Kelly Fries and Friends

My friend Tina was a force to be reckoned with.  She was absolutely opinionated, refused to hold her tongue, got us in trouble on a regular basis and was (excuse my crassness) ‘balls to the wall’.  Now, I’m not saying that I am an angel (even though I am) and that I didn’t get kicked out of some of the seediest bars in PA (those stories are for another time) but Tina had a penchant for being both amazingly loving as well as incredibly irritating.  That girl had a mouth on her that would make a sailor blush and a nun faint but somehow, usually, that made her more endearing.  Her favorite line (which incidentally she had on a shirt, mind you) was “f*ck you, you f*ckin’ f*ckers.”  And somehow, that not only became her traditional response but we all ended up using it on a fairly regular basis.  But still, she was beyond loving.  If you were her friend, she would go rounds with someone she felt slighted you.  That didn’t stop her from being her version of honest with you, though.

We used to go out for a bite to eat, a couple of drinks, and then usually catch a band, most often one of our friends would be playing somewhere nearby.  I would meet the gang for dinner and we would sit around the table, catching up, sharing stories, and just generally being social.  Eventually, everyone would decide to order food.  When the order came to me, it was fairly inevitable that I would simply order French fries.  Time and again, we would all go out and I would order the same thing, French fries.  Eventually, Tina confronted me.

“Why do you always order French fries?  I don’t think I have ever seen you eat anything else.”

Shocked that anyone would notice, I managed to reply that I ordered them because I could never decide on anything else, they put food in my stomach since we were having a drink or two, and mostly, because I really like French fries.

While these reasons are all true, I never did tell her the main reason for my standard order.  Finances.  I simply could not afford to both eat with everyone and still be able to hang out with everyone afterward with an adult beverage in hand.  Simple courtesy.  You sit at a table with people eating, you should eat.  You go to a different venue, social convention dictates that you actually purchase something from that establishment.  So … French fries.  Cheap, easy, filling, and sinfully yummy.  Hey, one’s gotta have one’s vices, na?

It’s pretty clear to me that one’s vices start at a young (or young-ish) age.  For me, one of the first times I ever went out to a diner with friends (sans parental units), I was introduced to what we call ‘kelly fries’.  Now, most people know kelly fries by a different moniker.  Being from a small, rural town, I got to know these ‘sounds disgusting but are sooooo good’ fries only by the term ‘kelly.’  When I left that area, I tried repeatedly to get them served to me but to no avail.  Oh, I’ve had chefs give it a go, but since it wasn’t something done by them before, usually it paled in comparison to my standard.  For anyone who has ever moved, especially to another state, you quickly realize that your favorite comfort foods are regional foods and are notoriously difficult to locate.  Take cheesesteaks, for example.  Living relatively close to Philadelphia, cheesesteaks were everywhere.  Not so much in other parts of the country.  If you don’t believe me, just go ahead and order a cheesesteak in North Carolina or Connecticut.  Let me know how that works out for you.  You’ll get what they call a cheesesteak, but it isn’t anything like the real thing.

But I digress.  I spent years searching through different states to find that elusive cheesesteak, but more importantly, to find KELLY FRIES.  How difficult can it be to find a plate full of French fries with some cheese and gravy on them?  Then I found Canada.  Oh.  My.  Gawd.  They even have a name for it.  Poutine.  Just like Tim Horton’s, the closer you get to Canada, the easier it is to find poutine.  They don’t even care what you call it.  They’ll not only serve it to you, they’ll have it on the menu, for pity’s sake!  If there was ever a discovery that called for the *Snoopy happy dance,* this one fit the bill (yeah, it’s all about the little things).

So, I’m languishing away in Connecticut, no cheesesteaks, no kelly fries, no friends’ bands playing anywhere and out of the blue, one of my best friends insists that I view our friendship on Facebook.  He wanted to remind me how we were so funny a couple of years ago.  Ok, we’re still ridiculously funny, we just don’t manage it nearly as much in publc (and together) than in the past.

Like the good girl I am, I follow this dictate and peruse our past friendship on Facebook.  And, as I’m laughing away at our antics, I come across a very insistent post from me for him to call me.  A demand, really.  As I’m reading this, I’m groaning to myself and wondering what trainwreckedness I’ve gotten into this time so that I have to disturb him at work.  And then I read the rest of the responses.

I insisted he call me because our friend (and fellow llama-lover) Tina died.  And idiotically, one of the first things to go through my mind as I read this post is French fries.  Somehow, the memory of Tina and the memory of our French fry conversation has gotten inexorably tangled up in my mind.  If I wanted to psychoanalyze this, the logical explanation is that just as I’m unable to have kelly fries in an area that just does not have them, I’m unable to have our friendship in a world that just does not have Tina.

