Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Quick & Easy Chili Recipe

I was hoping to talk my wife into starting a blog on cooking since she is a better cook than I am, but so far she is not willing to start one. After all, I am a guy, and I mostly know how to cook guy food. That usually means steaks and burgers on the grill. However, since it is winter, and there is nothing I like more than a good bowl of chili (definitely a guy food) on a cold winter's day, I thought I would share my fairly simple chili recipe.

First the ingredients:
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium size onion
  • a little vegetable oil (how is that for specific measurements)
  • 1.5-2 pounds of ground beef
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • chili powder
  • 1 can of kidney beans (optional)
  • Directions:

    Take a large pot (technically a Dutch Oven, but since this is a guy recipe we will go with large pot) and pour enough oil in to cover the bottom of the pot. Chop the onion and garlic, add them to the pot, and start to cook over medium/high heat, stirring frequently. Once the onions are tender, and the ground beef and cook until brown. Once the meat is brown, add the tomato paste and the two cans of tomatoes with chilis. Once all of this is mixed well together and hot, add chili powder to taste (I usually use around 2 tablespoons). Now as far as I am concerned, the chili is done, but my missus insists the chili needs beans (I keep telling her it is called chili con carne, not chili con frijoles), so if you are so inclined, add a can of red kidney beans.

    Well, there you go. Dinner is served. Pour yourself a big bowl, open a beer (do NOT pour into a glass, guys don't do that) and enjoy.


    Monday, December 29, 2008

    Things You Don't Say to Your Wife

    I saw this over on the Man In The Moon Blog and had to share it.  I think every married guy already knows not to say any of these things, but it kind of drives home the point that sometimes it is best to say nothing at all.  Here is Tim Hawkins:

    Sunday, December 28, 2008

    Michael Steele

    It is not often that we see celebrities out and about here in Bowie, MD.  I have occasionally run into a local professional athlete, mainly a couple of Washington Capital players like Dale Hunter or Kevin Hatcher when they played here.  Former Washington Bullet Manute Bol used to live in my brother's townhouse complex.  In fact, my brother got to play in a little pick up game with Bol.

    That is why I was pleasantly surprised to see former Lt. Governor Michael Steele pushing his grocery cart through the local Giant supermarket.  Normally during these chance encounters, I do not approach these folks.  For instance, when I saw Dale Hunter in a grocery store, he was shopping with his family, and I just figured he would want his privacy.
     
    Today, however, I could not resist.  I stopped and spoke with Mr. Steele in the paper aisle.  Steele was quite a gentleman and was gracious enough to take the time to have a brief conversation with me.  I expressed my support for him during his time as Lt. Governor and his Senate run.  I also wished him luck in his quest to become Chairman of the RNC.  The Republican Party could do a lot worse than having Steele in a prominent role in the future of the party.  Besides, you just can't go wrong with a guy that loves puppies.

    What Color Christmas Lights

    I saw this over at the Through the Rain Blog and thought it was kind of fun.  I am multicolored lights. What kind of Christmas lights are you?


    You are Multicolored Lights


    Your holidays are a time for cheer and excitement.
    You love so much about the holidays, and everyone perks up a little from your happiness.
    You try to be grateful for what you have this time of the year.
    Even if things have been tough, you can't help but be joyful.

    Friday, December 26, 2008

    Google Chrome

    So on Christmas day while I was getting tired of waiting for pages (including this blog) to load in Internet Explorer, I decided to investigate Google's new browser, Google Chrome.  I had seen banner ads for Chrome on several websites, and thought I would look for some reviews and found a few favorable ones on CNET

    Google says it's new browser is a simpler, faster, and safer browser.  The download and installation were quick and easy, and I was surfing in no time at all.  I have to say, that the webpages loaded much quicker using Chrome than in Internet Explorer.  I was also able to import all of my stored passwords and bookmarks that I had in Explorer.  Another feature that I like about Chrome is that when you launch the browser, you see thumnails of your most frequently visited websites for quick access.

