15 to 40: Then and Now – Part 1

Forty years is a long time.  The world has changed considerably in the past forty years.  Having a 40th anniversary not only causes much reflection on the relationship and partnership with my sweetheart.  In fact, it has made me look back on many other things.  How were things back then compared to now?

David and Julianne 1979 in Monument Valley

In this post I am not going to focus so much on my marriage to Julianne.  Rather, I want to focus on what the world was for us back in 1979 and look at things today in comparison.  Part 2 will look at how things have changed for the two of us over the past forty years.

1979

Here are a few highlights from 1979.  Do you remember?

Jimmy Carter was the US President

Need a dollar? This coin could get you a little more than a gallon gas back in 1979

Gas was 86 cents per gallon, but there were shortages and lines

A few other prices from 1979

Rental prices were about $280 per month

On July 15, 1979 Donna Summer’s Bad Girls was the number one song and Album

Number one movie on July 15, 1979 was Dracula starring Frank Langella and Laurence Olivier

On July 15, 1979 Sophie’s Choice was the #1 Best Seller

The best selling car of 1979 was the Oldsmobile Cutlass

The McDonald’s Happy Meal was born in 1979 and was only a dollar

Three’s Company was the most popular SitCom in 1979

Diet Coke did not yet exist, but MelloYello was introduced in 1979

Nickelodeon was launched in 1979. No Rugrats back then folks.

ESPN was also launched in 1979. There were lots of repeat programs on back then.

Trivial Pursuit question…when was it introduced? Yep…1979

Apocalypse Now was the top movie of 1979

The Dukes started flying their red car in 1979 on TVs across America

I got my first Sony Walkman in 1985, but the first edition arrived in 1979

And lots of people were listening to My Sharona by The Knack. It was Billboard’s #1 song of 1979

And here are a few more of the songs that people were listening to on their radios and Walkmans in 1979

Looks a bit different from a laptop. The Atari 400 was introduced in 1979. It had 48K max capacity. The photo above is nearly 100K!!

The Dead Zone by Stephen King was released in 1979

Some of the top albums of 1979. Have you heard of these?

Tostitos were brand new in 1979!

Pittsburgh reigned in 1979 – The Super Bowl Champs were the Pittsburgh Steelers.  The World Series Champs were the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Penguins WERE NOT in the Stanley Cup finals for the NHL however.

AND FINALLY….

One of the most famous matchups in NCAA basketball championship history took place in 1979 when Michigan State, led by Magic Johnson, met Indiana State, led by Larry Bird. Michigan State won the game 75-64 and Magic Johnson was the MVP.

 

19 to 40: The World as Seen Through Her Eyes

I have already noted in previous posts that Julianne has many talents.  One of those that often goes noticed is her photography talent.  As a photographer myself, I truly appreciate the way she captures the world. And no, she doesn’t use a fancy Nikon or Canon.  She uses her iPhone to capture the world around her.  For this post, I want to make it simple.  Following are about 30 pictures that Julianne has taken over the past 10 years.  They come from her travels, her hikes, her bike rides and her observations.  She captures the world around her in a stunning and wonderful fashion, with just the simplest of equipment.  She has “THE EYE.”  So, enjoy a trip through Julianne’s lens on the world.

A San Diego Sunset

The Kentucky River

A flower from somewhere

The San Diego LDS Temple

The streets of Little Italy in Cleveland

Losing at Canasta

Horse Farm country from the Legacy Trail in Lexington

A heart leaf from a hike in Kentucky

Another San Diego sunset

A flower

Horses and Clouds from the Legacy Trail

The old Kirtland Temple in Kirtland, Ohio

A bridge from a bike trail

Mexican Train

A dam picture

A glorious evening on the ocean

Feeling Bubbly

Tulips and Daffodils from a farm in northern Washington

Moss covered rock wall from a hike in Kentucky

Neighborhood park

Boat dock at sunset

Gray’s Arch in Red River Gorge, Kentucky (notice the small people on the right for scale)

Watch out… From Raven’s Run hike in Kentucky

Kentucky River as seen from a hike

Another San Diego sunset. She loves these

The New River Gorge Bridge as seen from across the gorge. In West Virginia

Wildflowers taken on a hike

Textures. She loves textures

Did I say she likes San Diego sunsets?

The holy tree

 

20 to 40: Adventures of Merried Life

(Author Note:  Life continues to be busy.  I was once again not be able to add days 26 thru 21, but hope to continue now from Day 20 to Day 1…the last remaining days before our 40th Anniversary on July 15).

Yes, I wrote that correctly — The Merried Life.  As our 40th Anniversary approaches, I want this post, representing 20 days before the said date, to show some of the Merry things of married life.  Over the past 14,591 days of our marriage (including today), we have had many unique and fun experiences, making life Merry.

The worst thing about these merry events in life is that, in most cases, I don’t have photos.  Most of the photos in this post are captured from the internet.  I don’t like to use other photos.  I prefer my own, but these do get the point across.

Back when we celebrated the first year of our marriage I got one of our photos and glued it to a red plaque and then wrote on top with paint, “Merried Life.”  It was meant to represent the joy I had with her in our first year together.  The plaque is still around, probably buried in one of our many boxes of memories.

Scrabble LOVE

From the beginnings of our marriage, Julianne and I have spent many hours together playing Scrabble.  This seems to have been our go to game over the years.  In fact, in the earlier years, the statistician geek in me kept a “Scrabble Records” book in which I kept track of all of the scores, the 7 letter words, the high scores, the low scores, the Win/Loss records, etc.  In fact, I still have the book in one of my memory boxes!  I will have to be honest…Julianne probably leads in the W-L column from all of the years.  In recent years I have not kept track, but I will bet it is something like Julianne 1220, David 850.  Nowadays, we continue the games but they are online on our mobile devices, so the togetherness, laughs, “you cheated” claims and that kind of fun don’t happen as often.

