Friday, November 29, 2013

Hot Wings Friday

My version of Black Friday is to relax by the fireplace and cruise the internet for value.  I just can't get excited about joining the crew that left this morning for the Mall.  The reality is,  I got my toys ahead of time - Turkey Fryer, and Patio Heater. 

The Turkey Frying experiment was successful in the end but had it's glitches.  First the construction of the patio heater was not in time before starting the oil.  Consequently, I had to revert to the traditional pit fire for warmth.  I discovered the fryer requires near full time attention as the first 20 minutes were lost when the circuit breaker tripped.  Next, I discovered the oil requires a minimum of 45 minutes to get to the requisite 375 degrees F.  But, once the oil was ready and I had prepped the 14lb turkey - it was a simple 53 minutes to completion.  I completed with 40 minutes to spare.

So in the Turkey contest with Martha, what was the result?   Clearly Martha's 60 years of experience has provided her an advantage over my first year attempt.  At best it was a tie, with most saying they could tell no real difference in taste.  I'll take that ---  and declare success!

Today will be an experiment with hot chicken wings (after all why waste that 2.75 gallons of peanut oil).  And since the patio heater is now operational, staying attentive will be no problem.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Heavenly smells

It was Thursday last week, I walked into the kitchen to the heavenly smell of toasted cinnamon bread.   That even made the top entry in my gratitude book that day.  This time of year is abundant with uniquely wonderful holiday smells - the crisp air of a frosty morning, the pine of a decorated Christmas tree inside, hot cider brewing on the stove, turkey in the oven ......  you can add to the list.

So when A.M. punctuated the lunch discussion (about skunks) the next day with the phrase "It stinks to high heaven" the juxtaposition was too close for comfort.  Where did that phrase originate, I asked?

One theory is that it came popular from the Shakespeare reference in Hamlet -  "O, my offense is rank, it smells to heaven; It hath the primal eldest curse upon it, A brother's murder."  Even though this refers to a deed versus a source of odor - it makes the point. 

Pepe Le Pew  -  Warner Brothers


I have concluded that everything must smell good in heaven based on this research - well maybe in high heaven :)

PS --  For J.R. the Song "Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road"  was never recorded by the Beatles (I was wrong).  It was #16 in 1973 performed by Loudon Wainwright III

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanks -- Giving

Thanksgiving is approaching (although it is as late as it can be - the 28th) and the articles abound that remind us about the season - giving thanks on thanks giving (a dyslexic word junkie has two chances to get it right).   Rev. Stover ended his greatest virtues sermon series - "Earn all you can; Save all you can; Give all you can" Sunday.. 

Getting all three of these correct and in balance is probably one of the hardest things in life. I personally find the most challenging of these three is "give all you can".  Giving is letting go of the illusion that all your stuff (and money) will provide you certainty in security - until you die.  So it is less about getting rid of stuff (simplifying life) or money (gifting assets) as it is teaching yourself that both of those are ephemeral. 

SO -  how does a person "Give all they can"?   Just like the question in money of "What is enough"? - the answer is very individual and unique of each of us.  No one can give you - your answer.  That is for you to explore as you seek joy.  However there is a clue provided for us just around this time of year:

                                        Thanks - Giving

                    Giving  - Thanks

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


Today  I read that "Selfie" is the Oxford  2013 word of the year (beating out Twerk).  Selfie is the word for a photograph taken of oneself from their smartphone (another reason it should be called a smart alec phone). 

Since Selfie sounds so narcissistic, I thought maybe it would go with "Bloggie" - the word for people like me that blog continuously about themselves and/or their philosophy.  Hmmmmm..... maybe this was the problem with ancient philosophers.

Opps - on search Bloggie is already a brand name for Sony - how appropriate a camera.

Every Selfie should be taken on a Bloggie  - in HD  :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fried Turkey Experiment

The Masterbuilt Butterball (Electric Indoor) Turkey Fryer arrived on Saturday November 9th when P.S. was visiting.  I already have my three gallons of LouAna Peanut Oil ready for the Thanksgiving Day experiment.  Susan initially objected by yielded to my desire to try it out one year.  I was convinced it would be a fun time after watching the late night QVC Infomercial promoting the unit.  I decided to buy it from since I received free shipping. 

I've been asking everyone I know for advice and confirmation about the taste.  Unanimously everyone says it is the best tasting Turkey they have ever had ........  and the most messy process to get it.  The best advice came from T.R. (ala Bloody Lamb) who said to be sure to NOT store any oil on the floor for the mice to find.  His other suggestion was to NOT inject any marinade into the turkey and everyone said - BE SURE the turkey is COMPLETELY THAWED and DRY. 

So -  This Thanksgiving will be a Double Turkey output day - the traditional ...... and Garen's Fried Turkey Experiment :)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tinsel Strikes Again

Jenna is just the person every family needs around this time of year.  Her energy for decorating (and the dollar outlay goes with that) is boundless.  Last weekend she decorated no less than five trees at the house.  In fact, Susan put the foot down on tree capacity (see Holiday Hope)  at the household last year but Jenna found a thin six foot tree for the corner kitchen, quickly decorated it and won Susan's approval for this year.  

