Saturday, November 17, 2018

Where is the bacon? Musings from my vacation in Ireland

black and white pudding


I just returned from my vacation in Ireland or as the Irish would say, my holiday. I truly enjoy traveling the new places.  I love trying the regional dishes.  As unusual they sometimes seem at first, I simply say, "when in Rome, do as the Romans, do." Or, perhaps a more accurate statement would be, I will try anything... once.

My husband, on the other hand, tiptoes around anything new.  I have to give him credit, however, because if I tease him enough he will even take a tiny taste of say, black pudding.  

Black and white puddings are pretty popular in Ireland. What, you may ask, are black and white puddings?  To the American ear, the word pudding brings to mind, sweet and creamy desserts like chocolate or banana, or even tapioca. (Seriously, if we are talking about weird dishes here, what the heck is tapioca anyway?) 

But I digress.  White and black puddings are a type of breakfast sausage.  The white consists of sausage meats, seasonings, and some types of grain, like oatmeal.  The black sausage is a blood sausage.  Yup, that's what I said. It has the same ingredients as the white pudding with the addition of blood.  So the white pudding tastes like a mildly seasoned and less greasy pork sausage patty.  The black pudding tastes very similar, but the thought of cooked blood is hard to get out of your head.

White and black puddings are on all the breakfast menus in Ireland, as are baked beans.  What?  Did I really say baked beans, the staple of all American backyard cookouts?  Well, yes, I did.  Baked beans like the kind you sometimes got out of a can when you had hot dogs are a staple of the Irish breakfast.  It's as common a side dish as hash browns are in American breakfasts.  

Not being a bean eater even with hot dogs, I avoided the stuff which husband dear ate eagerly. Guess he had a lot of hot dogs as a kid.

The oddest thing, I think, was the lack of bacon.  It wasn't a total surprise since I’d already experienced that omission in Greece.  Order a bacon cheeseburger in Greece and your burger will not be topped with a crispy strip of smoky goodness, but a big honking slice of ham.

Ireland it seems feels the same way about bacon.  Yes, breakfast menus listed, juicy bacon as a side but you soon discover it is, again, ham.  You get used to it, however, so when you see the word bacon you are not as surprised.  What is it Shakespeare said?“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  I think old Will was talking about bacon here. And actually, ham is a lot healthier than bacon. 

I didn't go into McDonald's although they are all over the place so I cannot vouch for whether or not Micky Dees, is on board with the bacon/ham debate.

The food, all in all, was fantastic.  Everything, fresh and tasty and served with a pint of Guinness. Shoot, they use Guinness in everything, stew, tarts, and soups.  

Next post, castles, blarney stone and more fun things from the emerald isle.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Why do we even have Daylight savings time and what does it really save?

Daylight savings time


Honestly, this weekend will be rough.  It’s the weekend where we turn the clocks forward an hour.  Supposedly it is supposed to save daylight, but seriously there is plenty of research to prove that it saves nothing.  In reality, it causes many, many issues from more heart attacks to car accidents. 

People are walking around in a stupor for at least a few weeks afterward.  In a perfect world, the clocks will just stay where they are spring and fall. Why do we feel the need to readjust them twice a year?

You may think that I am just saying this because I am getting set to lose an hour of my time. You would be, however, wrong. I don’t do well even in the fall when we move the clocks the other direction. I am losing more than time.  My internal clock cannot just be rewound.  It will be on its own setting for quite some time before it bends to the government’s will.  Blame the circadian rhythm if you will.

So this weekend, while my body is thinking it’s 11 O’clock, my usual bedtime it won’t really be 11.  No, it will be midnight.  And then, the next morning, when my body will try and rise at 7:00 a.m., I will discover that it is an hour later.  And I will rush and consume obscene amounts of coffee in an effort to remove the fog that descends upon me.  And no, it won’t help. 


