Monday, March 30, 2009

Dog Hero

I came across this video and was amazed at this dog. It tugged at my heart strings a little bit. I wonder how much animals really understand about the value of life. It even has a happy ending.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Funny: AT&T

This is kind of dumb, but it gave me a chuckle.

One thing that has always bugged me, and I'm sure it does most of you, is to sit down at the dinner table only to be interrupted by a phone call from a telemarketer. I decided, on one such occasion, to try to be as irritating as they were to me. The call was from AT&T and it went something like this:
Me: (swallowing) Hello
AT&T: Hello, this is AT&T...
Me: Is this AT&T?
AT&T: Yes, this is AT&T...
Me: This is AT&T?
AT&T: Yes This is AT&T...
Me: Is this AT&T?
AT&T: YES! This is AT&T, may I speak to Mr. Byron please?
Me: May I ask who is calling?
AT&T: This is AT&T.
Me: OK, hold on.
At this point I put the phone down for a solid 5 minutes thinking that, surely, this person would have hung up the phone. I ate my salad. Much to my surprise, when I picked up the receiver, they were still waiting.
Me: Hello?
AT&T: Is this Mr. Byron?
Me: May I ask who is calling please?
AT&T: Yes this is AT&T...
Me: Is this AT&T?
AT&T: Yes this is AT&T...
Me: This is AT&T?
AT&T: Yes, is this Mr. Byron?
Me: Yes, is this AT&T?
AT&T: Yes sir.
Me: The phone company?
AT&T: Yes sir.
Me: I thought you said this was AT&T.
AT&T: Yes sir, we are a phone company.
Me: I already have a phone.
AT&T: We aren't selling phones today Mr. Byron.
Me: Well whatever it is, I'm really not interested but thanks for calling.
When you are not interested in something, I don't think you can express yourself any plainer than by saying "I'm really not interested," but this lady was persistent.
AT&T: Mr. Byron, we would like to offer you 10 cents a minute, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Now, I am sure she meant she was offering a "rate" of 10 cents a minute, but she at no time used the word "rate." I could clearly see that it was time to whip out the trusty old calculator and do a little ciphering.
Me: Now, that's 10 cents a minute 24 hours a day?
AT&T: (getting a little excited at this point by my interest) Yes sir, that's right! 24 hours a day!
Me: 7 days a week?
AT&T: That's right.
Me: 365 days a year?
AT&T: Yes sir.
Me: I am definitely interested in that! Wow!!! That's amazing!
AT&T: We think so!
Me: That's quite a sum of money!
AT&T: Yes sir, it's amazing how it adds up.
Me: OK, so will you send me checks weekly, monthly or just one big one at the end of the year for the full $52,560, and if you send an annual check, can I get a cash advance?
AT&T: Excuse me?
Me: You know, the 10 cents a minute.
AT&T: What are you talking about?
Me: You said you'd give me 10 cents a minute, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. That comes to $144 per day, $1,008 per week and $52,560 per year. I'm just interested in knowing how you will be making payment.
AT&T: Oh no, sir, I didn't mean we'd be paying you. You pay us 10 cents a minute.
Me: Wait a minute here!!! Didn't you say you'd give me 10 cents a minute? Are you sure this is AT&T?
AT&T: Well, yes this is AT&T sir but......
Me: But nothing, how do you figure that by saying that you'll give me 10 cents a minute that I'll give you 10 cents a minute? Is this some kind of subliminal telemarketing scheme? I've read about things like this in the Enquirer, you know. Don't use your alien brainwashing techniques on me.
AT&T: No sir, we are offering 10 cents a minute for.....
Me: THERE YOU GO AGAIN! Can I speak to a supervisor please!
AT&T: Sir, I don't think that is necessary.
Me: Sure! You say that now! What happens later?
AT&T: What?
Me: I insist on speaking to a supervisor!
AT&T: Yes Mr. Byron. Please hold.
So now AT&T has me on hold and my supper is getting cold. I begin to eat while I'm waiting for a supervisor. After a wait of a few minutes and while I have a mouth full of food:
Supervisor: Mr. Byron?
Me: Yeth?
Supervisor: I understand you are not quite understanding our 10 cents a minute program.
Me: Id thish Ath Teeth & Teeth?
Supervisor: Yes sir, it sure is.
I had to swallow before I choked on my food. It was all I could do to suppress my laughter and I had to be careful not to produce a snort.
Me: No, actually, I was just waiting for someone to get back to me so that I could sign up for the plan.
Supervisor: OK, no problem, I'll transfer you back to the person who was helping you.
Me: Thank you.
I was on hold once again and managed a few more mouthfuls. I needed to end this conversation. Suddenly, there was an aggravated but polite voice at the other end of the phone.
AT&T: Hello Mr. Byron, I understand that you are interested in signing up for our plan?
Me: Do you have that friends and family thing because you can never have enough friends and I'm an only child and I'd really like to have a little brother...
AT&T: (click)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"He Lights You Up"

