Quotes from The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan

i can’t pretend to know
how to smoke. i just do it.
i can’t pretend to know
what love is. it just is.

once time is lit, it will burn
whether or not you’re breathing it in.

i have a tinder heart and a paper body and that any spark will turn me straight to ash

To get something, you must give something away.
To hold something, you must give something away.
To love something, you must give something away.

We are so used to releasing words. We don’t know what to do with them if they stay… No matter how many times we let them go, they come back. The words that matter always stay.

How to Be Alone
Remember that at any given moment
There are a thousand things
You can love

What I Learned
The well-documented difference
Between alone and lonely
The comfort of knowing

A Cue from Nature
Run outside during a thunderstorm
That downpour, that conquered hesitation, that exhilaration
That’s what unlonely is like

Here’s what I know about the realm of possibility – it is always expanding, it is never what you think it is. Everything around us was once deemed impossible. From the airplane overhead to the phones in our pockets to the choir girl putting her arm around the metalhead. As hard as it is for us to see sometimes, we all exist within the realm of possibility. Most of the limits are of our own world’s devising. And yet, every day we each do so many things that were once impossible to us.

Idea: Amazon School Supply List

Today, my son and I picked up some last minute supplies for his first day of middle school tomorrow, and this idea popped into my head.

Amazon.com is in a perfect position to make this a reality, though other online retailers could do it.

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Amazon will allow school districts, schools and/or teachers to create school supply lists through an easy interface in their system. Families will be able to log on to Amazon.com, find their school or teacher, and see the whole list of supplies needed for the school year. The families can then buy the whole list, or edit the supplies if they already have things on the list. When they do buy the items, they will have the option to ship the supplies directly to the school, and the student will be able to get them on the first day of school.

Teachers will also be able to post wish list items for the families, instead of having little slips of paper at the open house asking for Clorox wipes or Kleenex. When the families are checking out on Amazon.com, they can choose to add one of the wish list items.

Prices will be kept low because they will be supplemented from the companies whose products are featured through the list process. For example, Elmer’s Glue will be the only brand of glue that teachers can add to their supply lists, and this exclusivity would be paid for by Elmer’s, which would pass savings on to the consumers. (Families could deselect a brand if they would like a different one.)

The student won’t need to worry about forgetting an important supply at school, or losing something before the first day because it was bought weeks before. The parents won’t need to worry about wasting gas and time trying to find the supplies going from store to store. They won’t need to worry about getting the supply list from the teachers.

The teachers will be confident that their students have access to the list and to the supplies, and that the students will have what they need. There will be consistency in the products the kids are using so there’s no confusion about white glue versus glue sticks or something other than a No. 2 pencil.

Another option that will be available through this service will allow people to donate school supplies. This can be done either through an add-a-dollar process, that adds money onto the final amount of the sale, or the donor can select a school district and donate a full supply list to the school to give to a student in need. Schools would be able to sign up for up to a certain amount of donated supply lists.

In Central Florida, 172,000 children are enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program and 10,000 are homeless (source). If their families have difficulty putting food on the table, you know they will be unable to purchase school supplies. This opportunity to help other students would be a great benefit to all communities.

Since this is just an idea, I would encourage you to find a way to help out students in need this school year. Here in Central Florida, we have an organization called A Gift For Teaching that helps meet these needs by allowing teachers to shop in a Free Store for donated school supplies. They are associated with the Kids in Need Foundation who can help you help others in your own community.

So what do you think of the idea?

And how do we make it happen? Well, if you happen to work for Amazon, or another internet retailer – just run with it. If you don’t work for a company like that, this could start from the grassroots – send a letter to Amazon, to your school district or both. It seems like a win for students, parents, teachers and the community, as well as for the school supply business.

The school supply industry is pretty recession-proof. Kids don’t stop going to school when the economy is down. According to this article in the Porterville Recorder, “Total spending on back-to-school is expected to reach $26.7 billion; and total back-to-school and back-to-college spending combined, $72.5 billion.”

Recipe: Shark Tacos

Here’s a quick and simple recipe that I threw together for dinner tonight. It turned out really well. My measurements are approximate, because I don’t measure. Also, I made extra for leftovers…

This recipe started because my son wanted to try the shark steaks that Publix sells sometimes. This weekend we finally got them, and I figured out how to cook them. Tonight, I altered that and made tacos.

