Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Post With No Title
By which I immediately start with a lie. But only kind of.
Yesterday afternoon I felt like poo. I was tired and eye-fuzzed and at the computer (looking at a few of the passive aggressive signs on that blog if you must know). The afternoon heat and the lack of electrical activity in my cerebral cortex combined to render me inert in front of the computer - you've been there: chin on chest, sleeping sitting up. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. But the only problem is that the Mail app was loaded at the same time and as I was deep in that zombified chair sleep, an e-mail came in. Poonngg! Yow!
I'm not in any position to "jump out of my chair" but it may as well have been ES paddles placed directly on my chest. Bzzaapp! I'm awake! I'm awake dammit!
Now let me sleep damn your eyes! Y'all have a great Last Day Of June, OK?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I Wanted To Say Something Today
And then thought better of it. The blogosphere might be better off if reflection led to silence sometimes. I can point you to no examples but as a window into the soul, a quiet time can be the gently waving grass in the wind shadow of a tree in a furious storm.
But what the hell, you don't come here to read nothing (Well... Ed.) Shut UP Ed! Instead of quiet reflection, I offer some randomness that trickles like a stalactite-forming drip through the dark caverns of my mind.
1. Add to the stuff I like sambal oelek. Link goes to a Wikiped page on sambal generically. My father in law introduced me to this spicy delight and it was a home-coming on the hottening up front. I have always liked the hot peppers and other types of chemical warfare like wasabi and horseradish but sambal has that wonderful bloom of heat that acts like a taser on each taste bud. Give it a moment to let the initial edge of heat die down and every little papilla is just firing on all levels. Wonderful.
2. Michael Jackson. I'm glad my blogging partner did the main post on that one. I recognize his talent but I own and will not own any of his music. Billy Beck did a nice job of recognizing the good in the music. I will always be more partial to "Human Nature" and "Smooth Criminal" than the other big hits. It may be a blessing to him that his sad freakish life is now over.
3. Farrah. I hope she did not die in pain as her cancer is of a pretty vicious type. But otherwise, she made no dent in my world. Beautiful? Yes, absolutely. The iconic poster which meant so much to others always impressed me not with the obvious (the pokies) but that incandescent smile! I like good teeth and that picture is just dental perfection. Yeah, I know. Consider it a personal failing of mine.
Besides, I was always a Kate Jackson fan.
4. Have you seen the LED on the new Apple wireless keyboard? It's the most elegant thing I've seen in all LED light-dom. The green LED is not sitting exposed but is actually beneath the aluminum skin of the keyboard. The aluminum is then laser-pierced to let the ight through. Here is a 40X picture on Flickr. Better than I can take for sure.
The elegance of it is that when the light is off (on only when powering up and down), you basically can not even tell where it is unless you get the keyboard at an angle where the slight color change of the metal shows. And the laser drilling is at a slight angle so that the light shines toward the user as the keyboard is on, say, a desktop. Just very cool. If you have a friend with one of these, get a demo of it.
5. Wimbledon. I used to care about tennis. I was a huge Bjorn Borg fan (I was assimilated, ar! ar! ar!) back in the day but now ... I'm sorry where was I? Oh yeah. Just. Don't. Care. Anymore. I am, however, looking forward to the Tour de France and hoping that Lance doesn't embarass himself. Not that he would as he has a very good team around him and he is riding under probably the greatest team director in TdF history, Johan Bruyneel. Versus network's coverage of the race really should be recognized for its excellence in providing video and commentators who know whereof they speak. This year I'm going to try to only watch the evening recaps instead of the early morning live coverage.
OK. I have driveled. You go now. No trouble. Have a wonderful Sunday, please.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Now This Is A Great Joke
(And totally stolen from here.)
So Feynman and Heisenberg decided to take a road trip together, with Feynman driving and Heisenberg in charge of the map. Every so often Feynman checks with Heisenberg for directions
“Where are we?”
“Forty three miles out of Tuscon. Take a left at the next exit.”
This sort of thing continues for a while, everything’s going well, when suddenly Heisenberg points— “Look out! Cop car behind the billboard!”
Feynman glances at the speedometer. “Relax, I’m going 55 miles per hour.”
“Oh, way to go, bonehead,” says Heisenberg. “Now we’re lost.”

