Friday, February 29, 2008


Other than skinny women appearing in what I understand the British call 'Lads Magazines' (sounds classy, doesn't it), does any woman actually wear garter belts? My guess is, no, but then I've got a limited pool to sample for answers -- and for some reason, you can't just go up to someone and ask....

Oh, and that link? Seriously NSFW....

Life, The Universe, and...

Had an odd thought today.

I read recently of something called the Global Conciousness Project . It uses random number generators to - tada- generate streams of random numbers, which are then archived and correlated. Every so often, the expected stream values change, sometimes dramatically. And when they do, sometimes they change in advance of a major event. Such as, 911. Or the last series of Asian tsunamis. It's given rise to some thought of a 'global subconciousness' that might be able to affect these generators. It's been called the beginning of being able to see into the future. I know: right.

I thought today of my friend who died about seven years ago, and how she believed in reincarnation. And I found myself wondering: what if reincarnation did exist, and what you are becomes part of that global subconcious when you die? From which, you eventually get -- reconstituted? You know: reincarnated?



Which I almost called Rubbit, but a) that would have been a second level pun, when even the first (which I used), is pushing it, and b) what is it about sexual puns, lately? They keep occurring to me... time to go immerse myself in the mind-deadening riches of the Net, I think.

Anyway -- Ribbet, because of the Google logo today, which is because it's Leap Day. Everyone born today just got one year older....and will now be in stasis for the next three years. There's a word you don't often get to use. Wonder if we'll ever have functional cryogenics as a method of life extension? Did I even spell that right?

I'm in the living room, listening to the bleed over of my mother's television -- one of the side effects of having her and her failing auditory capabilities; its a small price, and it doesn't happen often. My wife is in the library (the 10x10 bedroom that we call that; one time a friend was over, asked where she was, and when I said that, replied that he would wait till she got out). I wanted to send her a piece of text I'd found, so I went to ping her on the Google instant message system (which isn't all that great, but hey, its free). She hadn't powered up the laptop yet, so I shouted in 'You're off line!'... and only a moment later thought what a weird phrase to say to someone. A long time ago, I sent an email to the doctor who isn't really a friend, and she forwarded it to her husband's email. At the time, I thought how odd, but now it seems perfectly normal to have personal dueling emails.

This morning I wrote a little tiny bit of Visual Basic code, which pleases me. And I mean tiny; about four lines. But it was something that I wanted -- I extract my credit card bill, and categorize it to put into Quicken. Gee, I thought, it would be nice to be able to run a macro on this and have it categorize for me, at least the recurring stuff. And so I did. Not exactly trivial, given that the last time I touched VB was about seven years ago, and it occurs to me now that using a sorted lookup table would have been more efficient, but what the heck. This is it, incidentally:

Sub ScanCreditCard()
..If InStr(ActiveCell.Value, "Amazon") Then ActiveCell.Offset(0, 3).Value = "Misc Exp"
..If InStr(ActiveCell.Value, "SHEETZ") Then ActiveCell.Offset(0, 3).Value = "Automobile"
..If InStr(ActiveCell.Value, "Giant") Then ActiveCell.Offset(0, 3).Value = "Groceries"
..If InStr(ActiveCell.Value, "CVS") Then ActiveCell.Offset(0, 3).Value = "CVS"
..If InStr(ActiveCell.Value, "BORDERS") Then ActiveCell.Offset(0, 3).Value = "Books & Magazines"
..ActiveCell.Offset(1, 0).Select
..Loop Until IsEmpty(ActiveCell.Offset(1, 0))
End Sub

Got more categories to add, of course...but isn't that fun? I think it is.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Your Papers?

The toy is a little scary. The comments, more so.


One of the things that continues to perplex me is the ability of the current president to look into the land and see a completely different landscape than I do.

He continues to demand that a surveillance bill more to his liking must be passed, including the retroactive immunity of telecommunications companies for actions they took which were requested by the government, but which were illegal. He insists that failing to do this puts the country at risk. He also has a new twist on the immunity thing: he says that, after all, they were just doing what the government asked, and which the government said was legal. To open them to prosecution now would be 'unfair'.

I don't think the current president is completely wrong in this -- but I do think he's completely wrong in the part where he says that people shouldn't be held responsible. I'd even accept it if he'd say that the government was wrong in saying that it was legal, so don't blame the companies, blame them. But then, that would mean accepting a chain of responsibility that clearly ends up with him. I don't think he's too keen on that idea. I suppose he's already explored the idea of trying to pull the 'executive privilege' cloak around them.

I don't think anyone will say we aren't in danger. I just think he's willing to trash any law, stomp any dissent, in the service of his view of whats required to address that danger.

I'm also amazed by his ability to look at the economic state of the country and aver that, while things may not be totally fine, they're certainly not in a problem state. The announced intention of the Fed to drop interest rates yet again should in no way concern us. "We acted robustly", he said, speaking of his stimulus; so wipe your hands, clear your little minds, and go pass the bills that I demand. Okay, he didn't say that last part. But what would you like to bet that he thought it?

How many months till the October surprise?


I was surprised at the amount of discussion regarding that earlier post with the link to the Craigslist article.

Not that it was an overwhelming number -- about ten or twelve posts, I think, of which half were my responses -- but it was easily more than I normally get. And the subject! I knew that women had not only sexual urges, but unfulfilled ones (guys can't be the only ones with fantasies) , but that it might be common, not to mention, people I knew -- well, that surprised me. Not that anyone confessed anything -- just the concept at all. It reminded me of something I'd read years ago, to the effect that being in love with someone meant that every so often you'd say, surprised, You, too? And it made me wonder how often we want to tell our sexual partner touch me right there, or say this while you do that - but we don't, because we don't want to own up to it, for whatever reason -- we're ashamed, we think they'll refuse, or think less of us. And so we don't.

It brought to mind the idea that even in the age of the net, a lot of our lives are still hidden; sometimes because its just ours, and we've no desire to share it with someone else (or at least, not everybody else), and sometimes because its something we feel that we have to keep hidden -- not something thats flat out creepy or worse, but just private -- from a fascination with oral sex to a deep longing to stand in the Parthenon by moonlight. Or even a deep longing to have oral sex in the Parthenon by moonlight!

