Thursday, November 28, 2013

881 - Natrelfredo Sauce

Just a normal plate of chicken pasta with alfredo sauce, right?  On any other day, there would be enough lactose in this dish to gas my family into the next life and the one beyond. 
My friend Tony most graciously pointed us to a new milk product called Natrel.  Unlike the lactose-inhibited milk products on the shelf that simply add industrial lactase (which simply reduces lactose but does not eliminate it), Natrel is processed to be completely lactose free.  As a side bonus, Natrel's product has a much longer expiry date than standard dairy.
Recently, Natrel has developed a cream.  Now, alfredo sauce is back on the menu!  I tried it out the other day, and the results were excellent!
Traditional alfredo sauce is easy to make, just butter and cheese.  Variations use cream, which is what I prefer, so it's more of a white sauce than a true alfredo.  The cheese is Parmigiano-Reggiano, which is a very hard cheese that is also very low in lactose.
1. In the bottom of a sauce pot, make a roux.  If you can use salt-free butter, melt two or three tablespoons under med-low heat.  If not, simply use the same amount of olive oil.  Into the liquid, stir in roughly three or four tablespoons of flour.  You need to add enough flour so that the butter turns into a paste something like toothpaste.  Add flour or butter as needed. 
2. On med-low heat, gradually pour 1 cup of cream into the roux.  Stir for ten minutes or until the cream thickens. 
3. Add 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, which is easily available at most delis.  Stir until cheese is melted.
4. Salt & pepper to taste.  I like adding a shot of vodka.  Pour the sauce over hot cooked pasta.  Variations include chicken, shrimp, peas, etc.  Stir into the pasta (in the picture, I just dumped the sauce on top, to feature the sauce.).  Enjoy!  Mangia, mangia!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

880 - AGID: Avian Gastro-Intestinal Distress

I was taking a walk, hoping to catch a good picture of salmon spawning in the local stream.  The light was low, however.  Salmon don't like to have sex in broad daylight. 
Then, I came across this scene of total horror.  That's not paint.  It's bird crap.  Maybe it was two or three birds, but it could also have been just one miserable bird on the hop with what can only be described as a bomb load that overstressed the bomb bay, as it were. 
Why should I concern myself with bird droppings?  For one thing, I feel blessed that the railing took this punishment and not my car or even worse, me.  Please see JSVB Post #533 (please click here) to see more commentary on this topic.  However, the birds that have been hitting my car have been leaving industrial strength flop, stuff that requires soap and hot water and heavy scrubbing to save the paint underneath.  I suspect that some birds are feeding on the salmon that died after spawning, and this is contributing to the white wave of airborne terror that is spreading across my neighbourhood. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

879 - Logo's Labour Lost

Yesterday was the 101st CFL Grey Cup, historic since it provided the Saskatchewan Roughriders' first championship win in from of a home crowd.  Congratulations to the Roughie's - Saskatchewan's first football love, and everybody else's second-favourite team.
So, I have a BC Lions logo, slightly tarnished.  It's got nothing to do with the Riders, but at least it's still football-related.  I started this logo project back in February, and had it firmly rejected in April.  That stung pretty good; I had poured a lot of effort into this piece.  It took a long time to get over most of the resentment.  At the end of the season, I ended up with a decent reward anyhow.
The lesson ends up being that All Things Work Out The Way That They Should.  It's impossible to say how, they just do.  Hopefully, in a few years I will have the chance to look back on this JSVB post and see whether or not I was right or just being a sentimental idiot.