This is a short Christmas season given that Thanksgiving is late this year, so Jenna's early November energy has transformed the house into a feeling of Christmas already - music, trees and even pine smell.  It motivated me today to put up the outdoor wreath. 

I have told the story many times about Jenna's letter to Target offering her services to decorate their trees in their store and her entrepreneurial idea to set up a Christmas decorating business (Tinsel LLC).  She created a  marketing flyer and distributed throughout the neighborhood. 

I guess I'm her largest (and only) customer this year :)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Passionate Tie Breaker

Last night the Investment Committee met to select the "winner" for our 2013 Investment cycle.  There was a tie vote in the written ballots of the general partnership Wednesday night. So this meant that the Investment Committee was faced with breaking the tie.  There was great passion (heart) and logic (head) revealed around the table as we compared and contrasted the risks and rewards that might accrue with the two finalists.  There was no easy logic on a tiebreaking principal and picking both non profits was not an option. 

S.Z. did a great job of facilitating the twelve members on the Investment Committee and just like the elimination round of the TV shows, Idol, America's Got Talent, and The Voice (now my favorite) there was no real bad choice.  Anne M. punctuated this point talking about the poem I remember (and blogged about) on flipping a penny - "Half a Decision".

No coin flip was required and by an overwhelming majority the Investment Committee picked Lawn Life - providing disconnected youth with an opportunity to gain real work experience and transferable skills.

Congratulations to Lawn Life! ..... and to the runners up Literacy Network and Faces without Places.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

SVP Cincinnati "The Voice"

Tonight the SVP Cincinnati Partners meet to select the 2013/2014 Non-Profit Investee that we will both grant money and more importantly coach and advise to greater sustainability and impact.  This will be our 6th Investee in our "portfolio of good".  The final three are Faces without Places, Lawn Life, and Literacy Network.  They will present their organization an more importantly describe their needs and how they fit with what SVP Cincinnati could provide.

As I was sitting in the car with Ellen this morning I told her what was happening this evening with "The Voice" of these three Non-Profits.  When I asked her what choice she would pick (based on my elevator pitches of each), she chose LNGC - Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati.  You might think I have a bias also to this Non-Profit given my past posts of the "The Need to Read" - but actually it will be a very hard choice. 

Just like the judges on the television program "The Voice", I see all three of these Non-Profits as great performers in their own space.  I don't think there could be a bad choice.  Congratulations to each of the three for making the finals.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Matrix Matrix on the Wall

At the Board Development meeting for our SVP Cincinnati investee, they handed out a matrix of questions/skills/attributes that each Board member would complete.  It is a great tool in evaluating where there are gaps in an existing Board that a nominating committee can use to determine whom to recruit as a future Board member.  However, the most important portion of the matrix is determining the questions or attributes that you want - not a boiler plate list of items.

Too often surveys and questionnaires are designed without the projection of what data will be received (e.g. the completed questionnaire).  Misinterpretations, redundant data, incomplete data, and/or just worthless questions (once the responses are seen) can create an exercise in wasting time (both the survey designer and the participants).

It's as if the designer hopes that once all the data is received and the Matrix is complete, he/she can put it up on the wall and exclaim "Matrix Matrix on the Wall ...... tell me, tell me ...... about it all".   The answer will magically appear!  The answer never appears - even with the best designer's intent.

The reality is the exercise of design is 80% of the value and the data received is 20% of the value.  Thinking through the questions (regardless of the data) will yield what direction you are trying to decide to move toward.

So you should be saying:  "Matrix Matrix in my head .... instead"  :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Prideful Physics

You know the type - full of air and "blowing their own sails".  Actually I tried to find this idiom and found nothing.  Clearly boasting and bragging is inferred by "blowing your own trumpet" and the expression "taking the wind out of his sails" implies a challenge to someone's boasting or arrogance.   So putting these together, you could assume the context of "blowing their own sails" is all about pride and public pomp. 

More interesting is the Myth Buster's experiment with blowing your own sail - is it feasible?  The physicists can weigh in on this one - and many did  - see

So -  I guess blowing your own sail does work.   But only if you have fans :)

Myth Busters Episode #165 May 11, 2011

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Silent Vote

The conference discussion was dominated by the passionate few pleading their points. Many sat silent, pondering the principles and flexibly yielding to the passionate in the efficiency of time.  "Call the Question" and the vote was voiced - the majority absent in response.  After all, a "NO" uncomfortably breaks the silence, contaminates the unanimous, exposes the individual,  and .......

     slips the silent majority into a prison of dominance. 

Break the silence today.

Monday, November 4, 2013

God's Canvas

Sunrise  - Cincinnati, Ohio  11/4/13

Ellen pointed out the sunrise today - daylight savings time ended yesterday - were now on God's time :) .

 "How could anyone believe there isn't a God", was my remark. 

A constant living canvas - the master artist.

Sunset - Naples Florida  10/25/13