Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sorry For Light Posting
Blogger has been in the process of giving me shite about my login which was correct after all. When I click the "remember me on this computer" button, believe me that I want you to remember me on this computer and not plague me with having to log in. Dammit. Sorry. Intemperate language. But I want the blogging to be a smooth operation, like girls around Elvis, all buttery.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Can't Escape Foodblogging These Days
I made Chinese dumplings for dinner - based on ground turkey this time. It's insanely good for something that has little flavor usually. I used nuc mam (or however that Vietnamese fish sauce is spelled) and plenty o' ginger. I considered using a blob of miso to juice up the flavor and I will try it on a future batch. It wasn't really needed.
I also did a little Googling and found that a dumpling recipe at epicurious included blanched bok choy. I could try that. It would add some veg to the dumpling. That can't be a bad thing.
Bottom line is that ground turkey works just fine as a meat base for those who're concerned with the fat in ground pork and ground beef. Roll with it, baby, roll with it.
Plus, I shared my white peach sorbet with my next door neighbors who then shared their Kahlua cake with me. Mmm! Chocolate and coffee.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

My LOLcat
Insty links to this post at The Speculist about a cat who cuddles up to nursing home patients who are about to die. The Speculists's point: "Not to go all Occam's Razor or anything, but has it occurred to anyone to ask whether this cat might be somehow killing these people?" And there's a picture which leads to the necessary Photoshopping....
One Project Finished
I now have all my Mike Cross music in iTunes. His first three discs, "Child Prodigy," "Born In The Country," and "Rock 'n' Rye" are no longer available on CD or in the iTunes music store. But I have the vinyl. And I have the USB turntable. I have finally digitized all the music from those three discs and plunked the songs in my iTunes library. I am quite pleased with myself.
By the by, if you follow the link, the website has a discography page and each disc has samples. Please go, give him a listen. Even the samples are a good way to be introduced to his remarkable talent.
The TdF Becomes WTF
Michael Rasmussen, Dane, leader of the Rabobank team, holder of the yellow jersey, winner of yesterday's stage in an epic climb and battle with Discovery team riders Levi Leipheimer and Alberto Contador is out of the race. His team dropped out as well. And the strong French team Cofidis has dropped out too. Rasmussen's sin, as it appears is lying to his team about his training. He said he was in ... well, let me snip a graf from Phil Ligget's report at the Versus site:
His team manager, Theo de Rooy, said that Rasmussen had told him he had been in Mexico with his wife. We all know now that Rasmussen has been seen training in the Dolomite Mountains in Italy. The team then withdrew because of the Code of Ethics, which is now agreed within professional teams.
Cofidis withdrew after one of its riders tested positive for synthetic testosterone which is the substance that's thrown Floyd Landis's win last year into limbo.
I have enjoyed watching this Tour but it is becoming a tour of sadness after all these rider DQs and team withdrawals. Astana, Rabobank, Cofidis. These are serious teams. Rabobank has been doing a superb job pulling the peloton for Rasmussen's wins. And his outright win in yesterday's stage after being challenged repeatedly by Contador and Leipheimer on the final climb to the summit of Col d'Aubisque was incredible - a masterpiece of climbing. Of course Rasmussen has been "King of the Mountains" for the last two years so his climbing ability is no surprise. Still, it was a brilliant stage win.
And now all that riding is in ashes. How sad.
What now? Best of luck to Leipheimer and Contador, both are in position for a Tour victory. But it will be well-nigh impossible to call a win in this year's Tour a good win. Let's hope that the riders now really understand that the doping testing will catch them. I think next year we may well see the cleanest ride in modern Tour history. If not, we will see the start of the decline of the TdF as a major event. Tour of Georgia, anyone?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wherein I Share My Waste Of Time
In the latest issue of "Forbes" magazine, a one page has this text followed by 100 numbers: "Dear Ketel One Drinker Can you make one hundred words, of four letters or more, from the letters in Ketel One Vodka?" Well, I ain't no Ketel One drinker but what the hey. Here's my list divvied roughly by initial letter:
alone, advent, ante, ankle, anklet, anode
denote, dove, done, date, dank, dent, dental, dole, dolt, deal, dealt, delete, donate, dale, devote, dean, delve
eked, even, event, evoke/d, elate
keel, ketone, kale, keen, keno, kook, knot, knee, kneel
leak/ed, love/d, lone, lake, loan, leek, lean/ed, lent, load, laden, look, loon, lead, leaden, loot/ed, lode, lane, lateen, leave, leaven, late, lend
neat, needle, noel, note, naked, node, nodal, nook, novel
oaken, onto, oven
take, tone/d, toke/d, teen, tank/ed, token, taken, tale, talon, tend, told, toed, took, talk/ed, teal, tool/ed, toad, teed, teak
vote/d, veto/ed, volt, vane, venal, vent/ed, veldt, vole, vale
I think that's 101 words counting the "d" or "ed" forms as one word. I'm embarrassed that I couldn't come up with more words longer than four letters but it was fairly agonizing getting the last five or so. I took at a rule that only the letters that appear in "ketel one vodka" were fair game - no repeats except such letters as were already repeated (e.g. "e"). No proper nouns, no foreign words and only such words as the mind found. No online anagramatic help. Please add to the list. I'd like to see more words that start with "o" and, of course, more long words.
After Action Report: White Peach Sorbet
Oh yes. Every bit as good as I expected. When it comes straight out of the freezer, it's hard and lacking in nuance. But let it sit for about 15 minutes and it softens up and becomes utterly fantastic. And the ginger flavor is beyond subtle. It lingers as an aftertaste that's not peach but unless you know what it is, you probably couldn't figure out. I'll use more in the next batch. I want the ginger flavor to be a top note but identifiable, not as subtle as it is in this first attempt.
Still, my very good friend who taught me how to make Chinese dumplings and who loves to 'speriment with ice cream gives the effort a "10." I'll take it. And make it better.
I'm also going to buy pear sauce (think applesauce but with pears) at Trader Joe's and see if I can't turn that into a sorbet as well. This is turning into the summer of sorbets.
In The News
Perhaps "all over the news" might be a more apt title. I refer, of course, to celebutard Lindsay Lohan who was arrested for DUI and cocaine possession. I won't get into the whole sordid situation other than to note that post-rehab she was wearing an "alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet." Yeah, I have a response: What?!
How do they figure she drinks? One foot in a keg, the other in a Jimmy Chu? Honestly, what possible effect could an alcohol-monitoring anklet have? It would be about as effective as a penis-monitoring necklace on Paris Hilton. No. Sorry. My mistake. That
probably would be pretty effective.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

