Saturday, December 24, 2011

Just found...

I was going over some items in the room where I keep my computer. One of the items that I went through was a clay cup in which I keep my odd coin collection. Now, I generally go through the collection as I find new odd coins, so after I recently got a Canadian quarter, I decided to catalog the cup's collection to see what I now own. Here it is:

-a 1984 Canadian quarter (the new coin)
-a 100 Japanese Yen coin (this came from my friend David)
-a 2003 Chinese 1 Yuan coin
-3 1979 Susan B. Anthony dollar coins
-a 1977 Kennedy half dollar coin
-a 1973 Kennedy half dollar coin
-2 more Canadian quarters (1974 and 1978)
-a British 10 Pence coin (not sure what year)
-a 1980 Greek 5 Drachmai coin
-a 1973 5 Centavos coin (think Mexican, but not sure)--this one is smaller than a US penny
-2 Canadian pennies (1980 and 1994)
-a Norwegian 5 ore coin from 1974
-4 US nickles from 2004 to 2006 (featuring the alternate designs for the face and back)
-3 game tokens from some of the locations that had video games in my local area (the only one that is still good is for Chuck E. Cheese, but there are no local outlets in my home area). I'm not sure about one, but I do remember the Space Port arcade that was on Green St. in the heart of Campus Town (University of Illinois)
-three shells that I collected back in high school when my band took its Florida trip (I got them from Daytona Beach)
-a bracelet that I got as a Christmas gift from my parents many years ago
-a spent rifle jacket. I got this from my best friend (at the time ), Rick Kessler. Rick lived outside of Foosland, IL, at the time, and we got together as much as 4th graders could. The one other thing that I remember about his family was that his father was in the Illinois National Guard (hence why he gave it to me). That still will bring me to a stop.

Anyways, I'll add to this list eventually. I know there are other odd coins out there that are circulating as US coins.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The start of Christmas

Well, here are my reflections about today. This was supposed to be a holiday day-off for me, but I went into work for around 6 hours. This is a first for me, as in the past other people in my department dealt with this duty. It turned out to be some of the easiest work I've had in some time. It was mostly taking care of paperwork and making sure that last-minute entries were dealt with.

Now, about the holiday day-off bit. I know that the holiday is supposed to be December 26 (that is, the Federal Holiday). But this has to do with the company I work for. My employer has established their own fiscal calendar so that there is a bit more regularity with scheduling. Every month begins on a Monday, ends on a Sunday, and has either 4 or 5 weeks in it, depending on which month it is. These months on the company fiscal calendar fall roughly where a normal month is, but there are some variances. Because the fiscal calendar ends on December 25, all of the entries needed to be dealt with before that (thus some work being done on the 24th). The other irregularity was that Christmas for 2011 for the company would actually fall in the fiscal calendar of 2012, thus the company shifting my holiday to December 24. I know this all sounds odd, but I did not complain. It just meant that I got around 6 hours of double time pay, plus my holiday pay. So I got a good bonus.

Anyways, I then got in my regular grocery shopping afterwards. I met a couple of people I know from my work. Hello to Maria D. and George from ATS.

Later was dinner with my local family. Dad was out of the hospital, and looking a bit better. My nephew got to open some gifts, and a decent amount of Monical's pizza was eaten by all. I even introduced my nephew to Angry Birds on my computer, but he was having a difficult time trying to manipulate the birds on my laptop's monitor (he's only played Angry Birds on my mom's Nook). Anyways, time for bed. I'll be having Christmas dinner with Mom and Dad at a local restaurant and not at their home. With Dad having been in the hospital for the last week, Mom has not had any time to take care of their home this last week, and dinner there is not an option. And I did not plan on making dinner myself. Hmm....

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Favorite Recipes (part 2)

OK, here is the second of my favorite recipes. This one came from my sister (Hi, Deb!).

