Sunday, February 27, 2011

Truths for Mature Humans

I get a fair number of humourous emails sent my way, but this one was too good not to share. I tried to find some info on who wrote this list but no such luck. Regardless, this list is rather brilliant and I'm sure that you will find yourself in agreement with many of the statements!!!

Truths for Mature Humans

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. MapQuest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14."Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this - ever.

15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Damn it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voice mail. What did you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

17. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

18. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

19. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

20. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

21. Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it.

22. I would rather try to carry 10 over-loaded plastic bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

23. The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying to finish a text.

24. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

25. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

26. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

27. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

28. Is it just me or do high school kids get dumber & dumber every year?

29. There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.

30. As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate bicyclists.

31. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

32. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet my ass everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Amazing Race 18: Unfinished Business

A new season of the award winning Amazing Race begins tonight on CBS and CTV with 11 former teams returning to compete in another race around the world. They are all back for adventure and redemption! They want that million dollar prize!

Who’s back? Here is a brief bio on each team:

Amanda (25) and Kris (27) are an engaged couple currently living in Pismo Beach, California.
Previous Season/Result: Season 14/8th place.
Though they are both involved in communication in their careers, this seemed to be their biggest obstacle in their first race. They are hoping that they’ve worked through those issues now and will run a better race this time around.

Gary (51) and Mallory (25) are a father/daughter combo from Kentucky.
Previous Season/Result: Season 17/6th Place.
This team is doing back to back races so that could be a bit rough. But, from reading their info, it seems they have learned from their past mistakes, the biggest of which was not turning around sooner in Oman. They are determined to work together and also take time to enjoy the moments!

Flight Time (34) and Big Easy (29) are friends and were former teammates on the Harlem Globetrotters.
Previous Season/Result: Season 15/4th place.
These guys worked well together and aren’t planning to switch up their game plan much this time around. They want to run a good race and show that athletes can be good role models.

Jaime (32) and Cara (28) are Former NFL cheerleaders.
Previous Season/Result: Season 14/2nd place.
They ran a solid race last time but had horrible luck with their taxis which may have contributed to their second place finish. The two also claim they over packed on the last trip so will be traveling lighter this time around!

Jet (31) and Cord (30) are brothers and cowboys from Oklahoma.
Previous Season/Result: Season 16/2nd place.
The cowboys ran a great race the first time and worked very well together. They came within minutes of winning the first time around and are looking forward to running the Amazing Race again – and winning!

Kent (35) and Vyxsin (32) are a glam rock couple who are perusing modeling careers in California.
Previous Season/Result: Season 12/5th place.
Their somewhat unconventional appearances may have led this team to be underestimated the first time around but the pair are back to win it all!

LaKisha (30) and Jennifer (26) are sisters originally from Chicago, Illinois.
Previous Season/Result: Season 14/4th place.
They overcame a lot during the first race – including leaving their back packs on the dock and Jennifer’s fear of water during a swimming challenge. They say they have learned to communicate better not only with other but also with other people.

Margie (53) and Luke (25) from Colorado Springs, Colorado are a mother/son combo.
Previous Season/Result: Season 14/3rd place.
Luke is the first deaf person to run the race and many doubted whether he’d get past the first few legs. This team worked so well together and surprised a lot of people! The first time around, they were in first place for most of the last leg until Luke had some bad luck trying to finish the last challenge. It cost them the race, but they won the hearts and respect of other teams and the fans for their determination and ability to overcome any obstacles.

Mel (70) and Mike (40) are father and son.
Previous Season/Result: Season 14/6th place.
They claim their biggest mistakes from the first race was not taking the fast forward in the leg they ended up being eliminated. Mel is the oldest racer this season and is hoping that won’t keep them from getting at least as far as they did last time!

Ron (61) and Christina (29) are a father/daughter pair.
Previous Season/Result: Season 12/2nd place.
These two had a bit of an issue with communication last time. Ron wasn’t always ready to listen to or follow Christina’s opinions. They argued a fair bit and he was a bit domineering at times. Despite their differences, they made it to the finals and are hoping to do well this time around.

Zev (28) and Justin (31) are best friends from California.
Previous Season/Result: Season 15/9th place.
Zev has Asperger's Syndrome (part of the Autism spectrum) but it certainly didn’t stop him and Justin from running the race! What stopped them was losing Zev’s passport in Asia! They went from last in the previous leg to first then realized they’d lost the all important passport. They weren’t able to recover it before being eliminated.

So, now that I’ve refreshed your memory with the 11 teams, how do I feel about them?

Well, to be perfectly honest, I don’t remember a lot about Amanda and Kris or Jaime and Cara. Maybe once I see them in action, I will remember more. I recall Kent and Vyxsin mostly for their attire and makeup but also know they were a competitive team.

Flight Time and Big Easy were a fun team to watch. They worked well together and with a bit of luck they could go far this time around.

