phynedyning

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

We were going to be different

In Editorial on May 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Memorial Day 2011.

I remember my father (OBM) crouching over a flimsy tin barbeque grill that wobbled on spindly, wire legs.  The coals ignited in a “whoosh” when he touched a match to the napalm he squirted from metal can.  After what seemed like an eternity, the coals finally turned chalky white and Dad pronounced them “ready” for the chicken or steak he had purchased for our Memorial Day feast.

Aside from the parade earlier that morning, there were no vulgar displays of phony bravery and pseudopatriotism.  There were no “Support the Troops” magnetic ribbons adorning the bumper of this year’s crop of cars parked in the driveway.  A few of Dad’s coworkers would show up after the steak or chicken had been devoured and they would sit and talk about their military experiences and not to mindlessly chant “USA!” like their grandchildren would, some fifty years later.

“We” were going to be different than our parents.  We were going to shun the materialism of our parents.

And so we are.

We now refuse to buy those little, tin grills manufactured in some small, rural town in the South.  Our meat sees nothing less than the Chinese-built, twelve-burner, stainless steel behemoth we bought at Wal Mart.  The cans of my Dad’s blue-collar Pabst Blue Ribbon have been replaced with tall bottles of imported vodka or microbrewery vanity ales.

“We” sang the anti-materialistic Monkees song, Pleasant Valley Sunday or Pete Seeger’s, Tiny Boxes in the ironically identical, fenced backyards of our parent’s, modest suburban (all-alike) homes.  Our accompaniment was a five-dollar transistor radio with a tinny, two-inch speaker.

Today a three hundred dollar, all-weather sound system blares those songs over our all-weather decks through Bose patio speakers hanging from custom-made brackets carefully painted in “our” palette.

See, we are different than our parents.

Our parents saw to it that we were educated.

We sweltered in schoolhouses and, if we were alphabetically lucky, we had a seat near one of the tall windows that admitted an occasional waft of cool breeze.  At the end of the day we raced down the steps of the school’s exits, holding onto railings made of painted heavy pipe.  By the sixth grade, we had read and digested Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun.

We, likewise, encourage our young toward education.

Our grandchildren sit in hermetically sealed, climate-controlled classrooms and, by the sixth grade, struggle with Dick and Jane, on a computer monitor.  We proudly tell our elderly parents, “The kids are already learning computers!”

At the end of the day, our grandchildren race down the steps grasping magnificent sculptured aluminum handrails.  Instead climbing of monkey bars (also constructed of spare pipe) erected over rock-strewn playgrounds, the grandchildren gaze longingly at the multi-million dollar high school sports complex across the highway.

There will be time to learn how to read when they get to college.  A community college degree now costs the same as a baccalaureate degree from Harvard or Yale fifty years ago…minus the requirement to understand the calculus.

Time brought changes to the enemies our national leaders use as excuses for fortune and empire building.  To ensure the survival of the national bureaucracy, we need to replenish our enemies with new ones.

We no longer fear “Charlie”, the “dinks”, “gooks”, or “slopes”.  Today, we cheer the American soldier grandchildren of Southeast Asians as they march off to deal with “Haji”, “towel heads”, or “terry-wrists”.

We grew up and ripped down posters coated with Max Ehrmann’s Disiderata and quotes by Thoreau.  We replaced them with soccer ball stickers on the back glass of Chevy Suburbans we purchased for multiples of the cost of the suburban home where we grew up.

We remain acutely aware of want and hunger.  The back bumper of our SUV proclaims our outrage at poverty, and our grandchild’s status on the honor role.

We take action!

We rally our like-minded and socially conscious brethren and lobby our representatives to levy higher taxes to pay for social programs combating hunger and homelessness.  After all, if we pony up our own money do deal with social injustice and hunger, there would be no money left to buy that mega-grill…the one bearing our imported Kobe beef steaks.

Unlike our materialistic parents, we do not pull our latest possessions into the driveway or onto the front lawn to display like scalps hanging from our lodge poles.  We post photos of them on Facebook and wait for our “friends” to click on “like”.

We support social change, like marriage equity, by frequenting gay bars to proclaim our open-mindedness…but cringe at marching in a Pride Parade out of fear that the owner of the cubicle-farm we toil in might see us.

Never mind that the gay patrons of gay bars are so annoyed by our straight presence that they show gay porn on the television over the bar to discourage us from parading our “tolerance” for the gay lifestyle by our self-seen courageous act of drinking a beer with gay men.

We are certain to mention our African-American, Jewish, or Muslim friends whenever discussing social issues in a group whenever there is no African-American, Jew, or Muslim present.  The mention of our friendships with minorities are surrogates for the bigger possessions which we cannot drag into a trendy bar or restaurant.

Last night, before I drifted off to sleep on the eve of America’s annual festival to war carnage, I watched a beautifully choreographed bit of patriotic music.  It was the kind of music national leaders use to inspire young men and women to abandon all thoughts of self-preservation in favor of the glory of service to the Empire.  While listening to the martial music of war, I contemplated what Sophie Kerr had to say about it:

“If peace…only had the music and pageantry of war, there’d be no wars.”

We really are different than our parents.

I sat looking at the old photographs of war protests of the late 1960s and early 1970s.  Millions of long-haired “hippies” joined together with grey-haired “hard hats” to protest the insanity found in marching to the other side of the globe to kill neo-savages who somehow threatened industrialized America from their rice paddies.

The old hippies have moved to the suburbs, donned their blue jeans and Polo shirts, lit their stainless steel mega-grills, and self-righteously cry for “unity” and disparage dissent for its “disrespect” for the men and women of the armed services…while listening to a cookie-cutter radio station playing Four Dead in Ohio.

They climb over each other to display lapel-pin patriotism as they send forth the imperial legions to deal with neo-savages who, today, threaten industrialized America from poppy fields in Afghanistan.

Our generation accomplished so much.

“I’m impatient, you’re rude”

In Lifestyle on May 25, 2011 at 10:47 am

“Everyone who drives slower than me is an idiot, and everyone who drives faster than me is a maniac.”


I have been had a recent, maniacal (almost obsessive) fascination with the angry/aggressive behavior of drivers who are otherwise nice people.

Yesterday, I journeyed out to refill “Jack’s” medication at the Hy Vee pharmacy nearby.  When I emerged, minutes later, the sky had opened and I found myself wondering if G-d had forgotten about the promise not drown mankind twice.  I stood under the overhang outside the store and watched the rain, enjoying a jovial conversation with some kids from Indiana.