Quite illuminating.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I was never much of a dater. I was, in fact, so little of a dater that it's amazing I got married at all. I can't imagine being in the dating game now -- at least, in Seattle. (NSFW!!!)


Two weeks.

That's when the dental surgery is scheduled, again. Lets see if this time they can pull it off.

Its also when my physical therapy ends, if not sooner. Depends on how I continue to improve, but based on what I can do right now, that's the guess.

Two weeks. Not bad.


I found these photographs of science fair winners oddly charming.

The Debate

Last night, my wife came into the bedroom and said "It's official. I have no idea which one to vote for. They're both bright, both committed, both have plans, both are articulate and informed. I have no idea." This morning, I printed off a copy of the transcript. I've been reading it, and rereading it, slowly; highlighting key phrases, going back and forth to make sure that I understand what each of them says their difference is. And I think: these people did this in real time?

Good lord.

BTW, if anyone wants a copy of the debate transcript, it can be found here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Shake, Arnold. No, Wait, Don't....

Found at The Morning News.

Stickin' with Obama

Is this true? I don't know -- but I hope so!

Educators and Kids on the Net

An article in the Christian Science Monitor, Teachers Strike Back at Students Online Pranks, details the reduced level of tolerance for student activity on the net where such activity is intended to embarrass, or worse, school administrators and instructors. In a nutshell, schools are beginning to treat such activity as actionable, with results ranging from discipline within the school to legal activity. The increased level of response comes because of the viral nature of materials put on the net. Most of these materials are intended to vent irritation with something about the instructor or the school, but some go further than that, alleging criminal behavior on the part of the instructor. Schools aren't taking it lightly.

Of course, some of these really are just kids being kids. Also, of course, the ACLU thinks that the schools' responses go overboard, as a rule, with instructors acting in an authoritarian rather than adult fashion, possibly contravening the kids First Amendment right. Perhaps. Personally, I'm with the schools on this one. This isn't just scribbling a nasty phrase on the sidewalk, or passing a crumpled note with a rude drawing during a lull in Algebra. The net provides an adult-level forum, accessible throughout the world. If a kid has to pay a significant price for an action which was taken on that stage with malicious intent, I see no problem with that.


I've been futzing with the template for this blog. I wanted something wider, while still leaving the sidebar info. Mostly, I got it -- but I am not thrilled with the image, which leaves that silly margin, or something, about three quarters of the way across the page. I think thats where the original right side used to be. If anyone knows how to expand that to be at the new right side (the buzzword is 900pixels instead of 700), I'd appreciate learning of it. I'm not an HTML-savvy guy, for the most part.

SAHB, Sahib?

I occasionally think about working for IBM again, because, overall, I liked it.

Most of the time, the things that I didn't like about IBM weren't too intrusive, and, like walking with a pebble in your shoe, I got used to it -- got used to lying on the time sheet (lying? not really -- but essentially, yes), dealing with people who were both obsessive and paranoid about security (a great trait to have in the people who handle security for you, not so wonderful when your employer wants you to have it, too), having people come around every so often to check that you're in conformance with the way we do business -- all of that. It was just part of the environment, and you lived with it. After all, they paid well. Okay, fairly well. And they had some very bright people doing really interesting things, even if not where I worked. They were there, and I liked being part of that.

But its been three quarters of a year, and I've not had to deal with a single bit of it -- especially not the LEAN initiative, which is what got me and several thousand others terminated, and which is, to my astonishment, still going on. I would have thought intelligence would have returned by now, but perhaps, despite all that its done to stomp on morale, it really is effective -- or maybe just cheaper. I realized, looking at the note from my friend (who is, herself, trying to get out of there; she's afraid that the local manager will attempt to block the transfer) -- I realized that You know, being laid off isn't the end of the world. I'd still work there again, because I do like IBM, do like helping people fix their problems, do what they want to be able to do. Mostly, I liked being able to say I work for IBM.

But you know what? Being a Stay At Home Baker - isn't all that bad, either.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Election Results

Courtesy of The Onion -

Brittle Bark

A local candy maker -- I didn't even know we had a local candy maker -- is having their goods featured on the Rachel Ray program, which is, of course, a very big deal. The company's name is Brittle Bark, and this is their website.

Here's a sample of part of what they sell, on site and via mail order:

Berry Au Lait — Blueberries and hazelnuts with a splash of rich coffee topped with dark chocolate and dusted with cinnamon.
Cherries Jubilee — No nuts! - just large Bing cherries and brittle, drizzled with premium dark chocolate.
Cherry Pecan Tart — Tart Michigan cherries mixed with roasted pecan halves and all immersed in crispy brittle.
Just Cashews — Cashew lovers get ready! Jumbo whole cashews loaded into crispy brittle won’t last long!
Just Peanuts — Like NO OTHER you’ve tried! Extra thin and crispy brittle made with whole roasted peanuts.
Luau — Large macadamia nuts, chunks of pineapple, and large flakes of coconut make this tropical brittle a blissful treat!
Mocha Peanut — Rich dark roast coffee flavors the creamy brittle before we add jumbo peanuts for a one-of-a-kind peanut brittle variety. It's then topped with drizzled dark chocolate and scattered with crushed coffee beans.
Nutty Chai — Jumbo cashews and large coconut flakes fill this creamy brittle that is made with Chai tea.
Oh Nuts! — Packed with whole almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, and a few peanuts tossed in and then poured thin for a real treat—any time!
Pistachio Twist — Wole pistachios is creamy brittle made with a twist of lemon
Raspberry Dream — Rich dark chocolate drizzled over plump red raspberries mixed with thin crispy brittle.
Spring Fling — A medley of tart cherries, blue berries, strawberries and raspberries tossed with slivered almonds welcomes in the spring season.


This is a video of a helicopter flying along the Yarra River, which divides Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. When you get to this point, you're just over the main drag. The city, where we lived, is up to the left (on the video, you can rotate the image), and St Kilda (where we worked) is off to the right. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

And several thousand dollars for airfare.