Murmuration of starlings

One of our laughable memories comes from our first year of marriage, before kids made their arrival.  I had come home from one evening from work in Provo.  We lived on the second floor of an apartment complex.  As I went to the door, I saw something that gave me the chills…it was actually scary.  In the distance I saw a bunch of glowing lights in the sky flying in weird formation and thought we were being visited by hundreds of UFOs!  No Joke!  I called for Julianne and basically scared her as well.  Turns out that the real culprit was a murmuration of starlings that had static electricity on them.  Living in Kentucky we get to see murmurations of starlings quite a bit.  It is an amazing thing to watch.  But, I will never forget my UFO birds of Provo from 1979.

The Anniversary Dinner at Red Lobster — unforgettable

Another fun memory of ours goes back to Mesa, Arizona when she and I went out to celebrate our fifth anniversary in 1984.  I was a new graduate student at Arizona State University and Julianne was home taking care of children.  I wanted to do something really nice to celebrate our fifth anniversary.  So, I took her to dinner at Red Lobster… a super, big deal treat for us.  We had a splendid and memorable dinner…especially when we got the bill.  It was over $40.  We cringed.  That was a lot of money for us. So, we paid…with some regrets…   As we got into the car, Julianne exclaimed, “David, that was too much.  Let’s take it back and get a refund.”  We didn’t.  But, we also did not ever forget this memorable anniversary dinner.

Another thing we have done together over the years was attending symphony concerts.  We have not done this as often as we have wanted to (especially Julianne!), but we have still made it to one or two a year.  Since Julianne is a talented violinist, this was something important.  In Flagstaff, we would see the Flagstaff Symphony.  We have seen a number of concerts in Kentucky as well. This is always a time of merriment for us.

Snow Splat in Face

Of course, our children began showing up in 1980 and so our “Merry Times” together soon included the children.  Even with these, we have some fun times and memories of things we all did together.  Perhaps one of the funniest memories took place one winter morning in Japan in 1990 or 1991.  We were all playing in the snow and I was on the sidelines videoing the adventures.  The kids all began throwing snowballs as was Julianne. Suddenly, and without warning, I was splattered in the face with a snowball.  Right in the eye!  I was videoing and got hit good.  Seconds later Julianne was laughing so hard, that I couldn’t help but laugh with her.  It wasn’t funny for about two seconds.  But the timing was impeccable and totally accidental.  I wish I could find that video that captured the second I was splatted.  Even today we laugh about this story.

Landen Water Gun

Snowballs are not our only fun.  The Kravetz family has had some serious water fights.  Not talking water balloons here.  Talking BUCKETS of water!   These have been a staple since the days when our kids were younger in Arizona and have carried on with our grandchildren.

With a deck in our backyard in Kentucky, water fights have gone to new levels and there have been times they have found their way into the house.  The more the merrier!!

Family Fun with masks in Japan

We once had an interesting Merry Christmas in Japan, thanks to Julianne.  All of the kids got some interesting rubber masks and were able to open them and put them on.  I am not sure if the kids remember this merriment, but I certainly do.  Julianne’s mask of a guy with a cigar in his mouth (not pictured because she wanted the witch for the photo) was priceless!

I am sure there are more memories out there that I have forgotten.  Maybe a second post will find its way in the next few days.

The goofiness and fun-loving nature of both Julianne and I has flowed down to the kids as well.  I am always one for grabbing a fun family photo. So, to close out this post, following are some of our more “unique” family shots from years past. And yes, some of them were taken despite complaints by one or more of the participants.  But, for the fun of merried family life…..  And much of this fun can be directly attributed to the fun creativity of Julianne.

Hanging around at a park in Lexington in the 1998

Thanksgiving at Chelsea’s in 2017

Non-adulting in 2018

The Ends of the Road (Springfield, Illinois at Lincoln Home) — Marissa didn’t like the idea… But, it WAS Julianne’s idea

Tug of war at Indianapolis Children’s Museum

Another park pic from 1998

All gathered together someplace in Texas in December 1999

Masked adventures on KravGirls Night Out in December 2015. # Generations in this pic

All on one lap…in Vernal, Utah

And, we get the grandkids in on it now too. The whole family in prime form – July 2017!

 

46 to 40: La Cucaracha

Julianne grew up in Mesa, Arizona.  Turns out that her house was notorious for being a haven for “sewer roaches.” This particular breed of cockroach is actually an Oriental cockroach and is the most water-dependent of the roaches.  In Arizona they like to hang out in the more moist areas of the desert, breeding in the sewers.  Thus the name “sewer roach.”

I first experienced cockroaches when visiting Mesa for the first time when Julianne saw one and asked me to kill it.  Easy enough.  But there are lots of them and I got tired of killing them.  At an early stage in our marriage she made me promise to kill all of the bugs.  I vowed to do so and have pretty well kept that promise.

Cockroaches anyone?

Well, one day, while I was a student at ASU and we were living in Julianne’s parent’s house (they were in South Africa on an LDS Mission), Julianne was in the back taking a shower.  Suddenly, I heard her screaming and she was soon running out of the shower wet and naked screaming, “A sewer roach just crawled up my leg!! Get it off!.”  It was a horrifying moment for her.  We got the roach taken care of and moved on.  But, this story has become family lore and our children, having taken the prankster role as they learned from their mother, decided to pull a huge prank a few years ago.

Hiding cockroaches

A plastic cockroach that Julianne stuck on a thermostat at Amaree’s house during a Christmas visit a few years ago.  This was apparently the real culprit that started the cockroachery.