My take was "At the Physics Bar:"
Bartender: Is that your drink Dr. Heisenberg?
Heisenberg: I'm not sure.
Trying It
This is just a test to see if I can post to PoW from the iPhone. Feel free to go about your business citizen.
UPDATE: From the desktop, I had to drop the text size here as I couldn't get the iPhone to format the post as I'd prefer. So the bottom line is that while I can post from the iPhone, it's not great way to do so.
And in other update news - the HempShake is delicious! And it has fiber. That is win - win for my aging protoplasmic pouch, by which I mean my body.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stuff! And, Surprisingly, Not From Amazon
OK, I have been shopping at the 'Zon. Coconut oil for popping popcorn, hemp protein shakes ("organic HempShake" in "berry pomegranate" which sounds rather delicious). But I have some friends who live in the wilds of Western Maryland who are afflicted with pests. So I've just ordered myself an air rifle: 1,200 fps, .177 pellets. I e-mailed an internet friend about the appropriateness of said combination to the problem at hand to which he replied "Oh HELL yes. Keep the range down below 25 yards and do your part, and the pellet will do its."
And it can work on skwerls too. Not in my neighborhood of houses cheek by jowl but there are other places to acquire the makin's for a nice Brunswick stew. I may report on the effects of the rig but it may be the better part of valor to just let the subject drop than befoul your imagination with any stories of the pluck required to hunt successfully.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More On The Driving Thing
I mentioned below that I dealt with deer and an opossum on my night drive from Sharpsburg. What I neglected to mention was the insectoid life (and death) on the road. As I was dashing downhill on Route 67 toward the Potomac River crossing near Harper's Ferry, some kind of megabug exploded in a rather revolting mass of goo on my windshield. I don't know what kind of bug it was but it seemed like a ham grenade. No, at a hand grenade, a grenade made of ham - blooshrt! Srsly, Columbian cartels could use whatever type of bug that was for drug mules. Except for the number they would lose to random drive bys. I'd kind of like to know what it was, but then again, I'm kinda glad I don't.
Which reminds me - what do you call the jellied liquid that Spam is packed in? Spamniotic fluid.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I Might Take Up Chess
Every time I see Julia Roberts I want to use her teeth as chess men. 32 teeth, 32 men on a
chess board. A coincidence? I think not.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Charismatic Megafauna
After visiting friends in Sharpsburg, MD (link goes to Google maps) I drove home last night through the 11:00 o'clock hour. Before leaving, I was wished well with deer and driving being specifically mentioned. Usually I don't have to slow much in my backroads driving but last night I had four encounters with the damn deer, two of which required actual braking. One deer decided to run alongside the road and seemed to be peeved that it could not run faster than a Subaru Outback. Yeah, well screw you pal. Let's see you outrun this FMJ .30-06!
Just kidding. I don't carry a rifle in the car.
There was also a suicide 'possum that I managed to avoid. Not megafauna there. And, actually, not charismatic either. But I didn't exactly want to have to clean marsupial soup off my fender.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