But I’m not going to psychoanalyze this.  I’m just going to take it as timely fate that, while French fries and Tina are cohabitating in my memory, my above-mentioned bestie posts an article about putting kelly fries on top of pizza.  With a picture.  And, while I love kelly fries, and I love pizza, I absolutely cannot abide the thought of merging the two.  No thanks, JT.  I’ll take my fries on the side.  With a llama.  In a hat.

~Love Always~

*dedicated to the memory of Tina, may she continue to rest in peace.

llamahat

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Celebrate

May your eyes see the infinite beauty of the heavens which surround the mundane, and may your ears hear the exquisite sounds of the angels as they sing. May your tongue taste the nectar of the gods in the unending banquet set before you, and may your skin feel the gossamer touch of a lover’s breath.

May your life be a treasure trove of individual minutes instead of a rushed frenzy through the hours and the days. May you savor the joy of each small wonder instead of always searching for some ultimate prize. May you learn to love and love to learn.

Every minute and each breath is a gift of light to embrace, a moment in time to either squander or value. Each gaze of your eye and every touch of your hand is a singular joy to relish and honor, to believe in and experience. May you choose to do so with all the love in your heart, second by second and moment by moment.  Live not for today but in today, finding peace and joy from each small miracle set before you.

Boat in raindrop


Dishwasher Dinner

Poached Salmon à la Dishwasher

Yes, you read that correctly – you can use your dishwasher to cook!  Oven on the fritz?  No microwave?  Have a dinner party anyway and amaze your guests by serving up salmon cooked to perfection in an unusual manner.  The following recipe can be made with or without cleaning dishes at the same time.

dishwasher salmon


INGREDIENTS:

1 TBSP olive oil
4 salmon fillets, 6oz each
4 TBSP lemon juice
salt, pepper, dill

DIRECTIONS:

Grease one side of each of two, 12-inch square sheets of aluminum foil. Place 2 fillets side by side on each square and fold up the outer edges. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of lemon juice over each fillet. Season with salt, pepper and dill to taste.

Fold and pinch the aluminum foil extra tightly to create a watertight seal around each pair of fillets. Make sure the packet is airtight by pressing down on it gently with your hand. If air easily escapes, rewrap.

Place foil packets on the top rack of the dishwasher. Run dishwasher for an entire “normal” cycle. When cycle is complete, remove packets and plate salmon.
IMPORTANT  INFORMATION:

  1. Use individual sized fillets in the aluminum foil. Do NOT attempt to cook a whole fish
  2. Place packets on the TOP rack
  3. Use the dishwasher’s “normal” cycle. Some dishwashers have “economy” or “cool dry” settings which will not cook the fish
  4. Allow the dishwasher to complete the entire wash/dry cycle. This should be approximately 50 minutes.
  5. Add dirty dishes and lemon-scented soap. Only do this if you are certain that your salmon is tightly sealed inside the aluminum foil.
  6. Wow disbelieving guests by having them view the salmon retrieval.

Mislabeled Medical Marijuana

Research released on June 23, 2015 in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that 83 percent of legally obtained edible marijuana is mislabeled with incorrect THC amounts.Guess what??!?

Most likely, you aren’t getting what you paid for – even when you purchase edible marijuana from legal dispensaries. It turns out that a MASSIVE 83 percent of edible marijuana products sold legally were found to contain amounts of THC which were incorrectly identified on the label.

Read the entire post here for all the details.

Shouldn’t we find a way to regulate the labeling on these drug products? Why is this different than other drugs and drug products on the market? The answer is in the fact that marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I substance under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. That means that the federal government can not regulate marijuana. If the federal government can not regulate it, shouldn’t the states legally allowing the usage of marijuana be tasked with regulations and quality control?


Unwritten

I’m stymied by circumstances.

I can’t write about my life or my children, my world or my beliefs. I am constrained by silly necessities and the unforeseen upheaval in which I currently find myself. I can’t write in front of the distraction of the television or when certain others are in the same room – even if they are simply playing computer games. It is difficult to sit in a room where so many things should be done – the dishes, the laundry, the removal of disorder.

The urge to write is so strong yet I lack the space, the time, and now it seems, the ability.

There is no friendly coffee shop, no place to both be immersed in people yet alone. There is no space with light and busy people and coffee. There are no chance encounters or random overheard conversations. There is no easy way to transport the now computer as there was with the then computer.

