Harrumph. Well here we are again, another Wednesday early 2012 with no good reason to celebrate in sight.
As if THAT wasn’t bad enough, now we got ole Impish crowing about it being the “Year of the Dragon” ( like EVERY day of EVERY year isn’t like that already at DL HQ). Doesn’t matter that the Chinese are referring to Asian Pan Lung Dragons which in Impish’s own words “are not real dragons, there more like snakes with ugly mutant alligator heads who fly like hot air balloons.” It also apparently doesn’t matter that the closet Impish comes to having any Asian or Chinese in him is the 2 Asian girls who delivered the wheelbarrow full of Chinese take out from Phoo-Yuk’s on Sunday plus the contents of the wheelbarrow, he’s going to be insufferable about this for the next year! Well I’m going to put the kibosh on this baloney faster than a liberals we need control argument right now!!!
See? CHINESE-ASIAN DRAGON! Thin, sinuous, svelte, wingless, green tea imbibing, SMART, doesn’t find itself continually in trouble or mysteriously run over by miniature madmen behind the wheel of speeding buses! They can quote the wisdom of Confucius and Buddha, while you quote Larry the Cable Guy and Rodney Dangerfield. In short, they’re NOTHING like you AT ALL Impish!
AHEM! This has been an editorial response to a flight of sheer farcical dragon lunacy.
We now return you to our (loosely) grounded in reality usual blogging content.
I’ll take pity on you and explain it in one simple sentence. Those are official DragonLaffs Coffee mugs. Now doesn’t that alone make you want to buy one?
Back from Christmas Break
It was the first day of school in the New Year, and the teacher, Miss Jones, thought she’d get the class into the swing of things by asking them about something she knew they had enjoyed.
So she asked young Patrick Murphy: “What did you do for Christmas?”
Patrick addressed the class: “Well Miss Jones, me and my twelve brothers and sisters went to midnight mass and we sang hymns; then we got home very late and we put mince pies by the back door and hung up our stockings. Then all excited, we went to bed and wait for Father Christmas to come with all our toys.”
“Very nice Patrick,” she said. “Now Jimmy Brown, what did you do at Christmas?”
“Well, Miss Jones, me and my sister also went to church with Mom and Dad, and we sang carols and we got home ever so late. We put cookies and milk by the chimney and we hung up our stockings. We hardly sleep, waiting for Santa Claus to bring our presents.”
“Excellent, Jimmy,” she said, and then turned to the next boy in class. “Isaac Cohen, what did you do at Christmas?”
Isaac said, “Well, it’s the same thing every year: Dad comes home from the office. We all pile into the Rolls Royce and drive to Dad’s toy factory. When we get inside, we look at all the empty shelves. And then we sing ‘What A Friend We Have in Jesus’. Then we all went to the Bahamas to snorkel.”
An elderly man walks into a confessional. The following conversation ensues:
Man: ‘I am 92 years old, have a wonderful wife of 70 years, many children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. Yesterday, I picked up two college girls, hitch-hiking. We went to a motel, where I had sex with each of them three times.’
Priest: ‘Are you sorry for your sins?’
Man: ‘What sins?’
Priest: ‘What kind of a Catholic are you?’
Man: ‘I’m Jewish.’
Priest: ‘Why are you telling me all this?’
Man: ‘I’m 92 years old ….. I’m telling everybody!’
Winter Snow Capital: West Texas?
by Jonathan Erdman, weather.com Sr. Meteorologist Updated: January 14, 2011 8:00 am ET
In this weird winter 2011-2012, where is the snowy epicenter in the U.S.? So far, it’s Alaska, as epic snowfall has buried the towns of Cordova and Valdez
In the Lower 48 States, however, the snow title, at least relative to what is considered average, should go to West Texas. Yes…Texas!
Let’s use the West Texas city of Midland (population of 111,147) as our textbook example.
A snowstorm Monday January 9 shattered new records. First, it is the record snowiest season, there, with just under 20″ of snow so far for the season. This record had stood for 65 years!
Almost 20″ of snow in one season is historic in West Texas.
But wait…there’s more.
A whopping 10.6″ of snow fell in Midland Monday, the snowiest day on record there, besting the old record of 9.8″ on Dec. 11, 1998. They picked up over double their seasonal average snow (4.9″) in just one day!
This comes on the heels of the first White Christmas in parts of West Texas since 1997. According to the National Weather Service Office in Midland-Odessa, it snowed for 30 consecutive hours from late on Dec. 23 through Christmas Eve, leaving 1″ on the ground officially for Christmas morning.
