Sunday, August 31, 2008

Toilet Humour

..and Away!

This is either Clark in an early test flight somewhere over Kansas, or someone who's about to know the meaning of pain, big time.

They Sell Those?

Apparently, you can actually buy Love Handles.

Hooks

I think that some blogs entrap their readers -- catch them by gimmicks. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with the actual content of the site. If I were to put, say, 'naked sex orgy high school nurse nymphos' here, I'd likely get the occasional new reader -- though once they found out how tame this site is, it'd be warp speed out for better reading elsewhere.

Certainly there is much better reading available, so much so that I have to occasionally go through the 'uncategorized' bookmark list, purging the things that I noted to read later, thinking well, its been three weeks, what are the odds you're going to read it now? And I do occasionally purge things -- but, like a seductive dessert, I see the titles of the bookmarks, and I think but I wanted to read that, it sounds interesting! I actually had to adopt a draconian rule for myself -- no more than five -- okay, eight -- unread bookmarks at any time. See a new one, I have to purge an old one. Which sometimes leads to dammit I have to read this RIGHT the hell now, so that I can bookmark the other one. The funny thing is, I find that about half of what I wanted to read actually isn't that good when I know whats coming, because I've already read a bit of it. The thrill of discovery is, I think, a large part of what makes a new site interesting. Its like pornography (insert disclaimer); it's exciting, fuel for the fantasy, but if you read it more than once, it becomes old, stale, expected. Of course she'll be gorgeous and sexually insatiable; of course he'll be overwhelmed by her tawny this, soft that, just as she will be agog at his chiseled abs and cruel lips. Yeah, yeah, get on with it. I remember one time, I was at a photographers site, looking at some nudes, and thinking 'Wow -- I really like the color scheme in this picture'. And could not figure out if that meant I was mature or jaded.

Ooops, before I forget - 'nasty cocaine throbbing muscular sixpack buns'.

Sometimes the style of the blog, the way that the material is delivered, is as important as the content. I used to read a site called IttyBiz, now called, I think, Starting A Home Business. It is run by a husband and wife team, Naomi Dunford and Jamie Dunford. I really liked it. I thought of it as a rough-and-ready version of INC magazine. It's not for everyone -- Naomi's got what she cheerfully calls a potty-mouth. She doesn't dislike someone; she thinks he's a fucking bastard. She doesn't esteem someone; she thinks he's a fucking god -- and the vulgarity can be off-putting. But the vulgarisms ground her, make her both real and intense. That's the hook, and it works for her. It makes her a unique brand with fervent loyalists. If I were to try it, it'd be ludicrous. Drat. See what I mean?

Just a moment: 'Throbbing gasping nude Republican massive virgin'

Another hook is to whisper that I can get it for you quick. People like getting their information in a concise, easily digested format. When I used to read computer performance articles, I noticed that a fair number of them had titles like A Simple Guide To.... or Back Of The Envelope Modelling For.... or A Quick Method for.... this that and the other. Give me the meat, the guts, the gist now; perhaps I'll come back for the details later. Probably not. That's the substance part of the IttyBiz style and substance melange; she'll tell you what you need to know, without burdening you with tons of theory. Cut to the chase, give the theory later, if at all. Theory! I can hear her exclaim. Who the fuck needs that? Its an effective package, and I admire her ability to create and deliver it.

And finally: 'Screaming paroxysm sensual delight'

Okay, thats a wrap.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Palin

There's an interesting writeup about Sarah Palin on the CNN Money/Fortune site. In a nutshell, she sounds fairly bright, and fairly tough. McCain could have done worse. Its pretty obvious that there are some fierce opinions on her, mostly by people who prior to last week didn't even know she existed. I particularly like this one, from the MoveOn group's site:

Dear MoveOn member,

Today is John McCain's 72nd birthday. If elected, he'd be the oldest president ever inaugurated. And after months of slamming Barack Obama for "inexperience," here's who John McCain has chosen to be one heartbeat away from the presidency: a right-wing religious conservative with no foreign policy experience, who until recently was mayor of a town of 9,000 people.

Seem to have skipped right over her election as Governor, didn't they? It does get mentioned about three lines later, which to me is about three lines too late. I mean, I don't support her, but geez, guys, fair's fair.

Police State?

According to this article, Gestapo-like tactics are being used in preparation for the Republican National Convention by the police in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

And I'd always thought of Minnesota as a liberal state....

Mad

I found this here.

I like it.

Crying and Tissues

This is an interesting, very short article on how a psychotherapist observes how her clients use tissues when they cry, and from that creates a tight visualization of the kind of person they are, whats important to them, and the problems that they have. From tissues ? Yup.

Knowledge is Good

This morning, I learned something.

I was reading a blog I like when I came across this phrase: Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA . I had no idea what that was -- something you read, something you sat on, something you ingested, something you looked at -- so I checked it out. Turns out its an ale --Dogfish Head is a company, and IPA stands for India Pale Ale; no idea what the '60 minute' is all about (number of minutes it stays in your body before demanding release?) Reading further, I learned that this beverage had citrus, cedar, pine & candied-orange flavors, and floral notes; looking at their distributor list, and picking one at random, I learned that the distributor did not sell beer and ale, but 'quality fermented beverages'.

Wow. I had no idea that this could be so complicated. When I was growing up, my family drank beer, and still does - usually what an ad in New York once referred to as 'good drinking beer' -- Rheingold, Budweiser, occasionally Schlitz or Michelob, if you wanted something exotic. This almost makes me wish I was a beer drinker, myself. Excuse me: ale.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Rationales

I realize that when it comes to voting, people select their candidate for strange reasons, sometimes. And I do know that if someone is going to vote for my candidate because 'he has the same shoe size as me, you know', I'll smile and say 'good move', because what I care about is the result, not the rationale.

But in the last half hour I read one person saying they'd vote for McCain because it'd be a chance to get a woman in the structure of power, if not the peak; and another,who already supported McCain, said that they'd vote for him because Obama's got a military advisor who's an idiot, while McCain's seems reasonable.

Oh my good sweet lord.

Whats almost as bad: I find myself thinking that she must be a bad choice because he is. When in fact, based on the little I know, she's pretty good.

Tonnage

My wife's health plan includes a provision for an addition to the money she puts into it if we watch health videos that are available on the company's web site. Most of the videos are boring; they occasionally say something interesting, but its interspersed with things that are perfectly obvious. A couple, I'd sooner pass on the money than spend ten minutes watching the video -- their diatribe about cholesterol is one of those, as is their one about men's health. It's ironic, I suppose; that second one actually might contain some useful information, but I dislike being lectured. Which is why I particularly despise the one on exercise.

Like many people, I don't get enough exercise. Well, okay, to be precise, I don't get any. I go for walks on occasion, by which I mean being out for about forty five minutes, walking at a steady pace -- not brisk, not dawdling. And sometimes I ride my bike, which is even more relaxed -- a lot of coasting, a lot of riding in a low gear. So I recognize that I ought to do more, and I get the guilty twinge when I think about it. Lately, I've gotten that twinge a lot, as I have been keeping fairly close track of what I weigh. For some reason, it's been going up.

