Monday, March 30, 2009

Mmmm! -- The Joy of Porridge

Oatmeal is the perfect breakfast food. It's got complex carbs, protein and it's loaded with fiber. There's no better way to start a chilly day than a steaming hot bowl of oatmeal.

I've found three types of oatmeal:
  1. Rolled oats.
  2. Steel cut "Irish" oats.
  3. Stone-ground "Scottish" oats.

You're probably familiar with rolled oats. Quaker rolled oats in some form or other are found in pantries around the country. Most Americans have started their day at least once under the beneficent gaze of the smiling Quaker. Rolled oats are made by steaming the whole oat kernel, rolling them flat, and then toasting them lightly.

Rolled oats are perfectly good. They are easy to prepare and have a delightfully creamy texture. They also make really good cookies.

Irish Oatmeal is not as common here. I've seen them sold under the name of "McCann's," "Coaches Oats," and Quaker. Steel cut oats are made by cutting the oat kernel. They take quite a bit longer to prepare because there is less starch exposed. The last pot of steel cut oats I made simmered on the stove for about 40 minutes before we could eat them. Steel cut oats have a nuttier texture and aren't nearly as creamy as rolled oats.

If you don't mind standing over the stove for a good part of the morning, I recommend you try steel cut oatmeal.

My favorite is Scottish oatmeal. It is made by doing a very rough grind of the oat kernels. I've bought Scottish oatmeal from Bob's Red Mill and in bulk at my neighborhood Winco. Scottish oatmeal combines the best qualities of rolled oats and steel cut oats. They cook much faster than steel cut oats while retaining some of the nutty texture and they are creamy like rolled oats.

Here is how I make my Scottish oatmeal.

3/4 cup milk

3/4 cup water

1/2 cup oats

a little salt

I combine the ingredients in a small saucepan and then simmer over low heat until it thickens. I like to flavor my oatmeal with Billington's Dark Brown Molasses Sugar and a little half and half.

Fry up some bacon and you have the perfect meal.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

It Almost Never Works...

... but it's not a waste of time.

I've been trained in CPR for about 20 years. I've seen it performed many times but I've never had an opportunity to put my training into use until last night.

Here's the situation:

Wife finds 60-year-old husband collapsed and unresponsive next to the bed. She calls 9-1-1. The dispatchers coach her as she starts CPR.

We arrive minutes later.

My first thought as I walked in the room was, "He's dead." He's not breathing and has no pulse. He's lying on his back next to the bed. His face is blue and his eyes are open and unresponsive. We move him to the middle of the room.

My partner starts chest compressions. My other partner opens his airway. I fumble with my air-mask (I should have practiced putting it together). I finally put it together and start rescue breathing.

We continue for several minutes until the experts arrive. They transport the patient to the hospital after working on him for about ten minutes. The paramedics tell us he has a chance.

He's pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the ER.

My partner says, "I'd like to see someone recover just once."

CPR is useful only to keep blood flowing through a victim's body until they get to the hospital. It's not like the movies where the victim coughs, draws in a deep breath, opens his eyes and lives happily ever after. If you need CPR, you are probably already dead.

But here's the deal - unless the victim shows obvious signs of death (rigor mortis, lividity, decomposition, decapitation) - you start CPR.

We owe it to the family to do everything we can to save their loved one.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Ya Gotta Start 'Em Young

Damning with Faint Praise

You might be familiar with Red Bull. It's that ubiquitous energy drink that tastes a little like carbonated cough syrup. I've never been a fan of the beverage. However, Tabitha has taken a real liking to the sugar free version, much to the detriment of our family budget.

Anyway, Red Bull has started selling a cola in our area. I'm a big fan of soda pop and I like to try new versions of old stand-bys. Make a craft brewed root beer, bottle it in brown glass, slap on an old-timey label and I'll probably buy it. Make a new cola that promises something a little different and I'll probably buy it.

So I bought a four pack of Red Bull cola this weekend.

