September 30, 2005

Can't Win 'Em All

Back in 1980, during a week when all the smart money was going in that direction, my employer asked me to recommend a high tech stock. My instant answer was Intel. His father, however, convinced him of the importance of solid value, and that chunk of money got invested in gold-mine stock instead. This prbably turned out to be for the best for me, as it left him without the option of shutting down the company before I was ready to leave it. He could take solace, were I still there mocking him about this oversight, to find out that he was not the only one to miss this opportunity.

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Today's Definition

It's a word I saw on a contractor's truck on the hiway today.

Retrofit: (n) An old-fashioned temper tantrum.

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Rare Error

There is an aphorism which pops up now and then in the blogosphere which states that "The perfect is the enemy of the good." This is not generally intended to discourage perfection where it is attainable, but rather to to encourage accomplishing good without being led astray by the distraction of perfection.

I was ready for a change of pace from the Swayzak Snowboarding in Argentina and the Jerry Lee Lewis, All Killer No Filler, I'd been listening to, so I slipped Kiri Sings Berlin into the CD player of the rental car (one of the best things about my current contract). It was a very enjoyable work of art, until the last song. The problem, very simply, is that Easter Parade is not a song which was meant for one of the world's finest trained operatic voices. Sometimes the attainment of perfection is the enemy of the good.

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September 29, 2005

A Simple Defense

If I understand things correctly, the indictment of Tom Delay is based on the premise that certain money received by his PAC as donations from corporations was identically the money donated by the PAC to functions where corporations could not donate, and that he personally was a knowing participant in this transaction. All they will need to do do beat this charge will be to bring in the United Way chairperson from any place of employment to give the standard spiel about how it isn't your money going to the charity you have issues with.

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September 28, 2005

Lying Or Stupid

Waukesha County Board Chairman Jim Dwyer, now a candidate for the office of County Executive, is taking a position we hear all too often from politicians, including those with law enforcement job titles. Dwyer said he opposes permitting concealed weapons because he believes it creates too much potential for increased gun violence. One can debate whether permitted carry actually reduces crime (not that a mere shift to less confrontational forms is a bad thing, mind you) but to suggest that it increases violence, when that has been consistantly proven just flatass counterfactual, is disqualification for public office.

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Computer Power

Found, while searching for something else, proof that we crazy visionaries weren't wrong all those years ago (warning - text is followed by lots of images).

Programming video games is directly responsible for my role in the computer industry today. I remember the Christmas that I first unwrapped the Commodore VIC-20 that awaited me that morning. Cracking open the box, connecting it to my 12” black and white television, opening up the BASIC book that accompanied the system and watched my school grades decline steadily as I sought to learn everything that VIC-20 could teach me. Through the VIC-20, I found worlds to explore, enemies to fight, races to win, stories to tell, space ships to fly and problems to solve. The most important thing that the VIC-20 gave a 12 year old boy was CONTROL.

At a time in a young boy's life where one has very little control: you are told when to get up, go to bed, what to eat, to go to school, etc., the computer gave ME control. I could be anything I wanted to be, make the system do what I wanted it to do. Tell the stories I wanted to be told. Fight the fights. Win the race. Be the hero. That sense of power and control for a child who has very little was liberating. Understanding the system was just one long, drawn out puzzle waiting for me to solve and master. As any of you who program know, there is almost no better feeling than waking up at 2:30am with the solution to a problem and having it work. (Well, ok. Not the BEST feeling, but you know what I mean) The effects of those experiences with the VIC-20 shaped me and my future.

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September 26, 2005


Two Dogs, writing from Mississippi, has isolated the reason things went so badly in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

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September 25, 2005

The 58th Carnival of the Recipes

The art of cooking is the art of balancing. Yin and yang, sweet and sour (and all the other basic flavors), crunchy and chewy. The most basic of balances at the core of all food preperation involves the four elemental states of matter. Earth - solid, Air - gas, Fire - plasma and Water - liquid. So that is how I'm organizing the Carnival.


From Bebere, a nice, sturdy Quickbread.Earth mother comfort and nourishment.

From Dave at The Glittering Eye, we get Mustard Greens with Tomatoes, Onions, and Chilies, vegetables from the earth.

Altho it isn't something I would serve with Morning Coffee & Afternoon Tea, Christine offers us a Chocolate Chip Pudding Pie which one might affectionately compare to mud. Earth.

The Physics Geek offers us a Fudge Truffle Cheesecake. Truffles are mushroom sclerotia growing underground. You can't get any earthier than that.