A side note. The other day, I was transporting my daughter and a friend of hers to color guard practice when the friend mentioned that she'd gotten detention at school. My daughter was amazed. It's the first week of school, and you've already gotten detention? Her friend nodded. My daughter had just mentioned that she didn't like listening to political articles on the car radio -- its all blah blah blah, she observed -- and her friend picked up on it, saying that yeah, that was like class, the teacher was going on and on and I'm like blah blah blah, does she even think I'm listening? And then, the girl observed with a certain amount of astonishment, she got an F for the assignment, and detention. They just don't like me, she said, sinking down into her seat. Yeah, right, I thought. The connection between her attitude and performance and the detention were perfectly obvious to me, as I assume they'd be to any parent. (You'd like to think 'to any kid', too, but I suppose thats asking a bit much.)

The connection to my weight going up and my lifestyle is similarly opaque. I really can't think of why it would, but intellectually, I know that its not because I've been gifted by the vapors of weight gain; something is going on, whether it's eating more, eating different, exercising less, or some combination. Whatever the cause, I was thinking about exercise more than usual -- which is to say, thinking more than not thinking about it at all. When I saw the video, I figured I'd watch it. And I did. You'd like to think you get points in some cosmic ledger for doing things like that, but life doesn't seem to work that way.

The instructor in the video was a chirpy, somewhat intense, quite lean and limber woman who said things like 'you can stay fit by doing as little as forty-five minutes a day, four or five times a week' (which would be, oh, about five or seven times what I normally do) while demonstrating easy to do exercises such as standing with your legs wide-spread and casually reaching down to touch your toes, then walking your hands back to behind your ankles. Easy to do, hmmm? Its like the comment someone made once about the instructions for painting a wall, where they say that the wall should be clean and dry before painting -- if it was clean and dry, do you think I'd be painting it? If that exercise was easy, do you think I'd be watching this video?

Worse, her attitude was clearly one of exasperation. By god, you could see her thinking, if I didn't need the money, I wouldn't be making this video, I'd be out training for a triathlon -- and they should be too, the bunch of sluggards. Which is at least partially true, but that doesn't mean I need to like it. And in the quiet of our home, watching the video, I didn't. But I did watch it.

Do I get points?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Telecom

I love that I can lie in bed, watching the DNC broadcast over my PC.

Conundrum

Is this really what life is?

The web

This is an interesting display of a grid. I know, that's an awfully stark observation -- but its accurate. Go, look, click and drag. You'll be surprised, I think.

Privitiz

An article in Fast Company says:

As deficits impede the government from improving and repairing roads, bridges and airports, they are becoming increasingly amenable to the idea of a partnership with the private sector. Of late, big banks like Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse are starting to take an interest in financing massive infrastructure projects.

I say, not so fast, for two reasons.

The selfish one: I'm getting tired of seeing corporate names on public structures. They didn't build it, but they get to advertise on it. Our township library accepted a chunk of money from a local worthy, and now the library doesn't have our name on it, but rather his. Oh, so great for community image.

The pragmatic one: Banks and investing organizations are not your partners, not your friends, not susceptible to public votes. They want to make money, period. To assume that you can simply grant them the right to put their name on an infrastructure component and you then just rake in the money, coming out ahead in the end, isn't a good idea, because coming out ahead in the end isn't a sure thing. If the civic entity is hard up for funds (which is likely, else why consider this), they may be reluctant to take the new funds and use them to maintain and operate the structure -- rather, they'll likely think Hey, found money! You can't do that forever, but as budgetary people like to note, you only have to do it for one budget cycle at a time -- because nobody ever thinks past that. Plus, the new 'owner' may well increase the cost to the user of the function -- as the article notes: "Private investors recoup their money by maximizing revenue — either making the infrastructure better to allow for more cars, for example, or by raising tolls." In that case, the civic leaders are passing the buck, dodging responsibility. That will come back to bite them -- and the city as a whole.

So, do that naming warily, guys.

Rainy Day

...but I like rainy days. They sound peaceful to me -- especially right now, as I can hear the wind gently blowing through the trees, and in the distance, a train whistle. And every so often (we're about a quarter mile from the wetlands), I hear geese.

It also helps that a mechanism we set up to automatically transfer funds from one bank account to another started working this month. I have mentioned to some people that one of the minor irritants of being (pick one) /retired/a useless parasite on society/a kept man/ is that I don't get a paycheck. I'm eligible to draw on retirement funds from EDS and from IBM, as well as other sources, but we're not going to do that for another two to three years. What that means is that I've been transferring funds on an as-needed basis from a money fund that's in the same bank as my checking account. Seeing that money fund slowly wind down has been depressing. It shouldn't have been, because we know where the money's going, and its okay (well, pretty much -- still a tad higher than I'd like) but still. Now, we automatically transfer it, so I don't get hit in the face with it every couple of months. As long as we track where its going, and what this means long-term, we'll be in good shape. And we'd be in better shape if the darn stock market would improve... but I imagine we're not alone in thinking that.

I must say, I was gratified to hear Bill Clinton's speech -- I thought it was strong, urgent, and persuasive -- and, though I did not see it (can it be valid if I did not see it occur?), Hillary Clinton's move to suspend the roll call and select Obama by acclimation was (pick one or both) /a shrewd political move/a gracious gesture/. I liked it. Who knows, maybe the Democratic party will learn to play nice. Maybe.

I made those sacurdos last night. Well, I made something that could be called sacurdos. They really weren't very close to it at all, but they were awfully tasty -- the combination of butter and coarse salt inside the roll was quite nice. I'd try it again -- and who knows, maybe -- maybe -- even use the 'approved recipe'. Wow, what a concept!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kiss N' Ride

First time I ever saw a Kiss N' Ride sign, it was on the DC Metro, and I thought 'What? What the heck is that?' But after a while, it became obvious, and since then, I've seen a fair number of commuters exchanging kisses before one leaves.

But not like this.

Puh-leez, Pelosi

"It's like 'Thanks, madam speaker, you've done quite enough. Please move along,'" an Obama adviser told the Spectator. "She got us stuck on issues that we wanted no part of. She's no master strategist, no matter what she may believe. You may see more of her, but if her mouth is open, what comes out won't be anything that our campaign wants anything to do with."

Yup. When I heard her quip about her grandson meeting Obama, I thought good lord....

Speechifyin

Well, I watched The Speech. Not bad. Not as intense as I would have liked - I would have preferred much more punching at the McCainiacs -- and not as outright supportive of Obama as it could have been -- I noticed that Obama's wife didn't smile very often, though perhaps she's just wiped -- but overall, not bad. I heard it described as 'she did what she came to do', and that's about right.

What was awesome, though, was that preceding speech by the Governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer. I caught it by accident, looking for the start of the Clinton segment, and stayed to watch it. That guy was terrific! A real crowd pleaser - and he was having a good time up there, too. Very cool dude.

Collapsing the Function


From PhD Comics:

Gotcha


Occasionally, people will talk about meeting the right person, and, having done so, how difficult it can be to to keep them.

Here's one solution, found on this site.

Wednesday Already?