Last month I shared a story of John Elway and the kindness he showed to a young fan. Today, I came across this story from the Associate Press about Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat. We need more sports hero's like this.

MIAMI -- When Dwyane Wade visited the home of 8-year-old Michael Stolzenberg, he noticed all sorts of Miami Heat souvenirs around the boy's bedroom. Magazine covers, championship memorabilia, that sort of thing, but no jerseys.

Problem solved.

After the Heat defeated the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday night, Wade removed his jersey and gave it to the boy -- who nearly died from a bacterial infection last summer, an ailment so devastating that doctors needed to remove both of Michael's hands and feet just so he would survive.

"He lights you up, the smiles on his face. He seems so happy," Wade said."Everything that's happened to him is unfortunate. But he lights you up. He makes you feel good. He's a kid I've had a relationship with for a while. I've been to his room. He has everything already in there, and I wanted to add to it."

Michael was bitten by a bug on July 22, 2008, and went into shock two hours later. The next day, doctors warned his family that he would likely die. He wound up spending more than seven weeks in the intensive-care unit of a South Florida hospital. He was the quarterback on his youth football team, a lacrosse player, an avid bicycle rider and video-game player.

All that changed, suddenly and without warning.

Eventually, the Heat learned of the boy's situation, and reached out. Michael was shown on the jumbo video screens Monday night during the game, got a standing ovation, then got the biggest thrill of all -- the jersey.

"Hopefully we can get that signed and get it on the wall," Wade said.

Wade has often met with sick children during his time with the Heat, usually in private, often not wanting any part of the spotlight.

He didn't want any on Monday, either, even after making a gift so publicly.

"I knew where he was sitting, so when I caught his eye and saw him smile right back, it's great," Wade said. "It didn't matter at that time, the connection that we had, it didn't matter who was looking. It was just us."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Hot Tamale

My favorite food of all time are tamales. Of course this hasn't always been the case. When I was a kid I claimed my favorite food was pizza. I was a teenager and being a normal teenager, I liked pizza. I have since gotten over it. Although I still enjoy a good slice, tamales are by far the more superior food. Unfortunately they are not nearly as easy to make as picking up the phone and calling the neighborhood Dominos. I didn't let that stop me.

The other night around 9 pm, I decided Saturday would be a tamale making Saturday. Of course, I had no idea on how to make tamales. So the first thing I did was search a recipe out on the Internet. Internet recipes can be a little sketchy because all you have is the list of ingredients to go from and maybe a picture. Who knows if it'll taste good or not. Anyone can put a recipe out there. This is the recipe I used.