C'mon C'mon C'mon!
Downloading the new iPhone OS reminds me of the impatience of modren life. A 230 MB download that will take about two minutes (somewhat less actually) and I'm sitting here twitching like the bathroom is already occupied.
Damned silly git.
It makes about as much sense as standing by the microwave when some peculiar item of advanced foodishness is cooking via the application of radiation in a minuscule fraction of the time it would otherwise take and I'm standing beside the counter doing the same pee-dance saying, "C'mon! C'mon! Cook already." Patience is a virtue. I should be more virtuous.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stuff Updates
My grinding attachment to the stand mixer arrived at my door yesterday. I am contemplating making ginger burgers and, what hadn't struck me before, I can grind my own pork for the dumplings! Talk about having control over one's ingredients. Presumably, I can grind all the ingredients together from the get-go. I only have to figure out what's the right pork to grind. ... That sounds vaguely obscene.
Other "stuff:" Amazon had a sale on kitchen things so I have a "French" rolling pin on its way to me. I plan to watch it surrender to various pastry recipes. (I kid! I kid!) And a richness of popcorn is on its way. "Gourmet popping corn" of course. I need to get coconut oil for the popping thereof. I'll not go into the reasons for popcorn specifics but believe me, real popcorn popped in a "Whirley-Pop" popper with high temperature oil makes a product that will make you never want to eat the microwave kind again.
I also ordered up a bunch of food coloring. A couple of reasons there. First, I want to make deviled eggs into hard boiled whites that have been colored through cracked shells as blog friend Gradual Dazzle has already done. Next, I want to make a "stained-glass" jello with coffee gelatin and chocolate gelatin for a "stained-glass" (not as much since the gels will not be translucent) mocha dessert.

Mr. Language Man Regrets
I posted previously on the depredations of language inflicted by the "Washington Times" book reviews and I have another example that I can't let pass unremarked. A "writer living in Boca Raton, Fla." named Katie Wendy had a review of a biography of the late Paul Harvey. First of all, "Katie Wendy" is not a name - it's two first names put together in an amazing simulation of an actual name. And she lives in a city that means "rat's mouth." Nuff said.
The review is most unobjectionable though demonstrable of no greater depth of insight than the average slavish member of the Oprah book club. It only comes a cropper at the penultimate sentence: "Perhaps painting a picture with a few more shades would have made for a richer veneer."
That sentence doesn't even make nonsense. It is vaguely evocative of an idea but it's so poorly phrased that parsing it becomes a waste of time. And by "waste," I mean like the Mafia. Just as I here have managed to assassinate a portion of my day and, by extension, yours. I'm willing to offer you my apologies. Will Ms. "Wendy" do the same?
I doubt it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

In The News
I hear that Cher's daughter Chastity is going to undergo a sex change. Even though I think she's actually just making a vowel change (gay to guy), I wondered what to call her. Then I realized it would have to be "Chas" because with the surgery, she'd have to have the "tity" cut off.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

More Fiber In My Online Experience
I wanted to see how my FiOS service was running. (click to embiggen)

I can live with those numbers.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Saturday Moment Of Zen
The view not exactly from Lycurgus's back porch but darn close. You'll notice the blue Bimini top and the swim ladder (in the upright position) to the left of the engine. If my memory serves, it's a 17' TwinVee. Strikingly quiet and wonderfully smooth riding. It's a great vessel to have along the Gulf Coast.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Today's Question
When bubble wrap is shipped to, say, the Container Store, do they have to pack it in breakable items?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Blogging break will be in effect for this dog. I feel like absolute crap - like a lack of caffeine headache that won't go away despite my having sucked down the usual ration of full caff coffee. I now have a pot of decaf from which I'll make iced coffee in the hopes that the placebo effect will kick in. And I suppose a big whack of NSADs tomorrow will be called for as well.
So, I'll be back on the blogging stick anon but not for a couple of days at least.
UPDATE: The placebo effect works. I had a lovely, lovely iced coffee fest last evening as i strolled through the latest batch of catalogs to arrive and I began to feel better even as i was sipping. And a decent, if not great, night's sleep didn't hurt. I may not be on the blogging stick much as I have much to do and must do t, not sit at the keyboard. But if I find something worth posting, I will.
OTOH, I hope the Enigmatic Misanthrope keeps finding those great, inspiring images!
Wherein I Avoid The Base Controversy
The base controversy is that Shell Oil was sued by a bunch of Nigerians (I was tempted to say "gang of Nigerians" but decided against such inflammatory language) because the Nigerian government, sorry, "
former Nigerian government," hung six people in 1995. Shell, you see was "complicit" in those deaths. And Shell decided to pay $15.5 million while admitting no wrong-doing but hoping to aid the "process of reconciliation." Yeah, that'll work.
As much as I hope every first world company takes the lesson that investing in crapholes like Africa generally and criminal states like Nigeria specifically will ultimately cause more grief than can be imagined prior to the investment, the real point of all this (here on PoW) is to get the names of those killed by the Nigerian government: Ken Saro-Wiwa, John Kpuinen, Felix Nuate, Daniel Gbokoo, Dr. Barinem Kiobel and finally, a name we must add to the collection of great names in human history: Saturday Doobee.
I'm sorry but with a name like "Saturday Doobee," that life is not going to end well no matter what.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Am Conflicted
Shopping at Costco today I saw a set of cedar planks for grilling. I've heard good things about planked fish but I have no direct experience with it. Does anyone know anything about planking? Any good stories? I'm not inclining toward buying these but it did leave me wondering.
Barack Obama's Plan 9
"Created or saved" ... what's the current number of jobs now? Barry's Perfectly Unfalsifiable Plan 9 for Employment is explained by Secretary of The Future Criswell:

"Can you prove that it didn't happen?" Indeed.
"God help us in the future."
Damn skippy.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Stuff Update
Today I peeled stickers off the new sheet pans and washed them. Does not one always wash kitchen apparatus when it comes into the house for the first time? It's not like there was a tag that said "Loving hand crafted for you by the lepers of the Molokai colony," but it seems common sensical to me. Now washing a pan is really not noteworthy save that I mentioned them earlier and now, having actively handled them I now have to say, these things even feel good. Smooth, beautifully machined, not heavy but substantial in one's hand. They exude the feel of sturdy. When Lycurgus inherits my worldly goods, I hope he keeps the sheet pans. They're good.
Also, took advantage of an Amazon "Gold Box" deal to get a battery-powered string trimmer. I have a really nice Black & Decker electric string trimmer but dealing with the cord is a real pain. Now, I'll be able to grab a non-bound-to-the-wall device and whack down the growth at a moment's notice. The fargin' homeowner's association should be pleased. Oh, the new one is another B&D device. They make good tools.

More Catblogging?
Yes. I did a LOLcat here. Click the link, vote me up. I can haz a plaice on mane paige plz?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Is It Really A Trend?
Is it? IS IT!?
(Cat blogging on PoW? So it seems.)

Friday, June 05, 2009

New Stuff
My continuing quest to drain Amazon.com of all its goods continues apace. This week's edition: kitchen stuff. To wit: two half sheet pans. One sold by ReStockIt for about half the cost of the other from Next Day Gourmet. They are nominally not the same size which may be a plus as they nest together perfectly. They are also not nominally the same gauge but I recall that the shipping invoices (which I don't have in front of me) actually have them both as 13 gauge. The significant difference on first inspection is that the more expensive pan has its edge completely rolled over on itself. I can see that this will make a stronger pan. But I felt compelled to follow the dictum of my dear, departed father who said more than once, "If one is good, two are better." He wasn't a cook but he liked gadgets. Very much a guy that way.
All that being said, and I add at this point that up to this point I have had no cookie sheets on which to .... I was going to say "bake cookies" but it seemed too easy.
If anyone wonders why I opt for sheet pans instead of cookie sheets per se, I point the finger in the direction of the great Cook's Illustrated magazine which has determined that sheet pans are superior in performance to thin, warping cookie sheets. When the weather starts to chill down and I'm not running the AC, I'll start baking cookies of many kinds and really put that to the test. I remember my mother making an oatmeal raisin cookie which was mixed together in a Tupperware cake holder (upside down) as the mix had to absorb the oil that was used before the cookies could be made. I'd love to find that recipe in the mass of kitchen papers. And in later years we got a recipe for hermit cookies from a family friend. The link goes to recipes but I don't vouch for them; they're by way of illustration. I do believe that the hermits took first place in my cookie pantheon. I'm sure that recipe is in the stack. Definitely going to make those.
Oh, I also got a wire rack insert for the half sheet pan. It seems just so like something I've seen Alton Brown use on "Good Eats." How could I resist?
UPDATE: Please don't miss the potato chip cookie recipe in the comments. I realize my mistake in assaying anything about baking in the ken of the XMBD NMSE who, along with her mother are two of the world's finest non-professional bakers. But I am not such an old dog that I can't learn some new tricks.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Shhh! Be Vewy, Vewy Quiet
I'm twacking penguins. Blue Crab Boulevard, a regular read even if I don't steal posting ideas therefrom too often, takes note of the British researchers who are using "satellites to discover the whereabouts of Antarctica’s emperor penguins. By tracking their poop stains."
No shite. OK, actually lots and lots of shite. But it did leave me wondering, considering how much of the "March of the Pengies" is done by sliding along on their bellies, could the researchers track them by their skidmarks instead? I mean, those slides could mark the white under where the penguins are moving. Doncha think?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

