Thursday, February 26, 2009

Retirement Luncheon

We held a retirement luncheon for an employee of the Evil Corporation. Yes, we do a lot of eating in the Evil Corproation. You should have been there. It was really good.

There was food, drinks and decorations ...

... and still more decorations!

Contrary to popular opinion, the Evil Corporation is NOT a catering concern.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fat Tuesday King Cakes

Brought these two HUGE King Cakes to work on Tuesday. No self respecting Mardi Gras festivity would be complete without at least one.

The cakes were gigantic rings of cinnamon roll dough, baked, slathered with yummy doughnut glaze frosting, and crowned with colored sugar crystals. The colors of the sugar crystals are purple representing justice, green representing faith, and gold representing power. A tiny pink plastic baby Jesus is tucked inside right before serving. If you are lucky enough to get a slice of cake with the pink baby inside, then a year of luck and good fortune is yours! You also get the honor of buying the cake the next year.

The tradition comes from French settlers who marked the Feast of the Epiphany with a similar cake. This feast is traditionally celebrated the 12th day after Christmas which was back in January, but the cake is now a staple item used in the weeklong Mardi Gras celebration that preceeds Ash Wednesday.

Epiphany is Greek for "to manifest" or "to show ". The Feast of the Epiphany marks the first manifestation of the birth of Christ to the Gentiles. The Three Kings – Melchor, Gaspar, and Balthazar — had come from the East in search of the Christ child. That's why this 12th day after Christmas is called King's Day. So a King Cake for the King's Day.

The Three Kings, also known as the Magi or the Wise Men, brought with them gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh – gold signifying that Jesus is King; frankincense, the symbol of prayer, signifying that Jesus is the Son of God, and myrrh, which is used to anoint the dead, signifying that Jesus would die for the salvation of all.

This is my faith. We have some fun and tradition that is rich ... and tasty! I bought these wonderful cakes from Brown's Bakery in Oklahoma City. I had to order them a week in advance because the cakes from Brown's are so very good. Each of these large cakes only lasted about an hour in the office. Melt a pat of real dairy butter on a slice and enjoy. It's just wonderful.

I hope your Fat Tuesday celebration went as well as ours!

I did make one mistake though. I took this picture without thinking. If you are like my beloved Miss Sunshine, then you'll want to know what is in that tiny sack on top of the king cakes. Yep, it was one Brown's turboFat, heart attack donuts that is absolutely so good it is too die for. I was caught dead to rights. I think that if the truth were known, maybe it was the frosting on my shirt that really gave me away. Do you forgive me for breaking the diet? Even though I'm all sugared up, I love you Baby. Kiss me quick, I'm still sweet ;-)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lunch with a Book

Lunch these days is a sandwich, a soup and a book ... a damned poor threesome that takes a whole medium water to wash down. Is it *really* obsessive monogamy to want to have lunch with someone you love rather than 300 pages of speculative fiction? Is it technically a foursome if I add a bag of chips? Will I need to talk about this lunch at Confession?

I hate dining in the Evil Corporation's Main Cafeteria.

Feels like cheating.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sleeping with Bread

The examen, based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, helps a person hold onto what spiritually nourishes them by looking at what is giving them consolation in their life or causing him desolation. It allows someone to express his gratitude to God for the good stuff and turn to him for solace for the bad stuff. It is quite simple. You simply ask yourself, in the last day/week/month what gave me consolation and what caused me desolation.

So, without further ado ...

The Good.

I've told you about visiting my son in Chicago. I've told you about "Date Night". Walking in the mornings with Sunshine really lifts my spirit. She calls it exercise. I call it fun.

The Bad.

Chemotherapy has been really tough for Sunshine's mom. A million of Life's demands are pulling Sunshine apart. She is very close to her mother. She told me that her mom is a mother, a friend, a sister and a confidante. I do everything I can to help and be uplifting, but the worst part is this terrible sense of inevitability.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Date Night

Sunshine and I went to the theater tonight and saw Tyler Perry's new picture, "Madea Goes To Jail". The movie was a lot of fun. Holding my baby close was even better.

I love you Sunshine.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ups & Downs

Don't know why it happens, but here we go again. Rather than just getting knocked down, this time it seems as though someone has torn it up by the roots. Hope you're having a better day than this old signpost.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Art & Human Nature

We went to Chicago this weekend to watch the UAA Championships swim meet. Not that you can recognize him in this picture, but that's him in lane 5.

He and his teammates set 18 School Records, posted 12 NCAA Provisional Times, and established 223 Lifetime Bests. Not bad at all. He is a Sophomore this year and is really looking forward to next year's season. Now that the season has wrapped, we are looking forward to him doing well in the classroom too.

While we were in Chicago, we visited the Art Institute of Chicago. There are two magnificent lions that guard the entrance.

The lions are huge and stand on blocks, but their tails are within reach of everyone passing by. Countless thousands of hands have grabbed those tails and polished the bronze into a brassy glow.

Admission this month is free so the place was packed. Not all the displays were open and a lot of renovation is underway, especially in the modern art area.

Everyone has a different way of appreciating art. From the tactile youngsters who swing on the lions tails out front to the dedicated sketchers scribbling onto fat pads to the atmospherics all coiled up in front of their favorite masterpiece.

Art gets reaction and it's an interesting thing to witness. People crush forward and stare at Georges Seurat's pointillist masterpiece "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte".

It's an amazing piece that took two years to create. Looking closely enough, it's no more than a strange series of dots, just pocks of paint that resolve into an image only when stepping back from the canvas. The study of light and composition that made such a work possible leads directly through the years to our electronic renderings of dots of color that form the images we see on televisions from the comfort of a couch.