Suddenly, a small Kia zoomed to the (red) curb in front of the doors.  A man jumped out of the front seat and ran to a grocery cart stashed under the awning.  He quickly loaded his single sack of dog food and began to head for the driver’s side door.

A horn blared.

“Hey ***-hole! Are you special?”

The voice came from a white SUV stopped behind the Kia.  The driver of the Kia looked at me and asked, “Did you hear that?”  I shrugged.  The damage had been done and there was no sense throwing gasoline on the flames.

The Kia driver had turned his four-way flashers on and had parked well to the side to allow other vehicles sufficient clearance to pass.  The driver did not go inside the store.  He merely sprinted from the Kia, retrieved his bag of dog food, and sprinted back to his car.  The whole schpiel took him less than fifteen seconds.

The SUV driver leaned on the horn.

I opened the copy of Cityview I had picked up from the rack inside the store.

Cityview is my newspaper of choice.  It is a delightful break from the corporate-approved and Iowa Ministry of Economic Development blather served up, pre-masticated for the masses, by the Des Moines Register.

Inside, Cityview’s editor and publisher, Shane Goodman was holding court below the masthead, in part, on his impatience with some drivers.

Goodman detailed his impatience with drivers who cruise at 15mph in 40mph zones.

Then he took on “…the driver who holds up dozens of cars in the right turning lane (sic) but waits for the light to turn green to go straight.”

Aha!

Goodman may have a valid point against inconsiderate drivers who do so in a lane marked “right turn only”.  But then, going straight in a lane so-marked would be a violation, not just bad manners.

Two points:

One, unless a lane is a designated turn lane, a car in that lane may proceed straight ahead when the signal permits doing so.  It would make no sense to require otherwise, especially if the driver wishes to enter a driveway or street immediately on the right beyond the intersection.

Two, there is no requirement for a driver to turn right on red.  Notice the excerpt from the Iowa Code below:

321.257  OFFICIAL TRAFFIC-CONTROL SIGNAL. 1.  For the purposes of this section “stop at the official traffic-control signal” means stopping at the first opportunity at either the clearly marked stop line or before entering the crosswalk or before entering the intersection. 2.  Official traffic-control signals consisting of colored lights or colored lighted arrows shall regulate vehicle and pedestrian       traffic in the following manner: a.  A “steady circular red” light means vehicular traffic shall stop.  Vehicular traffic shall remain standing until a signal to proceed is shown or vehicular traffic, unless prohibited by a sign, may cautiously enter the intersection to make a right turn from the right lane of traffic or a left turn from a one-way street to a one-way street from the left lane of traffic on a one-way street onto the leftmost lane of traffic on a one-way street.  Turns made under this paragraph shall be made in a manner that does not interfere with other vehicular or pedestrian traffic lawfully using the intersection.


If drivers were required to turn right on red, the bolded “may” would read, “shall”.

Goodman’s self-critical comments about his impatience made me think.

“Ah!  To impatient people, anything that interferes with their immediate gratification is “rude” or “inconsiderate”.  The offender’s actions need not be truly rude.  Their actions need only be relabeled as rude to draw a no quarter response from the otherwise nice, but impatient, person they inconvenienced.  Being rude to, or punishing, rude people is socially acceptable!

Case in point.

A person claiming to be a civil process server banged repeatedly on my door over several weeks to ask if I had seen my neighbor for whom she had some legal papers.  It is my policy not to give information about anybody simply because someone demands that information.

I would not want my neighbor giving information to anyone about my coming and going.  So, why would I aggress upon his/her likely similar expectation?

One afternoon, I busied myself with a vehicle repair in my driveway.  A shadow fell over me.  I looked up and there stood the attorney’s hireling responsible for all of the door banging.

“Have you seen your neighbor?” she asked in an officious tone.

I worked silently on the car.

“Look, it would be better if you just told me.  I’m an officer of the court.”

“I have nothing to offer you.  I am not the person you are seeking and I have told you so on numerous occasions.  I do not keep track of my neighbors and I am not compelled to become a neighborhood busybody and snitch.  Now, since you no longer have a lawful authority or purpose to remain on my property demanding answers, I am asking you to leave.”

Her face reddened.  “There’s no need to be rude” she fumed.  She walked to the rear of the car I was working on and made a big show of writing down my vehicle’s license number.

After she stomped off, I contemplated my “rude” behavior.

I had not raised my voice and did not use vulgar language or gestures.  I merely re-stated that I was not the person sought and that I respected the privacy of my neighbors.  Then, because there was no further business between us to be discussed, I asked her to leave.

But!

The woman had a much different scenario playing in her head as she approached me.

She would ask me about my neighbor’s comings and goings and I would babble the times I see my neighbor and might even helpfully offer to call her the next time my neighbor is home.

It did not happen that way.  She was impatient to deliver her packet of assigned legal papers to her target.  I had thwarted her plans.

Consequently, her expectation of immediate gratification transformed my reasonable expectation to be left alone into “rudeness” that deserved a punishing act by her.

Now, I get the anger and aggression displayed by so many drivers.  I will pick on Shane for the purpose of illustration.

Goodman sees the intersection ahead and wishes to turn right.  The light is red and right turns on red are not prohibited at this intersection.  Goodman anticipates that the driver of the lead car will turn right on red and that he (Goodman) will soon be at the intersection to turn right when it is his turn to do so.  His fingers drum on the steering wheel in anticipation.

But, the driver of the lead car does not wish to turn right.  The lead car remains motionless until the light turns green…the lead car goes straight.

The lane, contrary to reality, is the turning lane for Goodman and it was rude of the driver in the lead to obstruct Goodman’s anticipated progress.

The driver who blew the horn and cursed at the man picking up his dog food saw himself proceeding, uninhibited, out of the supermarket parking lot and going about his planned business.

The driver of the Kia interfered with those plans, causing the driver of the SUV to defer his immediate gratification.

Immediate gratification deferred…cause of delay is “rudeness”…I am justified to punish rudeness with a horn blast and stern language.

“You’re driving slower than I saw myself going.  How rude!  I’ll punish your rudeness by tailgating.”

“I saw myself zipping through Beaverdale.  I didn’t expect someone to be in the crosswalk, but there you are.  How rude!  I’ll punish you by blowing my horn.”

