Prepare to enter a world of both shadow and substance

Take a journey of body, mind and spirit where you'll encounter things you won't find anywhere else.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mercury Blues

I just learned of another terrible blow to the United States auto industry. Ford announced plans today to kill off it's 71 year-old Mercury division by the end of the year. Yet another great old marque lost in the last decade. It started with the loss of Chrysler killing off it's storied Plymouth brand and was followed quickly by the oldest U.S. auto brand, Oldsmobile, being ditched by General Motors. Just last year, GM announced it was shutting down Pontiac, Saturn and then the Hummer brand of trucks. And now, this.... No more Mercurys. Being a car guy my whole life, this is particularly distressing to me. I've owned a lot of those brands in the past and now I won't ever be able to buy another one unless it's old and used to begin with.
I'm telling you, people.... this world can't continue on like it's been going the last few years - something's got to give. It's time you gathered up your family members and made peace with them. While you still can. There's about to be some very bad times soon. Get ready before it's too late.
And now a look at a few of my old cars whose brand names have gone to that great junkyard in the sky:

My full-sized 1985 Mercury Grand Marquis LS

My 1974 Pontiac Grand Prix LX

And lastly, a 1969 Oldsmobile 98 LS

I also had a 1957 DeSoto, but they stopped making that brand back in 1961; so I guess you can't count those in this recent rash of closures. Still, a mighty storied car company in it's day, though.

Good Things Are Coming To You In Due Of Time

After presenting a picture in my last post of the egg roll I recently enjoyed during a trip to a restaurant I hadn't tried before, it reminded me that I hadn't yet put up my pictoral review of said establishment. Well, let me now rectify this matter!
Said establishment being an authentic Chinese eatery called the New World Restaurant, located at the end of the mall on 1411 West Main Street, in Fairfield, Illinois. A friend of mine and myself stopped in for a late lunch about two weeks back and by arriving after the noontime rush, had the place all to ourselves for most of our meal. Our waiter, who also happened to be the owner took our drink orders, (we planned to eat at the buffet), and was quite cordial to us. We stepped up to the sumptuously-stocked buffet and availed ourselves of the huge variety offered there. Now, Chinese food has long been a favorite of mine and when confronted with the challenges of a buffet such as this, which had so many different choices, I knew I would really have to make my selections wisely. It is impossible to try eveything, so you have to go for your most favorite items first and let the chips fall where they may.
As far as I'm concerned, no proper Chinese meal should start without that venerable classic, and a dear favorite of mine, Egg Drop Soup. Based on chicken stock, it features lightly-beaten eggs drizzled into the boiling soup stock and allowed to feather out into tiny tendrils of chickeny goodness. It was such a good beginning that I ended up having two small bowls before I got properly started with the solid foods. I hope the picture below can do it the slightest justice, for it was wonderful indeed!

After I had ladled out a second helping of the egg drop soup, I started building my plate of favorites. There seemed to be just a little bit more to choose from than I had seen before in other restaurants, so it was a tough choice to narrow it down to just what would fit on one plate. I can't remember everything I had, but maybe by looking at the picture below, it will help jog my memory just a little bit.

Of course, you have to include at least one egg roll proper with your meal; which I did. Next came the required crab rangoons, a crispy delight of both myself and my sister as well. She's the one who really turned me on to them long ago. Next I chose an oregano chicken combination which smelled as good as it tasted. I also had a pork dish which had the tiny, whole mushrooms in it. (I could eat mushrooms in just about anything.) There were some breaded shrimp, chicken nuggets for sweet and sour chicken, and I also chose a fried chicken wing. You can't go wrong with chicken as your main meat and I try to cook with it as much as I can. Before I ate the egg roll, I was sure to pose it on a napkin and get a portrait of it.

I suppose the owner liked photography as well and must have seen me taking the pictures I usually do when trying out a new restaurant (I sound like a restaurant critic - honest, I'm not! I just love food) for he came over and struck up a conversation about my Konica Minolta digital slr. He asked about the need for different lenses and what filters I could suggest. The lens I had on my camera body at that moment was a great little zoom lens that covers wide angles from 18mm all the way up to a very useful 70mm short telephoto length. It's great for closed spaces such as indoor at restaurants. I informed him that with today's lenses, which come already coated with light-correcting properties, that there is no real need for u/v or haze filters. He seemed pretty intrigued with the particular setup I was using, so I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't have a mid-range digital camera similar to mine soon. After he had left me and my dining companion, she leaned forward and told me about the tragic history the man had gone through. His whole family had moved there and opened the restaurant and it had been doing well in the small community of about 6000 people. But a couple years later, due to an automobile accident, most of his family were killed. I think she said that only two members of the family remained alive; him and his neice I think. He shut the restaurant down for a while, which is understandable, but finally opened it back up due to popular demand. I'm thankful he did, for his menu is outstanding and the food was excellent.

