Saturday, January 31, 2009

BEC Goes Euro

I'm no food critic, nor am I a cook. That's not to say that I can't cook a few things here and there. Back before I married, I survived just fine on 5/$1.00 boxes of Macaroni and Cheese, spaghetti and meatless sauce, and eggs.

I have to say that my latest bacon, egg and cheese bagel creation is my finest yet. In fact, I would stack it up against the best bagel egg sandwiches in the world.

I use only the finest ingredients starting with a fresh, plain bagel from Bodo's Bagels in Charlottesville. Much to my chagrin, Bodo's still has not opened a shop in Roanoke despite my pleading in my last bagel blog. To recap the process I give you what I said earlier in the month when it was colder outside.

I use precooked bacon and heat it in the microwave. Block cheddar from Kroger. American Cheese (not fake cheese food...the real thing) from Walmart, and farm fresh eggs from Food Lion.

I crack two eggs, add sea salt and a bit of rice milk. Then I whip the mixture until there are no chunks in the bowl. I've preheated the pan and sprayed it and the spatula with cooking oil to ensure a non-sticking surface. Then I craft the empty omelet. At the critical juncture before any permanent browning occurs to the egg surface, I split the omelet in half and layer onto a sliced sesame seed bagel my three ingredients.

Finally, I place the towering structure in the toaster oven to make the cheddar ooze. After removing, I carefully slice the treat in two.

Now, here's where this particular bagel rose above anything yet created. I cleverly combined my new-found taste for feta cheese with my passion for black olives. I layered in the ingredients as described, but placed two pitted and diced black olives on the initial layer on top of the American Cheese and cheddar base. Then I sprinkled feta on that layer and between every layer above that.. Finally, I layered the plate with sprinklings of feta to give the hot bagel creation a soft bed on which to be displayed.

The addition of the two rich ingredients really added to the sensory effect. The feta added a certain sweetness while the olives proved a balancing tang. The net effect was something wonderful that made me lick my fingers clean of every crumb.

Without a doubt, today's bacon, egg, and cheese bagel was a delicious artistic creation. I am well-pleased that I did not have to share.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Blink Blink Blink Blink Blink Blink

blink blink blink blink blink

That's what a cursor does on a blank word processing document.

That's what happens when a person has nothing to say. Well, that's not exactly true. It seems that I always have something to say. In fact, now that I'm feeding my addiction to Facebook, I've discovered the world of 25 Things. You see, on Facebook, people are always playing tag with others to get them to share random things about themselves. It's sort of like "Spin the Bottle." So I thought a couple of minutes ago that I would create my list of 25 random things and post it right here on my blog.

25 Fings About Me That You May Not Have Known

1. Every morning I eat one Honey and Oats granola bar on my way to work. I open the bar at the stoplight at the intersection of Green Ridge Road and Electric Road, and finish it before I roll past Lewis Gale Hospital.

2. I'm getting up at 3:30 to drive my daughter to the airport so that she can fly to the Florida Keys with her Biology classmates for a week of outdoor laboratory work. Gee whiz, it's after midnight now. It sure better snow.

3. The new George Duke CD, Dukey Treats, is fabulous. I have a sweet tooth for the Fonk.

4. Sometimes I let my dog run loose on Jim Hickam Field.

5. When I used to work at Lakeside, sometimes I would would go into the Arcade with my Skee Ball "Magic Quarter" and play Asteroids for hours upon hours.

6. I am very good at Skee Ball...

7. I shook hands once with Jim Fowler. "While Jim wrestled the angry alligator, I observed the action from the safety of my duck blind." I'm glad he still has hands after wrestling so many alligators.

8. I've personally met Ray Charles, Boss Hogg, and Darth Vader. I came within six inches of touching Loretta Lynn.

9. I always buy two boxes of Girl Scout cookies from every Girl Scout in my class, and one box from every other Girl Scout in my grade who asks. I may go broke this year. A man can never have too many frozen Thin Mints.

10. I very much enjoy my wife's chocolate Chip cookies. Yet, I really don't crave cookies or sweets. I'm a chip guy.

11. Diet Coke. I collect my bottle caps and have earned 1,668 mycokereward points over the past year or so which I can trade in for valuable prizes some day. I'm after the Accudart Solid Pine Deluxe Dart Cabinet. All I need is another4,500 points.