    I have to say that I am very pleased thus far with the performance of Chrome.  So much so that I have made it my default browser.  About the only problem that I have encountered has been some errors when first attempting to visit some websites or blogs for the first time.  For instance, I tried to go to Yahoo Mail and it could not find the website on the first try.  If I refreshed the page or started over attempting to visit the site, it would load with no problem.  It happened with a few other sites as well.  I am not sure if it was a problem with the browser or if I was just having some problems with my connection, so I will keep using it to see how things go.

    Thursday, December 25, 2008

    Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale

    After treating myself to the Sam Adams Winter collection 12 pack a couple weeks ago, I decided I wanted to try some other winter style brews instead of just going back to Busch and Bud Lights of the world. So Christmas Eve I found myself in the liquor store looking for a fresh 6 pack.  The package that caught my eye was Michelob Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale.  A winter ale aged in Bourbon casks with whole Madagascar Vanilla Bean.  

    The beer itself was OK.  It did not have as full a flavor as I would normally expect from a winter brew, however, it was definitely fuller than a typical Budweiser or Michelob.  You could definitely taste and smell the vanilla bean in the brew which gave it a bit of a creamy taste.  All in all, it was an acceptable beer.  I definitely will finish the 6-pack, and if I was offered from a friend or colleague, I would drink it.  However, I do not think it would be a beer that I would purchase on a regular basis.  All of the Sam Adams beers in the winter collection (with the possible exception of the Cranberry Lambic) were superior to the Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale. 

    On The Twelfth Day of Christmas DRT Gave to You

    Merry Christmas. Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. However, as a devout Parrothead, I also have to acknowledge the birthday of Jimmy Buffett.
    Jimmy Buffet performs 'Christmas in the Caribbean'
    Jimmy Buffet performs 'Christmas in the Caribbean'

    Wednesday, December 24, 2008

    HOA Bah Humbug!

    As I have said before, I hate home owners associations. First, there was this HOA who told a homeowner what kind of car he could park in his driveway. Then there was this group who waited until the owner had nearly completed rebuilding his house (an airplane crashed into the house, killing his family) before telling him the house wasn't exactly like his previous house and he needed to start over.

    Now, up the road from me, in Frederick, MD. the latest HOA from hell is the Worman's Mills HOA. They have informed three residents of the community that they need to remove their Christmas decorations from the outside of their homes. The HOA says that the decorations are in violation of the HOA contract. They say "The contract is intended to preserve the character of the community and the investment of the homeowners."

    We are talking about temporary holiday decorations. These are not permanent structures that could deface or degrade property values. We are not talking about members of the community that have failed to keep up the appearance of their property.

    On The Eleventh Day of Christmas DRT Gave to You

    Olivia Newton John- Silent Night. Silent Night is probably by favorite traditional Christmas carol, partly because it was originally written for the guitar. It was first performed 190 years ago today in Austria.

    Monday, December 22, 2008

    A Mini Rant

    It is pretty disgusting when you enter a stall in the office men's room to answer nature's call, and you discover that the person (and I use that term loosely) failed to flush. It is even more disgusting when you see that there is no toilet tissue among the waste in the bowl. Not only is this cretin an inconsiderate slob, but he is also walking around without having wiped his sorry ass. Sorry for the graphic post, but I had to get that off my chest.

    On the Ninth Day of Christmas DRT Gave to You

    John Denver & the Muppets-The 12 Days of Christmas

    Sunday, December 21, 2008

    Wes Welker's Snow Angel

    I love watching football games played in the snow. Here in Maryland, they broadcast today's Arizona Cardinals & New England Patriots game. It wasn't much of a game, a blow out for the Pats. The most entertaining moment of the game came when Wes Welker caught a touchdown pass on the play below and celebrated with a snow angel. It was harmless and it was fun. It drew a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Yet another reason why the NFL often stands for the "No Fun League."

    UPDATE:
    In keeping in the holiday spirit, and their reputation as the "No Fun League," the NFL fined Wes Welker $10,000 for his celebration.