This is my current desktop image. I left it displayed this morning, and my wife wondered if I was trying to tell her something.


I would like to think that I'd agree with something Obama said, and something he did, even if I didn't support him. As it happens, I do, but I do, and I do, anyway.

I agree with his comment that if he'd lost eleven primaries in a row, people in the media would be expecting him to quit, but the standards are different for Clinton, because she's part of the established elite in Democratic circules.

And I agree with his decision not to attend an event called the State of the Black Union. He said that he didn't come because he had a campaign to run, and thats likely true. But I'll bet its also that he didn't want to link his name too closely to an event that's clearly keyed on being black, then political, rather than political, period. I'll bet he could just see himself getting arm-in-armed by some of their old guard, and have to spend the rest of the campaign arguing that being black was part of what he was, not the totality.

Good moves, B.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Yeah, What He Said

Once an idea gets loose on the Internet, anyone can grab it. At that point, its -- well, it's up for grabs. It can be proven, disproven, used to buttress an argument (I was very disappointed when I learned that flying buttresses don't actually fly), become the jumping off point for a completely different argument. At the cheapest, it becomes the core of an article where someone repeats what the original person said, possibly adding a couple of words at the end to suggest total agreement (thus validated because now I said it).

This is not exactly one of those posts, but its likely not all that far from it, either.

One of the blogs that I read on occasion is CapForge, which is oriented to small businesses and entrepreneurs. I occasionally have daydreams about doing that, though I think the odds are pretty slender. In this post, the author refers to a post by Seth Godin (who is apparently an Internet Marketing Guru of the first water) where he says that if you're going to be profitable, you need to be very, very good at what you do. Otherwise, he says (both of them say), you're invisible, or as close to it as makes no difference.

Reading that brought to mind Jack Welch's dictum about GE being either first or second in a given line of business; otherwise, they'd get out of it. If you couldn't dominate the field, he wasn't willing to spend resources maintaining an also-ran position. And it brought to mind my own (ahem) observation about the Air Force, EDS, and IBM, which was that they liked two kinds of people: those who were very, very good at what they did, and those who were wage slave company men. The former were accepted and cherished at best, and tolerated at worst, because their value outweighed the grief of having them around; the latter were kept around to do the grunt work and heavy lifting that any organization needs to have done. If you were in the middle -- kind of good, but not great, and not a company-line sort of fellow -- you were disposable, at will.

So the message is: be the key player, in whatever niche or market you choose.

You know -- what they said.

Baking Update

Well, I'm kind of disappointed with those buns.

The dough this morning was still pretty wet, though it had risen somewhat and spread out. When I rolled it out, I rolled it too thin -- apparently, when they say a quarter inch, they mean a quarter inch. But the big problem was the dampness of the dough. I think that if I do it again, I'll use four eggs instead of five, and see how that goes.

Pretty soft dough, though, I'll say that.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ah, Jon...

Watching the tube tonight (pretty rare!), seeing the end of the Matrix, the middle of Godzilla, other stuff. As I'm about to flip it off, I see Larry King, yuck, talking to -- hey, thats Jon Stewart! So I listen for a while, and King is saying 'Whats up with Hillary? Where did she go wrong? Or did Obama go right?' And Stewart looks at him and says something like "Obama is ahead.because...more people voted for him."

He went on to ask why people had the compulsion to parse it, to segment the market, to do all of that stuff, but that was the key statement.

Because more people voted for him.

I like it simple.

(There's a copy of the show, broken into chunks, here. It's pretty interesting.)

Micro - who?

I'm always a little bit surprised when I find something that's got Microsoft's name on it -- and I like it anyway.

For example -- this list of Web Sites to Watch. I've already taken their advice regarding the Clipmarks download tool, and now I'm looking at some others. Not at all bad....

Filing Insight

I just spent about an hour going through files -- filing things that were in the stuffed To Be Filed folder; the good news is, I reduced it by half, and the bad news is, half of its still there because I can't figure out where to file it, or even if we need to keep it. Which is where my insight comes from: if we ever get to a paperless society, we're going to need one hell of an intelligent, automated, and insightful filing system. One that makes today's Google look like child's play.


I don't like spinach, and I really don't like recipes that are aimed at diabetics. They almost uniformly use strange ingredients, strange quantities, or have strange definitions of what 'yummy' means.

But this one, found at the Diabetic Gourmet site, sounds pretty interesting.

Spinach and Corn Quesadilla

Adapted from the 12 Best Foods Cookbook


  • 2 tsp. canola oil
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and cut in thin rounds
  • 1 bunch spinach, stemmed, with leaves cut in 1" ribbons, or one package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 1/2 cup white corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • Two 10" whole-wheat tortillas
  • 1 cup (3 oz.) shredded Jack cheese
  • Cooking spray (or 1/2 tsp. canola or light olive oil)


  1. In a large, non-stick skillet, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions and jalapeno and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the spinach, stirring until it wilts. Add corn and cook, stirring, until the corn is warmed through, about 3 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Wipe out the pan.
  2. Coat a tortilla with cooking spray or brush it lightly with 1/4 teaspoon of oil. Place it, sprayed/brushed side down, on a plate. Sprinkle half the cheese over the tortilla. Spread the spinach mixture over the cheese, leaving a half-inch border around the edge. Sprinkle on the onions. Top with the remaining cheese. Spray the second tortilla, or brush one side with oil and place it, coated side up, to cover the filling.
  3. Return the skillet to the heat. When hot, slide the quesadilla into the skillet. Cook until it the bottom tortilla is crisp and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Turn the quesadilla by first sliding it onto the plate and inverting a second plate over it. Flip the plates while pressing them firmly together.
  4. Slide the quesadilla, uncooked side down, back into the pan, and cook the second side until crisp. On a plate, cut the quesadilla into 8 wedges. Serve immediately, accompanied by your favorite salsa.


You don't hear people called Homie any more, do you?