UPDATE: After speaking with Amaree, apparently, Julianne was the one that started this by putting plastic cockroaches in Aaron’s bed when Aaron (her fiance at the time) was visiting us in Kentucky.  So, Amaree and Aaron took the same and stuck a cockroach in the asparagus and Julianne apparently screamed when she saw it.  The following is Amaree’s revenge:

Julianne never knows where she will find a cockroach hidden

The real culprits, as we learned later, were Amaree and her family.  They had come for a visit from Montana, where they lived at the time, and they brought back an “infestation” with them. Apparently, one of the days, when Julianne was out of the house, they pulled out a bag with dozens of realistic-looking plastic cockroaches, that actually resemble Arizona’s sewer roaches.  They commenced to secreting them away in diverse places around the house for Julianne to discover both while they were still visiting and then, for months to come.  The “gift that kept on giving” if you will….  Supposedly, there are over 50 of them still hidden around the house…

 

She runs across the little critters in all sorts of places

In her shoes

In her socks

In her bath salts (notice, this one was in the “Take It Easy” bath salts – how rejuvenating!)

In the bottoms of drinking bottles

She finds handfuls

And handfuls…

And even has collected a plateful (Yum!)

So, in 2017, Julianne decided to fight back, bug to bug, by sending cockroach pillows to each of the kids and grandkids.  This is what we got back via Facebook:

Amaree now has a pet

Aaron, a sleeping partner

The Noe kids have a Noe Cockroach now

Jorge loves to eat with his…

And so does Rockwell

A whole different meaning to cuddlebug!!

One Christmas we got the perfect book to read to the grandkids:

Yes, a book about a cockroach

And the cockroach fun didn’t stop there.  Amaree, in all of her creative cockroachery, found the perfect gift for Julianne’s birthday in 2018.  Yes, a cockroach pillow.  (I wanted to upload the video from my phone, but it is apparently too big.)

Julianne loves her Cockroach Pillow. Sits proudly on the couch (until guests come by)  Blurry because I had to pull it from the video I couldn’t upload

And it like the elusive cockroaches that don’t go away, for Christmas, she got a board game…with, you guessed it, cockroaches.

I guess she will always have bugs in the kitchen…

There are even times that the cockroachery goes to new levels.  Julianne got a late mother’s day gift from her daughter Amaree just last week.  Just what she needed!  Roach Clips!!

Julianne and her new collection of Roach Clips — May 2019

Well, in closing, I would like to add a little cockroachery of my own.  Way before the days I met Julianne, this little ditty by Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan (famous for The Tennessee Birdwalk) was being played on a few radio stations and, most certainly by one of my heroes of the late 1960s, Dr. Demento.  Little did I know back then that I would be dealing with cockroachery in my future married years. Enjoy The Cockroach Stomp

Kill Kill Kill 
Everybody do the Cockroach Stomp. 
California, Tennessee, and Louisville,
Come on, do the Cockroach Stomp. 
1 and 2 and 3 and 4, 
Stomp your partner on the floor. 
Squish squish. squish, squish, squish. 
Find a bug, 
Make a wish.

47 to 40: Julianneisms – Part 2

In my previous post, I talked about Julianneisms, funny things that Julianne has said over the years, new phrases she has coined and more.  In this second part, I will continue, but will focus more on how she changes songs, how she has integrated some into her life and more.

Julianne has always been musical, but, in the form of Julianneisms, she has taken music to a new level of some kind. For this particular post, I did a survey among our children and they have come up with some good ones.

One of Amaree’s photos near her high school graduation

The first comes from when our daughters Amaree and Marissa in high school in Jessamine County.  They were in the choir and there was one concert where they were singing a Zulu spiritual titled Siyahamba.  The original lyrics go as follows:

Siyahamba ekukhanyeni kwenkos
Siyahamb ekukhanyenu kwenkos

Well, that evening Julianne began singing the following and it has almost always become a Christmas tradition for her to “request” that the kids sing it as follows:

“See a ham, banana cookie crackers
See a ham banana cookie crackers

And thus, we are off on a roll…or at least on crackers.

A Christmas Smile – when she tries to get the kids to sing Silent Night

Speaking of Christmas traditions, Julianne has carried on a traditional “non-tradition” for the family each Christmas.  For nearly two decades, at every Christmas she will say

Let’s all gather in a circle and light candles and sing Silent Night

And, like a good tradition, the kids have always kind of done the “Let’s don’t and say we did” kind of thing.  So, it has become a traditional non-tradition to not gather in a circle with candles and sing Silent Night at Christmas time.  But, we can always expect the request from Julianne to do so.

 

Taking care of children in Japan. She is with Seth and Marissa here.

Switching gears, Julianne really dislikes any kind of potty humor.  But, ironically, in my survey with the kids, our son Seth had this to say…and it is so true…

You know…I’m now realizing that for a woman so against potty humor, Mom sure talked about poop and butts a lot.

One song she has sung to the kids since the earliest days of our first child Amaree, is a song that has been around a while.  However, it fits in well with her Julianneisms…

I see your hiney, all white and shiny
If you don’t hide it, I’m gonna bite it.

And then she went on with another lyric that included the words “I’m gonna chew it.” But alas, as far as I know, Julianne has never bitten or chewed any of the kids’ hineys, despite the 30 some odd years of threats to do so.

Young sassy Chelsea Dawn — “you WILL NOT spank my little bottom Mom!”

But, rhyming away, in a sing-sing fashion, she has also recited the following (which I also posted in the previous post, but am including here in the hiney-loving tradition):

Spank that bottom!  Spank it hard! Spank that little tub of lard! Spank it hard! Spank it fast! Spank that boy right on the ask me no more questions and I’ll tell you more no lies…”

Another “poop”  related song Julianne wants to attribute to me.  But, you know what, I’ll let her have all of the credit and glory. Having been adults in the 70s, we heard a great deal of music from the famed Swedish group ABBA.  One of their songs, Super Trouper, became a regular in our household, especially around diaper changing time.  The lyrics of the Julianneismized version go as follows:

All of the grandkids, even Landen, would laugh at the Super Pooper song now

You’re a Super Pooper, pooping up your panties, pooping all day long…pooping really strong…you’re a super pooper girl (or boy — depending on was doing the Super Pooping).