There is an old joke about a woman who gives a party and invites a friend to help in the kitchen. While there, she tells her friend that she so much liked a certain dish that the woman had served at her home, she was making it that day. Only, she adds, I didn't have this ingredient, so I used that, and I thought it could use a little of this, so I added it, and... When the meal was served, she announced 'And if you like this, you can that our friend -- its her recipe!'

Well, that's what I'm doing with the sacerdos. I looked at the bread book, and thought 'the thing I liked most about the artisan bread book was how easy the dough was to make' -- so thats the dough I'm using, not the 'Basic Hearth Bread Dough' that the book requires. If it comes out great, I'll be happy. If not -- well, hey, its their recipe. I'm calling it Artisan Sacerdos -- Maybe.

I have yet to see Clinton's speech. Carolyn Ann's comment makes me interested to do so, though I don't like having to plop down in front of the TV just for that purpose. Maybe I'll bring the laptop down there, glancing up every so often at the applause lines, which I gather were many and intense. We have no TV upstairs -- though my daughter would be willing, I'm sure. We do actually have a small portable TV, for roadtrips, but it doesn't play VHS tapes. I guess we're technologically backward. The people who built this house, and lived in it with two parents and six kids in five bedrooms, had TVs everywhere, from the big one in the den to the little one in the kitchen. Even the parents bedroom had a fairly large one. We just don't care for that idea too much. Right about now, though, it'd be nice to be able to stream the program up here while I did other stuff -- open up another window, listen to the audio feed while surfing -- yeah, thats the ticket.

I was surprised this morning to read that a person whose blog I look at fairly often mentioned getting a phone call from someone else who reads that blog. It never occurs to me that people have contacts outside of this medium. Even contacts via email seem odd to me -- wait, is it allowed to do that? There are times that I think my view of whats possible is was too constrained.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Forecast

It's about half an hour till Hillary's speech. I'm betting she'll say 'support Obama' multiple times, and if she mentions the PUMA crowd, I expect she'll smile and say something neutral such as 'we have to work that through, have to get it out of our system, it might be a while'. She will not say to them 'stop what you're doing, quit being disruptive, cease and desist all of that, this is where you need to be, because if you're not, you could elect McCain'. I don't expect any of that kind of rhetoric.

Let's hope I'm wrong, shall we? For the nonce, I'm going to bed.

Untitleable Post

This morning, I bought a new coffee maker.

It was actually supposed to be just a new carafe, but my wife suggested looking around, and after striking out in Macys -- they had lots of big Cuisinart ones, and a few tiny ones, neatly bracketing the size we wanted -- I thought to stop in and poke around at Sears, where, it turned out, they had lots of different kinds (I noted in passing that their Cuisinarts were about $5 less than at Macy's), including a Darth-Vader-Black Mr. Coffee with a timer (who cares), automatic shutoff (oh, good), a thermal carafe to keep the coffee warm after the unit shuts off (useful, though we tend to be of the brew-and-gulp-right-away style of coffee drinkers), and the right capacity (excellent). Plus, the price was decent. So, we're happy.

I also picked up two books about cooking from the libe -- one, The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry, about training at Le Cordon Bleu (which I don't ever want to do), and Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen, which I might try a couple of recipes from, sometime, if I'm feeling adventurous. Also, there's a recipe that I have for Pita Bread that I'd like to try -- I found it on the Sugarlaws blog site. The author's a lawyer, but man, does she know how to cook, and to write. And what she writes about is good, but its also reasonable -- ie, not aimed at hyperfoodies who like to use arcane ingredients in strange ways. Very cool. This site, incidentally, is where I found the recipe for soft pretzels that I liked so much, and now it appears that the pita recipe uses the same dough. Outstanding.

Part of me wants to go for another walk. Another part wants to read one of these books. And up in my forebrain, a little gnome is saying Do whatever you want, but first, we're gonna take a little nap....

Cars and Bikes


Downtime

So that's what Kal and Diana do on the weekend...

DOT?

I have seen things that amazed me, and things that I wish I could expunge from my memory. But never would I have guessed that I would find an article from the US Department of Transportation to be funny.

I should point out that the article is eight years old, and that the current web site for these worthies includes phrases such as this:

The ultimate goal of FHWA’s pavement research and development is to provide performance-based models and tools to facilitate effective management of the national highway infrastructure.

...which has entirely the level of excitement and energy one would have expected. Note that they don't even say 'make pavement last longer', 'make it easier to pave streets', any of that. Their goal is to make it easier to 'measure' and 'manage'. And that, not now, but 'ultimately'. With luck, I guess, before the earth cools.

Ah, bureaucrats.

Michelle Obama

Bindage

I'm not one of those people who adores the physical manifestations of books. Oh, sure, when I came across a reference in an old James Bond novel about having a book rebound, I smiled at the thought - how excellent! - and when I've read of people who do book rebinding as a hobby, I've nodded wistfully - gosh, I wish I was that dexterous! But that's been the extent of it. Whether a book is bound in leather or held together by cheap paperboard, what matters to me most - usually - is the contents.

But these books....

Mawnin!

I'm not saying that we like having coffee of a morning, but when we discovered this morning that the aged glass carafe had bitten the dust, and duct tape wouldn't fix it, this is what we used as a temp vessel de cafe.

Incidentally, real programmers don't write documenttion, but if you blow up the picture, you can see our notes about how to brew the perfect pot.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Notes

Can't believe how irritated I got -- and get, still, a little -- thinking about Hillary. I know, this is Big League Politics, she's way tougher than I will ever be, but man....

I think I need to bake something. Maybe tomorrow, I'll have at those sacerdos....which I know isn't how they're spelled, but right now, I'm tired. I don't want to go look them up.

Hillary, You Bozo

Anyone who says that the people who voted for her, and are at the Democratic convention, should 'make up their own minds' about whether to vote for her or Obama, and that it 'may take a while' to get together in support of the person who won the nomination, is playing dirty pool. I can fully believe that if McCain wins, she'll shed some crocodile tears and say bravely that its time to move on....but if Obama wins, she'll be at the head of the line demanding a big slice of the cake.
==========
Odd way to feel about the person I would have willingly voted for, isn't it?
------------------
And then again, there's this:

Even though Clinton urged party unity, she also pushed the idea that she has more Democratic popular votes, saying that "18 million people voted for me. Eighteen million people, give or take, voted for Barrack."


Tell me she's not trying to pull a fast one....

Unexpected

This morning, the doorbell was rung, and on the stoop was a young woman and a young girl. I opened the door, and the girl said, with a bit of a lisp, that they were from the Watchtower, and would I mind talking to them for a minute? Oh, god, I thought, but the kid was cute, the woman was pleasant, so I said sure. We talked for about two minutes, they gave me some literature, I offered them something cold to drink, and they left. No pressure. No sermons. No intense Have Yew Accepted CHRAST into Your Lahf? In fact, nothing intense at all.

I was quite surprised.

Uncle Jay

This guy does a wonderful job explaining the news.

Signage

The night before the last presidential election, some local scum stole my Kerry yard sign. I was so mad, I darted downtown and gave the local people more money. I knew it wouldn't do much good, that late, but I had to do something. Its possible that they'll do it again this year -- so this time, I'm giving the extra money in advance.