Meat Filling For The Pork Tamales Recipe

7lb pork butt roast, prefer boneless
1/3 cup chili powder
96 oz. chicken broth
1 Tbs. + 2 tsp cumin
2 heaping Tbs. Garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. + 2 tsp chicken base
2 triangles of Ibarra chocolate
6 heaping Tbs. flour
3/4 cup cold water

Fill the stock pot with the chicken broth and add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, chicken base and chocolate. Heat to boiling then cover and simmer on low while you cut up the pork. Cut the pork into 1 inch cubes. Trim as much fat off as you can. Add the cut up pork to the boiling sauce. Partially cover and simmer on low for 2 hours or until pork is tender. When the pork is tender, combine the 3/4 cup cold water and flour with a whisk until well blended. Turn the heat up to high and when it is boiling, slowly add the flour mixture to the pork. Stir the pork continuously to avoid lumps. Continue to slow boil while stiring for about 3 to 5 minutes and then turn the heat off.
Before you make the masa, soak the corn husks in warm to hot water in a bowl for 30 minutes or until they become pliable. Gently separate the husks so as not to tear them. If some are torn you can use two husks and over lap them before putting masa on them.

Delicious Masa Recipe

4 cups MaSeCa Instant corn Masa Mix
3 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder (no salt)
1 cup fresh corn oil
2 1/2 cups chicken broth

Put the masa, salt, and garlic powder in a large bowl and combine the dry ingredients.Then add the corn oil and mix with your hands. Add the chicken broth 1/2 cup at a time.Continue to mix with your hands and adding the broth until you get the consistency of cookie dough.You should have a consistency that you can spread with a knife or spreader. If you add too much liquid you can always add a little more masa to thicken it up.

Putting The Tamales Together
The corn husks should be soft and pliable. Take a few out and pat them dry with a paper towel or towel. Take a spoonful of masa and spread it on the corn husk. Place several chunks of pork down the center of the masa. The idea is to put just enough meat so that you can encase it in masa and not leak out. Now roll it up. Continue to make tamales and when you are done place them in a steamer with the open end pointing up.

Steam The Tamales
Place the damp cotton towel over the top of the tamales and cover with the lid. Make sure you add just enough water to the bottom of the pan so the water doesn't touch the tamales. Check it often so the water doesn't run dry. Get the water to boil and then turn the heat to low. Simmer/steam for 1 1/2 hours. Check the tamales by removing one and letting it cool for 5 minutes. Open the hot tamale and check that the masa is firm and not mushy. If need be, cook a little longer and check every 15 minutes until done. When tamales are done take them out of the pot to cool on the counter.

I quickly wrote down a shopping list from the recipe and I was off to the store. Some of the ingredients seemed a bit strange. It called for chicken base (strange because I wanted to make pork tamales), 7 pounds of pork (that's a lot of pork), and chocolate. I never thought I would attempt to make something spicy by adding chocolate to it. The recipe said it would make about 20 - 30 tamales. So I decided to buy two of everything to double the recipe. That 14 pounds of pork if you're keeping track.

I got back from the store at about 10 pm with all of my tamale making loot. I knew making tamales would be an all day adventure, so I decided I would prepare the pork filling right away. I could refrigerate it over night, and not have to worry about it on Saturday. I immediately set to trimming the fat off the pork. I don't use a lot of pork in my cooking, so I'm not sure what the raw pork is supposed to be like. Maybe someone can fill me in. I started trimming away, but the pork was much more slippery than chicken or beef. Maybe my knife was dull or something, but it seemed like it wasn't cutting very well. It was all I had, so I perservered. By now it was 11 pm and I only had one of the pork roasts trimmed. I was determined to get some meat filling prepared before I went to bed so I opted not to prepare the second roast. After the pork was trimmed I cut it up in to more managable pieces and started cooking it. It took another 2 1/2 hours to get it fully prepared. Not something I expected or planned for when I realized it was 2 am.

Saturday I invited Andrea over to help me roll the tamales out. I made the masa and we proceded to begin rolling the tamales. It didn't take long before we realized that there was a lot more meat than there was masa. So we made a second batch of masa. Then we made a third. And half of a fourth batch before I ran out of masa mix. I was expecting to have about 20 - 30 tamales. By the time it was all said and done, I had made 4 and a half dozen, with enough pork to make another 18. A total of 6 dozen tamales was way more than I expected.