Snow at a drilling rig near Odessa, Texas Jan. 9, 2012
Photo: iWitnessWeather contributor mlallison
Oh yes, did we also mention this record snow is coming on the heels of the driest year on record for the state of Texas? Nearby locations such as Amarillo and Lubbock set new “driest year” records in 2011.
West Texas Trumping the Great Lakes!
Now, compare Midland’s record snow season with the, frankly, pathetic snow totals through January 9 in notoriously snowy northern cities, shown below.
Yes, Midland has had over 3 times the snowfall this season as Buffalo and almost twice the snow in the Twin Cities! (Note…Buffalo and Chicago have since picked up additional snow from a winter storm Jan. 12-13.)
The paltry snow stats through January 9, 2012.
In Buffalo, it was not a white Christmas, and through Dec. 28, it was the least snowy start to the season on record there!
Midland is even far outpacing Fargo, N.D. (only 4.7″) and Duluth, Minn. (only about 13″) for the season!
Winter too Mild for Ice Wine
by Weather.com and The Associated Press
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Along with ski resort operators and snowmobile vendors, the unusually mild winter has been rough on makers of a cold-climate delicacy called ice wine.
The pricey dessert beverage, produced by wineries stretching from Minnesota through New York and in parts of Canada, is revered for its sweetness and often-syrupy texture. It comes from grapes that are picked and pressed while they’re still frozen, yielding precious drops of concentrated juice. Winemakers have waited nervously for temperatures to drop low enough to harvest the fruit.
Many were finally able to do so last week, thanks to a short-lived cold snap. But winery operators say the delay resulted in far fewer usable grapes.
“What’s ironic about the ice wine harvest is it’s one of the few times when people actually say, `Great, it’s going to be bitter cold,'” said Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation. “We were kind of twiddling our thumbs, but it finally came together.”
Grapes used in most wines from the Upper Midwest and the Northeast are harvested by late October or November. But some vineyard operators leave a small portion of their crop behind for another month or longer, hoping it will develop suitably for ice wine.
They acknowledge it’s a gamble.
Federal regulations prohibit using the “ice wine” label unless the product came from grapes that were at least partially frozen on the vine. That requires temperatures of roughly 17 degrees – the point at which water inside the fruit solidifies – or lower. When the largely dehydrated grapes are pressed, what emerges is the sugary portion of the juice. If all goes well, the treasured nectar is fermented and becomes high-quality ice wine.
But much can go wrong. The longer the harvest is delayed, the greater the risk that grapes will rot or shrivel past the point of usefulness. Some growers who have managed to harvest ice wine grapes say their yields were down by as much as 40 percent this year compared to a typical harvest.
Grapes left on the vine for extended periods also are more likely to be eaten by birds, deer, raccoons and other wildlife. Some growers shield the fruit with nets and install noisemaking devices, but the critters are resourceful.
Sleet and hail can damage the grapes. If too much snow falls, it can bury low-hanging bunches, making them hard to retrieve.
“I’m delighted if we can harvest 50 percent of what we left hanging for ice wine,” said Mark Johnson, winemaker at Chateau Chantal winery on Traverse City’s Old Mission Peninsula. That’s about what his operation managed to take in last week on the half-acre set aside for the purpose.
Delaying the harvest also can stress vines and stunt production for a year or two, said Edward O’Keefe III, president of nearby Chateau Grand Traverse, which sometimes makes ice wine but took a pass this season.
All those risks – and the fact that it can take three or four times more grapes to make a bottle of ice wine than ordinary wine – explain the high price tag. Chateau Chantal charges $68 for a 375-milliliter bottle, which is half the size of a standard wine bottle. Some ice wines sell for $90 or more.
“It’s just something really special, something to be sipped and savored,” Johnson said. “You’re not going to kick back and chug a tumbler full. You want an ounce or a half-ounce.”
Ice wine is a niche product, accounting for less than 5 percent of the wine made in Michigan, said Linda Jones, director of the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council. In New York, it makes up just 1 to 2 percent, Trezise said. So even if a winery loses all its ice wine grapes one year, it’s unlikely to be ruinous.
Still, it’s an important marketing tool for the northern wine industry – an item that warm-weather competitors can’t match.
“If you’re known for something that’s really special and rare, it helps build your reputation,” Trezise said.