This isn't my yard (found the image here), but its what my front yard currently looks like in one spot, as of today.

Important Date

Today's the day.

Big day. Big Stakes.

First day of High School.

Oh, yeah, and something's happening in Denver.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Answers

...to questions no one asked.

I can go for months without eating graham crackers, and then in two weeks wolf down a box, pretty much by myself. Peanut butter is usually involved.

Even if I have three books in various stages of being read, odds are that if I am reading at dinner, I will reread, once again, a novel that I liked. It's like comfort food. At the moment, it's one of the Vorkosigan novels.

I like blue. The color, not the mood, and the music, only a little.

Okay, thats it for now.

Just A Typical Canadian

Penny for Your...

We had this recipe, from Food and Wine, for dinner. Pretty easy to make, and not at all bad. We did use a half cup of olive oil, rather than a third, as the sundried tomatoes that I got weren't packed in olive oil. Boy, did that add tang to it.

Penne with Triple Tomato Sauce
ingredients
  • 1 pound penne
  • 2 medium tomatoes (5 ounces each), cut into 1-inch dice
  • 4 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 large basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
directions
  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the penne until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the diced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, garlic and olive oil. Puree until smooth. Pour the tomato sauce into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce and toss well to coat. Serve the pasta piping hot.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sacaduros

So I'm looking at some food-related blogs (man, there are a lot of them), and I come across a bread called sacaduros. Looks like fun, but none of the sites actually has a recipe for them. Finally, I find one site that speaks about it in some detail. Still no recipe. But wait, I think, that name sounds familiar. Isn't that the person who wrote the big honkin' bread book that I'm about to give away because it intimidates me? Is it still on the booksale pile thats behind the green chair? So I go and look, and yep, its there, and yep, it has a recipe.

So I guess I'm keeping that book for a while.

Merrygoround

Does it ever seem to anyone that no matter what you want to do, there's a whole community of people who've been doing it for years, and who have firm opinions on how to do it, and oh by the way, you need to do this, and this, and this, first? Like getting on the merry go round after it started?

Driving Myself Crazy

Since I don't have enough opportunities to drive myself crazy these days, I'm going to try to do some major reconstruction on my old PC. If I can, I'm going to

1) take an old drive that's currently formatted into four logical drives and reformat it back into one logical drive
2) install windows onto that drive
3) make that the new boot drive,
4) remove windows from the current boot drive


I know all of this is possible. Whether it's possible for me is a whole nother question. My guess is, somewhere between 1 and 2, I'll render the whole shooting match non-bootable, at which point, I'll go insane. Fortunately, its not a long trip.
----------------------
Update: Who knew the damn Dell people didn't sell the wireless card for an old Dimension desktop any more? Or that XP's DOS doesn't contain the FDISK command any more? Gribble farnit....

More of This and This

I came across a web page that's dedicated to one of those 'home makeovers', and I am impressed. I usually don't see much of an improvement in these things -- yes, its different, but a third of the time, I think the old one looked better than the new one. This time, though.... very nice. Wish I understood colors and decorating better.

Has anyone ever written fan fiction which is as good as the original? I'm betting not.

We were talking this morning about communications and schools. I told my wife that it continually irritates me that I can't fix the problem of communications -- I can't just make it better. How inept am I on this? This inept -- I can't even envision in my mind (where all problems are small and easily addressed) what problem I am trying to solve, and what a solution might look like. But parts of it, yeah -- for example: I want to be able to get a high level picture of what my child is studying at any given time, what the expectations are of the instructor, and how she's doing. (Pause for smirk as I contemplate how well the school does with that expectation). And I want the ability to talk to other parents, who likely have roughly the same expectations and desires about their children. I'm not looking for something magical. (Well, maybe I am.) What I want (insert hand wave here) is some structured way of reaching out to get information, to get reassurance that my kids doing okay, to get resources and support -- not necessarily from the school itself, but somewhere other than the people who make the textbooks, or a 1973 study at the University of Wisconsin about pre-school learning styles (I kid you not, thats the kind of thing half the teachers link to as their 'resources' for their web pages).

Yeah, I guess I AM looking for magic.

Its easy to mock the California legislative enviroment, and I certainly do, but every so often they come up with a law that you'd never think was even necessary, where it not for slime like Cheney and Chertoff. In this case, its 'no implantable RFID chips without your consent'. Course, this assumes that scurvy duo and their reprehensible minions would actually obey the law, which is damned unlikely. Tell me again why the Department of Justice doesn't work for the Judicial branch?

Early Saturday

Perhaps not that early, but I've always been of the opinion that any hour before noon -- certainly, before ten -- is Way Too Early. What's that line from Good Morning, Vietnam -- 'Its oh six hundred -- what does the Oh stand for? Oh My God Its Early'. Yup.

Of course, what can you expect from a day when it turns out that not only did Barack not call -- dammit, I knew I shouldn't have let that telemarketer hang on the phone, but he was calling all the way from Nigeria, which I think is next to Nebraska or possibly Nepal -- but when he did go to his alternate choice, it was Biden. Biden? Isn't he the guy who became briefly well known for making speeches using phrases that were remarkably similar to those from other people? What in the world is he known for? He ran multiple times for President and never got out of the starting gate -- is this just another way to do that? Oh, okay, he's a 'well known authority, been in government since McCain was a youngster of three hundred and fifty' -- but thats supposed to be a good thing? And Obamabiden doesn't exactly roll off the tongue -- it sounds like a slurred German phrase, or perhaps something you'd overhear in an Alabama bus station - Hey, you wanna hush puppy to take on the bus, there, Leroy? Naw, ahm a biden raht fahn, thankew.

Biden. Humph.

What is it with airlines? Now I hear that they're contemplating not just cutting back severely on food service, but charging, and high, for the pittance they do have. This must be some new weird variant of The foods no good and there isn't enough of it -- something like the foods no good and it costs way too much. I was just amazed when I heard that. I'm not an industry insider -- not that being an insider in anything has ever helped me See The Big Picture -- but I would be very surprised if the airline industry was half the size it is now, come two or three years from now. Either that, or they go to planes with no seats at all (wooden benches for first class), and scales at the entry way where they calculate your fare as you get on. That, and planes aimed at the seriously wealthy. Oh, look, they have actual magazines!

Does make you wonder, though. What other common services are so tightly dependent on one commodity?

Two days till school starts. My daughter is due for a melt down. She always has one, two or three days before. The MD will appear to be about something relatively trivial, but what it will actually be is her saying I can't handle this, I don't know what it'll be like, I want to go back to where I was before. It doesn't last, but it's intense when it does. In theory, today she is cleaning up her room and going with her mother to buy some supplies -- the annual Trek To Staples, I don't understand why this can't happen in July. We'll see how far they get.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Don't Call Me

I got some really good news today. Well, okay, I didn't so much get at as infer it, but still --

The word is, Obama's calling the people who didn't make the cut for Vice President.

He hasn't called me. I think the conclusion's pretty obvious.

So please, don't call me (except you, Barack); I don't want the phone tied up.

Once we're in office, it'll be party time at the VP residence!

McCain: The Rich Mans Friend


Found here.

