Archive for the ‘World Domination’ Category

Of Blogs and Barley.


I read a lot of blogs. If I have a lot of time on my hands, I usually look for random blogs to see who’s saying what. I especially like blogs about food, hospice work, or the lives of people my age, especially women. As someone who’s generally curious about other people’s lives (there’s another word for that, but I can’t think of it at the moment) I like to see how people my age are doing, how they’re living, and I like to compare my life with theirs. I almost always like mine better, which makes me feel smug.

I am continually amazed at the beauty of some blogs or the fantastic photos and videos people know how to post. I apologize to my dear readers for having/being none of those. I don’t like blogs about little kids (I know you people love theirs, but I find entire blogs about them boring) and I don’t like blogs where people swear a lot. It makes me think they aren’t very bright, or they remind me of those stand-up comics who are just sort of funny, but get a lot of laughs on the shock value of the oft-placed F word. It doesn’t work for me.

A lot of blogs simply end. Nobody says “I’m quitting this blog,” or “thanks for reading, but I’m done writing,” or even a hint that the writer, knowing he or she has snared you into their adventures, is going to leave you high and dry. 2009 seemed to be a good year for for stopping blogging with no explanation. Yet it is now 2011 and the blogs sit there, abandoned and unexplained.

I tell you, people, when the World Domination handbook is finished, it is going to be contain the caveat that if you start a blog and don’t update it at least every other month, it will be shut down. End of story. Be forewarned.

Hospice blogs often lead to personal blogs about people who are fighting serious illness, and very often those people die. You begin reading at the last entry, which might announce funeral arrangements, or else “Sorry to say that Helen died early this morning,” and then you start reading the entries backwards to read about how very sick Helen was, and then you go back to when Helen was just diagnosed, and then you go beyond that where Helen was enjoying life and her new husband or home or kids, and then you feel awful. Helen’s dead. Here’s her life, written out for those who are interested, and now she’s gone. Geez!

Reading those blogs makes me think of how precious our lives are, and how very grateful I am for my reasonably good health.

Speaking of health, here’s a healthy recipe that also tastes good. Not like those ones that fool you with tofu or 1% milk or artificial sweeteners that never taste a thing like sugar. Everything in here is good for you. It’s simple, it’s tasty, and I hope you appreciate how I managed to turn blog talk into a good recipe, because i worked a long time on the title, which came to me while I was in the bathtub.

And one more thing: I have made this recipe a lot. I take it to potluck lunches, like the one at work today. So I’m just saying: If you and I are invited to the same occasion where we’re asked to bring food, don’t bring this barley salad, because probably will, and due to my anal retentive nature, I’ll probably get there before you.

Barley Salad

3/4 cup uncooked barley

1 can of whole kernel corn, drained

1/2 of a green pepper, diced

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 cup Italian salad dressing

Cook the barley as directed on the package. (It takes about an hour to cook it.) Drain (if necessary) and cool. In a large bowl, combine the cold barley and all other ingredients. Mix and refrigerate.

I found this recipe online but I can’t remember where. And what is barley, exactly? I’ve probably bought 2 boxes of it in my entire life. I need to look it up. Oh, if only there were some building that housed reference books, where we could go and look things up. Or better yet, some electronic resource where we could type in a word and somehow, the explanation would magically appear. That would be better than the building, because you could look up important information without having to dress up to go out. You could read new stuff while you were dressed as shabbily as I am right now.

Well, enjoy your salad. And write a blog! I want to hear everything.

The Brain And Its Uses.


I swear that was the name of my Science Fair project in fifth or sixth grade. The Brain And Its Uses. I’m not making that up. (Who could?) I was running out of ideas and the project was due at school, so I think I opened an encyclopedia and copied a diagram that looks just like the one above, saving a lot of people the time it might take to open their own encyclopedias and figure out what they might do with an extra brain around the house. Door stop? Kitchen sponge? Cat toy?

I’m sure I meant the brain and its functions (or maybe I thought that’s what I meant) and lacking parental guidance as I did, I painted a brain on a large piece of plywood. When you grow up at a lumber yard, plywood is easy to find, especially in brain-sized sheets. I painted the board black and then painted a brain on it, and wrote out the various areas of the brain, just like you see here, and nowhere on this plywood did I bother writing any brain-related functions.

I must have perceived those Science Fair smiles and guffaws as high praise for my sheer brilliance. Not one person … teacher, friend, someone else’s mother … bothered pointing out the error of my rather large headline. I thank them all.

I have no idea where that project ended up, but I can imagine it is hanging in someone’s 1960s rec room, an object of much hooting and knee slapping. “The Brain And Its…. oh, Fred, you really crack me up!”

There is no good segue for the next part of my story, so I’ll just say it: Yesterday I was cleaning out a drawer that was filled with a tangle of black cords from things like Walkmans, radios, cameras, and other small appliances. I had no idea what went where, and since I’d never gone looking for any of it, I threw the whole pile into the trash. That felt good.

