Wednesday, November 24, 2010

One of My Many Talents

I've always been good with animals -- from small rodents up to large farm animals.  But truly, I am the Cat Whisperer...

Just tonight, our cat, June, was making a fuss and being generally unpleasant by wandering around the house and meowing with her wallpaper-peeling pay attention to me noise.  As I walked by, I picked her up, securely held her legs so she could not claw or get away, placed my lips next to her ear, and lovingly whispered...

"I'm going to kill you.  Slowly and painfully..."

As I moved her away from my face, our eyes momentarily met and mine shot lasers at her.  Frickin' LASERS.  She let out a small yelp, lept from my arms, and ran to the basement.  She's been a little lamb for the rest of the evening.

(Of course, I would never hurt our cat.  Nor do I condone hurting cats.  It's humor, folks -- dark humor.  And if you didn't find it funny, please move along.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

No, Ali Mohammad is NOT Going to Kill You

Here's a lovely spam/scam message that's been making the rounds. At least Ali Mohammad (the seer, killer, saver and damager) is kind enough to thank his potential victims at the end of his message.

This is just another example of a moneymaking scam. "Gimme some money and I won't kill you. I'll even let you know who wanted you dead in the first place." Even the simple headers on this message give it away. Note that the "To:" address is pretty generic and doesn't reference a specific person. A discriminating hit man would likely send individual e-mail messages to his targets and actually address them by name instead of "DEAR VICTIM." You know, actually illustrate that he might know as much about you as he claims by using your name. Cutting corners on contracted hit jobs is just never a good idea. And maybe, just maybe, this scammer could have been a little more original in fabricating a name. Using something that is so close to the name of one of the most famous American boxers of all time shows a real lack of imagination.

Oh, and since this message is going to Penn State staff members, chances are the target would not be a "wealthy person." I'm just sayin'...

Here's the full text of the message I received:
From: "ali mohammad" <>
Date: 17 Jul 2010 01:50:25 -0000

I am Mr Ali Mohammad the only man seer from UAE TO KILL YOU, I am a murderer. i have been paid to kill you and by one of your friend and the date has come . my colleagues has been in your state right now keeping eye's on everysteps you make but on my searching about your contact email information i find out that you are a wealthy person ,But since my data shows that you are innocent and I could make more profit out a double deal. then I called my client back and ask for your e-mail address. And as I write to you, now, my men are monitoring you and your every step.

Do get back to me as soon as possible if you have anything to say about this ,so that i will give YOU all their informations. I can only give you this email bcos, it is not to expose ok. reply to this email below only- (




Ali Mohammad (the seer, killer, saver and damager)
I think that the next time I have business cards printed up, I'll replace "security analyst" with "seer, killer, saver, and damager." It's so much more hard core...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Opening Night at Rey Azteca

If you know me, you probably know that over the past several months, I have rather impatiently waited for the opening of Rey Azteca, a Mexican restaurant, here in State College.  Finally, it happened.  Today.  And I was there for dinner, along with the family and two of our friends who have also waited for this day with great anticipation.

I have seen absolutely NO advertising for Rey Azteca; no official announcements for their opening; no signs in the window with an opening date; and until today, I hadn't succeeded in finding their Web site (  We knew they were opening today thanks to sleuthing, a newly discovered phone number, and a Yelp friend who managed to catch someone working there yesterday.  Nonetheless, PLENTY of people knew that today was the day, and when we arrived, the dining area was full, there were at least 50 people waiting in line before us, and more showing up every minute.  We were told our wait would be 15 to 20 minutes, and that was pretty accurate, which was surprising to me -- I'm used to those estimates being bold-faced lies that should be multiplied by 2 or 3.

I'm going to say up front that I'm fairly certain no one at Rey Azteca was expecting such a huge turnout tonight.  It was their unadvertised first night open, and while they likely knew that a good number of people in this town have been jonesing for a decent traditional Mexican restaurant, I also think  they were completely surprised by how well word-of-mouth and social media (oh, yeah - I've been tweeting about it, had it on Facebook, Yelped, and entered the location on foursquare as soon as I knew the address) worked to make the place SRO tonight.  Consequently, I'm not going to harp on the service, which was a bit slow.  However, I'm sure they'll take care of that problem, and every staff member with whom I interacted was very pleasant and accommodating.

TAKE NOTE!  REY AZTECA DOES NOT SERVE BEER OR LIQUOR.  I saw someone bring in their own 6-pack, but I don't know if they're totally cool with that.  If you must have alcohol with your Mexican food, call first and ask if they have a policy bout BYOB-ing.  And by the way, Pennsylvania's liquor laws SUCK.

So...  The food.  You're reading this because you want to know about the food, right?

Well, I'm not posting this review on Yelp because I don't think it's fair to judge a brand new restaurant on their first night of business.  That doesn't mean that I was disappointed in the food, though.  The obvious comparison here is El Campesino in Altoona (  That's been my go-to spot for good Mexican food.  And I'm going to predict right now that my days of having to drive 40 miles for my fix are over.  And not only does it have proximity working in its favor, but Rey Azteca's prices are lower than El Campesino's.  I ordered the vegetarian number 1 dinner - a cheese enchilada, a bean burrito, and a bean and cheese tostada.  That's the same lineup as the vegetarian A dinner at El Campesino (my usual order), and I ordered it, in part, to provide a fair comparison.  Despite the fact that it's a lot of food, I also made sure to order a side of rice and a side of beans (yes, I shared them) because I apparently have a hollow leg.