Housing

You know, I like the message of this ad -- my opinion of McCain's worthiness, or lack thereof, is pretty obvious -- but doesn't it seem -- I don't know, amateurish-- to you? The wording of the announcer, the phrasings -- don't seem quite fluent, or graceful, to me. Maybe I'm just being picky.

Musin'

I wonder: does lesbian imagery seem as weird to most women as the male equivalent does to me?

I recall reading a funny article -- it was something like A Guide to Life For the Clueless Guy -- and one of the notes was that regardless of what various porn sites may say, women don't normally take kindly to being propositioned on the street, and people on chat rooms with names like TiteBodyBlonde are very likely to be none of the above. When I read that, I thought well, heck, who doesn't know that? Maybe more than I think. Same thing for this, I expect. The idea that women are more in touch with their sensuality, as rule, might make it more likely that they'd find the imagery stimulating, but I would bet its not all that common. My guess is, most women would think that its a little strange.

Same thing with me and the male equivilent. Can't quite see that. Just seems weird. I remember looking at Playgirl when it first came out, thinking Thats good looking? Man, I SERIOUSLY have no chance with women -- I'm not even close to looking like that. I don't know if the preferred body types have changed, and maybe they're different depending on the target audience. Don't know. That way lies madness, I think. Ditto wondering what's attractive about male erotica. Some things, I'm likely better off not knowing.

I think I'll just stick with what I've got, thank you very much. Sorry, TiteBodyBlonde.

Rocky Road

Yesterday was a long day for my daughter (and all of the other kids in Band Camp) -- about thirteen hours worth, even if they did spend about an hour and a half of it at dinner, eating food brought in by the various parents. Today, last day of camp, we went to pick up the girl we've been bringing in and found that she'd decided not to go to camp today. This is a serious contravention of their rules, and guaranteed to torque off the woman who runs the color guard, bringing her ire down on the messenger. And guess who the messenger will be?

I learned that the stint at the polls will be paid (yay -- I get to file an income tax form for this year after all, I'm so glad). Payment is the munificent rate of one hundred fifteen dollars for the day -- which lasts from 6:30 AM to 8 PM. Which puts it somewhere south of what I could make flippin' burgers. Its okay -- I've wanted to do it for some time. It will be another opportunity for me to find out that what looks easy from the outside is not, from the inside. Last night I was at a band booster meeting -- not nearly as contentious as the last one -- and at one point I was listening to the woman who runs it, thinking 'well, heck, I could do that'. And then I thought ' Maybe...but don't bet your socks on it. '

I am really tired today, for some reason. Been a rocky morning. Had to make two round trips to the school. And whenever I think about politics, I get agitated. Maybe I'll take a nap. One of the benefits of being retired.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Interesting Day

This morning, I went through the high school orientation with my daughter. I had promised her that I would not sit near her, and I didn't, but to my surprise, when they went to do the abbreviated tour of the classrooms they'd be using starting on Monday, she asked me to come along, so I did. Most of the classes were not surprising, but two -- French and Science -- scared me. The instructor in French is from France, and she spoke for twenty seconds in fluent French to the class -- most of whom, my daughter included, didn't get it. She seemed surprised at that. And the Science instructor -- oh, my lord. He said it was a fast, intense course, and they'd likely think that their text was a college text. My daughter likes science, but she likes middle school science. This is a whole nother ball of wax.

I learned that I'm going to be a supervisor at one of our local polling places, come next election. In fact, the supervisor.

And my wife learned today that yet another person has been laid off from her group. So far as they know, this was a drive-by firing, no reason, of a guy who was good at his job and well-regarded. You can just imagine what this does for her mood. Ah, EDS, whatever happened to your employee-oriented-ethic? Dead and buried these many years, I expect.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wallpaper

This may be the most perplexing wallpaper I have ever seen.

The Knack

I lifted this from Angineer's site. I think its wonderful.

Not as Geeky As I Wanna Be

Here's how geeky I like to think I am (I'm not, but I wish I were): The newsletter from the MIT Open Course network arrived, and just seeing some of the titles made me smile --

Interesting Reading

Came across a couple of interesting articles recently.

One was on this person's site where she says, in summary, that the Olympics ought to be accessible in a user-driven format. Want to continue to watch the guys in the middle of the pack on a sprint? Select the camera that has that. Want to watch that finish line crossing again? Replay. Charge for these amenities if you want, but exploit the net and what we know is possible. And for gods sake, ditch the commentators whose sole role appears to be to restate the obvious. Hey, did you hear that the kid who sang the opening was lipsynching?

Another was on the Rolling Stone site, listing how the Democrats can blow this presidental election. I was dismayed to see that it was written by Michael Moore, as I consider him to be a bit of a loon, but what he said made sense to me. If any party could blow it, you know the Democrats would. What was that old line about 'couldn't get laid if he walked into a women's prison with a fistful of pardons'? That's the Dems.

This article, from Network World, laid out how social networking was effective in efforts in New Orleans "to highlight how residents in a handful of the hardest-hit neighborhoods used ingenuity, creativity, digital cameras, Flickr, WordPress, Google Maps and Yahoo Groups to bend rebuilding efforts to the will of the people and away from the wrecking balls swung by city government. " Ingenious.

One of the people who's nice enough to read this blog took my mention of making waffles and did something marvelous with it. Would that I could have done half as well -- I was very impressed.

Thanks, H.

Not to say that the McCain folks wouldn't have come up with this on their own, but what some folks forecasted during the Obama-Clinton fight has come to pass: McCain's people noted what worked against Obama when Clinton did it, and they're using it now -- specifically, arguing that McCain has greater foreign policy experience.

Thanks, Hillary.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

McBush

Identity Theft

According to Scientific American, stealing someone's identify, and getting access to their bank account, isn't all that difficult.

London? Um...Perhaps Not

Perhaps traveling to London might not be all that great an idea....any time soon. Pity.

Emily



If you want to meet the speaker... you'll have to be a piece of software, too.
http://blogs.pcworld.com/gameon/archives/007483.html

Worried Democrats

I heard that some Democrats were getting worried, and I thought how can that be, when Obama is so far ahead?

And then I saw this, and this.

How can people -- presumably intelligent, presumably coherent -- make that choice? Do they LIKE the way things are going? Do they really not see how McCain is Four More Years of Bush's war policies, his economic policies, his spying policies? Do they honestly think that doing things the same way will make their lives better? Do they honestly believe that cutting taxes for the rich will help them? Do they really not understand that honorable service in the military, or time spent in wretched confinement as a prisoner of war, does not automatically translate to capability in politics? Does youth and energy and intelligence scare them more now than it did when Kennedy ran for office?

Good god. Obama's not perfect, but he's so much better, in so many ways -- how can they not see that?
============
Update: I need to understand my blind spots better, I think.

Frozen Video

From Reuters:

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadians who may have become tired of being passed over as porn stars will have a new, home-grown outlet to showcase their erotic talents. Federal regulators have granted Alberta-based Real Productions approval to launch a new digital pornography channel, which promises to serve up at least 50 percent domestic content.

How will they verify the fifty percent? All performers have to speak knowledgeably about hockey, or know what a loonie is, or have a strategically placed maple leaf tat?

