Author Archives: Chuck Huss

My Smoothie Fiasco

When I was I child I decided the two worst foods in the world were spinach and coconut. This, of course, was before I discovered lentils. I pretty much avoided those two foods until after I met Rose. She made a spinach pie, which I ate out of out of courtesy at first, but then realized that it was quite good. I then discovered that raw spinach was good too and not the horrible toxin that I remember from childhood. Now I will actually order a spinach salad in a restaurant because it is the best salad on the menu.

I think my dislike for spinach goes back to when I was little and my grandmother gave us a bowl of cooked spinach, probably from a can, and told us we had to finish it before we could leave the table. I must have been at the table for an hour before I finally forced it down. I then got up and puked. I think the trauma made me more sick than the spinach. It’s funny how events from childhood can affect us long into adulthood.

Coconut was another story. I didn’t have any trauma connected to coconut, I just didn’t like it. I was well into my forties before I discovered that coconut did not actually taste bad, I just didn’t like the texture. It is like chewing on ground cockroaches.

Ladybug

For those of you grossed out by that statement, let me rephrase it. It is like chewing on ground ladybugs. They are much cuter unless you see them close up.

Ninja BlenderThere is a point to all this, so here we go. Recently Rose and I bought a Ninja Blender. We wanted something better than our old blender for making fruit smoothies and other healthy drinks. This one has 1100 watts and blends much quicker and quieter than I am used to. The first time I used it I was afraid a vortex was going to open up in my kitchen and my brand new blender would be sucked into another dimension. Fortunately that didn’t happen.

Naturally, I looked through the big book of recipes that came with the blender but I could find nothing that I would want to make. Most of the recipes involved opening a can of something or putting perfectly good fruit in the microwave. I’m glad I didn’t pay extra for the book.

I ended up looking on YouTube for some smoothie ideas. I find YouTube to be a great source when you need to learn something and I found plenty of videos on how to make various kinds of smoothies. I saw a few recipes that used coconut and I learned that the fresh, raw, coconut water is very healthy for you. I also knew Rose liked coconut  and I believed that if I could blend it up well enough with other fruits then I could drink it with no problem, as long as I didn’t have to chew it.

The next day I bought a coconut on my way home from work and the following morning I got started on my experimental smoothie. I had watched some videos on the proper way to open a coconut, which all happened to be different, and I thought I was ready. I was wrong.

It seemed so easy. A couple wacks with the back of a meat cleaver and BAM! Of course that didn’t work. The only thing I accomlished was to get Rose yelling at me that it was too early and I was going to wake the neighbors. It didn’t matter that the neighbors moved out days before. So now I had a coconut AND Rose to contend with. How do you quietly pound  the crap out of a coconut? Hmmm…

I decided that I needed to open it fast and to hell with the noise so I got a hammer and screwdriver and pounded until it opened. Even then it took several hits and more yells from upstairs. After it finally opened and I put the water in the blender and then had the delema of breaking the two halves ito smaller pieses, again without making noise.

Once I finally broke the halves into smaller pieses, I then pried the “meat” out of the shell. Unfortunately there is a skin that needs to be removed as well so I had to scrape it off with a potato peeler. When I was finally done I put the pieces in the blender with bananas and other fruit and blended. It came out pretty thick so I added some more almond milk and blended again, this time leaving it on high for a consideable amount of time. I wanted to make sure the coconut was blended smooth.

Finally. After almost forty five minutes I was ready to taste my creation. I poured it in a glass, took a drink and…Yuck! It was like drinking a cat litter smoothie. I had to dump the whole thing down the drain and to top it off, I had to hurry up so I wouldn’t be late for work because I wasted so much time.

I don’t get it. How is it that so many people put coconut in their smoothies? Is it just me that is bothered by it or did I do something wrong? If anyone knows how to make this drink so it is actually drinkable plese let me know. In the meantime, coconut is back on my most hated food list.

What is Wrong With Carnival Cruise Lines?

