PEPPER: A Seasoning To Trash

Simply put, pepper is the worst seasoning used in a vast majority of recipes.
It causes sneezing fits, and the flavor gets stuck in your throat.

It’s a distinctive flavor, but not a good one. How many of us season any meal with just pepper? Very few because exclusive pepper use makes good people like me gag.

THREEFORADIME BOTTOM LINE: Pepper should be banned; it sucks.

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A Tale of Dogs, Cats

Watching people at the park is educational at times. But even more telling is watching people with dogs and/or cats in any environment.
As a dog lover, I have had many dogs in my life, both large and small. These days, our family has two fat, lazy cats. It's an interesting contrast as well.
Dogs are usually loyal, loving and playful. Cats are typically aloof, regal and slightly more demanding when it comes to food and water.
But even those descriptions are subjective as any cat lover will explain emphatically.
I have had the best of dogs (thanks to my parents), the best trained of dogs (thanks to my elder daughter) and a Chihuahua that acted a bit like a dictator on steroids — thanks to Pancho for leaving my toes intact.
The best of dogs was a greyhound mongrel named Tex. He was supremely athletic and ran circles around all of the neighborhood kids in Michigan. The 6-foot, chain-linked, metal fence could not hold him when he decided to take a day trip.
He sailed over the fence with one bound and would usually return within 36 hours with dirt on his white fur and a dead animal in his mouth. Tex didn't dig holes in the ground by his fence. He simply jumped over the fence again and curled up for a nap.
For all of his strength and speed, Texas very gentle around young children. However he may be the real reason why postal delivery people still have his picture posted on their Most Wanted wall.

Pancho, the chihuahua, weighed a scant three pounds. Even living in snow-covered Michigan didn't calm his nerves. He easily qualified as the next of kin to any mass murderer in history,
Pancho, to be polite, was a short male determined to overachieve and rule the world. He began growling and biting toes at a young age.
When he was two years old, the under-sized Rambo made two enormous leaps to reach the dinner table and grabbed my steak dinner. Pancho then ran off with a steak that weighed nearly half his body weight. From then on, Pancho only increased his dangerous ways.

While the canines are hilarious to watch, many people treat their dogs and cats as if they are human children.
It's difficult to give a dog or cat convincing human characteristics. However we humans often prefer trying to win a cat's love and affection — good luck — over the more complex challenges of human interaction.
I know some great people who have no children, but their cat or dog has all the privileges of a spoiled child. Special treats, special sweaters, gourmet food and posh appointments at the doggie/kitty day spa (aka veterinarian).
Some will tell you that every animal deserves to be treated like royalty instead of left under a bridge to fight with other animals.
The same line of thinking says spay/neuter all animals to minimize overpopulation.
While I am an animal lover, I see animals for what they are: animals, not humans. Certainly taking care of an animal is a legitimate concern. But the level of spoiling that dogs, cats see today is amazing.
It's too much for a healthy family to endure.

Those who enable their pet to run their lives need to look closely at why their home is partially run by a 4-legged animal with a limited vocabulary. By “run,” I mean the animal wakes you up at 4 or 5 a.m. on Sunday because it’s the time they know your predictable schedule — or worse, because they are hungry and their patience is running low with the human species.

3FORADIME ADVICE: Train your animals at a young age to listen and obey you. Discipline on your part is what makes a pet’s best qualities shine. If you are inconsistent with children or pets, they will take advantage of that. And some, given a chance, will become the dog or cat in charge in a home you provide. Don’t let that happen with offspring, nor domesticated pets.

SUNSHINE ON MY SHOULDERS MAKES ME HAPPY

By Steve Rogers
Editor
Why is winter known as the season of depression? The cold temperatures, the howling winds are just part of the reason.
The continually overcast (aka gray) conditions may be the worst however. Every day is dreary, and without a plane, you cannot fix that until the weather changes.
A good part of Texas has been overcast for the last two weeks — plus high temperatures have been 10-15 degrees lower than normal for January.
The effects of such conditions have been studied. And the amount of sunlight we soak in daily is important not only the physical health.
It seems to me the real wear-and-tear is our mental struggle to live without seeing the Earth’s best friend, the sun. The sun brings quality-of-life benefits to each of our existence.
When the sun arrived in the sky on Jan. 15, 2015, for the first time in too many days, the release of joyful feelings inside my brain got me feeling energized, youthful, enthused and empowered.
Much better than the crotchety, grumpy mummy-like attitude I’ve been experiencing. Did you notice how much like mummies — or zombies — friends, neighbors and strangers act when the sun is shielded from our view?
It’s almost as if all hope has vanished from the planet when the sun hides from our view. And that leaves most of us in a catatonic state, wandering hallways, stairwells and streets in search of joy, peace and enjoyment.
Very few of us realize our dependence on the sun. But it pulls on us, much like gravity, to find the few rays of light that may pierce through the gloomy cloud cover.
The people I’ve spoken with in the last 24 hours have all claimed this weekend as a great one because temperatures are warmer — and the sun is shining in our little lives once more.
Prior to that, we all moaned like headless zombies in search of this lost star. For those unaware of why we were grumpier than usual, our office and home counterparts suffered the headless outbursts.
Funny, isn’t it, how even the unknown parts of our lives can affect us profoundly?
John Denver got it right in 1971 with his classic “Sunshine On My Shoulders” song, relating happiness to the sunshine seen on a cloudless day in the mountains. The lyrics were short and concise, but the wisdom was much more eternal.
I’ve got friends who have been ordered by their physicians to sit in the sunshine for the sake of the bodies. I recommend we all spend 2-4 hours daily this weekend basking in the glorious sunlight that reaches us from Heaven by way of one amazing star, the sun.
Think you are solely in charge of your world? Perhaps you make great decisions, have great wealth and all the gifts the world can bestow. Without the sun, however, you and I would be nothing, but specks on an icy blue planet.
The sun is a source of our light, our heat. But more secretively, it also influences our determination, our mood, our hopes and aspirations — and our ability to love others.
This weekend soak in the sun’s love and share it by treating others with that love. We all benefit by choosing to be happy, not mad, and to love, not grumble.
Love, once again, is the answer to all of life’s dilemmas. Thank you, sun. Thank you.

