comeback.

    Thursday, June 10, 2010

    A Visit To Lafayette Cemetary

    Today, my work colleague, John and I decided to take a little side trip during a lull in the Microsoft Tech Ed conference. We walked from the convention center to the Garden District in order to find Lafayette Cemetery, which dates back to 1835 or so, making it the oldest cemetery in the city of New Orleans. Between 1841 and 1853, outbreaks of Yellow Fever caused thousands of deaths, the worst of which would ensure that bodies were often left at the gates of Lafayette. The cemetery would eventually fall hard times and would see several of the tombs neglected, vandalized or destroyed. Several preservation efforts, most notably the "Save Our Cemeteries" project have done quite a bit to bring cemeteries in the city of New Orleans back to their original splendor. The purpose of these programs is to help keep the cemeteries clean and visitable through volunteer clean-up events.

    After taking a number of photographs, John and I happened to run into the Save Our Cemeteries volunteer coordinator for Lafayette Cemetery #1. Steve, in typical Southern hospitable style, invited us in to his office for a few beers and some conversation. Being from Chicago, I was sure that I was about to get hustled, if not outright killed. Steve looked a little rough and I thought that there was a decent chance that he'd either say "Bring out the gimp" or that John and I would have our kidneys harvested and our bodies discarded into some unmarked tomb.

    Thankfully, Steve, while being a bit of a character, was harmless. As an employee of the Save Our Cemeteries project, Steve is allowed to live for free in a modest shack that serves as his office on the grounds, which is great considering that people have been dying to get into Lafayette Cemetery since 1833. The shack itself wasn't much to look at, but it had electricity to run his computers and air conditioning. He didn't have cable, but at least the neighbors were deathly quiet. In exchange for a six pack of Natural Light, Steve agreed to tell me his most terrifying experience as director of Lafayette Cemetery #1. You'll find his story in the video below.

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Fun Things To Do At Microsoft Tech Ed 2010

    Tech Ed is Microsoft's annual conference for developers and IT professionals. This year, Microsoft Tech Ed is being held in New Orleans. The conference offers presentations, whiteboard sessions and hands-on labs which provides the Microsoft professional a great opportunity to obtain a more in-depth understanding of Microsoft products. There are also some great networking opportunities because the attendee is able to meet with Microsoft experts, MVPs and community members through social gatherings, community access areas and Ask the Expert sessions.

    While there's a lot to learn at Microsoft Tech Ed 2010, there's also a lot of fun to be had by those willing to brave the circus-like atmosphere of the Exhibition Hall. If the vendors seem like carnival barkers, it's because Microsoft Tech Ed attracts the best and brightest presenters that technology companies have to offer. These presenters showcase their products in the Microsoft Tech Ed Exhibition Hall using techniques that are designed to draw the potential customer in. Here are some of the fun things that were available to do at Microsoft Tech Ed 2010.

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    What Else Can I Forget To Bring?

    Normally, when I go on a trip, if I can't stage some kind of Hudson Bay start, I do my best to make sure that I have all the necessities required to have a comfortable trip. Before leaving for New Orleans on Sunday, I made sure to double check my bags to ensure that I had everything. When I got here, however, it became apparent that I had indeed forgotten a number of important things. Here's a short list of what slipped my mind:

    • Comb
    • Toothbrush and toothpaste
    • Razor and shaving cream
    • Spare contacts and my glasses
    • Comfortable shoes
    • Sunblock
    • Tie
    Thankfully, most hotels have some minor toiletries on-hand such  as toothpaste, toothbrushes, razors and shaving cream. I couldn't bring myself to pay $5 or more for deodorant at the convenience stores on Canal street, so I resorted to washing my armpits several times a day. I'm sorry to report that the practice didn't do much to subdue the epic sweat that streamed from my pores due to the massive Gulf coastal humidity. The lack of comfortable shoes has caused me to stack blisters on top of each other on my feet. And, without my electric razor, my goatee has been growing unabated, making resemble a more trendy Grizzly Adams. There's a jungle on my chin!

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    TommyMac Takes Tech Ed!