Last night, we were talking about houses, and that incredibobbly expensive set going up not too far from here. We guessed that if we were willing to spend about $200,000 -- which is, roughly, the value of this house -- we could upgrade it to the point where we could stay in it pretty much forever -- for which read, elevator, though much else, too. And it's tempting. I like what we've done here. But I know that there are things I'd like not to have to think about in the future -- predominantly, mowing, shoveling more than just a little. A smaller house would be nice. And it'd make it easier to get some of the 172 (!) things on our concept list.

Here's some of them. These are the top priority ones...

Basement/attic Broad steps, gentle rise, well lit, solid handrails
Bath, master Large bath tub
Bathrooms Bathroom sounds not audible in bedroom
Bedrooms Master bedroom, large (> 200 square feet), good cross ventilation
Bedrooms Guest bedroom functions as storage area or work area
Bedrooms Master bedroom closets -- spacious, walk in, good lighting, seating nearby
Doors solid doors, wide doorways, handles instead of knobs, no sills on doors
Garage two car attached garage, dual doors, bright interior lights, with storage area, close to kitchen
Interior Acoustic insulation -- no hollow doors or walls, no sound carrying by pipes,blown-in insulation
Kitchen Refrigerator -- away from cabinet work area so people don't bump when stepping away from it
Kitchen Sink drain and drain basket must not be white
Layout Tile, hardwood, carpet as accents rather than lavish; moldings in public areas
Layout Many closets
Layout CAT5 or better available in most rooms
Layout Easy access for movers to all rooms; wide or double doors
Layout Hallways -- wide
Layout Each of us must have some kind of 'private room'
Layout Handicapped accessible, wide doors, no lips
Utilities Washer/dryer on main level
Utilities Whole house air conditioning, integrated with heat and humidifier

...and these are from further down the list:

Bath, guest Interior should not be visible when you walk past the doorway
Bath, master If toilet in separate room, frosted glass sliding door or shoji screen – but sound resistant!
Bath, master Shower stall seat , integrated grab bars there and next to toilet
Bathrooms Vent for intake of house air when venting steam
Bathrooms Medicine cabinets not directly over toilet
Bathrooms Telephone access
Bedrooms Master bedroom is far from noise of kitchen
Doors solid Pocket Doors; where possible, side access to mechanism
Doors Fully retractable doors to outside - with screens
Exterior Exterior lighting all controllable from inside the house
Exterior Lighting - hidden, subtle; door area is not only source of light
Great Room Clerestory ceiling, louvered windows, higher than eight feet
Interior Ceilings - 9 to 10 feet in public areas; 8 to 9 in private areas
Interior Molding around doors, windows
Kitchen Groceries unload area -- large; possibly a central island
Kitchen Ultra-quiet dishwasher
Kitchen stove has griddle surface
Kitchen Range should have grill capability
Kitchen Microwave is NOT directly over stove; handicap accessible
Kitchen Warming Drawer
Layout Porch, possibly enclosed (screened), possibly with fans
Layout Front Door -- Wood, substantial, easy and obvious locking
Lighting Landscape lighting
Storage Coat closet by front door
Storage Linen Closet, large
Utilities Gas or oil powered generator for backup power
Utilities HVAC -- geothermal
Utilities Easy cabling connectivity throughout the rooms
Utilities Security system
Utilities Power connections, meters should not be "on display"
Utilities Power -- allow for additional circuits to be added to box
Windows Deep windowsills, hardwood (maple?)

Friday, Plus One

I just came across this meme on three different blogs, so I thought I'd respond to it. It's a Friday meme, so I'm late. Sioux me.

#1. Steak. Plain, steak sauce, hot sauce, ketchup or something else? Steak sauce. A-1's fine with me, though barbecue sauce is good, too.

#2. Water. Flavored, plain, carbonated. How do you like it? At home, flavored -- I'll glug several liters a week, usually cherry or lime. Out, iced, please. With lemon would be nice.

#3. What’s your favorite kind of waffle? Belgian with white chocolate chips and lots o' syrup.

#4. If you could have any one new small appliance for your kitchen what would it be and why? Hand held Kitchen Aid mixer. I use our KA stand mixer two or three times a week, and about one in five times, I need to mix something else while the mixer bowl is in the dishwasher. But we've got mixing bowls, so having the mixer would be helpful. How important is this? Hey, if you're handing them out...



You can't park that thing here!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Icy Friday

Yet another snow day. My daughter was irritated -- she wanted a delay, but not a snow day. Delays, you just compress the classes; snow days, you have to make up.

I've been participating in the Yahoo Answers forum for a while now, and I have to say that I enjoy it. I usually take care with what I put down, on all but the simplest answers (and some really are simple; one person wanted to know how to figure the rate of change of a temperature that went up five degrees in five hours). I notice that my answers are longer, usually significantly longer, than the others, most of which sound like they were rattled off quickly. When I see a new question that I'd like to answer, and do, I'm a little disappointed when I find that someone else (frequently, several someone elses) has already answered it by the time I'm done. But I usually go ahead and post my answer anyway. I'm absurdly pleased when my answer is picked as the best of those there; I don't get anything except 'points', which I don't think have any external value, but I like the recognition. And I learn things, too. If the question is one where I think Gee, thats a good question, I have no idea, I'll go look it up. Usually, it doesn't take more than a Gsearch to find an answer; about a third of them come straight from Wikipedia. The questions are frequently worded in a way that makes it sound like they came right out of a textbook, and I imagine some kid laughing when he dumps his homework questions into Yahoo, and gets answers back. To be honest, thinking of that kid relying on what I say is what makes me take the time to write a lengthy response. Its gratifying, and its fun.

This Sunday, we're going to have some friends over for brunch. We've only done it once before, but we liked it, so after a couple of years, we're doing it again. I've told my wife that I'd like to do it more often -- to invite one or two families that we know to come over for brunch, or for dinner. I don't know very many people, and I'm always a bit amazed to see how many people some of our neighbors do know. I'd like to try (why do I feel like most people don't have to work at it?) so this is sort of a way of doing that. Its going to be a bit of a challenge to talk to some of these folks, I think. I'm just not good at schmoozing with anyone but my wife.