So I did what anyone one with that many tamales would do, I attempted to sell them. Okay, not really. But I did feed just about anyone that came over to my house of the weekend and tamale or two. They turned out really well and I got quite a few compliments, which always makes a cook feel good. Next time I make tamales, I'll make sure I'm more prepared.

The tamale masa

The pork filling

The corn husks

Pre-steamed tamales

The last step

The finished product

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Holy Ravioli!

I like to cook. It's a relatively new hobby for me, but one I really enjoy. I've made some things I never thought I would be able to do. Dishes like a stuffed pork chops or chicken Kiev. I've really had fun finding new dishes to attempt. Having them turn out successfully has been that much better. That was until I tried to make ravioli the other night.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, I make dinner for myself and a couple of friends. They've had the opportunity (I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing) to partake of my culinary creations. This week we were having trouble figuring out what we would have for our weekly meals. We asked around and it was suggested I attempt making ravioli. I thought it would be easy enough. I could find a recipe and a video on YouTube on how to do it. Piece of cake. Surely I couldn't do a worse job than Chef Boyardee.

I found a ravioli recipe with fairly simple directions. I borrowed a pasta roller from a friend. I thought I was ready. I made the pasta dough according the recipe. So far so good. While I was letting the pasta dough rest, I made a spinach and ricotta cheese filling. Things were still going well. Then came time to roll out the pasta dough into a sheet. For those of you who don't know, when using a pasta roller, you can't just set it the the desired thickness and start rolling. You have to start the roller on the thickest setting and progressively work the pasta dough thinner and thinner until the desired thickness reached. As I was attempting to roll the dough, I ran into my first problem. The thinner I rolled the pasta dough, the more it fell apart. The pasta dough wasn't elastic like it was supposed to be. I had to throw it away because it got so bad. No problem though. I thought ahead. I had made two batches of pasta dough, just in case I messed the first one up.

As I started rolling out the second batch of pasta dough, things went much more smoothly. The dough was elastic and stretching out like it was supposed to. I had the dough rolled out in a sheet on the table to my desired thickness. I was ready to cut the pasta dough, add the filling, and seal those little suckers up.

After I cut out all of my individual ravioli squares, I began to place a small amount of filling on each one. Still no problems. I began to cover the filling with another piece of pasta dough when it happened. Every single piece of dough I tried to pick up was stuck to the table. I thought I floured the table sufficiently to keep the pasta dough from sticking, but I was so wrong. I tried various techniques to get the pasta dough unstuck from the table with minimal damage to the cut out squares. I tried a slow steady pull resulting in stretched out pasta dough pieces. I tried quick and fast, like a band-aid, which resulted in even more stretched out or torn pasta pieces. I tried a spatula, which tore the pasta pieces and bunched them up so they couldn't be used. After about a half an hour, I was done. I had been defeated by the pasta dough. I was so frustrated that I swore off Italian food altogether. Of course that didn't last long. We ordered pizza as a replacement for the ruined ravioli. Foiled again by Italian cuisine.

Last night I decided I would try the ravioli again. I must be a glutton for punishment. I found an episode of Good Eats on YouTube to see how Alton Brown would make the ravioli. I watched as his technique involved using an ironing board. Weird? A little bit. Effective? Absolutely. Apparently the pasta dough doesn't stick as well to the cloth of the ironing board cover like it does hard table and counter surfaces. After watching the episode, I was filled with confidence again. I was ready for a rematch. One on one. Mano y ravioli.

I made fresh pasta dough and made sure to let it sit extra long to allow the gluten to form. I made a new filling, this time with some beef. Because who really wants to eat pasta without meat anyway? I know I don't. I rolled out the pasta dough with the pasta roller just as before. And just like on Good Eats, the dough wasn't sticking the cloth. Yes! I could smell victory. Actually I couldn't smell anything, because I wasn't cooking anything yet. But I knew success would come. I placed the filling on the pasta dough and then folded the other half of the pasta dough over on top of the filling. I sealed them up with an egg wash, and then I cut them out. It so much more efficient and easy compared to the first attempt.