Rey Azteca's menu states on the cover that they serve food that is mildly seasoned.  They do not lie.  My food was flavorful, but in no way spicy.  Even the salsa was very mild.  In central PA, that's probably a good idea.  In future visits, I will have to inquire as to whether they have a spicier salsa available.  If they don't, that won't prevent me from returning, I'd just like to have a little more kick to my Mexican food.  The burrito was great, and could have been a clone of El Campesino's bean burrito - a perfect soft flour tortilla wrapped around refried beans of just the right consistency, and the whole thing thinly coated in salsa.  The tostada?  You can't really screw up a tostada, but what set this one apart was the guacamole.  As advertised on the Web site, it tastes homemade.  Good homemade, that is.  Don't freak out if you go there and your guac isn't bright green.  Freshly made guac starts changing its color quickly.  You can keep it bright green, but often at the price of mixing in more lemon juice than you really want.  This was smooth, tasty, non-lemony guac.  The enchilada was good.  It could have been better, but I could tell that its preparation had been rushed.  Again, I think this can be attributed to the unexpected turnout.  By the time our fried ice cream arrived, I was stuffed and yammering on and on about work, so I wasn't paying very close attention.  It's ice cream, whipped cream, honey, cinnamon, fried tortilla, and a cherry - like you can go wrong with that?

So, the bottom line for tonight's visit:  Good, but not as good as what I've been able to consistently get at El Campesino.  But I'm hopeful that will change, because I saw a lot of potential.  I'm going to give the folks at Rey Azteca a few days to match their staffing to the customer load, then try again.  I am also interested to hear other people's opinions over the next few days.  I'm happy that Rey Azteca is finally open, and I look forward to many more satisfying meals served up from their kitchen.  Go and give it a try!

El Campesino?  I kept telling you guys that we needed you to open a location in State College.  You may have just missed out on a golden opportunity, and I don't know that this town could support another Mexican restaurant... yet.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

monkey-isms (4)

Here's a gem from dinner the other night.  And yes, we had guests over...

@PinkPeonies:  Do you need to go to the bathroom?

The Monkey:  No.

@PinkPeonies:  Then why are you grabbing your crotch?

The Monkey:  Because my vulva is CONCENTRATING.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Congress has Made Progress

I just saw this status update from one of my friends:

"Soon it will be illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against me due to my Crohn's disease. I won't have to live in fear of having any gap in health coverage, lest pre-existing conditions waivers apply to me. Dozens of life path and employment options I never considered are now, for the first time, open for me to explore. Today is a pretty good Monday."

And so, to echo President Obama and Democratic members of the House from last night, I say, "YES WE CAN."

Posted via web from pckletchka

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I Think This Makes Me a Horrible Person...

I just sat and listened as my wonderful wife -- the incredible mother of our child, my partner in all things, the love of my life -- tried to walk her grandmother through getting to the Facebook page and logging on, all via a phone call.  In that one conversation, I heard so many elements of all the frustrating helpdesk phone calls I ever took.  And all I could do was sit there and laugh quietly to myself.  Some highlights...

"No, Grandma.  You're looking at your e-mail.  You want to be in a WEB BROWSER."

"That's a CAPTCHA...  No, it shouldn't be easy to read."

"No-no-no-no-no-no.  NOT YAHOO."

"That's your password.  You shouldn't share that with anyone.  Not (family member), (family member), or even (family member)."

I am a terrible, horrible person -- I know...

monkey-isms (3)

Monkey:  Daddy!  Look at my finger!  (holds out her index finger, which has something on the end of it that looks like a horrible blood blister)

Me:  (with a look of horror on my face)  What is that?!?!

Monkey:  (scraping the horror from her finger into my hand)  It came out of my nose.

She happily skipped away, singing a sweet little song...

Monday, January 18, 2010

Monkey-isms (2)

The Monkey was being particularly lovey with her mama - lots of hugs and snuggling.  She let out a little sigh, placed her head on Mama's shoulder, and said, "You're so complicated..."

I had to turn away and hide my face.  She was so sincere, and I think she meant it as a compliment, but my eyes nearly popped out of my head as hard as I had to work to stifle my laughter...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Common Sense/Common Courtesy

If you are too inconsiderate to notice that I was already waiting for a parking space to open up when you pulled into the lot, don't be surprised when I give you the stinkeye and make wild hand gestures when you cut me off and take the next available spot.  The only reason I didn't hurl many, many filthy insults your way and flip you off with both hands was because we were in the parking lot of my darling daughter's daycare and she was in the back seat of my car, waiting to be dropped off, you dipshit.

Posted via web from pckletchka

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Delicious Dinner, Horrible Service

Tonight, on a whim, we headed out to our favorite Indian restaurant, India Pavilion, with our friends the Howells.  We eat at IP on a fairly regular basis, mainly taking advantage of their lunch buffet (soooo nummy).  But when we go for dinner, we go knowing that the food will be tasty and the service will be top-notch.

So, it was a total surprise to walk in and find that I didn't recognize any of the staff working this evening.  It was an even bigger surprise when, after waiting for almost 45 minutes, we had to flag down a server to place our order.  And we were totally floored when it took another 45 minutes for the main course to arrive at our table.  45 minutes after that, we had to request our desserts be served in take-out containers so we could get our respective dead-tired children home and put them to bed.
I'm still dumbfounded by just how awful the experience was.  The food was indeed tasty, but I think we all put up with the horrible service only because it was so out-of-the-ordinary for IP.  Had that been our first time there, we would certainly never go back.  As it was, I was sorely tempted to do something I have only done once before in my life:  Write "don't play in traffic" on the tip line of the receipt.

</privileged, whiny-ass sob story>

Sorry.  I just had to get that off my chest...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Monkey-isms (1)

This morning, I had to correct the Monkey when she was talking about the show Imagination Movers.  She kept calling it "Ivagination Movers."  Yeah.  I couldn't let that continue...