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Ingredients:
1 shark steak (1/2 lb) (I don’t know what kind… mako?)
1 to 2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups broccoli slaw
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lime
Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime seasoning to taste
Salt, to taste

Heat a skillet on medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of butter until melted and hot. Place shark steak in butter. It should sizzle a bit, but I think you’re basically poaching the shark in butter. Cook for a few minutes on each side – when the first side is done, it should release easily from the pan. If you’re unsure if it’s done, go ahead and cut it in the center to check doneness. We’re making tacos – it doesn’t have to look pretty.

ImageWhile it’s cooking, prep your slaw. I used this Eat Smart stuff from Publix. I put a handful (1 1/2 cup maybe) in a cereal bowl, and then squeezed the juice of one lemon and one lime over it, and sprinkled some of the Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime seasoning. You could figure out your own seasoning with some chili powder and whatever, though. I just had this stuff on hand because I try to stay low sodium. I don’t think I could call this low sodium though, because this dish needs salt. Set this aside while you finish your fish.

Here’s that Mrs. Dash Fiesta Lime stuff so you know what bottle to look for:

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If your shark isn’t done cooking yet, start prepping some margaritas.

You could also separately prep your taco shells, but here’s how I did it. When the shark was done, I set it aside, and then using the same butter that I cooked the shark in, I fried the tortilla shells… they weren’t perfect taco shells, but they were delicious. A few minutes on each side, then fold them over onto a paper towel so they drain…

I sprinkled the shark with just a bit of the Mrs. Dash, and then I took the bowl of my slaw mixture, and poured the leftover lemon/lime juice at the bottom onto it. Just enough to flavor, and to get the liquid out of the bowl… Too much liquid will make your tacos soggy.

I sliced the shark on an angle to the grain (there’s probably a chef-y word for that). In the shells, I put a bit of the broccoli slaw in each, then a few slices of fish. 1/2 pound of shark was plenty for four small corn tortilla tacos. Once assembled, I added some coarse salt from a salt grinder, because it really needed it, making what was a low sodium dish into something that still might be low sodium, depending on how you measure. Or, leave the salt out. Or save it for the rim of your margarita.

Enjoy.

Movie Review: The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger was pretty good. It was maybe 20 minutes too long, but the action scenes were great. Most critics are panning the film, even though they say it’s fun, but that it’s long and over done. I agree only in part, because I think the movie is ultimately supposed to be fun, so the critics should be recommending it based on that.

The film has also gotten a lot of flak because of the whitewashing of Tonto. It did bother me a little that Depp was playing a Native American, but I was expecting them to play it off like the character was adopted into the tribe or something. And even if you say “well, Depp is part Cherokee,” he doesn’t even really know. I probably have as much or more Cherokee blood in me. I read a quote that he was trying to break away from Native American stereotypes in films. I don’t see how he could be successful at that. He still spoke in stereotypical stilted English, displayed ambiguous mysticism…

In the 50’s, the Lone Ranger TV show at least cast Jay Silverheels, who was Mohawk. Making Tonto partly white seems like a step in the wrong direction.

I’ve also heard criticism that the scenery in the film is nothing like Texas (and it was mostly filmed in New Mexico (and some Utah, Colorado and Arizona). Maybe that can be explained away somehow.

At the end of the day, it’s Johnny Depp’s ethnicity that affects my opinion of the film, though I liked everything else and thought it was fun. It’s not quite to the caliber of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Oh, wait… there was something else offputting in the movie: carnivorous bunnies. How did they belong?

Road Trip Playlist

Over on Twitter, @mommywantsvodka was asking for suggestions for a mix CD for her car. I happen to have a playlist for roadtrips…

Don’t judge….

Goody Two Shoes … adam ant

Alison Road … Gin Blossoms

Back in the Saddle Again … Aerosmith

Been here once before … EAGLE-EYE CHERRY

Bom Bom Bom … Living Things

bodymovin remix … Beastie Boys

I Like the Way You Move … Bodyrockers

Round Round … Far East Movement

She Wants to Move … (DFA remix) N.E.R.D.