The nice thing about fresh pasta is that it only needs to cook for about 2 minutes in boiling water. After I had my little raviolis formed, I cooked them up and put a little bit of homemade marinara sauce on them. They turned out oh so good. The ravioli's weren't pretty (hence no pictures), but I think they'll begin to look better with more attempts. Or maybe next time I'll try making tortellini instead. I'm confident I will no longer be defeated by pasta. HA!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Random Thoughts

I decided to jot down a few of my random thoughts from today. They may be serious, funny, or just weird. But this is an example of what goes on in my mind during the day.

  • It seems like when I read other peoples blogs, their lives are way more interesting than mine.
  • I think I would starve if I had to live on a vegetarian diet. I once dated a vegetarian, and as wonderful as I thought she was, I really wanted to eat at a steak house.
  • Question: I wonder how long I can hold my breath? Answer: 1 minute, 1 second.
  • Question: Why was Kermit the Frog the only Muppet allowed to be on both The Muppet Show and Sesame Street?
  • I should make an effort to learn Spanish.
  • Goonies Never Say Die!
  • I have the Elton John song, Tiny Dancer stuck in my head. It's funny how some people thing the lyrics are "Hold me closer Tony Danza".
  • I still need to do my taxes. Ugh.
  • Going back to school simultaneously scares and excites me.
  • If I were to start a Latin boy band, I would call it Tamale!
  • Speaking of tamales, I would like to make them some time as well as travel to the International Tamale Festival in Indio, CA.
  • I just called a company called Independent Group Agency. Aren't the words "independent" and "group" opposites. How can they be together like that? I wonder if their offices house a hole in the fabric of reality because of those two words being put together?
  • I wish Jay Cutler and Josh McDaniels would just learn to get along
  • I hate having a catch phrase. Currently it's "I was gonna say...". It used to be "I've gotta be honest...", on my mission it was "Fetch", and before my mission it was "Oh dear". They've all annoyed me and I wish I could learn to speak for 10 minutes without saying the current phrase.

Monday, March 9, 2009

"Up, Up, And Away!"

My friend Tabi is a huge fan of the show Smallville. Recently she has brought here DVD collection of the show to my house for me to enjoy. I used to watch the show like clockwork while I lived in Rexburg. When I moved to Fort Collins, I didn't have cable. So I stopped watching the show. It wasn't until a few years later that I got cable again. By that time I was so far behind in the watching the show that I didn't even bother to try to catch up. That is until Tabi re-introduced me to the goodness of Superman.

After watching an episode of Smallville the other day, my roommate asked "What super power would you want?" I thought that was a really good question. You would think that a comic book fanboy like me would already have a power chosen and reasons to back up my decision. Sadly, this was far from a reality.

As I began thinking about it, I found that I became more and more indecisive. Should I choose super strength so I don't have any problems doing any physical activities? Should I choose super speed so I can accomplish any task quickly? Should I choose flight so I never have to worry about being stuck in traffic. Should I choose invisibility so I can go and do what I want undetected? Should I choose telekinesis so I can manipulate things with my mind? There are so many to choose from. After some lengthy thought, I finally narrowed down the super power I would want.

Instant teleportation.

Sure those other powers would be cool. I mean really cool. I would choose being able to teleport because of it's practical use. Running a few minutes late to work? Not anymore. I could wake up 15 minute before having to go anywhere, shower, shave, and dress. Then BAMF!, I'm exactly where I need to be. Forget to pick something up from the grocery store? BAMF!, I'm right there in the dairy section to get it. Want to visit my brother in Texas? BAMF!, I'm right there hanging out with him. It would be like the movie Jumper, except good.

What would your super power be, and why?

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Friday Funny: The Pope's Chauffeur

After getting all of Pope Benedict's luggage loaded into the limo, (and he doesn't travel light), the driver notices the Pope still standing on the curb.

"Excuse me, Your Holiness," says the driver," Would you please take your seat so we can leave?"

"Well, to tell you the truth," says the Pope, "they never let me drive at the Vatican when I was a cardinal, and now that I'm Pope, I'd really like to drive today."