Richmond, of One For The Road, shares an old family recipe for funnel cakes. They are known as Wormy Pancakes. That makes them earth.

Amanda the Aussie Housewife describes how to make a Caeser Salad. She explains that those who make this salad are passionate about not including any chicken. I have decided that chicken recipes default to air. No chicken - not air; earth


Punctilious provides a road-map for making No-Carb 'Chips' and Salsa . The carb is the part of an engine which mixes air with fuel, so I'll stick it here.

Petticoat tails are lacey and airy, and I describe how to make them. The cookies by that name, for which I also provide a recipe, aren't so airy, they are a shortbread. It's my entry and my Carnival. I'll put it where I choose.

Tinker, of The Secret Life of Shoes submits a Balsamic Bleu Chicken Salad. I thought the Balsamic Bleu Chicken was an endaged species, but it is poultry, which is a bird, so it defaults to air.

Jim Holmes, the Frazzled Dad, defrazzled enough to post a recipe for Ginger Oil Chicken.

The DeputyHeadmistress of The Common Room writes about Cheese Moons. The poetry offered relates to the Moon as a sky ornament, so air.

Mensa Barbie lectures on the art of preparing a Soufflé aux Baies. Air is the key to the texture of a soufflé.

Everything and Nothing averages out to Simple Chicken Mozzarella. One more time. Chicken. Air.


The Soup and Sandwich from Gullyborg are a roasted onion soup and a grilled sandwich containing smoked cheese. Fire.

Chiles Rellenosthird world county™-style were gonna go in fire even if they didn't feature roasted peppers.

Jennifer Kelly in Keewee's Corner confesses her Mississippi Sin. Baked dip with some heat to it - fire.

Muse Me-andered by to share the secret behind Baked Apples. It's about the application of heat

Kevin D Weeks doesn't recall whether the Koftas he had as a youngster tasted exactly like these, but all koftas of course classify as fire.

The Redneck Gourmet
humbly submitted a serious recipe for General Tsao Tsungtang's Chicken. Yeah, I know, chicken = air, but this recipe is more about the control of heat than about the chicken it is applied to. I'll put things where I want.

Technogypsy tells us how to make Red Cooked Pork despite the dang FDA. It's all about the hot peppers.

Another one from the Frazzled Dad, detailed instructions for making Cinnamon Ice Cream. Proper cooked custard and a hint of heat to the flavor


Elisson of Blog d'Elisson shares Dat Ol' Home Cooked Fruit Compote, made by skillful application of water and other interesting fluids to the fruit.

A Weight Lifted up some Fabulous Fruit Smoothies

Thru a Sun Comprehending Glass we see Hot Chocolate With Shaped Marshmallows. Never mind the marshmallows. It's a beverage.

The Chief Family Officer tells us how to make Pan-Fried Tofu, which does indeed dewussify the stuff. The key is draining off the water. Here it goes.

It's Too Damn Hot and the Mean Ol' Meany is Too Damn Sober so he is undertaking the industrial production of Frozen Mudslides. Never mind the ice cream. It's a beverage.

The water category is running kind of sparse. Let's focus in the fact that the ingredients in the Spazzatino Roma from Riannan of In the Headlights simmer in their own juices.

Recipe Carnival readers and participants, especially those who favor fire, may be interested in another event announced in the comments to one of the submissions. Hooked on Heat will be a fortnightly assemblage of spicy recipes sharing a common star ingredient. Sounds like fun.

The gmail account Beth set up for the Carnival is pretty cool. It caught 193 spam for the week without mislabeling any valid mail while only letting 3 thru. One of these three was addressed to Dr. Recipe Carnival, whom, they asserted, had explicitely or implicitely expressed interest in the conference they are promoting. Not on my watch, the good doctor didn't.


This is the first Carnival to appear at the recently announced new time. From now un you have until Saturday morning to submit entries. Take advantage of the extra time and post something.

Between weather-related landline problems and unfamiliarity with the mailing list I haven't done a complete job of announcing the Carnival, so do the contributors a favor and spread the word.

As long as not too many people have missed it, and it fits where I can use it, I'm adding one more post. Professor Bainbridge has Souped-up Store Bought Risotto by the sophisticated use of water. Just make sure to check for storm warnings before pushing the boat right out.

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September 24, 2005

Today's Trivia Question

Who were the Butterfield 8, and what were they charged with?

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September 23, 2005

Could It Be?

An engine search which led someone to one of my old posts also pointed to this possible explanation, and purported solution, to some of our problems.

