Wednesday, April 28, 2004

This morning, I was teasing my wife about not knowing how to make 'peanut bobbles', and how every other family has a wife who knows how to make it, and that the knowledge is passed down from generation to generation, but I seem to have been left in the lurch, and didn't this call into question the whole likelihood of the marriage surviving? In the middle of which, our daughter came into the kitchen, and I looked at her and said 'Can you beleive it -- this will shock you -- your mother doesn't know how to make peanut bobbles!" She stared at her mother with a stunned expression, and her mother said 'Do YOU know how to make peanut bobbles?' Whereupon the daughter smiled and said "Kids don't have to know. Only moms are supposed to know how to make peanut bobbles.'

Is she cool, or what?

Monday, April 26, 2004

I currently work for the largest software company in the world.

I used to work for the second largest, although as things go, its probably about the fifth, now.

Both companies say and said repeatedly how important people were in the delivery of their service.

Both have cut back dramatically in training for their technical people, the sources of their technically oriented products, and one of the sources of their success, to the point where it is rare to get any training at all, and reservations are voiced even about taking electronic courses which cost nothing.

What should one conclude from this?

To characterize each company's management as, say, 'lying sacks of shit' does comes to mind....but that would be childish, immature, and wrong.

Besides, the excrement would be offended.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Stray thoughts on a rainy April morning.

April showers bring May flowers. That is holding true -- our front yard's landscaped area is starting to come into bloom, and when it is fully there, I will again envy the people who live in more temperate climates, where the flowers are always in bloom. They probably don't appreciate them as intently as we do, but I like to think they do notice them.

My daughter and I just went for a short walk. It was intended to be a longer one -- she even wore a down vest that she liked -- but it got cut short when she noticed that the sleeveless vest was doing nothing to keep her arms dry -- arms that were cold to the touch, too. If her mother had been here, she'd have been sure that the daughter went out properly protected, but I exercised the guy's right to say heck, she's not gonna die, and this way, she'll learn without me telling her. And that apparently worked -- she stopped at one point and suggested that we make a quick loop back to the house, and have some hot chocolate on arrival, too. I asked her if it was getting chilly, and she nodded. I noticed that, too, I said -- and that was all.

We have the Sunday papers stacked on the kitchen counter, and as it was just below the cabinet where the sprinkles were (can't have ice cream without sprinkles), the daughter stopped to read the headlines. She asked me why people were still fighting in Iraq if we had already found out that Iraq doesn't have massive weapons. I didn't have Condi Rice here to help me spin that one, so I simply told her it was a group of people who didn't want us there, some of whom had further agendas. She thought that it was dumb of them to fight us if we were trying to help them, and I think that a bit, too. I like clean answers, but there aren't any there. I do think its intriguing that the guy in power who used to be a military guy is the one pushing against a military solution, and the guy who wasn't, is. Food for deep philosophy, there.

I am quite taken by that YCC concept car that Volvo made. If this is a realistic example of what women designers can come up with, we ought to get lots more. I like it so much (except for those doors) that I can even accept the comment one of them made (it might have been an American, actually; I've heard it both ways) that once you meet a woman's expectations, you've exceeded a mans. That sure does seem to be true in this case. Though it leaves me wondering: if it were available, would I buy it or the Prius? The attraction of the Prius is lessening the use of gas. I like the idea of sticking it to OPEC, and I'm sure that my refusal of five hundred gallons a year would bring them to their senses right away. Except that economically, I think they *are* in their senses -- getting as much money as they can for their product, right now. And they could be getting more, too. I'm sure they've noticed that.

I hear where a woman came up with a site whose name is, I think, Down With Bush, and where the ultimate expression of acceptance for that concept is that you shave off your pubic hair. So far as I know, its limited to women. I wonder if women are as taken by the idea of a guy without pubic hair as guys are for similarly shaved women? I admit, I find the idea tittilating, but I always feel stupid when I think about it. I mean, whats the big deal? I recall reading quite some time ago that in societies where things we hide, like breasts, are exposed, its very rapidly accepted as normal to see them. In my one foray to a nude beach, I noticed that -- just like I noticed the boat going back and forth . Remember the song lyrics about 'a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking'? Sheesh. Maybe guys never do grow up.

Friday, April 23, 2004

You know what would be cool? Being able to have the cell phone plug into the audio system of the van, so that while I am driving to lunch I can still listen in to a teleconference, using the speakers of the audio system. Okay, its probably possible, but not for me. Not yet, anyway. Someday....

Monday, April 19, 2004

The other day, I was thinking about the price of gasoline. I use about 12 gallons a week, mostly driving to work, which takes about a gallon each way, so at the local average about about $1.70 a gallon, I pay about seventeen dollars a week for the privilege of driving. That's up about two bucks per week. I wondered how high it would have to go before it affected my consumption. I guessed that for me to make a change, the price would have to increase up to about $2.50 a gallon. At that point, I’d be paying around thirty dollars a week, and that, I’d notice.

