Monthly Archives: November 2010

A good holiday weekend

A four day weekend is always great to rest the body and mind.

We had quiet Thanksgiving yesterday. Rather I should say I had a quiet Thanksgiving. Mrs. Poolman spent 12 hours at the hospital, caring for critically ill babies. I felt pretty good that I got my assigned tasks accomplished, but it doesn’t hold a candle to her productivity of the day.

I started with Thanksgiving Day mass. Monsignor C was quite impressed with the “crowd” at mass and said so. Actually, it was a very nice way to start the day. I saw and talked with several people I know. A brother-sister team of former and current students were the altar servers, and I talked with them. Monsignor C set a perfect tone and preached a good homily. Plus, he kept the whole thing short. We have so much for which to be thankful, it doesn’t hurt to start off the day on the right note.

I spent most of the rest of the day on my own. I cleaned the house, updated and balanced the checkbook and, of course, prepared Thanksgiving dinner.

Unlike most of our holiday meals, this was a small gathering. We had no out-of-town company. Of our friends, everyone was doing their own thing this year. Among family and friends, most of the kids are in their mid to late 20s with jobs, formal or informal “in-laws,” etc. It is very difficult to organize holiday gatherings with multiple family groups.

We had dinner scheduled for 8 p.m. since Mrs. P wasn’t scheduled to be home until 7:30. Writer Princess, Son-in-Law and Poolboy all contributed to the meal and joined us. (Poolboy’s girlfriend “GF” was off in Orlando with her family.) We thought we were going to have one “holiday orphan,” but he got a better offer at the last minute.

I was fairly happy with the way things turned out. Although I cooked only the turkey, green beans and rolls, I still had to coordinate all the other dishes through two ovens. Poolboy made the mashed potatoes. Writer princess fixed the dressing. Mrs. P pre-prepared a squash casserole and an artichoke dip for an appetizer. She also made the gravy when she got home. (I never have gotten the knack of making gravy.) SIL baked pumpkin and pecan pies.

So it was just the five of us until a couple of our friends/neighbors wandered down for dessert. Much quieter than typical Casa Poolman holidays, but very nice all the same.  Most of the rest of the weekend will be devoted to eating leftovers and watching football. Maybe a little shopping thrown in. Should be good!


Just not that big a deal!

I am really glad (thankful?) we are not traveling anywhere this weekend. Driving isn’t too bad, but flying? What kind of masochist wants to brave the air travel system on any holiday weekend? But this weekend, with the informal security “opt-out” boycott?

I’m not saying that the TSA can’t improve their methodology, but I really can’t get too worked up about either the full body scan or a pat-down. Given the choice between a little invasion of privacy and being blown out of the sky, I’ll take the invasion every time.

I chuckle over the comparison between a pat-down and a sexual assault “…if it were done by anyone else.” Actually there are lots of instances where that a person may have contact with another that, under different circumstances, might be inappropriate. Doctors, nurses and other medical care providers come to mind immediately. Dancers, cheerleaders, music instructors, athletes and athletic coaches often have close contact with others, frequently of the opposite gender, without it being “sexual assault.”

Since the TSA pat-downs are performed by members of the same sex, I suspect the screener is no-more happy about messing with someone’s “junk” than the subject.

I think the Israelis have the right idea – they profile. They train their security agents to interview passengers and target those who look like high risk. If you are really interested in security, does it really make sense to treat an 80 year old grandmother traveling with her family the same as a single, Saudi male, in his 20s?

It’s not politically correct, but I guess the Israelis don’t really care. And it works.


How do you find “North” in South Carolina?

A friend sent me this video.  As a former northerner who has lived his entire adult life in the South, I thought it was hysterical.  It is a bit long (6 minutes) but classic Bill Cosby funny.

By the way, I have been to North (or “no-werth”), South Carolina. It is just up the road from Norway and Denmark. True story!

It’s a holiday week!

I have been totally uninspired to write for the past couple of weeks. We certainly have been busy, but it’s been all the normal, not-all-that-interesting stuff.

It’s been a disappointing college football season. Our Florida Gators have flip-flopped back and forth from looking like world-beaters (not very often) to impersonating Sister Mary’s School for the Deaf and Blind.  There is one game left, against rival Florida State. We’ll see who come to play.

The newest addition to the Poolman family, Penny the Kitten, is doing very well. It took her about a week to figure out the other members of our animal sub-culture were pretty harmless. (You can get stomped by a large dog, but it won’t be intentional.)  She and Sid the Tailless have become tight.

Penny & Sid taking a "cat nap."

Sid gets in on a little grooming of his little sister.

She and Sammy, the younger, smaller dog, have hit it off big-time. They actively tease and play with each other, and Penny is holding her own just fine. Penny has actually gone up to a resting Sammy and curled up with her. I have tried to get a picture, but every time I start to point a camera at them, Sammy gets up and walks away. It’s like she is ashamed to be caught snuggling with a cat. Very weird.

Planning Thanksgiving has been a challenge this year. Mrs. Poolman is working Thanksgiving day, which means we won’t be eating the holiday meal until after 8 in the evening. You would think that would make it very easy to plan around our children, their in-laws, potential in-laws, etc., but you would be wrong. As of this afternoon, we got word that Writer Princess’s in-laws would not be coming. Her MIL is undergoing radiation treatment and doesn’t want to even leave the house. Quite understandable. WP and SIL will be heading out to their place early in the day and preparing a Thanksgiving meal there.

There are still a bunch of “maybes”. Poolboy’s girl friend’s parents are thinking about going to Disney World for the weekend. Maybe they will; maybe they won’t. Maybe GF will go along; maybe she won’t. As of this morning, we still weren’t sure whether to set places for five or 14.  Oh well. We’ll either have the right amount of food, or a ton of leftovers. Either way is OK.

