Showing posts from 2010

More Work Stress

The saga of the drive chain continues.

I listened to one of my coffee roaster's main drive chains buck and kick for months before finally biting the bullet and getting it replaced. The owner's manual for the machine says that the chain could be lengthened or shortened at any bike shop. I assumed that meant the chain was a standard bicycle chain. Turns out that's not the case.

Yesterday while I was preheating the roaster I heard a loud "CLUNK!" and feared the worst, I have had the drive shaft from the flywheel snap off twice before, but that wasn't it, the upper drive chain had slipped off its sprocket. So I threaded it back on, oiled it and returned to pre-heating.

A few minutes later I heard another loud "CLUNK!" and ran in to look. The chain had slipped off again and was nowhere to be found. I felt around, poked around, looked... it was as if the chain had never existed. I posted this fact on Facebook and a friend suggested that maybe it had wrapp…

Thanksgiving Head-On Collision

I was coming back from my brother's house and Thanksgiving dinner.

Young dude in an Audi heading south suddenly swerved about a half a car-width into the oncoming lane. The other driver in a green minivan or SUV (it was dark) swerved to miss him, they hit drivers side to drivers side. Suddenly I see a car going sideways (the Audi) and he winds up on the shoulder facing north.

I stopped to see if he was okay, I noticed that someone else was checking on the other guy. He was a little scratched, but he was conscious and seemed fairly coherent. I called 911.

All sorts of cars pulled off and about a half dozen of us or so made sure everything was okay. One guy grabbed out a snow shovel and started clearing debris, another guy said that his wife, an RN, was attending the other guy.

My guy is sitting there amongst deflated airbags completely dazed and he starts digging around for his insurance card. His front left tire is completely missing, it just flew off somewhere into…

Going Once... Going Twice

Yesterday Jeff & I had a gig at the St. Cloud Civic Center for an education fund raiser and awards ceremony. We were hired to play from 4:30 - 6:00 PM during the silent auction. Afterward the "regular" auction would begin. Well, either someone forgot to tell the auctioneer or he just decided on his own to start early -- really early, like 4:45.

He didn't start selling things right away, he interviewed a few people who were looking at the items for sale and a couple of other people from area schools who had booths set up showing processes that had won them the awards they would be given later. Then he started selling things.

We didn't know what to do at first, so we stopped playing and took a small break. The contact for the gig asked us to keep playing so we got up on stage and got back to work. The auctioneer had started the auction so early and the room was so empty that I watched an Adrian Peterson autographed football go for $75. That same football would have…

Election 2010

I am very depressed about the results of the 2010 midterm elections. With the Republicans in control of so much of the government I feel like all I have to look forward to is the next election when we can remove them from office again. Until then it will be more of the same bullshit thinking that comes from that side of the aisle.

They deny the science of evolution and global climate change, they want to legislate from the Bible regarding who people can marry, they want to treat big business like they can do no wrong and they will work to repeal Obamacare -- one of the best things to come out of government in my lifetime (although I think that even it didn't go far enough). They will continue to build up the military, gut public education and bring abstinence only sex ed back. We will probably see something akin to the witch hunts of the 50s with every crazy Birther idea (or worse) getting its own investigative committee, too.

Gone are the days of progress. Every step forward that…

Cooking for Many

I have four days to perfect and then multiply a cold carrot soup recipe. I've done a bunch of hunting and research and finally decided on the following recipe for Cold Carrot Soup with Orange and Cumin.

1 teaspoon canola oil
1/3 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 teaspoons ground cumin
5 medium carrots, diced
6 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon sea salt, optional
1 cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, optional
1 teaspoon grated orange zest for garnish
6 sprigs of fresh dill for garnish, optional

1. Heat the canola oil in a medium-sized pot set over medium-high heat. Add the onion; sauté, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes or until soft and translucent.

2. Stir in the cumin; cook for about 2 minutes to bring out the pungent aroma of the spice. Stir in the carrots, stock or broth and salt, if using; simmer partially covered, for 30 to 40 minutes or until the carrots are tender. Remove from the heat and let cool.

