Saturday, February 18, 2006

Bargain Basement Black Bean Soup

So, I was walking into the grocery store last night after work, and stopped at the bunch of "clearance carts" they always have set up near the doors. These carts are where they'll put huge overstocks of mini plasticene photo albums or off-brand Valentine's candy, or random selections of flashlights, whatever. But they'll also occasionally put food items here. Not perishable stuff, but stuff that's had its packaging damaged in some form or another, and isn't pretty enough to stock on the shelves.

Last night, they had a cart with some canned goods in it, so, since I'm still recovering from the financial brouhaha that was "The Holidays," I started picking through them. They were mangled, to be sure -- big dents in the cans, crushed and ripped labels, not very pretty. But no leaks. No signs that the interior foodstuffs were in any way compromised. I found two cans of Progresso soup for $.75 each, three cans of black beans (two with cumin and chili spices) for $.30 each, and two cans of two-color corn for $.30 and $.35 each. Jackpot!

I'd been thinking about what to cook this weekend -- trying to stave off the below-zero temps -- and as I put these sorry-looking cans in my cart, it came to me: Bargain Basement Black Bean Soup. An onion, two jalapenos and small package of hot pork sausage later, I had everything I needed to purchase to make this soup (having the remaining ingredients already at home). So, I think I spent a total of about $4 on ingredients for soup that will probably last me about four days. Not too shabby!

"Sir? Ma'am? Your special corner of hell is now ready..."

I was reading the Isthmus this morning and saw a short review of this HBO documentary called "Dealing Dogs," about dogs used for research in veterinary schools and the like. There are Class A dog dealers, and Class B dog dealers. Class A dog dealers specifically breed dogs for research. Class B dog dealers are the bad ones. Class B dealers buy dogs from pounds, shelters, small breeders, and unlicensed sellers called "bunchers," and then sell them to the vet schools and research labs. The primary problem is that Class B dealers don't always check where the dogs they're buying have come from, and bunchers will often pick up strays or wandering pets, or even steal dogs from their own backyards. Even the short blurb in the Isthmus horrified me. It talked about seeing dogs beaten, shot, underfed -- all on their way to being research subjects, which probably isn't a picnic in itself.

Now, sitting here with my morning cappuccino (I truly enjoy that machine, even if does leak and threaten me with electrocution) , I find a Newsweek article on MSNBC that continues the horror story:

"Members of one animal-rights organization—Last Chance for Animals—spent six months undercover investigating one of these dealers. The conditions they found were deplorable. Dogs were crammed into narrow feces-covered cages, some malnourished or bleeding from open wounds. Some were already dead, their bodies lying stiff and unnoticed in the back of the cage. One dog, considered a 'biter,' was shot in the head ('no sense in him breathing air that a good dog could breathe,' a kennel worker says). Other maggot-infested canine corpses were discovered in a trench, some of them butchered for their organs."

Now, being a dog owner (though I think the ownership is mutual), maybe I'm just a wee bit more sensitive to stuff like this. But I cannot fathom how some people can do such horrible things to animals -- especially those who have been our friends and companions for thousands of years. I can only hope the karmic debt these people are accumulating eventually comes up for repayment. Perhaps in the form of a pack of angry Rottweilers...

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Snowbound, let's sleep in today

Nothing like a tribute to a Donald Fagen album to start off a blog posting, eh? In reality, I didn't get to sleep in today, nor are we snowbound...yet. But it's coming. Oh yes, it's coming.

Madison is due to get slammed with winter weather today. A majority of the state is under a Winter Weather Warning. We got about 3-4" of it overnight, and there's anywhere between 4-8" more coming, with whiteout conditions and drifting and all that stuff that makes driving in it SUCH a joy. The whole situation must be serious as shit, because, for the first time since 2001 (I believe), Madison public schools CLOSED. That's right, you heard me. I can't believe it either.

Now, Madison schools closing doesn't affect me much on its own. I mean, I don't have any kids, other than this supermodel, but she don't reed or rite too good. And I'm certainly past the age of benefitting from snow days myself (though I'm definitely not past the age of benefitting from a good sledding outing). No, the reason this snow day is significant is that it means my employer shuts down for the day, too. That is why, dear readers (that would be Mom and the comment spammers), I am sitting here in front of my home computer with a freshly-made latte and warm, comfy clothes on, watching the world all go to white frosty hell outside.

So, I guess I COULD go sledding if I wanted to...