Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Fun With Fungi: Chicken of the Woods Edition

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic most people, until recently, have opted to stay at home and indoors bingeing on Netflix and learning to make sourdough. At Temple Sinai essential workers like me have continued to work though, doing building maintenance and a lot of cleaning and building ways to socially distance people for whenever everyone else returns to the temple for services and religious school. We've cleaned and polished everything to a blinding gloss. After awhile though we sort of ran out of work to do inside and have moved outdoors to tackle the sorely neglected landscaping. With the school being closed so there aren't any kids running about Mother Nature has taken over the grounds in some pretty interesting ways.

We have been using several types of wood chips and mulch to cover large parts of the playground and other areas and, with all the rain we had early in the summer, there has been an amazing array of fungi popping up all over the place like never before. Pictured above are examples of one such mushroom which, after some Googling, I found out is called "Chicken of the Woods" so named because it's said to "taste like chicken". Apparently it tastes enough like chicken that it's touted as a vegan substitute for America's favorite meat. However, my reluctance to actually eat one stems from years of warnings about wild mushrooms and their poisonous lookalikes but, the more I have investigated my fungi finds, I may try cooking a bit of the next ones I find. Of course, I will post my results, along with recipes, on my foodie blog Midnight in the Kitchen of Good and Eatin' .

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

See Ya Later Kid

Ardi dreaming baby squirrel dreams.

It's been pretty hot in DC this summer with record-breaking high temps all month. Even I have been restricting my outdoor activities at work and at home (not out hiking and fishing in this soup, no sir!). Yesterday, however, I had to get in my pizza oven on wheels to go get some lunch. As I walked across the parking lot I could see there was something under the front tire. It was a baby squirrel! I thought it had to be dead as I didn't know how long it had been there but it couldn't possibly survive long on the blazing blacktop. I got a glove out of my car to pick it up and it gave a little squeak!
     My boss suggested leaving on the ground near a tree but I thought it's chances of survival weren't very good as it was getting late and, besides the foxes, possums and raccoons that frequent the property, people in the neighborhood often let their dog run free in the parking lot when they think no one is around to say anything to them. I figured it was best to take him inside and call Animal Control. While I waited for them to come and get Ardi (short for ardilla, the Spanish word for squirrel) I carried him around, in a plastic tray lined with a cleaning cloth, with me as i worked because I work in a building with people who freak out when they encounter any kind of wildlife, especially small rodents. And crickets.
     When the Animal Control Officer came I handed Ardi to her and he gave a little squeak. He held on to my thumb until she could put him in a little container in her truck. She said he would go to a refuge where he would be spoiled for a few weeks before going back into the wild somewhere.
     I already miss the little guy.

If you find a lost pet or see an animal in trouble, wild or domesticated, in the DC-area please call the Washington Humane Society (or you own local animal control office). Ardi will thank you.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - A Brief Review

My current favorite subject lately has been 19th-century crime as I had recently acquired four volumes of Rick Geary's "Victorian Murder" series and finished The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America awhile back. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter fit in well with my obsession. I recall seeing the trailer for the movie adaptation and it looked like some ridiculous fun to have Honest Abe portrayed as a kung-fu version of van Helsing. Alas, the movie came and went before I got a chance to see it but I found the book at Goodwill for a buck and figured what the heck.

The writing moves along at a good pace, combining historical fact with the fiction, quoting from Lincoln's actual writings as well as fictionalized "secret" diary entries. It does rely a little too much on the new-Hollywood idea of the vampire hunter in a long, black coat filled with gadgets but that's just part of the fun. There are actually passages that have The Great Emancipator that bring the Hong Kong action movie feel of the adaptation's trailer to mind. What's most interesting to me how the author worked in the vampires' connection to the politics of the day in general and the Civil War in particular. In the context of the book it made perfect sense. The only problem I had with the book was the poorly photoshopped vintage photographs and engravings. Fortunately, they are used sparingly. All in all a pretty good read and I may even pick up a copy of the movie from Target when it's on sale for $5...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Style Section: Artful Framing in Takoma Park

