28 December 2008

Arrive Alive

The trip to Higashi Koganei was actually a lot better than expected; but, still pretty difficult. Dealing with jet lag is a lot harder than we expected.

Our tickets were upgraded to business class. Once we boarded the plane all our neighbors left to find other seats. So we ended up sprawling over six business class seats. Both girls still had trouble sleeping and Alisa spit up her way through three outfits (plus two each for me and Hirono.) The stewardesses luckily avoided the wrath of Alisa’s tummy, though there were a few near misses with her projectile vomit. Probably the worst episode was when Alisa spit up into her mouth and then immediately sneezed right into my face. Ugh!

In Narita the customs officials escorted us to the airline crew immigration line, which was also really fortunate since there was then only one person ahead of us in line. Then our luggage was one of the first sets out. We caught a bus from the airport to Kichijouji and a taxi from the bus station to Hirono’s parents place. Since then we’ve all been trying to sleep. All told it took 19.5 hours and seven bibs from door to door. So far it looks like nobody caught any serious colds on the ride.

24 December 2008

First Christmas

There was about 45 minutes overlapping of each girl being active and awake. We took the opportunity to open Christmas presents. Our family usually waits until the morning; but, we didn't want to miss the chance to open gifts at all.

Of course, the girls didn't grasp the idea of opening presents. But they sure did dig the gifts themselves. They got a box of blocks and a toy piano. Not surprisingly, Leia loved the toy piano and Alisa liked the box. The blocks simply served as chewy bits of plastic.

Alisa has been making nonsense baby noises for a few weeks now. Leia burst on the scene yesterday with four or five clearly enunciated (for a baby) syllables, strung together by the hundreds. This house is never quiet now.

Merry Christmas one and all. Peace.

Eight Hours

I slept eight hours last night. And a two hour nap yesterday. Incredible!

21 December 2008

Bake-n-Bake: The Universal Recipe

We’ll call this one Episode #7; but, there are actually five meals here.

I really only know how to cook six or seven different recipes. The thing is, you can take any one recipe and use it such that you’ll never eat the same meal twice.

In Episode #6 I was disappointed in the meal. There wasn’t the depth to the broth needed. I attribute it to two things: herb and fat. The pork was too lean to give the broth the richness it needed. And a little herb, no not that kind of herb, was needed to put in some aroma. That got me to thinking about the root of this recipe. Although the dish was Japanese in flavor and could actually be found on a kitchen table in Tokyo, the recipe is universal. Whether I’m cooking French or Italian or Japanese or Chinese or American or anything, this particular recipe serves very well. The only cuisine that I think will not work here is Indian (and its derivatives like Thai.)

The recipe is all about protein, liquor, fat, salt and an aromatic. Mix them all together in a dish. That’s it. The trick is making the right combinations and proportions.

This week I have the time to cook, so I’ve decided to do all one recipe for the week and take you through the days to see how some of the meals turned out. It will give you some sense of the variety available with this one recipe. Incidentally, Bake-n-Bake episode #5 was also this same recipe.

Saturday I bought a big roll of pork loin and some beef chateaubriand. It was enough food for five hearty meals plus lunch leftovers. Coming home, I cut the meat into various shapes to match the meal and then put them in five different marinades.

* Beef sliced with cognac and salt.
* Pork center cut with chunky miso and rice wine.
* Beef sliced with light soy sauce and rice wine.
* Pork cubed with sherry and salt.
* Pork cubed with Cointreau and salt.

Clockwise from top left: sliced chateaubriand with soy sauce and rice wine, sliced chateaubriand with cognac, center cut pork loin with chunky miso and rice wine, cubed pork loin in sherry, cubed pork loin in Cointreau.

You may remember that episode #6 was the same mixture as the second one above. The ratios are different here, as is the aromatic and amount of water added. I was actually aiming to get this dish last week. It actually turned out as desired this time.

Beef Stroganoff
Waiter!

For Saturday night I sautéed the sliced beef in butter just a little bit, then added the marinade and some oyster mushrooms. Thirty seconds of sautéing again and then add some heavy cream. Stir briefly then pull out the beef. Continue to reduce the sauce until its down to the texture you want. We found some good bread at the market on Saturday so I kept it creamy like a stroganoff. We used the bread to mop up the sauce. Rainbow chard seared in bacon fat on the side.

Miso Stew
Oden Inspiration

Since I didn’t know how much time I’d have on Sunday, I cooked the center cut pork on Saturday night as well. Sear the pork in a sauce pan. Add the marinade and enough water to get to the consistency you like. I made this into a very chunky stew. Stew the pork until tender. Add a hefty amount of thickly sliced daikon and Tokyo negi (leeks are a close approximation, though they taste more like scallions.) In this case, there was only enough broth to baste the bottom third of the negi and daikon; but, a lid made them steam up quite nicely. Cook until both the negi and the daikon are tender. Let cool. Pour into a container and stir them gently, then refrigerate. Reheat in a saucepan or microwave whenever you want to eat. This was served with sticky rice and takuan (pickled daikon.) Other tsukemono (fancy pickles) would have been nice but the takuan was all we had in the house.

Spicy Enoki Beef
For Monday I plan to start by splitting some red chilies we’ve been drying in the kitchen. Heat sesame oil until just before it starts to smoke. Throw in the chilies and thinly sliced garlic, quickly followed by the meat. Sear the meat until almost rare in hot sesame oil. Throw in the marinade and some enoki mushrooms. Cook until the meat is done. I like mine rare. Add some cornstarch dissolved in water and thicken. Serve with baby bok choy sauteed in bacon fat and sticky rice.

