Wonky's Land of Nonsensical Musings

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Pictures from Rome

Back in 2008 I spent two days in Rome. It was a quick trip at the end of my longer visit to Monaco. Sadly my camera’s battery died before we headed home.  That is when I started my policy of requiring my phones to take normal AA batteries. Below are some of my favorite pics I did take.

As always click for a larger version.

The weather that greeted us in Rome
Had to go to Vatican City of course
That stairway everybody takes pictures of

Rome roofs

Had to go look at some old Roman stuff

More old Roman stuff 

Food Friday: easy black bean chili

Sorry,  I don’t have any pictures for this recipe. It is one I make quite often.  It takes about fifteen minutes and makes a cheap and nommy couple of meals.


  • 24 fl oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 24 oz can of black beans
  • 1 medium onion
  • salt and pepper
  • chili powder
  • cayenne 
  • cumin
Chop the onion into moderately sized pieces.  I am a fan of onions so I chop it into about inch square pieces. Dump the black beans and the onions into a pot for approximately 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then add the can of tomatoes with all the juice.  Cook over medium heat for another 6-8 minutes and then season to taste.  I use about a tablespoon of chili powder and a teaspoon of both cumin and cayenne powder.
It’s quick, easy, healthy, and delicious.  I always keep the ingredients on hand if needed.  To extend the dish you can add a couple of cups of cooked rice and end up with black beans and rice. 

Don’t worry be happy

I am going to share with you one of the first things I ever really learned about myself.  I have no idea if this applies to anyone else.  I learned it after several weeks when I was really done because of something that happened.  I looked back and my life and realized something really simple.  I am happy when I choose to be happy. I am not saying I have control of instantaneous emotions in response to something.  But if I am still having that emotion three or four days along I am choosing that.  Held emotions are my choice.

Stupid human brain tricks

So for lunch I was planning to go to my favorite taqueria, El Charro. They have one dollar taco Wednesday.  Their tacos are some of the best in town. You have to get them Mexican style.  That means they only have cilantro, onions, and lime juice on them. The place is maybe a mile from where I work.  I sometimes walk there but it’s kinda cold these days.  I planned to drive but when I got outside I decided I didn’t want to waste the gas. So I went to a closer Mexican restaurant I could walk to. On the way back I ran into a coworker who wondered why I hadn’t gone to El Charro.  I told him I didn’t want to waste the gas and we went our separate ways. On the way into the building it suddenly dawned on me.  I saved probably twenty cents worth of gas but the meal at the other restaurant cost five dollars more.  FACE PALM!

A warm wind at your back and a tornado at your front

Photo courtesy of flickr user Tim Sheets

This past Sunday I had to drive to Chicago for a special friends 40th birthday. Yet once again things conspired against me. I really think the universe doesn’t want me in the western suburbs.

First off the engine light on my not even three year old Ford Fiesta kept coming on. Sometimes when it would come on the engine would lose some power. Turning the car off and back on(Have you tried turning it off and back on again) fixes the problem until it happens again. On Friday during lunch I took the car into the Ford dealership to see if they would look at it. They told me to bring it back Monday. I could not miss this party. So I rented a car for a couple of days.

Next up I needed a present. I actually knew exactly what I wanted to get. I had found it online and wanted to see it in real life. Luckily for me the retailer has a brick in mortar store in my town, or so the internet says. I first looked for the store on the Friday and couldn’t find it. So the next day I navigated my fancy Nissan Altima rental car to the store using google maps. The store wasn’t there just an empty store front. I mean seriously shouldn’t google have been up on that. So this happened.

So Sunday dawns warm and with very strong winds blowing from the south. I had heard the possibility that their might be some strong storms that day.  Nothing seemed obvious on the radar as I set out.  I made good times with the strong wind at my back.  Listening to the radio out of Chicago it sounded like really horrible times were ahead. They were talking about postponing the Bears game.  I made it almost all the way to Naperville with out much in the way of bad weather, even had some sun and the window open for awhile.  All that changed as I got within a mile of my destination. Deep dark clouds rolled above me and a few giant drops of rain splashed against my windshield. Then the storm broke loose.  The wind became a gale and the rain poured down reducing my vision to a mere twenty feet.  I made it but sadly some others weren’t as lucky. There were several tornadoes and some confirmed deaths. At one point I was behind a pick-up truck with the tailgate removed and bed liner.  Every time he pulled away from a stop light water would pour out of the back of his truck.