More Foodblogging
Have you tried the stroopwafel? If you have you know what I mean when I say that this is a cookie to die for. In my life I've known a few cookies that are just transcendent: "hermits" (made from a recipe given my mother by a friend of hers), the white chocolate/macadamia nut cookies at Costco (bastards!) and the stroopwafel. I offer my complete and utter thanks to the XMBD NMSE who introduced me to these little slices of heaven. Her European background comes in to my benefit in
this instance.
The stroopwafel ("caramel wafer" or "syrup waffle") is a sandwich cookie of sorts. Click the link above for some more detail. I'll just say that it's chewy, sweet as a cookie could be and rich, rich, rich. For a real treat, grab yourself a cuppa hot joe (or tea or chai latte or ...), put the stroopwafel atop your mug and let the heat of the drink warm and soften the cookie. Munch and sip. Munch and sip. (geicolizard) Ooooh that's the thing. (/geicolizard)
Here is a recipe with some history. I have no pizzelle iron so I'm going to have to content myself with just buying them. Trader Joe's carries them in full size sometimes and has bags of smaller versions as well. What is truly shocking to me though, and the genesis of this post by the way, is that the coffee pushers over at Gevalia are offering sugar free versions of this ambrosial delight.Sugar free! Seems almost sacreligious. Not to mention, in the Gevalia tradition, going for about a dollar a cookie. Ouch. I think I'll hew to the welcoming bosom of Trader Joe's.
If you'll stay tuned to PoW, I'll dig up the recipe for hermits and post that down the road a bit. Cheers!
Sad TdF News On A Rest Day
David Millar, a Brit who rides for the Saunier-Duval and one who has been caught up in past doping problems, says something with which I completely and utterly agree: "I just feel like crying right now." The news which brings these feelings is that Kazakh rider Alexandre Vinokourov whom I've mentioned in prior posts, has tested positive for homologous blood in his system or of "blood doping." A blood doping rider has his own blood taken and frozen prior to a race and then has that blood put back into his system during the ride. It increases the amount of hemoglobin in the stream and thus his oxygen carrying capacity. Personally, this is probably the sole "doping" that I have little trouble with. But my feelings are of no moment in this. It's against the rules and can be discovered. Which makes Vino's actions very hard to fathom.
Vinokourov, again as I've mentioned before rides for the Astana team which "has withdrawn at the invitation of the organizers" as the Versus site delicately puts it. Astana was a seriously strong team in this year's Tour. Two riders (Vino and German Andréas Klöden) were serious contenders for the win and Klöden was sitting in fifth place overall at the withdrawal of Astana. Both riders suffered a bad accident in one of the early stages which commentators thought might have taken them out of contention. Instead both fought their way back into the mix. Klöden in fifth place and Vino winning the Stage 13 time trial by nearly a minute and a quarter. Then Vino cracked in Stage 14 and speculation was that he might be done. After all, he is carrying something like 40 stitches from his crash. But then, reminiscent of Floyd Landis last year, blazed out of the starting gate in State 15 and lead nearly the whole stage picking up nearly a minute over the second place finisher.
All this high drama (and I mean that sincerely - this Tour has been wonderfully dramatic) is hurt by this. I still would prefer to see Levi Leipheimer (US - Discovery team) win but the underdog supporter in me was hoping Vino might take an historic win. O tempora, o mores!
But the Tour is not destroyed. There are still great stories: Fabian Cancellara (Swiss - Team CSC) taking the yellow at the start and holding it for several days. He's now over two and a half hours back in 117th place but he held yellow and that's something. The emergence of Spanish rider Alberto Contador (Discovery team) now in second place and holding the white jersey of the best young rider in the tour. He is a brilliant climber and has the charisma (provided he learns English) to be a Lance-like star. It doesn't hurt to be a rider for "the" US team. And finally, the gutty riding of Danish race leader Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) who, having taken the yellow jersey has simply refused to relinquish it. He is not a great time trialist but has fought young Contador to the finish on two Pyreneean stages. He's kind of freaky looking but has ridden a tactically perfect race for a very strong team.
And there are other great happenings, young riders Linus Gerdemann (German, T-Mobile team) winning a stage and taking the yellow jersey for a day (now in 42nd place over an hour back) and Juan Mauricio Soler Hernandez (Columbian, BarloWorld Team) coming from nowhere to prove he is a world-class climber and win a stage. Clearly, there is much to look forward to in future Tours.