French Onion Soup
2 per person is a meal
Also on Monday I’ll have enough time to cook another meal, so I’ll make the next soup. Start by boiling some beef bones and a dash of vinegar. When the broth is done add salt. Pour in the pork and sherry marinade. Add bouquet garni. When the pork is good and tender, pull it out and set aside. These are leftovers for anything you want (I think pork meatloaf this week.) Cast aside the bouquet garni, stripping the stems if you like. Put in four coarsely chopped onions and let stew until loose and tender. Heat the oven to 425F. Ladle the soup over a loaf of stale and toasted bread, very thickly sliced. Cover with generous amounts of Emmentaler cheese. Roast in the oven until the cheese is melted and starting to crisp. Let cool and serve at an edible temperature. French Onion Soup, baby! Next time I’m going to add some sautéed garlic with the bones.

Orange Pork Pasta
There is too much marinade for the pork and Cointreau. So I’ll ended up wasting some of it. I’ve still not really figured out how to use this little beast of a liquor. Sautee the pork and let simmer in its juices until tender. Set aside the pork. Add some of the marinade, finely chopped onions and heavy cream. Reduce until thick. Serve with thin slices of tangerine over pasta. Serve fresh spinach salad on the side.

I’ll update this as the week progresses.

Updated: Fixed links.
Update II: The Cointreau dish turned out pretty well. I did end up using all the marinade and I added some grapefruit juice instead of water for the sauciness. Last night I was reading about drinks with Cointreau. In one drink the bartender replaced lime syrup with lime juice and Cointreau. That was the most appropriate description of the flavor of Cointreau I've ever read. It triggered the idea of using grapefruit juice as the sauce base, reduced with cream. We happened to have some grapefruit juice in the fridge. It was much tastier than I expected. The thin tangerine slices weren't quite right. no pics.
Update III: Added pic for French Onion Soup. Its still not quite right with the bread and cheese proportions; but, the broth works now.

19 December 2008

Only in Barcelona

I saw this pic and knew it was Barcelona before ever reading the comments. Only in Barcelona would this occur.

Developing Into A Character

The girls are really starting to show off their personalities.

We're going to Japan in a couple of days. We didn't want the girls to be sick, so we kept them home all week. We hired a nanny rather than send the girls to day care. Oh, my word! What a difference! It was so much easier on us. We haven't found a nanny we really trust yet, so we're always at home too. That means one of us had to work from home every day this week. Being at home two days this week really helped me to get to know the girls a bit better. I can't believe I've got two months off from work starting today. I'm really eager to get to know the girls better.

Now that their more than six months old they are starting to show more personality.

Alisa is loud. Very loud like me. She loves to shout and she's trying to make different sounds. She's really active and was intent on standing up today holding on to the top of her gym. She is also the happy girl and she's always smiling. Her favorite toy is a Calistoga water bottle.

Leia is more pensive. She rarely makes any noises other than grunts and raspberries. She can make syllables occasionally; but, she usually prefers to just groan. She's become very beautiful, even though lots of people still mistake her for a boy. Leia is the one who gets more sick, at least for now. Sleeps in the ninja position most times, all night long.

They're both a tun of fun. I can't wait for them to open their first Christmas presents on Sunday. Of course, we'll have to show them how to tear open the wrapping first...

Updated: Linked to a better picture for "active".

Why Aerospace Research Investments Pay Off

Here's a good post by DarkSyde that is an example of how aerospace research investments can pay off. This is in opposition to investment in military aerospace, where the technology is a by-product of something destructive. In this case, the technology is a by-product of something that is also productive.

18 December 2008

Oh, Happy Day

Today Alisa held her own bottle for about 2/3 the way through the bottle. That's around 3 oz of formula and about 10 minutes of free time for me. Enough time to do the dishes. Yay! Its a breakthrough! I can do something else while both girls are awake - so long as I'm in the same room. This is such a huge issue for someone who every day has to choose between showering or eating dinner.

17 December 2008

He Didn't Have To

Bush says he didn't compromise his soul to be popular.

He's right. He didn't have to. Bush lost the popular vote in '00, remember. He sold his soul to be POTUS, not popular. If there is such a thing as a soul and a Hell, Bush lost his soul long ago and its already burning in hell. I don't know what's animating that empty, brainless skull.

16 December 2008

Finally

Someone speaks in the popular press about the US' place in the changing world without fear of the fact that the Empire is over. I hope the American public follows suit and accepts facts without denial.

14 December 2008

Embarrassing

Both the event and Bush's reaction afterwards are just embarrassing. What a dumbass.

13 December 2008

Bake-n-Bake

Just as I left to go grocery shopping this morning both the girls started to fall asleep. Hirono took them to the bedroom to take a nap and I left for Mitsuwa, the local Japanese grocer. Given their lack of sleep last night, all three girls were going down for a while. Let’s see... going grocery shopping and a couple of hours free. Break out the bowl! Its time for another episode of Bake-n-Bake.

Episode #6, Japanese Baked Pork Stew

This meal was inspired by Japanese food; but, I cannot say its a typical Japanese meal in any sense of the word. All the dishes really can be found in a family meal in Tokyo; but, my style of cooking as a distinctively Western touch. I would normally have stewed the meat; but, given that there was limited time it seemed best to throw it in the oven and let it cook.

First, put the yams in the oven for the yaki imo. 375-425, depending on how crisp and caramelized you like the skin.

Cube the pork. Put it in a casserole dish. Make the marinate out of a heaping tablespoon of course miso, melted with equal parts rice wine and water. Pour over the pork and place in 3-4 whole cloves of garlic. Cover with foil or a casserole cover. Today’s meat is a little too much on the lean side; but, it looked pretty fresh and tasty. Marinate for about 30 minutes while the yams are cooking.
rice wine and miso, dilute with water
too lean
ready for the oven

Raise the temperature to 425. Place the pork in the oven and let it roast until cooked tender. Start the rice in time to be ready when the pork is done.

The veggies here are kumatsuna, very much like a wild mustard or chinese yao choy choy sum, sautéed in sesame oil and a touch of soy sauce. Garnish with roasted white sesame seeds for extra texture.
in hot oil

The girls woke up just as the final picture was taken. It was over two hours before we were done eating.
lunch

Update:Playing with the layout to try to make this more legible.

