Friday Open Thread

We've got blue skies and sunshine today. Time to head outdoors and get all those last minute errands run.

If you missed the X-Factor last night, Melanie Amaro won the $5 million Sony record contract and has producers lining up. The other two finalists needn't worry, Simon Cowell says contracts are also likely to be offered to Josh Krajik, Chris Rene (and Astro.) Ratings were high last night, the show will be back for a second season. I hope it's without Nicole Scherzinger.

Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    My friends got back from Antarctica. (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by oculus on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 12:41:43 PM EST
    She sd. she never thought of it being so green here and is wondering where all the white has gone.  

    It is the perfect place (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by CoralGables on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 12:58:58 PM EST
    to send all those that dream of a white Christmas.

    Someone paid to go to Antarctica? (none / 0) (#8)
    by Militarytracy on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 02:22:15 PM EST
    She's ruining the horrors of being sent to Siberia with such actions :)

    Pd. a lot, I'm sure. Did I ask to go too? (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by oculus on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 03:22:37 PM EST

    There are cruises from Chile to (none / 0) (#18)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 03:31:49 PM EST
    Antarctica, and also tours... was she on one of th ecruises that goes ashore a few times?

    yes. Via Zodiac. On one island (none / 0) (#22)
    by oculus on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 03:57:50 PM EST
    there were approx. 10,000 penguinss, who looked quizzically at the tourists.  

    I wonder (none / 0) (#34)
    by christinep on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 08:20:41 PM EST
    A dear, longtime friend  & spouse just returned from Antarctica as well.  The spouse is all involved with photography; tour from Ushuaia sailed about beginning of December; returned to Boston on the 16th (after short photog excursion in Patagonia.)

    My friends were on the Austral: (none / 0) (#36)
    by oculus on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 12:36:13 AM EST
    Cute (none / 0) (#40)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 06:45:44 AM EST
    I'm going to have to take many more warm vacations though before I decide I must see Antarctica.  And I'm tempted to go Arctic first.

    the way to occupy a bank (5.00 / 0) (#3)
    by The Addams Family on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 01:14:34 PM EST
    Mikey likes it... (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 01:49:02 PM EST
    The concerns of "taxpayer risk" ring awfully hollow considering all the favors private-sector big banksters already get from the government, aka the people, aka taxpayers.  And when they risk themselves into the red, along comes the taxpayer with a bailout.

    Mr. Slate... (5.00 / 4) (#6)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 01:59:19 PM EST
    should be ringing the bell shortly (I hope:) for early release...so I shall be signing off for the holidays shortly.  Some partying tonight with my band of merry degenerates at the crib...woo-hoo!

    Then to my friend's for Christmas Eve Italian style...some may recall me mentioning her, she lost her brother to brain cancer this year, the guy I played pharmacist for in light of nonsensical drug laws.  Her brother was the Christmas Eve chef and master of ceremonies so it's gonna be a tough one for her and her family, gonna attend and try to brighten up a tough Christmas for them...and get down on the Italian delicacies of course:)

    Then my sister's for Christmas and the sparkling eyes of my darling nieces, playing with all the Santa bounty and feasting and assorted merriment.

    So to the entire TL community, may you all enjoy this holiday season in your customary way.  Thanks for the continued edumacation and all the delicous food for thought.  Like Kojak said "who loves ya baby."

    Peace, thanks, and praises.

    Sounds like you're going to have (5.00 / 2) (#11)
    by nycstray on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 02:52:09 PM EST
    a full holiday weekend! Enjoy!

    I'll be disrupting the normal festivities with my new (untrained) pup, so I know I'll be laughing my way through the weekend. My family? We shall see how their sense of humor holds up, lol!~ :Dcv bbbbbbbbbbbbfg yes she just stepped on the laptop! Last night she opened iTunes . . .


    was it (none / 0) (#13)
    by The Addams Family on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 02:55:33 PM EST
    Btw (none / 0) (#47)
    by sj on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 09:18:18 PM EST
    I just had a chance to take a look at your new girl (Flickr is blocked at work).  So cute!  I wish you both a long and happy life together.

    Happy holidays! (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by CST on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 02:53:51 PM EST
    Most of my family is abandoning me, since my mom, sister and father will all be in Ethiopia visiting the school where my parents first met 40 years ago.  They've been meaning to go back for at least the last 20 years, and now they're finally doing it.

    This means I'll be having a very low-key christmas, although I will be on babysitting/laundry/dishes/cooking duty for my other sister since Christmas is also her birthday.

    The one upside to this is I get to delay a big chunk of my shopping until after the holidays are over and the crowds have dispersed, since they will all be coming home in January.

    So I'm looking forward to a somewhat relaxing long weekend, but between the 60 degree whether and the lack of any real plans it barely feels like the holidays.  Not that there is anything wrong with a normal long weekend.