We were almost finished with our meal when some mutual acquaintances walked in with grandkids in tow. It had been raining on and off all day, so they hadn't gotten to pick fresh strawberries like planned. The kids wanted Chinese food, so they ended up at the New World Restaurant like us and seated themselves at the table next to ours. We chatted back and forth for a while before finally finishing and receiving the check.

The owner brought out the prerequisite fortune cookies to cap off our meal with and, call me superstitious or whatever, but I always open mine, eat the cookie and then read my fortune. The title of this post were the words the slip of paper inside the crunchy cookie revealed. I don't know how accurate these things are - they can't really be very specific - so I usually read them and forget them a few moments later. This one had the usual lottery numbers below the message and one other thing you don't usually find in your average fortune cookie. At least, I never remember seeing anything like it before; and I've eaten a lot of fortune cookies. I still have all the fortunes to show for it, too. (I'm a collector of trivial items such as this.) Call me old fashioned if you must, but when I get a fortune cookie, I think of all those old Charlie Chan movies and expect urgent fortune cookie messages such as "Help! I'm being held prisoner in a Chinese laundry!" Maybe the times really are a' changing for, there in tiny, precise letters at the bottom of my fortune were the words: Want more? Visit

I feel like it must be the Year of the Horse and I'm the old grey mare that should be put out to pasture already. I must be getting old.

Comment Moderation

I didn't want to have to do this, but I'm afraid that with all the spam I've been getting on certain posts lately, I'm going to have to moderate my comments for awhile. Hopefully, I will soon be able to revert back to the regular way of allowing comments to just appear when they're written. Maybe when all the spammers realize they're not able to spam anymore, they'll stop doing it and I can go back to normal. That's my hope anyway. I do want to make it perfectly clear that this action has absolutely nothing to do with any of my regular readers or anything they might have done. I treasure each and every comment from anybody that goes to the trouble of leaving them; when they do it for a legitimate reason, that is. But, to write gibberish in a language I can't even make out is just not cool. And now for one happy picture before I go. This was one course of a recent lunch outing I made to a local Chinese buffet - yum yum! One egg roll:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Get Your Money On Time, Every Time

Direct deposit is not for me. I firmly believe it is nothing more than an attempt to get people out of the habit of handling cash. I also believe that because of it, there could come a time when people will have to pay with a chip implanted in their arm. Don't misunderstand me, that technology is already here and being used. It's just that it could become the only method for payment someday and that worries me. What if the Government decides you don't need to eat any longer because you have nothing to add to society? Your chip will stop working and you'll be left out in the cold. You will eventually starve to death if you can't purchase food.
But this blog is about something else; it's about the attempt to get Direct Deposit in place and have everybody using it.
I like the feel of real money in my hands; I always have. The United States Government, however, wants you to believe that having real money in your hands is too dangerous and could lead to fraud, theft and who knows what else.
I served in the United States Army and got an injury that will impact me negatively for the rest of my life. Because of this, I get a small disability check from the Government every month. Not a month goes by where I don't get the above slip inserted into the envelope that carries my check. You'll notice the top line says it all - "Get your money on time, every time." Well, I believe I should get my money on time and every time, no matter what method is used to deliver it to me. If the Government uses one of their departments to deposit it directly into my account, that's a part of the Government. If they employ the United States Postal Service to mail it to me, that's another arm of the Government. I should be able to expect either method to work correctly so that my check gets to me "on time, every time." In fact, I demand that both methods work equally as well and that I be allowed to choose which one I want.
For the United States Government to tell me point blankly that unless I use direct deposit I might not get my check on time every time - that's the same thing as them admitting that mailing it to me is not reliable. Everyone knows how reliable the United States Post Office is, don't we? Not very reliable at all. The United States Government should do their job and make sure the Post Office is efficient - it's their obligation to do so by taking our money from us in the form of taxes. For them to allow the Post Office to falter and become disreputable and unusable is nothing more than a crime. Of course, I know why they're doing it. See the opening statements I made above about direct deposit and the phasing out of cash.
So, all I ask you is to look at these little "nudges" from the United States Government, think about them and then ask yourself that by doing devious little things like this, where are they taking America? Is it really somewhere you want to be?