Friday, November 22, 2013

878 - In Her Best Arnie Voice

It is the sworn duty of Vancouverites to stick it to our Prairie cousins and friends when they get blowing snow and we get temperatures in the teens. 
Here, I catch my wife doing the gardening.  She is composting her Hostas, which are large, shade-tolerant lily-like plants common to our region as decorative foliage. 
The Spanish Hasta la vista translates to "Goodbye, until we see each other again.".  The Hosta will be back! 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

877 - John The Baptist. Part VII

A hairy situation: blocking out John The Baptist's hair.  Next week, I will start laying down all the strands, however many hundreds of them there may be. 
Notice how orange John got this iteration.  I decided to glaze some more colour into the face.  The lighting was bad though, and now that I see it under daylight, I know I will have to use an antidote glaze to bring the colour back. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

876 - Turnover Coupon

JSVB readers who are also football fans thought that I was being weirdly prophetic with yesterday's post.  After all, I show turnovers, and then the CFL regional finals are filled with fumbles. 
Unfortunately, all I was trying to do was to pay up on a bet.  I needed to make up this coupon because of the Lion's horrifying loss to the Roughriders back on October 19th.  Although the score was 35-14 for the bad guys, the Lions turned over the ball an unbelievable eight times during the game.  It was one of the worst football performances I had seen in a long time, and was obviously a season turning point for both the Riders and the Lions.
Here's the thing: the Stampeders turned over the ball to the Riders seven times in yesterday's loss to the Roughriders, and the green-and-white team advanced to the Grey Cup next week.  To my mind, the Roughies have added a new tactic to their bag of tricks: generating turnovers.
That's tough to defend against, and it's tough to avoid, if your team is on the recieving end of a squad that knows how to strip the ball, knock it loose, and generate those costly fumbles.  Hamilton had better work on improving their ball security, or they will learn the hard way on Canada's most traditional sports stage what it's like to be a BC Lion or a Calgary Stampeder. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

875 - Football Turnover

Some football turnovers are much sweeter than apple turnovers.  But then we've discovered this season that some aren't.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

874 - Apple Turnover

A fruit-filled pastry.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

873 - John The Baptist, Part VI

This week, with the long weekend holdiay followed by Ungood Art Day, my regular weekly John The Baptist updates got pushed back a little.  The face is mostly complete, but I need to fix the eyes and mouth.  I've also started working on the hair.  John The Baptist is the hairiest saint, as far as I know.  That's one reason why I wanted to do this icon in the first place: it has nearly every kind of hair you're every going to see in an icon.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

872 - Garden Variety Ghost

It's the thirteenth of the month!  That means that today is Ungood Art Day on JSVB.  I post something that should have been good art, but for whatever reason turned Ungood.

I forgot that I took this picture back in Summer, but I am posting it now.  It's supposed to be me as a ghost.  Would people miss me when I am gone?  They still log in to see Wrath of Gandhi and wonder if there will be pictures of Uhura without her clothes.  I guess it's nice to be needed.
As for the ghostliness, the effect is completely optical, which is why I took the picture in the first place.  I am standing in the sun in front of a large photograph of a garden, where the photo is behind a sheet of clear plastic.  I snapped my own reflection, but it looks like I am either in the garden as a bona fide ghost, boo, or else I am terrible with Photoshop and I made a very cheesy transparent layer.  Either way, what makes this picture truly ungood is that I somehow managed to chop off my own head. 

Hallowe'en is just the start of the scary season, not the end of it...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

871 - "RJ Kent Residences"

I volunteered to create a print ad for the RJ Kent Residences, which is a seniors' home attached to the Royal Canadian Legion I belong to.  Since I am not a "people person" like my wife is, she got to tag poppies and I ended up pushing pixels for the Legion. 
RJ Kent seems pretty swank: it's a new building in a terrific location near a beautiful park, a transportation hub, and the suburban charms of downtown Port Coquitlam - more restaurant and entertainment choices per capita than any other city in the Lower Mainland. 
The only downside is that I am not a senior, yet.  I doubt many JSVB readers are.  Even so, $1,850 per month including food and housekeeping is better than mortgage payments right now... tempting. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

870 - Haiyan

I haven't paid much attention to the news.  Typhoons in the Asian Pacific seem normal enough this time of year.  What got me was a weather channel graphic that showed Haiyan as occupying the same size as one half of the United States.  Considering that the USA takes up one fiftieth of the Earth's surface, there's 1 full percent covered by a single Category 5 storm. 
Then my wife tells me we have a friend who was underneath that, in the Philippines.