In My Freezer
Peach season has begun. That sound you hear is the distant echo of my slavering. Oh my, oh my, oh my I loves me some white peach flesh. And this year, I figured I'd do something about it. Last Saturday I bought a big bag o' white peach culls (bruised or less "attractive" fruit) from the local stand of my favorite orchard. And I Googled up "white peach sorbet" for nearly 1,200 results. I picked a couple of 'em and now have made one with certain modifications. First, the recipe that I chose:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
1 pound peeled, pitted peaches

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer over high heat. Remove from heat.
In a blender, combine peaches and sugar syrup. Puree until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve. Process the fruit mixture in an ice cream maker. Serve soft or freeze until firm. Makes about 2 cups.
Pretty direct - a simple syrup with lemon juice and processed peaches into the ice cream freezer. But I can't leave well enough alone. First, I used more than a pound of processed peaches. I can't tell you how much more but I processed probably five pounds of culls and couldn't use all the puree so maybe 2 pounds of peaches into the actual mix.
And I didn't bother to strain anything. I don't mind some fruit texture in my sorbet.
But that's not all. Some time ago I made ginger vodka. And I let it get far too ginger-y. But I wasn't about to toss it. Toss it out. Toss it into the sorbet - oh hail yeah! Two tablespoons of ginger vodka into the mix.
I tried the stuff coming out of the cream maker and if it freezes up as nicely as it came out - oh mah gawd! Gorgeous white peach flavor with ginger flavor
ghosting over the sweetness. Yuh-um!
I'll be making several of these of the remaining days of summer and on some I'll crank up the ginger to find the point where the flavor peaks. If you're in the neighborhood, drop by, we'll eat a dish.
UPDATE: I made my ginger vodka with a recipe from Forbes FYI (which I haven't found online but I think I've saved somewhere in printed form). My search on the the string "ginger vodka recipe" yielded a commercial ginger vodka: Yazi Ginger Flavored Vodka. It claims to have been created for women but anyone can enjoy a ginger vodka. Really.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I Only Realized This Today
David Petraeus is the U.S. surgin' general.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Movie Time
I spent a lot of time with a movie that I now have to own. MirrorMask. It came out in 2005 and I have absolutely zero recollection of its release. Here is a uToob viddy of the sequence that I first stumbled upon.