3. Transfer the soup to a blender or food proc…


St. Cloud has its characters, every town does. I wanted to blog about a couple of guys I saw this week. I'll start with the second guy because it was a very sad thing.

I was dropping off some equipment at the Pioneer Place on Fifth early on Sunday afternoon and saw a guy rummaging through one of the recycling bins in the alley way behind the Raddison and DB Searle's. He was carefully checking each unbroken bottle, swirling the contents around ... and then drinking them. What a sad thing to see.

The story of the other guy is one I have told many people already.

Kate & I were having coffee on my porch on Friday afternoon when we spied a young black man somewhere in his early 20s walking down the street next to my house, he was wearing the modern fashion: baggy pants with underwear sticking a good 4 inches out of the top of his pants. He didn't seem to be in any hurry, he was just sauntering along. He obviously didn't know we were there because he slowed down and star…

A Debate: Natural Selection v. Intelligent Design


The following is a debate between a dear friend of mine who lives in Texas and I regarding Natural Selection vs. Intelligent Design. He is of the opinion that the concept of Intelligent Design should be taught as an "alternative theory" to the evolution of species. I think that Intelligent Design, or ID, belongs in the philosophy classroom if it belongs anywhere. The following is a little debate we (and some others) had online, and I wanted to save it in my blog before it gets lost into the constantly changing pile of useless data that is Facebook.

I need to acknowledge a couple of websites that helped immensely in forming my arguments: The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe and Rational Wiki (which is rather snarky, but full of valuable information).

He says:

I can't force anyone to believe in or love God any more tha…

What I Did On My Summer Vacation - 2010

Me & Kate
DAY ONE - June 24th, 2010
Getting to Ely was the easy part. Even getting the canoe into the water was fairly easy (180 r.) compared to what was to come.
Wood Lake has five campsites, all of which were occupied. In an attempt to get us to the portage to Hula Lake I got us turned around and we wound up in the most northeasterly point of the lake, rather than the most northwesterly point. That wasted a good hour or two.
The seemingly simple 40 r. portage into Hula Lake was complicated by a sudden and rather intense cloudburst that soaked us to the bone.
There are no campsites on Hula, so we headed north to Good Lake in hopes of finding one of the two sites there. We were running out of daylight, we’d run out of fresh water and the second half of the portage (150 r.) turned out to consist mostly of ankle to shin deep mud puddles. It was the worst portage I’ve ever done to date and Kate and I were literally in tears at points.
We were very fortunate to find one of the campsite…


Several years ago, when I lived on the south side of St. Cloud, my landlord, who lived downstairs from me, enlisted my help moving a china hutch that he had just purchased at an auction into his house. It was an old and unwieldy piece of furniture, it was heavy, but the two of us could move it without too much trouble.

We wrestled the piece out of the moving truck he'd rented and were taking a short break in the front yard before we attempted to get it into the house when we were approached by a black man somewhere in his 40s who struck up a conversation with the two of us. It started out normally enough, the weather, the fact that the china hutch looked heavy and the like, and then it took a turn into the weird.

The man started telling us about all the zombies in St. Cloud and how they were going to try to take over the world, and that he was apparently the only person around who knew.

"They're envious of us," he said, "because we have life and they don't a…

Relgion Boldly Goes Where It Isn't Wanted

A very dear man I know died this week of cancer. He made it long enough to see his son get married, the new year and spring. He was a loving, generous man with an infectious smile and a wonderful attitude. He was also non-religious, and when his wife died a few years back he made it quite clear that he didn't want, "any of that religious shit" when he died.

So there will be no church service, but that won't stop the religiously minded from imposing their ceremonies on the memorial gathering that is happening tonight. The gathering goes from 4 - 8 PM, but there's a "Celebration of Life" that starts at 7.

This "Celebration of Life" will, no doubt, be a very thinly veiled Christian religious ceremony. They will invoke the name of Jesus, they will invoke the name of God, they will talk about Heaven... in direct opposition to the dead man's wishes. I have a huge problem with that.

If people want to pray to God or Jesus or who/whatever they should …

Cost of Doing Business?