I am betting if asked, the angry/aggressive drivers would attribute their actions to the “rudeness” or “inconsiderate acts” of other drivers.

Nice people do not like rudeness and want rude people to be nice.  It becomes their self-appointed duty to correct rude behavior.

My question has been answered.

Phun with Phusion

In Recipies on May 24, 2011 at 1:56 pm

The photo that almost wasn't.

I was starving last Friday night when I set my Shabbat meal down.  I barely made it through chanting “Welcome!” to my favorite day of the week.  So, when the final Blessing was said, I grabbed my fork and dug in.  “STOP!”, cried Mrs. Phyne Dyner.  “Are you going to take a picture for your blog friends?”  I glanced at my plate, a nice dent had been made in the rice.  Some of the vegetables lay strewn across the plate, as though tossed there by a fork-sized tornado.  The cod lay in two pieces.  It had been only a few seconds since I had said “Amein”.  “Oh-oh”, I offered sheepishly.  I glanced across the table at her plate, yet untouched.

One of the challenges facing Phyne Dyners is the mind-freeze that comes just before suppertime.  The malady typically strikes me about two hours before Shabbat begins, on the rare occasion when I have not pre-planned our best supper of the week.

There are many contributors to the mind-freeze.

While we eat a relaxed form of kosher, even our level of kashrut comes with a number of prohibitions.  The adventurer in me would love to experiment with scallops, shrimp, and rolled slabs of pork.  Unfortunately, that stuff is not allowed to even cross the threshold of our happy home.

We also try to eat fairly healthy.

Vegetables highlight over meats and “meat” is often well-trimmed chicken or lean fish.  Highlight items are rotated every week so we do not burn out on chicken, salmon, cod, or the rarely encountered bit of beef.  It can be challenging.

Last Friday, mind-freeze set in at 70-below.

We “had” chicken the week prior and I ground up some nice steaks to make meatballs for an absolutely amazing batch of spaghetti the week before that.

I do not grind my own hamburger from “kosher” cuts of meat.  I grind it because much of the “ground beef” the public buys consists of highly processed bits of cow gentiles would shy away from eating.

Much of that highly processed “beef” contains spinal cord and other central nervous system tissues.  Do some reading about “prions”, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, and bovine spongiform encephalitis and get back to me about being willing to eat stuff today that may make you mad as a hatter twenty-some years later.

No thanks!  I murdered enough brain cells in my Popeye the Sailorman days.  Some days, only two cells function and, without a third, there is no way to cross-check the system.

It explains a lot…maybe even mind-freeze.

Last Friday, I settled on Caribbean-jerked (style) cod and Southeast Asian-style vegetables over basmati rice.  It seemed like a wonderful fusion of two distant cuisines.

I have nearly omitted regular, long-grain rice from our pantry in favor of buying basmati rice.  The latter has flavor.  If you are going to take the time to prepare something, make sure it has flavor.

Regular white, long-grained rice is simply “belly-wadding”.

Now, normally, jerked-styled something needs to marinate a bit…hopefully overnight or for at least several hours.  I thawed the cod a bare hour before service.

But, by putting the cod and the jerk marinade into a special marinating bowl that came with my food vacuum packager, I was able to marinate the cod in under an hour!

With time running out, I grabbed the bag of Asian stir-fry vegetables out of the freezer and thawed out two cups of them.  At the same time, I rinsed and began cooking the rice.

Tempus fugit.

Here is the Caribbean-jerk marinade for the cod:

1 5-8oz cod loin per person

1 tsp dried, minced onion

1 tsp dried, crushed red pepper or ½ tsp cayenne

½ tsp ground ginger

½ to 1 tsp ground allspice

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp dried thyme,

½ tsp (each) black pepper and salt (salt is optional)

¼ C olive oil or vegetable oil

¼ C lime juice (lemon juice works well too)

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a non-reactive bowl, add cod loins and allow to marinate overnight, or at least 4 hours.  Pre-heat oven to 400F.  Bake cod for 5-7 minutes on one side, turn, and bake 3-5 more minutes…or until fish is firm, opaque, and flakes easily with a toothpick or fork.

For the Southeast Asian vegetables

1 C per person frozen Asian stir-fry vegetables

1-2 tsp Vietnamese-style chili paste or sauce

2 tsp nuoc mam (Vietnamese fish sauce) OR ¼ tsp anchovy paste in 2 tsp water

½ tsp sugar

Cook the vegetables according to package instructions.  Mix all of the other ingredients together and toss with the vegetables just prior to service.

Lay down a generous bed of basmati rice, place a dollop of vegetables on top of the rice, and gently lay the cod on top.  Serve with a medley of fruits.

The Phyne Dyner talks about “stuff”

In Editorial on May 24, 2011 at 8:59 am

Good news!

During my latest re-supply mission to Hy Vee, I noted that my beloved tonic water had experienced a price rollback.  The price decreased from 3/$2 to 2/$1.

Thank you, Mr. Obama!

Bad news!

Organic red peppers jumped from $3.69/ea, to $3.99/ea.

It is why I drink.

 

What I’m (Not) Drinking:

 

Wine from Casa di Vino

As I stood in line at the pharmacy waiting on more meds for my friend “Jack”, I was able to catch up on my email, balance my checkbook, and get an early start on my 2011 income taxes.

“It is with great trepidation…”

The rest of the email from Howard Bernstein, proprietor and official sommelier for Phyne Dyning, related his decision to close Casa di Vino.  I will not deign to offer a post-mortem on Casa di Vino.  Instead, I will articulate my hope that Howard’s decision to close his wine shop was made because he won big at Lotto and will be retiring to a vineyard in Tuscany.

Phyne Dyning wishes Howard the very best and thanks him for being one of the stalwart among the vanishing breed of entrepreneurs…they are truly “The Man in the Arena”.

In related news:

The Phyne Dyner asked the clerk at Hy Vee for information about the wines stacked between the bratwurst buns and feminine hygiene items.  “It’s $12.99”, he offered hopefully.

 

More email opened:

“DM” took me to task over my political commentary.  I prefer to label it as “scurrilous curmudgeonry”.

“You said you were going to stop making political commentary and give us a place to retreat…”

Yes, I did.  When I did so, page views fell by 80%.  When I resumed political commentary, page views jumped to return to their previous values.

Sorry…the tribe has spoken.

Freedom is a strong drink, not well tolerated by the timid.