    CST, that's so sweet (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Zorba on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 03:29:25 PM EST
    about your parents visiting the school where they first met!  Although I'm sorry about the babysitting, etc duties.  That doesn't sound very relaxing.  Have a wonderful Christmas, anyway.  A long weekend is not to be scorned!   ;-)

    thanks! (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by CST on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 03:40:21 PM EST
    The man who ran the school they taught at is still there, so they will be visiting him.  He was a personal hero to both of my parents, and a father figure for my dad who had lost his own at a young age.  But they're getting old and he's getting older, so it's sort of a now or never moment.  Plus my dad has spent the last 6 months living in Zambia, so it made sense to go now.  My sister is joining them because as a teacher she has actual vacation days... sigh...

    But I won't mind the babysitting, etc.  The nephew is still a novelty, and otherwise I have to fight pretty hard with his dad if I ever want to hold him :)


    The wonderful thing about nephews and nieces, (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Zorba on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 03:47:16 PM EST
    as well as grandchildren, is that you can spoil them rotten and not have to deal with the results on a daily basis!  They always go back to the parents in the end, and they're the ones who have to deal with the spoiling.   ;-)

    Like Jeralyn, I also went out (none / 0) (#5)
    by Zorba on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 01:55:36 PM EST
    to do some last minute errands.  The few gifts I still had to purchase, some food that I'll need to start cooking tomorrow for Christmas dinner, and more wrapping paper.  Remind me never, ever to go to any store two days before Christmas ever, ever again.  The crowds were crazy, the parking was at a premium, the lines at the registers were long.  Bah, humbug!  No, not actually- I do like Christmas.  Really.  I think.  It did make me think, though, of the annual Festivus Airing of the Grievances.  Here's my grievance (one among many).  Why do some people wait until the total is rung up at the register before they start scrabbling in their pocketbook (if a woman) or their back pocket for their wallet (if a man), and then proceed to slowly count out the exact amount, or start to write out a check?  People, people, people, get that wallet out (or that checkbook out and start to write the d@mned check) while the clerk is ringing up your purchases!  

    We "worked" a half day today, so I (5.00 / 0) (#9)
    by Anne on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 02:48:27 PM EST
    took the opportunity to pick up a few more things on the way home - I swear I am D.O.N.E. now - and also went to the grocery store since Saturday is my regular weekly shopping day and I don't intend to be out tomorrow.

    It was more or less mayhem, though I have to say that people were generally in a good mood, which made it bearable.

    But, it's obvious people have Christmas brain fog, not really concentrating on things like parking and driving, so that put me on edge a bit.

    But, I'm home, I had lunch, and am beginning to relax - the wine is helping that along!

    If I have one shopping-related grievance, it is people who start putting their items on the belt before you have completely emptied your own cart, and who don't respect your personal space.

    Lots of wrapping to do, and tomorrow I have desserts to make - a tiramisu and a chocolate/raspberry trifle - for the Christmas dinner we will have at my brother's, and there is football on, too.

    Hope you have a fabulous Christmas!


    You, too, Anne! (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Zorba on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 03:24:02 PM EST
    Have a great Christmas!  And I agree with you about the "personal space" grievance.  Jeezus, people, stand back a bit.  You can wait until I finish putting my stuff on the belt before you crowd in to load your stuff!  It's not going to speed things up any, because there's plenty of time for you to get your purchases loaded before the clerk finishes ringing up mine!  Another annoyance- shoppers who push the little "divider" into your items so they can have more room for their things.  I always put my bread at the end of my belt-load of items (so that the bread will go in last and not get squashed), and more than once, I've had to ask the person behind me not to squash my bread!  One time, the person behind me tried to give me some attitude about this, and I just took the divider and pushed it, and her purchases, a few inches back so that my bread didn't get squashed.  She's lucky she didn't say anything further- she must have seen the murderous look in my eyes.  (She's also lucky that she didn't wind up with the divider rammed up her nose!)

    Your family (none / 0) (#23)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 04:09:04 PM EST
    seems to have the best food at Christmas and holidays!

    In the spirit of Festivus... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 02:19:56 PM EST
    during my shopping last night a different grievance arose...

    "No I don't want your preferred shoppers card/credit card/whateveryacallit card, I just wanna pay for this sh*t and get the f8ck outta here!!!"

    Well I didn't actually say that, never take it out on the teller:)  But I thought it repeatedly!

    I can't imagine the list of Festivus grievances those poor retail workers amass during the holidays...an absolutely brutal job that.  


    I got the same line about (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by brodie on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 03:50:59 PM EST
    opening a (Macy's) account which I declined as usual.  The clerk still gave me an extra 15% off, just as another clerk did when I was in there a month ago.  That nice gesture more than made up for some overly aggressive motorists out in the parking lot, so a positive shopping experience overall.

    Btw, I'm told it still counts against your Permanent Record for bad thoughts in the Akashic ledger book.  Something about how, collectively, they can adversely affect a planet's population and their attitude.  I think I heard that from Deepak Chopra and I believe him.