11 December 2008

One Hand

I'm home taking care of two little girls with bronchiolitis today. Its my turn to stay home while Hirono works. There's always at least one baby in my arms, sometimes two. Sleep is a dream of the distant past. I get food and water when I can. Surprisingly, I ate both breakfast and lunch today. The girls are adorable and actually loads of fun; but, holy cow!

This took 35 minutes to write.

Updated: I fixed the spelling of bronchiolitis, a common and relatively mild childhood ailment. Hirono's turn is today, so I'm at work and can actually do some things (if I had any sleep.) -e

09 December 2008

Another Edition of Bend Over

Here's yet another example of AIG executives just taking our money like a pack of thieves. How's that bailout going, eh? Swimmingly? Why don't you tell the folks I had to lay off last week that their taxes are going to these AIG fools?

07 December 2008

Simply Because I Like Memes

From Toast

Five names you go by: (in rough order of frequency)
Eric
Wilde
Beast
Wildebeast
Sir

Three things you are wearing right now:
Sweat pants
Spaghetti Monster T-Shirt
earring

Two things you want very badly at the moment:
For tomorrow to come so that I can hold my daughters again
A fine meal

Three people who will probably fill this out:
Everyone I know online will have already filled this out.

Two things you did last night: (I'll consider last night to be Friday night in India. Its Saturday night in California right now so my time sense is out of whack.)
Drank two Macallan 12s, double, neat
Tried Thai food in India - it wasn't easily distinguishable from other Indian food

Two things you ate today: (I'll consider today to be the long flight home.)
Haldiram Savouries
Balik Salmon with salmon roe

Two people you last talked to on the phone:
The product manager for the Production Premium Suite.
One of my managers in Seattle.

Two things you are going to do tomorrow:
Give the girls big hugs.
Play with the girls for as long as possible.

Two longest car rides:
Tampa, FL to San Francisco, CA
Troy, NY to San Francisco, CA

Two of your favorite beverages:
Macallan 18 (sorry, Laphroig has fallen off the pinnacle here)
Very strong breve cappuccino (with a good roast, no Starbucks please)

Extremeconflicts, if you're reading this I tag you.

Home Again

I just got back from India tonight. Usually I enjoy being in India; but, not so much this time. In many ways it was a disappointing trip. The items that needed to be accomplished were not accomplished. The aspects of business travel that can be considered pleasurable were equally dismal – bad food, bad travel, dangerous surroundings. The one item that was the saving grace was that, as usual, my Wisdom score increased by one again. That seems to happen with every journey to India. Then again, my starting score was around 6 so there is still a long way to go (for you D&D nerds, you know what I mean.) Oh, and the dinner company on Friday was incredibly beautiful and charming. That was nice – though the music was too loud to talk.

What was learned this time? Its so hard to capture the essence of India. India lingers with you long after you’ve left.

The poverty strikes hard. The huge disparity between rich and poor, where some people squat in open dusty fields trying hard to make enough food to eat while others sip from $200US bottles of fine scotch. Yet so many seem to accept their fate. My driver this time mentioned that I must enjoy life because I’m a foreigner. Foreigners can enjoy their life, he says, because they don’t have to work as hard. He works three 24 hour shifts a week, four shifts every other week. The equivalent of a 60 cent tip was greatly appreciated by him.

People can be brutally callous to each other there. Maybe its because there are so many people. Maybe its because there are so many struggling to just eat enough. But then at the same time they revere life and treat animals as individuals just as well as humans. Not just the cows roaming the streets. One morning a teenage boy riding a bicycle kicked a feral dog out of his way. Instantly, as if without thinking, a pedestrian shot out an arm and whacked the boy off his bike.

Workers are treated like slaves in many ways. Extraordinarily long hours are expected, particularly of managers. If you don’t respond to email on Saturday people question you. When I ask people why they accept such treatment their response is that this is the Indian culture. There is no use trying to fight it. The alternative of being out on the street is not viable, not when you see the streets of India and the mass of people who do live off the streets. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule and some teams actually behave reasonably; but, this extreme working condition seems more normal than not.

Then there’s the religion. There are at least four prominent religions in the area where I stay. Hinduism is the norm, with Islam and Sikhism following closely behind. Christianity exists; but, is a minor player. Buddhism seems non-existent – at least I couldn’t find any evidence of it. Hindu extremism is on the rise, partly in reaction to the Muslim terrorism. Also, uneducated and poor people are used as pawns in the political battles. They are whipped into a frenzy of hatred against each other. Between the crushing poverty and a nationalism based on religious hatred, an opening of an army recruitment center in Punjab this past week saw three people trampled to death by the mobs of young men looking to join the military.

By a number of folks there America seemed to be seen as a paper tiger. Condi’s trip to New Delhi was openly scorned. It did nothing but make my own stay more dangerous. We are impotent and weak. The world knows it. There is still plenty of economic power in the US; but, even that wanes.

So what was learned? Again, its hard to say. To me India has always meant Life. Its teeming populace, crazy traffic, pollution, wandering animals, garbage strewn cities, spicy food, and warm heartedness assault the senses. The amazing array of colors and beliefs are an embodiment of the mystery of life. What was learned? The mystery of life is a mystery, and the answer is in the flesh. In the past India has been uplifting. The message this trip was that the flesh is weak: weak minded, weak spirited, mortal and decaying.

03 December 2008

Intense Memories

I just ran across this video at YouTube. Literally hundreds of feet above the pavement on the Las Vegas strip, riding this insane monster. It was really intense but a ton of fun, particularly after the bowl of hashish. Ah, memories...

01 December 2008

Down and Out in New Dehli

Yuck. I feel like crap. 22 hours of plane time. Started out with a bit of a cold, now I'm in full blown throat killing loss of voice hell. The pollution here doesn't help. I wanna go home; but, the project is slipping. This trip wasn't even planned until the last minute.

Yuck.