On the way back from the party the temperature had dropped over twenty degrees and the wind had shifted to gale force from the west.  As I drove home I saw a skein of geese trying to fly.  Probably forty of them endeavored to head west.  They frantically beat their wings as hard as possible.  They didn’t make any forward progress. They just bounced around in the air.  Probably some sort of metaphor for life.

The scariest part for me was that I drove right through the place were the strongest tornadoes rolled through. If I had only been an hour later.

Music Monday: Underworld Beach

My memories of this song date back to the early nineties when a then girlfriend lent me the cassette tape. I really liked Underworld then. They seemed to harken back to New Wave which I am a big fan again.  Years later, maybe the 2000s, I came across another band called Underworld.  They were an electronic band.  Turns out it was the same band.

Book Review: Rosemary and Rue (October Daye, #1) by Seanan McGuire

Rosemary and Rue (October Daye, #1)Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I admit I didn’t expect much when I was handed this book. First off urban fantasy is not high on my enjoyable genre list. Secondly you mention the word fairy and I do not have high expectations. Turns out these fairies aren’t your Disney pixies with wings. These are some dark and tough fairies. The fairy world created here harkens back to the old stories where fairies can be terrifying and unpredictable. The author has created a very unique world that has only been hinted at in others works. I found this refreshing. The pacing is fast and satisfactory. Action follows action and the story is constantly pushed forward toward a resolution.

View all my reviews

People still go to malls. Who Knew.

So I needed to buy a birthday present. I found what I wanted to buy and the store to get it from. On Friday during lunch I drove out to where I thought the store was.  Couldn’t find it and didn’t have much time to look because I had to go back from my lunch break. So today armed with google maps and the exact location of the store, I set out.  I arrive at my location and it is just an empty store front. Seriously?  You would think google would be up to date on these things.  Since I was right next to the mall I decided to wander around there and look for something.  I couldn’t find a place to park.  The entire lot was filled.  This can’t be, I thought. Nobody goes to the mall anymore. I go in and the place is packed with people wall to wall. No special event was going on.  It was just a saturday night. 

An Ode to blogs

Oh blogs how I love you so. Of all forms of social media blogs and message boards are by far my favorite. There are a few reason why I love the blog. Twitter facebook etc require almost real time attention.  You have to keep checking your phone or you feel like you’ve missed something.  That’s an added stress I don’t need in my life. A lot of the new social media sites make it much harder to go back and find older posts.  I love reading really old long term blogs.  Fascinating to see what people were doing/saying in 2007 say.  Blogs also lend themselves to a longer format of writing so deeper ideas can be expressed and discussed.   I despise the fact that most corporate social media censors what you see.  You aren’t seeing everything your friends posts but what their algorithms think is best. Best meaning generate them the most profit. I blog is going to always contain what the author thought was important enough to write. Your blog is there for you. Corporate social media is there for the corporation.

Using up empathy

We all have a few of those online friends.  The ones who use up our empathy.  They post vague updates and tweets. Going through some hard times, need positive thoughts/links etc…  They then get the desired outpouring of support. The worst are the people who do this for a long period of time. After about the twentieth tweet I have run all out of empathy for you. Maybe they suffer through a real issue, a bad divorce, or health problems.  But they don’t share what is really wrong. They want the empathy without really sharing the pain. I fully understand the desire for some privacy but if I don’t know the details I cannot truly empathize.

This isn’t just an old guy rant about internet friends being fake friends.  I have friends I have never actually met in person who I know a great deal about. We have shared many deep personal things.  I will have the same empathy for them as I do for IRL friends because they are in my real life.  If all I know is a self-censored timeline then I don’t really know you. If I don’t know what you regret I don’t really know you.

Don’t go to the internet with vague calls for support. Go to people who actually know you.  Rant over.

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