Breezy Morning

Waffles again. Once again, the batter rose overnight, and as a direct result, they're getting lighter. Still crisp on the outside, but now lighter on the inside. I like it. May modify that recipe to say 'make half; and make it the day before'. As this is kind of a bread, based on the way that it is rising, I don't want to keep the dough around forever.




I was a little surprised not to get any remarks about my comment regarding Obama's race. I know that its a touchy subject, and that we are no where near being able to handle it casually (I won't say 'rationally'. On my best days, maybe) in conversation. But I did wonder what others thought. I specifically put the comment in there about diction because thats a trigger point. People key to it. Some time ago, I said something to the effect that white people feel easier around him because he doesn't sound prototypically black, and I got gently slapped. I was sorry to have triggered that, but I thought it worth mentioning. I think that for older black politicians, blackness is a major part of what they're selling (at least in public). With Obama, it's not. Of course, I would bet there are people who feel exactly the inverse - that, ceteris paribus, they will trust a person whose blackness informs his personality and his politics more than they will trust a white person of the same personality and politics. These people will be wary of someone who appears to be black but doesn't act in the traditional ways.

I heard the other day that in thirty or forty years, the US will be uch more multiracial. I wonder if we will get to a point where 'pure white', if I can use that descriptor, becomes a liability. I'd bet yes -- and sooner than that, too. I kind of like that idea. I won't say that the era of Old White Guy government is ending, but maybe, just a bit, yes. Both Obama and Clinton can take credit for that.

And now to go on a walk. Its cool.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Two Faces of China


Found here

PostNote

I haven't been posting too much of late, mostly because I've been very, very busy. At least, that's the story.

But I did learn something important today. If you are microwaving popcorn, and walk away while the microwave is running, its a good idea to be very sure that the machine's set for the amount of popcorn in the bag, and not, say, for a much bigger bag, which will make it run much longer than it really should have.

Also, opening doors and windows is a good way to get rid of a stench. I'm just saying.

Oh, The Drama

Olympic secret takes NBC by surprise.

Dreams and Reality

From a New York Times web article about the content and format of the Democratic convention:

People familiar with the convention planning say those references will be front and center, beginning with the opening speech by Mrs. Obama, in an effort to capitalize on what one strategist called Mr. Obama’s “prototypical nuclear family.”

“Opening up, it says, ‘We will be your first family, and this is what we represent,’ ” said Representative Elijah E. Cummings, Democrat of Maryland and the co-chairman of Mr. Obama’s campaign in that state. “Basically what she is doing is saying: ‘We are the American story. Americans say get an education, give every single thing you do your best — we’ve done that, and now we’re ready to be a part of fulfilling Martin Luther King’s dream.’ ”

Campaign aides and outside advisers, however, have grappled with how far convention speakers, including the candidate himself, should go in explicitly addressing race and the historic nature of his candidacy, particularly as Mr. Obama accepts the nomination on the 45th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech.

I flinched when I read the end of that second paragraph, and based on the third, I wasn't the only one. I don't think they should wave that flag.

Obama is not racially threatening to most white people because his race isn't a prominent part of who he is. His intelligence, his vision, even his style of clothing speak more loudly than his genetic background. I'm sure that there are those who would prefer it be as upfront and center as his diction. I'm not one of them.

Waffling

I pulled out the remaining batter from those Belgian Waffles, this morning, and was surprised to see that the bowl which had been about two thirds full was now full. It collapsed after stirring, resulting in a fairly dense batter which smelled like bread while being cooked. The flavor seemed a bit richer, too.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Aha!


Found here.

The Talk

In one week, my daughter will start high school. And that means that it's time for The Talk. No, not that one. That one, I could handle. I was ready for it, I'd thought about it, I was calm and straightforward. And it turned out she pretty much knew most of it, at least in round numbers.

No, this is the one where I say that I know that high school is harder than middle school, and its going to be a more work -- not as much as the guidance counselor and principal would like us to believe, but not as little as my daughter would like us to believe. And though we know that we need to encourage her to Take Responsibility for How She Does, we also know that given the chance she will cut herself more slack than we'd like, so we want to Be Involved, but without Being Involved All The Damn Time. Which doesn't work anyway, because Those Idiots At The School seem to honestly believe that saying Tell Them To Let You See Their Agenda Book and Copies of Tests will be enough. Which it isn't, not by a long shot. So we want to know that she's trying hard, but its got to be By Our Standards, though we know that we of course want it to be by Her standards, as long as, you know, they're the same as Our standards.

A friend says her daughter will beat herself up if she isn't doing as well as she thinks she ought to. My response was Can we get some of that DNA?

I am so not looking forward to this conversation, because I know its going to be difficult to pull off effectively.

Red?

Now, this is a Red Riding Hood I can believe in.....

Stepping

While I was at my mother-in-law's house this weekend, I walked up and down the stairs. At first, just up and down the last three, and then, later, all the way up, and -- slowly, slowly -- all the way down, past the point where I'd fallen. And I learned something.

When I stand on one of our stair treads, with my foot pressed all the way back, the tips of my toes hang over the edge of the tread, just barely.

When I stand on one of those stair treads, my foot pressed all the way back, the front third of my foot hangs over the edge.

Coupled with the steep slope of the stairs, and the low handrail at the top -- I never really noticed before that I have to lean over the top step to grasp it as I start to come down -- it's quite a combination. And at times - say, the morning of the day after Christmas, before dawn, when you just want to get downstairs to use the bathroom so you can get back to bed, and you're more than a little sleepy -- it can send you to the hospital.

================
The tiramisu turned out well. I'm trying to convince myself not to eat the leftovers. The chocolate chip cookies, I can give away. The brownies, I think I can freeze. But the tiramisu -- it calls to me..... even if I didn't master how to shave slivers of chocolate for the topping.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Some Notes

Road trip today. Pack up the babies, grab the old ladies.....

Am I the only person who goes to leave a comment on a blog, finds that fifty-three people have already commented, and simultaneously thinks well, hell, whatever I have to say won't get noticed in the slightest, and holy hell, I don't get that many comments in a month! Does this indicate some deep seated neurosis? Don't answer that.

This guy
says some smart, interesting things. Amazing part is, he's a doctor who doesn't seem to think he's the improved version of God, and though he does mention it on occasion, doesn't seem bent on showing why every damn thing you do is just the worst possible thing for your health that you could be doing. And he's into computerization of medical offices, which is one of my hot buttons.

Battered

This morning, I made waffles, using a recipe I found in Food and Wine magazine. Not bad. I think I'd have liked it a bit sweeter, so if I make it again (its a little bit of work, and hey, the just-add-water mix works just fine), I'll either up the amount of sugar or put the chocolate chips in. Or, since I didn't make the chocolate sauce, or do the bit with the confectioners sugar, I could do that.

Classic Belgian Waffles

* 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
* 1 cup warm water
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 cup whole milk
* 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
* 2 large eggs, separated
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
* Belgian Chocolate-Fudge Sauce, for serving

1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. In a large bowl, stir the flour with the salt. Whisk in the yeast mixture, milk, butter, egg yolks and vanilla until smooth.
2. In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold them into the batter and let stand for 20 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 225°. Heat and grease a waffle iron. Pour 1 1/4 cups of the batter into the iron and cook until the waffles are golden, 6 minutes. Transfer the waffles to the oven. Repeat with the remaining batter. Dust the waffles with confectioners’ sugar, drizzle with the Belgian Chocolate-Fudge Sauce and serve.