And later in the day (stay with me; these stories are connected) I took my vacuum cleaner apart to figure out why it wasn’t picking up anything, and discovered the belt had snapped. Having been a housecleaner at one time, I had a pile of vacuum belts in a box under the kitchen sink, not a one of them being even close to being the size I needed, so of course all of those went into the trash, too.

But all that off to one side, as they say, I really do use my brain sometimes, and today was one of those occasions.

Why oh why can’t there be a universal vacuum belt, I wrote to Cathy, the other half of the World Domination Team. They could sell them at department stores or hardware stores in buckets, and when you needed a belt you could leave the car running on very cold days and run in and grab one and go home and get back to sucking up cat fur.

Brainiac that she is, she readily agreed and even added her own list: Why not ONE cell phone battery for all phones? Why not ONE charger for all appliances? And for God’s sake (she didn’t say that but I do) why not ONE ink cartridge that fits all printers?

Well, that’s what it’s going to be when we take over the world, which we hope will be soon because one of us had to stop at Marshall Hardware on the way home and find the belt she needed. (But honestly, isn’t that the best hardware store on earth? Answer: Yes, it is.)

So. Those are some of the uses of my own big brain. One part is used for thinking, and another part is used for considering what the first part said.

I’ll stop now before I start talking about the six mile aisle of cereals found in every grocery store. Do we need that many choices? We do not!

Relevant photos to follow. They are guaranteed to tickle that “thinking” part of your brain. I hope it’s the large part.

Weather. Or Not. And Cookies.


You know what I hate? (Well, come on. You know it isn’t cookies.)

I hate the current weather obsession that seems to have insidiously sneaked into our culture, made more ominous by access to things like TV’s weather channel(s) or weather mapping online, or general hysteria pervading workplaces where windows are actually available. (The kind you look out of; not the Windows 10 or whatever you have on your computer.)

This past weekend, dire storms were predicted. 10 inches! 12 inches! 24 inches! Worse than the storm of ’91. Worse than anything we’ve ever seen!

We’ll all be killed!

Quite by accident, I turned on the weather hour the other night, and there was our local weatherman doing some kind of kabuki dance in front of his map. His arms were in the air. His arms swept across the states like the prairie winds a’ howlin’. His arms drifted downward, and then back up. He was all over the place. Had the sound been turned off, I’d have thought I was watching “Sweatin’ to the Oldies,” though this guy didn’t look like Richard Simmons and (thankfully) he wasn’t wearing the TMI short shorts.

People, listen up: This is Minnesota. It snows here every winter. Every single one. I promise.

Since man first crawled out of the cave, which was about 3 years before I was born, it has snowed in Minnesota, even before Minnesota had a name. It usually starts in late November and it lasts until March or April. You could set your clock by it.

Snow is not news. Storms are not news. I don’t know why we obsess about it. It’s cold here. It SNOWS.

Predicting storms, which is often incorrect and just sort of dumb because you have to come back later and say oh, I guess we missed it, is just pointless. You know it’s going to snow. Turn off the TV or walk away from your computer and do what the Boy Scouts tell you to do: Be prepared.

It is never too early to start preparing. Three months ago was a good time, but today’s okay, too. Here are the simple rules any of us can follow:

• Get a warm coat, a hat, a few pairs of gloves and mittens, a long soft scarf and warm boots. You will need them.

• Do not wait until the first snow storm to purchase a shovel, snow tires, a snow blower or scraper for your windshield. Buy them BEFORE the snow flies so you will be prepared. Hardware store employees will thank you. (These are not potentially useless items like, say, a pineapple corer or an inflatable air-mattress which you may never use. If you stay in Minnesota, you will need the aforementioned items.)

• Leave the house earlier and drive slower when it snows.

• If your car was parked outdoors overnight and got snowed on, as happens every winter to many of us, sweep off all the snow and ice before you leave your parking space. All of it. Do not wipe a dinner plate sized circle over your steering wheel and think you are ready for the open road, because when World Domination takes over, I swear to God we will confiscate your car and leave you standing on the side of the road with your lunch pail in your ungloved hands, wondering when the next bus will come along and how much it’s gonna cost. You know who you are.*

That’s enough to get you started for now. Keep shovels and ice melt-y stuff in your garage, along with brooms and a jug of anti-freeze, because if you are staying in Minnesota, you will need them. Get your battery checked, too, which is easier to do in summer than winter, if you think about it.

Having unburdened my heavy sorrows tonight, I leave you with a recipe. These are sometimes called Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Tea Cakes or a number of other goofy names, but I like to call them “Snowballs,” because that’s what they look like. And because if you don’t get away from that Weather Channel I’m going to chuck a few at your head.

