Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Friday, June 30, 2006
Job stress raises blood pressure
In today's issue of News of the Obvious.


I'm not sure which quote is more laughable:

1. Dr Guimont said: "Our study supports the hypothesis that job strain, particularly in workers with low social support at work, may contribute to increased blood pressure."

Or - her recommendation:

2. She suggested that employers might be able to help by giving workers more support and control over deadlines and tasks.

Yes, and let's have beer at lunch and naps at noon and a 28 hour work week while we're at it.

Can I just say that on the morning of the last fiscal day of the year, I did not find this article particularly amusing.
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:09 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Fiscal Crunch
This is a blanket post for everyone who emailed or called me wondering where the hell I went to lately (and thanks for caring!).

I'm fine. I've just been REALLY busy the last two weeks with work, out of town family events, long lost friends from Australia in town, and on top of that, this Friday is the end of our fiscal year at work, and I am in auditing HELL, trying to make up for the time I took off for the aforementioned activities. I'm pretty sure I'll end up working all the hours I just took off and more to make the deadline.

Don't expect to hear from me till the weekend.........

I hope I remember to feed the cats this week. It's that kind of busy.
posted by Broadsheet @ 7:05 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Friday, June 23, 2006
Summer Fires and Frenzy
I am certainly glad I got a chance to hike Sedona before the current wildfires wreaked their havoc. It's so sad. The area that these fires are devouring is perhaps the most scenic in Sedona. Adjacent to, and threatening Slide Rock State Park, these canyons are incredibly scenic, and are incredibly hard terrain in which to fight these blazes. It's just heartbreaking to watch the news having just been there 3 weeks ago. Thankfully, the property I stayed at that my parent's graciously let me use, is out in West Sedona, about three miles, and a lot of canyons away.

In other news, the frenzy of activity that always seems to accompany the start of summer is well under way. After last weekend's family celebrations, I have a day to catch my breath and clean the house tomorrow before dear friends arrive from Melbourne, Australia. I haven't even met their 4 year old daughter yet!

Next weekend is the Fourth of July already, and there are reunions, weddings and parties to attend, people to visit, and people visiting me throughout the remaining weekends this summer. It's completely booked already!

That's OK - that's what summer's all about...
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:11 AM   2 Editorial Opinions
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Thinking Inside the Box
Thanks to my friendly benefactor, and her connections through the Maryland Film Festival, I was privy to a preview screening of a terrific new documentary last night at The Charles Theater: Wordplay.

The movie debuts officially this Friday. Go see it. If you got to see Spellbound earlier this year, you'll love Wordplay. The quiet intensity, loyalty, determination, and sheer eccentricity of the legions of fans of the NYT Crossword Puzzles, and their geeky, but rather endearing leader, Editor Will Shortz (who freely admits to having the two best gigs in media: the NYT Crossword puzzle editor, and NPR commentator), will leave a smile on your face.

The sheer cross section of Americans that love to work puzzles was really well portrayed. From President Clinton, to Mike Mussina, to Jon Stewart and the Indigo Girls, everyone loves their NYT crossword puzzles.

I have no illusions that this film will ever make it to Butler, PA, but I would love for my Dad to see it. Being a puzzle fan, and the fact that his alma mater, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is heavily featured in the film, I'm sure he'd enjoy the heck out of it.

You will too. Go see it. And then marvel at the fact that a handful of really smart people can solve an entire NYT crossword puzzle in under 8 minutes.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:42 AM   3 Editorial Opinions
Friday, June 16, 2006
Family Fun
I'm live blogging from a secret location near the Pentagon. Seriously.

I'm at a healthcare conference in DC (literally next to the Pentagon) and we're having a lunch break. Hi!

I've been up since 5:00, and didn't get to bed till after midnight last night, and still have a 5 hour drive ahead of me this afternoon. I'm going home for a few days. You see, the planets seem to have mysteriously aligned in about as rare a formation as you get, and in addition to Father's Day this weekend, we're celebrating my parent's 45th wedding anniversary, my father's retirement (we had to throw a party to make the retirement stick), and my Mom's B-day (no worries Mom, I won't tell the internets your age.)

So....pretty much everyone I've ever known or been related to in my life will be in Butler, PA this weekend for a big 'ol party. Should be tons of fun, and the weather looks to be gorgeous.

Right now, all I can think about is the swim I'll get to have this evening out under the stars.

To make sure I stay awake on the trip home, in addition to copious amounts of Starbuck's, I loaded 9 hours of music on the iPod and will be trying out my new toy on the way home. It's especially helpful as you drive north on 220 up by Altoona, where for a stretch of about an hour, the only radio stations are country and gospel, or worse, gospel country.