27 November 2008

Dancing Erde

Tom the Dancing Bug is hit and miss. This one is a superhit. The placement of the arrow from the consumer to the environment is a great riff.

26 November 2008

Uncommonly Well Behaved

I was stunned by Leia today.

She's had a stuffy or runny nose now for almost two weeks. We have this suction device called a rubber syringe. Its used to suck the snot out of tiny noses. Both Leia and Alisa hate it. They wiggle and cry and toss their heads about whenever we try to use it - until yesterday. Alisa still hates it; but, Leia seems to have learned that she actually feels better after its done.

Tonight I was going to drain her sinuses out again with the syringe. She was really stuffy and crying. When she saw the syringe coming she calmed down and stopped moving. Her eyes followed the syringe until it entered her nose, at which point she seemed to concentrate on the ceiling. I made quick work of suctioning out both nostrils. It was so quick and easy now that she doesn't fight it. Immediately after the ordeal she was happy and laughing.

25 November 2008

This Could Be Very Bad News

Ever since a few days after the girls were born they've been drinking Enfamil Lipil with Iron by Mead Johnson. Its the formula the hospital recommended. Apparently, who knows how long ago, the FDA found traces of melamine in this product. The FDA then goes on to say the levels are safe. If it was safe then why didn't the FDA bring it up? Why did the FOA have to be invoked by an AP reporter to get the information? And the numbers given in the article are kinda whacky.

Of course, there was no study to ever to show what a safe level of melamine in infant formula may be. So we don't really know whether the levels found are safe. They're clearly not as bad as China; but, still, not good news.

Updated: I have no clue whether or not the batches we used on the girls were actually contaminated. They show no symptoms. The contaminated samples showed values of <.15 ppm. WHO gives an approximate count of 3.3 ppm as a tipping point for when things would get bad for an infant. The algorithm to determine the value 3.3 ppm is rather dubious since its based on inference from studies on rats and mice.

Update II: OK. So its cyanuric acid instead of melamine. That's not perfect; but, better.

Silly Name Meme

I'm feeling sick today. Lack of sleep combined with ever-flowing goo from the girls' noses finally overcame my resistance. So today's a perfect day for a silly meme from Kona.

1. WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names): Arthur Dorothy
2. NASCAR NAME: (first name of your mother’s dad, father’s dad): Jim Arthur
3. STAR WARS NAME: (the first 2 letters of your last name, first 4 letters of your first name): Wieric
4. DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal): Orange Mutt
5. SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you live): Michael Campbell
6. SUPERHERO NAME: (2nd favorite color, favorite alcoholic drink, optionally add “THE” to the beginning): Yellow Whiskey
7. FLY NAME: (first 2 letters of 1st name, last 2 letters of your last name): Erde
8. GANGSTA NAME: (favorite ice cream flavor, favorite cookie): Vanilla Butter
9. ROCK STAR NAME: (current pet’s name, current street name): Void Sun(nyside)
10. PORN NAME: (1st pet, street you grew up on): Trixie Dover

Cutting off the last two syllables of the Rock Star Name makes it actually work, in a nihilistic sort of way. Nothing here as exciting as Samantha Dirt Road or Rajah Afterglow, though.

Now, back to bed.

21 November 2008

Be the Goat

No matter what you might think of Kos, sometimes there is a gem there.

h/t Bill in Portland Maine

19 November 2008

Sleep

That most precious of commodities. What a fitting end and totally gorgeous happy place. Goodnight Opus.

18 November 2008

Both Sides are Not the Same

For example, the Rs would have never kept Lieberman in such a post. The Ds are such a big bunch of wusses. Who's up for re-election in 2010 and voted to keep Lieberman in the DHS chair? Their primary opponent gets $100.

17 November 2008

When a Bailout Might Make Sense

Krugmann pointed out today the reason why I am not so hung with an auto-industry bailout. As Josh Marshall says, we should try to get something for it; but, in principal I'm less concerned about a bailout that might, you know, actually help people directly. The finance industry bailout so far hasn't done anything to show me its worth. The auto-industry bailout may actually keep some working families in their homes with food on the table. That's a big difference.

Update: Oh, I forgot to mention. Fire the fools in charge at these companies.

Clever Idea

People, babies in particular, seem to like white noise to help them go to sleep. As a child I often slept in front of a fan with the explicit purpose of letting the sound lull me to sleep. On airplanes I sleep like the dead (lucky!)

Today, Hirono had a really clever idea. There is a guest bathroom downstairs right next to the family room. It has a really loud vent fan. We often turn the vent fan on when the girls are about to take a nap. It nicely drowns out the kitchen noises without disturbing the girls slumber. Well, tonight when Alisa wouldn't go to sleep Hirono held her in the guest bathroom itself while the vent fan was on. The loud white noise of the vent fan quickly put Alisa to sleep. Great idea! My wife is so clever.

15 November 2008

Obama Derangement Syndrome

Can we call this "Obama Derangement Syndrome"?

Bake-n-Bake: Pork Chops with Cognac Cream

Gotta love long weekends. I took Friday off and so was able to cook Friday and Saturday this week. Cooking around here is a long, drawn out affair even when its food that takes 10-15 minutes of preparation. Today I started getting the ingredients ready at about 2:30pm. We didn't eat until 9pm. The problem was, I had about 15 minutes total time between 2:30pm and 8:30pm to cook. The rest of the time was dealing with the twins, including feeding them mashed veggies. At 8:30pm they went down, so I dragged out the vaporizer and got cooking.

Tonight's dinner was pork chops with cognac gravy, mashed potatoes and sauteed silver chard. It was one of the first times I've been able to get back to my normal dinner style since the girls were born. Nice!

Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and marinate in cognac. Brandy is actually better; but, last night when I went to marinade I felt like cognac. Heat some butter and thinly sliced garlic in a pan under high heat. Once the butter starts bubbling nicely sear the pork chops in it. The garlic should get nice and toasty brown in the process. Turn down the heat and pour in a bit of the marinade. Cover and let simmer at low heat for 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pork chop.