Belgian Chocolate-Fudge Sauce


* 1 cup heavy cream
* 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
* 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
*

1. In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Let stand for 2 minutes, then stir until the chocolate is melted. Add the confectioners’ sugar and whisk until smooth.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Maximally Cool


Found here.

The Dog Ate My....

...homework? Better hope you don't go to school in Houston, Texas. Some of the teachers there are packing heat. Legally.

Grabbity

The Gravity Chair.

I want to see a non-gymnast get into and out of it.

Without incurring bruises, would be nice.


Found here.

My Hero

Pix'd

Every so often you see a combination of pictures and sound that makes you wonder why you ever even take the lens cover off.

Like this.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pawlitics

According to one site, Clinton didn't want the roll call vote, Obama did, so as to prove that he has done all he could to enshrine Clinton's valiant but futile effort.

According to another, Clinton did want the roll call vote, and Obama was forced to go along with it.

Ah, politics.

Tinkering

While we were out for a walk last night, my wife and I talked a little bit about economics and the economy.

I told her that though I didn't like to admit it, I really don't know what makes the economy work. I didn't mean that I didn't understand the big picture concepts, but that I didn't really understand -- even at a macro level -- how you evaluate how an economy is doing, and what to do if it isn't doing well. I just have this gut feeling that there are very bright people who can argue any side of the question, so that either they agree on how things are, but totally and vigorously disagree on how we got there and what to do now, or they agree on what we ought to do but not on how to do it. Its almost, I thought, like religion -- you sign onto a packet of beliefs into which you don't look too closely, and so long as you dammit don't look behind that curtain!!! don't try to mess with it just leave it the hell alone and sit down!!!! or try to make it do different things, you're fine.

Of course, that isn't acceptable when things are going to hell in a warp-drive-enabled hand basket. You've got to do something. You just don't necessarily know what. There are always advisers -- calm, reasonable, thoughtful people who say confidently what you must do, what the effect of doing it will be. And sometimes they're even right. But sometimes they're drastically wrong. So the best thing is to tinker just a little bit, and then look to see if things are better. And hope to hell you didn't make it worse.

When I was a performance guy, I was watching a computer system run once. It was having problems, so I told the operator to do a couple of things. Ten minutes later, things had improved, so I told him to undo what he'd done -- and he said, surprised, that he'd forgotten to do them. Here I was, thinking Oh, I fixed it, I am smart, and I hadn't done a damn thing. I didn't really understand the system at all.

Sometimes, I think that economists are like that.

Quantum weirdness wins again

Scientific American says so.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Rumble

There's a thunderstorm passing through the area. Every so often we hear what could be rain, lashing against the house, but it's very brief. Too bad -- we could use the rain. At least it's relatively cool -- about five to ten degrees less than normal. In two days, we'll be about two hours north of here, attending my wife's family's reunion, and that seems to be a blistering hot day, three times out of five. One is rainy, and one's nice. We'll be staying in a hotel, partially because the house (its pretty small) will be very crowded, and partially because I'm still just a little on edge about those stairs. I told my wife that while I don't routinely hold onto handrails these days, I notice that I usually stop and glance to see where they are. She told me that she tends to carry things in the hand that's away from the railing, for the same reason.

Yesterday was my big baking day -- not all that big, I suppose; I made about four dozen cookies, which sounds like a lot, but it wasn't all that big a deal. Three of those will go into the high school tomorrow as a snack, and I'll also be making mac and cheese -- home made, using the recipe that's worked very well for us every time I've made it. We really like it. Though I have to admit, if you like the standard Kraft Mac and Cheese, you might find ours a little more aggressive. If you'd had the cheese the last time I made it, you would really have thought it aggressive, as there were little shards of glass in it from when the tray exploded on me. Tomorrow, I'll be cooking in two aluminum foil pans -- cheap ones, so that I can leave them at school. We're supposed to have leftovers tomorrow night, but what with this and that, we're really just about out of them. I may bump the schedule up and make a grocery run tomorrow. I've a hankering for Taco Salad again. We had some this week and it was really good. I suppose if we had it every week, I'd get tired, but not so far. Its easy and tasty.

I've been reading Team of Rivals again. I had gotten into it about eight months ago but only read about three chapters before starting to lose track of who was who, where they were from, all of that. I'm reading more slowly this time, and making little notes in the book and on an index card. I am enjoying it. Also glancing through the copy of Understanding Baking that my mother gave me for my birthday. I like that book. Its both reasonable and, in a bakerly way, inspirational.

Speaking of inspiration -- when (and if) we put the room over the garage, we're thinking maybe we'll put solar panels there. If they can be used as a secondary power source to charge the hybrid van we hope to get around the same time....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

If Only

The title of this web page is 'If Only'. Yeah..... Maybe after January. Maybe.

Separated At Birth

Monday, August 11, 2008

Persistance? Or Idiocy?

From SFGate:

"A determined crowd of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's delegates - preparing to head to the Democratic Party's national convention in Denver - have begun gathering signatures to ensure her name is placed into nomination, insisting their effort won't take spotlight off presumed Democratic nominee Barack Obama."

Uh - huh.

High School Chill

Thats the one I feel, thinking about my daughter, starting in about a month. She's a good kid, she tries, but she's no rocket scientist unless she's interested. And she does like to cut herself slack.

So this article was of interest.

P-Switch

Missing

Oddly enough, I didn't see a single Prius in this list.

Smart Punks

You've heard of Smart Mobs. They're a manifestiation of semi-self-organizing behavior. They're interesting. But then there's Smart Punks. These guys -- the people who say they've hacked the security protocols used by the Boston-area transit system, and now want to tell the world how to do it. They're Smart Punks.

Smart, because they've obviously got intelligence, enthusiasm, and energy.

And Punks, because they hide, smirking, behind a veneer of hey, we just wanted to help when they're publicizing things that really ought to be kept secret

Smart Punks use their intelligence in malign ways, to the detriment of society. Not just these punks, of course -- there are others doing equally vile things, such as the ones who discovered and publicized a way to remotely hack into the software used by pacemakers, thus giving the ability to remotely alter the functioning of the device. The worst of it is, somewhere down the line, punks like these'll be praised by corporate america when they sell out, mouthing platitudes about their misspent youth and how they've now seen the light.

I suppose that at one time I'd have liked to be them. Certainly, even now, I'd like to have their skills. But not so much, any more. I think it's called maturity -- though I imagine they have some sneering term for it.

Crumby

If you like to think about bread baking (in a mild way, not an obsessively focused make-ten-thousand-loaves kind of way), this page might be of interest.

Oddly enough, none of their stores are in Pennsylvania. Or anywhere east of, say, Nevada, for that matter....

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Curve


From Abtruse Goose:

Orderin

I mention on occasion being impressed by people who can extrapolate from current conditions to what if we sold it this way. Here's an example, from today's New York Times.