Do U Wanna Ride … Blue Crush Soundtrack

ride wit me … nelly

Take a Ride … Everlife

Wild Wild Ride … Jacob’s Trouble

On The Open Road … A Goofy Movie

Ridin’ (Radio Edit) … Chamillionaire featuring Krayzie Bone

Heads Carolina, Tails California … Jo Dee Mesina

Let It Ride … John Hiatt

Where Nobody Knows My Name … John Hiatt

Bright Side Of The Road … Van Morrison

Back On The Road Again … REO Speedwagon

Hit The Road Jack … Ray Charles

Further On Up The Road … Johnny Cash

Take Another Road … Jimmy Buffett

This Road … Ginny Owens

The Kilburn High Road … Flogging Molly

Rocky Road To Dublin … Dropkick Murphys

Fly Me Courageous Drivin n Cryin

Good To Be On The Road Back Home … Cornershop

Down The Old Plank Road … The Chieftains

Long Way Home … Supertramp

Malfunction Junction … Drivin’ N’ Cryin’

Long Way Around … Eagle Eye Cherry

gottakeepmovingon UB40

Send Me on My Way … Rusted Root

Starry Eyed Surprise … Paul Oakenfold

Upside Down … A-Teens

Thunderstruck … ACDC

Shook Me All Night Long … ACDC

Ballroom blitz … ACDC

Walking On Sunshine … Aly & AJ

Hey Mama (Remix) … Black Eyed Peas

Round and Round … Bodyrockers

Guttermouth … Bree Sharp

Ready, Steady, Go … The Meices

Lose Yourself … Eminem

Ready Steady Go! – [Opening 2] … Full Metal Alchemist

Clint Eastwood … Gorillaz

Black Horse & The Cherry Tree … KT Tunstell

The Future Freaks Me Out … Motion City Soundtrack

Make Out Kids … Motion City Soundtrack

All The Things She Said … Tatu

How Soon Is Now … The Smiths

Behind the Wall of Sleep … The Smithereens

I Know You Know The Friendly Indians

Cobrastyle … Teddybears STHLM

Bohemian Like You … The Dandy Warhols

I Am A Scientist The Dandy Warhols

Intergalactic Friends … Dandy Warhols vs. Beastie Boys

Kick It Into Gear … Jennifer Paige

What about you? Have any songs to drive by?
Missing from this list is the angry driving music:
You Saw My Blinker … DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince
Get Out The Way … Ludacris

FL Ice Cream Festival

Did you know there was a Florida Ice Cream Festival? I didn’t until a couple of weeks ago when I stumbled upon it online. And then I promptly forgot about it.

But then yesterday, April 6, I made a trip to Sarasota and as I was driving past Lakeland on I-4, noticed a billboard for it. My trip to Sarasota was a long drive, but I wasn’t there very long either. So as I approached Lakeland I decided to check out the festival.

This was apparently the “first annual” FL Ice Cream Festival. They did some things well, and they did some things poorly. Hopefully, they learned from this year and can make some changes to improve it next year.

Joker Marchant StadiumThe festival was held at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, where the Detroit Tigers play spring training. I’d never been there before. It’s a nice stadium. The Festival was mostly in a grassy field outside of the stadium, though there was a stage behind homeplate that allowed guests to sit in the stands and watch live bands, the ice cream eating contest, and other things. There was a second stage out in the field, too.

Since I’d never been to the Stadium, I wasn’t quite sure where to go, and followed other cars that looked like they knew where there were going (zen navigation). It worked out okay for me. I ended up parking one street over at a public park, and not in the Stadium lot, which looked full anyway.

Ticket and ProgramAs I walked toward the Stadium, there was a huge line in front of it. But everyone there had tickets, so I headed for the box offices. These lines were short, especially if paying cash. And here’s one of the best things about the festival – admission was only $3. After I got my ticket, I had to join the really long line. Apparently everyone arrived at the park at the same time I did. Even though the line was long, it moved fast, and half way through, they opened an additional gate. The weird thing about the ticket – they didn’t tear them. And I’m pretty sure later I saw people reselling them in the parking lot. Scalping $3 tickets seems weird.

Once in the park, it was a bit of a madhouse. All the lines for ice cream were long. No one was taking cash – you had to purchase event money from one of the sponsors, not unlike fair tickets. They were $1 for 1, so it was simple. You just had to plan in advance. The sponsor seemed to be a bank, specifically for a charity they run. Not quite sure. The tickets could then be used for ice cream or food or entertainment. Prices seemed fair. Ice cream was $2 or $3. Food from $3 to $8.