    On the Eighth Day of Christmas DRT Gave to You

    Snoopy vs the Red Baron (Snoopy's Christmas)

    Thursday, December 18, 2008

    Sammy Baugh- 1914-2008


    Hall of Fame quarterback Sammy Baugh passed away yesterday at the age of 94. He was the last surviving member of the inaugural class of the NFL Hall of Fame. Baugh began his NFL career in 1937 as a member of the Washington Redskins. He played in an era where players played in all facets of the game, not just offense or defense. Baugh was a stand out quarterback, defensive back, and punter. He still holds NFL records in punting with highest career punting average (45.1 yards) and highest single season punting average (51,4 yards). He revolutionized the passing game and earned the nickname Slingin' Sammy Baugh. He still holds Washington Redskins career records with 187 touchdown passes, highest single season completion percentage of 70.3% (which is 2nd highest ever in the NFL) and his 31 career interceptions is third highest in team history. His #33 jersey is the only Redskins jersey number that has been "officially" retired by the team.

    On The Fifth Day of Christmas DRT Gave to You

    Bing Crosby & David Bowie- "The Little Drummer Boy"

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Rewarding Myself

    Well, it is nearly 10:30 in the evening on a weeknight, and I am sitting here drinking a cold beer. Normally, I would not be having a beer this late in the evening. After all, I have to get up and make my hour long commute to work in the morning. Tonight, however, I felt like I deserved to reward myself. When I was loading the dishwasher, I heard one of the door springs fly off of the door. Fortunately, I had a replacement handy downstairs. After about 30 minutes (and probably twice that many foul words) I was able to get both springs connected and the door works like new. So, tonight I am feeling rather handy and proud of myself and therefore worthy of a small treat.

    On The Fourth Day of Christmas DRT Gave to You

    One of my wife's favorite songs, Kathy Mattea "Mary Did You Know?"

    Tuesday, December 16, 2008

    Phone Cards for Our Troops


    A couple weeks ago I posted a link to a site where Xerox was sponsoring an opportunity to send thanks to our troops for all of their sacrifices. Now I would like to post a link for Newsmax.com where they are taking donations to send AT&T Military Exchange 300 phone cards to our troops stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. For every $18 collected by Newsmax, they will send a phone card to a member of our armed forces overseas. Each card will give the recipient 80 minutes of phone time to call home for the holidays.

    On The Third Day of Christmas DRT Gave to You

    On the first anniversary of his passing, Dan Fogelberg "Same Auld Lang Syne"

    Monday, December 15, 2008

    Chuck Berry-My Ding-a-Ling

    Chuck Berry is a rock-n-roll icon. The Beatles covered two of his early hits, "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Rock and Roll Music." With other big hits like "Maybelline", "Sweet Little Sixteen", and "Johnny B. Goode," it is hard to believe that "My Ding-a-Ling" was his only #1 hit. I remember this song from when I was an 11 year old kid in the summer of 1972. I vaguely remember thinking that it was "dirty" but funny. Years later, this song still makes me smile.

    On The Second Day of Christmas DRT Gave to You

    Jeff Foxworthy- Redneck 12 Days of Christmas

    Sunday, December 14, 2008

    Saturday, December 13, 2008

    Steve Goodman-How Much Tequila (Did I Drink Last Night)

    Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised by what I have found on the net. This evening I was searching YouTube for some John Prine videos. I came across this song by Steve Goodman, and the title just caught my eye. In my younger days, there were a few occasions when I simply had too much tequila. I had heard of Steve Goodman, but I had not heard him sing. Goodman was a folk singer and songwriter who died of leukemia at the age of 36. His big break came when he sang the song "City of New Orleans" for Arlo Guthrie, and Guthrie made it a hit. Tomorrow, I am going to have to look for some more Steve Goodman.