Ham Hash

-half a teaspoon of Garlic
-half a package of Southern Style Hash Browns (defrosted)
-half a cup of Diced Ham
-half of a green pepper, diced
-half of a onion, diced
-half tablespoon of butter
-half tablespoon of oil (olive oil is best)

Start with heating up the butter and oil in a skillet. When the butter is melted, add the green pepper and onion. Cook them on medium high for around 5 minutes to soften the pepper and brown the onion. Add the ham and heat it until it begins to crisp. Then add the garlic and heat for around 1 minute. Add the potatoes, and cook until the potatoes are hated thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I estimate this will make around 4 servings, although I usually get two dinners from each batch.

One more recipe which I recently discovered. This came from a package of Don Marcos flour tortilla shells. They called it Mexican Morning, but I refer it to:

Breakfast Tacos

one half cup of skim milk
dash of pepper
one 4oz. can of mushroom pieces and stems, drained
one cup of shredded cheese
one 16 oz. container of egg substitute
one tablespoon of margarine (low fat preferred)
package of tortilla shells of your choice

Combine milk, egg substitute, and pepper in a bowl and whisk until well blended. Melt the margarine in a skillet and add mushrooms. Heat for one to two minutes over medium heat. Stir in the egg mixture and heat. When egg mixture is nearly set, add cheese. After heated, remove from heat and spoon into heated tortilla shells. Top with a little bit of salsa and serve.

I also like to add either ham or green pepper to the mix, adding them with the mushroom pieces. I will heat that part for about a minute longer before adding the egg mixture.

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Favorite Recipes (part 1)

Well, upon reflection of the events of yesterday's Thanksgiving, I decided to share my favorite recipes.  I know that I only have a few that I call my own, but that is mainly because I tend not to spend a large amount of time in the kitchen.  I also guess that I did not really learn a great appreciation for food preparation in my life.  But anyways, here is my favorite recipe.  I'll post the other two in a second post later today.

First, here is my favorite recipe.  I'll call it James's Strawberry Jello Salad.  (FYI, I got the recipe from a book that my mom owns.  It was published by Kraft many years ago, and is surely out of print.  So I can claim it as my own.)

1 large box (or 2 small boxes) of Strawberry Jello
1 20 oz can of crushed pineapple (drained)
1 16 oz container of frozen sliced strawberries
1 16 oz container of sour cream (I prefer to use reduced fat sour cream)
2 cups of boiling water
I also recommend having two large bowls on hand to prepare this dish, and a ladle really helps out.

1) Mix the boiling water and the Jello in a large bowl.  Stir for 2 minutes.
2) Add the frozen strawberries, and stir until the strawberries are no longer frozen.
3) Add the drained crushed pineapple and stir until well mixed.
4) Ladle around half of the mix into a second bowl, and place the serving bowl in the refrigerator.  Check on that bowl every few minutes until that one is set.  Keep the other bowl at room temperature, stirring it every few minutes to keep that one from setting.
5) Once the serving bowl mix is set, remove from refrigerator.  Layer the sour cream on top of that bowl, and then pour the second bowl's mix on top of the sour cream layer.  Place the entire dish into the refrigerator.  Serve when set.

I've seen recipes on the internet that call for adding bananas to this.  I prefer to not do so.  And my results have borne this out.  You can also save some of the sour cream to make a top layer.  I personally have not done so, if only because of the results above.

I took this dish to several dinners at work, and never came home with leftovers.  This has also become my signature dish for family dinners.

I'll post my other recipes in a second post.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Once again, it's been ages since I've posted here, so it's time for another update.

Thanksgiving has come and gone.  I like the holiday, but it's been hit and miss over the last couple of years.  For a couple of years I was going to Thomasboro Peace Lutheran Church for Thanksgiving dinner with the pastor there and with my family members in the area (my parents, and my brother and his wife).  Last year I spent Thanksgiving alone with a turkey dinner for one.  This year I went to my parents' house for dinner.  They had ordered a dinner from County Market, and it was very good.  Turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, cranberry orange relish, green bean casserole, deviled eggs, and pumpkin pie.  I brought with me what is becoming my signature dish, a strawberry jello salad.  I'll put the recipe up on a future blog post.

We had dinner together, with a trip for seconds, and then watched a Shirley Temple movie on Turner Movie Classics.  Afterwords, my mother went to play solitaire on her Nook, while dad went to do some early Christmas shopping on his computer.  I was content to watch a couple of episodes of a downloaded shows on my computer (before the battery went dead).  Just as I was leaving tonight, my brother arrived from their visit to my sister-in-law's parents.  I gave them the rest of the jello salad (she loves it).