ImageI only ended up visiting two booths. My first stop was Fred’s Southern Kitchen, which I think is local-famous. You see their billboards on I-4 around Lakeland. The line was long, but it was worth the wait. I had a good portion of pulled pork and french fries for $3, and an apple crisp with vanilla ice cream for another $3. The pulled pork was supposed to be a slider, but they had run out of buns. This seemed to be something common at the event – many of the booths had run out of flavors or ice cream all together. Next to Fred’s was a booth that didn’t have a line, though I’m not sure why. It was for The Cuppin Cake Truck from Tampa. Their cupcakes were $3 each, or 2 for $5. I tried their banana split cupcake, and it was delicious – a moist banana cupcake with a vanilla bean buttercream on top, with a drizzle of chocolate and a cherry on top. They had other ice cream-themed cupcakes, too, and they’d sold out of at least one flavor. I’m surprised there wasn’t a line. 

ImageThe entertainment was typical small town festival. There were bouncy houses for the kids, a pony ride, a little miniature golf course, etc. All of those required tickets. The police and fire departments had a significant presence, maybe mainly because they set up exhibits of their vehicles for the kids to check out, but they were patrolling, too, and the event felt extremely safe. There was free entertainment, too, like singers and bands. There was an ice cream making contest and a few ice cream eating contests. I think there was other stuff going on, but it was just too crowded to find out.

ImageI think the first annual Florida Ice Cream Festival was a success. It seems like the only thing they got wrong was underestimating the crowds that it would attract. I wonder if there are better ways to do it. Having been to the also-crowded Great American Pie Festival, I wonder if there are some ideas they could borrow. The pie festival has an all you can eat bracelet, and walking through the pie area, flows pretty smoothly. This may because there’s a linear flow to the setup of booths, too, but maybe because the pie slices are prepackaged it just makes it easier to grab and go, where Ice cream may need to be handscooped. Also, holding the festival on two days instead of one may split the crowds. I think next year, it will be worth checking out again.

Catching up… Oz, Epcot and the Rape of Nanking

I haven’t written much lately so here’s a quick catch-up.

I got a promotion a few weeks ago, and then I was very honored to receive a special award at work, too. The job is keeping me busy, but it’s going well.

Last weekend, my son and I were invited to tag along for a special screening of Oz The Great and Powerful. We both liked it a lot. It was a little long for my taste, but well made. And I like director Sam Raimi’s little nods to other work he’s done (Evil Dead hand, possible deadite, and I think a line from ED too). I’ll be curious to see if this launches more Oz tales on film.

That movie screening was brought to us by the official Disney Parks Blog. We even made the recap video they posted. 

The screening took place at Epcot and we spent the day there prior to the event. I made my son a photo scavenger hunt for Epcot and we spent most of the day doing that. This was his first time getting all 100 objectives in the scavenger hunt. I’ll post another blog eventually with the full list.

That morning was also the day of the Disney Princess Half Marathon. We knew some people running in the race and got there early to offer some encouragement. We saw my friend Alison, and then Alexander spent about an hour giving high fives and encouragement to all the other racers who went by. It was very nice of him, though he didn’t even understand why it was nice when he was doing it.

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I’ve still managed time for reading. I read The Silver Linings Playbook and liked it much better than the movie, even though I liked Jennifer Lawrence in the film. I think the book probably handles things a little more realistically. And the denouement of the film is really the middle of the book.

I read a book called Dear Coca-Cola…. This is one of those books where a guy who thinks he’s funny writes letters to corporations and then prints their responses. The first book I read like this was Idiot Letters by Paul Rosa (http://www.amazon.com/Idiot-Letters-Paul-Rosa/dp/038547508X). It was published in 1995, and while pretty funny, I think there was subtext in the commentary on corporations and the people who work for them. There were a couple of other similar books by a guy named Ted L. Nancy, which was a pseudonym. These were much more focused on the humor, and not in a good way. But still, these books were better than Dear Coca Cola.

But after that “humor” reading, I was ready for something more serious, so I started reading The Rape of Nanking. I don’t have a lot of words at this point… I haven’t finished the book yet. I’m reading it in little pieces. It’s a tragedy and a real life horror… and that doesn’t even begin to describe it. I think it’s an important book, giving the history of a nightmare in war, as well as digging into the depths of the depravity of man. I don’t think I’ll do a real review on it, but I recommend the book.

After this, I’ll need to pick up something a little more light-hearted. I bought Jimmy Buffett’s Swine Not? at the Dollar Tree, so maybe that… But if you have any book recommendations, let me know!