Gorgeously creepy. The movie is actually less creepy than the clip would lead you to believe but it is fabulously fantastic. Or fantastically fabulous. Either way it works. And I have a total crush on two of the stars: Gina McKee (you may remember her as the woman in the wheelchair in "Notting Hill") and Stephanie Leonidas. It's just so wrong to find someone half one's own age so beautiful. Sue me.
In any event, I do believe I'm going to have to add this movie to the collection.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The News Just Doesn't Make Sense
It has recently been reported that IHOP is buying Applebee's restaurants. I don't mind a trip to the 'HOP because I'm a breakfast fiend. But I wouldn't go to the execreble Applebee's on a dare. Which is not the point of this post. This situation must be inverted to make sense: Applebee's CEO Steve Jobs announces the acquisition of the International House of Pancakes which will be renamed iHop.
There. Now it makes sense.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

PoW just keeps getting more inconsequential. If "more inconsequential" is indeed the way to put it. A quick look at the long-lasting prospects of two major brands of gum: First, the old reliable Trident in tasty, tasty "Tropical Twist" flavor, excellent. Sweet and piquant at first bite and a good 45 minutes of flavor that is not gone by the end point but worn out nonetheless. Next, the new kid on the block that sells itself as long-lasting, Stride in "Winterblue" whatever that means. I'll yield that the flavor is long-lasting even out to an hour. But what price glory? The over-intense chemicality of the initial flavor is over the top. Not a deal-breaker but I'd strongly suggest that a chewer start with one piece only. That'll work.
Both gums are worth the price. But I'd come down on the side of Trident if my hand were forced.
Brown Truckin
Like the doo-dah man once told me "You got to pay the man." And I offer my apologies to the shade of Jerry Garcia and the living souls of the other Dead. Actually, my UPS guy, whose name is Ronn (always get to know your UPS guy sez the BlogDog!), brought me stuff today. Stuff for which I had to pay the man. A whole new set of "Ultomato" plant stakes and a hummingbird feeder with accessories. Tomorrow I'll figure out a way to mount the feeder and Thursday my artist friend Irving (see the sidebar) will come over and we'll wrestle the tomato plants into upright positions.
It's always a good thing when the brown truck stops at my door.
The TdF As Massive Time Sink
As I write, Tour de France coverage is running on the main viewscreen in another room and I'm listening to Phil Ligget give his absolutely note-perfect commentary as a rookie Columbian rider from the rookie South African Barloworld team (Juan Mauricio Soler Hernandez) broke over the hors categorie climb of the Col du Galibier ahead of two Discovery team riders (Alberto Contador and Yaroslav Popyvich) who are charging the descent to make up the difference.
The riding has been superb and heart-breaking as podium contenders have crashed and had to abandon (Michael Rogers) and crashed and held on (Alexandre Vinokourov). Teams have gone from ecstatic to the depths such as T-Mobile which had young Linus Gerdemann win a stage and take the yellow jersey for but a day. And then to have Michael Rogers crash out. T-Mob is now a hurting team. Team Astana, with two possible champions (Vinokourov and Andres Kloden) had both of them crash and make it much less likely for either to win. Though Vino is a serious time trialist and could very well pull himself into contention again.
The American riders are not having much impact though it is still early yet. Levi Leipheimer keeps himself tactically well-positioned but he hasn't shown any brilliant rides that make me think he'll be on the Paris podium. But it would be awfully cool if he could.
Danish rider Michael Rasmussen is in yellow (and holding the polka dot "King of the Mountains" jersey but the leader will always wear the maillot jaune). He rides for the Rabobank team which should be of great concern to the rest of the field. Rabobank fields a very strong team with podium contender Denis Menchov (Russian) and Spaniard Oscar Freire.