    Friday, December 12, 2008

    Beer Update

    As I mentioned last week, I went to the liquor store with the intention of treating myself to a better variety of beer and ended up settling for Bud Light instead of Busch Light. Well tonight, I stopped by to pick something up and ended up splurging on a 12-pack of Samuel Adams Winter Classics. This variety pack features 2 bottles each of 6 different Sam Adams beers; Boston Lager, Winter Lager, Cream Stout, Old Fezziwig Ale, Holiday Porter, and Cranberry Lambic. Tonight I enjoyed the two bottles of Winter Lager. I still like to have those everyday varieties of beer, but it was a real treat to enjoy a really good brew with the much richer flavor.

    Civics Knowledge


    I first heard of the American Civic Literacy test on the radio. Then I found a link to the test on The Conservative Cloakroom Blog. There is something about me that always makes me want to see how I stack up against the general population, so I took the test. I did fairly well scoring 84.7% correct. I encourage you to take the test here. Here is a summary of some of the findings of the study:

    1. 71% of Americans failed the test and the average score was 49% correct.
    2. Most Americans feel colleges should teach America's Heritage
    3. College adds little to civic knowledge
    4. TV-including TV news-dumbs down America (duh, why do you think they call it the "Boob Tube?"
    5. One of the findings that I find particularly disturbing is that elected officials scored lower than the general population.

    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Clint Eastwood- Gran Torino

    I don't get the chance to see too many movies these days. In fact, I can't remember the last time I went to the movies. To be honest, when I see commercials for new films, there aren't too many that make me want to hit the theater. However, Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino is one I really want to go see. The main reason being, Clint Eastwood gets to be Clint Eastwood again. I know Clint is getting up there in years, and the Dirty Harry type roles are for the younger stars, but it looks like Clint still has "it" in this trailer.

    Wednesday, December 10, 2008

    A Sign of the Times

    I like beer. Always have. Ever since my grandfather gave me a Rolling Rock pony (I was way under age, but it was only 7 ounces) I have enjoyed having a cold brew. So Saturday night after working my part time job, I stopped at my favorite liquor store to pick up some beer. I decided that I wanted to treat myself to something a little more special than usual. In the past, that would mean picking up some Molson Golden Ale or maybe some Samuel Adams. As I looked around at the wide variety of brews available in this particular store, I kept going to some of the variety packs of seasonal ales like Sam Adams winter collection. I guess it is a true indication of the times and how tight money is these days when I walk out with a 12-pack of Bud Light and consider that a splurge over the usual 12-pack of Busch Light that I usually purchase. As a tribute to my love of beer, here is Tom T. Hall with his song "I Like Beer."

    Tuesday, December 9, 2008

    Coming Soon on Dickster's Random Thoughts


    I have decided to try to do something special for the Christmas season. I am going to try to do a Twelve Days of Christmas theme. Right now, I think it will be a series of Christmas video/songs, some traditional, some contemporary, and some humorous. Each will start with "On the first day of Christmas DRT (Dickster's Random Thoughts) gave to you..."

    Britney Spears In Playboy

    Well, not yet, but after watching her latest video "Womanizer" embedded below, I can't help but think it is just a matter of time. It wouldn't be the first time that a teen singing star made the jump to Playboy. First we had 1980's teen queen Tiffany of "I Think We're Alone Now" fame appear in Playboy in 2002. Then Tiffany's contemporary, Debbie Gibson appeared in Playboy in 2005. If not for some strategically folded arms and legs, this could have qualified as her Playboy celebrity video centerfold.

    Monday, December 8, 2008

    John Lennon 1940-1980

    28 years ago today, John Lennon was shot four times by Mark David Chapman. Just three weeks earlier, John had released his first album in over five years, Double Fantasy. Lennon had always been my favorite member of the Beatles. I remember how excited I was that he had released new material and had started a musical comeback. I also remember how devastated I was at hearing the news of his death. In memory and honor of John Lennon, here is (Just Like) Starting Over.