Pictured above is a piece of art I've had for almost 10 years that I, finally, got around to framing. It's a, possibly, 18th Century erotic painting in the Mogul style. I don't remember where or how I got it. One possibility is that I found it in the trash room in the apartment building I used to live in near Washington Cathedral. I used to find a lot of cool stuff  there. The neighborhood was full of students from Georgetown, George Washington and American Universities and lots of foreign service workers from the various embassies, all fairly transient people. They move in to neighboring apartments and start acquiring stuff then they move on leaving behind the things they have no room for in the moving van, the trunk of the rental car, the suitcases, their new lives. Well, as has been said many times, one man's trash is another man's treasure.
I had this framed at Artful Framing in Takoma Park because they are one of the best, locally, at what they do. This was an easy job for them because I had already done a good deal of the work. I made the mat from 8-ply acid-free matboard that I covered with the remnants of an old painting on silk. Originally, years earlier when I was a framer, it was a painting that someone had brought to the shop where I worked to be repaired. It was a large piece, maybe 40x60 inches, that had started to deteriorate and shred. That's pretty common with these types of souvenir paintings that people buy on the streets in India. They're painted on a very thin fabric that the oil-based paints used eventually erodes. So, basically, one way to save it was to remove it from the wooden stretcher and mount it to a piece of acid-free foam board and, then, frame it but, first, I had to cut off a section about 16 inches wide from the badly damaged side. The piece I cut from it was what I used to cover the mat (waste not, want not). The frame is, I believe, a Roma moulding of distressed gold with bevelled black sides and has Tru-Vue Museum glass.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Real Deal of the Day: IKEA Style

The Kitty checks out the new chair, prefers the box it came in.

So, I decided that, since I've been in this apartment for 16 years, I should stop buying cheap dorm room furniture of fleeting quality and get something a little more substantial. Having the day off I ventured out to IKEA in College Park to have a look around. I like IKEA because, unlike my other fave store, Target, they have cheap dorm room stuff and some pretty good mid-price, home goods. I also like the fact that they don't seem to discontinue merchandise as quickly as other retailers so, if I decide to buy another chair, say next year, they'll still carry it. 

I bought the POÄNG chair because I wanted a comfy chair, with a high back and arms, that wouldn't overwhelm what's left of the floorspace in my living room. I had this thing unpacked and put together in about 20 minutes (probably would've taken less time without Kitty's "assistance"). The cushion cover is washable, which is a bonus considering that Kitty apparently can't eat canned chicken cat food without throwing it up on anything other than the wood or tile floors. The absolute best thing is that the chair with the cushion cost only $69USD!

Now, all I need is some kind of shelf (or shelves) for my 1,300 or so CDs that doesn't take up too much floorspace. Too bad that most retail stores don't cater more to people who collect things like CDs and DVDs. I guess I'm too old school and prefer, unlike most people, to have the actual media instead of a bunch of files on my computer or streamed from the 'net. I'll probably have to get someone to build something for me.

Today on RadioMONDO:
Horiso - Tri-Lions (thanks to Krzysiek P. for the music)
Allison Krauss & Union Station - Lonely Runs Both Ways
Fleetwood Mac - Mystery to Me
The Very Best of Booker T. & The MGs 
José James - The Dreamer (thanks Beth for sharing)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blade Runner: Sebastian's Apartment

The interior of the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles, CA taken with a Canon TX in 1988. This is the real-life building used in the movie Blade Runner as well as some other, mostly forgotten, movies and television shows. I found the building totally by accident. There was a mural across the street that I wanted to get a better shot of so I wandered into this unassuming looking building and was stunned by the beautiful, bright interior with a glass roof. It took me a few minutes of wandering around before it dawned on me that I'd seen this place before. It wasn't until months later, as I was looking thruogh my photos that I made the connection to the movie.

I also realized that it was the same building used for one of my favorite episodes of The Outer Limits (original series) titled "Demon With a Glass Hand".