There is the lonely bedroom, often with only the presence a cat who refuses to be quiet. There is the porch, with its uncovered sun glare and view of an wildly un-manicured lawn. There is the dining room with its antique peeling table and frequent interruptions or the basement with its cold, dreary darkness. There is a lack of space that says ‘me,’ a lack of some area with which I can identify and embrace.

I awaken each day to see only a lightening of sky through my small restricted view, yet I never fail to hope and believe. I believe that this day, THIS ONE, will be the day I discover my sanctuary. But each night I retire with the falling darkness and know that I have yet again failed. I fervently pray to find a spot in this new world where I can free my mind, my soul, and my gift.

Yet duty calls and the restrictions are numbing. How much easier to accept instead of fight, to embrace that which is instead of lust after that which cannot be?

Do not misunderstand. I am not unhappy. This new world holds a treasure trove of love, experiences, and ideas. I thank TPTB every day to have this new life, this new world.

The fault is not in this world so it must be with me.

pen and notebook


The Best of Love

The Best of Love
aka – how to avoid talking yourself out of love

The Best of Love

Falling in love is easy. I’ve met people who fall in love on a regular basis. But staying in love doesn’t happen by accident.

Do you remember falling for your partner? The intellectual conversations were profound, the jokes were hilarious, and the only person you could see was her. Her smile lit up the whole room; her hair was soft, silky, and sexy; and her body and her curves drove you to distraction. She was the person with whom you wanted to spend all your time, whether it entailed dancing, driving, or dinner.

And if you forgive the ongoing alliterations, you would have said that she was pretty, playful, and probably perfect.

So you fell in love.

With love came a bit of responsibility. You had to be considerate of someone else. You had to think about her feelings, her wants, her desires. You were so in love with her, though, that this wasn’t problematic. She was still your night and day and you still desired her above all else.

So, how does that change?

Did you become complacent? Do you believe that now that you have ‘won’ this beautiful creature, you no longer need to try? Did you decide to notice things and categorize them as faults or imperfections?

One of the most wonderful things about loving someone intimately is the fact that you get to be part of their world. You get to know their messy thinking, their silly habits, and the bald truth of exactly who and what they are. You get knowledge about her that perhaps no one else in the entire world has. You get to share joys and worries, hopes and fears, celebrations and heartaches. There is no greater power on Earth than the power of Love.

And yet, it is so very easy to become complacent, to minimalize this astounding gift, to take what you have for granted.

Consider this…

If you love someone, no matter what, you ought to be able to look at someone else and sincerely say something akin to “she is pretty but I like your body better.” It’s that f#*ked up thing where your lover might not actually BE better but they always GET to be better in your mind. Why? Because you are in love!

How can ANYONE be better than my lover? Hella, No! Can’t. Be. Done.

Can you see the pitfalls of not believing this?

The minute you think she is “not as good as XX (insert whatever)” then somewhere, even if it is in the back of your mind, that thought begins to take hold. And, following through, if you can begin to think that she is “not as good as” it can easily become “I wish she were more/less XXX.” From there, it could blossom into active dislike and the idea that the grass might be greener someplace else.

But loving someone means loving them as a whole, not as individual parts. You love her, body, mind, and soul. When you begin to think that something or someone else is better, even in part, you begin to fall out of love, begin to find fault, begin to allow a lessening of that amazing gift of love that you were given.

You do not have to think she has no faults to believe she is perfect. Of course she isn’t perfect, but she is perfect for YOU.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”


An End to Peanut Allergies?

An End to Peanut Allergies?

About 15 million children in the United States suffer from peanut allergies. Now, a team of Australian researchers have made some significant inroads in possibly reprogramming this immune response.

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has completed an 18 month study on 62 children with peanut allergies. The patients received either a probiotic strain in conjunction with peanut protein or a placebo. Out of those children who received the probiotic and protein combination, 80% were able to consume peanuts at the end of the trial. By contrast, only 4% of the children receiving the placebo were able to tolerate peanuts. According to MCRI, the children receiving the treatment had a resolution rate that was 20 times higher than the natural resolution rate.

Researchers from the Institute state that, although the long term tolerance has not yet been documented, they will continue to follow up with these children to determine just how long the benefits last. While this is not being touted as a ‘cure’ for peanut allergies, the study results appear to be very positive. In fact, there is a seven in nine chance of success that the probiotic and peanut therapy would work.