    Hahahaha! (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by Zorba on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 04:09:11 PM EST
    "Permanent Record for bad thoughts"!  Love it, absolutely love it.  It's also known as "What goes around, comes around."  I have a friend who always says, "God don't like ugly."  Whatever your beliefs are about God, the universal motivating spirit, the collective conscience, or whatever- that works for me.  Don't be ugly.   ;-)  

    I don't have a problem (none / 0) (#14)
    by Zorba on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 03:16:01 PM EST
    with the clerks asking about applying for their frequent shoppers' card, store credit card, or whatever.  It's part of their job- they're told to do this, and I just say "no thanks."  I can't imagine having to work retail, especially at this time of year.

    Driving on a road trip on I-8 (none / 0) (#10)
    by magster on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 02:49:49 PM EST
    in socal when Blue Sky came on the radio just as the sun was rising over the mountains.

    Love that song....

    first loaf of bread is baking... (none / 0) (#26)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 04:55:13 PM EST
    now all i have left are a strudel and three pies before the main dishes.

    My mother dug out a bread machine... I'll give it a chance. I still think my braided doughs look festive, but this may save some time.

    I made Cuban black bean soup (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by oculus on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 05:07:07 PM EST
    from the recipe of a restaurant in the old part of San Juan.  As usual, kind of regretted I do not have a Cuisinart.  Chop chop.  

    Oculus, I need (none / 0) (#28)
    by Zorba on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 05:17:08 PM EST
    that recipe!  When you have a chance, of course.

    Here's a Vitamix Recipe for Black Bean Soup (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 02:12:27 AM EST
    Black Bean Soup

    3 cups Chicken or vegetable stock
    28 ounce Can of black beans (1/2 reserved)
    30 ounce Can of chickpeas (1/2 reserved)
    1/2 cup onion, cooked
    3 cloves Garlic, roasted
    3 T lime juice
    1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded
    1/4 cup red pepper, diced (reserved)
    1/4 cup green pepper, diced (reserved)
    1/4 cup yellow pepper, diced (reserved)
    1/4 cup scallions, chopped (reserved)
    1 t cumin
    2 t chilli powder
    salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    Place all ingredients in container in order listed.
    Secure 2-part lid. Select VARIABLE, speed #1.
    Turn on machine and quickly increase speed to #10; then to HIGH.
    Run for 6 to 7 minutes.
    Reduce speed to VARIABLE, speed #4.
    Add reserved ingredients.
    Run for additional 10 seconds.
    Serve immediately.
    Yield: 7 1/2 cups (1.8 L)


    Thanks, J. (none / 0) (#42)
    by Zorba on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 07:21:38 AM EST

    will do. (none / 0) (#29)
    by oculus on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 05:24:27 PM EST
    Thanks! (none / 0) (#31)
    by Zorba on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 06:12:10 PM EST

    And here it is: (5.00 / 0) (#35)
    by oculus on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 12:34:19 AM EST
    Cuban black bean soup

    This time I added chopped celery and carrots per recipe on the bag of black beans.  


    Thank you (none / 0) (#43)
    by Zorba on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 07:23:05 AM EST
    Garlic, cumin, and oregano- sounds like my kind of flavors!

    I'd love the recipe too (none / 0) (#37)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 02:06:45 AM EST
    I'm using my Vitamix daily now, and it's the best for hot soups and smoothies. Your recipe would probably be perfect.

    I've found (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 05:49:02 PM EST
    that like the bread machine best to make the dough. It does all the kneading etc and then you take the dough out and do whatever you want with it.

    That could make life easier. (none / 0) (#32)
    by jeffinalabama on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 06:20:14 PM EST
    I've used a kitchenaid mixer for years (I do not own any stock in kitchenaid, and I have not been paid for this ;-P), so pouring stuff in and just waling away seems... strange.

    Good idea. (none / 0) (#39)
    by lentinel on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 02:57:34 AM EST
    When do you take the bread out of the machine?
    Just before the "baking" cycle?

    After taking it out, do you let it "rest" for awhile - covered?

    If you have advice, I would appreciate it.


    My machine (none / 0) (#44)
    by Ga6thDem on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 08:20:01 AM EST
    has what is called a dough cycle. I just put the ingredients in and press "dough". It should be ready to go without "resting" or having to knead it anymore because the machine I have does the second kneading also.

    Thanks (none / 0) (#46)
    by lentinel on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 06:29:29 PM EST
    I'm going to try it.

    Earlier today (none / 0) (#33)
    by CoralGables on Fri Dec 23, 2011 at 07:15:20 PM EST
    it was reported that Bachmann, Huntsman, and Santorum failed to get the signatures required to be on the Virginia primary ballot. Add Perry to the list of failures as his signature list didn't pass muster today.

    Gingrich and Perry are not on the ballot (none / 0) (#41)
    by jbindc on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 06:59:01 AM EST
    Mitt will be the nominee - how can you win without being on all the state ballots?

    There will likely be (none / 0) (#45)
    by CoralGables on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 10:33:06 AM EST
    some fallout over Virginia rules this year. In the last poll done, 66% of the voters chose someone that won't be on the ballot.