And since the first clock change in 1918 the powers that be are not happy with one time or date.  It seems that they’ve moved the dates later in the fall and earlier in the spring several times.  Pretty soon, if we are lucky the two will meet and then, voila! We will have the clocks stay the same for all 12 months!  One can only hope.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

5 reasons why GPS is a pain in the local driver's side

GPS


Year’s ago traffic was light.  In my small community, you could get from point A to point B in a flash.  Traffic lights were minimal and short in duration.  Then, development came and swiftly turned this small community into a traffic nightmare.  And GPS became the largest pain in the local driver’s side. 

Why this venom spewing at innocent old GPS?  I mean, seriously why this hatred? Sure, sometimes navigating Nancy may take you to a stranger’s front door instead of the football stadium you were looking for. And maybe she may tell you to turn the wrong way on a one-way street, but all in all, she’s got her act together.  Then again…when it comes to the local driver here are the top 5 reasons why I have come to really detest Nancy.

1.     She knows where the traffic is worse.  And she will take you on a wild ride just to work around it.  These are the back roads and little detours that local people had up their sleeves when traffic is in a snarl.  Take that advantage away and people who live hundreds of miles from the area can take those same routes, and leave the poor local driver SOL.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with this acronym…it means S*** out of luck.

2.     The non-local people who are taking these alternate routes are unfamiliar with these rocky, bumpy, and sometimes unpaved road snags.  So that chasm in that charming little back road that has been there since last winter envelops the unsuspecting automobile whole.  Thus snarling traffic further.

3.     A big city driver following a GPS detour route may be driving a bit too fast for the curved back roads.  You, however, may be driving the opposite way.  You are sitting in a ditch and calling AAA while they happily ride on oblivious to your plight.

4.     And since so many people are using GPS on their smartphones, the highways that once were just a tad bit congested have reversed the traffic flow to roads with traffic lights.  So what once was a smooth ride becomes a crawl with lines that stretch for miles!

5.     GPS is only as good as the information it receives.  Sometimes it doesn’t get updates so when a road changes from regular to a toll road. Nancy just doesn’t know it.  The drivers that are unfamiliar may not be prepared to fork out a toll. In the greater Washington D.C., area…tolls can be quite frightening!  So unable to pay the fee, they may just blaze through. And then, a mile down the road they sit on the shoulder with blue lights flashing behind them.  How does that affect the other drivers?  Well, rubbernecking is a famous interstate highway sport and has a way causing a backup.  The result is a domino effect in a way with some resulting fender benders.


So there you have it, my five reasons why GPS is a pain in the local driver’s side.  The roaming traveler doesn’t get off Scott free, however.  While they are bopping along that back road they may be unaccustomed to the wildlife.  A deer may put an end to their trip as it bounces off their car’s hood.  Or they may discover that running over a skunk, even a dead one, will infiltrate their car with its delightful scent for months after their meeting.  Until that is, navigating Nancy comes up with a way of circumventing wildlife.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Are you hanging Christmas vacation style lights, or are you laser lazy?

laser lazy
Blue light fiasco


A few years ago as my husband was putting up Christmas decorations, he slipped and fell off the roof.  He broke his wrist, on one hand, his thumb on the other, had a hematoma in his leg and a concussion.  Sounds bad, and it was.  It took several months of recovery, but he was extremely lucky he made it out of that mess alive!

So the following Christmas I went on a hunt for a way to decorate our home for Christmas without pulling out the now taboo ladder.  As I cruised around looking for ideas I noticed several houses that had tiny lights covering the entire front. After a little investigation, I learned they were laser projection lights.  I had found the answer.

That year, however, was the first year of laser light introduction and they were as rare as hen’s teeth unless you shopped for Christmas decorations in July. So I spent hours looking in stores.  When that didn’t pan out I took to the Internet.  I was soon to discover that during that first year, laser lights will go down in history with the cabbage patch kids and beanie babies.  Oh yeah, you could get them on eBay if you were willing to pay ten times its retail value.  And if you went to a legitimate store, you could wait for months and by then you were thinking about sipping a Mai Tai by the pool.