Many of you have probably seen the news about the problems with the Carnival Triumph. I know that things like this could happen to any cruise line and this may just be an isolated indecent but my last cruise on Carnival showed, to me anyway, that they seem to have put maintenance and upkeep on the back burner.

In a nutshell, the windows were all so dirty you could barely see out of them. The carpeting on our floor was disgusting. There was a soft spot in the floor that I am certain was close to breaking. The laundry room on our floor had three dryers and none of them worked, but they did take my money. To top it off, the excursion we went on was nothing like it was described.

There was also a problem in the dining room. Parts of it seemed much hotter than the rest and there was a terrible smell coming from the area set up for drinks. The smell lasted the entire trip and we happened to be in the dining room around the third day when workers were, in my opinion, trying to track down the smell. Eventually one pointed to the ceiling as if to suggest that something died up there.

Dirty carpets near our cabin

I sent them a long letter detailing many of the problems that Rose and I encountered on their ship. I also included pictures of the windows and carpet. I wrote this letter in a very friendly manner, hoping to get a response from them. I thought the least they could do was give us a discount on a future cruise. What I got was a somewhat disappointing. The following email was dated September 24, 2012:

Dear Charles,
Thank you for contacting us following your recent cruise on the Carnival Destiny.

Keeping customers happy is at the heart of our business. A cruise is meant to be an escape from the stresses and strains of everyday life: a time to feel pampered, to enjoy fabulous food and great entertainment, to lie in the sun without a care in the world.

I am very sorry to hear this wasn’t the case on your cruise. You have my sincere apology for the overall lack of cleanliness you’ve described.

We regret to learn of your overall disappointment with your shore excursion in Jamaica. Although we research and select the best tour operators available at each port of call, there are those rare times when the tour may not be exactly what you envisioned. We apologize the tour did not meet with your expectations and have taken the liberty of forwarding your comments to those that can make a change.

We appreciate your having taken the time to send us your additional detailed comments. As part of our ongoing process to improve our product, your feedback has been shared with the relevant department managers for their disposition.

Please don’t let what happened this time around tarnish your entire opinion of us. We hope you’ll reconsider your position in the future. We’d love to welcome you back.

Sincerely,

Andrea Reyes
Guest Care Specialist
Carnival Cruise Lines | 3655 NW 87th Avenue | Miami, FL 33178 |
800-929-6400
iCare@carnival.com

The letter seemed to leave it open that someone else would contact me. Nobody ever did. I will say that we did have fun on the cruise. All of the people who work on the ship were very friendly and helpful. I also don’t think that experience would have kept us from booking another Carnival Cruise. We would have just made sure it was on a newer ship. It is the lack of caring that bothers me more. If someone would have just made the slightest effort to show us that they really cared, that would have made a difference. Now I think Carnival is about to reap what they sow.

A Ghost in St. Augustine?

Rose and I took a trip to St. Augustine just before the new year. On Saturday Night we had dinner at an Italian Restaurant called Nonna’s Trattoria. We sat outside for dinner and afterwards I took the photograph of the area where we were sitting. When I got home I noticed a strange figure in the photo (left center).

The figure appears somewhat transparent. I know that a long shutter speed and a moving object can have a similar effect but I hand-held this shot at a shutter speed of 1/4 second. Slow but not that slow. In addition, the person would have had to move more than the width of his body to produce this effect which does not seem to be the case. Also, his shadow is very distinct and not from a flash.

I don’t believe in ghosts but this sure is strange. If someone can explain it, please leave a comment.

Is this a ghost?

 

Only 4 Shopping Days ‘Till The End Of The World

December 21, 2012 is the day our world will end, at least according to the Mayans. Actually, according to some person or persons who “interpreted” what the mayan calender meant. My calender ends on December 31st, so I would assume that day will be the end of the world, but alas, I am not an expert at predicting future events. Just ask my wife.

This time I think I can predict that most of us will be here to see December 22nd. I predicted that the Y2K scare would amount to nothing and I was right about that. Okay, so I am good at predicting some things, like when the world is not going to end and the outcome of certain movies and tv shows. Just don’t ask me to predict anything financial.