And, since everyone I've ever known is sticking around for the weekend, I'm not coming back till Tuesday night. If time permits, perhaps some photos from beautiful, bucolic, Butler, PA later.....
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:27 AM   2 Editorial Opinions
Thursday, June 15, 2006
2 Trapped in Bunker After Volcano's Eruption
I'm not sure who deserves the Darwin award for this more. The stupid tourists who got too close to an active volcano? Or the municipal government that enabled this act of stupidity by providing volcano shelters??
Officials said they were probably domestic tourists who were seeking thrills on the slopes of an erupting volcano.

Concrete bunkers dot the slopes of the mountain and are stocked with oxygen tanks and water. People trapped in the bunkers, officials said, can survive for up to three days or more, depending on how many people are inside.

All the local villagers on the southern slopes of the mountain have been accounted for and evacuated.
Of course the locals survived. They know what it means to live this close to an active volcano, but stupid ass tourists? Instead of letting nature take its course and frying these asshats in their tracks, the government will put more lives in jeopardy and spend thousands of dollars and man hours trying to dig these idiots out from under 14 feet of barely molten lava!!

UPDATE: Sadly, the outcome of this story is predictable. Note to self: A concrete bunker is not likely to be adequate protection against molten lava.
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:07 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Camera Obscura
An old military airplane hangar is being used as the World's Largest Camera to take the world's largest photo. Cool!
On Wednesday, the six photographers with the nonprofit Legacy Project unveiled their massive camera at a news conference. They hope to have a photograph completed by July 8.

The photographers are using a nearly 31-by-111 foot piece of white fabric covered in 20 gallons of light-sensitive emulsion as the "negative."

After exposing the fabric for up to 10 days, they will develop it in a huge tub made of pool siding, using 200 gallons of black-and-white developer solution and 600 gallons of fixer.
In a world of digital, throw away images, it's nice to know that this exists.
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:53 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Parmesan Panko Crusted Scallops and Lemon Vegetables and Pancetta
Superfresh had these amazing looking scallops on sale yesterday, so I made this for dinner. You can use whatever vegetables you like, but there's something about the smokiness of the pancetta with lemon and tomatoes, and the sweetness of the corn and scallops that pulls this together. You could easily serve this over pasta, but I'm watching the carbs. It did not disappoint:

one package of pancetta
3 cloves of garlic
3 scallions
one / two ears of grilled corn on the cob - corn removed
one pint of grape tomatoes - halved
one bunch of asparagus broken into 1 inch pieces
lemon zest from one lemon
2 tsp fresh lemon thyme
1 tablespoon of artichoke lemon pesto (Whole Foods)
1 cup panko crumbs
1/2 cup good Parmesan - grated
1 tsp Emeril's Essence

1. Fry the pancetta up till crispy and drain on paper towels - crumble.
2. Discard all but about one tsp of pancetta drippings from pan
3. Saute garlic and scallions for one minute in pancetta drippings
4. Add remainder of ingredients through lemon pesto and saute till vegetables are tender - about 6 minutes.
5. Add crumbled pancetta and set aside while cooking scallops.
5. Put panko, parmesan and seasoning in plastic zip lock bag and mix well.
6. Coat scallops with cooking spray and add to bag - coat scallops well, pressing panko mixture onto all sides.
7. Sear scallops in non stick pan on high heat, about 90 seconds per side.

Serve 4 - 5 scallops on bed of lemon vegetables, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Serves about 4. You're welcome.
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:25 PM   3 Editorial Opinions
Monday, June 12, 2006
2 Insurgents Killed inside the Green Zone
Highly trained American operatives worked hard over the weekend to gather intelligence and locate the safe houses of the rodent insurgency. American lead forces also deployed strong diversionary tactics to confuse the enemy and cause it to seek shelter in adjacent territories by power washing the deck and mowing the Green Zone on Sunday.

Not certain that these diversion tactics had eradicated the insurgents, or caused them to flee permanently, high impact Tomcat Forces were then placed in areas determined to be well traveled by the insurgency throughout the Green Zone and along it's borders with neighboring territories, and set to detonate with deadly force. Tomcat forces were also baited with a strong, irresistible new weapons agent found to be highly effective in tempting both the insurgents, and ironically, the insurgent's deadliest enemy.

Patience was rewarded this afternoon when two insurgents met a swift, certain, and untimely death at the hands of American troops. These insurgents are just a small representation of the strength of the total enemy forces and the untold numbers that exist in hiding. These were also foot soldiers, just children really, with the masterminds of the insurgence still to be eradicated.