 

Mad about you:

Free-floating anger was once a hallmark of anti-social personality disorder (ASPD).  Has ASPD become epidemic?  Or, have the diagnostic criteria for the psychiatric disorder changed?

I was dutifully walking my empty cart back inside Costco out at Jordan Creek Town(e) Center(re) when I observed a neatly dressed man shoving the front wheels of his empty cart up on a curb to “park” it only a mere twenty-five feet from the store’s entrance.

“C’mon dude” I called cheerfully “it’s only twenty-five more feet. Let’s go for the burn!”

“F*ck off.  Or, I’ll burn you” he replied.  Some kind of ID fluttered from the lanyard around his neck.

YIKES!

I quietly removed his abandoned cart from the curb and pushed it inside with mine.   As I was getting in my car, I felt eyes on me.  The man had parked his Lexus 350 “something” behind me and had rolled the window down.

He mouthed the word “loser” and drove off.

“Jack” update:

One of the surprises (pleasant ones) that came with my blog has been the amount of concern readers have shown for my old dog, “Jack”.

At this writing, Jack is doing very well.  “Dr. Dan” changed up some of his medications and we can tell a big difference in how the old boy feels.

Yes, I still carry Jack in and out to the garden and his medications run a bit over $200/mo.

It is the least I can do for my old friend.

There’s never been a better time!

My first awakening to marketing lies came at a young age.

In the back pages of nearly every comic book of the era, advertisements abounded for cute little “Sea Monkeys”.

The picture showed a critter right out of a Doctor Seuss story.  In fact, it was a picture of a whole family of Who-like marvels.

I ordered some…only a buck, plus $2.49 “shipping and handling”.  When they arrived, I dumped the “magic” powder into a glass of water and, in twenty-four hours, I had…

…brine shrimp.

Sheesh!  Can’t they give us a break from the constant haranguing of advertisements?  They are everywhere and the ongoing 24/365 “election” coverage in Iowa is just one more example…the last cycle’s losers have been re-packaged and re-announced as “new” and “improved”.

Repackaged Sea Monkeys.

Standing firm on belief:

Mrs. Phyne Dyner and I had a serious discussion the other night.  The nice people she works for are offering their employees complimentary memberships at Sam’s Club.

The Phyne Dyner would rather learn to goose-step than patronize walmart.gov or any other part of the Walton Evil Empire…and he relayed his disappointment in Mrs. PD for selling out to The Man.

It all started when Janet “Big Sis” Napolitano and Wally World joined forces in the “See something, say something be-a-snitch-win-valuable-prizes” program last November.

Mrs. PD holds the opinion that it is best to take whatever is given and put it to use for our own purposes and to forward our own agenda.  I have a feeling that Mrs. PD learned that value at the feet of a guy wearing black pyjamas.

It is why I love her dearly.

The Phyne Dyner is a devoted male feminist and his vote does not cancel out Mrs. PD’s simply on the basis she was born with ovaries.

She will have her Sam’s Club membership…but I do not have to like it.

Bar exams:

My new “What I’m Drinking” feature has proven to be something people enjoy.

I came clean and admitted I know virtually nothing about wines and dove into the wine barrel, head first.

Despite the pending closure of Casa di Vino, the Phyne Dyner will continue to hold forth on swill.

Think of the new feature as, “swill about swill”.

The next installment will cover the thorny issue of box wines.  Add to that, a bit of holding forth on stronger stuff.

Pass the aspirin.

She means well…

In Lifestyle on May 20, 2011 at 8:54 am

The "Fly's Eye View"

I know it was not intentional.

Yesterday’s Des Moines Register published a food review of the Rusty Duck in Dexter, Iowa.  According to the review, the eatery is the home of the burger voted “best” by the Iowa Beef Council.

I know nothing about the quality of the burger or the restaurant serving it.  I do know, if I were the proprietor, I would be highly torqued-off about the picture used by the reviewer, Sarah Dose, to illustrate their work in preparing the “best” burger in Iowa.

A rumpled, soiled napkin adorns the top of the shot.

Only an accompanying photograph of a stuffed, overflowing toilet in the ladies room would have been more off-putting for prospective patrons of the Rusty Duck.

Perhaps the Register lacks photo editing software which would have allowed Sarah to crop out the napkin?

The resolution suggests the picture was snapped with a cell phone camera.  The “back at ya” flash reflection also suggests this, or that Sarah knows nothing about flash photography.  The shot angle forced me to wonder if the object on the plate at the eight o’clock position was the top of the bun, or if it was a baked potato.  The flare caused by the flash bounce-back so badly washed out the subject so that the bacon on on the burger looked like bits of dried human flesh and made the “homie” potatoes look cold and greasy.

The blob of “green stuff” at nine o’clock had me wondering, “What is that drek?”

It is the lettuce and tomato, in what the over-flashed photo suggests is their dried out splendor.  It is hard to tell in the glare of Formica.

The worst I can say about the appearance of the food that can be attributed to the Rusty Duck, is that the cheese is barely melted and that it looks like squares of the surplus USDA stuff the Soviet-issued cooks slapped on our cold, green plastic trays in grade school.

No, I do not expect the Register to send a food editor and a couple of photojournalists to cover an $11 hamburger in Dexter, Iowa.

Pictures convey thousand-word stories about their subjects.  A dirty napkin, flash flare washing out the subject, and bare Formica took the “best” hamburger in Iowa and turned it into diner-gorp served up by a scruffy cook with a day-old stogie hanging from his mouth.

If Sarah’s editors do not have time to coach her in some basic photojournalism skills, perhaps she can shadow the food editor at Cityview?

The folks at the Rusty Duck, and its chef/cook deserved better.

Everybody loves Booby’s

In Recipies on May 19, 2011 at 10:05 am

The iconic logo of "Booby's"

In the near future, look for quite a few Phyne Dyning recipes to feature onions.  I came home the other day and found a heavy box at my door with a West Texas return address.  One of my friends back there had sent me a sack of Texas-1014 onions.  These sugary onions make those from Vidalia bitter by comparison.

One of my favorite places to unwind during my years at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale (SIU-C) was a bar on the strip called Booby’s.

No, it was not a strip club or t-bar as my Marine friends call them.

Booby’s was a place were grad students, M-1s (first year med students), and “lab rats” (research assistants) hung out.  Because the owners ran a no nonsense kind of place where drunken fights were quickly relocated to the county jail, the testosterone-intoxicated jocks tended to avoid the place.  A lot of the women from campus liked the place for that reason, as it removed the “meat market” atmosphere that is typical of many campus town bars.

