29 January 2009

Mr. Wizard on Mildew

Colette asks...

What's the best way to keep a mildew free shower/bath? How do you treat the existing mildew?
Bleach, bleach, and more bleach.

Sadly, my shower is far from mildew free because I'm lazy and the biggest problem is getting yourself to a clean starting place with no mildew at all.

If you can get there, you can either buy a commercial after-shower spray or mix one up from ingredients around the house. A vinegar and water mixture (as the French would say, a douche for your douche) sprayed on when you get out of the shower will do a good job of keeping the mildew from forming. A few drops of lavender oil in the bottle will help cut the vinegar's strong odor. You can also add some water softener or JetDry to help improve sheeting by acting as a surfactant.

But first you've got to get the shower or bath to a clean starting place, and there's nothing that works better for that than bleach. A bleach-based scrub will be your best bet. It's thick enough to stay in contact with the mildew and the extra friction from the grit in the scrub will help scrape the layers of nastiness off.

And once you're clean, don't slack. Be sure to spray whatever solution you settle on after *every* time you get water in the shower or bath.

Mr. Wizard on Ribeye Steak

Piping in from Twitter, TJonsek asks

Do you prefer ribeye or fish and how would you prepare/cook it?
Exactly the kind of solid, penetrating question I was looking for when I started Mr. Wizard Wednesday. ;)

About 70% of the time I'd go with the ribeye. You picked one of the finest cuts there, tender flesh marbled with luscious fat. You could slide down to the short loin if you wanted slightly more tender beef - a Porterhouse would be lovely as well - though I prefer the slightly higher fat content of the ribs higher up the thorax.
Click to embiggen. 

As for preparation, I'm pretty boring with my beef. Some coarse sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, either a hot grill or cast iron pan, and a few minutes a side to get a nice caramelized exterior still leaving the center just off purple. Rest the meat for a few minutes and maybe toss some red wine into the pan to deglaze, maybe sauteing some mushrooms in that sweet goodness.

But even that's a lot. Usually a little dab of butter or a few crumbles of bleu cheese would be enough to finish off a good piece of meat. Unless I was feeling especially energetic, of course; then I'd make bearnaise.

28 January 2009

Mr. Wizard Says...

Just the one question (if we discount Mike's meta-question about the Wizard idea) so far this week. Seriously...if y'all have *any* questions, go to the previous post and ask them. I fear no topics. ;)

Longtime meatworld friend and friend of the blog 2old4this asks...

My oldest daughter has colored hair. Not much, a touch of pink here, a bit of blue there, a raccoon tail effect.

As a likely expert in these matters, please tell me if Trader Joe's Tea Tree shampoo is safe for colored hair.
Based on those colors, I'm going to take a stab and guess it's Manic Panic. Nice stuff. Vegetable-based dyes. Used one or two of them back in my hair days. It's less damaging to the hair, stripping it less on application. The drawback I found was that it didn't adhere and last as well as harsher dyes.

I'm not familiar with Trader Joe's shampoo (I use face scrub for the bald pate these days,) but tea tree oil is generally very strong and often used to remove dye. If the shampoo has a high concentration of it, it *might* shorten the dye's life. That said, even if the shampoo is especially strong and the dye's adhesion especially weak, I wouldn't expect it to cut down the time between reapplication by more than 5-10%. The gradual lightening of the dye shouldn't keep up with the growth of her hair.

Ask Mr. Wizard Wednesday

I've been lax here on BlogHQ, spending more of my effort on DreamLoom and the new home for Sketch War. In an effort to fix that and to increase the interactivity around here (that means you guys,) I'm going to institute a new feature. Wednesdays I'll be posting an open call for questions. Any kind of questions.

Questions about me, advice for the lovelorn, software questions, writing questions, questions about the annual cinnamon harvest in Sumatra...ask 'em and I'll answer 'em. I make no guarantees of the quality, veracity, or utility of the answers, but you'll get *something* either useful or funny.

Ask your questions in comments and I'll be posting your answers through the following days. This will keep you coming back and keep me more actively engaged over here. See? We *all* win.