Intelligence has shown us where they hide out. Now it is just a matter of time before we wipe out the entire rodent insurgent nest.

As demonstrated below, Generals Peanut and Pumpkin have been helping strategize these attacks, and have shown great interest in helping the American troops fight this battle.

posted by Broadsheet @ 8:37 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Web Designer Needed
Hey all you webby internet geek types. (You know who you are - don't make me name names.)

I need a good, expererienced, Website Designer. Not for this stupid little site - this is for the real world, and it's a big job. Corporate type gig.

Contact me.
posted by Broadsheet @ 6:10 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Friday, June 09, 2006
Willard gets another pass
Mother Nature intervened in the case of torrential downpours last night, and set off the traps, so no rat hits.

In other news, I have brand new, Beee-youuu-teee-ful garden gate that no man or beast can get through without permission.

This weekend rats. Your asses are mine.
posted by Broadsheet @ 4:00 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Today's Body Count
In this week's war on rats, the score is currently:

Willard = 1
Broadsheet = 0
Native Bird population = -1

Apparently, Starlings like peanut butter too - oooops. Who knew? Well, if it wasn't a pigeon, then I suppose a starling is the next best thing.

I cleaned up the bird carnage, and tried to set the traps where other critters are less likely to stumble on them. I got some new traps that are a helluva lot easier and safer to set. They really snap hard for 100% fatality, and are much sturdier, which allows for less of a flipping motion than the old wood and wire traps when they go off, and which can often result in suffering, or in the critter actually getting away. Depending on your squeamish factor, they are also reusable, and cost the same as wood traps.

Anyway, since this is about the most thrilling blog post I've ever written, I'll stop while I'm behind.
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:16 PM   5 Editorial Opinions
Give a girl a break...
What is it about contractor's, car salesmen, and car repair places that automatically see a woman, much less a professional woman, and automatically think "she has no clue = $$$"? And when will they quit messing with me??!

I need two simple garden gates constructed to complete the backyard project with the new garden wall. The masonry guy had agreed to get them done for $150 apiece, but then the guy he paid to do them, decided he didn't have time, and two weeks later, I still have no gates, and now have rats in my yard as a result.

So.... I call the neighborhood handy man that everyone uses and likes for little projects like this. Honestly, I would have built them myself if I had the time and the right masonry bits for my drill, but I don't have either. He called me and said he could do the job for $400. I thought, he meant TOTAL, and thought "well, that's $100 more than the other guy, but I know he'll do a good job and get it done this week". Then he says...."$400 - EACH", and I nearly dropped the phone. He claimed it was $150 for materials alone, and then he'd have to get the materials on site, etc..... I didn't yell "B---lsh--T" to his face - but that was what I was thinking. It was Friday evening, so I told him I would think about it over the weekend.

So Monday night after work, I head to Lowe's.....

Yeah, I'm in a business suit and heels - so what? I approach the lumber guy and tell him I need 12, 1x6 pieces of pressure treated lumber in 6 foot lengths, and 10 2x4's in the same. "Could you pull those, and I'll go find hardware, stainless steel wood screws, and sag braces for the gates?" He looks a little surprised that I could even ask for such a complicated thing as pieces of lumber by size. "Sure thing - ma'am".

I come back 5 minutes later, and he's assembled a pile of lumber. I start looking at the boards and pulling out the crooked ones, ones with big knots running along the edge, knots that go through the board, or knots that are pit knots that will dry and fall out, leaving a hole in the board. Of the 12 boards he pulled, I rejected 7. Now he's annoyed. I tried to tell him this was a GATE. The boards need to be straight and as knot free as possible. They weren't being used for framing or something that was going to cover them up later. He had simply pulled the first 12 boards from the pile, with no quality control whatsoever. I couldn't even find any 2x4's in the 6 foot lengths that met my apparently too high standards, so I asked him to cut a 12' 2x4 in half, and you would have thought I had asked him to climb Mt. Everest naked!

After I finally got the cart loaded, he did offer to help me load the car, but then I thought, "you know - he wouldn't offer a guy help to load 25 measly boards into a car", so I politely said "No thanks - I can manage", and proceeded to pay the whopping sum total of less than $100 for all the hardware and lumber necessary to create two garden gates and loaded it into the back of the BMW (the seats fold down - relax).

Now back to the contractor.....

Called him back, told him I had gotten everything he needs to build the gates, and said I'd give him $300 to build BOTH gates (knowing I had just spent almost $100 in supplies), and that that's what the mason had orginally offered - including supplies. He balked, and we settled on $350. So, I'm now out about $150 above what I was going to spend, but it's a far cry from the extra $500 he wanted to charge me, and the gates will be done and done right tomorrow, and the rats will have one less point of access to my yard.