I could go on. Obviously. Which goes to show what I pointed to in my post heading: I can spend my entire morning vegged in front of the TV watching this great event. The coverage is superb and, unlike many other sporting events, it has no breaks. I'd better plan to get up early and get the morning ablutions done before the race gets too far down the road. I may not be too fond of France but I love the Tour de.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Added On The Side
A new feature: snark on the half shell at a few sites that consistently amuse me. Not always work safe. Kinda like the innerwebnet itsownself.
Happy Mid-July Monday
My apologies for the lack of posting lately but I have been lacking in enthusiasm. There is always much to post about but so much of what goes on is posted about eleswhere that, as I surf the blogosphere, I often see no reason for me to repeat what others have said quite well.
So I'm left with that which happens directly to me. Which I don't always gin up the verbiage to make interesting enough for posting. And I feel bad about that. Blogging requires a certain level of commitment that I haven't been putting in of late. I'll try to change that this week. That means I start the week with a collection of miscellaneous stuff. Such as...
I got honorable mention at the Wizbang caption contest. Not my best work but I flung up about three different tries in my attempt at this one. They did select the one I thought was funniest. Ah well, I'll keep trying.
I saw the new Harry Potter movie this weekend and was reasonably well diverted for two and a quarter hours. The usual good special effects (save for the CGI giant which was weak at best) and the hate they created in me for the Dolores Umbridge character (what a perfect name!) was overwhelming. I don't hate Voldemort like I hate the odious Umbridge. But I'm not the best one to give a review of any Potter as I've never read the books (and never will) and the movies leave me indifferent. Plus, it really doesn't matter what I say - the movie will make ungodly money and the fans will be happy. Good for them.
After the movie I had dinner at a restaurant called Coastal Flats which is in the mall near the theater. Very nice. I had calamari for openers. Nicely done. Not over battered, not over cooked and daubed with pepper jelly. Not the best calamari I've had lately (that would be at Clyde's restaurant) but very good. Then grilled grouper on mashed sweet potato. Delicious - again cooked perfectly with the cross-hatch of grill marks and that sweet smoke of mesquite on the fish. But the afters was the star - bread pudding a la mode. Killer hot bread pudding. I'm glad I split that with my dinner companion.
Coastal Flats is part of a series of restaurants run by an outfit called Great American Restaurants. They run my favorite local place as well, the Sweetwater Tavern. These people know the way to run a restaurant. The food is uniformly well prepared, the quality is high, the menus are to the point but with sufficient variety to cover any taste. And their basket of breads is just insanely good. Hard to go wrong at any one of their restaurants.
Below is a post about my neighbors. The good ones. So what do I find out almost immediately after posting about them. They'll be moving. He works for a construction company and the project he's been working on is coming to an end. And he's been offered another project in Atlanta. It won't be until something like January but still: nuts. Can't the lousy neighbors move?
Tonight Fox serves up another steaming helping of "Hell's Kitchen" about which I threatened to post below. I'll hold off anything specific until tomorrow. But this season of the show is bugging me. We still have plenty of Gordon going all William Wallace over the sorry contestant's asses. And we see all the screw-ups that the cooks make. But at least this year we aren't being shown the competencies of the cooks. These people have to have some talent or they wouldn't have been chosen to appear. Bravo's "Top Chef" which is low-key compared to "Hell's" show us the contestants making dishes which are quite complex and demonstrative of their talent. Gordon and company need to give us a little insight into the positive for a change.
All for now. More sweepings from the cobwebbed corners of my mind later.