I'm still going to physical therapy, and the way things are progressing, I'm guessing I'll be going for about another month. I still cannot walk more than a very, very short distance without a limp, and truth to tell, I'm probably limping then, too. Yesterday, my leg actively hurt, to the point that I used the crutch inside the house, which I hadn't done for over a week. But today, I was surprised to find that after therapy was over, I actually felt limber. I still limped, but it wasn't the step/THUMP that my limping tends to be. Whenever they give me the option, I try to increase the weights that I use or the reps that I do. Its not that I'm a fanatic about it. I just want to be strong enough to ditch the crutch entirely.

And thats it for now.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I need help. I want someone to talk me out of trying this recipe, which I just found here, on the Harvard Magazine website. If I make it, the results will be either mediocre or good. If they're mediocre, I'll be ticked for having made all that effort without success. If they're good, I'll eat too much of them.

Note: I rearranged the recipe to be in order of preparation. Seemed silly the original way.

Sticky Bun Recipe

* 2 cups brown sugar
* 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
* 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
* brioche dough (recipe follows)
* Goo (recipe follows)

Yield: 6 large buns
Prep time: dough (30 minutes), Goo (20 minutes), bun making (20 minutes)*
Inactive prep time: about 9 hours
Cook time: about 45 minutes

A.Brioche Dough:

* 2 1/2 cups high-gluten flour
* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 oz. yeast
* 1 tbsp. salt
* 1/2 cup ice water
* 5 eggs
* 11 oz. butter, softened

In a large bowl of a stand mixer, combine all the ingredients, except the butter, and beat on low with dough hook for 10 minutes.
Add the softened butter and knead for another 20 minutes until dough slaps on the side of a bowl.
Place in a container and cover well.
Refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
Shape, cover, and let rise for several hours on a warm radiator or on top of an oven at 200 degrees.

B. Goo:
* 1/2 lb. butter
* 15 oz. brown sugar
* 5 oz. honey
* 1/2 cup cream
* 1/2 cup water

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt together the butter and brown sugar.
Remove from heat, let cool, and whisk in the honey, cream, and water.
Set aside.

On a floured work surface, roll out the brioche dough into a rectangle that is approximately 1/4 inch thick.
Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and toasted/chopped pecans and sprinkle evenly on the brioche.
Roll up the brioche jelly roll-style and slice the roll into buns about 1 inch thick.
Spread the Goo on the bottom of a roasting pan and place buns, evenly spaced, in the pan.
Cover and allow to rise for 2 to 3 hours in a warm place.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place buns in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 45 minutes (check after 30).
Let cool for 10 minutes and then invert onto a serving platter.
Serve with café au lait.

UPDATE: I noticed that their video shows one half cup plus two tablespoons sugar being added to the brioche dough before it's chilled. The recipe and instructions make no mention of it. I'm doing it that way, and I dropped a note to the magazine to ask them whats up. Also, the dough after mixing was very loose -- almost a thick liquid. I added a half cup of each kind of flour, and that firmed it to the point that I could handle it without having it drip through my fingers. Still very soft, though.

Snow Day Weirdness

Tomorrow, school may be delayed (snow and ice). It might even be cancelled, if the roads are treacherous. It has been forty years since I was in school. Yet in my heart, I hope it's cancelled.

I guess even when you're retired, you never outgrow your need for a snow day.

No, Again

I received a letter today from a company that wanted to know if anyone else was responsible for my injury last December. The insurer wanted to lay off some or all of the cost to someone else, if they were at fault. I can't argue their position, and I have to admit that though insurance companies are nobody's favorite, I felt a little guilty having to point out that it was me, all me, no one else at fault, no one else to blame, so sorry, no recovery for you. And when I think of the fact that the only reason I was able to bill them was because I'd paid for a month's extension on the insurance that IBM gave me, I feel as if somewhere my name got a big red checkmark next to it, with the notation to examine any claims with my name on it, very closely.

Sorry, guys. Honest.

Just for You, Shannon

Search Them

Every so often you read of someone who wants to topple Google from the summit of search. Usually, its someone with a different interface, or a different display. Sometimes, its a natural language search engine "Show me all of the shoe repair stores in San Francisco" rather than " 'shoe repair' 'san francisco' "; sometimes its a different grouping of the data, or a different visual aid. Occasionally, its enhancement of the request, or memory of what's been asked in the past. Sometimes, its obvious, even to me; sometimes its bizarre. It's always creative. Everyone's looking for that magic key.

I've no idea who will succeed, or what their gimmick will be. I'm just still amazed at how well it works now. Just now, I was watching a DVD of 'Die Another Day', and came to the scene where Bond is walking along the waterfront in Havana. Gee, I thought, I wonder if they actually went to Havana? Or even Cuba? I switched to Google, entered " 'Die Another Day' Havana " -- and got my answer.

No, they didn't.

Calvin and Hobbes


"Is the view pretty good from the cheap seats, AJ?"
- Andrew Shepherd, The American President

I'm not even in the cheap seats -- I'm out in the parking lot, or possibly still on the highway, stalled behind a semi toting chickens. (Which I actually was, a couple of times, when I lived in Texas; good lord, roll up the windows, put the vent on recirculate, and take shallow breaths.) But even so, I feel qualified to comment on the race between Clinton and Obama, which is surely entering its final laps.

First off, though I hope that Obama wins, I think that Clinton's got a chance -- but only if she can persuade enough of the superdelegates to go her way. I think that would be a bad way to go, as its all but waving a flag saying 'Yes, I'm an old style politician, and I don't care what the genereal sense of the populace is'. The problem is, an old style politician's rule of thumb is win first, apologise later, if at all, so I don't think that possibiliy can be ignored. I've seen some people urging her to quit, but I can't see that happening. She's got to lose.