25 January 2009

Friday Night Sketch War: Borders Edition

Forgive me the lateness of this recap, but I'm still recovering from the bloody melee in the arena yesterday. *Five* warriors did battle yesterday; the floor slick with cream pies and banana peels.

Whoa. Passed out from the blood loss. On to the sketches on the theme: borders.

Wow. Just, wow. Five warriors, and rumors of another battler considering joining the fray next week. We've got guns, rednecks, zombies, Minutemen, Ivans, and fat kids. Check them out and be sure to leave comments.

Next week's topic: advertising.

If you think you've got the comedy chops to do battle with our scarred and bitter warriors, if you dare step into the hailstorm of seltzer and cream pies, if you think you're MAN ENOUGH to make us laugh, write a sketch and contact us at sketchwar(nospam)@dreamloom.com.

23 January 2009

Evil Genie gets himself FOUR Technicals.

There's video above, FeedReader.

Wow. Just wow. Evil Genie is up to his Evil Ways at FAU it seems. I've never liked Mike Jarvis, so the delicious epicaricacy of seeing him falter at Mary Carey's alma mater* gave me a big chuckle this morning. Cops and everything!

But before that the game spun when Jarvis was called for four straight technicals. It turned out to be a 10-point swing, because ULM made 7 of the 8 free throws then got a rebound and scored a 3--point shot, so FAU;s 31-30 lead was suddenly a 40-31 deficit with 2 minutes left in the half, and while the Owls clawed and fought, they couldn't come back.
Definitely click through to the original post and see the fuzzy picture of the former CA gubernatorial candidate on the floor after the game. Surreal.

* That's Latin for Deep Throat, I think. Or fake rack. Something.

17 January 2009

Lots of TV stuff

Lots of good stuff going on over at DreamLoom. Kari's take on last night's great BSG, my review of FNL's season premiere on NBC, Tawnya's preview of The United States of Tara, and the usual reviews and recaps.

Come on by, grab a drink, put your feet up, and get into the conversations.

15 January 2009

Star Wars retold

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo. There's video above, FeedReader. My mood is foul, but this made me chuckle. And? Better than anything George Lucas has conceived in 30 years.

13 January 2009

Twitter Tagged - Seven Things

Damn. Just as I'm getting over this archeopteryx flu, I got Twitter-tagged by @sniffyjenkins. In an effort to *quickly* sanitize myself before the contagion worms its way into me, here are...

Seven Things you (Maybe) Don't Know About Me

1. Do NOT drop that bar of soap. I spent three *glorious* days as a guest of the Centre County Sheriff when I was 18. As I was behind in doing laundry and didn't have clean underwear that day, I was wearing baggy swimtrunks instead. Three days. Jail. Swim trunks. Yay.

The story, after far too many tellings over the years, is far too boring for me to repeat. I'll just hit a couple of my favorite grace notes:
  • Fat, middle-aged, pig-faced (really, pug snout and round, jowly cheeks) cop telling me his mannish, be-mulletted partner "wouldn't hesitate for a second in blowing my brains out" if I should run. Uh-huh. Honestly, I was far more afraid I might have misjudged her orientation and she'd hit on me. Because *that* would have been terrifying.
  • I didn't have any damn shampoo. You ever wash your hair with bar soap? Oh. My. God. I think that (well, and maybe the years of dying, stripping, redying) might have contributed to the sad, early demise of my thick, lustrous locks.
2. What do you want to do with your life?!? It took me three schools, four majors, and eight years to figure out my future and get my degree in computer science. 15 years on, what do I want to do? Drop out and start all over again so I can be a writer.

3. ...and I'm a Physics major. I acted quite a bit in my youth. High school of course, but college, community theater, and even one production in which I was *paid* (I carried a halberd around for a few weeks even after I pointed out to the director that a a halberd is good in the field, but not a dungeon.) In college, my Calc 3 professor got all up in my grill about not being free in the evenings when he gave his exams.

Douchebag: "Most of the students taking this class are math and engineering majors..."
Your Hero: "Yeah, well, I'm a Physics major and I signed up for a day class for a reason."