Of course, she would then call the kids her ” Poopinstinkin’ ”  – another Julianneism dictionary word.

Then came along the age of iPods and music MP3s.  With the iPod, Julianne could collect her set of songs.  By the early 2000s, Julianne had developed a playlist for cleaning and doing chores.  She apparently loves cleaning as the first song was always Fallin’ by Alicia Keys.  Just imagine Julianne singing that first “I keep on fallin’ in and out of love with you.”  Almost 19 years later she STILL sings this song as she begins her chores.

But Alicia Keys was not the only one.  She also popularized a Lady Gaga remake by The Chipmunks and would be caught singing along to Bad Romance….  Yes, I have a video of Julianne singing it, but I also want to live a few years longer.  But believe me, it COULD go viral!!  Just imagine her singing this….

Julianne and Laura have their own kind of sing-songy Sister Speak. Really…

And finally, in a musical sort of way, whenever Julianne and her sister Laura get together, they kind of have their own “Sister talk” style.  It is kind of sing-songy way of talking.  They don’t talk that way to others, only to each other.  It has been going on for as long as I have known them.  Yes, it is peculiar, but, we all create our own mannerisms over the years, and Julianne has her peculiar Julianneisms. That was what makes her special and endearing to all.

48 to 40: Julianneisms – Part 1

All of us have those “little somethings” that we become known for among our friends and families.  You know, the funny things we always do and say that make us unique.  Julianne is no exception to this.  She too has her quirky sayings and unique terms.  I am going to refer to them as Julianneisms.

This is Part 1 of the Julianneisms posts, focusing on her words, comments and quips.  I even went to my children for input, since they may have Julianneisms in their minds that may not have been in mine.

I hope those of you reading this will enjoy a few of these fun Julianneisms.

Sushi with red tobiko on top. Her favorite part of sushi!

I will start off with a story about “tobiko,” the little fish eggs (or roe) that are often added to the top of servings of sushi.  Julianne first experienced tobiko when we were living in Japan in the late 1980s.  This led to a famed Julianneism that kind of goes like this:

I love these little eggs, because sometimes they get caught in my teeth and then I’ll have a snack for later.

I think she has trademarked her Julianneism.

When Julianne makes comments like this, she has a unique laugh that goes along with the comment…it is her “that was a good one” laugh.  She had one of these “good one” laughs a few years back.  I was getting into bed and I like the sheets loose.  She likes them tucked in tightly.  On this particular occasion, I was struggling with getting the sheet pulled out.  I grunted and said something about the sheets being stuck.  Her response (and then “good one” laugh) was:

Toughsheet!

Taco head for National Taco Day at Chuy’s (for free food)… That was her idea. Other thoughts got the old “THAT’S an idea” from her.

When Julianne has ideas that she considers to be good ideas, she pretty much doesn’t budge.  At the same time, if she hears ideas from me or our children that may not meet her expectations she always replies:

THAT’S an idea.”

You really don’t want to hear that from her, as it really means, “That’s not a very good idea.”

You can see Seth gets scared when Julianne threatens to spank his bottom.

Never one to mince her words, if she considers her children naughty, even for the smallest infraction (and, for that matter, non-infractions) she would say:

Should I spank your bottom? You are not too old for me to spank your bottom!.

Now imagine her spanking her 31 year old Seth’s bottom — he is 6’6″ and some 400+ pounds.

And then, when she commences with spanking, she says:

Spank that bottom!  Spank it hard! Spank that little tub of lard! Spank it hard! Spank it fast! Spank that boy right on the ask me no more questions and I’ll tell you more no lies…”

Throughout our 40 years together, Julianne has also coined a number of new words.  Here is the beginnings of the Julianneism Dictionary.

She may be strong on her whole foods plant based regimen, but chips are too yummiferous to pass up

When she finds food that she really loves, she refers to it as “yummiferous.”  A Mix of Yummy and For Us… there are foods or dishes that are yummiferous.  I believe that she refers to her steamed kale and pineapple for breakfast as yummiferous.

A Yuckified face — grandson Rockwell

On the other end of the spectrum is the word “yuckified.”  This term has many contextual uses.  If she is sick, she feels yuckified.  Food can go bad and become yuckified. Furniture can get dirty and be yuckified.

From a happy face (R) to a funkified face (L)

Julianne’s hair has become funkified after the wind blew through it on a recent boat ride.

Along the same lines as “yuckified,” is her term “funkified.”  This refers to something, usually food, that has become thoroughly unappetizing, disgusting, or repugnant.  It can also refer to something out of whack…let’s say maybe a toilet seat that has become unscrewed.  From the derivitive FUNKY, the item has gone from being good to becoming funkified. I think the best one is her complaints that her hair is “funkified” on certain days.

Julianne with her “No-uh” face

Ofttimes, the kids may accuse Julianne of something…whether it was a “fluff” or whether she was “notoriously” cheating at a game, she always has a pat response:

No-uh!”

This is her version “No Sir” or “Uh-uh” (not to be confused with Uh-Huh – which means agreement).

Julianne’s Siri has trouble understanding her many times.

There are many others that I could probably include herein.  But, in closing, even her “Auto Correct” on her iPhone has trouble dealing with her.  Many times when I go to pick her up from work, I get the following from her via text aftr sending her a text saying “I’m here.”  Her response?

OK.  I have to go puddle and then I’ll be right out.

I have never understood what she is doing….   Odd…..

 

58 to 40: She is fun-loving

Julianne is fun-loving.  In fact, I might even say she can be goofy at times, but NOT in the Post Title (of course).  Our daughter Amaree even has nick-named her “Nuttiness.”  And sometimes it fits.