Ice wine usually is made with white wine grapes such as Riesling and Vidal, although the red variety Cabernet Franc is another frequent choice. It originated in Germany in the late 1700s and remains popular there. Canada is a leading producer, especially the Niagara region of southern Ontario.
Some Canadian vineyards got cold enough briefly in late December to harvest. Crews in Nova Scotia spent Christmas Eve in the vineyards, industry spokeswoman Christine White said. Henry of Pelham Estate Winery in St. Catherines, Ontario, took advantage of a short freeze the night of Dec. 29, said its president, Paul Speck.
“We had about seven to eight hours that were perfect to pick in,” Speck said. “We were happy to get what we could. It’s been ridiculously mild here.”
For many operations, the window of opportunity finally came last Tuesday, when a cold spell settled across ice wine country. Workers jumped into action after dark at Lemon Creek Winery in Berrien Springs, Mich. Aided by a harvesting machine, they secured about 4 tons in a couple of hours.
The haul was less than half of what it would have been in early December, owner Jeff Lemon said. But it could have been worse.
“This was the latest we’ve ever gone,” he said. “We were one evening away from ending up with nothing.”
In 2007, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA). In keeping with Bush’s 2006 State of the Union pledge to make ethanol “not just from corn but from wood chips and stalks of switch grass … practical and competitive within six years,” the law included subsidies for ethanol production and mandates for its use. By 2011, oil companies were required to blend 250 million gallons of this cellulosic ethanol into their gasoline. The mandate doubled for 2012, and by 2022 it will be 16 billion gallons.
There’s just one problem: “Outside a handful of laboratories and workshops,” the New York Times reports, cellulosic ethanol “does not exist.”
This has not, however, prevented the Environmental Protection Agency from levying penalties on petroleum companies for failing to purchase this nonexistent fuel. The EPA engages in verbal sleight of hand. Instead of being fined for failing to make the agency’s pipe dreams come true, “refiners are required to purchase ‘credits’ from the EPA,” explains Brian McGraw of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Essentially, the EPA is requiring them to send them money in lieu of meeting the cellulosic ethanol mandate. The product they are required to use does not exist, and rather than giving them a pass, the EPA requires that they pay for phantom credits, despite not getting anything out of it.”
These fines — er, credit purchases — are, of course, passed on to consumers in the form of higher gas prices; and when gas prices go up, so do the prices of most other products.
“It belies logic,” Charles T. Drevna, the president of the National Petrochemicals and Refiners Association, said of the 2011 quota. And raising the quota for 2012 when there is no production makes even less sense, he said.
Penalizing the fuel suppliers demonstrates what happens when the federal government really, really wants something that technology is not ready to provide. In fact, while it may seem harsh that the Environmental Protection Agency is penalizing them for failing to do the impossible, the agency is being lenient by the standards of the law, the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act.
The law, aimed at reducing the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, its reliance on oil imported from hostile places and the export of dollars to pay for it, includes provisions to increase the efficiency of vehicles as well as incorporate renewable energy sources into gasoline and diesel.
It requires the use of three alternative fuels: car and truck fuel made from cellulose, diesel fuel made from biomass and fuel made from biological materials but with a 50 percent reduction in greenhouse gases. Only the cellulosic fuel is commercially unavailable. As for meeting the quotas in the other categories, the refiners will not close their books until February and are not sure what will happen.
The goal set by the law for vehicle fuel from cellulose was 250 million gallons for 2011 and 500 million gallons for 2012. (These are small numbers relative to the American fuel market; the E.P.A. estimates that gasoline sales in 2012 will amount to about 135 billion gallons, and highway diesel, about 51 billion gallons.)
Even advocates of renewable fuel acknowledge that the refiners are at least partly correct in complaining about the penalties.
“From a taxpayer/consumer standpoint, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense that we would require blenders to pay fines or fees or whatever for stuff that literally isn’t available,” said Dennis V. McGinn, a retired vice admiral who serves on the American Council on Renewable Energy.
The standards for cellulosic fuel are part of an overall goal of having 36 billion gallons of biofuels incorporated annually by 2022. But substantial technical progress would be needed to meet that — and lately it has been hard to come by.
A man was walking down the street when he was accosted by a particularly dirty and shabby-looking homeless man who asked him for a couple of dollars for dinner.
The man took out his wallet, extracted ten dollars and asked, “If I give you this money, will you buy some beer with it instead of dinner?”
“No, I had to stop drinking years ago,” the homeless man replied.
“Will you use it to go fishing or hunting instead of buying food?” the man asked.