This one gets quite a reaction from most of the men who pass by it.

This is Antonio Mancini's "Resting". The woman's face, especially her eyes are very vivid and expressive. Her covers and bare bosom are softened. Magnificent work.

We also visited the Field Museum. We went with a guide through the Egyptian display. He was absolutely wonderful and made the place and all that history come to life. I don't think I've ever had such an entertaining tour of an exhibition before.

Upstairs, we saw this sculpture.

Like the lions tails before, a thousand hands had polished this poor woman's bosom to a brassy glow. From the rock and gem display across the building, I watched the people pass by the bronze woman and child. A pair of middle aged women took turns touching the metal breasts as they carried on a conversation. They might have had the same conversation in the produce aisle of grocery store. Then a teenager tentatively touched those stiff, shiny nipples. Then a very young child clutched the right one like a life preserver. His mother, mortified, called him away from the statue before anyone else could see.

I almost photographed this woman in the act of polishing this African warrior's butt with her left hand as she passed by him.

People need art and it serves many different purposes in our lives. I couldn't help but think that the artists who created each of these works would smile knowing the effect their art still has on us.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Lunar New Year Lunch

Although it was a little late this year, We, the employees of the Evil Corporation, put on our annual Lunar New Year Lunch. Many attended. Great fun was had by all.

Some of my favorite items were:

Vegetarian Chicken (Chinese & Vietnamese) which looks like chicken, tastes like chicken, but ask no further questions.

Bánh cuốn (Vietnamese) which is a dish from northern Vietnam. It is a crêpe-like roll made from a thin, wide sheet of rice flour filled with ground pork, mushroom, and green onion.

Bánh tét (Vietnamese) which is a traditional Southern Vietnamese celebration dish made with glutinous rice, pork, and mung bean all wrapped in banana leaves. The glutinous rice turns green after cook due the banana leaves.

Red Roasted Watermelon seeds. Yum.

A new one this year was Rossogulla (India). This dish is a dessert made with sugar cubes, milk, cheese, etc. At first I thought it was lychees in simple syrup. If you have a chance to try this, you really should - at least once!

Anybody hungry? Come on down! We'll put this on again next year.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Clothes Horse - The Cool Camels of Southwest Asia

Leah of Weather in the Streets fame loves clothes. She says, "I love clothes, for the way they costume, disguise, transmogrify, inspire, keep me warm...I love clothes, and the little bits of things, earrings, lace scarves, shoes, that come with..."

I think that everyone has "some memorable bits of sartorial flotsam and jetsam" in their closet. In her most recent posting Leah asks, "what is your favorite piece of clothing, past or present?"

This is mine ...

I got this 22nd Ordnance Battalion T-shirt when my battalion rotated back to the United States from Saudi Arabia after Desert Storm and the work after the Liberation of Kuwait was complete. I was a Captain back then and was very happy to be getting back to the world. One of our warrant officers, a chief named Lindermann, drew the image for this and all of us bought one of the shirts they had made with it. This one has never been worn. It was too small for me even then.

My time with this large provisional ammunition battalion that was scattered across northern Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the war was the most memorable time of my life. It ranks right up there with the birth of my son and his graduation from school. He was two when I left for the desert that first time. Then and for the longest time he thought that I was an airplane pilot because I was gone so much and the only times he got to see me were punctuated by trips to an airfield. That's the life of a soldier though.

I'm not sure I can relate the kinship a person has with the soldiers they serve with during war, but for those who know it, there is nothing like it. In a lot of ways it was the best part of my life, but its also one that I wouldn't wish off on anyone. If that makes sense to you, then you understand the veterans' dilemma.

Even if you don't support the current war, whatever it's about and where ever it is, please support the troops and their families.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My Inspiration

200 postings! Ladies and gents, if you can believe it, this is my 200th blog entry.

I really wanted to post something special to celebrate, so I asked Miss Sunshine what she thought would be most fitting. She said, "You need something that is exciting and inspiring to encourage others to continue with their blogging also." I thought long and hard about what that inspiration could possibly be. It was the last thing rolling through my mind as I laid down to sleep. I closed my eyes, drifted off to sleep and began to dream. Miss Sunshine and I were dancing real slow, cheek to cheek. She had a flowing white gown, gloves, and glittering diamonds. She was an angel in my arms. I had a vintage cut 1930's style tuxedo and shoes so polished they glowed. Then it occurred to me that my inspiration was in my arms. So without further ado, please allow me to present my inspiration. She also just happens to be the most beautiful woman in the world, Miss Sunshine.

I love you.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Sleeping With Bread

The examen, based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, helps a person hold onto what spiritually nourishes them by looking at what is giving them consolation in their life or causing him desolation. It allows someone to express his gratitude to God for the good stuff and turn to him for solace for the bad stuff. It is quite simple. You simply ask yourself, in the last day/week/month what gave me consolation and what caused me desolation.

So, without further ado ...

The Good.

Sunshine is smiling again! She is recovering from surgery and Life is very, very good indeed.

I was having some chest pain a couple of weeks ago. I went to the doctor and they gave me as many tests as my health insurance could endure. Everything is fine it turns out. Had too much stress and so now I am not allowed to bring work home anymore, I have to get more sleep and exercise, and de-stress. Thanks to the paragraph above, I think I can.

I am exceedingly grateful for the snow day we had. I needed the time to spend with Sunshine and then do some projects around the house.

The Bad.

Sunshine's Mom got some bad news from the doctor. Please include her in your thoughts and prayers.

The national economy stinks on ice. We haven't had too much of a problem yet here in Oklahoma. I pray that all the local media personalities and politicians talk of a "recession proof economy" doesn't tempt God.