Julianne is not obnoxious.  She is also not very outspoken or gregarious (like her husband).  But, she has a goofy side.   I think that our children picked up their “goofy” sides from her.   I am just not as goofy…or am I?

Typical fun with Julianne photobombing

Dracula Teeth

One of my first memories of her goofiness was when she was having a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and then put the brown wrapper over her teeth. Or the “Orange Peel Smile.”  One time our daughter caught her using spaghetti to make Dracula teeth…

She has done funny teeth things with pistachio shells too.  You never know what she may come up with.

I got the biggest kick out of her a couple of years ago when she had to create a poster for a graphic arts class at the University of Kentucky.  This poster is a prime example of her “creative goofiness.”  I had to include it here.  She did ALL of the art work…including the characterization of herself from actual photos….

Julianne is notorious for her photo-bombs and funny faces in photos.  Here are a couple of them from the past.

Photobomb 2 (upper right) — yes, the kids get it from her!

Selfie with Seth

Photobomb 3

A couple of Christmas seasons ago, we went around Lexington to take Christmasy pictures together.  She insisted on hiding her face in each one..just for fun.

Where is Julianne?

Where is Julianne?

Where is Julianne?

Always a master of disguise, she is happy to hide herself in plain site.

Aha!!!

Hidden in plain site….

It is absolutely fun being with these sweet, fun-loving, sometimes downright goofy gal!!  Love her to death (and life)!!  Life with her is Happyville!

Powerball Frenzy: Dopamine Dreaming

Powerball3Today is the big day!  Yes, the record breaking $1.5 billion Powerball drawing will take place later tonight and somebody’s life will dramatically change.

Just a day after President Obama’s final State of the Union address, the real talk on the web and in social media will likely be this humongous lottery jackpot.  And for me, I am actually excited to get away from Obama bashing, Trump tirades, racial hatred, political memes and yes, the millions of cat and dog photos on Facebook.

powerball-logoMind you, I am not typically a Powerball ticket purchaser.  Not even occasionally such.  But, there are times when I give in and spend a specific budgeted amount to get a couple of them.  Why? For the entertainment value – the opportunity to let my dopamine kick in and do a little dreaming.  Don’t we do that when we spend $14/person to go see a Star Wars movie in 3D?  The joy of the “What if” is pleasurable and gets my mind, if only for a brief few days, off of all of the other banter from Social Media and the news.

KYLotteryTo be sure, I am fully aware that my true chances of taking home the $1.5 billion ($900 million cash upfront minus taxes — maybe about $500 million) is next to not even being slimmly nil.  The odds of getting all six numbers correct, which never change, are slightly more than 292.2 million to 1 (in other words, there are 292.2 million possible combinations of the five white balls and red Powerball. That’s where the one in 292.2 million odds comes from, and they stay the same regardless of how big the jackpot grows or how many people buy tickets).  Let’s face it, our finite minds cannot really fathom numbers in the millions.  So, here are some other things that I may actually have a better chance at than winning the Powerball jackpot….

Here are 10 things more likely to happen to people than winning the lottery.

Getting struck by lightning in any given year: 1 in 1,190,000, according to the National Weather Service.

Dying after being bitten or struck by a dog: 1 in 103,798, according to the National Safety Council.

Hitting a hole in one for an amateur golfer: 1 in 12,500, according to Golf Digest.

Being attacked by a shark: 1 in 11.5 million, according to the International Shark Attack File.

Being fatally struck by an asteroid or comet falling to Earth: 1 in 75,000, according to a Tulane University study.

Being dealt a royal flush in poker: 1 in 649,740, according to Central Washington University.

A woman giving birth to twins: 33.3 in 1,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and 

Dying of a bee, wasp or hornet sting: 1 in 75,852, according to the National Safety Council.

Dying in a plane crash: 1 in 8 million, according to OSHA.

Living to 100 years old in the United States: 1.73 in 10,000, according to the 2010 Census Special Report.

IMG_7132In fact, there is another item that many participate in that has worse odds. Your odds of finishing with a perfect NCAA men’s tournament bracket.Basically, according to some, you have a 1 in 1,610,543,269 chance of calling every game right. A professor at DePaul University has done a different calculation…he says the odds are:

1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808

There are 63 total games in a tournament bracket. For each of those games, two teams play, and one team wins. So, filling out a bracket consists of picking 63 winners. So, you have two options for the first game, two options for the second game, two options for the third game, and so on, for all 63 games. To get the total number of possible ways to fill out a bracket, you multiply together all 63 of these twos, giving us 263, or 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 possible brackets. If all of these brackets are equally likely — if each game in the entire tournament is a 50-50 tossup, and picking the winner is basically a coin flip — we then get the odds of a correct bracket at one in 9.2 quintillion. HA!

WHAT IS THE DOPAMINE THING?

powerball-lottery-winners-1A recent article in the San Jose Mercury News focused on how the lottery can kick dopamine into gear. According to the article:

“It’s the brain chemical associated with reward, pleasure and addiction. And it’s digging into pockets at a maddening pace this week when the California lottery expects to sell $60 million in Powerball tickets — 10 times what it sells on a typical week.

Thanks a lot, dopamine. Whether the jackpot is $9 million or $900million, the odds of winning are stuck at a buzzkilling one in 292 million.”

With $1.5 billion up for grabs, it doesn’t take a neuroscientist to explain how people may be ignoring probability this week because of the way the brain processes risk and reward.

“In the brain stem of a gambler, dopamine neurons are firing very high, pushing them to put out the money, to go and buy the ticket,” said a professor of neurology at UC San Francisco.

IMG_6654I too feel that dopamine rush as I dream of the “What If” options. I consider the entire process…signing the ticket, getting a safe deposit box, getting lawyers and a financial team.  I think about how to allocate the money.  What charities will I be able to pass some on to?  Which family members?