Finally, to top the evening, I went over to the local Wal-Mart and participated in my first Black Friday event.  I saw that they had an office chair on sale for $39 (well, technically the sale was on Thursday, but you get the idea).  It's likely the only time I'll be a part of a Black Friday event, unless I hear of a super deal in the future.  All of the other offers for this year do not interest me one bit.

Well, time for me to get back to reality.  I need to check on my Wizard 101 game.  Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Conundrum in Wizard 101

Ok, everybody who is reading this. I could really use some advice here.

First of all, my current favorite game on the internet is a mmorpg called Wizard 101. I won't go into detail about the game. Suffice it to say that it is a family-friendly role-play game, and the game play keeps me coming back. My current favorite character (let's call him LR) is a fire wizard who enjoys adventuring, being with friends, and is an avid gardener. The middle one applies to the real-world me as the only gardening that I do is pull up weeds next to my trailer, and my travels in the world are limited by my budget.

Anyways, my conundrum is thus. My character LR is currently a friend with a young lady wizard of the ice school (remember, this is a G-rated game) who I will call J. Now, J visited my in-game house to say hi and talk. After my gardening, we did talk. J was having a problem with another player. I guess that other player was overly-happy, thus making J sad and mad at the same time. I did remind J that others' feeling need to be considered, but that maybe the other player needed to respect her. (Maybe I said it wrong.) She got even sadder over that, but I then reminded her that I was her friend, and that I would always be there for her.

This is one of those times that I could get to know another player in real-life. I know there are ways to work around the game's censoring software, but this is one person who I feel needs more help than I can provide in-game. I am making it my goal to help her out as best as I can. But there is a limit to what I can do as a character in a game. I feel she needs more help, and a real-life friend could make the difference.

But, then again, I know that this could lead to trouble. After all, I think that I am old enough to be her father.

What to do? I wish I knew. I guess being there for her, even in-game, is better than running and hiding (which was my first thought). This will be a first for me since college. I have to stand up and be a true friend, even if all I am is some character in a game. And isn't that what friends do?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What's in a (nick)name...

I saw this in my list of unpublished posts, and I figured that I really needed to work on this subject. That is,...

How did someone from central Illinois come by the nickname Tobimaro?

Well, there is a story to that. It comes from my history with the internet.

Let's go back many years (not sure how many). Back to the dark, early days of the internet (at least as far as I am concerned). At that time I was living with my parents in a very small community with no cable TV (the cable franchise that fed the next town over did not come from the east [my direction] but from the south). My first internet account was on a kiosk at Kinko's in the big (for me) city on a free net called Prairienet. It was extremely primitive compared to today, as my main interests was reading email lists and catching up on my lists. No web-surfing, as the World Wide Web was in its infancy, plus my time on that kiosk was limited. But then the group behind Prairienet could not get better equipment (for free), so they decided to start charging for using their kiosk. I then decided to get my own computer and a different account.

With no cable available, I started to look at the dial-up services that were available. The only services that I could find were EarthLink and America Online. Since I could find local numbers for AOL, I went with them and set up my account. Then came coming up with my primary name...

Well, I went with my favorite anime "Urusei Yatsura". I figured that there would be some others using the names of the primary characters from that series, as the manga and anime were being released in the US. So I delved into the show a bit further. The latest translated book had a story introducing Mizunokouji Tobimaro, so I decided to use his name for my primary screen name. (I was kinda proud to have a screen name without using numbers.) And I still use the name in various locations.

I know it's not much. But I like the name. I give full credit for the name with Takahashi Rumiko and America Online.

Busy Day Ahead

Well, another post...(I really need to be more regular about these posts)

Today is June 11, and it looks to be a busy day ahead. Couple of items have come together to make this day an important one.

First of all will be a party to celebrate the second birthday of my nephew. I am looking forward to it as I do not see him that often. I do have my present ready, and I hope that his parents like it. I got an idea from a supervisor at work to get a US savings bond (to help with his future education), so I put down $25 for a $50 bond. It's not much, and I expect to do more like that, but it's the thought that counts. I also get to see his new swing set out in the back yard.