Friday, July 13, 2007

My neighbors are a mixed blessing. To one side of me is Wogistan. I think it's a dormitory full of (subcontinental) Indians who are taking classes at the local commun ity college. And by local, I mean walking distance though, I am thankful, behind a swath of trees and fields from me proper. The dormitory means several things: they seem mostly to be cigarette smokers (gag), they routinely leave their deck door open in the summertime with their AC running (of no moment to me) but that allows a gagging (again) stench of rancid curry to waft out, the landlord does yard work about once a year and ... Well, you get the idea. I'd like the nice West Virginian couple who was here when I moved to not have ever moved.
But then, on the other side is an absolutely wonderful couple who moved here for his job from Austin, Texas. They're the ones with Lola the feisty young pug. I couldn't ask for better neighbors. I've passed along Deck Farm™ produce to them last year and will again this season. They made me a salsa fresca from my jalapenos that was fantastic. I love salsa fresca! So, you get the idea - they're good folks.
Over the holiday week, they were away while we had hot and dry weather, unpleasantly hot and dry weather. I saw that the plantings they'd done in the front yard were suffering so I ran my sprinkler on them for about an hour one day. And I left them a message just as an FYI. So what happens when I get back? They give me a $25 AmEx gift card as a 'thank you!' How nice!
It's wonderful to have good neighbors. They get poblano peppers next.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

More Posting Later
Sorry for the lack of posting. I've been sucked into the morning coverage of the Tour de France which throws me off for several hours a day and I've started some digitizing of Mike Cross albums that are no longer available on CD which, while not difficult particularly, does take some time.
So posting later today on the Tour, Hell's Kitchen, the Deck Farm™ (pictures if I get myself together) amd anything else that pops its head up out of the trenches in my mind.

Monday, July 09, 2007

More Linky Goodness
Varifrank has a fantastic post about the introduction of the Boeing 787 and the aviation history that demonstrates the revolutionary nature of the spanking new Dreamliner. Great stuff.
Ads, Television And Changes In Perception
I recently saw an ad for a Colgate toothpaste that emphasizes its cleaning properties. I won't do any linkage because that smacks of blogwhoredom and it's not the point of the post anyway. What is the point is the celebrity Colgate picked for the ads: Brooke Shields. I have never been a fan. I know guys who have been gaga over the pretty baby since she was professional jail bait. Maybe that aspect of her life is what put me so far off her. But she has aged beautifully. I'd say she's more beautiful now that she's ever been. And even that's not the point.
The gist of my nub (that does not sound right! -Ed.) is that I totally bought into the product with her endorsement. She came across as sincere and utterly believable. I'm going to try the toothpaste because of the ad. Now that's effective. And from now on I'll go through life not with a necessarily positive attitude toward Ms. Shields but I will no longer be negative about her again.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Nonsense Of A Higher Order
Some years ago a mutual friend of the Enigmatic Misanthrope and myself gave out with what the law might call an "excited utterance." And, though context is crucial, I'll be brief about it. Willie, for we shall call him Willie here, was out and about, feeling his oats as was his wont. He was waiting for an elevator which, upon opening, disgorged a man in some form of uniform. This
was immediately translated in Willie's World, and loudly decried as such: "Freight Elevator Police!"

It Only Hurts A Little
The Tour de France is launched for the year of Our Lord 2007. It pains me that Floyd Landis has not been given his win and will not be riding this year. I may have to gin up the energy to do a post about Floyd and why I think he should be recognized as champion but for now, let's look ahead. I don't think there's a "crowd favorite" in this this year's field, certainly not in the US. But, of course, I have my preferences. I'd like to see Levi Leipheimer who's riding for the Discovery Channel team in yellow on the podium in Paris. But would I put money on it? Not really. George Hincapie is another Murrican riding for Discovery and I certainly wouldn't be upset to see him win. But again, I'm not betting.
Were I to put money on a rider, I would bet on Alexandre Vinokourov, a Kazakh riding for the very strong Asana team. It would make benefit glorious nation of Kazakhstan. His ride in the Tour last year was electrifying.