I base my prediction that the world will not end on three things:

  • The Mayans did not even come close to surviving until the end of their calendar. Are we going to trust the predictions of a race that could not survive the Spanish?
  • People have been interpreting signs that the world will end for years. So far they have all been idiots. If the world does end, it will be because humans can’t handle the power we have in the world today and that end won’t be predicted by some moron reading an ancient tablet.
  • If I am wrong, who will know?

I also think preparing for the end of the world is stupid. You know there will be plenty of gullible people buying “survival kits” from a crafty entrepreneur that will be spending their money long after the day of reckoning. Think about it. Wouldn’t you rather spend your money on a vacation rather than supplies you won’t be around to use. Perhaps if you are rich, you can buy a ride on a Russian spacecraft and watch the destruction from a safe distance. What a great gift that would be.

Abraham Lincoln and Getting Old

Rose and I went to see the movie Lincoln yesterday afternoon. I wanted to see it because I have always admired Lincoln. I read several books about him and thought of him as somewhat of a role model because of his great character. Rose also wanted to see it, but not as much as me, and since I saw Breaking Dawn with her Saturday, we decided to see Lincoln on Sunday.

I quickly looked it up and found that it started in twenty minutes so we hurried out the door without doing something I should have done first. I did not read what the movie was about. I assumed that since it was titled simply “Lincoln” that it was about the life of Abraham Lincoln, from birth to death and all that meaty stuff in the middle.

I assumed wrong. This movie is about securing votes to pass the Thirteenth Amendment in the House of Representatives at the beginning of 1865. Sure, it’s a good history lesson but if the producers wanted to put people to sleep they could have made a movie about the passage of Obamacare and saved money on costumes.

Don’t get me wrong. I was happy to learn things I did not know before. I just would have been happier learning it a from Redbox a few months from now. If I am going to pay big bucks to see a movie at the theater, I want to be entertained, and if I can be educated at the same time, that’s even better. Apollo 13 was an entertaining and educational movie. This was an educational movie. See the difference?

I noticed something else about the movie that disturbed me. Almost everyone there was older than me. Considering that I will be fifty years old next July, I think that says something about the type of people who are interested in a movie about Lincoln. I am one of those people! Does that mean I am entering into old age?

If I start driving slow in the left lane during rush hour with my blinker on when I really have nowhere important to be, you have my permission to slap me.

13 Things Never To Do

A while ago I posted about things that I don’t understand. Now I want to mention some things that I do understand. Specifically, things I have learned never to do. Some of these I learned by doing, others I learned by seeing others do them.

  1. Never assume your wife or girlfriend is telling the truth when she says, “I don’t want you to buy me anything.”
  2. Never try to pet a goose…Ouch!
  3. Never eat dinner while watching Bones.
  4. Never hit an empty spray paint can with an axe. (I didn’t do this one)
  5. Never give treats with artificial coloring to a pet who is prone to vomiting on the carpet.
  6. Never eat White Castle hamburgers if you have a long drive ahead of you.
  7. Never shake a ketchup bottle without first checking if the cap is tight.
  8. Never put Pop Tarts in a toaster with a broken timer. (I think rocket fuel is the main ingredient).
  9. Never drink from a garden hose without letting it run first…yuck!
  10. Never put up a ladder and climb to the roof without first checking for a bees’ nest. Talk about a double whammy.
  11. Never use a skim board if you are overweight and over 40.
  12. Never jump into a pool at night without first checking the depth.
  13. And finally, never talk politics unless you are “preaching to the choir.”

Of course, there are plenty of other things but I have to stop somewhere. Leave a reply if you would like to add to the list.

Optimism is Based on Pessimism

I don’t want the title of this post to make you think that I am negative or pessimistic. I am actually a very positive person but I am also logical and realistic at times. This came up the other day at work. A job was coming up that I knew was going to suck. I did not know this because of a negative attitude. I knew this from experience. I joked to my boss that I was going to be sick that day. She told me that if I thought bad things than that is what was going to happen.