12. I am currently editing/formatting a 300 page book that I plan to have published early next month. The book is a collection of writings and short stories by my Father-in-Law, Jack Rupert who passed away in April. We plan to use the service Lulu to publish about ten copies of the book. I've formatted and added the stories along with my brother-in-law and now the transcript is undergoing final revision and edits by my niece and sister-in-law.

13. When I was in college, I used to purchase hot dogs in the lobby of my dorm. Many times, they would sell them at 5 for $1.00. I could eat a mess of those. However, these days, hot dogs upset my stomach. I miss them.

14. I play the harmonica and pennywhistle. The pennywhistle is especially fun to noodle around with when you are sad and lonely.

15. Back in the early 1990's, I participated in a Listserv dedicated to getting the word out about the civil war in Croatia. I remember one time when one native writer told us of her experience watching a mass murder in a soccer stadium. She was desperate for the outside world to know of the atrocity and was pleading for us to get help from the outside world. Back then, the Internet was so new to the general public that we really didn't understand its scope and power.

16. Students used to stand before VT basketball games, turn away from the court when opposing players were introduced. While turned, the fans would clap in unison a singular, slow cadence until the visiting team was done, then the whole sold-out Colosseum would erupt in noise for the home team . A variation of that was standing with a newspaper covering your face during the visiting team introductions. I hear students have resurrected that tradition.

17. I was president of the Northside Band in 1977-78.

18. When acting on stage in high school, I wasn't much for big roles. In fact, I was very shy. My first role was playing a Russian butler with a Roanoke twang. My main purpose in the murder mystery was to answer the door when the doorbell rang. My line was, "I will get it, Mr. Garth." Or some terribly confusing variation of that like "Mr. Garth, I will get it. " Anyway, my director would always yell at me for how I said my line, "IT's GET, RYDER, GET!!!!...NOT GIT!" My last role was playing the part of Chrispopher Robin. I was born for the role.

19. I have taught eleven years in third grade, ten years in third grade, two years in fifth grade, one year in sixth grade, and three years as a computer resource teacher. Currently, I'm back with third grade.

20. There was a time when I had just about every Beatles song memorized.

21. I took my good friend to my senior prom. I rented a nifty black tux. She wore the largest Hoop Dress I've ever seen...right out of Gone With the Wind. When I picked her up in my 1970 4 cylinder Jehovah Nova, the hoop skirt would only fit in the passenger side standing on its edge. So she flashed traffic to and from the dance. I was sorely embarrassed.

22. My friend Robert Parks once smoked a whole pack of cigarettes at one time. He could also puff his cheeks out like Dizzy Gillespie when he played the trumpet, and he could kick a sixty yard field goal in his fake K-Mart Chucks. Coach Hickam (Homer's brother-Rocket Boys) wanted him to come out for the football team, but Robert's Grandmother wouldn't let him.

23. I jumped down a waterfall once. It was quite possibly the most intense moment of my life. You can read about it in this blog somewhere. I suspect you can use the search blog feature to look up waterfall or South River.

24. I played for the Northwest Saints in 1968. Our coach was a nighttime DJ at Roanoke's Rockin' WROV-AM. While we only won one game (by forfeit), Mr. Sikma would talk about us on the radio after every game. We felt like kings. Sometimes we would go to Mr. Moe's after a game for a milkshake. I love chocolate milkshakes.

25. My favorite sandwich is a toasted bologna and cheese with two pickles on the side. I could eat those all day.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Taking Maine

I'm testing out a new photo slide show service. it's similar to PhotoStory, but simpler.

Taking Maine - PhotoPeach

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese


Napolean Dynamite had large talents. He was especially good at drawing a Liger, a cross between a lion and a tiger. Steve Martin had a "special purpose." It's probably better that we don't go in to what exactly that was. I believe I may have found my special talent; making bacon, egg, and cheese bagels.

The right ingredients are essential. I start with a freshly preserved bagel from the best bagel shop in Virginia, Bodo's Bagels of Charlottesville. Bodo's Bagels are so good that we drive two hours to Charlottesville periodically just to buy six dozen or so, then we freeze them and live off them until the supply runs low. Sometimes friends and family passing through Charlottesville make the pilgrimage for us. I wish they'd open a store in Roanoke.

I use precooked bacon and heat it in the microwave. Block cheddar from Kroger. American Cheese (not fake cheese food...the real thing) from walmart, and farm fresh eggs from Food Lion.