Today's ride was the second stage (London to Canterbury) which was won by Aussie-born Belgian resident Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) in one of the most blazing final sprints I have ever seen. With five kilometers to go he was at the back of the peleton having suffered a crash earlier in the day. Yet he outsprinted two of the great modern sprinters Tom Boonen (Quick Step - Innergetic) and Thor Hushovd (Credit Agricole) in the last hundred meters. If you haven't seen it, the Versus page linked above at the word "launched" has daily videos. The 3 minute "McEwen Amazing!" shows what he did. Amazing isn't quite enough for his feat of grit and determination and shocking speed. Fantastic.
There was another blaze of speed in the individual time trial prologue yesterday in London. Fabian Cancellara (Swiss - Team CSC) nailed the ITT by 13 seconds over the second place Andres Kloden. He rode 7.9 km in 8 minutes 50 seconds for an average speed of over 33 mph. It was a surprise but probably shouldn't have as he is the current world time trial champion, wearing the champion's "rainbow" jersey into the prologue. Now he gets to wear the yellow which he kept today by finishing in 22nd position but, under the strange time rules of the TdF, with the same time as the winner. That'll happen when the peleton finishes in a bunch.
If you have the Versus channel, please take some chance to watch its TdF coverage. They have very possibly the best crew of expert commentators possible in house. And to watch the live video of the vibrantly colored peleton sweeping over the roads is one of the most beautiful things in televised sport. I'm not a Francophile but I love the Tour.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Bloggy Redirection
Joe Sherlock has a week-ending post full of rich, bloggy goodness. Your assignment today is to surf over and savor. Also, I didn't realize that the line art was done by the man himself. A talented artist as well. Is there anything he can't do? I'll say, "No."

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Post Of Geekery
What is more geeked out these days than the iPhone? I believe I posted on it a while back, which info is probably over taken by events by now. But I have watched the idiots lining up and the other idiots paying grossly inflated eBay prices for them. Feh. That's fine if that's important to them. But I'm surprisingly happy with the Moto RAZR phone. So why does the iPhone matter despite my dismissiveness? The features are fine. The idea of a full-blown web browser on a cell phone makes me quite happy as it would even if the phone were not from Apple. The widescreen video orientation that automatically flips when one turns the phone is just exactly right. But where the iPhone really matters is the user interface. Here is a nice shard of Apple propaganda about the keyboard on the iPhone. Check it out. I don't know if this will become the paradigm for virtual keyboard but it's a damn sight better than anything currently offered. And not perfect (periods to end sentences are on the numeric virtual keyboard which entails switching for example).
Apple's triumph is, once again, the user interface. This phone is designed to put the user in charge of his device. It is, I think, a strange combination of evolutionary and revolutionary. Look for a future iteration of the iPhone to be a device that will inspire the sort of love we Mac types have for our computers and millions of people have for their iPods. But as cool as it is, it's not there yet.
And in other geek news - I finally set up the Ion USB turntable. Last night I digitized "Rocky Top Bar-B-Que" from Mike Cross's "Rock 'n' Rye" album which is not available on CD. Yes! I was a bit of a freak about keeping my vinyl in good condition and I'm most happy to report that I had to do no clean up of pops and clicks. Right now, the setup is on my kitchen table but I think the dark, cold months of winter will see me embark on a vast digitizing of the vinyl I have that's either obscure enough (soundtrack to the movie "Zachariah" anyone?) or that I don't want to have to track down on CD (Bonzo Dog Band). I love technology that works.
UPDATE: I'll be damned. "Zachariah" is available on Netflix. Slap that one onto the queue....
I could absolutely murder an ice cream sandwich right now.
Good thing i don't have one. Oh man. Cheap, cardboardy chocolate and sweet artifical vanilla. I'd even skip the nutty cone for the sandwich.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Bluetooth Rawks
Here's a picture of a van that was parked next to me at my local Trader Joe's. Cute. Obviously not someone who cares about aerodynamics though. Click pic for larger view.

I uploaded the pic from my cell phone via Bluetooth (brief happy dance). I love not having to physically connect anything even though I may have to scrumble through some software to do it. And the vehicle? This is the reason cell phones have cameras.

A Flying Spaghetti Monster Makes More Sense
Hindus worship melting ice stalagmite. At last, a good use for glowball warmening. Or maybe Gaia's pissed that she's not getting her due.
As a Chief Wiggum-based character once said, "Where's your messiah now?" Running downhill, you say! Amusingly, were the ice to evaporate without becoming water, it would be sublime.
Well, if worst comes to worst, the Hindus can always worship Ice Cube.
(Nelsonmuntz) Ha Ha! (/Nelsonmuntz)
Those who know me know I'm a Jeopardy watcher. Heck, I was even in the contestant pool once (Alex, baby! your people never called? Wuzzup wid dat?). But last night I had a wonderful moment of extry spay-shul pleasure watching the show. Some asshat from Falls Church, VA (in my general vicinity) was a contestant. Why asshat? Because he was one of the 1000 morons recruited by Algore to go around and spread the misinformation of Al's movie. And I think he was identified as something like an 'alternative fuels consultant.' Oh man the BS stacks up so high so fast. Now there's an alternative fuel source.
I wouldn't bother to post this save for the fate of this dum bass. With two questions left in the Double Jeopardy round, he hits the last Daily Double. He has close to half the money of the leader so he goes for it - makes it a "true Daily Double." I don't remember the answer but it is one for which I knew the question. And he doesn't! Ha! Eff off you glowball warmening idiot. And he didn't get the last question either so it was tribe-has-spoken time for Final Jeopardy. Delicious.