The Occasional Foodie Post
A few tids of bit that have been clogging the storm drains of the cerebellum and need to be posted so that the waste liquids can be swept out of the street and the next brainstorm doesn't drown me.
First, as every good foodie knows, flavor is essential. Not merely crucial or desirable or a good idea: essential. Even busted-ass Gordon Ramsay (love ya Gordo but remember not to over-reach) knows that to make good food you only need a few good, flavorful, fresh elements prepared with proper attention. But some things need the punch of more than the flavors they bring to the saucepot. That's why there are such things as chicken stock and demi-glace. And I have a source for you. What's source for the goose....
Soupbase.com. This is your source for Minor's concentrated bases of ... I was about to list some but it's not really possible to do the range of availables justice here. Just go and poke around. I'll only say one thing. A friend has the low-sodium chicken base as he is concerned with his salt intake. He mixed up a taste of base and I was amazed. The problem with low-sodium is, well, it doesn't have enough salt! So it comes across as less flavorful. But not the Minor's. Rather full flavored actually. I would recommend it without hesitation.
But that's just one product. The range of flavors offered there is astounding. If you don't find something you like there, there's not much you like. I'm working on my order even as I type this. I'd also like to point out that the tubs of concentrate sit nicely in your fridge and last a decent amount of time. Keeping cans or brick-paks of chicken stock in your pantry takes up significantly more space. And I'm not much a fan of the chicken stock I've bought lately for flavor. Is there a code I'm unaware of that means "free-range chicken broth" means "almost chicken-flavored water?"
And a couple of links from Amazon's "Al Dente" blog. First, Nancy Silverton’s Awesome Butterscotch Budino. Love butterscotch. Not that I need to eat this but I'd love to try it. And a recipe from "The Purple Foodie" blog for making paneer (Indian cheese). Paneer is great (again, not just good - great) with spinach in many ways. A samosa filled with spinach, paneer and some appropriate spices (I'm thinking a little cardamom or garam masala if I had any) would be most delicious. I think I may make paneer with basil from my AeroGarden this evening. I'll try to take pictures.
Also, look through The Purple Foodie generally. It is a garden of eatly delights.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Give Blood
And you will find that blood is not enough. There is so much going on and so many people are commenting on it that I haven't felt like adding my own coppers to the conversation. The Deck Farm™ is hanging fire and pressing on my increasingly feeble attention as I'm in the process of making the new ErfBoxes and getting the last couple of things I need to make this happen.
My self-purchased birthday present LP arrived yesterday which means digging out the USB turntable and having a "digital day." Which may be tomorrow. There is ripping to do, dammit!
But unless I have a flash of inspiration, it's unlikely that I'll post here for the next couple of days. Go, read the chewy richness of the blogosphere and check back here later. I'll be here. Just stretching and yawning.