I then have to travel to the other side of my town for a cook out at the home of my supervisor. He decided to hold a cookout for the rest of the department, and the rest of the guys did not want to have it on Sunday. So, I am planning on leaving the party around 6 to make it for the cookout. I'll bring my own drinks (and I am not planning on having alcohol as I am driving). The only complication that I foresee is if the party goes late (or if my sister in law has a late meal). I'll talk more either tonight or tomorrow.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

I just was on jury duty...

Well, I just finished up a period of petit jury duty for my county's court system. It was a bit different than when I my last served on petit jury duty. Let me explain by telling this tale of my history of jury duty service.

The first time I served on petit jury duty was several years ago. I was asked to serve for a two-week period at that time. I was selected to sit on a total of three cases, and was on hand for a fourth day before leaving due to the pending cases being settled by the parties. The first case was a domestic battery case, which lasted one whole day. Jury was selected, trial began, two people testifying for the county, two testified for the defense, jury made its decision, and the defendant was convicted. Not bad for a first case.

Second case was a civil case, but I was excused (no comment as to why).

Third case was a criminal assault case, but I never found out the verdict as I was the alternate juror. Case went into a second day for final arguments for the lawyers, and I was excused as the alternate was not needed at that point.

There was an incident during my service. Remember the day when I was on hand but was let go? Well, I was on my way to get some lunch before going back to work, when I noticed several emergency vehicles rushing towards the courthouse. Later on I heard that a man had entered one of the court rooms and threw an incendiary device at the judge's bench. It did not do any harm, but it did a lot of property damage. This was well before 9/11, so security was not the top priority that it is nowadays.

My second petit jury duty experience was several years later at the new Federal Court in my town. Now, in orientation I was told that my jury duty period was for a three-month period, but because the court docket was planned out in advance they knew that the court would only have one total case for that period. I was on hand for jury selection, but was not selected. With it being a new building (and a Federal court to boot), security was a lot more extensive than my remembrance of the county's court house. Mind you that it was post 9/11, so security would be enhanced.

As for my most recent call, I was asked to serve at the county courthouse for this last week. First of all, the county's courthouse was completely renovated after the fire bomb incident (plus that it was a very old building). Now the public can only go through one entrance (with its requisite metal detectors). And now they also ban all cell phones inside the building to protect any juror from having his or her image splashed on any web page. Anyways, there was only one case this last week, and that was a civil assault case involving two employees of the local university (a professor and an IT person, I believe). It was expected to last three or four days, but I was not called.

Now, I do like to serve on juries. I have not had a bad experience in serving, so that helps. Plus, I had a teacher back in high school who extolled the virtues of jury service as a civic duty. I would like to someday serve on a grand jury and also serve on a Federal jury, if possible. Not that I am going out of my way to volunteer. If it never happens, so be it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Wisconsin road trip...

OK, welcome back. I said I was going to be doing more posts here, and I aims to please.

I took a trip to Wisconsin this weekend. My youngest brother is getting married later this year in Las Vegas, but due to budget constraints I will not be attending the wedding. However, he and his fiancee were both having a get-together for family and friends, so I and brother #2 and his family (he is the one who adopted a son back in 2009) made the trip up to visit them (and brother #1) in northern Wisconsin. My parents did not make the trip due to my father's recent illness (recovering from a staph infection). So, in my father's borrowed van, we made the trip up north. My only issue with the trip came up when I realized that my laptop's battery was not going to last the whole trip. We did stop at a town just south of Rockford for food and gas, which allowed me to buy a DC to AC power converter. They had other issues, but I did not want to get involved (and I do not air their issues in public, so let's keep it at that). My main form of entertainment was watching several episodes of Samurai Sentai Shinkenger (this is the basis of Power Rangers Samurai that is being shown on NickTOONS).