Then comes the fun part…how would I spend the money?  Would we buy a big compound in the mountains and add solar and wind energy?  Would we take a year long cruise? How would we tell our children and what would we do for them?

IMG_6541And to me, the pleasure lasts longer than a Star Wars movie and costs less.  It is fun to have the occasional dopamine dreams. Reality tells me that I don’t have a chance whatsoever.  But, I have a better chance if I buy a ticket. If I don’t buy a ticket, I most certainly won’t win.  But only this time.  I am participating in history!

Money, Money, Money…ain’t it funny, in a rich man’s world.  I am running down a dream and, as Aerosmith sings… Dream On!

But only this time….

Super Pi Day: OK, I Am a Geek

PiDayToday is Super Pi Day, a spin off of Pi Day. Pi Day is typically celebrated on 3/14 at 1:59, but this year is special as it is celebrated on 3/14/15 at 9:26:53. Super Pi Day only happens once every hundred years.

Pi Day gets its name from the mathematical term Pi (π) which, of course is the number. The number π is a mathematical constant representing the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. It’s an irrational number, meaning that it can’t be represented by a common fraction. Thus, its decimal representation never ends, and it never settles into a permanent repeating pattern.  Read some interesting Pi Factoids here.The idea of celebrating Pi was organized by Larry Shaw at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1988. On March 12, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives even passed a non-binding resolution recognizing March 14 as National Pi Day.

A Pi Pie

A Pi Pie

Many celebrate the day by eating and making pies.  Some even make them in the shape of the Greek character Pi, as shown above.  This has become traditional in many places around the world!

I Was There to celebrate Pi Day today at 9:26:53 AM

I Was There to celebrate Pi Day today at 9:26:53 AM

There is most certainly a geeky, novelty loving side of me, so I looked for a good digital clock for my iPhone and downloaded it so I could catch the moment down to the second.  Unfortunately, the digital clock did not show the year, but, rest assured it is 2015!!  And, I am cheap gee as well…I bought the free version of the app, which does not include the weather, so it says 00 for the temperature. HA!

Einstein's Birthday is on Pi Day

Einstein’s Birthday is on Pi Day

Finally, I should note that Einstein’s birthday is March 14, so one of the world’s most amazing mathematicians was born on Pi Day.

Pi Day Simpsons

Pi Day Simpsons

And for a final fun piece of trivia, check out the post on my favorite travel site Roadside America about the monument in Portland, OR with the wrong value of Pi engraved for the world to chuckle at….

WrongPiHave a happy Pi Day…if you missed the exact time, set your digital clock on 12 hour clock, rather than military time (which is what I use), and you can celebrate again tonight at 9:26:53 PM…will be the second time in 100 years you can celebrate!!

And go make yourself a pie!

Pi Day Pie

Pi Day Pie

Cooking Game Shows – A Layman’s Glossary and more

Sumoflam Eating

Sumoflam Eating

I am not a good cook. I never have claimed to be one. Perhaps I am most well known to my children for my “amazing” tuna fish casserole (which I have not made in probably 5 years, but was a staple when the kids were growing up.)

Tuna Fish Casserole - not mine, but similar looking to what I made

Tuna Fish Casserole – not mine, but similar looking to what I made

It was typically comprised of egg noodles, a can of cream of mushroom soup, some onions, peas, a couple of cans of tuna fish in water and some black pepper. The extras typically included the cheese powder from a box of Mac and Cheese as well as some real shredded cheese. My only other famous dish was Japanese style rice curry.

Japanese rice Curry - similar to what we make at home

Japanese rice Curry – similar to what we make at home

Both were not necessarily very appealing to look at (though both make my mouth water), but both tasted good and filled the belly. I can admit that cooking is not my forte…not even my pianissimo. And I had failures: like the time we were out of cream of mushroom soup so I replaced it with canned tomato soup (yes indeed, YUCK is right). I have still not lived that one down. And then there were the chocolate pancakes I tried to make while serving as a missionary in Japan. I used baking powder….big mistake. They were so bad and rubbery that one of the other missionaries poked a hole in one and hung it on a wall in the apartment.  It apparently stayed for over a year in that place in moist Japan and never got moldy or hard…just stayed rubbery.  Even some 40 years later I occasionally get razzed about that one!

So, jump to 2014/15 and its a wonder that I have become fascinated by cooking game shows. There are a plethora of them out there and I enjoy most of them.  To name a few of my favorites:Cutthroat Kitchen

    • Cutthroat Kitchen – A Food Network classic hosted by chef turned TV Star Alton Brown, the object of the game is to defeat the other cooks in cooking the assigned dish despite a mad array of unusual and sinister sabotages that can be bought by the cooks. They each start with $25,000 and the winner takes home whatever cash they have remaining. The show has also made stars out of well known chefs Jet Tila, Simon Majumdar and Antonia Lofaso. The judges make their decisions on the appearance, the taste and if the dish reminds them of what the assigned dish should be like.

Chopped

    • Chopped – Another famous Food Network competition hosted by cookbook author Ted Allen, who first appeared on the Bravo Network’s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, has been around since 2009. Four chefs compete for $10,000 in three rounds having to concoct dishes from a mystery basket that typically has four very diverse ingredients. The judges base their decision on creativity, presentation and taste. The show has made stars out of judges Aaron Sanchez, Geoffrey Zakarian, Amanda Freitag, Marc Murphy, Chris Santos and Scott Conant, among a group of other occasional guest judges.

MasterChef

    • MasterChef – This Fox Network cooking competition show features Hell’s Kitchen’s Gordon Ramsay as the main star, along with chefs Joe Bastianich and Graham Elliott. Recently the show has had a series called MasterChef Junior, which is a favorite of ours. It features children between age 8 and 13. Ultimately, 12 contestants are selected and then eliminated one by one with the ultimate MasterChef winning a trophy and $100,000.

