The Tamale Hut Café presents:
Kinetic Color
A collection of abstract artwork by Stephanie Bieniek
Only at The Tamale Hut Café
8300 W. Cermak Rd. North Riverside, IL
708-442-0948 -

Artwork will be on display until January 7, 2018
during normal Tamale Hut Café business hours:
Mon-Fri:7:30AM-7PM, Sat:8:30AM-7PM, Sun:8:30AM-6PM

For more information about Stephie's art, please also check out
For Matt's writing projects, please go to Enjoy your visit here!

08/16/17: I was at work today when I got a recorded-message call from "Credit Card Services", offering to reduce my debt. As directed by the friendly message, I pressed '9' to speak with a representative. A woman came on the line and asked me, "Are you responding to the offer of a free consultation?" I replied, "No, I'm responding to the unsolicited phone call I just got," but before I could say anything more, she hung up on me. How rude! It's almost as if she thought I was wasting her time.

07/19/17: A few months ago while I was at work, I had a brilliant idea. If you've ever microwaved a frozen dinner, you've probably overcooked some and undercooked some before finding the exact time that you need to get it just right. On most modern microwave ovens, there are a lot of factors that affect the success of your meal preparation. The cook time, the cook temperature, the wattage of the device, and if the plate inside rotates or not. The packages have now evolved so that most of them now have a range ("Cook 3 to 4 minutes") and specifically states that the directions were developed with a XXXX-watt microwave oven and that because "Appliances vary," we may need to "adjust cooking times as needed." But say you're new to the office and don't have experience with that particular device (or you're too lazy to care.) How can you ensure your frozen lunch will be cooked properly?
     Here's my idea: what if there was a barcode on the package that the microwave oven can scan, or maybe you can scan it with your smartphone and link up to the microwave, that would identify the correct cooking instructions as developed by the vendor? Those cooking instructions could be interpreted by some logic in the oven that because it knows what the wattage of the oven is, and whether the platen is rotating or not, it will automatically adjust the cook time for that particular oven. Say you have a package that says to cook 3 minutes in a 1000-watt oven, but when you scan the barcode, the oven knows that it's actually 1500 watts, so it sets the time for two-and-a-half minutes. Or you have a 900-watt microwave that doesn't have a built-in turntable, so it sets the time for three-and-a-half minutes, and stops halfway through to prompt you to rotate the package 90 degrees before continuing.
     When I mentioned this to the guys at work, there was some initial snickering, but then we talked about barriers to implementing something like this. The technical aspects shouldn't be an issue. While microwave oven manufacturers might not be keen to build barcode scanners into their ovens, they certainly couldn't object to developing the logic to calculate cooking parameters, and it must not be too expensive to include a bluetooth module because everything these days seems to want to talk to your phone, so they can rely on your paired smartphone for the actual scanning. I know that QR codes can hold a ton of data, so getting the details into the barcode is not a problem. The guys pointed out to me that the main flaw would be in developing some kind of universal set of instructions that all the food vendors and oven manufacturers could agree on. We thought that the food people agreeing on something would be the biggest roadblock.
     Imagine my surprise, then, when I looked at my frozen lunch today and saw this little detail on the bottom of the package. It seems that a group of retailers and manufacturers have developed a site they call "Smartlabel" to share information beyond what is printed on the label, including "things such as nutritional information, ingredients, allergens, third-party certifications, social compliance programs, usage instructions, advisories & safe handling instructions, company/brand information, along with other pertinent information about the product."
     Sounds to me like now we just need to get the microwave oven manufacturers on board to make my idea a reality, after which we never will have to suffer through an incorrectly-cooked frozen dinner again! As a friend of mine is fond of saying, we truly are living in amazing times.

06/19/17: For anyone who's noticed, my two sites, and, were temporarily off-line this past weekend because my idiot hosting company cancelled my domain just after I paid the annual renewal, and they don't have any support on the weekends so I had no one to yell at when I noticed. Fortunately, is hosted elsewhere.
     I've been with them since the site went live in 2003 and have not had many problems, but the problems I did have were stupid mistakes on their part, like the time they cancelled my hosting after the boneheads realized they forgot to bill me for two years, or the time they moved my domain to another server without notice and lost the entire contents of the database, which held 10+ years of posts. (It didn't help that my off-line backup was several months out of date.) It was worse this time because I was afraid of losing the domain that I've had for the last 14 years! I know I've been slow to write things here lately, but I think there's some good stuff here that I posted over the years, and a lot of people know this address. And when I decided to set up a page for my writing projects, I was able to do that inexpensively by buying another domain and pointing that to a page at my main site.
     I think it's time to find a new hosting provider. I've already moved to a free Wordpress account, which I'm not thrilled with only because I can't seem to find a template that I like, and because I will have less control over my content than I should have. (For instance, Wordpress could conceivably one day say, "We're now charging for this, and you can't get your content back until you pay. Not likely, but possible.) Plus, I don't like how the URL works when I'm on the site. I want it to show "" instead of "", but the way it's forwarded means that any sub-pages only show "" in the URL window of your browser, and it also stays the same if I link to an external site. The only way I know of to fix that is to pay for hosting somewhere. I'm planning to do a little research with an eye to changing providers before my next bill is due.

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