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Archive for January, 2010

What do William McKinley, Tom Selleck, & Oprah Winfrey Have in Common?

Seemingly, these three famous American figures have nothing in common. Until you read the Wikipedia page for January 29th and realize they all share the same birthday!

Happy Birthday Tom & Oprah! (can you wish a happy birthday to a deceased president? Hmm, that’s a tough one.)

William McKinley, 25th President of the United States

William McKinley, 25th President of the United States from wikipedia.com

William McKinley was the 25th President of the United States in1897-1901. He won the election on a platform of pluralism for ethnic groups and backing the gold standard. During his presidency America launched the Spanish American War and annexed Hawaii, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, &  put into place an American protectorate over Cuba. His presidency ended in murder, McKinley was one of only four US Presidents to be assassinated. He was succeeded by Theodore Roosevelt and his death led to the eventual appointment of the Secret Service as the official physical protective unit assigned to the President. I used to live on a street named for him.

Tom Selleck on the Red Carpet from Wikipedia.com

Tom Selleck on the Red Carpet from Wikipedia.com

Tom Selleck is an award winning American actor, screenwriter, and film producer whom I remember best from his portrayal of the attractive Hawaiian private detective from the television series Magnum P.I.  I just saw one of his many, many movies (over 50): “Mr. Baseball”.  He plays a rejected professional MLB player who goes to play in Japan in the hopes of returning to the major leagues. His experience in Japan is reminiscent of the story of “Monica’s” from “Love & Basketball” when she is forced to play in Barcelona, Spain since International Women’s Basketball is the only form of professional women’s basketball available.

Oprah Winfrey from Wikipedia.com

Oprah Winfrey from Wikipedia.com

Oprah Winfrey is an incredibly influential and wealthy American talk show host, media tycoon, and philanthropist. Writing about Oprah Winfrey in the space of a paragraph on this blog seems ridiculous. If you don’t know who Oprah is you probably are not reading this blog because you have never in your life seen anything electronic or printed on paper.

Celebrate Holiday wishes Oprah, Tom, & President McKinley a very happy birthday!

William McKinley was the 25th President of the United States in1897-1901. He won the election on a platform of pluralism for ethnic groups and backing the gold standard. During his presidency America launched the Spanish American War and annexed Hawaii, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, &  put into place an American protectorate over Cuba. His presidency ended in murder, McKinley was one of only four US Presidents to be assassinated. He was succeeded by Theodore Roosevelt and his death led to the eventual appointment of the Secret Service as the official physical protective unit assigned to the President.

Toss up: Fun at Work Day or Kazoo Day?

Frankly, I am at odds with my holiday celebration options for today, friends. But I think you don’t have to be if you are flexible in your definition of “fun”.  More on that later: first let’s check out the contenders-

In the red corner, wearing the black suit, weighing in at some very serious poundage, it’s Fun at Work Day!

And in the blue corner, wearing the plastic mini, weighing in at a mere few ounces, it’s Kazoo Day!

Who will be the winner of this match-up of the holidays?

Ok, here’s my solution: Combine them for Fun at Work Day with Kazoos! Seriously, you will have a blast, playing the kazoo at work. And so will all your friends! Perhaps you can play in a kazoo band in your office:

Hey, I am not the only one to think of this and I can prove it. If you would be ever so kind, visit Mike and Matt at their music blog “The Ear Farm” and read not only their recommendation to combine the days, but also their Top Eleven Picks of Songs that Feature the Kazoo.

It will blow your mind! And then you can blow your kazoo!

Kazoo for national instrument campaign
Stock up on kazoo’s for work at Kazoobie’s- http://www.kazoos.com & join their campaign to make Kazoos America’s National Instrument!

5 Ways to Celebrate Chocolate Cake Day

January 27, 2010 2 comments
Chocolate Cake Day Icing Sign Generator via www.redkid.net

Chocolate Cake Day Icing Sign Generator via http://www.redkid.net

Here’s a delicious holiday to “sink your teeth” into, and five easy ways to celebrate Chocolate Cake Day :

1. The Obvious: Bake a chocolate cake.

I have done this. Usually from a box, substituting the oil called for with melted butter (highly recommended!). Occasionally (as in once), my best friend and I spent 13 hours trying to make a showcase cake from Rose Levy Berenbaum’s “The Cake Bible”. This cake was a chocolate Genoise with chocolate Frangelico ganache, and was to be wrapped with thin chocolate leaves made with hazelnut toffee bits. From scratch. Let’s just say it tasted great and looked nothing like the picture.