The absence of jocks had the added benefit of keeping “wannabe” high school girls (jail-bait) away…a leading cause of fights between drunken jocks.

Still, Booby’s was no piano bar.  The place featured live music ranging from alternative rock to acoustic.  Some nights you could not hear your own thoughts and you sat quietly at your table, sacrificing brain cells to the Budweiser gods.  Other nights, you could sip cheap wine and have some remarkably sober conversations.

The closest place to Booby's (Web photo/Unknown)

Mike’s Place, a bar in Tel Aviv behind the American embassy, captures the same kind of atmosphere and attracts a similar crowd.

I am not sure why I thought of Booby’s, except that I was lost for a supper idea until I thought of hot dogs.

Hot dogs?

Not just hot dogs…Booby’s-style hot dogs.

Big kosher dinner franks, boiled not grilled.  A chewy sour dough bun, filled with minced onions, tomatoes, diced pickled pepperoncini, with a couple of tablespoons of spicy, heavy grained mustard slathered on it.

A side of Hula Hoop-sized onion rings and skin-on chips (fries) on the side with a frosty beer made for some fine eating.  The whole shpiel in those days was less than five bucks.

I looked down at the sack of 1014s and the menu was set.  The smallest onion in the bag was almost four inches in diameter.  I tossed one into the basket of my kitchen scale… 2lbs, 6oz.!

Next, I selected two enormous russet potatoes from their bin for the skin-on chips.

We will start with the chips.

Cut one large (unpeeled) russet potato (per person) into ½” wide sticks.  Heat oil in a large Dutch oven (or electric fryer) to 350F.  Cook the potato sticks for 7 minutes, or until they just begin to turn translucent or become pale golden along their cut edges.  Remove from the oil and allow them to cool.  When all of the potato sticks have been pre-cooked, increase the oil temperature to at least 380F (400 is better).  Again, in batches, return the potato sticks to the hot oil for 4-5 more minutes, or until deep golden and crisp.  Remove from the oil and allow the potatoes to drain on clean newsprint or paper towels.  Keep the potatoes hot in a 250-degree oven while you make the onion rings.

For the onion rings:

1 very large onion per two people, sliced to make rings ½ to ¾ inch wide

2 C milk

2 TBS white vinegar

2 C white flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp dry thyme

1 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

¾ tsp cayenne pepper

1 TBS Chalula hot sauce

1 tsp ground, black pepper

Pre-heat oil to 360F.  Temperature is critical.  Too hot, and the coating will over cook and the onion will be raw.  Too cool, and the coating will be undercooked, greasy, and doughy.

In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking powder, thyme, garlic powder, cayenne, and black pepper.  In a small, deep bowl mix the milk, vinegar, sugar, and hot sauce together thoroughly.  Working in small batches, dip the onion rings into the milk mixture, shake off the excess, and dredge them through the flour mixture.  For a thicker, crispier coating…return the onion ring to the milk mixture and run it through the flour mixture a second time.  Toss the ring into the hot oil.  Do not crowd the rings in the oil.  Cook the rings until they are deep golden and float on the surface of the oil.  Remove the rings, using long tongs, to clean newsprint or paper towels to drain.

For the dogs:

1-2 Kosher dinner-size franks (Nathan’s, Sinai, or Hebrew National), per person

(Note: Kielbasa makes a great sandwich here, too.)

1 sour dough hoagie roll (or similar) per person

¼ C diced sweet onion per dog

¼ C diced Roma tomato per dog

1 TBS minced pickled pepperoncini per dog

1-2 TBS spicy, heavy-grained mustard per dog

Heat 4-5 quarts of water in a large pot until simmering.  Toss in the franks.  You can leave the franks in the water while you make the chips and rings.

Dampen a heavy towel with water.  It should be very damp, but not dripping.  Wrap the rolls (do not use regular hot dog buns) in the towel, place the wrapped package in a covered roasting pan and place in the 250-degree oven where you are keeping the chips and rings hot.

Ketchup serves the rings well, but they are tasty without any condiment.  We enjoy chips with mayonnaise or with malt vinegar…never ketchup.

Serve with frosted mugs of your favorite beer.

Okay, this is not health food.  And, without discipline, you will eat the chips and onion rings as soon as you can put them in your mouth without blistering it as you cook them.  This can lead to your Booby’s-style hot dogs looking sadly neglected from your plate as you belch fried stuff in Hedonist contentment.

POSTSCRIPT

Alas, Booby’s is no more.  I did a “whatever happened to” Web search for my old hangout and found “closed” listed next to each listing for the place.  It is too far to walk to visit Mike’s Place with any regularity.  So, I will have to make my own and settle for fond memories of the best little bar on the Carbondale strip.

A piguah (terror attack) struck Mike’s Place on April 30, 2003…killing three.  The bar was re-opened in a matter of weeks.  When we visited there again in July, it was defiantly packed with patrons.

(Israel News Agency Photo)

(Israel News Agency Photo)

Something “WONDERFUL” is about to happen

In General Information on May 18, 2011 at 9:00 am

One more thing to take care of before lighting these candles!

Something WONDERFUL has come to Phyne Dyning.

PD readers would not believe the kinds of email guesses the Phyne Dyner received about the pending, “WONDERFUL”.  Some were amusing, some sounded hopeful, and just a few (thankfully) were mean-spirited.

None were correct.

So, what is “WONDERFUL” at Phyne Dyning?

The Phyne Dyner is about half way through preparing a printed collection of Shabbat recipes that can be cooked in one pot.

The working title is, “Arukhat Shabbat in One Pot:  A year’s worth of economical, delicious, and easily prepared Shabbat dinners for the home chef.

“Arukhat Shabbat” is Hebrew for “Shabbat (Sabbath) Meal”.  In Jewish homes, the Friday evening meal is festive and often highlights the food week.  The simple evening meal of the workweek gives way to the best foods the family can afford.  The table is set with linen, the “good” dishes are brought out, and the preparations very much resemble those for when an honored guest visits for supper.

The honored guest is (you guessed it)…Shabbat!  Beginning at sundown on Friday night, the world changes.  The troubles of the week a put away with our working tools and we lighten our hearts in an environment where there is peace, freedom from want, kinship with all, and only the bright future of the now exists.  The chequebook is put away, the bills go in a drawer (out of sight), and we do not fret about the petty grievances, politics, or the daily news.