Second, if Obama does win the primary, he's still got the issue of proving that he'd be able to be effective. Curiously enough, it occurs to me that no one's asking Clinton this -- it seems to be entirely driven by Obama's rhetorical style, the assumption being that anyone who orates that well can't have ability, too. He recently said this:

"Contrary to what she's been saying, it's not a choice between speeches and solutions. It's a choice between a politics that offers more of the same divisions and distractions, that didn't work in South Carolina and didn't work in Wisconsin and will not work in Texas...."

which I think makes the point. Its rhetoric saying that you need to believe the prior rhetoric. He has to make the case that he is not only able to solve the massive problems that Bush is leaving behind, but able to do it better than McCain. There are a goodly number of people who prefer McCain, and though Obama's done amazing things in winning people of divergent attitudes over, he hasn't won everybody. How can he show that he'll be effective, if elected? Heck, for that matter, how effective can he be? Because, though she's saying it for political benefit, Clinton's right in saying that rhetoric alone doesn't win the day -- you have to be able to devise solutions (which I think he's shown), and implement them in a possibly hostile (ie, whats in it for me?) environment. And though I suspect Illinois politics is no bed of roses, this is the biggest of the big leagues. How will he fare? What can he offer past that magnificient vision that's provably better than McCain?

Yes, the view from the cheap seats really is pretty good.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I just watched the film Girlfight. In some ways, it's a chick flick. But in most ways, it's nothing of the sort. Very well done.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Found here.

Not Again

This afternoon, I came across these two graphics on the Daily Awesome web site. They made me sad.

What saddened me was that despite all that we've gone through, this site picked the 'red state/blue state' image to show who they projected to win. Its bad enough that they show the Republicans winning many states, which I don't want. That they show that basic "You're either with us or against us" division, reminiscent of the worst of the Bush divisiveness" -- thats somehow worse. I know, its just this one site, and the whole idea of the graphic was to clearly delineate one against the other, but still -- it saddens me.


I was just thinking about the Protect America Act which wasn't extended by the House of Representatives. I wondered: what's the difference between that and the 'other laws' that Nancy Pelosi says gives the same authority, but without the telecom immunity part? So, for starters, I thought 'Well, what the heck does this act say?' Knowing full well that it'd be ten thousand densely written paragraphs, and that my interest would drop off after the third, I still entered the Acts words in Google, just to see what would come back:

Fact Sheet: The Protect America Act of 2007
Aug 6, 2007 ... The Protect America Act Modernizes The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) To Give Intelligence Professionals The Tools They ... - 22k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this - Filter

President Bush Discusses Protect America Act
Feb 13, 2008 ... President Bush on Wednesday said, "Congress has had over six months to discuss and deliberate. The time for debate is over. - 22k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this - Filter
More results from »

American Civil Liberties Union : ACLU Fact Sheet on the “Police ...
The so-called “Protect America Act of 2007," which we are calling the “Police America Act," allows for massive, untargeted collection of international ... - 28k -

Think theres a difference of opinion?

Sloppy, Sloppy

The other night, I wanted to make Sloppy Joes for dinner. We have a 'recipe', if you want call it that, which produces a decent result: a) brown a pound of ground beef, b) add a bottle of chili sauce, c) simmer for a bit, and eat. Simple.

But when I went to make it, for some reason I didn't remember this simple recipe, and so I went to my list of meals and pulled out the much more complex recipe, below. Gee, I thought, I don't remember it taking this long the last time... but I pressed on. And you know what?

It was damn good!

Sloppy Joes
Estimated Time: 30min

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/4 lb ground beef
1/2 ea Spanish onion, diced
4 fl oz ketchup
1 c water
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
1 c sauce, tomato, about 1 can
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt, to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper, to taste
4 ea kaiser rolls, extra as needed

1 Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Stir in beef and onions and cook until liquid has evaporated and meat begins to brown, about 15 minutes.

2 Stir in ketchup, water, Worcestershire, mustard, cayenne, tomato sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Simmer, stirring occasionally until mixture has a thick, stew-like consistency, about 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

3 While the meat stews, split rolls open and toast. Serve the mixture on the toasted rolls.

Engineering Humor

Okay, there's this flatbed trailer with a backhoe on it...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Good Golly

I just read a post at the IttyBiz site, wherein she lists people who've she's found to be helpful, interesting, funny, and so forth.

She lists me.

In words that could make a rock blush.



Some time ago, we briefly explored the idea of putting an elevator in our house. It'd be difficult, but not impossible. What we really want is a new, smaller, one level house, but we like what we've done to this house, and we wouldn't be all that thrilled about leaving it, not the least of which because of all the paring down of stuff we'd have to do.

Last week, we saw where a small community of cottage homes (bigger than I'd think a cottage is, but not by a whole lot) will be built about five miles from where we live now. Gee, I thought, this might be just the deal.

Our house is worth about two hundred thousand dollars (which still astonishes me, though as things go, its not all that much). Its a two story house with a two car garage and about 2400 square feet.

The cottages are one story, about 2500 square feet. The starting price? Five. Hundred. Thousand. Dollars.

Elevator's looking pretty good, hmm?

Some More

Sunday, February 17, 2008

TSA Goodness

When I heard that the Transportation Safety Administration had a blog, I expected something along the lines of the safety column that runs in the local AAA magazine. It's done by an attractive state trooper whose advice is always extremely conservative and very, very official. Turns out the TSA blog is not all all that way. In fact, it's interesting reading.

Upsets, Local and Distant

Last week was my daughter's fourteenth birthday. Today, an hour after giggling about getting a croissant for breakfast, she briskly and angrily informed me that I "don't understand anything." I take this as an indicator that I have arrived as the parent of a teenager. She was in a snit last night; we don't know why, as her color guard group won their competition. It's probably small minded of me, but my feeling is, if she's going to be brusque and rude to me, not to mention, to my wife, she doesn't get any slack from me. I'm usually willing to try to understand things from her perspective, but not every time.

Obama continues to roll over the competition; I continue to roll through any article I see that addresses the question of his ability. The latest (to me, anyway) The New York Times' Week in Review article on The Charisma Mandate; the lead article in the current issue of The Economist shows Obama with the headline "But could he deliver?' From the Times' article, some key points: The phrase that's being used to describe him, usually pejoratively, is 'cult of personality'. One person says that that phrase translates to attacks on the ability to make speeches that inspire -- yet at critical times, that ability is essential, even though it does not necessarily translate into a great presidency. A quote from Schlesinger, relative to the Kennedy charisma: "There was, he wrote, a mounting dissatisfaction with the official priorites, a deepening concern with our character and objectives as a nation". The article goes on to point out that that might well describe the climate Obama supporters feel now, and points out how much of the Obama organization's style is almost religious, with direction to avoid discussions about policy, and focus on how the supporter came to be a supporter. I love the final paragraph: 'Ideally, Ms. Goodwin said, you'd have the combination of experience and charisma, "if you could mush Clinton and Obama togethr as one person." ' Yes!