For people who go to a hotel with limited food availability, plus, naturally, Pizza Hut or Dominos, and are looking for alternatives, there's a company called Order Inn that contracts with reputable local restaurants to sell and deliver food to the hotel. You call an 800 number, place your order from a laminated menu supplied to the hotel. It's promised to arrive in about the time that a pizza would take, and the fare ranges from sandwiches to steaks.

Now, there's a good idea.

The Count

Waffling

This morning, halfway through the recipe I was trying for Belgian Waffles, I turned to my wife and said "This is why this recipe comes from a professional chef. He has a prep cook, and he has lots of dishes." The recipe looks pretty good, but its a lot of work. Perhaps you need Emeril's touch....

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/classic-belgian-waffles-recipe/

Belgian Waffles

2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, separated
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups milk
non-stick cooking spray

Preheat the waffle iron according to the manufacturer's instructions.
In 1 medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a second bowl use the wooden spoon to beat together the egg yolks and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved and eggs have turned a pale yellow.
Add the vanilla extract, melted butter, and milk to the eggs and whisk to combine.
Combine the egg-milk mixture with the flour mixture and whisk just until blended. Do not over mix!
In third bowl, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 1 minute.
Using the rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the waffle batter. Do not overmix!
Coat the waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray and pour enough batter in iron to just cover waffle grid.
Close and cook as per manufacturer's instructions until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Serve immediately.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

McBush Again...and Again...and...

Live in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia or Wisconsin? You might find the comments of these guys regarding the current McCain political ads to be of interest

Rope a Dope

I just read an interesting article from Seed Magazine on some research being done on the way that the brain evaluates alternatives.

The article's based on the work of a fellow named Read Montague, and what it says, boiled down, is that the brain uses a substance called dopamine to tell itself to expect a pleasurable reward. It's along the lines of bells and the Pavlovian response. Based on that research, he says that the brain uses the same technique to create what-if scenarios to evaluate the probable result of alternate actions to prior events -- for example, what if I had invested ten thousand dollars instead of one thousand; what if I'd dated this girl instead of that one. An extension of that concept is evaluation of real-time what-if scenarios -- what if this person is lying to me, what if that light turns red just before I get there.

I don't agree with all of the conclusions -- the writeup of how the ability to create what-if scenarios leads to financial bubbles seems implausible to me -- but it's an fun read. I'm always impressed by people who can do this kind of extrapolation.

Bush League

From the Reuters Site --

U.S. President George W. Bush playfully pats the backside of U.S. Women's Beach Volleyball team player Misty May-Treanor (L) at her invitation while visiting the Chaoyang Park Beach Volleyball Grounds at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China, August 9, 2008. Team mate Kerri Walsh (R) watches.


What. A. Bozo.

Dreams

Weird dreams last night.

Part of them, I was some kind of babysitter, or nanny, but the family had really no need of one. The biggest single thing I remember was going to their refrigerator to get my cell phone -- doesn't everyone keep their cell phone in the freezer to preserve the batteries? Inside an ice-cube tray that seals with a blue plastic lid? Phone and all? -- and being amazed at the Tardis-like size of their freezer -- so big that I couldn't easily reach the back of it.

And then there was a desolate city that had been through some kind of Armageddon, possibly still going on -- a dangerous place, with crumbled buildings here and roaming feral animals there -- wondering how I was ever going to get this college registration done.

I've really got to stop eating popcicles and anchovies before going to sleep!

You'd think I'd at least dream about the woman I saw at the supermarket yesterday -- as I told my wife, I'd never actually seen someone befoe with Daisy Dukes so tight they appeared to have been tattooed on her butt -- bringing the old joke to mind about the guy in the bar meeting the woman in the skintight leather pants --but noooo.....

Friday, August 08, 2008

Retiring

I got a call today from a friend who was just offered the opportunity to retire three years before he'd planned to do so. His company would pay for his health care for those three years, and compute his pension now as if he'd worked for three more years. He wanted our opinion as to whether he should do it.

We wasted no time in telling him that this was a good idea, and he said that was what most people told him -- though we were the only people that he knew had actually done it. We said that he should be sure his income stream was up to leaving early, and he replied that, like us, he has a spreadsheet that goes out several decades. Based on his current assumptions, and the fact that he'll have a military pension, a pension from his wife's estate, Social Security, and his 401(k), he should be fine. In fact, he thinks he might not even have to touch the 401(k) for at least twenty years.

My golly.

Not Bill


This isn't me --but it could have been. That's where I used to work. Found here.

Not Bill 2


This isn't me, either...but it could be, if my financial hobgoblins pan out.

Found here.

Friday Chillout

And it really is, too -- the temp feels as if it's in the high sixties right now, and the sky's cloudless and bleu. This is gorgeous weather. Last night, instead of the AC, we ran the house fan for a while. What a terrific feeling to have the air rushing through the room. When we have the room put in over the garage, extending from the current bedroom, one of the absolute standards for it will be cross-ventilation -- windows on either side (unlike our current bedroom, which has just the one window). In fact, before we had the idea of putting in the room, one thought was simply to add windows to the far wall -- casement, most likely, as the view would have been of the garage roof. Not too pretty. But this will be nice - elevator from the storage room up into the current bedroom, which will take up about a fifth of the room, perhaps less; then two walk-in closets, and a closet extension in that room but connected to the next bedroom (my daughter heard about this, said 'More closet space for me! Go for it!'), and then, in the far wall (which makes it sound oh-so-many miles away; no, its just a 13x15 room), the doorway into the new room. There's a lot of details that we need to work out, but thats the plan. Going to be nice.

I hear the trash guys. I don't imagine that their job can ever be fun, but on days like this, with this weather, I imagine its not too bad. I occasionally think of going out there on a hot day with something cool for them to drink. Never do it though -- by the time that the thought has formed, they're already off to the next set of houses.

Last night my daughter called me into her room so that she could read me a user-written story she'd found. I stood there, studiously ignoring the disaster area around her bed, while she read it to me, because though neatness and order is something I value, her taking the time to share stuff with me is important, too. I'll mention the clutter today -- or perhaps tomorrow. She has a plan to move her desk into her room (its currently in the living room), putting it where her guinea pig's cage had been. That's fine with me, but she also wants to move the in-the-wall shelves. Not too sure about that -- its a fair amount of work. Perhaps this will be an opportunity to show her how to do it -- and let her do it. I'm a big believer in exposing girls to that kind of thing. When I was growing up, girls didn't routinely get exposed to working with their hands. I know they do now -- her Tech Ed classes showed me that -- but still, I like to encourage it. Though I have to enlarge her horizons carefully -- the other day I mentioned to my daughter that there are web sites where you can look for urban myths -- she'd gotten forwarded an email with one -- and I barely got the statement out before she was stopping me. Its a balancing act. I find that with my daughter, it works best --- usually --- to just mention the idea, and let her pick up on it if she's interested.

Got some of the challah dough thawing on the counter -- I've been asked for a remake. And in a week, on one day, I will be making both two trays of mac and cheese, and three dozen (!) cookies for band camp. I saw the list of people baking for it -- and I'm the only guy on the list. Odd feeling.

And thats it for now, I think.