Victory for moi.

4. Look, up in the tree, it's Dogboy! While it's not what it used to be, my hearing is still really, really good. Used to be, the whine of a CRT turned on with no input signal would make me look like Clark Kent in the scene where Luthor's sending the hypersonic signal. I can't hear the high end quite like that anymore, but I'm still sensitive. Too sensitive.

Back in high school, I played just one season of football (for my non-American readers, that's the manly game with helmets, pads, and homicidal tendencies, not the poncy game with nancyboys kicking a ball around like a bunch of girls) in high school because practice ended up cutting into nap (and later) sex time. That, and I wasn't great. I was good enough, but I was too slow to play end or linebacker, so I played offensive and defensive tackle. At my size, I was never going to be a star. But, I was adequate.

Anyway, in addition to the O- and D-lines, I played comparable positions on special teams and was the center of our kick receiving team. One game, we won the toss, set up to receive, and the opposing kicker smacks a line drive right at me. Good hands, so I caught the ball and started running right back at the kicker. Now, while I might not be fast, I am solidly built. I also have the advantage of running at a team spread field-wide and unprepared for someone to have the ball yet. At worst, I should be able to barrel over the kicker and pick up 20 or 30 yards on top of the already great starting position.

But no. Dogboy. I hear my lineman coach yelling to take a knee. And like an idiot, I did. To everyone else, it looked like I ran five yards and fell. Ugh. You know how many times I had the ball while on my feet? That was the one. Still pisses me off to this day.

5. I know I said I'm not fast, but I'm quick. People have this mistaken impression when they see me that I'm a lumbering sort. But I cover a *lot* of court. It usually takes a set or two on a tennis court until people realize it's not a fluke, that I'm going to get to their drop shots, lobs, and passes unless they make them really good. It helps that I get to catch my breath when I'm serving.

6. As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly. I got a *nasty* case of salmonella in college from some bad duck at my (formerly) favorite Chinese restaurant a couple towns over. For two weeks I had nasty, foul smelling, watery bile coming out both ends of my GI tract. Seriously, seriously sick. And you know what? I now know *exactly* what salmonella smells (and tastes) like. The bacteria give off a very particular bouquet. You'd be amazed at how much raw chicken I've thrown out over the years. I'm now *very* particular about my poultry suppliers.

7. Back when it was all original. I like Sports Night better than The West Wing. You know, before Sorkin starting plagiarizing himself mining the same veins he'd mined before.

Now, I hate the whole tagging thing. But I'm a carrier now and my job is to spread this virus, so I'll be pinging

11 January 2009

Sketch War: Cartoon Edition

This week over at Sketch War saw a three-way battle royale. Blood, guts, and laughs were had by all.

Sufferin' Succatash! We've got three very animated sketches this week on the topic of cartoons. Anvils were dropped, gravity was defied, and meddling kids and their dog spoiled plans. Let's get to it.
  • Ken ripped his sketch from my adolescent dreams. From all boys' adolescent dreams. Let's all be sure to send him a box of Scooby Snacks...
  • Peter told the heartwarming story of Frank vs The Angel of Death...
  • Coyote went all the way to Oslo to blow some stuff up.
Check them out. We've got a Hanna-Barbera, a Loony Tunes, and what I'm picturing as a Tex Avery. Good stuff.

Defying Vocal Range

There's video above, FeedReader

Apropos of nothing whatsoever, I happened upon this video of Raúl Esparza singing "Defying Gravity". It's not Air Supply, but it'll have to do until I figure out how to make that little dream of mine come true.

If nothing else, I know this'll amuse and entertain my fellow B'way fans.

07 January 2009

I can't have nice things

And welcome to the New Goddamn Year.

I've not had the best of luck with the Batmobile. I'd wanted an Esperante for years, so when a low-mile one came available a few years back, we jumped on the chance. But it had a few small issues that were a bear to deal with. Because of the extreme heat of the desert, there was some warping of the interior door panels, some of the dashboard trim was curled, and the trunk lid upholstery was loose. Then there were the low-profile tires and deep dish wheels the original owner had put on the car that sapped it of some of its incredible control.