2. The Popular: Bring a box of chocolate cupcakes or cake donuts to work.

A sure-fire way to bribe your way into the hearts of your co-workers is through food. Especially chocolate-sugar-fat-bomb treats. Make sure to bring enough to leave a few available for seconds, or to give to the IT guys. Yeah, that will keep your laptop from crashing, I bet!

3. The Explosive: Take your sweetie out for a Chocolate Lava Cake at a fancy restaurant.

This is a really good idea. I can’t believe I didn’t write this first. You have to get one of those flourless (who cares, it’s so full of chocolate and butter, who needs flour anyway?) Chocolate Lava Cakes and share it. Go somewhere fancy enough that your waiter cuts the cake open when s/he serves it and shows you the oozing, melted chocolate “lava” erupting from inside. Then, pick up your utensil and give your sweetie the first bite. Now that’s LOVE!

4. The Big Spender: Buy a chocolate cake from the bakery.

Tell the bakery it is Chocolate Cake Day if they don’t have a sign up or something. Ask if you can get a discount since it’s a holiday (and they should feel sorry for you since you don’t have a sweetie or else you’d be doing #3).  Take the cake home in a big, preferably pink, bakery box. Eat it, slice by slice, and don’t share. But do pair it with nice red wines and by watching Food Network or that Matilda movie (who remembers Bruce Bogtrotter?).

5. The Weird Al Yankovich: Just Eat It

Anyhow, anyway, get yourself a slice of that dark brown, sugary chocolate heaven and put in your mouth. Rinse (milk, wine, water, your choice). Repeat. Guaranteed to add volume… to your waistline!

Categories: Food Tags: ,

January is National Blood Donor Month

It’s not too late to join in and support National Blood Donation Month! With the ongoing daily needs of blood in your city and to support the disaster relief in Haiti, it is as good a time as ever to donate blood!

In the time that it takes to crack open that Twilight book, you could give blood….

Blood is needed at all times, and donating can be done just by walking in. Find your local blood center by zip code or find your local Red Cross.

You must be in good health, at least 17 years old,  and weigh at least 110 pounds to be eligible to give blood in most states.

A pint of blood is the typical donation amount, and a pint can be donated every 8 weeks, sometimes even more often. Your donated blood is processed and available to help others within 48 hours, and blood centers strive to keep a 3 day supply on hand.

I know a 24 year old vegetarian who eats a high iron breakfast specifically to ensure she will be able to donate blood exactly every 8 weeks. She has been donating since she turned 17 and has given more than 5 gallons! She is extraordinarily proud of her dedication and told me once there is a lot of competition among the regular donors and donating so unfailingly makes her feel “hard-core”,  as in part of a dedicated & loyal group.  She knows she is making a difference, and feels it is very healthy for her.

Others just do it for the donuts.

How can you help? Walk into a blood center and donate. Go to blood drive and donate. Organize a drive at your school or work and donate with all your friends.

Save a life!

Isn’t it grand? Irish Coffee Day!

Well, yesterday was beer cans and today is Irish coffee. It’s feeling wee bit Irish ’round Celebrate Holiday of late!  I am giggling 🙂

Irish Coffee is an exotic libation that is built to confuse the central nervous system: Drink a glass and let the coffee give you the jitters whilst the whiskey relaxes your nerves. At any rate, today on Irish Coffee Day you’d have perfect timing to enjoy a taste.

Tullamore Dew Irish Coffee by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Tullamore Dew Irish Coffee by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

Irish coffee is made by adding a jigger of good Irish Whiskey such as Jameson or Bushmill’s or Tullamore Dew to a cup of hot coffee and topping it off with a bit of  soft whipped cream. Many folks like to substitute “cream” for the whiskey- meaning an Irish cream liquor such as Carolan’s or Baileys.