What’s that I hear?  “Oh joy, he’s written a cookbook just like the other million or so foodies.  Let loose the pigeons!”

Right.  The cookbook is not the “WONDERFUL” about which I have been teasing readers for nearly a month.

Sure, the cookbook will have around fifty one-pot meals that are sufficiently elegant for the Shabbat table, are fairly easy to prepare, use ingredients available almost anywhere, and will not break the family food budget.

No, these are not “casseroles” or fifty variations of cholent.  The meals range from robust to light and healthy.

That is still not “WONDERFUL”.

The spiral-bound format is “nice”, because it lies flat on a nearby work surface without using a milk jug and a bag of flour to hold it down.  That is “nice”, not “WONDERFUL”.

Sure, there are meat, fish, and vegetarian offerings.  There will be color photography; some of the prepared dishes and others from the Phyne Dyner’s time in Israel.

And no, you do not have to be Jewish to enjoy these meals.  They lend themselves to any meal of celebration.  They fit anyone’s table.  I could have just as easily worked with the concept as “Phyne Dyning’s One-Pot Meals”.

So, what is “WONDERFUL” about this?

Tzedakah!

Before we welcome the Shabbat, it is customary to give to charity.  Most Jewish homes have a special box where a folded bill or a few coins are dropped before we release ourselves from the bondage of the prior week.  The box is emptied periodically and the money is given to charitable causes or directly to the needy.  Whenever possible, the identity of the recipient is kept unknown, to protect their dignity and our own identity as the giver is obscured so our giving does not become a matter of personal pride or vanity.

What is the connection?

The book will be gently priced so that each book sale will generate eighteen dollars to go to charity.  The Phyne Dyner is only passing on the bare production costs to purchasers.  Because those costs may vary between production runs, the total price of the cookbook may vary.  What is certain, is that eighteen dollars for every book sold will go to charity.

What charity?

The Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund at Des Moines’ Temple B’nai Jeshurun.

Monies from this fund help alleviate sufferings of Jews and non-Jews at home and far away.  It may help pay for a neighbor’s medicines or groceries, make a car payment so the owner keeps his/her car (and his/her job!), buy a coat for a cold child, buy a fan for an overheated elder, or cross oceans to help after a natural disaster.  The money has been used to pay a medical bill that hung over a family like a cloud.  Many times recipients of the funds have no idea who came to their aid.  Sometimes, the fund never knows the names of the recipients.

Recently, like many families, the fund itself has fallen on more difficult financial times.  The need for emergency funds for people in need has seldom been greater.  Recently, the rabbi made a passionate plea for donations.

If the sale is one book, or one thousand books, it will have helped to alleviate someone’s suffering somewhere.

The cookbook is currently in production.  No orders are being accepted at this time.  Phyne Dyning will not contact subscribers to solicit sales of the book.  There will be no fanfare pointing to Phyne Dyning as the source of the donated funds.  There will not be one of those little “thermometers” informing readers how much further we need to go to get “X” dollars.  There is no deadline to meet because, just like the tzedakah box, the resulting funds are quietly and regularly given to the fund.

This is not about raising a set amount of money for a charity.  Just selling one book will make a difference, somewhere.

When the book is offered (the release date looks to be May or June) there will be ample notifications here at the Phyne Dyning blog, or on our Facebook page.

Why this?

The world does not seem to be as cold or angry when you experience it with a full stomach.  Food is the prototypical way peace is made between people.  I have seen people nearly bent on violence become calm and reasonable once they have been given food.

I believe every personal undertaking should have some component that is a vehicle to make the world a better place.  That responsibility extends to my meager efforts with Phyne Dyning.  Every week something “WONDERFUL” happens…Shabbat.

I am glad you are here to share in my efforts and to make our world a better place…so something “WONDERFUL” can make its way to someone who can use just a little bit of caring and financial help.

Bruschetta!

In Lifestyle, Recipies on May 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm

I love a good peasant meal and, in my opinion, there is no finer peasant meal than one based around bread.

Consequently, bruschetta stands tall as one of my favorite peasant meals.

Bruschetta seems to get no respect because it often is relegated to the “appetizer” page of American menus.  If you toss in (no pun intended) a great garden salad and some fruit, it is a meal.  Add some olives, roasted artichokes, and a plate of cheeses and fish…

…Paradise!

One of the best things about bruschetta is that it can be prepared while you devote time to your guests.  We did this for a small gathering last summer.

We covered our dining room table with olives, sliced cucumbers, celery hearts, hummus, eggplant dip, yogurt, cheeses, picked and smoked fish, fire roasted carrots and artichokes, bowls of nuts, and such.  We set out a few bottles of various, inexpensive robust wines and a couple of platters of fruit and melon.  Every few minutes, a sheet of bruschetta made its way to the table.  We had a great evening of conversation and had minimal clean up…everything was served on plastic party platters!

Wallah!  The (un)dinner party.

Bruschetta is versatile.

Bruschetta can be made with almost any whole loaf bread.  I have even enjoyed it when the bread base came out of a bread machine.  French, Italian, baguettes, focaccia, and even leftover challah are all wonderful bruschetta bases.  Frugal folk will appreciate that the bread does not have to be bakery fresh to make great bruschetta.

On a lazy Sunday afternoon, leftover Shabbat challah turned into bruschetta makes an absolutely delightful way to linger over a bottle of wine.  If I had a “good” way to transport the finished bruschetta (without the toppings falling off), I would love a picnic with it and a bottle of wine.

(NOTE:  My latest encounter with bruschetta was accompanied by a bottle of La Piazza Primitivo (Puglia 2006).  I will profile this wine in a later “What I’m Drinking” column.  Until then, here is a bit of a teaser from the full (un)review.)

I last enjoyed bruschetta with a wine recommended by Phyne Dyning’s trusted sommelier, Howard Bernstein, at Casa di Vino (click the link at the top of the page).  My inexpert palate would call this a wine (strongly holding up black cherry flavors) that is wonderfully “rough around its edges”.  Lots of tannins make it a natural with pasta and bread.  I will be buying more of this in the future!

Back to the bruschetta!

All of the ingredients, except the bread, oil, and cheese, come directly from the garden.  Unlike with the bread base, the fresher the toppings, the better the bruschetta!