These odd holiday schedules are nothing new for us. Mrs. P works either Thanksgiving or Christmas every year and alternates. I pretty much have the holiday meal preparation down to a science. I also get lots of help from others who prepare side dishes.

No CCD this week because of Thanksgiving. The break comes at a very good time.

Lots of great football this weekend — might as well enjoy it because the end is in sight.

Don’t believe everything you read

I arrived at one of our local elementary schools yesterday to help judge a science fair. It is one of those schools with multiple buildings and an “open campus.” I walked up to what I thought was the front door. There a prominent sign that said:


So I walked to the building to the right, but that wasn’t the right building. Then I tried the building to the left. I found a teacher and asked her for directions to the main office.

Her: “It’s in the building next door.”

Me: “You mean the building with the sign that says not to enter before going to the office?”

Her: “Yes, that would be the one.”

And these people are entrusted with educating our children.

Don’t ya love college football?

It’s November, and in the college football world, fans are starting to get riled up over the BCS rankings. I read an article on yesterday  that projected LSU getting to the national championship game without even winning its division, let alone winning its conference. As much of a travesty that would be (It seems like almost anything involving Les Miles is a travesty.), I am even more amused over the debate regarding the “mid majors.”

As anyone who reads me knows, I am a big University of Florida football fan. It follows that I am also an SEC fan. Almost every year, we watch the SEC beat itself up.

This year is a good example. The three top teams in the SEC are probably Auburn, Alabama and LSU. So…

Auburn beat LSU.

LSU beat Alabama.

Alabama will play Auburn on Thanksgiving weekend, and may beat them.

So who is the best of that trio?

Of one thing you can be certain – when you play a schedule year-in and year-out that includes teams like Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, etc., and you come out ahead, you know you have a good team. To one degree or another, the same could be said about the rest of the major conferences.

Outside of those conferences, the “mid-majors” are another question. Schools like TCU, Boise State and, until last weekend, Utah, are portrayed as the raggedy urchins, left standing out in the cold; noses pressed to the window; and waiting for the BCS schools to throw them some table scraps.

I’ll concede that it is possible TCU or Boise State MAY be the best team in the country. The problem is – how will we ever know? They run up impressive records and statistics, while playing schedules consisting of Sister Mary’s School for the Deaf and Blind.

Utah was another school that was considered a top contender.

Donna McMillan - AP

They were undefeated and had accumulated impressive stats while playing a bunch of weak sisters. They were ranked in the top ten of all polls. Then they played TCU. They not only lost; they were blown out of the stadium by 40 points!

Oops! Maybe we were wrong.

The pseudo-logic that supported Utah’s claim to a ranking is also the same logic that supports Boise State and TCU.

So what is the answer? Since it doesn’t look like a playoff is going to happen anytime soon, I put the burden back on those “mid-major” schools.

If you want to be considered one of the “big boys,” then act like one. Improve your schedule. Join a stronger conference. Improve your own conference. If you can run a gauntlet like an SEC schedule, then someone may take you seriously.

PS to Boise State: Paint your field the right color!

Normally, I'm a big fan of orange and blue...but really!

You may think the blue field makes you special, but the rest of us just laugh and point to it as another example of you being a minor league player.


End to procrastination

I got a call from my youngest sister late last week that gave me the nudge to finish up a project that I have been procrastinating about for months. Kel said that she was giving her copy of “my cookbook” to a young guy who works with her. She wanted to put in an order for another copy.

It all started back in 2001 when my daughter, Writer Princess, was moving into her first apartment. For the first time in her life, she could no longer rely on Mom and Dad or the college food plan to feed her. She asked me for some simple recipes.

What started as a few recipes ended up as a small cookbook, entitled “College Cooking: A Survival Manual.”  Subtitle: “A beginners guide to fending for yourself in the kitchen and living off of what you cook!”

It’s not really a cookbook. The recipes are all pretty simple. It really is intended to be a “start-up manual” for someone faced with cooking for themselves for the first time. It included some simple instructions, lists of necessary kitchen utensils, basic food stuffs you should always have on hand, etc. There are also some recipes, mostly such basics as baked chicken, spaghetti, chili, meatloaf, saute’d fish, and so on. .

It ran around 25 pages (8.5 x 11). I printed an initial dozen copies and have gone back and printed around 25 or so additional ones over the years. I have been meaning to print another run, but I wanted to update it first. Hence, the procrastination.

Well, today Mrs. Poolman had to work a Sunday shift, so I had the day on my own. I spent several hours this afternoon adding some recipes, including several that are included in this blog.

Chicken Enchiladas

I’ll get it proofed this week and send it off for its fourth printing…of about a dozen copies.

A fun ride!

One of the many things I really like about my job is that, from time to time, I get to do things fun or interesting. Research cruises or trips to isolated barrier islands are two examples. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to go along on a cool helicopter ride.

The science purpose of the helicopter was to observe a study looking at water flow through a salt marsh. A concentrated die was dumped into the water and then the flow of the dye was observed and measured.

Releasing the concentrated red dye.

The helicopter was a Robinson R-22.  It is a fairly small four-seater with the doors all off.

The ride.

As I sat in the back-right seat and looked past my shoulder, there was nothing but air. We climbed to 3,000 feet to get a wide view

Skidaway Island at the bottom and Wassaw Island on the horizon.

You can really see how the dye moves through the marsh.

and then zoomed down across the marsh at around 100 feet.

Part of the science team in a small boat.

All told, the flight was only around 25 minutes, but it sure made my day.

Today, it just another day in the office. Oh well, real life returns.