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Things keep popping

Back to normal here in central Kentucky....well, sort of, anyway.

The weather took a nice turn into springlike conditions late last week, although Kentucky experienced some severe thunderstorms and other weather phenomena (as did many of our neighboring states).  So nice that my wife and I did some much needed work in our yard on Saturday, creating a mulch bed around our bird feeder in the backyard (reusing some mulch that was created when we had a couple of trees removed in the front last fall) and then spreading mulch, grass seed and fertilizer in the front yard.  Cross your fingers for us to have some grass in a month or so!

Also back to normal in that the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are now over.  But not without a little controversy and some disappointing performances from some of the heavily hyped American competitors.  I watched some of the USA's men's hockey team games and was disappointed by their 1-0 loss to the Canadian team.  Still can't imagine how the U.S. speed skaters were completely shut out of the medal count and no U.S. woman won a medal in women's figure skating.  So our house is in Olympic withdrawal right now, I suppose.

We also just wrapped up the fourth season of "Downton Abbey," the television show imported from the BBC by PBS.  This season (when did eight episodes make a season of American television?) was a little uneven, I suppose, but there were stretches that were good.  I'll leave details out for now, as some of you may like to binge-watch this show and haven't gotten to it yet, but even if the plots weren't the greatest, the acting and costuming were first-rate, as always.

I think the Oscars are Sunday, but I've managed to see only one of the Best Picture nominees so far, "Captain Phillips."  Will try to catch "Gravity" this week, but may not get to the other nominees.  As per usual, Hollywood makes movies for three reasons---to gain critical acclaim and win awards, to make money, to provide good entertainment, and simply to make money from people who are so unselective that they'll see bad movies just to have something to do.  I think most of my movie favorites historically are in the second category, which I don't mind.  Were I more of a highbrow about "film" (I've noticed that snobs almost always say "film" instead of "movie," which is why I always appreciate that Martin Scorsese titles his work "A Martin Scorsese Picture") that would be different, but I'm willing to admit that some motion pictures just don't appeal to me.

Saw the very end of a documentary last night about George Martin, the longtime producer of the majority of the Beatles' recordings, as well as work by America, Jeff Beck and a host of other performers.  Really interesting stuff, as he's now 88 years old and says he's lost some of his hearing.  But what a rich musical heritage he's produced.  Easy to overlook his contribution to the Fab Four and their success, but Martin was an integral part of all of it, too.

The last thing I'll mention is that I had read recently that there's a coating on the interior surface of microwave popcorn bags that, frankly, is thought not to be very good for you.  This may be old news to you, but I had not heard this previously, and, given how much I like popcorn and how much corn we consume in our household, I really began to think about this and its potential side effects.  So on our last trip to the supermarket, I bought a jar of popcorn kernels and resolved to regain my former skill as a stovetop popper of popcorn.  At one time I even had a dedicated popcorn popper, with a hand-turned crank to keep kernels moving and prevent them from burning, but that was a long time ago.  So far I've made two batches of popcorn, the second better than the first.  Found some finely ground popcorn salt and have learned that I need to use a bit more cooking oil, but we're off to a good start.  The nice part is that the popcorn tastes a bit better, is a lot better for you, and unlike when you eat a fair amount of microwave popcorn, isn't heavy on your stomach after you eat it, either.  Will report back on this latest undertaking in the near future.


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