And from The Economist: "After the bitterness of the Bush years, American needs a dose of unity: Mr. Obama has a rare ability to deliver it....(yet) anyone can get experts to produce policy papers. The trick is to forge consensus to get those policies enacted." They go on to say that a platform of telling people that they deserve more money and more opportunities might (I think, already has) raise expectations to undue heights. "There is a sense in which he has hitherto had to jump over a lower bar than his main rivals have. For America's sake (and the world's), that bar should now be raised -- or all kinds of brutal disappointment could follow." In fact, they say, if you want a combination of experience and the willingness to cross party lines -- look at McCain. McCain? Yes - McCain.

Someone who occasionally comments on this blog said that 'we live in interesting times'. Certainly true. I just hope we survive them with our democracy intact -- no October surprises, let alone martial law and its like. That I can even imagine such things is a tribute, incidentally, to the policies and attitudes demonstrated by the Firm of Bush and Cheney.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


I don't enjoy doing taxes, but this isn't too bad.

Last week, I went through our Taxes-2007 folder, sorting the material into forms, W-2's (I wonder what the W-1 is?), 1099s, deductions, and so forth. This evening, I stretched out in bed, signed the laptop onto a site that has Turbo Tax available, and did the first half (roughly), of the return -- listing income from salary, interest, and dividends.Next comes deductions, which will be a bit tedious. Still, I've been looking forward to this -- being unemployed for a quarter of the year will mean that we'll get some money back from the feds. It won't be tons, but it'll be nice to have, for the brief period that we can actually touch it. For some reason, I always take great pleasure in checking the box where it says Do you want to apply this refund to next year's return? As there is no What Do You Think I Am, Crazy? box, I simply check NO. Three or four times.


One of the sexiest words around, if you like technology and the military, is 'stealth'. It sounds like a combination of Tom Clancy and ninja -- doing amazing things with physics on the one hand, and with fierce assault teams on the other. That combination is one of the reasons that I like the "Choosers of the Slain" novel by James Cobb-- it's classic guy literature. It's also why I like this brief article from the Navy Times.


(This is a rewrite of something I posted last night, which, upon reflection, was on the incoherent side.)

I've said that I support Obama. I do that knowing that from a practical point of view, Clinton is the better Democratic candidate. (I won't consider McCain; though I think him an honorable person, he's seriously old school, and locked into the same paradigm as Bush. Both Obama and Clinton are more appealing. ) I think that Clinton's new motto of being ready on day one is true; though no one is apparently actually ready, I think that she has a better chance in that regard than Obama. She's been exposed to it; seen it in action; knows how the shocks can come fast and furious. Heck, she even knows where the bathrooms are.

So why Obama? Primarily, it comes down to a revulsion with Bush, and wanting to get as far away from that style of behavior and set of assumptions as I can, while still staying in the ballpark of reality. To me, Obama is plausible. He has the right instincts, the right motivations. Clinton is capable, but she is a major league player. She's a politician -- and that word leaves a slimy taste in my mouth. For all that he wants to be President, I don't think of Obama as a politician. I think of him as a bright, ambitious, intelligent and compassionate person who happens to be in politics, and who wants to change the way we look and act in this muddled world.

I don't know if he can be successful. I've seen it said that he is the new equivilent of Jimmy Carter, with good -- heck, great -- motivations, but lacking the ability to translate those motivations into action. He might easily get overwhelmed by the flood of events, of people demanding 'just a moment of your time'. He might not be tough enough to handle the crises. And what he wants to do might actually be wrong -- perhaps, as ignorant as he can be, Bush is still right -- that spying on everyone is the only way to keep Al Qaeda and its clones at bay, that they are a strong and resourceful threat that will strike again. If Obama is not willing to take the same kinds of actions, perhaps he will, in fact, endanger us. What then? Its easy to glibly say 'Well, thats just the chance we'll have to take.' I'm not Jack Bauer. I cannot calmly view the s of hundreds, thousands. I know that serious threats requires serious responses. Spying, all of it, might actually be the best response. Though I think Bush an idiot in many ways, he isn't surrounded by idiots. Hell, Cheney, for all his reprehensibility, isn't an idiot.

So why Obama, given that he could be wrong, seriously wrong, and the price of finding that out could be incredibly high?

Because of the three major contenders, he's the only one to say that we've gone down the wrong path in many ways, and we need to stop, take a deep breath, and turn around. Clinton, for all her ability (and she does have it; no question about that), doesn't say that. As for McCain, I see him as cut from the same cloth as Bush -- not as bad, but certainly not hopeful, certainly not idealistic. Obama says that we need to withdraw from Iraq, take the billions we spend there, and spend it fixing our country; not to mention, paying down the massive debt. We need to stop shipping jobs overseas, which sounded good when we started, but has proven out to be good for companies, bad for the workers in those companies. We need to repair our infrastructure. We need to restore faith in the dollar, both for itself and for the diplomatic muscle that such financial strength provides. We need to rebuild our image, and work with other nations to solve our common problems.

Its a daunting list. I'm not sure that a combination of Superman, Captain Wonder, and Hercules could do a third of it -- yet it all has to be done, or at least attempted. And of the three, Obama is the one who I think is the most likely to try, across the board. "Yes, we can" may be just empty rhetoric, but it gives me something to believe in, in a way that Bush can't, McCain doesn't, even Clinton doesn't. He holds out the chance that my country will again be known as decent and honorable, strong and healthy. Foolishly generous, perhaps, and blundering, but honorable. You know -- the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

And thats why I support Obama.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Snit? Moi?

Because I am in a bit of a snit, I need to do something to calm down. (Though, truth to tell, I'm calmer than I was...unless I think about it.) So, I'm going to bake these, which recipe I found at the SuGoodSweets blog a few moments ago. And I will try not to woof 'em all down myself.