The probiotic used in this study was lactobacillus rhamnosus given in a fixed dosage equivalent to eating about 44 pounds of yogurt each day. The peanut protein was administered in increasing doses every two weeks over the trial until the maintenance dose of 2 grams was reached. The tolerance assessment was performed two to five weeks after the treatment ended.

Researchers caution that this treatment should only be given under close medical supervision since it entailed giving peanuts to children who were already shown to have a peanut allergy. In fact, some of the patients did have allergic reactions during the trial.

In the end though, over 80% of the participants were able to tolerate peanuts and include them in their diet. It appears that the allergic response to peanuts has been modified so the immune system no longer produces a harmful response to the peanut proteins.

It is hopeful that these children will continue to be able to tolerate peanuts in the coming years. Further research and follow up studies will determine how effective this treatment is in the long term.


One Fish, Mall Fish, Free Them All Fish

Mall Fish

For over a decade, Bangkok’s New World Mall has been housing approximately 3,000 fish. These fish are not part of some exotic display or planned attraction but are, in fact, swimming free in the building’s basement. The fish are a mélange of koi, catfish, carp, and tilapia. They were introduced to the mall somewhere around 2003 by local vendors.

The shopping center has been shut down since 1997 when it was determined that the top seven stories were illegally built and subsequently demolished. While the lowest four floors remain, the demolition crew had neither reason nor impetus to replace the roof. Not unsurprisingly, without a roof and open to the elements, the mall soon began to take on water. It was at this point that the abandoned building went from being an eerie reminder of illegal building practices to a breeding ground and haven for mosquitos.

Reports indicate that, in order to deal with the potentially hazardous (and certainly annoying) influx of mosquitos, local vendors introduced a number of fish to the building’s stagnant water. Between the mosquitos and occasional feedings from humans, the fish began to thrive and their population began to increase. Soon, what is now a self-sustaining aquatic population rose to the current level of approximately 3,000 fish.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration has barred entry to the building since 2011 and in July 2014 officially declared the building condemned. Barricades were installed to keep out the public but still many people came to view and feed the fish.

Now, the BMA has contracted with the Fisheries Department to move the fish. Using large nets, workers began the fish removal on January 13, 2015. The fish will be relocated to a number of Thailand’s Department of Fisheries research and development labs for about three weeks before being released in a number of reservoirs, rivers, and canals. The water is scheduled to be drained from the abandoned mall and the owner, Kaew Pooktuanthong, will be required to bear the financial responsibility.

At this time, the future of the roofless and defunct shopping center is unclear. The BMA will not be replacing the roof on the structure. Demolition may be imminent but it appears to be up to the owner to decide the building’s fate. If no roof is placed over the structure and it isn’t scheduled for demolition, the 1,600 square foot lower level could potentially refill with water. Once the water is reintroduced, the mosquitos will reappear. Once the mosquitos reappear, could it possibly be long before the fish reappear as well?


Google angers Microsoft by revealing vulnerability

google angers microsoft

Let’s not for a minute attempt to deny the fact that Google and Microsoft have a long history of feuding. In this instance, the feud is about how discovered vulnerabilities were handled. If Google discovers a security flaw, they report the bug to the software vendor regardless of whether the vendor is Microsoft or anyone else. While not stated in the Project Zero announcement from July 15, 2014, it appears that Google typically allows a vendor 90 days to formulate a patch. Once the 90 days have elapsed, then Google makes the vulnerability public. Microsoft believes they have a right to not only request more time but to castigate Google if they adhere to their 90 day policy.

In this particular instance, Google has made public information on the NtApphelpCacheControl bug found in Windows 8.1.

Funnily enough, or perhaps not-so-funnily, it appears that most of the reports being filed about this feud seem to have some rather basic information incorrect. Just like in a game of ‘telephone’ once one reporter got the story wrong, a lot of the rest simply followed suit. While I love finding source information, it never fails to irritate me when I find that in most of the trending articles, the information is simply a rehash of what someone else wrote an hour or two earlier. While these incorrect articles may pass Copyscape, what they don’t do is pass on the correct information.

Microsoft is seemingly ticked off that Google has made public a bug that was reported to them over 90 days ago. The vast majority of the reports indicate that Microsoft is up-in-arms because they ever so politely asked Google to refrain from making the NtApphelpCacheControl vulnerability public because they plan to release the patch in 92 days (on Tuesday, January 13, 2015) as opposed to the 90 day deadline that they were given.

There are so many things wrong with this that I’m not even sure where to begin.

The NtApphelpCacheControl vulnerability was an issue sent to Microsoft on September 30, 2014. Keeping to their 90 disclosure deadline, Google released the information publicly on December 29, 2014 and not January 11, 2015.