GreatFoodTruckRace

    • The Great Food Truck Race – Kind of like an amazing race coupled with cooking competition for Food Truck wannabes. Hosted by Tyler Florence, the show starts off with a number of specialty food trucks and their teams of three who travel across the country facing numerous cooking challenges and assignments. The team with the least amount of money earned at the end of each leg is sent home. The final winner gets to keep their food truck and a $50,000 prize.

WorstCooks

    • Worst Cooks in America – This show, which has featured Anne Burrell, an Iron Chef winner and restaurant owner, along with new co-host Tyler Florence, takes 12 “recruits” who supposedly are terrible cooks and runs them through a culinary boot camp, eliminating contestants each week until there is an ultimate winner, who takes home $25,000.

guys-grocery-games

  • Guy’s Grocery Games – This stars chef Guy Fieri, who gained fame for his Diners, Dives and Drive-ins show. Like many others, the show features four chefs competing in a grocery store with special twists and challenges. After the first three are eliminated, the final winner then gets a list of 10 items that must find in 2 minutes to win up to $20,000. There was a diner owner in Lexington who competed in November 2014 and I have visited her and her diner.
Ranada West-Riley with Guy Fieri and other contestants from Guy's Grocery Games Nov. 2014

Ranada West-Riley (second from left) with Guy Fieri and other contestants from Guy’s Grocery Games Nov. 2014

Sumoflam visits Lexington Diner owner Ranada West-Riley

Sumoflam visits The Lexington Diner owner Ranada West-Riley

There are a number of others out there, but they all basically have two things in common – contestants and judges. As well, throughout all of the competitions there are a number of terms thrown out by the judges, which have always struck me as funny, because the usual normal person out there going to a restaurant to eat typically would never use any of the terminology.

Over the past few weeks I have been keeping track of terms that are usually mentioned by judges in most of these competitions. I will detail them below, but here are a few: Acidity, flavor development, appearance, depth of character, pairing of ingredients. I have also learned restaurantese with terms such as sous chef, chef de cuisine, chef de partie and others.  Then there are the interesting ingredients that isles common in the shows, but I had never heard of such as marscapone, pancetta, crėme fraiche and roulade. Then there is the appearance part…many of the dishes seem to demand an artistry of presentation. I mean, what is with the swoosh of cream or sauce on the plate? And then the exact placement of a spring of basil on top? Does the artistry on the plate create a further appeal to the palate?

So, for the guy like me who loves to eat and loves to watch these game shows about food, I am going to try to decipher some of the terms:

All About the Food

    • Acidity: Commonly heard on the shows…not enough acidity…too much acidity.  We all know what acid is, but what does it mean in cooking? If a dish has enough salt and still tastes flat, it’s often because it needs a mouthwatering burst of acidity—think of a squeeze of lemon on a piece of fish, or vinegary pickles on a sandwich. If a dish is too acidic, the way to achieve balance is to add fat or sugar to mute the sourness.
Nigiri sishi has a number of developed flavors

Nigiri sishi has a number of developed flavors

    • Flavor Development: Well, you hear this a lot as well…. This is just fancy lingo for the myriad of techniques in good cooking that create good flavor in dishes. It doesn’t refer to any one specific thing. As I read somewhere on the web – it sounds far more professional to say “the flavor in this dish is not well developed” than to say “this dish is bad.”
Colorful Fruits can be very appealing

Colorful Fruits can be very appealing

    • Appearance: Flavor development may be important, but the first step is the appearance of the food. The appearance of food and beverages seem to influence craveability and a desire to partake of these items. Ultimately, the appearance of food influences food choice. All of these shows have a heavy focus on the appearance.
Food Presentation is so important in these games

Food Presentation is so important in these games

    • Presentation: Presentation goes along with Appearance. A definition in Wikipedia states that “food presentation is the art of modifying, processing, arranging, or decorating food to enhance its aesthetic appeal.”  Presentation and Appearance are both a part of the Plating process, which makes or breaks most contestants, before the food is ever tasted.
Plating with "swooshy" sauces...art on a plate

Plating with “swooshy” sauces…art on a plate

    • Plating: I get a kick out of watching the plating process on these shows. The methods of adding food on the plate, the swooshing of sauces (actually called “pulling”), the mixing of colors, etc.
Plating with sauce...art on a plate

Plating with sauce…art on a plate

Ingredient Pairing example

Ingredient Pairing example

    • Pairing of Ingredients: I often hear the judges say “great pairing” or “poor pairing” of ingredients. I have heard often of pairing of wines to cheeses or meals, but never really thought about pairing of ingredients. Of course, my example above of using canned tomato soup to make tuna casserole is most likely a poor example of pairing!!

In researching for this post I came across a really interesting post about plating.  You can read it here. Called the “Art of Cuisine: Plating Sauces,” it was a real learning experience for me.  For instance, the author notes “the ratio of the food on the plate to negative space should be 40% food and 60% “negative” space, i.e. space that isn’t taken up by food.” As if I really care, but, apparently there is a rule and I am sure that the “esteemed judges” on these shows know these rules.

ChefStuff

Chefs of All Kinds

Everyone knows what a chef is.  I grew up seeing Chef Boyardee in his chef hat, which I have learned is called a “toque blanche.” According to Wikipedia, The modern toque is popularly believed to have originated with the French chefs Marie-Antoine Carême (1784–1833) and Auguste Escoffier (1846–1935).  So, we know what they wear, but I was never aware there were so many kinds of chefs.  Following are three that crop up often on these game shows.

