Chicken-fried Steaks

There are three factors that go into making the perfect chicken-fried steak.  It should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that the steak must be tender.  Chewing food that’s tough as shoe leather is unappetizing.  Period.

White gravy, the second of the three factors, should be served on the steak and not on the side.  Why?  If the crispy coating is cooked correctly, it will adhere to the steak and not allow the gravy to soak in.  Should a restaurant serve you gravy on the side without you requesting it, they don’t have a lot of confidence in their version of the chicken-fried steak.

The third component is that fried, crispy coating and possibly the most important of the three.  It is not an easy thing to master the perfect coating.  Too thin and everything turns soggy.  Too thick and it might seem like you’re chewing on bits of cement.  But when you find that perfect coating on a tender steak with white gravy so good you could eat it like soup, you will understand why we Texans (and our neighbors) take our chicken-fried steak seriously.

When I was just a young-un’, that steak was at Beam’s Restaurant in my hometown of Lufkin, Texas.  Mom was an excellent cook, but even she couldn’t match the cook at Beam’s.  It was also the only time she could get me to eat a salad.

Last month I went back to Texas to visit family and discovered T-Bone Tom’s in Kemah.  Well, not so much discovered as “was introduced to.”  That plate-sized steak was so delicious, especially with a side of fried okra and Texas toast.

I’m looking forward to my next trip home and more chicken-fried steak discoveries.  It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

2004 ASC SSR

2004 ASC SSR Diamondback
2004 ASC SSR Diamondback with carbon fiber treatments (click image for larger size)

It’s a shame Chevrolet only manufactured their retro SSR (Super Sport Roadster) model between 2003 and 2006.  The used models can sell for upwards of $30,000.

I wasn’t able to find any pricing for this American Specialty Cars (ASC) version. ★

T-Mobile Cell Phone Updates

(Or lack thereof.)

(And yes, I’ll get there eventually.)

I’m not entirely sure why, but I was glad when I received my invitation to Google’s Music Beta.  It took more than twelve hours to upload all my music, but I expected that.  This was my first time using the service.  And of course I downloaded the Music Beta application for my Android phone.  (Edit: I still have invitations to Google’s Music Beta service.  Send me your e-mail address via the “Email Me” link on my page.)

Everything had been in readiness for over a week, yet I never found a reason to use the service or the app.  I mean, since I sync my iPod weekly and it goes everywhere I go, when would I ever have a need to stream over the Internet music I already have with me?

Today was that day.

When I wake up, my feet are usually on the floor before my eyes are completely open.  Even on the weekends.  This Saturday was different, though.  I stayed in bed, stretching, yawning, enjoying how soft the sheets felt, and I decided music would make it perfect.

But my iPod was so far away; like, four feet away.  My cell phone, a Samsung Galaxy S, was on the night table right next to the bed, so I decided to see how well Google Music Beta fared.

I liked that Google uploaded my playlists as it uploaded the songs, though I just picked a song at random for now.  And nothing.  A playlist this time and nothing again.  No sound through my ear buds or from my phone’s speaker.  So much for my lazy Saturday morning.

I googled this problem (from the computer in the living room) and the number one solution had to do with getting an update to the Android OS.  Sadly, the only update I’d received so far I had to get myself.  T-Mobile never seems to be in a hurry to push one “over the air.”

Sure enough, when I checked the Samsung web site, there was an update from April.  (Remember this is July.)  So why hasn’t T-Mobile pushed this update or, for that matter, ever mentioned it?

At this point I no longer care.  I’ve stopped depending on them for Android updates and will check with Samsung from now on.  I’m also still somewhat pissed that T-Mobile touted the Galaxy S as its next big thing only to (basically) abandon it once the commercials had run.  These are probably two of the reasons they’re about to be bought by AT&T.

So, I’ll cut this whine-fest short by saying I downloaded Kies Mini to my Mac which, in turn, downloaded and installed the updated Android OS onto my Galaxy.  Now Google Music Beta works perfectly.

Although the only opportunity I may have to use it has passed. ★

(Originally posted 2 July 2011)

Netflix (il)Logic

Because of my interest in Firefly: The Complete Series, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape, Netflix recommended the TV show Top Gear (U.K.) to me.


The first three are science fiction television programs, two American and one Australian, while Top Gear is a British program hosted by car enthusiasts which focuses primarily on supercars. As far as I know, none of the actors in the sci-fi shows ever appeared on Top Gear as guests and they certainly aren’t regulars. Likewise, none of the hosts of Top Gear was ever in any episode of any of the sci-fi shows. The only connections I can make for Netflix’s recommendation is that they are all TV shows and that Farscape and Top Gear are foreign. In fact, I think Top Gear (U.K.) is a fantastic show, though I was watching it long before I subscribed to Netflix so zero points for the suggestion.

Now, because of my interest in Top Gear, Netflix is recommending Linda Linda Linda, a Japanese movie about three schoolgirls looking to replace their lead singer just days before the school’s talent show and their only candidate is a Korean girl who can barely speak Japanese.

And now the connections are reduced to one: they are both foreign. Obviously I’m missing something. If that were the only connection, there’s no reason for Netflix not to recommend every foreign TV show and movie in its library.

Although now that I think about it, it does seem like it is doing just that. ★

A Drop in the Bucket

On March 17, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure aimed at defunding National Public Radio (NPR). In a strongly partisan vote—most Republicans voted for it while every Democrat voted against it—the government withdrew $3.2 million of support for NPR.

According to Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), “With the national debt over $13 trillion, the government simply can’t afford to fund non-essential services. NPR can survive on its own.”

Indeed, it would seem laudable to trim wasteful spending whenever and wherever possible regardless of the economic climate. And if NPR can survive without government support, perhaps it would be better off for it. It would no longer need to worry about biting the hand that feeds it or, probably more appropriate in this case, occasionally touching the hand that, every once in a while, drops a crumb on its plate.

NPR receives only about 2% of its funding from government grants.

That said, and with such praiseworthy Republican efforts to trim government spending, why is the GOP unwilling to touch oil industry subsidies?

Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) and Sarah Palin (R-HasBeen,NeverWasActually) are calling the $4 billion that would be saved annually by eliminating these subsidies “a drop in the bucket” and “not even a drop in the bucket.” Meanwhile, it is projected that ending nine subsidies specific to the oil industry will save the U.S. $45 billion over the next ten years.

Perhaps, unlike NPR, the oil industry cannot survive on its own so they need these subsidies just to break even. If only years of record profits didn’t say otherwise.

I’m no math major, but by my calculations FOUR BILLION DOLLARS is one big ass “drop.” Still, we would have to find and get rid of 3,500 boondoggles of equal value to eliminate today’s almost $14 trillion debt.

Then again, perhaps the Republican Party has found 4,375,000 instances of non-essentially funded programs worth $3.2 million. That’s how many it would take under their excellent tutelage to eliminate the debt. (If any Republicans are reading this, “excellent tutelage” was sarcasm and I apologize for the lack of pictures. Now, break out that dictionary and look up “tutelage” and “sarcasm.”)

Allow me to summarize from the GOP’s on-the-record point of view:

  1. $3.2 million? Get rid of it. We can’t afford it.
  2. $4 billion? Don’t touch it. Not even a drop in the bucket.

And while I’m doing ordered lists…

Possible reasons why the Republican Party doesn’t understand its loss of credibility:

  1. No members intelligent enough to understand the answer.
  2. No members intelligent enough to understand the question.
  3. All members have their hands over their ears and saying, “La-la-la-la.”