Now, Irish Coffee is nice and I’m not saying the Irish don’t like it, but it’s often on the pub menu for “blow-ins” (tourists) like myself and probably you.

So, it’s lucky for you I’ve been to have had the chance to visit  beautiful, green Eire for a month or four.  If you’re wantin’ to quench your thirst in the local brogue, let me expand your vocabulary by few Irish beverage-related terms:

cuppa = hot tea, usually sweet, can also called cuppa tea or sweet tea: “come in for a cuppa”

whiskey = what you’d call Scotch, also referred to as the “Irish”: “give us a drop of the Irish, now”

coffee, white = coffee with cream and sugar, I’d say the most popular way to order coffee at all the posh Irish coffee  shops. “I’ll take a coffee, white, please”

pint = a beer, most often a Guinness or the most popular local brew (for example Murphy’s in Cork) , although you could say ‘a pint, plain’ to specify a Guinness also.  Irish folks love their beer though, and have a huge selection of local beers, imports, and ciders  (I like Bulmers/Magners) on draft or in bottles. “I’ll have a pint of plain, thanks”

glass = half-pint of the above.

mineral = sometimes used to refer to soft drinks. “What ya got for minerals?”

And the most important vocabulary word of all: Slainte! = “slan-cha”, the most common toast, literally meaning “health!”

Got any more? Think my list is “bang-on” or a pile of “shite”? Let me know!

Categories: Food, International Tags:

Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Beer Can!

January 24, 2010 4 comments

How to celebrate this holiday? Pop open a cold one and enjoy!

Read on to learn how the canned beer overcame glass bottles to become the packaging of choice for their brew to beer drinkers in America and worldwide.

Beer Can Collection photo by Chuck Starret of www.mibeercans.com

Beer Can Collection photo by Chuck Starret of http://www.mibeercans.com

American Can was the company that made the beer can a reality. Their journey to developing a can strong enough to withstand 80 PSI and make the tin non-reactive to the beer inside actually began in 1909 when an American brewery approached American Can to develop a metal can for their beer. But the journey didn’t end until 2 years after the Prohibition ended and American Can went brewery after brewery, seeking a company willing to try their product. None were willing to take the risk on a new technology.

Until they went to the Krueger family. The Krueger Brewery had nothing to lose by trying the radical new packaging: they were almost out of business after 13 years of prohibition, their patriarch and founder recently passed away, and their workers on strike, they took up American Can’s offer to install the equipment for free. As a matter of fact, the brewery would only pay American Can if the experiment was a success.

The first beer in aluminum cans was test-distributed to 2000 of its loyal drinkers by the Krueger brewery in 1933, to their general approval. In 1935 Krueger started to test the market with canned beer, previously only used to purchasing beer in glass bottles or served as draft in bars.  People loved the convenience, lighter weight, unbreakability.  By the end of the year, an additional 37 US breweries would go on to sell their beer in cans.

And the rest is history. Canned beer by far makes up the vast majority of take-home beer purchase. Cans range in size from a few ounces to “party” cans of 5L. Numerous innovations have been made to cans from their printing to their construction to their opening mechanisms. There is a huge market for collectible beer cans,  and numerous sites dedicated to their hobby, my favorites in reading up for this post were:

http://www.bcca.com/– The website of the Brewery Collectibles Club of America

http://www.beercannews.com– This site’s “History” page tells the story of how the beer can was brought to market in both the US and UK in greater detail.

http://www.mibeercans.com– Thanks for the great photo of your collection, Chuck!

Go BOLTS! Chargers vs Jets Playoff Celebration

I have declared an honorary holiday as my San Diego Chargers take on the New York Jets in an AFC divisional playoff game here in San Diego at Qualcomm Stadium on Sunday, January 17th 2009!

Chargers Wallpaper

GAME DAY! GO BOLTS!

As a big-time Bolts fan, I will be celebrating the day with a traditional array of:

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

Perfect Popcorn

Perfect Popcorn

Kellogg's Rice Crispy Chocolate Nutty Mini Treats

Kellogg's Rice Crispy Chocolate Nutty Mini Treats


Family and friends will gather in front of the big screen and the dress code will be BLUE and GOLD.

GO CHARGERS!!

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