A typical sous chef

A typical sous chef

  • Sous Chef: A Sous-Chef de Cuisine also known Under-chef of the kitchen is a chef who is the “the second in command in a kitchen; the person ranking next after the head chef. Sous-chefs must plan and direct how the food is presented on the plate, keep their kitchen staff in order, train new chefs, create the work schedule, and make sure all the food that goes to customers is of the best quality to make customers happy
Typical Chef de Partie

Typical Chef de Partie

  • Chef de Partie: When I first heard this name I chuckled in the thought that they actually have chefs whose focus is on parties.  Well, not really the case. A chef de partie, station chef, or line cook, is a chef in charge of a particular area of production in a restaurant. In large kitchens, each chef de partie might have several cooks or assistants. In most kitchens, however, the chef de partie is the only worker in that department. Line cooks are often divided into a hierarchy of their own, starting with “first cook,” then “second cook,” and so on as needed by the establishment.  Wikipedia has a breakdown of the different line chef titles.
Chef de Cuisine example

Chef de Cuisine example

  • Chef de Cuisine:  The Chef de Cuisine or executive chef is the main chef in a restaurant. He/she is in-charge of every other functional chef in the kitchen.This position is also known as chef manager, Head chef and Master chef.
Cooking Ingredients

Cooking Ingredients

Typical Basket from "Chopped"

Typical Basket from “Chopped”

Commonly Uncommon Ingredients

These cooking shows offer a literal cornucopia of ingredients, many which I have never heard of.  There are always the usual ones – onions, vegetables, sugar, flour, etc.  But what about marscapone, pancetta, crėme fraiche and roulade?  I don’t think I have ever used any of these.

Marscapone

Marscapone

  • Marscapone: Seems like this ingredient appears in almost all of the shows. I have learned that it is a type of cheese.  But, why is it always used? Mascarpone is an Italian cheese made from cream, coagulated by the addition of citric acid or acetic acid. According to Cheese.com, mascarpone is used in both sweet and savory dishes. It is added to enhance the flavor of the dish without overwhelming the original taste. The cheese tastes best with anchovies, mustard and spices, or mixed with cocoa or coffee. Tiramisu, a layered dish with espresso, brandy, chocolate and Mascarpone has brought the cheese to the forefront of Italian cooking. Another possible use of Mascarpone is to thicken puddings and dessert creams. It is also popular as a standalone dessert served with fruit or syrup.
Pancetta

Pancetta

  • Pancetta:  Pancetta is another ingredient I hear often. Seems to me like it is a type of bacon, but probably much much better. According to Wikipedia, pancetta is is Italian bacon made of pork belly meat that is salt cured and spiced with black pepper and sometimes other spices.
Creme fraiche

Creme fraiche

  • Crème fraîche: When I hear this one (which is also often), I end up thinking Cream Fresh and wonder why they call it that. But, actually, Crème fraîche is a soured cream containing 30–45% butterfat and having a pH of around 4.5. It is soured with bacterial culture, but is less sour than U.S.-style sour cream, and has a lower viscosity and a higher fat content. European labeling regulation disallows any ingredients other than cream and bacterial culture. It is often used to finish hot savory sauces and is also the basis of many desserts and dessert sauces.

Roulade

Roulade

  • Roulade: A roulade is a dish of filled rolled meat or pastry. Traditionally found in various European cuisines, the term roulade originates from the French word “rouler”, meaning “to roll”.

A FEW OTHER TERMS COMMONLY HEARD ON THE GAME SHOWS

  • Al Dente: In cooking, al dente describes pasta and vegetables, rice or beans that are cooked to be firm to the bite. The etymology is Italian “to the tooth.” If pasta is too soft or mushy it is not al dente.
  • Render Out: Often when the cooks explain their recipes on these shows, they talk about “rendering out” the bacon or pancetta.  HERE is a good post about rendering bacon. Ultimately, render means “cook the fat out of.” The bacon and/or pancetta is almost always cubed when rendering happens on these shows. Mmmm….bacon….
  • Wine Reduction: So, how does one “reduce” a wine?  Obviously, you can reduce the amount of wine by drinking some of it.  But, I don’t think that is what they mean. Actually, in cooking, reduction is the process of thickening and intensifying the flavor of a liquid mixture such as a soup, sauce, wine, or juice by simmering or boiling. Reduction is performed by simmering or boiling a liquid such as stock, fruit or vegetable juices, wine, vinegar, or a sauce until the desired volume is reached by evaporation. This is done without a lid, thus enabling the vapor to escape from the mixture.
  • Caramelize: I love caramels…those rich creamy candies.  But, when a cook talks about caramelizing onions, I most certainly don’t think of caramels! Caramelization  is the browning of sugar, a process used extensively in cooking for the resulting nutty flavor and brown color. As the process occurs, volatile chemicals are released, producing the characteristic caramel flavor.  Guess what? Onions have sugars and that is why they are caramelized?
  • Emulsify: Another word I have heard many times, but never really understood. When you whisk together two liquids—like oil and vinegar—that normally won’t bond together, you can cause them to form a single liquid that may stay stable for at least a short period of time. Think about what oil and vinegar look like when well-whisked – the result is thicker and almost creamy looking: that is an emulsification.  A vinaigrette is an emulsified liquid.
  • Socarrat: I like rice a lot.  Especially a good savory rice that has been fried. Japanese/Korean Fried rice is wonderful, especially when some of it has browned and caramelized (there’s that word again!!) Turns out that the burnt and crunchy portion of a good al dente (Ha! used it too) rice grilled in a pan, like fried rice, is called socarrat.
A rice with caramelized socarrat

A rice with caramelized socarrat

It is obvious that these game shows are meant for entertainment as chefs, cooks, culinary experts and the likes go at each other to show off their crafts and cuisine arts.  But, they can be learning experiences at so many levels.  Now I’m hungry!!

IMG_1635

Biting into the “small” burger at Big Jud’s in Rexburg, ID in 2013. They are home to the 1 LB and 2 LB Challenges…