LaKisha and Jennifer stand out for a couple of reasons. Jennifer’s fear of water was so strong and LaKisha, though frustrated, also understood her sister’s fear and helped get her through the challenge. Then there was Jennifer’s desperate need of a bathroom break on the way to the pit stop! (How many of us women can’t relate to that need!?!) Unfortunately, stopping to answer “the call” cost them and they were eliminated.

Parent and child pairs have had varying degrees of success over the years and this race has four such teams. Gary and Mallory could do quite well if they can get their navigation skills in order. Gary has run several marathons and other athletic events in recent years so is in great shape. Mallory’s friendly, bubbly personality and aggressive driving skills should work well for them.

Mel and Mike were an interesting pair to watch but time is of the essence in The Amazing Race and I fear Mel’s age will be an issue as they race to the mat in each leg. Ron and Christina need to learn to listen and respect each other’s opinions. Even so, I think that Ron’s health (he had back surgery about a year ago and can’t run as fast.) will be an issue for this team as well.

Luke and Margie were one of my favourite past teams so would love to see them do well again. It was inspiring to see a person with a disability overcome whatever the challenge was and strive to do his best no matter what! I felt so bad for Luke when he couldn’t get the last part of the challenge in the final leg. He felt so bad that he had lost the race for himself and his mom, but he had actually shown us all that perseverance will win out and that no matter what the disability there is always a way to work things through!

Zev and Justin were so much fun to watch and in my opinion deserved another chance. Losing a passport could happen to anyone. Zev never let Asperger's Syndrome get in the way of his race. With a bit of luck and hard work, this team could go far!

“Oh my gravy!” the cowboys are back! These two brothers played so well together. Jet and Cord rarely argued and faced whatever challenges were thrown their way with spirit and determination. How they managed to keep their cowboy hats on in almost every situation is beyond me, but I’m looking forward to watching them again!

Good luck to all the teams!


Sunday, February 13, 2011

dn's Mango Almond Chipper’s

Last summer I bought some dried mangoes but wasn’t sure what I would do with them. I did taste them and decided that I would probably bake or cook something with them. I looked around the internet for ideas but most of the recipes didn’t appeal to me, so I decided to wait for inspiration. I got quite busy over the next few months and forgot all about them until I came across them in my cupboard recently. Of course by then, they were hard as rocks! But not to fear! When I did decide what to do with them, I would just soak them in water to rehydrate them to the similar consistency of a raisin.

So, on a recent bitterly cold winter morning, I finally decided to use the dried mangoes and create a new cookie recipe! I chopped the mangoes and rehydrated them. I roasted some chopped almonds and measured out the rest of the ingredients. The batter was mixed up, measured out onto baking sheets and baked. With this combination of flavours, I was pretty sure I had a tasty treat on the way, but would have to wait for the first pan to finish baking before I’d know for sure. They spread out a bit more than I thought they would so I had to watch them carefully to prevent burning.

Waiting for the timer to go off and then for the cookies to cool enough to sample seemed like an eternity! Then came that moment of truth. I broke one in half. They were a bit crispy around the edges but moist and soft in the center. I took the first bite – and OH MY! These turned out even better than I imagined!

dn's Mango Almond Chipper’s

1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup block margarine, softened to room temperature
1 cup of packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups mini chocolate chips (dark or bittersweet)
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup chopped dried mango

Chop the mango into small pieces (about the size of a pea). Place the fruit in a single layer in a shallow container and cover with very warm water (I used hot tap water) and let sit for about 20-30 minutes. Drain well and spread the mango out on a paper towel to air dry while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Chop the almonds and spread evenly on a large microwave safe dish (I used a large dinner plate). Microwave on high heat for about 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 minutes stirring every minute until golden brown and very aromatic. Place the dish on a cooling rack and cool to room temperature before adding to cookie batter.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

In a bowl with an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream margarine on medium speed until smooth. Add sugars and beat until light and fluffy; about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time until combined. Beat in vanilla.

Add flour mixture all at once, and beat on low speed until combined. Add chocolate, almonds and mangoes. Again, beat until well combined.

Drop batter by heaping teaspoonfulls onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake until golden – about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from oven, let cool and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes about 6 dozen.



Sunday, February 6, 2011

Connie Kaldor

Well, as I related in my last post, I used to go to concerts a fair bit when I was younger, but quit for several reasons. I’d pretty much given up on going to anymore but then I got the opportunity to go see Connie Kaldor a few weeks ago and I couldn’t say no!

In mid December, I got a call from a relative who asked if I still liked Connie Kaldor and if I’d like to go see her in January at the West End Cultural Centre. I said I didn’t get to listen to her a lot but still really enjoyed her work. I politely said thanks for thinking of me, however, I just couldn’t afford the ticket. At that point my wonderful relative told me that they were a Christmas gift and they wanted me to go and have fun!

WOW! Two tickets to an actual live concert! What a wonderful and generous surprise! It had been so many years! I really didn’t remember the last time I went to a concert. I couldn’t even remember when I had seen Connie Kaldor the first time other than it was sometime in the 1990’s at the WECC!

From what I recalled of that first concert, she put on a great show. There was lots of music and interesting stories. She really involved the audience in her shows and played off of them well.