I crack two eggs, add sea salt and a bit of rice milk. Then I whip the mixture until there are no chunks in the bowl. I've preheated the pan and sprayed it and the spatula with cooking oil to ensure a non-sticking surface. Then I craft the empty omlet. At the critical juncture before any permanent browning occurs to the egg surface, I split the omlet in half and layer onto a sliced sesame seed bagel my three ingedients.

Finally, I place the towering structure in the toaster oven to make the cheddar ooze. After removing, I carefully slice the treat in two.

Then comes delight.

Monday, January 12, 2009



Usually when I volunteer to work BINGO for my high school athletic booster club, I wear a special skin to deflect grousing comments from the patrons and the smoky after-stench from the thousands of fags consumed by the seventy players. Sunday night was no exception.

I walked in through the back door at American Legion Post # 3 in Salem, Virginia to work my shift. As always, I was early. When I arrived at 4:07 pm, only about eight or nine players were there, scattered about the cavernous room. At the far end of the rows of simple tables and cushy Naugahyde chairs, the den of bustling BINGO workers were gathering, buzzing around the central hive waiting to hawk their game cards and instant tickets.

No sooner had I stepped inside the building with my large white Hokie football cup filled with tea firmly clutched in my right hand did I hear a lady scream at me from the other end of the room, “YOU EITHER NEED TO THROW IT AWAY OR TAKE IT BACK OUT OF HERE. THERE AIN’T NO OUTSIDE FOOD OR DRINKS ALLOWED IN THE BINGO HALL!”

“Hello, Mr. Ryder. Thanks for coming to help us work BINGO.” Nope, that’s not what I heard. When I looked at the screaming thirty-something year old lady with the sour puss scowl, I guess my questioning face caused her to feel the need to further explain to me the particular rule. “THERE AIN’T NO FOOD OR DRINKS ALLOWED INSIDE. YOU NEED TO THROW IT OUT OR TAKE IT AWAY!!”

Rather than cause a further scene, I made a smart pivot and evacuated the building whereby I deposited my full cup of delicious Tetley British Blend Black Tea cut with a bag of Organic St. Dalfour Earl Grey Tea back in the cup holder of my blue van. I felt as if I had lost something, a friend. So when I turned and reentered the BINGO hall for a second take, I entered without my usual enthusiasm for meeting and greeting the unusual and quirky normal people who have become my BINGO family for these past twelve years.

That’s why I didn’t strike up my usual banter with any of the regulars. I had been tossed into a piss poor mood and the last thing I wanted to do was sell instant game tickets to people who dropped hundreds of dollars on the scratch game as they ordered me here and there across the hall. Hey…Instants!! Instants!! I need Instants over here.” I trudged around the hall in a fog, only focusing on counting out stacks of twenty cards for one paying customer after another.

Gladys muttered at me as I walked by her seat near the snack bar. Actually, I didn’t know her name at that time. I just knew her as that-older-lady-with-the-nice-face-who-sometimes-complained-angrily-and-who-always-sits-near-the-snack-bar-in-the-no-smoking-section. Seriously, that’s what I called her in my mind. I wasn’t sure what she said at first. Then she repeated it a little clearer. “This is the last time I’m coming here the way they treat people so rudely.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“That lady is yelling at everyone. I saw what she done to you when you walked in.”

“Yeah, I know. I feel the same way.”

“I’ll take twenty tickets.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“My husband wouldn’t put up with this,” she said. “He’s on the board here at the Legion Post, and I’ll have something to say to him when I get home.”

I nodded.

“That’s him on the wall behind me there,” she said pointing to the wall of framed black and white photographs of post leaders through the generations. I had studied those pictures on my previous trips to the BINGO Hall when sales were slow. There must have been fifty framed photos. Each one was of a man who had served our country proudly. I always wondered what their stories were.

“He was wounded in Saipan during the war and lost the use of his legs, but that ain’t stopped him.”

That’s when my curiosity about this lady kicked in. I’ve been working BINGO for twelve years, and that-older-lady-with-the-nice-face-who-sometimes-complained-angrily-and-who-always-sits-near-the-snack-bar-in-the-no-smoking-section has always been there. I decided I wanted to know more. I wanted to know what made her so quick to anger, what gave her that look of sadness and intense loneliness.

“So where will you play BINGO if you don’t come back here?” I asked with both of us knowing that she’d be back at the Legion Hall next week.