Red Bull cola is "a stimulating refreshment with ingredients from 100% natural sources." That's got to be good. The ingredients include some things I've heard of - vanilla, mustard seed, pine, and cardamom. And a few things that I haven't - galangal and corn mint. On the plus side it has real sugar, not high fructose corn syrup.

The taste?

It's... um... interesting.

It's different.

It's not as sweet as the other big name colas.

It's definitely drinkable.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Ya Gotta Know a Little Bit About Football

I took journalism my freshman year in high school. I had big dreams of being a reporter - notebook and pencil in hand, I would go to the scene of breaking news, collect information, and craft a well-written hard hitting piece. With my name on it of course.

One of my classmates was writing articles for our local give-away newspaper. The paper needed someone to cover high-school football games. My friend recommended me for the job.

There was a hitch. I didn't really know anything about football.

I knew that one side tried to move the ball by either running it or throwing it. The other side tried to stop them. A touchdown was worth 6 points and a field goal was 3 points. The finer points of the game were lost on me. I didn't know what the positions were other than the quarterback. I couldn't tell a linebacker from defensive back. I wasn't off to a good start.

I told my dad I was going to be writing about a football game. He replied, "You don't know anything about football." This time, he was right.

I looked up "football" in my handy encyclopedia. I might as well have been reading Latin.

My first game as a sportswriter was away for a non-league showdown. I rode to the game on the bus with the players. Our coach was an old-school son of New Mexico coal miners. The players wore their helmets in the bus.

Anyway, during the game I tried to take as many notes as possible. I just wrote down player numbers in the hope I would be able to match them to a name later. After the game (a loss for our team) I went home and wrote up the game. When I called the editor at the paper and read the article to him, he was underwhelmed.

Not surprisingly, he found someone else to cover the next game.

I still don't know much about football.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Now That's Service

I got a call the other day from my car dealer. They were offering assistance to change the clock in my Volkswagen for Daylight Saving Time.

No thanks. I got this one.

My car has two little buttons next to the clock. One says "H" and the other "M". I figured out what they mean a while back.

The Jeep is a different story. It goes something like this:
  1. Turn off the radio.
  2. Press and hold the "Time" button until the hour starts flashing.
  3. Using the tuner dial, select the correct number by turning the dial left or right.
  4. Press the "Time" button again. The minutes are still wrong because the clock is slow.
  5. Repeat step 2.
  6. Push the forward and backward buttons to try to change to the minutes.
  7. Fail.
  8. Repeat steps 1 and 2.
  9. Rotate the volume knob.
  10. Fail.
  11. Give up. For now. Turn the radio back on.
  12. Realize the clock is now 7 minutes slow.
  13. Repeat steps 1 and 2.
  14. Try to remember how Tabitha did it in October.
  15. Remember.
  16. Push down on the tuner dial and release to change to the minutes.
  17. Once the minutes are flashing select the correct number by turning the dial left or right
  18. Press the tuner button again.
  19. Turn on the radio.
  20. Vow to remember for next time.

Easy right? Maybe the next time I will read the manual.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

You've Got Something in Your Eye

As a long time contact lens wearer, I've gotten used to sticking my finger in my eye. I'm wearing extended wear disposable lenses right now. I'm generally very happy with them. They breathe well, are very comfortable, and provide me with crisp, clear vision.

I take them out every night (or day) when I sleep and I replace them after about three weeks. When they get near the 20 day mark, they become uncomfortable.

On Monday morning, I opened two new lenses. When I put the lens in my left eye, it seemed a little strange. My vision was slightly blurred in that eye. I took the lens out, rinsed it off, and stuck it back in. No change.

I thought that something might be wrong with my eye so I put the lens in my right eye this morning. Now I had blurred vision in my right eye. Something was definitely wrong with the lens.

I've replaced that one lens and all is back to normal now.

Sometimes when I'm driving on the freeway, I just want to keep going. I was driving east on the 10 freeway this morning. If I kept going I could eventually get to Florida.

I've never been to Florida.