EDIT Nov. 12: We're about 80% sure she made it through the storm okay!  I'll take that.  A falling tree took out our power and cable yesterday, so communications problems were compounded.  Our issue was a lot easier to fix, though.

Friday, November 8, 2013

869 - Fisheye Lens

This time of year, the urge to catch a salmon - as a photograph - is hard to resist in my neighbourhood.  This autumn has been unusually dry, so only recently has there been enough water so that the salmon could spawn in our nearby creek.  Click here to see my "Hyde Creek" painting, of which I have sold a few prints. 
I've got pictures of them on JSVB and in my archives.  Today's picture shows a fish that's just a couple of arm's-lengths away.  Magnificent creature. 
At this stage of their lives, the salmon are spawning.  Their bodies are filled with bitter-tasting sex hormones that make them unpalatable except to animals that lack tastebuds.  Apparently, only the heads are good to eat.  If the bears or the coyotes are around, the fish corpses will have been decapitated. 
Next spring, the fertilized eggs will hatch, and the creek will be filled with fingerlings.  After mating, the adult salmon immediately die, and their bodies either feed the animals or decay in a most smelly way, becoming fertlizer for the local plants. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

868 - 100 Dot Posey

If you can count to a hundred, you can draw yourself a pretty flower.
I made this connect-the-dots as a cover illustration for a handbook on what to do if and when you are bored.  I got the idea from an artist who is making connect-the-dots with thousands of dots that take hours to complete the drawing. 
I was similarly inspired by the "Count" function in my copy of Photoshop.  You can count image elements by clicking on them: every click, you get a dot and a sequential number.  So, if you wanted to count how many jellybeans are  in the jar, just keep clicking until there are no more jellybeans without dots.  You look at the final number, and that's your tally. 
I used the same function to draw this posey.  The downside is that Photoshop cruelly disallows printing Guides, including the Count.  I upsampled a screen capture, and that seemed to work okay after fiddling with Unsharp. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

867 - John The Baptist, Part V

Honestly, this week I can't tell if I made my icon of John the Baptist better or worse.  It's different, anyhow, with lots of things that need attention and correction.  My instructor was economical with his comments, so I believe it is up to me to hunt down and exterminate the faults.  That's always the difference between the amateur and the master, the ability to either recognize and avoid mistakes, or to hide them seamlessly.  Either way, it's a lot of work, usually woefully underpaid. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

866 - The Jupiter Scar

The Weird-O-Rama Express makes its last stop on JSVB this week - I hope.  Hallowe'en has inspired me to post some of the weirder stuff that has been going on.  Next post, I will get back to more artistic endeavours.

So: for a while I had a Jupiter scar.  I woke up with a burning sensation on my ankle and when I bothered to look, I saw I had this strangely curved, razor thin scar.  It only lasted a few hours, and this time I had the sense to snap a photo, such as it is.

The first thing I did was to look up the source of razor thin scars.  Quite a number of people get them, although many seem to be from cold, dry climates.  Probing the Internet brought forth a number of colourful theories.

At the top of this list were ghosts and demons.  Ghosts scar people because if they work hard to break the ectoplasmic barrier, they can.  I guess if I was a ghost, I'd give scarring the mortals a shot for a couple of thousand years.  Demons also scar people because they can.  I figure if I were a ghost or a demon, I would want to try for something more spectacular than a skin lesion that heals in a couple of hours, but as yesterday's JSVB post proves, spectacular isn't what it used to be.  The world we live in does not work that way.  Even the Second Coming will likely seem trite after "Pacific Rim" (2013).

Lower on the Fortean scale are actual medical conditions, likely a histamine response, which is a fancy way of saying allergy.  The most likely source is scabies, which is a skin mite we can get from animals like the neighbour's dog.  Interestingly, the scabies rash is an irritative allergic response that can occur up to a year after the initial mite attack. 

Beyond that, histamine responses can occur from diet, climate, and psychological stresses.  I can check off all of those boxes.

