PRATIE PLACE

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Evil Easter Bunny


Also from awkwardfamilyphotos.com

This reminded me of my daughter...

Those devoted young readers. From awkwardfamilyfotos.com

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Crazy Crust Pizza

I'm cleaning off my desk on this snowy day. Here's a recipe I've been meaning to post. I made it with Menticia the other day and she deemed it delicious. You could make it with other cooked meats and/or vegetables.

CRAZY CRUST PIZZA

1 pound of ground beef, browned and drained
2 onions, sliced and browned (optional) in chili powder or other spices
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
2 eggs
pizza sauce
mozzarella cheese


Beat the flour, salt, milk, and eggs smooth (like a pancake batter). Pour/spread into a 12" non-stick pizza pan (you might want to grease it or spray it to be sure)

Arrange the meat and onions on top, actually they'll sort of sink in to the batter.

Cook at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Then add pizza sauce and mozzarella and cook for 7-12 more minutes.


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How well do we understand each other?

Judy shared this George Bernard Shaw quote with me the other day:

The problem with communication ... is the illusion that it has been accomplished.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Melinama does Illustration Friday: "Clumsy."

bulgarian embroideryIn this nadir of the year, I could bearly rouse myself out of the papa-san chair to do this painting, but I'm glad I did. It's inspired by a postcard I picked up in Bulgaria, of embroidery from Dupnitza. I was irked by my CLUMSY attempts (and failure) to capture the wonderful vegetable-dye colors of the original, but it was fun anyway.

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Mark does Illustration Friday: "Clumsy."

TODDLER SEATED IN COLOR FIELD

Acrylic on canvas 16 x 12

This started as a "figure in motion" drawing, but just getting the hands, body and face modelled proved challenging enough.

Mark

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Mark does Illustration Friday: "Wilderness."

It always surprises me how long even near-abstractions take to paint.

Acrylic on Canvas, 12 x 16

Mark

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Two computer viruses, 16+ hours of hell. Why, why?

There's a new telenovela starting on Monday, and as usual - being dueña of the world-famous Caray, Caray! blog - I kick it off by translating the plot teaser. So I visited univision.com, Univision being dueño of the telenovela. But I will not link to it because - it gave me a horrible computer virus (or worm, I've never figured out the difference) ironically named "Internet Security 2010." From MalwareHelp.org:
Once installed in the system, Internet Security 2010 produces a variety of fraudulent messages about non-existent malware. The scare messages are designed to scam the user to purchase a subscription. These scare messages are very frequent and insistent making the computer unusable.

The performance of the computer progressively gets worse as more malware is downloaded on certain systems and execution of most applications is blocked. The Windows administrative functions like Task Manager, Regedit, cmd etc,. are blocked. Frequent messages about Internet Explorer crashing is displayed.

A rogue security software such as Internet Security 2010 belongs to a family of software products that call themselves as antivirus, antispyware or registry cleaners and often use deceptive or high pressure sales tactics and deliberate false positives to convince users into buying a license/subscription. They are often repackaged and renamed. They do not actually remove malware instead many of them add more malware of their own.
Here's a sample screenshot:


Ugh! Sparing you the ugly details of the failed attempts: eventually I used an uninfected computer to find the series of anti-spyware software recommended to remove this virus. They are (and you have to use them in this order):
  1. Dr. Web Cure-it
  2. MalwareBytes (I'd already tried this but it didn't work until after I ran Dr. Curit);
  3. CCleaner Slim.





So you'd think that was enough, wouldn't you? but no. The next day I got the "Google Re-direct Virus." When you click on many (not all) search results - it can be in Yahoo.com or bing.com too - you are taken to weird advertising sites, some of which evidently will give you additional malware.

This one took hours. and hours. and hours to resolve. There are many different solutions proposed online and lots of them are scarily technical. What finally worked for me:

  1. sdfix.exe
  2. malwarebytes
  3. ccleaner


In the course of all this, I uninstalled AVG software (since it hadn't helped me at all) and now I'm trying the new Microsoft Security Essentials. My son heard from our computer guy that it's a good program, especially considering there is security information about Microsoft operating systems that Microsoft hasn't shared with other antivirus companies.