Bruschetta is wonderfully simple to make.  Plan on one loaf of bread per pair of hungry diners.

1 whole loaf of unsliced bread, cut into large pieces, thick slices, chunks, etc.

¼ C olive oil (option 1)

2 large cloves garlic pressed or very finely minced (option 1)

1 whole (large) peeled clove of garlic (option 2)

1 Roma tomato per loaf of bread, thinly sliced

½  to 1 C very thinly sliced white onion (or red) per loaf of bread

½ C basil leaves (or oregano) chiffonade or minced

½ C crumbled feta or 1-2oz grated pecorino Romano

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Option 1:  Mix the pressed or minced garlic with the oil and brush the oil onto the cut (top) of each piece of bread.

Option 2:  Rub the garlic on each piece of bread.  This works best if the bread is slightly stale and if it has a course, open structure.

Both Options:  Pre-heat the broiler and lay out the bread on baking sheets, cut side up.  Now, spread a generous portion of grated Romano or crumbled feta on each garlic-seasoned bread piece.  Scatter basil or oregano next on each piece.  Lay some onion slice segments down on the cheese and herb(s).  Lay down thin slices of tomato on top and finish off by dusting with a bit more of the cheese.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and a generous twist or two of ground pepper.  Slide the sheets under the broiler.

NOTE:  Every broiler is different and cooking times are a function of element temperature and the distance to the food.  Therefore, a broiling time cannot be offered.  Hang very close to the broiler to ensure proper cooking without burning or scorching.  A “best guesstimate” would be to cook for 3-4 minutes, rotate the pan 180-degrees and cook for 1-2 minutes longer.

Serve hot, warm, or cold.

Sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, may be substituted for fresh.  Oil-packed (or pickled) artichoke hearts may fill in for the onion.  Use Greek herbs (rosemary and oregano) for a different taste.  I have even tossed some flaked, smoked kippers on top for a bit of “something else”.

If you are one of the brave, substitute grappa for wine.  I once wandered the streets of Jerusalem (not a “great” idea) for several late-night hours after our company spent most of a Thursday evening diving into grappa and bruschetta.  Grappa is about as forgiving as an IRS auditor.

So, on those weeknights when “What’s for supper” seems daunting or for those impromptu late night gatherings of friends, make bruschetta.

Or you can “go French” and make onion soup after a night of reveling.  My French friends assure me that homemade onion soup consumed, before bed, after a night of drinking is the ultimate hangover stopper.

A taxing unfairness

In Editorial on May 17, 2011 at 10:47 am

In January, 1995, The wife of the Communist governor of the Guizhou Province was executed for embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds to build a restaurant, massage parlor and spa that catered to the handful of rich people that lived in Guizhou.

“We’re trying to teach our children (aged 4 and 6) about the mitzvah of tzedakah.  They each get $10 per week allowance and we ask them to put half of that amount in the tzedakah boxes we gave them.  Every month or so, we empty the boxes and take the kids to the store to buy food or toiletries to donate to local shelters.”

 

Some young parents told that to a group of us as we nibbled our way through an oneg at the Temple.  The parents said they knew about the “twenty percent rule”, but doubted the kids would become impoverished themselves by giving away half of their unearned income.  “Besides” they said “five bucks per week is still a lot of money to kids that age.”

The children are giving fifty percent of their gross “earnings” to charity.  Once they start paying taxes, they may wonder about the lesson their parents taught them.

The Phyne Dyner admits to being (and is proud to be) politically libertarian.  Taxation is not a large plank in the libertarian platform.

The political lemmings who dutifully follow the two major parties quickly point out the “necessity” of taxes to fund roads, hospitals, police, and fire protection.

I rebut that I agree that those things are nice to have and I have little (virtually no) objection to taxation for such purposes.  However, I deeply resent when the perpetual parasites (professional politicians) trot out those services as a ruse for more and higher taxes and fees…

…and then urinate the resulting loot away or allow others to skim from it.

And then pass it back to the parasites in the form of political donations.

A la CIETC, the Iowa Association of School Boards, and the emerging news of the disappearance of millions of dollars into the latest financial black hole known as the Iowa Foundation for Medical Care.

The pilfered or misspent monies will never be recovered.  Even low-level thugs are rarely held accountable and required to return the stolen loot.

A local mook defrauded Medicaid in increments of over $1000 by, for example, taking poor kids on one outing to the movies.

He was apprehended, convicted, and will be “forced” to return only $15,000 of the $150,000 he stole.

One good may come of the current recession/depression…embezzlers and financial chicanery are turning up like earthworms on the sidewalk after a spring shower.

I wonder if the small-time Medicaid crook would have engaged in the same theft of public money in the People’s Republic of China.

The Chinese take a dim view of the misuse of public funds.  They execute people they find with their grubby little hands in the public cookie jar…and send the crook’s family a bill for the 7.62×39 AK round used to execute them.

Tough love, Chinese style.

Still, I am not on a tirade about misuse and abuse of public money.  The subject is “taxes” and “charity”.

A lot of religious organizations enjoy tax-exempt status.   Presumably, these businesses are exempt from taxes because of the social benefits society reaps from the mere presence of a church, mosque, or synagogue.

Last year, despite the economy, the Phyne Dyner had a “good” year.  My scrawlings brought in some shekels, proving readers are not as discerning as many publishers claim.

Consequently, charity profited because I profited.

Now, I want to make it abundantly clear that I do not pen out some blather and then sit back and wait for the mailman to deliver huge royalty checks.  Figuring my earnings as hourly wages, I earn a single digit percentage of the minimum wage.

As do most small business owners and hands-on entrepreneurs.

But, because my entrepreneurship failed to generate a large amount of “deductions”, my charity did not matter to the feds or the state.  That, despite my charitable giving was at a significant percentage of my gross receipts.

It appears, because I am not Bill Gates or Rupert Murdock, my money is not as dear to me as theirs…or that of a church.

Here is where I get riled.

As a deduction, charitable giving merely reduces one’s tax obligation by the percentage amount of his/her tax bracket.  One does not get a quid pro quo dollar value as a tax credit for personal charity.  One merely gets a percentage adjustment to the gross income that gets taxed.

Poor people fed and sheltered by fifty bucks donated by working stiffs equally benefit from the donation as they do from the fifty dollars coughed up by a mega-church or corporation.