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Internet Scam #2: Dept. of Justice Ransomware

Well, it looks like the cyber-criminals had a busy holiday weekend as I, along with who knows how many others, contracted a new rogue program termed "ransomware". Disguised as a warning page from the US Dept. of Justice it states that the computer user has been effectively locked out of their computer by the DOJ for violating the laws of the United States and carries a list of possible infractions (like copyright infringement, promoting terrorism, and possessing child pornography, to name a few) but does not specify what the victim is allegedly guilty of. It does, however, offer you the opportunity to get your computer back if you will simply send $300 via something called MoneyPak. The catch is that this must be done within 48 hours or your PC will be permanently locked and you will be subject to Federal prosecution.

Fortunately, I was smart enough to see through this attempt at separating me from my booze and sushi funds. As relentless as the media copyright holding lobbyists (RIAA, MPAA, etc.) are, there is no pending legislation that I know of that would allow the government to extort money from the public through a Walmart money order.

The good news is that it's relatively easy, though time consuming, to get rid of. Should you get this, or some similar malware, simply follow the steps outlined on the tech websites I've listed below. As always suggested it's best to have some sort of antivirus software and a firewall running at all times and updated frequently. Also, since almost every virus out there is programmed to exploit flaws in Windows architecture, try using a non-Explorer based internet browser. I use Firefox mostly but I got this virus from a tumblr page while using Google Chrome (which is not to fault either of these excellent browsers, though). I have Avast! free antivirus running as well as AVG free and I scan my computer regularly with Spybot Search & Destroy and Advanced System Care all of which are good for removing any remnants of infection once you follow removal instructions.

Links to malware removal instructions:

Links to free malware removal software:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Real Deal of the Day @ Target

So, my single cup coffee maker that I got in for free in 1995 finally stopped working this week. It was a promo for video stores as an incentive to buy lots of copies of  "How to Make an American Quilt" when it was released on video. I have used it almost daily since I rescued it from the junk-no-employees-wanted pile. Today, since I had a day off from El Templo Maldito, I decided to go to Target to see if I could find a replacement. I've discovered that, if you check out the ends of the aisles at the back walls, you find some interesting clearance stuff. Knowing this I always walk the back aisles first. Today I struck gold! Not only did I find a coffee maker but there were other matching appliances as well (in four colors): a toaster (got 11, don't need another one), a 1.5 quart crock pot, and a double Belgian waffle maker! The deal? Each one was priced at $5.60! I couldn't pass up a deal like that and, so I got the crock pot, too. If the coffee maker lasts a year I got my money's worth. The crock pot, at that price, is a bonus.


My contributions to a dying, if not dead, internet meme popularized by I Can Has Cheezburger?

WTF Deal of the Day

This was left on the folding table in the laundry room of my building. I don't (think) I know who the woman who left it there is but the things she seems to think other people might want are very odd. Back in August she left these:

Well, I don't know what happened to any of this stuff but I gotta wonder if anybody has taken her up on any of her "deals".

Listening to:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New-ish Artwork...

untitled collage with pastel and acrylic paint ©2003 - 2012 guy mondo / StudioMONDO

okay. so it's been awhile since i last posted. it's been even longer since i did any new art artwork. The piece above isn't really new. I started it in 2003, wasn't happy with it, put it away. I just added some more stuff to the left side to balance it out. I'm still not sure i like it though. I think i went a little crazy with the paint and the gel texture. i think i'll leave it alone now.
     It a fairly large piece for me, about 9.5X10.5 inches, and, because i worked on it over a long period of time, my focus on the subject matter changed a couple of times. I recall thinking about how christianity was used as a tool to control African slaves by replacing the old deities with a new ideal that, essentially, looked like the masters. Slaves were taught that their miserable lot in life would be rewarded in the afterlife. If you were a good and obedient slave you would get your "pie-in-the-sky". I think that, nowadays, too many black people still believe this without question. I, personally, prefer to not put any faith in any religion. At some other time i may come back to this collage and explain the symbolism in it but it's late and i'm tired.

Today on RadioMONDO:
various artists - Welcome to Scene Seventy 
artie barsamian - Belly Dance Au Go-Go 
elvis costello - My Aim is True 
bama winds - Windy 
robert ellis orrall - Fixation