“Well, I only play to take my mind off my troubles, but I don’t just play here, you know. I also play out at that old furniture store over on Williamson Road. I like it better then here.”

“Oh yeah, I know that place, the one with the big glass windows in front. But I haven’t ever worked there before. You know, that’s funny because I’ve worked in a lot of places over the last twelve years between the Gator Swim Team and the Northside Boosters.”

“The Gators are at that place now, two days a week,” she volunteered, warming up to me. “You know, I live over near there, so I could go there a lot easier than coming here. I live over there by Hollins College.”

Changing the subject and taking a chance, I asked, “Do you have kids and did they go to Northside?” Northside is the high school in that particular area and the school where my brothers, sister, and I all went.

“Yes, three. They all went there, but my oldest …he’s 63 you know.”

“No really? That’s not possible. You can’t possibly have a 63 year old child.” (That’s my Lakeside Amusement Park Weight/Age Game training showing though).

She smiled. “Well, I should have. I’m 83 years old. I’ve been married to my husband for 65 years.”

“Well ma’am, you certainly don’t look it…what about your other kids? How old are they? I’m just curious because I went to Northside and so did my brothers and sisters, and I was wondering if any of us went to school with your kids.”

“Well, like I said Allen, he’s 63, and Mike is 57 and Angie…” Her voice trailed off for a second as she looked away… Angie, she’d be 53….”

We both took a moment. I looked her directly in the eye, and it’s then that I saw the pain -the look of a parent who’s lost a child. I saw her sadness and felt her grief. At that moment in that smoky BINGO Hall, only the two of us existed.

She continued, her voice barely above a whisper, “She died last year from a brain tumor.”

I nodded my head and told her I was sorry and let her go on.

“She was such a smart girl. She went off to live in Ohio and ended up teaching college. She was such a smart girl.”

“It’s just not fair. Not fair at all.”

“INSTANTS!” A voice broke through our veil of solidarity. “INSTANTS!!!”

I nodded my headed and motioned that I’d be there in a moment.

“Did she have a family?”

“Yes, she had two children and her husband of thirty years. We miss her so much.” Tears began welling up in her eyes.

“That’s just not right,” I said. “I’m so sorry.”

“What’s your name ma’am? After all these years, I don’t know your name.”

“Gladys, Gladys Gibson.”

“My name is Thom Ryder. It’s so nice to finally officially meet you.” Not letting up and still curious, I said, “So your daughter was Angie Gibson, and she would be the same age as my brother. I wonder if they knew each other. I’ll have to ask him when I see him. Was she in the band or anything like that?”

“No, she was a pretty quiet girl in high school. She spent all her time reading books. Then she went off to college and ended up teaching at a nursing college. She was so smart.”

By this time, the INSTANT!! People were coming up to me and interrupting our conversation. Gladys understood when I’d stop our conversation and count out tickets. She was a BINGO pro. I realized I needed to move on, so I bade her farewell and went off to sell more tickets.

About ten minutes later, I was cruising past Gladys’ seat when she motioned for me to come over. “Here’s a picture of my Angie. She was so beautiful.” Tears were streaming down her face.

I looked at the picture of the smiling young lady in the nice pantsuit. I thought of how her husband must have been devastated. How her children will have to grow up without their mother. How life can be so unfair. I looked squarely into Gladys’ eyes seeing her pain and feeling her love for her daughter, “Yes ma’am, she certainly was.”

I held her gaze for a moment, one of those classic moments you always see in the movies. Then I turned and walked off. Gladys continued to stare at the picture for another moment then turned her attention to her BINGO papers.

I didn’t much care about selling INSTANT tickets any more.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Odyssey

The Odyssey

I snatched this copied email on It was posted by a poster named HokieIan. Ian set the piece up by saying he emailed someone on Craigslist about a Van they were offering for sale. This is the reply he received back. Below that, you will find my fictitious reply to Melinda Wilson, owner of the van.

My car is in perfect condition. No accidents. The price for my car is $3,500. Here
you have the pictures hosted:

2003 Honda Odyssey EX-L
Miles: 50144
Transmission: Automatic
Year: 2003
VIN Number: 2HKRL18983H504200
Interior: Tan
Exterior: Teal
Engine: 3.5L V6 PFI SOHC
Fuel Type: Gasoline

I am in a wheel-chair and I am living now at my parents in San Jose/CA. My
husband died and as a single widow I don't need this car.