“No, I don’t waste time fishing or hunting,” the homeless man said. “I need to spend all my time trying to stay alive.”
“Will you spend this on green fees at a golf course instead of food?” the man asked.
“Are you NUTS!” replied the homeless man. “I haven’t played golf in 20 years!”
“Well,” said the man, “I’m not going to give you money. Instead, I’m going to take you home for a shower and a terrific dinner cooked by my wife.”
The homeless man was astounded. “Won’t your wife be furious with you for doing that?
The man replied, “That’s okay. It’s important for her to see what a man looks like after he has given up drinking, fishing hunting and golf .
Well it seems Jon Huntsman has thrown in his towel in the Republican “I Want To Be The Party’s Presidential Candidate” reality show adding his towel to those of Sarah Palin (the undeclared non candidate), Herman Cain, and Michele Bachman.
While each brought something desirable to the race, it seems that at least at the moment there is nobody running that embodies all the things the voters want in a Republican nominee for President.
Well we here at DragonLaffs have a solution (You expected something less?) to this problem. I give you the Blended Republican Presidential Candidate a.k.a The Right Republican Stuff:
We’re certain with today’s level of technological advancement in the area of cloning and sufficient viable DNA samples we can achieve this out come in short order here in my Dr of Quackery Mad Scientist Lab. Oh yeah one more thing NOT shown in the diagram, the “Right Republican” will also possess New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s rapier wit for dealing with the Liberal Media Morons and hecklers to insure that those televised press conferences are not only informative but entertaining as well.
Little Johnny had just gotten his ear pierced, and the other students were bombarding him with questions about the process.
“Does the hole go all the way through?” Billy asked.
“Yes,” answered Little Johnny.
“Did it hurt?” asked Susie.
“Just a little,” replied Little Johnny.
“Did they stick a needle through your ears?” asked Jacob.
“No, they used a special gun,” said Little Johnny.
Silence followed, and then Joe asked, “Like, how far away did they stand?”
Many of you are looking for ways to stay warm right about now. Here’s a few suggestions and one for beating the Winter Blues
Spicy Mexican Minestrone Stew
Here’s a casual, comforting dish that’s great for friends or family. Picante sauce adds a zesty burst of flavor that makes this minestrone-style stew especially tasty.
1/2 pound sweet Italian pork sausage, casing removed
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups Swanson® Beef Broth or Swanson® Beef Stock
1 can (about 14.5 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes, cut up
1 1/2 cups Pace® Picante Sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup uncooked medium shell-shaped pasta
1 package (about 10 ounces) frozen cut green beans, thawed (about 2 cups)
1 can (about 15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese or mozzarella cheese
- Shape the sausage firmly into 1/2-inch meatballs.
- Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook until they’re well browned on all sides. Remove the meatballs from the saucepan. Pour off any fat.
- Stir the broth, tomatoes, picante sauce and garlic powder in the saucepan and heat to a boil. Stir in the pasta. Return the meatballs to the saucepan. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Stir in the green beans and kidney beans. Cook for 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through and the pasta is tender, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with the cheese before serving, if desired.
- Easy Substitution: Substitute 1 can (about 16 ounces) cut green beans, drained for the frozen.
- Time-Saving: For quicker preparation, omit the first step and cook the sausage over medium-high heat until it’s well browned, stirring often to separate meat. Leave the sausage in the skillet and pour off any fat. Proceed with the remainder of the recipe as directed.
Are you looking for a hearty soup that doesn’t take all day to make? Try this delicious soup packed with beef, pasta, eggplant and zucchini, that’s ready in just under 50 minutes.
1 pound ground beef or Italian sausage ( your choice of Pork, Turkey or Chicken based)
1 jar (24 ounces) Prego® Traditional Italian Sauce or Tomato, Basil & Garlic Italian Sauce
1 can Campbell’s® Condensed Beef Broth
2 cups water
1 small eggplant, cut into cubes (about 3 1/2 cups)
1 medium zucchini, cut into cubes (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 large green pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup uncooked elbow pasta
- Cook the beef in a 4-quart saucepot over medium-high heat until it’s well browned, stirring often to break up the meat. Pour off any fat.
- Stir the sauce, broth, water, eggplant, zucchini and pepper in the saucepot and heat to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
- Stir the pasta in the saucepot. Increase the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes or until the pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.
Santa Fe Chicken Tortilla Soup
Using canned chicken, prepared salsa and flavorful chicken broth allows you to make this satisfying soup in just 25 minutes. Try it…it’s zesty and delicious.