Those thoughts came back to me as I read in the Sunday paper that some people feel that an increase in gasoline taxes would reduce dependence on foreign oil by reducing consumption. It would probably reduce consumption overall, but I would bet that it wouldn’t affect it for everyone, or even most people, because the driving they do, they have to do.They don’t have a convenient alternative. Until the price got so high that it cost more to commute than the person earned, they’d continue to pay. Like me, they’d likely notice the difference, and grumble, but they wouldn’t use substantially less.

Buying cars would be a different matter. The demand for fuel economy is probably elastic with respect to gasoline prices to a lesser extend than usage; as prices go up, people are more likely to think about the mileage that they expect from a new vehicle when they are researching the purchase. But e-ven then it's questionable - I doubt mileage is a major factor in what vehicle to buy, though it might be a factor in differentiating between acceptable vehicles.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Several months ago, when my partner and I were both pretty busy, and were finding it difficult to come up with ideas for dinners that could be accomplished quickly, we started a list of meals that we liked. It had two columns -- one for things that took a little bit of time, and one for things that took longer. We went through a couple of iterations of how to organize the list -- one of the first tries was Hard to Make, Easy to Make, and another was Weekday/Weekend -- but it settled down pretty quickly into QUICK and LONG. QUICK is something we can make quickly, and LONG is something that takes effort, and is expected to be seen again at some point. QUICK is as you’d expect; things we can make almost on the fly -- burritos, hamburgers, soup, grilled cheese, and the ever-popular Round Food, a.k.a. pizza. The LONGs are more complex, or at least take more time to make than we usually have during the week. They’re expected to generate leftovers. In fact, some of them generate so many leftovers that the output is bifurcated into something we eat and something we store, and that second category is split again into something we store to have later in the week, and something we freeze to have in two or three weeks -- or longer. An example of that is the Bean Bake, which I dearly love; it’s a simple recipe that takes a while to cook in the crockpot, but once done, I know I’ll want it twice, perhaps three times in one week -- and then not again for a while. So, some we eat, some we store, and some we freeze, to be found weeks or even months later when we’re roaming through the kitchen saying Don’t we have anything to eat?

In our house, it works out that if someone is going to make a complex breakfast (meat, waffles, coffee, muffins or toast), it’ll probably be me; if someone is going to make a complex dinner (more than five minutes prep time), it’ll probably be my partner . Lately, though, with all of the time that my partner been putting in with preparations for the school’s Science Night, our dinners have been a little on the basic side, even if she’s the one making them; if I make them, you can pretty much count on them being of the soup or spaghetti level of difficulty. So, we thought that this might be a good time to start doing a little revamping of the menu list, the better to motivate one or the other of us to actually make the meal. To that end, I took two of our cookbooks into the bedroom, settled back, and started leafing through the first one. It happens to be one that we bought for our child, but though it is a ‘kids cookbook’, it’s a real one, with real food in it. Insofar as I eat like a kid, this is a cookbook for me, but some of it is advanced for my tastes. Still, its a great place to start, and indeed I came up with two things to try. One is a simple spaghetti sauce. A couple of years ago, we thought to try to make our own sauce. I had visions of the scene in The Godfather where the round guy -- what was his name? Don’t recall, but I do remember a line he had after they’d just shot the chauffeur and were abandoning the car - "Leave the gun. Take the cannoli." -- is stirring the huge pot of sauce while commiserating with Michael’s troubles. It turned out that it was a lot more difficult to make the sauce than I thought it would be, and since then we’ve discovered the Newman’s Own brand of sauce. I had originally been against buying it (or Emeril’s, or any other sauce with a recognizable name) because I thought heck, how good can it be? But it turns out that the Newman’s sauce is actually quite good, and that’s been our staple ever since -- and probably will be even after we try the one from the book. But the one in the book is really quite simple -- carrot, celery, garlic, tomato and puree -- so what the heck, we’re going to try it. It’ll just be the two of us; our child believes that to have any kind of pasta other than angel hair is an abomination, and to have any topping other than butter and a lot of grated cheese compounds the offense. We’ll see. The other thing we’ll try out of that book is a form of french toast. We all like FT, though since we discovered the delights of freshly made waffles, especially made our way, which is to say, with white chocolate chips in the batter, with a side of sausage or bacon, it’s been a tossup. But this sounds good -- cut the bread into star shapes, make the FT immersion batter, fry it in hot oil, sprinkle cinnamon on it. Crunchy French Toast. We’ve still got a little vanilla ice cream in the freezer, too, so we’ll likely have that on top. That’s actually the kid's idea, and its a good one. First time I bit into it, I recalled the story of how the ice cream cone got started. Don’t know if it’s a true story, but I like it.

That's the plan for two meals, this next week. If I can come up with two more additional things to try for the first time, we’ll add them to the menu list, and that’ll be it.