I didn’t give up though and I found these large globe light strings with blue light projection.  I thought, why not?  You still had to string them up but at least you could hang them on the lower level porch and aim the projection towards the house.  My husband used a chair to hang them, which in my estimation was even less safe than a ladder, but at least it was only three feet off the ground. He got them up without further injury unless you count a sore thumb from poor aim with a wayward tack hammer.


So the on the night of the unveiling, I was a little disappointed.  To me, our house resembled a fish tank or a swimming pool with the dizzying projected blue moving lights.  Not the Christmas feeling I was searching for. So, after Christmas, they landed in our basement of lost lights.

Next year, I was better prepared.  As soon as the stores started putting out Christmas items I was there.  Sure, it was August but the early bird gets the worm, right?

I found laser lights that had an enormous repertoire of light shows, red, green, blue, white, you name it. I was beyond excited.  I felt like Jonas Salk must have felt when he discovered the first vaccine for Polio. It was an elation that would soon evaporate.

When we opened the box, the enormous round plastic globe looked cheap but convincing.  Then we put it in the ground.  No ladder, no chair, no injury, but also no good!  The lights were large blurry, moved erratically. The cheap plastic remote was confusing but we kept it because, again when the actual Christmas season came around, there weren’t any other choices. We used it that year in moderation because I still didn't care for it. 

And this year, when we hooked it up, the remote wouldn’t work.  I replaced the batteries, checked the connections, and it still didn't work.  And then I threw it at the wall and it shattered into a million pieces. File that under Crystal's epic fails. Unfortunately, there was no manual operation for it.

Fast forward to this year.  I went out and found a laser light.  It was on sale!  And they a ton of them on display! And this one does everything that I ever wanted.  It has tiny stars that cover the entire house. It has images that project as well.  It moves or stays still, however you choose.  It’s metal, not plastic and for now, it’s perfect.

Until next year…when the next new thing appears on the horizon!


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Are you pitching a tent for the Black Friday sales or are you sitting on the computer on Cyber Monday?

black friday


Black Thursday, Black Friday, Small business Saturday, and Cyber Monday are all names intent on removing money from wallets.  Here is my issue, however, they weren’t happy just focusing on Friday with lines wrapped around the building.  They had to take away Thanksgiving.  Now, the lines start on Thanksgiving Day.  They pitch tents and bring chairs and sit in the frigid cold. And for what, a flat-screen TV or the latest gaming system?

“Material-itis” is what I call it.  It is the need for material things over any other needs.  And are you truly honest with yourself? How much are you really paying for that 55-inch TV? Time is money.  You may not realize it but you are working for an object as you sit and sleep on the sidewalk in the cold.

When I was a kid, we got one gift.  It wasn’t extravagant.  It didn’t take three months of salary to pay for.  We didn’t make lists that contained things that were hard to obtain. Parents didn’t have to fight unscrupulous people who sit in lines to buy hard to get items so they can sell it for 10 times as much on eBay. Whatever we got we appreciated.  We didn’t get multiple gifts either.  One person, one gift that was the way it was.

Whose birthday is it anyway?  It’s not yours, it’s not mine, and it’s not theirs.  Who should really be getting the gifts?  And if he were to say what he really wanted, it wouldn’t be a material thing.  Do you think he would want a 60- inch flat screen TV, of course not? It would be easy to get him a gift.  He would want you to be kind.  He would want you to give to someone less fortunate.  It would be to buy something for a stranger without expecting anything in return.  Mostly he would want you to spread love, and love doesn’t cost a thing.  You can spread the love on Black, purple, or any color or day of the week.

So for those who are pitching those tents for Material gains.  For those who will push and shove and cut through lines for TV’s and more I say you are missing out on the true feeling and meaning of Christmas.  You are putting greed in your hearts instead of love.  I guess it will continue until you realize that one day those TV’s you worked so hard to get will be sitting in a landfill with all the other material things you once valued above all else. 


So this Christmas, I hope you are like me and steer clear of the sales that are nothing but a way to get you in a store, but if you do venture out, spread some love. Make someone’s day a little brighter even if it’s only because you smiled at him or her. And then you will see what Christmas means to me.
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