But - I want my sixteen hours back!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ira Glass on sticking with it when what you make isn't as good as you want it to be...

Ira Glass talking about creative people, who typically spend years in spiritual discomfort because their inborn "good taste" tells them the stuff they are creating is not as good as it should be.
It's going to take you a while... you're just going to have to fight your way through it. You will be fierce, you will be a warrior, and you will make things you know in your heart aren't as good as you want them to be, and you'll just make one after another...

The "Throw Momma from the Train" tax provision

From Ig Nobel Prize winner Joel Slemrod: Our prize-winning research showed that when estate taxes are known in advance to be changing, some people time their deaths (or have their deaths timed for them) so as to save their heirs money.

Now the U.S. Congress has granted us a social scientist's fondest dream—or worst nightmare—the perfect "natural experiment." As of January 1 of this year, the U.S. estate tax has been abolished for the year 2010, and is scheduled to be reinstated in 2011 with rates as high as 55%.

If our findings (and those of our colleagues in Australia and Sweden) are right, some [deaths] would be "moved" from the end of 2009 to the beginning of 2010, as some rich folks hold on to bequeath their assets tax-free.

Of course, the really morbid stuff will happen at the end of this year, when dying in December of 2010 will incur no estate tax, but dying beginning in January 1, 2011 can trigger a tax liability equal to more than half the taxable estate.

It's being called the "Throw Momma from the Train" tax provision.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Scariest cupcakes ever

Hannah's always hated clowns, they made her sob with fright when she was a baby. These are the worst cupcakes I have ever. seen. From cake wrecks.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Melinama does Illustration Friday: "Confined."

Oddly, this design comes from a ketubah! Who knew that Jewish scribes and Celtic scribes had something like this in common? Is knotwork hardwired in our skulls?

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Mark does Illustration Friday: "Confined."

Confined

Protection and confinement: the tortoise's shell is both.

Acrylic on canvas 16 x 12

Mark

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Ezra decides Jethro needs a job, takes him to drag bamboo home (for the chuppah)

donkey at work hauling bambooA neighbor has a lot of very long, thick bamboo and offered as much as Hannah wanted for the making of a chuppah. Ezra volunteered for the job of harvesting the bamboo and getting it home.

He decided Jethro would enjoy this outing.


donkey at work hauling bambooThe pictures are self-explanatory, but if you have been reading about Jethro since before I got him - ie, since I got back from Bulgaria with the idea that I knew places where I could steal weeds with a future donkey - and if you saw the pictures I posted of Bulgarian donkeys eating stolen weeds - you'll appreciate this picture all the more. One of the hardest parts of the project was getting Jethro to stop eating his intended cargo.




donkey at work hauling bamboo

donkey at work hauling bamboo

donkey at work hauling bamboo

donkey at work hauling bamboo

donkey at work hauling bamboo

donkey at work hauling bamboo

donkey at work hauling bamboo

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

[Hannah]: Wedding Vendors - some not very useful rankings

Wedding vendors, ranked from most to least "wedding-y".*

1) Bridal salon saleswomen. Remember that funny accent that Audrey Hepburn and other women in 50s and 60s movies used when they talked, kind of weird and breathy, and you thought women didn't talk like that any more? here in the bridal salon they still do. Kind of like Georgia Sea Islanders, they seem to live outside of time, preserving the mores and customs of days gone by.

2) Wedding coordinators. Your day, your way, princess.

3) Wedding photographers. Remove your zits in Photoshop, make you look thinner and cuter? No problem, you can pay them by the hour. Take hundreds of pictures of your shoes, your groom's socks, your tablecloths, your headless bridesmaids and all the other paraphernalia that modern day brides have learned to fetishize? That's their default. It's called "details." Details are their business.