I was excited at the prospect of seeing her again. I asked one of my gal pals to go with me.

The concert was slated for January 26 at the legendary WECC. Seating at the venue has almost always been rush and this concert was no exception. A few days before, I called to see if there was any way that I could reserve a couple of seats to the right side of centre about 2 or 3 rows back. It had been a long time since I had made that request there. They had always been helpful in the past and I hoped that the option might still be available. The gentleman I spoke with wasn’t aware of anything like that but also didn’t see why it couldn’t be done. He took down my information and said I should speak with the house manager the night of the show.

My gal pal and I got to the venue about 7:15 or so. The seats reserved were a bit further back than I had wanted but luckily there were two seats just to the right of centre in the second row! Now most people aren’t too crazy about sitting that close as you have to look up a bit to see the stage which is only about 3 feet above the main floor, but for me this was perfect! We settled in and waited for the show to begin...

Connie was introduced shortly after 8. From the moment she stepped on stage to the end of her second encore, she charmed and thoroughly entertained the audience! There was a story to tell with every song and Connie has a way of making everyone feel like they are an integral part of the evening. The running commentary between songs is often humorous and always informative. It makes you appreciate and understand the songs even more.

She opened with a commentary on coming back to Winnipeg and living in Canada in winter and comfortably slipped into “You’re All Right”. I didn’t keep track of all of the songs, but a few that I recall of the evening included: “Mother’s Prayer”; “Maria’s Place/Batoche”; “That’s What Mothers Do”; “What Might Have Been”, “Bird On A Wing “; “Wood River” and “Bigger Than Anything Else” (one of my all time favourites!).

Wood River Hall 2 from Connie Kaldor on Vimeo.

As well as singing, Connie played guitar or piano on most songs but also picked up a ukulele for “Okanagan Peaches”. Throughout the show, she was accompanied by her husband (and as she noted the “co-producer” of her children!) Paul Campagne and Bill Gossage. They contributed various stringed instruments (mostly different guitars) and backup vocals and occasional commentary!

There is always much humour in a Connie Kaldor show and you never really know what she might say. She plays so well to the audience that you can’t always tell how much is rehearsed and how much is off the cuff!

In the first set, she was introducing “Prairie Moon” which is one of those songs that is perfect for playing at socials. For the uninitiated, a social is a Canadian prairie thing that is basically a fundraiser for an engaged couple to help pay for some wedding expenses or to help a group raise money for some kind of project. They rent a hall and organize a dance with a DJ or a local band, silent auction, a cash bar and some food is served at midnight. I don’t recall her exact phrasing, but Connie seems to have summed up the social beautifully in that it is part of the circle of life or like being on a hamster wheel. You go to a social to help another couple out and end up meeting your significant other and next thing you know you are planning your own social. Some other couple meets through your social and then you are going to their social!

As she was talking about Socials and the food served at them, she commented that she had once written a song about Perogies. Her husband said that she HAD to sing it now that she’d talked about it. Well, since she was in Winnipeg and most Winnipeggers (Not this writer but that is another story!) loved their Perogies, it would be fitting to sing it here. She noted though that this wasn’t a song she could sing just anywhere as not everyone would understand the references or the innuendo! I don’t recall all of the lyrics but the gist of the song was about the advice of a grandparent to her grandson. The main line was something like “If you like her Perogies, she’ll like your Kielbasa!” Needless to say, the audience was in stitches and was singing along with her in no time!

There were a couple of country influenced songs - “Liar” and “Heartacheville” Both generously laced with puns and ironic humour!

She did a couple of songs for the kids (and kids at heart) in the audience; “A Poodle In Paris” (From the album of the same name) is a hoot and she even suggested that some audiences have been known to get up and do the Cancan during the song! “I Love That Dog” (from Small Cafe) was also done later in the evening.

It was a very appreciative audience throughout the evening and none of us wanted the evening to end! We brought her back for two encores. Personally, I could have listened to her for another couple of hours! She sang a number of songs that I recognized and a few that were new to me. There were a couple though that I was hoping to hear that she left off of this playlist – “Relax” (From the CD Out Of The Blue) and “Saskatoon Moon” (recorded with Roy Forbes).

If you have never been luckily enough to hear this talented lady in concert you really are missing something! Don’t take my word for it! You can listen to a number of her songs on her website. Just click on the music link then any of the album titles in the drop down box. Three cuts from each of the albums are available to listen to. There are also several songs from the kids albums on the kids link.

You should also check out The CBC Radio 2 Concerts On Demand: Connie Kaldor at the Segal Centre. The concert was recorded January 26, 2010 in Montreal, Quebec. Some of her dialogue with the audience is in French, but the track listing for this recording is similar to what I got to hear the other night and gives the listener a true sense of just how much fun and entertaining her shows are!

After listening to a few of the songs from any of her 14 CD’s or being at one of her concerts, if you don’t find yourself relating to the words, laughing, tapping your feet, singing along or wanting to hear more from this multitalented artist, then there is truly something wrong with your taste!