This kind of crap makes me SO mad!

PS I also picked up rat traps and set them last night. So far, no takers.....stay tuned for the body count.
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:02 AM   10 Editorial Opinions
Monday, June 05, 2006
Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Guy
Bob and Alison left Iraq over the weekend. They're out of Baghdad and on their way home! The LA Times did a nice article today on Bob's tenure in Iraq: Progress and Pain Marked Envoy's Tenure in Iraq.
Among the group of so-called State Department Arabists, who were originally sidelined by the neoconservative Pentagon planners of the war, Ford rose to prominence in his three years here. His quiet ascent illustrated a mid-course adjustment of Washington's Iraq strategy, one that sought to recognize and influence the country's social and ethnic cleavages instead of merely targeting "the bad guys."

"We can set up an administration with the help of the United Nations that runs a really good election process," Ford said in a recent interview before heading to Washington for possible confirmation as the next ambassador to Algeria. "Yet in the end, people will still retreat to a sectarian identity because they're under threat of car bombs, they're under threat of death squads operating at night."

Ford, a Denver native considered one of the foremost Arabic speakers in the U.S. Foreign Service, was posted to Egypt, Algeria and Bahrain before arriving in Iraq, first as the now defunct occupation authority's representative in the Shiite city of Najaf and later as political counselor to Ambassador John D. Negroponte, a position he retained when Zalmay Khalilzad took over the embassy last year.

Ford's understated, even folksy, style probably increased his influence over the embassy's Bush administration loyalists. He retained an idealism about democracy amid a realism about the limits of what was possible, especially in the short time frame of a diplomatic tour.
Read the whole article. That last paragraph pretty much says it all. When they use the term, "couldn't happen to a nicer guy" - Bob epitomizes that statement like no one else I know.

PS Bob's nomination to be the next Ambassador of Algeria, sailed through Senate Confirmation - it's a done deal. Can't wait to have them home in Baltimore for the summer.
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:24 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
It's not like they don't have anything better to do.....
Let's see now:

1. Rising gas prices - Check.
2. Uncontrolled insurgency and sectarian violence in Iraq with all signs pointing to Civil War- Check.
3. Nuclear proliferation threats from an unstable idiot in Iran - Check.
4. Hurricane season begins again and FEMA is irretrievably broken, while New Orleans is still a wasteland - Check.
5. Medicare prescription drug program is a debacle - Check.
6. America's public schools are a mess - Check and double check.
7. Our borders are sieves, and there is no good plan for immigration, let alone an "immigration policy" - Check.
8. Reports of massacres in Haditha and other behaviors not befitting US soldiers, let alone human beings - Check.

So - what is the US Senate going to spend the next 2-3 WEEKS debating, with little to no chance of the measure passing, because Bush wants to push a political agenda?

An amendment to the US Constitution to ban same sex marriages.

Shame on you - you have far more important things to worry about than who the rest of the country is sleeping with! It's worse than silly. It's embarrassing that our government is even considering such a measure in light of all the more important, dire issues that impact a much larger percentage of Americans on a day to day basis.

I want my tax dollars back for the amount of time it is going to take them to bash this topic into the ground - again.
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:36 AM   2 Editorial Opinions
Sunday, June 04, 2006
This is just one of at least 6 juvenile rats that have suddenly taken to appearing all over my yard and deck in broad daylight. That means a nest. I have no idea what food source they are accessing. I have no trash or trashcans in my yard. This is one of the very few things I dislike about living in the city. Time to get some traps.....

 Posted by Picasa
posted by Broadsheet @ 6:12 PM   5 Editorial Opinions
Friday, June 02, 2006
Jewish GPS
Last night, Fool, Zenchick's friend Gail, and I tagged along on a mission of girlfriend support for Zenchick. I won't steal her thunder as to the purpose of said mission, (we sent her all the pictures to post), just the comical act of getting there and back.

We met at Zennie's apartment and decided to take my car to the aforementioned destination, which was somewhere in the wilds of a Hunt Valley industrial complex.

Since I was simply the chauffeur, and since I never navigate the back streets of most neighborhoods in Baltimore, Zennie was barking out directions from directly behind me: "Right here!", "Take a right here?" I asked. "No, take a LEFT, right HERE!".

And so it own personal Jewish GPS.

Mission accomplished, and I'm sure Zennie is still getting over the trauma.

Of the ride, Zenchick, of the ride.

PS: No, Snay, I'm not telling. Go read Zenchick's blog. It's her story.
posted by Broadsheet @ 2:00 PM   4 Editorial Opinions

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