Two days in a row I had someone come into my shop in order to hit me up for money. I am used to the solicitations from non-profit organizations such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Humane Society, the March of Dimes, etc., and they typically use the "soft sell" technique of sending you a piece of mail. These couple of organizations sent people.

First was a man from a group called National Write Your Congressman, he was a very nice man who was from the area, has kids in the school system and all that. The group he represents gathers opinions on the concerns of the day from business owners (and others, I would assume) and then sends them all to your representatives. His sales technique bugged me, he wrote down my opinions, showed me the print material he had with him -- and then asked for money. They want a minimum of $425 per year for you to belong to their club. Why would I want to spent 1000 times the cost of a stamp to have someone else write my congressman for me? I had …

Worst Gig Ever

The time was somewhere in the early 2000s, I'm not sure exactly when, but my band, Collective Unconscious, had a gig at the Norshor Theatre in Duluth, MN. We were led to believe that we would be playing as a part of a big, multi-band music event in the main theater, when we got there we found that was not the case.

We wound up in the middle of a community art jamboree that was going on all over the building, there were bands in the main theater, but we weren't one of them. Instead we wound up in the upstairs lobby sharing the stage with several smaller groups, right before us was a blues band. We also got exposed to what I call "teenage girl poetry:"

My love is like dry, blowing leaves...

The blues band got done playing and moved their instruments and amps out of the way, fortunately a sound system was provided. Unfortunately it was out of phase with the outlets we had our amps plugged into.

Old buildings, like the Norshor, have old wiring and sometimes that wir…

Possibly the Best Day at Work Ever

Four times a year we deep clean the roasting machine, it's long, involved, greasy & dirty and it takes a bunch of hours. Today I was fortunate enough to have the Fabulous Armadillos use my roastery as a rehearsal space for their upcoming Motown show at the Pioneer Place in St. Cloud. Sorry, folks, it sold out weeks ago.

So all day I was treated to a live band playing songs like Respect, Natural Woman, The Tears of a Clown, Shotgun and many more.

Okay, that's not such a great video. But this one is! His name is Julius Andrews IV and he won the pre-teen division of the Minnesota State Fair Amateur Talent Contest in 2009. Having him there brought tears to my eyes it was so cool and beautiful!

All in all, I had a GREAT day at work!

Chicken Lasagna

Tonight's menu is a chicken lasagna, since I haven't done it yet it's not so much a recipe as it is a plan. It's pretty much just your standard lasagna made with diced chicken. Usually I'll use browned hot Italian sausage when I do this.


1 lb. chicken breasts, skin & fat removed
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can (29 oz.) tomato sauce
1/2-3/4 cup baby portobello mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
medium sized onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2-1 tbsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp (seriously small amount) fennel seed
1 egg
1 small container part skim ricotta cheese
1/4-1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-2 cups shredded mozarella cheese
9-12 lasagna noodles, par-boiled

Preheat oven to 350° F

I've already taken the chicken breasts, washed them and patted them dry, added a sprinkling of salt & pepper to both sides and fried them in a heavy pan using no oil for about 2 minutes per side. They're nice and caramelized, they might not be cooke…

Chicken Wild Rice Soup

A week or so ago I bought a whole chicken and decided to cut it up myself. I'd never done that before, so I looked up a couple of videos on YouTube and went to it.

It's an incredibly economical thing to do! I spent about $6 and got about $10-12 worth of meat out of it, and a nice carcass to make soup, which is what I did tonight. I never make the same soup twice, but there are always similarities, in this case, this is what I did:

1 chicken carcass, breast meat, thighs & wings removed -- don't worry, there's still plenty of meatseveral cups of water (5 or 6?)1 medium onion, chopped3 cloves of garlic, minced4 medium carrots, sliced3 stalks celery, sliced1 can diced tomatoes1 can white beans -- including that nice, starchy water1/2 cup frozen yellow corn1/2 tablespoon salta good dose of ground pepper1 tsp dill weed1/2 tsp turmeric1-1/2 tsp dried parsleyA few shakes of red pepper flakesMost of my measurements are by eye so I am only guessing the amount.

In a separate pan…