It was an accident two years ago between my husband's car (1995 Toyota Supra)and a BMW X5. That Toyota was totaled. I know that the price is so cheap but I need money asap for a surgery in China because I have a chance to walk again and I don't want to lose it.

The car is located at eBay Shipping Cargo from San Jose/CA. Its sealed and ready to be shipped. Since it is at eBay I have to make the transaction through them. They will handle the transaction for me. I don't have the car listed on eBay, I only have the car at eBay Shipping Cargo. Shipping to your location will be made through eBay Shipping Cargo, its free and will
be take 3 days. Also you have ten days for inspection.

You will send the money only after you will receive and test the car.

I'll wait your decision regarding my car as soon as possible and if you want to make the deal, eBay will send you a letter with all instructions and there you can start the transaction.

Looking forward to hear from you,
Melinda Wilson

Run the VIN and this comes back:

VIN: 2HKRL18983H504200 has been identified as a vehicle listed in the VINCheck
Total Loss Records.

Date of Loss Cause of Loss
2007-10-04 Collision



Dear Melinda,

Thank you for so much for responding to my request for information on your Honda Odyssey. I always marvel at how God can bring people together who share similar situations.

Five years ago on January 14, a drunk driver in a Honda Odyssey van broadsided my 2004 Honda Civic as I was entering an intersection. I don't really remember anything about the actual crash, but I was airlifted to a near-by hospital and was on life-support for a month and a half. I slowly regained consciousness and became aware that I had lost the use of my legs. As a person who has also experienced total loss of your legs, I'm sure you can fully appreciate the sense of loss and devastation.

My problems were compounded by the fact that the man who struck me was an illegal alien in the United States and had no insurance nor did he have any tangible assets. To further complicate my situation, I had lost my job just prior to the accident and had let my auto insurance slip. To put it simply, I had no insurance, no coverage, no hope for remuneration, and no one to help me. I didn't know where to turn.

The hospital soon discharged me, and I was faced with hospital bills that I could never hope to repay. I struggled with my condition for months then years. One night, as I lay deep in despair, literally at the end of my rope and ready to pack it in, I cried out to God.

Immediately, I felt a calm come over me. I became aware that there was a tingling in my legs. I threw off the covers and watched in disbelief and joy as my toes began to wiggle under my control. Over the next hour, movement gradually returned to my legs and I found that I could hoist myself out of bed and walk! Incredible!

The rest of that night, I couldn't sleep! Joy swept over me! Hallelujah!

Two things happened the next morning that still seem impossible to me. I received a phone call from the hospital. They said that they understood that I was in financial need and that they had decided to forgive my debts. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I asked them why. Why help a poor wretch like me? The person told me that this was a part of a mandatory review and investigation of outstanding accounts. The hospital periodically looks at these accounts and offers debt forgiveness to maintain non-profit status.

Still staggering from that amazing call, my doorbell rang. It was an old high school friend that I hadn't seen in twenty years. He knew nothing of my accident and subsequent paralysis. Anyway, I was overjoyed to see him, since we hadn't touched base in so long. Before I could tell him about my accident, my healing, my salvation, and my financial miracle, he interrupted me and asked me if I would like to go into a sales venture with him. Flabbergasted, I told him that I had no cash. But he persisted, insisting that he had the capital, he just needed a partner. After talking through a few details, I agreed to join him in his potted topiary venture. We called it "Topiary in a Pot."

Melinda, within two months our topiary business was raking in money hand and fist. Our product line was picked up by HSN, and we've never looked back. God is great! So that's where I am today. I've been blessed with the most amazing miracles from a loving God.

Recently, the old car I picked up as my partner and I started the topiary business conked out, so I am in need of a new mode of transportation. When I received your reply to my inquiry on Craig's List, I immediately fell to my knees and praised God. You are a Godsend. Your car sounds like just what I need, and I revel in God's sense of humor. The vehicle he sends me is the vehicle that started me on my eternal Odyssey.

Melinda, before we complete our transaction, a pact sealed by God, I want to thank you personally and in a special way. I want to send you one of our most special topiary containers absolutely free. Please just send me your address to this email account so I can send you this blessing from God.

Thank you again, Melinda. I hope that with the money you raise from this sale, you can get the help you so desperately need. However, if I may share a special and sincere thought with you. In your hour of deepest despair, look to a higher power. Amen! Amen! Amen!

Ian Seikoh