These are great winter treats and they mail well so you can tuck them into Christmas presents. They’ll last a long time in an airtight container, too, but who are we kidding? One weekend stuck indoors because of a storm, and these gems are gone, along with last year’s turkey carcass and some experimental tins of Fancy Feast.

Be Prepared, my friends.


1 cup soft butter (Not melted. And not margarine. Live a little, why dontcha.)

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 Tablespoon water

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup finely chopped pecans, walnuts or almonds

1 more cup sifted powdered sugar for later

Cream the softened butter and 3/4 cup powdered sugar. Stir in the vanilla and water, and then add the flour and nuts. Mix just until all ingredients are blended. Cover the bowl and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. (Let me add here that an oven thermometer is a wonderful invention that you can get at any hardware store for well under $10, and by doing so you might save yourself an $85 house call. Or you could do both in reverse order, and end up sadder but wiser. I tell you this absolutely free.)

Anyway, shape the chilled dough into walnut-sized balls. Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 15-20 minutes, just until they begin to turn light golden brown. Remove the cookies to a wire rack. When they are completely cooled, roll each one in a shallow dish of the 1 cup of powdered sugar. Store these at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.


*PS: $1.50 after January 1st, but there are no buses on London Road.

Meet the World Domination Team!


World Domination Team

My friend Cathy and I are planning to take over the world.

We’ve been talking about it for a few years now, and like all big projects, this one has its obstacles. Mostly that we’re both pretty busy and she’s in Pennsylvania while I’m in Minnesota, but if I had saved all our Email messages, we’d be halfway finished by now.

But “halfway” is not how we plan to carry out our the World Domination scheme.

We have solid plans for making YOUR life better. Yes, you, Mr and Mrs (and Ms) Average Citizen. Things like bringing back manners at the office, at home and on the road, and returning common sense where so much of it has gone missing. You know: Restoring order to a chaotic world.

That might even be our motto, though that’s still in the planning stages, too. “We Bring Good Things To Life” was already taken, so we’re putting our heads together to come up with something really snappy, relevant, and also cute like us.

One problem is that Cathy and I sort of look alike, so you might have trouble telling us apart, but if you just say “World Domination Team,” we’ll know who you mean. And we’ll issue lots of photos in our World Domination newsletters, too. With arrows!

These are the thing you’ll have to change starting with the introductory first week. World Domination Kickoff, you might call it. (Well, you WILL call it that, considering who’s in charge.)

• People with children will NOT own rotweillers.

• Eventually, no rotweillers anywhere, ever, although the “Good Dog Carl” books are encouraged and Carl will become a black lab.

• RSVP is a fancy way of saying “Let us know if you’re attending or not.” If you get an invitation with RSVP on it, let the sender know if you are attending or not. Geez.

• If you are married or in a committed relationship, don’t sleep with other people.

• Say goodbye to “Two and a Half Men.” We’re takin’ out the trash.

• Ditto for those stupid disclaimer messages read at the end of car and banking commercials on the radio.

• The Christmas season will begin the day AFTER Thanksgiving; not 3 weeks before. This means no carolers, fat Santas, Christmas cards or colorful light bulbs will appear in stores before Thanksgiving. No poinsettias will be allowed in stores until after Thanksgiving, so that they are not half dead by December 5.

• Driving means both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. You will not apply mascara, eat breakfast, talk on your cell phone or read a novel while driving. Driving is its own reward, and includes goodies like not maiming others on the road because you can’t get up 10 minutes earlier or don’t have the sense to pull off the road to call home to find out which size detergent you should buy.

• There will only be one size of detergent.

• Be patient with old people. With any luck, and assuming you don’t tick us off too badly, you’ll be old some day, too.

We’ve even found a theme song we can use, with a few minor alterations. If you are over 50, you may remember this one:

“Meet Cathy, who’s lived most everywhere,

From Zanzibar to Barclay Square.

But Patty’s only seen the sight.

A girl can see from Brooklyn Heights —

What a crazy pair!

But they’re cousins,

Identical cousins all the way.

One pair of matching bookends,

Different as night and day.

Where Cathy adores a minuet,

The Ballet Russes, and crepe suzette,

Our Patty loves to rock and roll,

A hot dog makes her lose control —

What a wild duet!

Still, they’re cousins,

Identical cousins and you’ll find,

They laugh alike, they walk alike,

At times they even talk alike —

You can lose your mind,

When cousins are two of a kind.”

There are legalities involved in using this song, of course, but we plans to change that, too. Yet problems persist. It’s true that neither of us has seen either Zanzibar or Brooklyn Heights (yet) and we don’t think we are identical cousins (or someone’s dad would have a LOT of explaining to do) but the rest kinda fits. Except for the “matching bookends different as night and day,” which makes no sense at all, but as I said, the World Domination theme song is still in the works.

Well, of course there’s more. We realize it’s a lot to remember.

But don’t worry … you’ll get the handbook.