1 can (12.5 ounces) Swanson® Premium White Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained
1 1/2 cups Pace® Picante Sauce
1 1/2 cups frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
3 cups Swanson® Chicken Broth (Regular, Natural Goodness® or Certified Organic)
2 cups coarsely crushed tortilla chips
1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend (about 1.3 ounces)
- Stir the chicken, picante sauce, corn and broth in a 3-quart saucepan and heat to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes.
- Place about 1/3 cup tortilla chips in the bottom of each of 6 serving bowls. Ladle the soup over the chips and sprinkle each with about 1 tablespoon of cheese. Serve immediately.
- Ingredient Note: Or you may use 3 cans Swanson® Premium White Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained (4.5 ounces each).
Slow-Simmered Chicken Rice Soup
Crushed red pepper adds some unexpected heat to this mouthwatering soup that slow cooks for hours, ensuring wonderful flavors, enticing aromas and minimal work for the cook.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 7 hours 15 minutes
Makes: 8 servings (about 1 1/2 cups each)
1/2 cup uncooked wild rice
1/2 cup uncooked regular long-grain white rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 1/4 cups Swanson® Chicken Broth (Regular, Natural Goodness® or Certified Organic)
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves, crushed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound), cut into cubes
Sour cream (optional)
Chopped green onions (optional)
- Stir the wild rice, white rice and oil in a 3 1/2-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 15 minutes.
- Stir the broth, thyme, red pepper, celery, onion and chicken in the cooker. Reduce the heat to LOW. Cover and cook for 7 to 8 hours or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Serve with the sour cream and green onions, if desired.
- Time-Saving: This recipe may also be cooked on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours.
- Time-Saving: Speed preparation by substituting 3 cans (4.5 ounces each) Swanson® Premium White Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained, for the skinless, boneless chicken breast halves.
South-of-the-Border Beef Stew
Corn and potatoes beef up this Southwestern-inspired chili with ground beef, onion, tomato and chili powder.
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Tomato Soup
1 can (10 1/2 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Beef Broth
1 cup water
2 tablespoons chili powder
3 medium potatoes, cut into cubes (about 3 cups)
1 can (about 16 ounces) whole kernel corn, drained
Shredded Cheddar cheese
- Cook the beef, onion and garlic powder in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the beef is well browned, stirring often to separate meat. Pour off any fat.
- Stir the soup, broth, water, chili powder and potatoes in the skillet and heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the corn and and cook until the mixture is hot and bubbling. Sprinkle with the cheese.
Yeah ok you’re right for MOST of you strawberries are not in season and a little bit of a luxury, but what away to beat the winter doldrums!
Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Bunt Cake
Number of serving: 12
Preparation time: 30 Minute(s)
Cook time: 60 Minute(s)
Difficulty: Very Easy
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 Tb. lemon juice, divided
Zest of 1 lemon
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
8 oz. plain or vanilla, Greek yogurt
12 oz. fresh strawberries, diced
1 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 325*. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Sift together the 2 ¼ cups of flour, baking soda and salt. Mix in the lemon zest and set aside.
With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in 1 Tb. lemon juice. Alternate beating in the flour mixture and the yogurt, mixing just until incorporated.
Toss the strawberries with the remaining ¼ cup of flour. Gently mix them into the batter.
Pour the batter into the Bundt pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
Once cooled whisk together the remaining 2 Tb. of lemon juice and the powdered sugar. Drizzle over the top of the cake.
Serves 12+ or a single Dragon.
Speaking to the Winter Blues…here some for you now.
“Winter Blues.” Steven Capozzola
Been a while since I did any Warrior Wednesday items. Its high time I corrected that.
Sure hope you enjoy this as much as I did. Bravo!
This video is taken from a British series where a guy called Gareth Malone takes a group of people
and turns them into a choir. This time he’s taken a group of military wives whose husbands are all away
in Afghanistan and turned them into a choir. Gareth looks about 16 yrs old but is actually in his mid-30s
and a Choirmaster for the London Symphony Orchestra, among other things. They wrote a song based
on excerpts from letters written by the couples whilst apart and this is the beautiful result.
The single is out in the UK. Thousands have been pre-ordered. All money raised is going to military charities.
A good reminder that ours are not the only soldiers and military families making the sacrifices to keep us safe and secure from terrorism masquerading as religion. As was pointed out by a Canadian reader who wrote into the comments section of the blog our allies are right there beside us.