So, just to be perfectly clear, the NtApphelpCacheControl vulnerability about which everyone is reporting does not appear to be the catalyst for this recent bashing of Google by Microsoft.

Microsoft, in case you didn’t know, has a rather well known “Update Tuesday” schedule where security patches are released on a scheduled time frame, typically the second Tuesday of each month. Yep, that’s what I said, typically once a month. For more information on Microsoft’s approach to Windows updates, feel free to read this InfoWorld Tech Watch article.

Since the newest “Update Tuesday” isn’t scheduled until tomorrow (January 13th) simple math indicates that the vulnerability must be a different one.

Enter the second bug, reported to Microsoft on October 13, 2014, involving an elevation of privilege issue. This vulnerability was made public yesterday on January 11, 2015. THIS appears to be the issue in contention as there is notification that Microsoft requested an extension on this bug’s 90 day deadline.

“Okay,” you are probably thinking. “What difference, really, does it make whether the reporters have the information on the specific vulnerability correct or incorrect?”

Notwithstanding my abhorrence of shoddy and/or lazy reporting, it makes a difference because not only have the news reports got the actual vulnerability incorrect, but they have failed to report that there are two issues, not just one, past the 90 day disclosure. Additionally, I have found no indication that the NtApphelpCacheControl issue publicly reported in December has been fixed, or rather, will be fixed with a patch tomorrow.

Does it occur to no one else that these bugs might not actually be addressed when the patches are released tomorrow? Most of the news articles that I have read seem to take for granted that Microsoft has some basis for being angry at Google for adhering to their stated 90 day disclosure deadline because the problems are already solved.

Call me cynical if you will but until the patches are actually released, I can’t believe they exist. It seems to me that Microsoft might be attempting to escalate the feud between the two companies. While it has been said that there is no such thing as bad publicity, by publicly decrying Google’s policy, the company has merely brought these security issues more into the limelight. How long does it take for vulnerabilities to be exploited?

On the other hand, it also occurs to me that Microsoft, by focusing media attention on a vulnerability which could be patched tomorrow, 92 days after being reported, they keep the eyes of the public off the issue which has now remained unfixed for over 100 days.

One of Microsoft’s biggest arguments is that they plan to release a patch for the one issue “only two days late” during their monthly security update. This monthly update is scheduled for Tuesday, January 13th . The company, as far as I can tell, has not released any statements about the NtApphelpCacheControl issue. There is no outcry about Google making that vulnerability public, nor is there any indication that a patch will be released anytime soon. If the NtApphelpCacheControl vulnerability does not get addressed during tomorrow’s update then most likely it will not be fixed until the February update.

Perhaps, if Microsoft were as hell-bent on actually fixing these bugs as they seem to be about creating additional dissension, then perhaps they might have sent out the patches before causing a public stir. Regardless of which company you agree with, there remain several truths. Google found a vulnerability and gave the vendor 90 days to release a patch before making it public. Microsoft did not release a patch within that time frame. Google made the issues public.

Each company has differing opinions about correct procedure and arguments to back up those beliefs. I’m certain that each reader will have his own opinion. Which company is more in the right? Who is the ‘bad guy’ here? What should or should not have happened? I plan on leaving these questions open to debate. Your opinions and comments are more than welcome.

One final word, though. Software vendors across the industry have adopted a set of practices sometimes known as Coordinated Vulnerability Disclosure (CVD). This means that not only Google, but Microsoft – as well as other vendors – routinely inform each other of vulnerability issues privately. This allows the vendor to work on a fix before the bug becomes public knowledge, thereby not creating an environment that eases exploitation. Google has taken the stand that issues should be fixed within a set amount of time once the vendor has been informed. Microsoft appears to have a different policy.

Again, who do you think is right?


Tempted


Ecstasy becomes agony

Gray mist swirls through my mind in a tantalizing vortex
Beckoning, enticing me with a blessed surcease of pain
I am tempted

Hold fast to consciousness, hold fast to you

Sallow skin, icy and trembling in the moonlight
Fighting, losing, the rules have suddenly changed
I am tempted

Break the rules, break the ties that bind

Amaranthine blossoms contrast with the pale canvas of my skin
Receding, fading slowly, only to effloresce again
I am tempted

Discard this reality, discard all sanity

Scarlet on white, my pulse throbs to the cadence of your heart
Enrapturing, torturing me into compliance
I am tempted

Become infinitely more, become infinitely less

Gray mist explodes with a lightning bolt of white
Creating death, creating life, a shift between here and now
Tempted… I am

Reborn