Dark Chocolate Coconut Cookies
(Yields 1 dozen cookies)

by Connie McDonald & Pamela Weekes


8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter
10 ounces (1 1/4 cup) granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 ounces (1/2 cup) dark cocoa powder
10 ounces (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
Pinch of Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
6 1/2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
3 ounces (1 cup) large walnut pieces
3 ounces (1 1/8 cup) unsweetened shredded coconut


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle, cream together butter and sugar until well-blended and fluffy.
3. Add eggs and beat until well-incorporated, then beat in cocoa powder.
4. Mix in flour, salt and baking powder until just combined.
5. Gently fold in remaining ingredients.
6. Transfer dough to clean work surface and gently mix dough by hand to ensure even distribution of ingredients.
7. Divide into 12 equal portions and place each on sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
8. Bake in oven 12 minutes, taking care not to overbake.
9. Let cool on rack and store in airtight container.
Update: the batter would have made about 15, easily, of the large size; I scaled it down after the first batch, and ended up making about 16 more, each about two and a half inches across, baked at 350 for 14 minutes (baking for 12 or 13 minutes resulted in a very soft cookie).

It is, as you might suspect, intensely chocolate.


If I ever install an aquarium, this is what I want it to look like.

(Image is from Aqua Forest Aquarium)

Joy, Unconfined

My oral surgeon just told me that he still does not have the device that the general dentist was supposed to provide, and that they expect to get it by the twentieth. Or so. And that the first slot they have available for surgery after that is the thirteenth of March. And, oh yeah, we're probably in a period of starting to have bone loss from the graft I so expensively had done.

Lets do the math.

The graft was done on November5. He said he would shoot to do the implant end of January, beginning of February. Comes the middle of January, I delay one week because I'm not walking too good. I see him one week later, just before the end of January. The implant session is scheduled for the middle of February. Comes the middle of February. Its cancelled because the general dentist hasn't done what he frickin' hell had months to do. (They waited until three days before surgery to check because the oral surgeon was off on vacation.) And then we get two days of snow and ice, and the general dentist closes his office. So now they're thinking maybe in five days from now. Maybe. But the first open block for surgery is in a month. Next month. Because, you see, the oral surgeon will be gone at the end of this month.

So help me god, if they say they can't do the implant because of bone loss, I am going to go ballistic. SWAT will have to be called.


Three observations regarding 'truth':

a - any web site that uses the word 'truth' in its name likely tells it only from one side.

b - sometimes there is no single truth, but rather a bundle of overlapping concepts and realities

c- there is no one that I trust in public office or the media to tell me the truth, assuming they know it, and even if they preface with 'this is how I see it'.

Photographs And Images

Aw, Shoot

....but its okay. Second Amendment, right? Right.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Casual Observation

J'notice that people are now beginning to attribute all sorts of powers, abilities, insights, and just general magnificence to Obama?

I mean, I like the guy, and I support him for President, because I think he's bright, enthusiastic (if not downright idealistic), and he's not tied to the current power elite (that FISA vote is what did it for me), but I don't actually think things will get magically better once he takes the oath -- other than, of course, knowing that Jawge will be unemployed. Dick, too.

But other than that, I think that after a week or so, there's going to be some seriously disappointed people....


(Parenthetical comment: I like Google's picture for today.)

Okay, back to the original topic.

I like order. It appeals to me. I won't say that I'm fanatical about it -- why, most of my porn collection isn't even indexed as to color density, having merely a synopsis of the activity shown, number of players, number of iterations, and so forth -- but I like it. And there are times that it comes in particularly handy. (Should that be 'handily', I wonder?)

Here's an example. When I was injured (oh, that's so LAST YEAR), I was taken via a local ambulance to the medical center. After I was back home, about three weeks ago, we received a bill from the company for the service. Given the amount of the bill, I assume there must have been champagne, hor d'oerves, and an in-flight crew of Playboy Bunnies, but I didn't notice at the time. Well, I said, grimacing as I gave it to my wife, I guess we'll have to pay this. Maybe not, she replied, noting that it said something about not having gotten insurance information from us at the time. So we got the folder out that we'd created for the event, found the name and mailing info for the insurer, and sent it to them to see what would happen..

Yesterday, they paid it. The whole damn thing. It was, oh, roughly twice what I paid for the one month extension of the policy. Wow! And because of our dedication to order, I was able to go to the filing cabinet, pull out the folder, get the bill, and send them off a check in about half an hour.

Order is good.


I had a bit of a surprise, yesterday.

I've been answering questions on the Yahoo Answers forum. I have no idea if I will ever actually get anything out of it, but I enjoy it -- when I can, I just answer; when I can't, and the question sounds interesting, I look it up, and I learn something. But the question yesterday was not one you can look up. It was a girl who said she was twelve, and pregnant. She said she'd been raped by her brother's boyfriend, hated the whole experience, and had initially just wanted to die. She was looking for advice as to what to do, saying that she didn't want to have an abortion, but also felt she was too young to raise a child.

I put a lot of thought into that response.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Announcement , Of Sorts

I no longer have an open walker next to my bed.

I haven't used it, per se, for three weeks. Up till today, it had two purposes -- to serve as a crutch rest, and to hold a cloth bag which has the reacher I use to pick up stuff. I still use a crutch, but not to walk around inside the house, so I moved that one over by the bookcase (the other one is against the wall next to the stairs; I use it when I leave the house). The reacher, unfortunately, I still need, so the walker is still around. Partially collapsed, holding the reacher's bag. For now.

And, I'm more-or-less walking. Okay, thats a bit of a stretch. Its more like 'I'm walking with a noticeable limp', as distinct from 'I'm hobbling', which was last week's story. I attribute the change (including the ability to do that damned legs raise; badly, but I can do it) to that exercise I found. I may be kidding myself, it may well have happened anyway, it may be pixies, who the hell knows. I can do it -- and thats what counts.

Maybe I will be through with crutches by the end of the month. And then I could retire the walker to the garage or someplace, along with the crutches. Wouldn't that be nice?