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September 22, 2005

Petticoat Tails

Obtain a suitable petticoat or half-slip. Cut a peice of stiff craft wire one third as long as the petticoat. Form a small eye at one end of the wire and stitch it to the waistband of the petticoat. Twist the fabric about the wire, and down to the other end, leaving only the lace at the hemline untwisted, and fasten with a running baste spiraling opposite the twist. Attach to the costume by stitching thru the eye and the base of the tail, and form the wire so as to give a suitable lilt.

But seriously, folks, there is in fact a Scottish shorbread cookie known as petticoat tails. The name was generated by translinguification from the French "Petits Gateaux Tailles" meaning "little thingumabobs".

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons whole milk
2 teaspoon caraway seeds


Mix caraway seeds and salt with flour. Melt butter in milk, heating gently and stirring occasionally. Remove from heat as soon as butter has melted. Make a well in center of flour, pour in liquid, add sugar. Blend completely, then gently knead by hand until the dough forms into a flattened ball. Wrap the dough in plastic; refrigerate for 1 hour.

Roll the dough into a circle about 1/4 inch thick. With your fingers, flute the outside rim of the circle as you would the edge of a pie crust, so that it looks like the ruffled edge of a petticoat. Cut out a circle about one third the diameter of the rolled circle from the center of the dough and set aside.

Using a long, sharp knife, cut the fluted ring into quarters, then cut each quarter into four wedges. Flute the edge of the small reserved circle and cut into quarters. Place cookies on a greased paper on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes at 350 F (177 C). Dust with powdered sugar and let cool on a wire rack.

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Where We Live

When we were down in Chicago a couple of weeks ago, we got to talking to a young black man we met on the street. I mentioned that we were down from Milwaukee for the day and he asked whereabouts in Milwaukee we were from. When I told him we stay by 27th and Vliet his entire face changed. After a moment or two he said "You did come a long way" and changed the subject.

Here's an example of what generated his reaction, experienced about the same time. Emrack took Hunter out for a late evening walk, and they headed north, something my son would not do unaccompanied by the canine. Just a few blocks away they came upon an ice cream truck pulled over to the curb. The sound system was blaring hip-hop rather than The Arkansas Traveller and the truck's side lights were serving to illuminate a stretch of sidewalk being used as a substitute for a green felt table as a venue for rollin' dem bones.

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September 15, 2005

Dragon Lasagna

A recipe turned up on one of the email lists describing itself as Buffalo Chicken Lasagna. I suspect it is more correctly some quiet upscale suburb of Buffalo. It was approximately this recipe, only without the cholesteral and salt and fat. The only touch they neglected was gluten-free lasagnoodles.

The basic notion appealed to me, so I decided to start with a proper lasagna recipe, and combine it with my established variant on hot wings.

* 8 ounces lasagna noodles
*1/4 stick (1/8 cup) butter
* 2 cloves garlic, diced
* 1/2 cup chopped onion
* 1 pound boneless chicken breast, diced
*1/2 tspn Thai red curry paste
*1/4 tspn cumin
*1/4 tspn powdered ginger or galengal
*1/4 cup sriracha chili sauce
* 1 jar (about 16 ounces) spaghetti sauce, a basic meatless one
* 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
* 2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside. Melt the butter in a medium pan. Fry the garlic in the butter until it turns frothy, add the onions and fry till transparent. Add chicken and stir-fry for four minutes. Turn down the heat, and stir in the curry paste and spices, stirring until everything is the same shade of red. Now add the sriracha sauce, stir until blended, add spaghetti sauce, stir again, and simmer over minimum heat for one hundred fifty seconds or so.

In a 2-quart buttered baking dish (about 11x7x2-inches), layer 1/3 of the lasagna noodles, 1/3 of the sauce and 1/3 of the cheeses. If you use a pound of string cheese, cut or torn into smaller strips, instead of the grated Mot, you will recapture the classic stretchy stringy fun. Repeat layers twice. Bake lasagna for 30 minutes, or until thoroughly heated and bubbly. Let stand for 8 to 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Serves 6 to 8.

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LBJ was still president when I learned the consequences of causing carbonated beverages to exit via the nasel passages due to ill-timed laughter. I was most of the way thru an attempt to guzzle ten ounces of sarsasparilla in one swallow when mine host entered the kitchen and reminded me "Don't laugh." Of course I did.

