Tag Archives: Quarters

First-World Problems

by Richard

I’m going to call what I just went through for the last couple of weeks a major first-world problem. All right with you dudes? Sure it is. You know what I’m talking about.

For those of you who don’t, a first-world problem is something that’s really — in the grand scheme of things — only something to worry about because we’ve got so much else buffering us from the harsh realities of life that so many other people have to struggle with every day just to survive. For instance, having your favorite nail polish stop making the color you’ve been using for the last year or so and it was just the right color and now you don’t have anything to match it. Or, the hi-def channels aren’t working and you’ve already got all the beer cooled and the snack foods left out and all the dudes over and the game’s about to start.

These things are annoying, sure. But they’re not something we should be making a big deal over.

Neither, of course, is not having access to your own personal washing machine for more than two weeks. But I still just about had a hissy fit until we got it back, let me tell you.

The washing machine started to go bad a couple of days before the apocalyptic ending in which it spun and shook and spun and shook and made more noise than the last Kiss concert. Although, to be fair, it was slightly more rhythmic. It was toast.

So I called the Sears repairfolk and they sent someone over. He looked it over and said, “Hmmmm.” Then he printed out a receipt, said he had to order some parts and would be back in a week. Before the week was up, I got another call that the parts were backordered and it would be a while longer.

Finally, this week, it got fixed. I just about fell to my knees in thanks.

I’d been having to make these long trips to the local coin laundry, lugging heavy suitcases of clothing along with soap and fabric softener and lots and lots of quarters. Sure it was fun, in that I got to sit there and watch some TV talk to the other folks haunting the waiting area until we heard our ding and all that. The thing is, though, it made it so I couldn’t do anything else but wash. Stuff got put off. Which meant I put off doing the laundry. Until it was a huge mess. Which made it more difficult to do. Which meant I put it off. . .

You get the point. Definitely a first-world problem. At least I had clean clothing, and a place to wash them that wasn’t filled with swimming, eating and pooping fishy creatures. And nothing wanted to eat me while at the watering hole.

Yes, I’m probably spoiled. Just like you dudes, but I gotta tell you, I like it. I like being able to do laundry any time and however much I want.

Thank you Sears repairfolk for finally getting the job done. Now, if you’ll excuse me I have to do go some laundry.

And, of course, I’ve run out of the liquid soap so I’ll have to use that dry powder and it’s all messy and I’ll have to have one of the young dudes vacuum it up. Ugh. It’s just going to be terrible.

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Dude Food: Meatball Lasagna

by Richard

Things here at the Jones Compound are a bit. . . hectic. .  . at the moment. We’ve been forced to eat out for most of the last two months or so. And when I say forced, I mean joyously, rapturously enjoying the freedom of letting someone else do the cooking every night.

Er. . . I mean, ah, forced to eat out because that stuff can be bad for you on a constant basis, yeah, dear? Sweetie? She Who Must Be Given Her Fresh Veggies Or She Gets Quite Cross?

Anyway.

The other night I got the urge to do some cooking. Unfortunately, the only cooking appliances we have at the moment are an oven and a microwave. So I sat down and did a little thinking. Yes, it hurt. Why do you ask? I did some thinking.

I wanted to do a pasta, but I didn’t have a stove so I couldn’t do any boiling. I wanted to have some meat, but I didn’t have a stove so I couldn’t do any browning at all. And then inspiration hit me. After I chased inspiration down and hit the dude right back, I got to work. Here’s my recipe for Meatball Lasagna.

Here’s what you’ll need.

1 28-oz bag of frozen turkey meatballs
1 15-oz container of Ricotta cheese
2 two-cup packages of mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 bottles spaghetti sauce
no-boil lasagna noodles

Set out the meatballs so they can be unfrozen and at room temperature when you’re ready to start cooking. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

While the oven is preheating, cut the meatballs into halves or quarters. It’s up to you. Put the cut meatballs into a gallon-sized zip loc bag. Pour in the spaghetti sauce from one of the jars.

In a second gallon-sized zip loc bag, combine one package of the mozzarella cheese and the Ricotta cheese. In the bag, mush them together until they’re thoroughly combined.

Take out a 9×12 baking pan and coat the bottom and sides with non-stick cooking spray. Using the second jar of spaghetti sauce, put about a cup spread on the bottom of the pan. Then start layering. Put down the no-boil lasagna noodles. Then about a third of the cheese and then a third of the meatball mix. Repeat.

When you get to the end of all ingredients, then pour on the remaining sauce and top with about 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Tightly cover the pan with aluminum foil and place into the oven.

Bake for between 50 and 60 minutes. Take the foil off and then bake for another five minutes.

Once that’s done, set the lasagna out to let it cool and set for another five minutes and you’re good to go.

Enjoy, dudes!

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A Billion Here, A Billion There

by Richard

Oddly enough, in a cash-strapped economy, with governments scratching for every cent they can get and folks trying for any job that will pay a living wage, there’s more than a billion dollars squirreled away in the federal reserve.

It’s all about the dollar coins, you see. Congress mandated that the U.S. Mint should make dollar coins with the faces of different presidents. It was hoping that the dollar coins would be as popular as the quarters for each state program that’s been going on for a while.

The problem, dudes, is that no one wants to give up their paper dollar bills. They don’t want to use the dollar coins. Which means the federal reserve is stacking up those unwanted coins. And, because Congress told the Mint to keep making them until the program ends, the Mint is making more and more dollar coins, which no one is using. And then storing them.

The pile of idle coins, which so far cost $300 million to manufacture, could double by the time the program ends in 2016, the Federal Reserve told Congress last year.

So, just so we’re clear, that’s more than $1 billion in coins, which cost $300 million to make and will cost at least that for the duration of the program. All in all, we’re talking almost $3 billion.

Very odd. I mean, I collect change as well. But, eventually, I spend it. I take it to a Coinstar machine and get some gift cards, or donate to a charity. I don’t just keep the money.

You’d think someone, somewhere in the government might have the bright idea to actually get these coins spent and, maybe, since it’s not working, cancel the program. You’d think.

To paraphrase a famous quote: A billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon you’re talking some real money.

If the mandate to make presidential coins wasn’t enough to generate a growing heap of unwanted coins, a political deal ensured that even more unwanted coins would be produced.

It was easier for the bill’s sponsor, then-Rep. Mike Castle (R-DE), to move the presidential coin bill forward if it didn’t displace other dollar coins honoring Sacagawea, the teenage Native American guide to Lewis and Clark.

The deal: The mint would be required to make a quota of Sacagawea coins. Currently, the law says 20 percent of dollar coins made must have Sacagawea on them.

Yeah, this is going to work out really great.

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