We worked through the dealer from which we'd bought it to resolve some of the trim issues, but their solutions all involved copious amounts of glue. (No, I'm not kidding.)

Finally giving up on the d-bags who'd sold it to us, we moved on. The first real problem was due to those stupid low-profile tires. The wheels were too big so the front tires ended up shredding regularly. We replaced them a couple of times before we finally got around to putting on new, appropriate wheels. (Panoz is now considering using these wheels as their stock ones; they're very slick.) Finally, the car felt like the high performance GT coupe it is instead of my in-laws boat of a Buick. Tight, good control at speed, and closer to its ridiculous skid pad rating.

Some problems with the top still nagged, however. Having gone through top nightmares with the Boxster, every time the Batmobile's top gave me agita I got homicidal. I still remember the perfect, never-fail manual top on my first convertible (a Geo Metro...keep your snickers to yourself) and can't understand why people think slower automatic tops are preferable. It got fixed, but never felt quite right to me. And there were some other small niggling issues as well.

We talked with Panoz and they said they liked to get the cars back to the factory every few years anyway, to do upgrades and give the cars some TLC. Mine's a daily driver, not a show car, and that makes them happy, so we shipped her back to Georgia last August. And waited. And waited some more.

First, there was some miscommunication. Then there was just...Panoz. They build a nice car, but they're not the speediest operation in the world.

The car got back to AZ last Friday, January 2nd.

All the nagging issues were fixed, and Panoz had used the time wisely. They needed to come up with materials and solutions that would work in the extreme heat of AZ, so the car spent a lot of time baking in the garage overnight. They did a great job. My door panels - a cosmetic issue I had never even complained about - were replaced with tight, perfect fitting ones. The dash trim was swapped out for some new suede that looks fantastic. The electrical problems seem resolved. And the car drove even tighter. Like a dream.

I got in her yesterday afternoon to go home and decided it was just warm enough to put the top down and see how it's working. It seemed to be sitting a little high and I was thinking about that as I backed out of my spot in the garage.

Did I mention this is the longest car I've ever owned? And the cab is pushed well back, giving me a whole lot of car in front of me? Oh, and for the last five months I've been driving the Mini and the Xterra and they're both cab-forward with short turning radii?

See, there was this pole I'd parked next to, about two inches away from. That's fine when I'm thinking about parking, but not so much when I'm wondering why my top is sitting high.


Honestly, as irritating and upsetting as that was, I wouldn't have minded too much. The fender, as you can see, isn't a complex, honeycomb design as on most cars. As ugly as that is - a bit worse because I pulled the intake vent off before the photo - a new fender, pre-painted in GA, could be popped on in a few minutes. Hell, I could do it on this car. Except...I bumped the tire as well. And now my right front is toed in a few degrees relative to the left. So it's currently undrivable. I'm worried that the incredible tightness the car had when it returned from GA is never going to be replicated.

Worse: I now question whether I can ever be comfortable driving my car again. This is the third time I've hit something at extreme low speed - the other two times did tiny bits of cosmetic damage that have been fixed. The front is so long, I may never completely adapt to it. Now I'm thinking of selling her. Back for four days and undriveable and I'm thinking of selling her. Ugh.

Well, I'm off to call the tow company. More later.

05 January 2009

At least my friends are having success...

Yesterday I was greeted with news in my Facebook feed that my friend Liz's pilot received an award in competition and today my friend Michael (a Sketch War irregular) unleashed his newest short upon the world.

Sigh. Very happy for my friends.

Maybe I should stop procrastinating now.

Sketch War

Hey kids, don't forget to check out sister-blog Sketch War. Last week's battle pitted me against Peter in a resolutionarium! Seriously. It was bloody.

This week, in honor of the (Gregorian) New Year, our topic was "resolutions", a topic that evidently weakened the resolve of all but two sketch-warriors:
  • Coyote turned in a sketch about office-bound angels.
  • And I (Peter) delivered a short scene about mountain climbing.
And lo, the eternal battle continues: stay tuned for next week, when we enter the squared circle of pain with sketches about cartoons!