The matter of my small home office being part of my property tax bill also rankles me, since I cannot exempt that portion of my home from property taxes, as do churches.  I am particularly rankled by religious groups that proclaim the virtue of poverty, but display precious little real estate poverty themselves.

Fun word of the day, “rankle”.

I guess I should make clear that I do not regret being charitable.  Being charitable is not merely a good idea for us…it is The Law.  What irks me, is that my charitable giving is undervalued by the feds and state, despite the fact that my charity directly lightened the burden poor people place upon the feds and state.

Here is an idea that should get some popular support.

Since private donations do the same public good as “services” rendered by houses of worship and corporations, change charitable donations for most individual income brackets to tax credits, instead of tax deductions.

Because, unlike millionaires, mega-corporations, and holy men, poor people and the middle class can never fully escape taxation, set up the credit on a sliding scale according to income bracket.

Those earning up to $50,000 per year get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit, up to their total tax liability (state and federal).  Incomes from $50,001 to $199,999 get 60% of the credit and anything above $200,000 has a choice of claiming their charity as a deduction or as a 40% tax credit of the total charitable amount.

The credit decreases as income increases because high earners tend to be able to deduct “stuff” more readily than the guy who pumps gas or the gal who cuts hair.

Next, require every hoo-doo holy man engaged in the business of worshipping of invisible friends to prove the value of their charity to the public.  I do not want them to prove the existence of their invisible friend…just provide proof of the dollar amount given to the public good in the name of their invisible friend.

In short, stop giving tax advantages to people simply because they wear their shirts backwards.

Now, take another look at the kids at the beginning of the story.

They each have a gross “income” of $520 per year.  They give away $260 of their gross earnings to charity.  Unless they can come up with a magical dollar amount called “the standard deduction”, the value of their charity goes completely unrecognized by the feds and the state.

All the kids are left with is the warm feeling that comes from being a mensch.  They get that with the added un-warm feeling that comes with being unappreciated by the feds or state that is not unlike the feeling of sleeping in a wet bed.

See how this tale came full circle?

A wet bed.

Urine.

Tax dollars, confiscated as an interest-free loan to the state via payroll deductions or quarterly “contributions” getting stolen outright, or at least pissed away.

Writing is magic.

The Devil drives a Toyota

In Lifestyle on May 13, 2011 at 10:13 am

She's probably very nice, otherwise. (Photo: Shannon Morris)

1) Angry drivers are found everywhere.  The adjacent photo came from the Sydney (Australia) Morning Herald.  2) Angry drivers do not fit the stereotype for misanthropes and social boors.  Here, the ‘one-finger salute’ comes from a young woman who would probably blush if she were confronted with the photo.  Maybe not.


I have a question:

How is it that most people display civil behavior afoot and then suddenly don a red suit,  grow horns, and sprout a bifurcated tail the moment they get behind the wheel of a car?

I am not talking about “bad” driving, I am referring to “angry” and “aggressive” driving and I just do not understand it.

The next time you are on your commute, take special notice of how people drive and how they interact with each other on the roads.  No, not just as the drivers impact you.  Rather, watch how drivers interact with each other.

During my last marketing adventure, I devoted about a half hour to driving around the city and observing others.  I undertook the task shortly after I witnessed a dowager in a new BMW convertible as she nearly ran over a pedestrian in the supermarket parking lot.

Despite the fact the BMW driver was well past her expiration date, her preoccupation with her facial reflection in her sports car’s mirrors (and the status of her vitamin water) was the cause of her near miss with the pedestrian.

Still, this is not the kind of driving behavior that puzzles me.  Distracted is not “angry”.

A few minutes later, I watched a gleaming Toyota as it hovered three feet off of the rear bumper of the car ahead.

NASCAR aficionados would recognize the maneuver as “drafting”.

But, drafting does not work at twenty-five miles per hour.

Suddenly the Toyota swerved into the adjacent lane, bare inches ahead of the front bumper of the car occupying that lane.  The Toyota rocketed ahead…

…and stopped at the next light, next to the car he had been drafting and three car lengths ahead of me.

The light changed to green and the car ahead of the Toyota committed the unpardonable sin of failing to move fast enough for the Toyota driver.  The Toyota’s driver hit his horn.

Once moving, the Toyota resumed drafting the car ahead.  But, unfortunately for the Toyota driver, a car ahead of the car he was drafting signaled a turn.

At the next light, I found myself next to the Toyota.  I glanced at the driver, expecting to see bulging veins, a red face, and muttering.

Instead, I saw a passive expression.  Not placid…passive.

The driver, apparently sensing he was being watched, glanced in my direction.  Caught in the act, I smiled and waved a greeting.  The man nodded and smiled.

The light changed and the Toyota resumed its competition with the other cars.

Puzzling.

I made my way to the expressway.

Merging is obsolete for many.  Cutting across the solid white ramp lines and veering across two lanes of traffic so to immediately conquer the left-most lane has replaced merging.  The entire maneuver is completed sans turn signals.

I understand why signals are not used.  Signals used to say, “Please, I would like to merge.

When signals are used, they say “Here I come, Loser!

The penalty for using the off-ramp to decelerate is to be drafted by the car behind.

Other observations:

School zone, schmul zone.

If I don’t look at you when I pull out, you don’t exist.

Closest to the door, WINS!.

Bicyclists and pedestrians are ‘life unworthy of life’.

There was also the young woman who ran the hard red light (across four lanes of traffic)…an infant was securely bundled into the child seat behind her.

A few days previous, and likely one of the triggers for my informal research, I was exiting the ACE hardware store in Beaverdale when I heard a long horn blast from the street.

The young man blowing his car’s horn had grown impatient with the four grey-headed ladies in the marked crosswalk (complete with flashing lights and a sign telling motorists to “Yield to Pedestrians”).

It was Mother’s Day.

One common observation was universal.  All of the drivers displaying bad behavior were neatly dressed and they were driving late model cars, or were driving cars that appeared well maintained.

The drivers did not look like methamphetamine users.  But, their behavior patterns were as edgy as those of a crashing tweaker.

What is behind this?

Free floating anger?  Closet Libertarians, frustrated with “too many rules”?  Video games and reality television?  Emulation of the characters from Jersey Shore?

I honestly do not know.

I would like to know “Why?”

So come on, “Mr./Ms. Angry Driver”, tell me why you behave like you do when you are driving.  What puts the chip on your shoulder the moment you turn the ignition key?

It is a serious question.

Thanks for reading.