We arrived at brother #1's home (actually it belongs to his girlfriend) around 11:30 PM, and we were all happy to get there. I got the computer room with the unfolding futon. It was not a bad place to sleep, and thankfully my nephew knows not to open doors that he should not open without permission. The one that was happiest to see us was their labradoodle, who became best friends with my nephew over the course of the weekend (brother #2 and family have a dog, so being around a dog was no bid deal for my nephew).

Brother #1's girlfriend had to put in some time at her job early in the morning, but she still had time to make a breakfast casserole. I got up a bit late, but due to sleep issues, I felt it was not long enough. Anyways, while #1's girlfriend, #2's wife, and #3's fiancee went for a ladies' day with some of friends of the fiancee, the brothers and myself watched a bit of TV, watched nephew play with the dog, and we also talked to our father over the phone for a half-hour (using my cell phone). Lazy day of seeing NCAA basketball and hanging out.

Then the ladies came back and we did some more light talk, and brother #2 and wife gave the new couple a shower gift (tool set).

Then came the guy's night out. We planned on going to an early show at a bar/comedy club in town, but the plans shifted to the late show (one of #3's friends was coming from out of town and could not make it for the early show). So we ventured out to a bar in the same strip of stores as the club (cheaper food), where we met a pair of #3's friends (including the late arrival). We got food and drink (mine was not alcoholic as I planned on being a designated driver). After eating and watching a bit of the Wisconsin game on TV, we walked to the comedy club.

***My only complaint about that club is that they really need to work on how they handle lines going into the club. Back to my story.***

The MC for the night was a rather young comedian. Not bad, but he is a work in progress. Averell Carter was the next act, and he was very good. His best bit was a shot at a couple of people he encountered in a line complaining about poor service with a line "This is so gay". His retort was that they really needed to find a better complaint line (offensive words were at one time really offensive, now they are really lame). He told it better; I recommend you go see his act.

The headliner was Michael Mack. Now his act was funny. And his work with the women in the audience was great. One person that he worked into his act was an older woman who had her family with her in the club, and they sat to his left at the foot of the stage.

***Another note: the seats that the six of us (four brothers and two friends of youngest) were very nice. Great view of the stage, but not right next to the stage so that the comedians would not be using us in the act).***

My favorite part of his act was his ending, including his props to simulate various famous rock acts. The Queen bit from Bohemian Rhapsody where that band did the 'figaro' bit had me laughing hysterically. Loved it!

After the end of the act, we all went back to the first bar. We found out that Wisconsin had won (boo). Brother #2 and I split off from the rest, and after borrowing #1's gf's van, we went back to the house to get some sleep.


Late night became late morning. We did find out that brothers #1 and #3 made it back to their respective homes safely (#1 was locked out of the house for a bit because I had the keys). The group met at a local restaurant for brunch, followed by a trip to a local outlet shop for a look at the selection (its almost a tradition). After that it was trip preparations and #2 and I traveled back home. This time I listened to my NPR podcasts, and watched part of a documentary on the Crusades (my nephew liked seeing the men riding on their horses...ok, he liked the horses). The odd thing about the trip back was the weather. Up in norther Wisconsin it was only in the upper 30s to lower 40s. Back in central IL it was in the 60s when we stopped for dinner. I had to ditch some layers of clothes during the trip.

Long trip, but fun nevertheless. I'll have to think about my next trip up that way in the summer for the post-wedding reception. I may just drive myself. I liked watching my shows on the computer, but I think I may prefer to listen to XM for the trip. I also liked the drive with my nephew, but...I'll stop here. Have a good day.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


(deep breath) *Whoosh* *cough cough*

Oh my, so much dust here. *COUGH*

Wow, has it been this long since I posted here? Time to clean up the dust.

(sounds of a LOT of cleaning)

I am very sorry about this. I meant to keep this up, but life gets complicated, and I never got into the habit of coming here. Well, I hope to do more to post here and share my life with others out there. I'm going to keep this post short, but I will put up a longer post as to what is going on in my life within a couple of days. I just wanted to show that I am not dead, just lazy.

I may also try to post about my views of the world. I have seen news out there that makes me wonder about the state of the world. Lots of changes in the Middle East and in the good old United States makes me wonder about the future of the human race. But I will save that for a future post.

Enough of this. I have more cleaning to do here. This place is REALLY dusty.