4) Wedding musicians. Yes, they will play the hora for as long as necessary. No, they will not bother to mirror your rapturous delight at your special day. You should probably respect them more for this. Bring them a sandwich.

5) cake bakers. These run the gamut. Some are rapturous and aesthetically inclined. Others are grizzled and cynical, and would fire you on the spot if you asked them to match the cake to the bridesmaids' dresses.

6) hotel managers. Surprisingly uninterested in helping you out with reserving rooms. (*CoughDURHAMHILTONCough*) Which you would think would be a somewhat interesting issue for them, what with them being in the business of reserving rooms for people and all.






Wedding vendors* ranked from most to least intimidating. IMHO.**

1) Makeup artists. Come at you with pointy things they work around your eyeballs, while coming up with entirely new ways for you to discover you're abnormal. ("You have really small eyes!") And you thought you ran out of this kind of stuff to obsess about in junior high! Think again! The makeup artists are here!

2) Venue coordinators. Sweet and chirpy, but they have the potential to bilk you out of breathtaking sums of money. Or throw out your guests if too many show up, rendering you in violation of the fire code.

3) Photographers. Some of them tell you to include with your invitations a warning to your guests not to take photos of the wedding. If they do, the photographer has the right to peace out of your event at any time. ***

4) Rabbis.**** Friendly and enthusiastic, often more flexible about procedure than you would think, but when it comes down to it, they cannot be restrained if they are in a mood to tell corny jokes or (G-d forbid) talk politics. Will be difficult to persuade to conduct ceremony outside in 95 degree heat even if you ask them VERY NICELY.

5) Letterpress people. They know what they think you SHOULD want, that is, the thing that is correct, and they're thinking it at you as forcefully as they dare. Sometimes little thought bubbles of disapproval emanate from their foreheads. Respond in the manner you think best.

6) Wedding musicians. They know what they think you should want, too, but they also know how the sausage is made. Can you put together a long list of songs you hate and ask them not to play it? Sure. Do you dare to ask them to wear bow ties to match your flower arrangements? Unless they are particularly desperate, probably not.

7) Caterers. Tremendously expensive, but if they are competent and you don't sweat the details, everyone will get fed.

8) Restauranteurs. You give us money, we serve you dinner. End of discussion.

9) Cake bakers. Don't have any clue how you want your cake decorated? It's just as well! They probably know better than you! But you like chocolate, right? Then everything is cool.

*I have not spoken to any florists so I do not know where they fit in this list.
**My opinion only, reflecting my own personal complexes and hangups.
***In my opinion, this is some unbelievably chutzpahdik sh*t.
****A rabbi is not a vendor, I know. But he belongs in this list anyway.

Monday, January 04, 2010

In which Ezra and I are outwitted, again and again, by our cunning, furtive, troll of a horse.

Superman the miniature horse is escaping every evening, after dinner, and munching around the place all night. We have no idea how he's getting out!

Here you see him, a few minutes ago, after he'd been up on the porch and down (at my urging) several times. He's like a giant, giant squirrel, he can't be deterred. He has scattered the chickens and is eating their sunflower seeds.

Yesterday we put an alluring bowl of treats outside the electric fence and waited to see if Superman would escape while we were watching. He studiously ignored the whole situation - but under cover of darkness he did escape and ate all the treats. Just like Santa Claus coming down the chimney, how does he do that?

I have charged Ezra with the task of discovering the escape route. Details, if any can be uncovered, to follow.

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Mark does Illustration Friday: "Renewal."

I put many symbols of renewal into this painting such as the butterfly, flowers, trees and waterfall. As usual I want more time to build contrasts and develop modelled volumes but here it is. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Acrylic on canvas 12 x 16

Mark

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Friday, January 01, 2010

Turkey loaf

1 pound ground turkey
3/4 cup Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
2/3 cup applesauce
1/2 cup diced onion
1 large egg
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon hot sauce

cook at 350 degrees for about an hour.

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