    Here I Am Waiting For The Impending Nerd Herd
    I spent the better part of the day investigating the wonders of the Microsoft Tech Ed 2010 conference. This is probably the largest work related conference I have ever attended and the experience is already proving to be a bit overwhelming and it's only the first day. The swag alone weighed me down quite a bit. All attendees received a very cool Tech Ed 2010 backpack with a stainless steel water bottle. Believe me, with the heat and humidity of New Orleans, the water bottle came in very handy. But, as I visited several vendors in the Exhibition Hall at various times during the day, I was given more and more swag. I was actually turning down items at times, yet, still, I ended up with two baseball caps, six t-shirts, three stress balls, a do-rag, a shot glass, and pages upon pages of printed promotional material. I lugged that backpack around to various learning sessions and nearly threw my back and my knees out because of it. Still, I'm learning a lot and making a number of good networking contacts.

    Oooh! Historic!
    After the conference today, I headed out for a little bit to see what New Orleans had to offer outside of Bourbon Street, although I did have dinner at Sammy's Seafood Restaurant on Bourbon Street. They had a jambalaya and fried catfish special that was very good and well worth the price. From there, I went to Cafe du Monde for some café au lait and some beignets. The coffee tastes pretty good on its own but something I enjoyed doing was putting the excess powdered sugar into the coffee for that extra sweet taste. From its location on Decatur Street, I hopped over to the Saint Louis Cathedral, which is the oldest continuously operating cathedral in the United States. The cathedral was designated as a minor basilica by Pope Paul VI in 1964. It's right next to Jackson Square which early New Orleans was originally centered around. Back then it was called the Place d' Armes. After the Battle of New Orleans, in 1814, it was renamed Jackson Square after general Andrew Jackson who kicked the invading British Army's ass. In the center of the park stands an equestrian statue of Jackson erected in 1856.

    Sunday, June 6, 2010

    TommyMac Takes New Orleans

    I flew down to New Orleans this morning to catch the Microsoft Tech-Ed conference June 6 - 10. I've never been to New Orleans before, so I was not prepared for the intense heat and humidity. Ass-sweat induced butt-crack rot reaches epidemic proportions down here.

    I'm enjoying my new occupation
    I'm staying at a hotel in the French Quarter near Bourbon Street which meant that I had to step out onto that famous rue for a few drinks and to take in the atmosphere. Bourbon Street reminds me of either Paris with an excess of neon or Las Vegas with a lack of themed resorts. To walk down Bourbon Street is to experience a collision of classes. You can pass by a greasy spoon which is right next to a nice bar, which is right next to a strip club which is right next to a decent sea food place. There truly is something for everybody. I ate alligator sausage and oysters at a place called Oceana just off Bourbon Street. Seeing as it was the first time I had eaten both, I was impressed that my stomach didn't rebel and evict the food later on in the night when I had some mixed drinks and a cigar. The party atmosphere on Bourbon Street is certainly very interesting and the booze is cheaper than what you'd have to pay in Vegas.

    During my free time tomorrow, I think I'll do something that veers more towards the historic aspect of the city. Oh, and I'll be at the Tech Ed conference most of the day.

    Friday, June 4, 2010


    Children across America are going to throw the mightiest of temper tantrums as their beloved Shrek glasses, promotional items sold by McDonald's as a tie-in with the movie "Shrek Forever After" are pried from their dainty grips. McDonald's is recalling the drinking glasses because federal regulators found they contain the toxic metal cadmium, which poses health risks. It is not publicly known where the glasses where produced, but wherever they were made, allowing carcinogenic laced paint to be used was certainly a gross ogre-sight. If you ask me, they should also recall the movie itself, as "Shrek Forever After" was even worse than "Shrek The Third".

    In all seriousness, it's nice to see McDonald's reacting quickly to this issue. It's a real no-brainer for McDonald's. By reacting quickly, they appear concerned for the safety of their customers, which will be especially well received after the recent BP oil leak debacle. Also, lots of people will never find out about the recall and keep there glasses, so +$2 for McDonald's. For those who do decide to return their glasses to McDonald's, you know they're not going to leave empty handed. They will certainly stop and grab some food, totaling much more than $2.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    A Third Golden Girl Falls....

    Rue McClanahan, known for her roles as Vivian Cavender Harmon on Maude, Fran Crowley on Mama's Family, and Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls died today at 1:00 a.m. in the New York–Presbyterian Hospital after she suffered a stroke and a brain hemorrhage.

    Does anybody else find it odd that three celebrities suffered brain hemorrhages recently, two of them being fatal? Does anyone further find it odd that, over the last two years we've lost three of our four Golden Girls? This has to make one wonder if Betty White, drunk with power and fueled by her recent media resurgence hasn't been participating in some sort of death ritual against her former co-stars, using other washed-up celebrities as test subjects for her diabolical plans.