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COWBOYS’ PLAYOFF HOPES DASHED BY CRAP RULE

By Steve Rogers
Sports Editor
I’ve observed perhaps 3,000 football games from youth games to high school state championships to NFL playoff games.
And in 42 years of watching, I’ve never seen a legitimate catch ruled an incomplete pass until Sunday when Dallas Cowboy receiver Dez Bryant made a spectacular grab high above Green Bay’s Sam Shields late in the fourth quarter.
Bryant had total control of the pigskin as he placed both feet on the ground, moved the football to his left hand to reach for the goal line and landed at the 1-yard line.
The football was always in Bryant’s control, even as he switched hands and reached out. At the high school or college level, it was a sure catch.
However upon touching the ground about two feet from the goal line, the pigskin popped out of his left and landed on Bryant’s chest where the Cowboys star receiver grabbed the ball with both arms.
Even if it were ruled a fumble, the Cowboys would have the ball on the Green Bay 1-yard line after this spectacular fourth-down pass of 31 yards, right.
The field officials called it a catch and marked it on the one. But not at Lambeau Field in front of 79,000 roaring fans and national audience, friends.
The NFL rule book’s interpretation and the designated replay official, simply put, then deposited a large pile of manure directly on the Dallas Cowboys by ruling the catch an incompletion.
It was essentially the slap in the face heard around the world — aimed at silencing the Cowboys, America’s former team that was so close to reaching the NFC Championship Game for the first time in 19 years.
Cowboys were in total shock. Certainly the Cowboys’ receiver had possession of the football and placed two feet in-bounds. Hell, isn’t that the definition of a catch in any football league.
Apparently not in Green Bay on this tragic day.
STUPID NFL RULE 8, Section 1, Article 3, Item 1 states:
If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent, he must maintain control of the ball throughout the process of contacting the ground, whether in the field of play or in the end zone. IF he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete.”
Let me be clear on this: I am not a Dallas Cowboys fan, nor a Green Bay Packers hater. The NFL and the outcome of this playoff game do not affect me.
Yet, at my core, I am very upset over what is injustice in a game played by very big, strong men for millions of dollars each week. The rule — if followed to the letter — is either poorly written or authored by a fool who does not understand the basics of football.
Remember the classic rule: The ground cannot cause a fumble.
Where I come from (The Big 10), the ground further cannot cause an incompletion if the receiver has shown he controlled ball possession.
And Dez Bryant did that flawlessly, plus he went the extra mile and tried to cross the goal line in a heroic effort.
Apparently the NFL rule requires a weaker approach. Football was not made for wimps however.
Bryant’s effort earn my vote for NFL Player of the Week, which makes the NFL rule writers — all of them flawed humans — the NFL Goats of the Week.
Case closed.

WRESTLING STATE DUALS IN HOUSTON TODAY

In wrestling, history favors those who are prepared — and have a recent tradition of great grappling.
With the State Dual Championships being held in two Houston locations today, the favorites include the Allen boys and Cy Ridge girls in this ultimate team event. where team scoring is everything. Both are state powerhouses with the Cy Ridge a UIL State runner-up in 2014 and team state champion i 2013.
The Allen Eagles are on an ongoing, record-setting journey with multiple team titles at the annual UIL State Tournament held in February. In the boys’ tournament, North Texas teams are expected to dominate the top positions, but Houston’s top finishers — Morton Ranch, Klein, Westside and Cinco Ranch — will make noise and could pull upsets.
Westside finished third after Morton Ranch upset them in the December Houston Duals. While Morton Ranch and Klein enter the State Duals as Region III’s top two seeds, the Westside Wolves sport 1 one dual loss all year. At their best, the Wolves are a top-3 contender.
While that sounds contradictory to common sense, it all depends on the strengths and weaknesses of teams match up. Westside has only 2-3 wrestlers who are not strong. Many teams have twice as many, but at this State Dual tournament, four is probably the most you will see if you can make it to Cy Ridge and Mayde Creek High Schools today.
The Allen Eagles? Traditionally they enter every tournament with few or no non-state caliber wrestlers. Arlington Martin, the 5A boys’ state runner-up, isn’t far behind.
Other challengers for the boys’ dual crown at Mayde Creek on Saturday include El Paso Franklin and Lake Highlands, which some said may finish in the top 4.
While the boys’s State Duals draws teams from all parts of Texas except the Panhandle, the girls’ event this year is a bit of a Greater Houston battle. Besides Huntsville (7-0) and San Antonio Wagner (6-1), all of the teams are close to Houston. This
At the girls’ State Duals Championships being held at Cy Ridge today, the host school boasts an impressive 11-0 record. The Lady Rams are the clear favorite, but they too will be challenged by the likes of district rival Cy Falls (17-2), Clear Falls (9-1) and others.
The girls’ State Duals will start its finals between noon and 1:30 p.m. today (Saturday) at Cy Ridge. The boys’ semifinals will start about 3 p.m. at Mayde Creek with finals slated for 5 p.m.