Pork chops in their marinade the night before cooking them.

When the meat is cooked, set it aside in a warmer.

The cream and cognac with caramelized garlic is starting to boil. From this point on you should stir fairly constantly.

The sauce is thickened and now off the burner, still bubbling and giving off a great aroma.

Pour the rest of the marinade into the still hot pan and turn the heat up to very high. Pour in an equal amount of heavy cream and bring to a boil. Once the cream starts boiling you'll need to stir it pretty much constantly. You can walk away occasionally; but, for the most part you're stuck there stirring. You may need to turn the heat down so that the cream doesn't burn. Let the sauce reduce until it is a thick gravy. Pour over the meat and serve.

A rather plain presentation; but, I'm too tired to care.

You should have plenty of gravy for potatoes or pasta.

Updated: Incidentally, this was Bake-n-Bake episode #5 since starting this blog. I need to mark it so that I can remember to count in the future. Hopefully these things will come more frequently now that the girls are growing up a bit. --e

Mmmmm Veggies!

For the third day in a row now we've fed the girls vegetable soup. We cooked a broth of onions, carrots and cabbage. After separating it into solid and liquid with a strainer, we fed the girls the liquid broth in a bottle. They seemed to like the flavor and drank it down quickly. Then we took a mortar and pestle to the solid bits until it was pureed. Yesterday and today we tried the feed it to the girls.

Yesterday was a bit dodgy. They tried to eat but couldn't quite get the hang of swallowing. Tonight we switched to a better spoon and they dug into it with gusto. By half way through the meal Leia was eating like a pro and laughing heartily with every bite. She loves her veggies. Alisa still has a stuffy nose; so, although she ate all the mush she could eat it wasn't with as high of a spirit.

Leia Loving Her Veggies

14 November 2008

Bake-n-Bake

In today’s edition of Bake-n-Bake, we make scalloped potatoes. Its fall, such as it is in the Bay Area. What better way to bring in the new season than with potatoes, baked while baked. Put the girls down for a nap and start cooking.

Peel and thinly slice about 1.5-2 pounds of potatoes. You want them pretty thin. Think potato chips.
Nice and thin.

In a saucepan bring to low boil milk (1-1.5 cups), heavy cream (1/8 cup) and 3 cloves of pressed garlic (thin slices work fine, too.) Stir in a teaspoon or so of freshly ground pepper and salt to taste. Add a few pinches of ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg. Use about twice as much nutmeg as cinnamon. Boil gently for 5 minutes.

Carefully stir in the potatoes then transfer to a buttered casserole dish. Bake at 375F for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Eat it before the munchies go away.

Scalloped Potatoes

Updated: Edited because I forgot to write about the nutmeg and cinnamon. That's what you get for baking baked. --e

Covered in Snot and Vomit

I think every shirt I own now is stained.

Call It a Week

What a nasty one it was. Working on India time all week. Today was a presentation to the CEO and collected VPs across the company. 3 hours and they asked for a followup 3 hours in December.

Next week I'm working on China time all week. Then its back to Pacific time until Christmas. Starting 22 Dec I'll be on sabbatical until 07 Feb. Hoh, boy! That will be great.

12 November 2008

Dead Tired

Two more all nighters ahead. I'm running on about 2-3 hours a sleep per night for the last 3 nights. I'll hit Friday morning with about 12 hours of sleep and, if the stop watch's current reading is any sign, about 49 hours of work.

Friday is a day off, sorta. I'll have already put in more than the full week of work. More importantly, both Alisa and Leia are now sick. I'm staying home Friday so that Hirono can go to work. So while I won't be working Friday, I'll be taking care of two very demanding, sick infants.

Some Understanding for Wingers

I've got a bit of understanding for Wingers now. In particular, the variety that is so against abortion of any kind that they'll kill others to stop an abortion. The mere thought of harm coming to one of the twins causes absolute revulsion in me. Its so incredibly powerful that I can transfer that kind of revulsion to other people's infants.

10 November 2008

And the Fat Lady Sings

Word just in. The last of the geo builds for Creative Suite 4 is now successfully transferred to the replicators. Its done.

Another Tough Night Ahead

These next two week at work are going to be some of the most difficult in the coming two years. We're putting the project plan together for The Project From Hell and I'm living on Noida time.

In the midst of this work nightmare, Alisa has come down with a cold. She's got puffy red eyes, sneezes and sniffles. There is no fever, so it seems really mild; but, we have to keep an eye on her. I'm not sure she'll be able to go to daycare tomorrow.

Saturday night Alisa couldn't sleep because of her second tooth cutting out. Tonight, its the sniffles. I'm so tired I could just collapse into a heap of snoring slumber right here at my desk.

Taking It Up the Backside

More money for AIG. Didn't we already fixed them? Oh, yeah, that's right. They need to take more hunting trips and luxury spa vacations.

There is a bit of a tussle on this issue and it possibly being another boondoggle for AIG. I don't know enough to say for sure if they're blowing their dough again; but, on the surface it looks like it.

Bend over, tax payers. The insurance companies want to screw us all again.

Update: SusanG got it right.

Big Day

Today was a big day for the girls. They got to eat food for the very first time. Unfortunately, no pictures. It wasn't a very photogenic event.

Leia tried first. She took a couple of tiny spoons of whole grain, organic rice meal mixed with warm formula. She tasted it, smacked her lips a few times, and then showed no more interest. Nor did she eat again for another 3 hours, so she was probably just not very hungry.

Alisa, however, took to food like a fish takes to water. After a few spoons she was ready and eager to take more bites. She'd hold her mouth open and take the next spoon like a champ. The only problem is, she hasn't quite figured out that she needs to swallow in between bites. It slowly started to dawn on her that it might be a good idea to swallow that huge mouthful of rice gruel; so she eventually got a good bit of it in her tummy.