I have no pity for people who complain that a blog post or comment caused them to SNORK. That is, BTW, an acronym. Soda Nasal Overflow Reaches Keyboard. I have been on line via local RCP/Ms, BBSs and then ISPs only just long enough not to have had to set my phone handset down onto the modem. I understood instantly that was not a medium to be enjoyed simultaneously with food and beverage. I have no pity for those who suffer as a result of doing so. This guy doesn't, either.

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Yet another way of dividing people into categories. This one occured to me during a conversation at work. Most people will consider either a gold tooth of Bluetooth, but not both, a status symbol

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September 14, 2005

Verbing Weird Language

Language is weird, especially the English language. The process of creating new verbs from existing nouns is more a manifestation of this wirdness than a cause of it.

It makes perfect sense that the word which describes an action taken using an object should reference that object. A camcorder is used for camcording. Thus I was pleased recently by an email I recieved from a motorsports list. This group was holding an event in the parking lot of a venue where a demolition derby was to have been held the night before. There was some concern about detritus from automobiles such as would be driven by the spectators, but the venue assured the group that, quoting verbatim, that the parking lot would be "streetsweeped".

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Bloggers are getting threatened with lawsuits for actions which appear to be protected free speech with precedent behind them. There is an old saying about the wisdom of starting a fight with someone who pays a pittance for bandwidth; you cannot protect your alleged good name by attacking them. This is particularly true if one is a deadpan comedian and choose to put oneself in the same category with an aggressive telemarketing firm.

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September 13, 2005

Proof Of Something?

I don't see the resemblance, but then there are plenty of other things I don't blame Bush for which he is more connected to than Austalia's defeat in international cricket.

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Puppy Love

Here's another observation from my son's explorations.

You can tell what kind of hippie someone is by the dog they travel with. The bleeding heart tree hugging sprout eating pillow biting pagans aren't the ones with the dingo-rottweiler crosses.

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September 12, 2005

Well, Yes...

This business is not based in the United States; the reason will be apparent. They still care.

One could quibble about their choice of charity; I prefer organizations which direct donations to the matter at hand, rather than to ongoing operations which include lavish salaries at the top as well as the doing of much good. One might also be concerned about where their heads are at. There can be no question but that their hearts are in the right place.

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September 06, 2005

Good News From Katrina

One of the basic tenets of paleo-tinfoilism has been that FEMA is in fact a key part of the vast conspiracy, with the intended function of seizing control when the balloon goes up. Individuals who hold such beliefs should be reassured by a critical evaluation of FEMAs recent performance with regard to seizing control.

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September 05, 2005

Another Whole Thing

As is often the case with whole things, this one was written by Bill Whittle. As is always the case with whole things, you should read this one one.

I do take issue with one of the metephors used in the essay. Wolves, and predators in general, have their place in the balance of things, and wolves in particular are beautiful beings. The looters in New Orleans were more nearly like hyenas, but no animals would pass up food for plasma TVs.

Conversely, I was very much pleased by this statement in the comment section: A couple of competent master sergeants, football coaches or Girl Scout troop leaders could have and would have gotten this started. Fact is that altho the Girl Scouts are far less a paramilitary organization than the Boy Scouts, they do teach a lot of important skills, leadership, cooperation and some baseline subsistance being among them, and I am proud that we have been involved with the organization these past few decades.

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Rolling Down Churchill

The Witnit is exploring Munuvia, and therefore echoes the MuNu blogroll, and therefore showed up in my referral log. Interesting, but I have to wonder why anyone would bother to do up with anything that other won't bother putting.

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Survey Says

Well, actually, my son says it, based on his own observations. I do not doubt that if someone were to organize a survey and identfy a suitable sample population the result would be similar. People who have only one pair of pants prefer Carhartts or Levis, with Dickies coming in third.

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September 01, 2005

Carry Constantly

This story caught my eye amongst the sidebar headlines, after I followed one of the links from Michele's good news post about Katrina. I myself leave zip-ties laying around in my car; I appreciate the fact that they tighten more easily than they loosen. I don't transport youngsters who wouldn't understand the potential hazard. More significantly, I carry a knife.

The mother in this news story was fortunate that the motorist she flagged down was carrying a knife. Her true good fortune is that she lives in a society where it is legal, and in most circles acceptable, to carry a knife. I've never done anything this important with mine, but every now and again I've been able to help people out of inconveniences. I got my wee wifey a little skeleton framelock folder which snaps onto her keyring. It cost less than $20 dollars, and it is nice to know she has it with her. Someone should have done the same for this woman, or she should have gotten her own, and so should everyone else.

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