"I'm sorry, Your Holiness, but I cannot let you do that. I'd lose my job! And what if something should happen?" protests the driver, wishing he'd never gone to work that morning.

"Who's going to tell? Besides, there might be something extra in it for you," says the Pope with a smile.

Reluctantly, the driver gets in the back as the Pope climbs in behind the wheel. The driver quickly regrets his decision when, after exiting the airport, the Pontiff floors it, accelerating the limo to 105 mph.

(Remember, he's German.)

"Please slow down, Your Holiness!" pleads the worried driver, but the Pope keeps the pedal to the metal until they hear sirens. "Oh, Dear God, I'm gonna lose my license -- and my job!" moans the driver.

The Pope pulls over and rolls down the window as the cop approaches, but the cop takes one look at him, goes back to his motorcycle, and gets on the radio. "I need to talk to the Chief," he says to the dispatcher.

The Chief gets on the radio and the cop tells him that he's stopped a limo going a hundred and five.

"So bust him," says the Chief.

"I don't think we want to do that, he's really big," said the cop.

The Chief exclaimed," All the more reason!"

"No, I mean really important," said the cop with a bit of persistence.

The Chief then asked, "Who ya got there, the Mayor?"

Cop: "Bigger."

Chief: " The Governor?"

Cop: "Bigger."

Chief: "The President?"

Cop: "Bigger."

"Well," said the Chief, "Who is it?"

Cop: "I think it's God!"

The Chief is stumped, " You been drinking, John? "

Cop: " No Sir."

Chief : " Then what makes you think it's God?"

Cop: "He's got the Pope as a chauffeur."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

Hi. My name is Mo. I secretly like a lot of things that are pretty lame and for which other people would laugh at me. But that's okay. I'm going to share them with you anyway. I was surfing different blogs and came across a post about guilty pleasures. I was having a pretty good chuckle when I realized I had some of the same guilty pleasures. You can make fun of me all you want. I'll still indulge when you're not looking.

WWE - World Wrestling Entertainment. I can't believe I'm admitting this. I enjoy professional wrestling. As staged and cheesy as it is, I still enjoy it. It's totally a soap opera for guys. Maybe I like it because it reminds me of being 11 years old and watching Monday Night Wrestling with my friend Danny and my dad. Whether it was rooting for the Ultimate Warrior or booing Rowdy Roddy Piper, it was a good time. Whatever it is, I still watch. I don't watch on a regular basis, but if it's on and I'm home, I'm probably watching it. At least until anyone else comes into the room, then I make sure to quickly change the channel.

Robot Chicken - I know, I know. This show is crude and pretty twisted sometimes. But more importantly it's really funny. It has so many pop culture references and pokes fun at a lot of the things I enjoy.

90's Country Music - When I was fourteen I was friends with a kid in my ward named Bill. He was just about the coolest guy I knew. He was 16, had a car, and was on the football team. And Bill loved country music. I wanted to be cool like Bill too, so I started listening to country music. In fact, one of the first albums I owned was Billy Ray Cyrus. I didn't think that a love of country music that was popular at the time would stick with me for so long. I still find myself occasionally searching out songs like Summer's Commin' by Clint Black, Some Girls Do by Sawyer Brown, Too Busy Being In Love by Doug Stone, or Cadillac Ranch by Chris LeDoux.

Competitive Eating - Not participating in it, but watching. I wouldn't consider myself a fan. I find it more of a spectacle that I can't not watch. Every Fourth of July, Nathan's Hot Dogs sponsors a hot dog eating contest which is televised on ESPN. I happened to stumble across it last year and couldn't stop watching. It was gross and intriguing at the same time. Weird.

Shopping - Okay, I admit it. I like to buy new clothes. I don't do it often because I can't afford it. But when I can afford it, I totally enjoy shopping. Although I do have my limit. I can't shop for more than an hour or two before I get grumpy. Yet during that hour or two of time I'm excited like a teenage girl at a Jonas Brothers concert. Ugh.

So what are your guilty pleasures?