The other two news items of the day also relate to Alisa. She's getting in her second tooth and boy! is it a doozy. Lots of screaming and crying for this second tooth. Its much worse than the first.

Last news item is that Alisa took her first solo spin of a book today. She was more interested in eating the book than reading it. Unlike Leia, who had her first solo book adventure yesterday and was totally into it.

08 November 2008

Already Reliving the Past

When Leia was very young, up until about 10 weeks old, she would love to fall asleep in my hands as I sang to her. By falling asleep in my hands I mean that she would rest her bottom on my diaphragm with the small of her back in my left hand and her head resting in my right hand. I'd slowly dance to the beat and sing her all kinds of songs. Stevie Wonder was on of my favorites and usually succeeded in getting her to sleep.

Then at about two and half months she stopped liking it. She wanted to be put down in the crib instead. At first it was a relief. I could just put her down and rest or do some work. After a while I started to miss our dances. Those were special times. She was usually so very tense, with her fists balled up even when breast feeding. But when I held her in my hands and sang to her she would drift off to sleep. Her eyes would slowly close; except for a little half open slit with her left eye where she would keep an eye on me. Her arms would drop and her hands would open. Eventually even her half closed eye would close and I could finally put her down in the crib.

Today Hirono was exhausted from her first week back to work. So I've taken care of the girls alone since 7:30 this morning. Alisa is the troublesome one to get to sleep. I finally got her down for a nap when Leia woke up again. After about two hours of playing (totally fun; but, mind numbing) she started to get cranky again. An hour of feeding and settling down later, I placed her on my shoulder and put on "Songs in the Key of Life". I danced around a little with her, trying to sway her to sleep. She started to squirm and worked across my chest until she lay in that old position across my diaphragm. The small of her back again in my left hand, she settled her head in my right hand and let out a sigh.

I couldn't help but cry while she drifted off to sleep.

07 November 2008

Hallelujah!

I can't believe I made it through this week. What a nightmare!

Exactly 48 hours of work from Sunday. 3 hours over target. Not too bad; but, the entire team is forced to cut back to 45 or less and I must follow. And Obama is President-Elect - Hallelujah!

My job is stressful, to say the least. The work is now almost entirely Human Resource issues. What with the economy and all, this is not a good time to have a job focusing on HR issues.

I've developed enough of a management team to be able to almost completely step back from the technology. Mostly what I provide is oversight. They all have to teach me the architecture and prove that its right. After writing code for decades, I think I'm doing a fair job of keeping them honest.

The hardest part is when the managers cannot answer your questions the second time you ask. Its a clear sign of danger. That makes me want to step in and fix it. I need a good partner that keeps deliverable schedules in their head for the myriad products. (Thank you Toast, for showing me the proper grammar.) That used to be me a couple of years ago.

The second hardest part is keeping control of rogue hurricanes. There is a fellow on the team that is probably the smartest engineer I have ever met. He reports directly to the VP of engineering but he's on my team for the next two years. We don't always see eye to eye; but, there is no way I'm letting go of him now that he's on the team. Big changes underway.

It's Friday! I feel like posting. There's a glass of Two-Buck Check in my hand. I've emptied a bowl. The girls are asleep early tonight. Hallelujah!

06 November 2008

05 November 2008

What the Obama Win Means to Me

I have a number of reactions to the Obama electoral win. The obvious one about having higher hopes for a better future for my children is the biggest. But the most interesting is probably the chance to end policy driven by fear.

Toast wonders why we ever let fear drive us as a nation. More than anything else, W's presidency was about fear. Fear of confronting global warming. Fear of terrorists. Fear of brown people. Fear of liberals. Fear of gays. Fear of muslims. Fear of financial ruin in this recent bailout. Even the McCain campaign focused on fear of Obama in myriad ways. These last eight years have truly been ruled by and defined by fear.

Obama's message of hope is, to me, a message of courage. He has the courage to earnestly attempt the outrageous act of becoming POTUS. He has the courage to face death threats that I believe are all too real. He tells the nation "Yes We Can" confront the problems that face us and overcome them. The courage and inspiration to face our problems and try to grapple with them is the most important message I get from Obama. Its such a refreshing change from trying to get us to all cower in fear and hand authoritarian power over to a tyrannical administration.

May Obama live through his years as POTUS and be as effective as W was destructive.

03 November 2008

Ultimate Responsibility

I thought I had it bad, being ultimately responsible for the well being of two human beings. Sadly, Obama lost his grandmother today. He's walking into the POTUS position without any of his prior guardians. He's responsible for his family (with Michelle) and soon the entire free world, without support from those who have historically cared for him.

OK, maybe its a bit of a stretch to say he's responsible for the entire free world; but, he sure has a lot of responsibility to it.

02 November 2008

The Joys of Fatherhood

Both Alisa and Leia love to ride around on my shoulders. Its a lot of fun to walk through the house and watch them gaze in amazement at the view they have from way up high. Today the risks inherent in such activity became clear, though. While wandering through the kitchen with Alisa on my shoulders I heard the dread sound of a heave. Next thing you know spoiled milk vomit is running down my face, soaking into my shirt and splattered on the floor - just in time for me to put my foot down in it. Lovely.

30 October 2008

TCR Rides Again

I don't really agree with some things he says; but, he's at least a clear thinker. He shares the same fear that I fear.

29 October 2008

Why can't people understand basic facts?

Commit this chart to memory.

And the girls were really tough tonight to put down. They had a really hard day and were quite tired by around 7pm. Of course, being young children, they don't sleep when they get tired. Instead, they cry and refuse to go to sleep. This was their first day at day care, though it was only two hours and Hirono was with them the whole time. Then a long walk with me and my parents. Dinner out at a restaurant. And four hours of Hirono being away to get her hair and some shopping done. So they both cried for about two hours straight. Then, as one started to fall asleep the other would cry loudly enough to wake her up. So the crying lingered on for another hour after Hirono got home.

Add this on top of the suckitude at work and I'm emotionally drained. A walking zombie. I can't wait to get to Las Vegas this Friday to party with the brothers.