At the bottom of the theory bin are old friends, the extraterrestrials.  Most people don't believe that we are being abducted by flying saucers just to get a couple of scars that go away before the end of the day, as that seems to be a tremendous waste of technology.  The most attractive theory is that there are trans-dimensional beings that co-exist with us on Earth, and that actively sample us from across interspatial portals.  We don't normally detect them because we do not sense paranormal dimensions as a rule. 

I cannot prove or disprove any of this.  The medical mumbo-jumbo is as equally impenetrable as the jargon of the UFO people.  I trimmed my fingernails and the scars stopped appearing.

As to the form of the scar, lucky thing I have my copy of Carl S. Liungman's excellent "Dictionary Of Symbols" (1991), which is a guide to semiotics that no person of curiosity should be without.  Along with a comprehensive Graphic Index that guides the reader through thousands of symbols, there are also very interesting articles on alchemy, the hobo sign code, and even a well-informed discussion of the power of symbology during World War II.
According to the Dictionary, my scar was shaped like the zodiac symbol for Jupiter (Sagittarius).  How or why is a complete mystery.  What I do know is that the Jupiter symbol is an amalgamation of the astrological signs for "soul" and "matter", making it a powerful icon.  Also, I know that Sagittarius and Gemini (me), don't often go together.

The little graphic is courtesy of The Jupiter Center, whose website I thought might belong to some space planet cult.  Instead, the Jupiter Center is an office for family therapy, something far more rational and earthbound than spectral scarring. 

For another, briefer post on scars I have endured, please check out JSVB Post #381 by clicking here.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

865 - No-One Wanted To Believe

Does anybody remember this photo:
No?  I posted this authentic picture of a flying saucer back in Spring this year.  You can click here for the full story, in JSVB Post #760. 
Since then, I have been deluged by exactly zero invitations to lecture, to late-night television, or even the news, no phone calls, letters, nocturnal threats from the MIB's, e-mails or even remarks from friends or spouses.  I was surprised.  I figure the contemporary world is so blasé about the paranormal that everybody takes visits by extraterrestrials for granted.  Who hasn't taken a picture of a flying saucer?  No doubt everybody has shaken hands with ET by now.  There are so many reports of things in the sky, it's a wonder we can even see the sun for all of the stuff that is in low Earth orbit.  Executive summary: public response equal to or less than completely underwhelming.  Bleh.
Well, I promised that I would divulge the complete story behind the UFO photo.  Since we are still close enough to Hallowe'en, I figured I might as well get this out of the way.
First, as I had mentioned, this picture is completely optically real.  There are no Photoshop edits or insertions.  What you see is what the camera saw which is what the naked eye saw that day.  Except... upside-down. We invert the picture to see the original shot:

Now the tree branches are obeying gravity correctly, but the "sky" is inverted.  That is because the sky is water.  You are looking at an almost perfectly still shoreline shot from on top of a cliff looking downward.  The sky is reflected in the water, which is roughly six inches to a foot deep.  There is a smudge just below half-way: that's a tidal pool. The flying saucer is a mound of sand that children had built into a large sand castle.  When the tide came in, the castle was reduced to something like a large baseball mound.  in the water, I thought it looked like an alien spacecraft.
Here is the same mound of sand the next day, taken from the ground level and with the tide completely out.  There's even a kid trying to build it back up again:
There are a few take-aways that remain from my UFO experience.  I will likely never ever get a photograph of a real flying saucer.  And if I did, it appears the best way to bury the evidence would be for me to post it here on JSVB.  Lastly, there's some paunch in a Ramones shirt in Hollywood right now that's making a seven figure salary dreaming up exactly the same visual effects that I do, only I'm not that paunch. 
Again: bleh.

Friday, November 1, 2013

864 - "Jeff The Ref"

"Jeff The Ref" was one of the more benign nicknames I endured in school as a child.  A referee is the worst thing kids could think of to rhyme with Jeffrey. 
This pic is of my wife and I at field level of BC Place!  What a thrill!  Thank you, BC Lions!