    Sunday, December 7, 2008

    SNL-Jizz In My Pants

    Premature ejaculation is no laughing matter, unless you are Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone. OK, this video is crude, but it is hilarious, especially some of the facial expressions from the guys. I still prefer "Dick in a Box" from Samberg and Justin Timberlake, but this one ranks right up there. By the way, look for a brief appearance from Timberlake swinging a mop, along with Molly Sims and Jamie Lynn Sigler as the triggers of their ecstasy.

    Gift Ideas For Your Man

    In the spirit of equal time, ladies here is a gift suggestion for that special someone in your life, put your box in a box for him.

    Saturday, December 6, 2008

    Gift Ideas For Your Lady

    Well, guys, it's that time of year again. Time to come up with the perfect gift for that special someone in your life. If you need some help, here is a suggestion.

    Christmas Shopping

    If you plan on doing any of your Christmas shopping online this year, I recommend signing up at Mr. Rebates. Most of the major online shopping websites have links at Mr. Rebates. If you go to those sites through the link on the Mr. Rebates site, and make a purchase, Mr. Rebates deposits funds into an account that you can convert to cash. The amount varies by site, but in today's economy, every little bit helps. Happy shopping!

    Mr. Rebates

    Friday, December 5, 2008

    A Bailout Plan I Can Support-Part 2

    As a follow up to my previous post regarding Congressman Louie Gohmert's two month tax holiday proposal, Redstate.com has an online petition you can sign.

    Let's Say Thanks

    I received this in one of the many chain emails I get from people. Most, I usually just delete, but this one I am glad I did not. Stop and give thanks to our troops overseas. Thanks to Xerox for making this possible and available.


    Tuesday, December 2, 2008

    A Bailout Plan I Can Support

    Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has a new bailout plan for the economy that I can really support. After seeing that Congress and the Bush administration were committing nearly $7.7 trillion in bailout money to failing companies, and comparing that to the $1.2 trillion that the U.S. Treasury is estimating to receive in the 2008 tax year, Congressman Gohmert proposed a new, less expensive program: NO 2008 TAXES and a refund of any taxes withheld to date. Just imagine what that influx of funds back to all of us regular folk would do for the holiday shopping season, not to mention the ability to help those who have fallen behind in their mortgages.

    Realizing that this proposal might be a little too aggressive, Congressman Gohmert came up with another proposal, a two month tax holiday for January and February of 2009. His new proposal calls for no federal income tax or social security taxes to be withheld for the first two months of next year. American Solutions estimates that Americans pay about $167 billion per month in income tax and FICA tax, so the cost of the tax holiday would be $334 billion. Gohmert proposes using the remaining $350 billion that remains in Treasury Secretary Henry Paulsen's original $700 billion bailout.

    The first $350 billion has done nothing to help the economy. In fact, a lot of the money has not been used for it's original purpose. Some banks have used the influx in capital not to shore up the credit markets, but to aquire other, smaller competition. Then there is all of the other news about how some of these struggling enterprises are spending their money. If you really want to stimulate the economy, let the people who have earned the money decide where it should go.

    If you think this is a better use of the money that has already been committed, then I encourage you to write your Congressman in support of Congressman Gohmert's tax holiday proposal. Of course the Democrats probably won't support such a proposal, because in their twisted mind it gives a bigger tax break to the evil rich, even though everyone gets a 100% tax cut for two months. I would prefer to see the FairTax implemented to replace the current tax structure, but any opportunity to get money back into our hands is better than what we have.

    Monday, December 1, 2008

    A Christmas Story-25th Anniversary

    Every family has their Christmas traditions. One of ours is watching the holiday classic, "A Christmas Story." The story of Ralphie's quest to get his coveted "official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle" BB gun. To which everyone replies, "You'll shoot your eye out." Everyone I have ever talked to about the movie always talks about how much they like the movie and watch it every Christmas. They all have their reasons for loving the movie and have certain scenes that are their favorites, whether it is the "major prize" leg lamp, Christmas dinner at the Chinese restaurant, or any scene with Ralphie. We loved them all. One of the reasons that it became such a favorite of our family was the resemblance we saw between the main character Ralphie and my younger brother.

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