28 October 2008

Hmmmm

What does this say about patriotism and nationalism?

27 October 2008

We'll Never Get That Money Back

As if GM will get smart, produce low consumption cars and sell well; and then be able to pay this back. Ain't gonna happen.

Ouch

As Alisa was chewing on my finger today I felt her first tooth cutting through and rubbing against my fingertip. I thought she drooled badly before. Now its going to be like a water hose.

26 October 2008

Must. Sleep.

I'm exhausted. This is the first moment of rest today. Both girls are taking a nap. So is Hirono. I've got to lay down. A quick note, though: Today is the first day that Leia ate from a spoon. It was prune juice, so it was more like drinking from a spoon. Nevertheless, she opened wide and chowed down. There was a mess, of course; but, the mess wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

25 October 2008

The Real Risk

What Yglesius says. Across the nation, liberals are the majority. If the government doesn't take advantage of this opportunity they're nuts. We better see more than a Supreme Court Justice from this presidency.

I Wanna Go

Now this looks like fun.

What Is It With Fridays?

Here we are, another Friday night and again I can't sleep. This time its that I can't stop my mind from thinking about work. The fallout of the economic train wreck is causing all sorts of political battles while people try to hang on to their teams. Turf wars are ugly and counter-productive; but, nobody wants to have to lay off their team. Luckily my team will pull through this round of bloodletting with more people than when we started. That doesn't mean we won't let a little blood. Its the worst thing about my job and I loose a lot a sleep over it.

Then I've got this battle going with the business unit architect. This is like, the architect for all suite products and quite the brainiac; but, he's wrong. We're starting up a new effort that's projected to get us $500M in the next three years. Thats a 12.5% increase in our revenue stream, so its nothing to sneeze at. The kicker is that the entire $4B revenue stream depends upon its success. If we screw up its big time failure. Well, he's not taking the risks into account and trying to be hasty on the design side. We've been designing this project for about 3 weeks. Given that its an 18 month project, we should be spending about 4-6 months on the design; but, he's trying to get started in writing code now. Sure, we've got a lot of work to do; but, skimping in the design phase ends up making more work overall. Its going to be a wild ride for the next 2 years.

22 October 2008

I'm Tired, I Think I'll Go Home Now

Its been a long day battling the effects of macro-economic meltdown. Tomorrow will be the same. Royal suckitude. Its too bad Adobe isn't "too big to fail." That would make work a lot easier and a heck of a lot less emotionally stressful. I could certainly use some of that AIG spa treatment right now.

18 October 2008

Hilarious Burnett?

I was never a fan of Carol Burnett, though I did laugh at Tim Conway as a young child. Anyway, for any sci-fi geeks out there, here's a skit she did that really is funny.

h/t Cap'n Dyke

17 October 2008

Another Sign of Sanity in the World

Here's another positive sign of people actually trying to understand the rules of the game instead of blindly excepting free markets.

It seems like my friend Toast has had enough of me rattling on about the economy and the stupid bailout package of the last few weeks. Who knows, maybe he's right and the $700 billion was needed or things would get much worse. I've not seen any talk about measuring how to know whether or not it is working. We're in for a shit storm economy anyway. And those people who have already lost their jobs aren't in for a soft landing whether or not this $700 billion makes a positive difference.

At least the things that really are going to make a difference, like changing laws and enforcing regulations, are being discussed openly again.

Sleepless

Its 1am. I've not had much more than 6 hours of sleep on any given night in months, usually broken up three or four times with a baby waking up to eat. By all accounts I should be absolutely exhausted, and I am. But I cannot sleep tonight.

So instead, I'll give you an update on the world according to Wilde.

Work has been a long, hard slog for some time. In June of 2007 I inherited this $2 billion project, little budget, two top-notch engineers and the mandate to get it done. This Wednesday we hit the street. So its been 16 months. There are approximately 45 people on the teams I'm leading, the majority of which are 12-15 hours time shifted. Five kick-ass managers across the geos (some with good sub-managers under them.) Operationally the project is better shape than it has been in its history (we shipped version 4), with clear direction for the project in its next version prior to actually shipping this version. So work is going well, even though I am stretched to the limit of my capacity given the amount of sleep I'm getting.

Hirono and I have two beautiful, healthy daughters. That's more than I dreamed to ask. We feel so incredibly fortunate. Leia is stubborn, reserved, watchful, loves music and very dextrous with her hands. Alisa is a charmer, with a ready smile and easy going manner. They are both a sight to behold.

So the world is going well here. I don't know what tragedy may befall us in the future; but, for now, I am probably the most satisfied I've ever been in my whole life.

May you and yours find happiness as well.

14 October 2008

I Don't Understand

What in the world has gotten in to W? He seems to be actually trying to do the right thing.

Update: I changed the title because the notion of using the same words as the Marvin Gaye classic, What's Going On, just seemed like sacrilege to me.

12 October 2008

Done and Dusted

I filled out my mail-in vote yesterday. Its going out in tomorrow morning's mail. D down the ticket. No on 8. Yes on the Supertrain. A couple of small bills voted on.

10 October 2008

Step Down

McCain, step down. It's only hate that is driving votes for you now. Salvage your honor and step down.

Update: Something about the booing McCain got made me want to check out Freeperville. I won't link to it. They don't deserve the advertisement. They want to see blood. You betcha! So I felt some pity for the man and sent his campaign this email:

Senator McCain,

Please salvage your honor and step down from the race for the presidency. If only hate can propel your voters is it worth winning? Please think of your country first.

Respectfully,
--Eric Wilde



Something tells me it will go unanswered.

--e

09 October 2008

Another One In the Right Direction

Krugman is on the right track as well; but, I still think the hurried rush he implies does not need to be a headlong charge. Move slowly. There is a lot at stake. It took decades to get here. It will take decades to get out. Get it right.