Monday, July 02, 2007

That's news speak for something that's "to kum." A fact, a story, a picture, anything that belongs in the book that isn't ready at the same time as the rest of the story. The TK here is tomorrow's fun with the Mac OS and the Razr phone. I've clicked a couple of pics I want to post so now I get to establish the Bluetooth umbilicus so that I can offload the pics. Fingers crossed!
I've Been Known To Write A Poem
But I've gotten away from it for a long time. Last night, I couldn't resist the muse so I'll present for your delectation and derision the following:
The Hawthorn

I was not the one to walk out on a play or show
before the final curtain ended all the bows.
Though there were times I have seen the curtain drop
before the actors and the action of the scene had stopped.
So unlike the trees that pace their growth
with a kind of elemental, furious sloth:
Ring of light, ring of dark laid in the wood.
I have watched one special hawthorn grow
with its smooth-barked delicate trunk and angling boughs.
There once I climbed in beauty to the top
in a tree I never imagined would be chopped.
But now that tree trunk may as well be cloth -
a painted scrim or just a taste of ashes in my mouth.
Curtains fall. Here is where the hawthorn stood.
I will plead that it's still the newborn and quite raw. I am satisfied with the form but the meter is off as is the rhetoric. When I've taken the angle grinder to the gross protrusions and when I've used the jeweler's rouge on the rest, I'll post it again.
Stuck Tasks
Every now and then we have a task or job that just resists getting done. Of course I generalize when I say this but I imagine my experience is pretty common if not universal. I should delve deeply into the philosophy of it - why we procrastinate or ignore some things but I'm pretty sure that would be a waste of time. Some jobs just don't intrude on consciousness enough to reach the point where the necessary series of actions is initiated.
To wit: my powder room mirror. When the previous owners of Chez BlogDog decamped, they took with them the mirror over the pedestal sink in the powder room by the kitchen. Maybe it's because I'm a guy but looking at a blank wall over the sink just didn't make a big deal to me. I need a mirror in the master bathroom (natch) and one is necessary in the guest bathroom (equally natch). But the powder room- enh. Just not that big a deal.
Yet as of yesterday, more than three years after I moved here, the powder room has a mirror. Bed, Bath & Beyond + coupon = mirror. A few quick and dirty measurements and the reflective quotient of the smallest room has suddenly been increased by a quantum leap. So even the stuck tasks can get done. As the Zen saying puts it: The snow will fall from the bent bamboo at the proper time.
But I've seen a lot of broken bamboo in my day....

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Compare And Contrast

First, we present a creature of, as Willy Wonka put it, pure imagination: To the left a "Kaminoan" from Star Wars Episode I (The Menacing Crapfest).

Next we present another alien (right) which is called a "Bai Ling."

Your job is to tell them apart if you should happen to come upon one or the other in an odd or threatening place. (pic on right totally stolen from Go Fug Yourself)

More PRaiSe
Trolling around eBay led me to this: a 2004 Swamp Ash Special in green. As is my wont, I usually post links to versions of guitars I already own and this is no exception. Several things commend this one. First, the green is flat-out gorgeous with the grain of the Swampy. I love my Julie in blue but if I didn't already own one, this would be sorely tempting. Plus it has the birds inlay and a flame maple neck (as does mine). One nice thing about this auction is that the seller started it at $1 with no reserve. That's the way to run an auction. Right now the price has been run up to $1,225 which is about $200 to the bargain side. The nick in the lower edge may make that much difference but for a cosmetic flaw, that's a lot of guitar for a damn fine price. Right now.

I see that the seller offers all his auctions with a $1 start and no reserve. Good for him. I hope he does well.