I understand the power of positive thinking. I also understand the theory that the “universe” gives you what you think about. I think it works, but the universe has nothing to do with it. It is your thoughts that guide your actions and your actions get results.

But you can’t just think positive or be optimistic about everything. As I told my boss, if I imagine what could go wrong, I won’t be disappointed when it happens, and the possibility that things will go better than imagined are much greater.

It occurred to me then that all optimism is grounded in pessimism. Think about it. If a salesperson says to himself, “I am going to make a sale today,” that’s great, but why not two sales, or five, or ten? Sounds pessimistic to me.

Lets go higher. What if someone thinks “I am going to be President of The United States?” Is that the best you can do? Is the CEO of Apple already taken?

The point is, to be truly optimistic about something you also have to be realistic. You can’t just say, “the Cubs are going to win the World Series next year.” That’s just being stupid.

Take me for example, I am very optimistic that at least five people will read this post and at least two people will leave a comment, think about leaving a comment, or think about what they are having for dinner tonight. Let me know because my fridge is empty.

Things I Don’t Understand

This list is by no means complete but here are a few things I don’t understand.

I don’t understand…

  • Why some women wear clothes designed to show off their boobs and then complain when men look at them.
  • Why people with 60 years of driving experience can’t drive.
  • How someone can buy five drinks at a bar for eight  dollars apiece and then complain that gas is four dollars a gallon.
  • Why someone with one type of hair needs nine different shampoos (I’m not referring to anyone in particular that may or may not live with me).
  • Why mountain bikes are sold in Florida.
  • How there can be 32,000,000 laws and regulations, and only 10 commandments.
  • People who a) drive with their dogs on their laps, b) bring their dogs to the supermarket, and c) push their dogs around in baby strollers.
  • Why anybody gives a crap about the Kardashians.
  • Quantum Mechanics (at least the Quantum part…and the Mechanics part).
  • Rosie O’Donnell

The full list is a work in progress and is actually much longer than the “Things I Understand” list. If anyone has any answers or wish to add to the list, please leave a reply.

Rise of the Ebooks

Rose and I used to have a large library of books (if you can call a closet a library). After several moves we have reduced our books to about three shelves of a four-foot wide bookcase. My goal is to eliminate most of what is left.

For some time I have wanted to get a tablet computer. There was several reasons for that but one of the main reasons was so I could use it to read ebooks. With that in mind, I decided about a year ago, perhaps more, to stop buying physical books. I knew I had enough books that I haven’t read yet to keep me busy for quite a while.

At Christmas I finally found a great deal on an Android Acer Iconia Tablet
that I really liked but the rear camera didn’t work. When I returned it to Best Buy I discovered the item was discontinued (which their web page failed to mention) and it could not be replaced. I was fine with a broken camera but I wanted a little compensation for it but the Best Buy manager refused to do anything for me, so I returned it.

For my birthday in July I found another Acer Tablet but this one was running Windows 7 and came with a dockable keyboard, which were both a plus. Finally I had a nice tablet that I could use to read in bed, or wherever I wanted, but then Rose needed one, so I bought her a Kindle Touch, which was recently replaced by the Kindle Paperwhite.

It is nice that we can both sit and read together now. I know, we could have done it before with real books, but we didn’t. It is interesting that all of our ebooks appear on both of our devices and I find myself reading my books on Roses’s Kindle when she is not using it (don’t tell her). I like having my tablet computer but for ebooks, I am a little jealous because Rose’s Kindle is so light and easy to read.

Now my dilemma is that I will never catch up on reading my physical books so I can get rid of them because I keep buying new ebooks.

Kitten Update

Puck playing with cotton swab

Puck playing with cotton swab

After having the kitten for a week, we finally decided on a name for him Saturday; Wolfgang Puck, or just Puck for short. We picked that name because he loves food and he shoots around the room like a hockey puck.

So far he is doing well. He always uses the litter box, unlike our Bad Cat Chris, who is old enough to know better. He eats like a pig, he plays hard, he sleeps well (also unlike Chris) and he has already figured out the cat door.