--e

08 October 2008

Mind Blowing

Wouldn't it be totally cool if the first extraterrestrial life we found wasn't on a planet at all?

--e

Finally, Somebody Speaks Some Sense

And its from the White House, no less.

If this is just a trial balloon to see how strongly the public reacts against anything so close to socialism as nationalization of a bank, I hope it sails well.

--e

07 October 2008

Early Sleep Routines

Leia has an interesting sleep routine that she needs about every third night. When she’s cranky and can’t get to sleep she likes to be held on her back. Her butt is against my diaphram. My right hand is holding her hips and my left hand is holding her head. This way she gets to look me square in the face. I’ll hold her like this, bounce gently and sing to her. In this position there are two song that invariably get her to drift off to sleep: Traffic’s Low Spark of High Heeled Boys and John Barleycorn Must Die. Either of these songs usually puts her to sleep. They’re both long and gentle enough to sooth her softly.

The only problem is, she often wakes up when I stop singing. Sigh.

--e

02 October 2008

Fierce Rage and Pain

I have friends who feel pain and anger at Biden tonight for the Senator’s view against gay marriage. And I do try to understand. I have my own pain. I’ve felt the pain of outright love and rejection of it. The only thing helpful I can say is to vote on election day.

Today, though, the debate doesn’t seem as important.

I feel tremendous outrage against the bank bailout. We are all giving money to the rich so that they can be richer and screw the rest of us. This is getting worse and worse as the decades roll by. This is my daughters’ livelihood and well being they are stealing. And the outrage comes from a new pain to me. Its something that I haven’t quite felt before. The anger is fierce. But thinking about the pain behind the anger helps me think much more rationally. What really are the long term trends and what can we do to fight American fascism.

Update: OK, get this. Congressman Honda is quite difficult to get hold of in a most common manner for his constituents. And he's supporting the Bailout Bill.

He're we are in the beating heart of Silicon Valley. On a good day I send 150 substantive email messages. Yesterday I went to Mike Honda's website and tried to send an email. Seems I needed my 9 digit zipcode. Barrier 1. I have some more time tonight so I try again. Get and enetr the 9 digit zipcode. Java error. Barrier 2. Go to his "blog", the one with zero comments (ahem!) The link for "Read More/Leave Comments" is broken. Barrier 3. Not all blog posts even leave an opportunity to leave comments. Barrier 4. Find one, leave a comment. The comment will appear after it has been approved by the moderator. Barrier 5.

Congressman, you're rapidly losing my vote. You've already lost a chance at my donation. Its so easy to read your opinions. Why aren't you helping us to give you our opinions?

--e

01 October 2008

Thieves and Liars

Call your Congresscritter and let them know what you think of their stinking bailout. Be courteous but firm.

Here's mine:

The Honorable Mike Honda
DC Phone: 202-225-2631
Local Phone: 408-558-8085

Congressman Honda's email system sucks and serves to isolate him. So I'll just give him a call.

30 September 2008

Got It Straight

David Sirota's got it right:

Let me be clear: I have a modest retirement account that I've worked hard to save. I'm worried when I see what's happened to the market. But I also realize that while Wall Street says this is a new crisis, there's been a health care, wage, job and pension crisis that's been going on for the last decade - and so forgive me if I find it a bit ridiculous that while no one said we had to act quickly on those life-and-death crises, we are supposed to nonetheless see this banking sector problem as Armageddon that demands handing over 5% of our entire economy to one unelected political appointee (Henry Paulson). In that sense, all the alarmism - especially coming from such a discredited Washington crowd - rings a bit hollow.

--e

22 September 2008

Demotivated and Downtrodden

I'm not sure what it is; but, I'm so wholly and utterly demotivated at the moment that I just cannot get myself to do anything. Is it because the only time I've seen the girls today is when they've either been asleep or screaming in my ear? Is it the lack of THC running through my veins and I'm going through withdrawal symptoms? Is it the lack of rest as I try to push this motherload of a software release out the door? Is it the general malaise of doing all my hiring in China, Romania and India while seeing really great managers in the US left out in the cold? Is it the perpetual smell of spoilt milk on my clothes and dirty diapers in the bedroom? Its it the lack of hope that even the Hopemonger can change the train wreck of these United States? Gads, I'm low today.

Tomorrow, however, has a bowl lined up in the evening with a friend. So that should be better.

21 September 2008

A Tiring Day

Leia and Alisa didn't nap at all today. That means their fussy time tonight was worse than usual. Every evening between 7pm and 9pm is sporadic bouts of crying between cat naps as they settle in for the night. It took them about 4 hours of crying fits tonight before they finally went to bed. Now I can finally start my work for the weekend.

On the bright side, Friday was the very first time I heard a real laugh from one of the girls. Alisa got into a full belly laugh on Friday night. I came home late from the San Francisco office due to a 2 hour train delay. Hirono had to weather the evening hours alone with both girls. By the time I got home they were both asleep; but, Alisa woke up and immediately became excited seeing I was home. While changing her diaper she started to smile and play, eventually falling into a loud laugh. It was really nice to see her so unreservedly joyful.

15 September 2008

Zen Moment

Chilling. No meetings tonight. Leia is on my lap sleeping while listening to King Crimson's song Moonchild.

--e

14 September 2008

About Those Culture Wars

It seems the "Culture Wars" are coming back into political focus with the popularity of Governor Palin. Well, one good thing about the Culture Wars is that conservatives are really good at losing wars. Regardless of what happens in the presidential election, within 10 years many of today's Culture War battles will have been won by the good guys. Conservatives are just really bad at long term wars.

07 September 2008

They Grow So Fast

So many of my friends tell us to enjoy the babies now, while we can. They aren't babies forever. That is so true.

Alisa is sleeping in the crib here in the family room while I watch over her and do some work. Hirono came down to grab a snack of grapes and Yakult. The sound of running water disturbed Alisa from her sleep. She got up on her elbows and looked around for what was making the noise. A second later she whimpered, turned her head and lay back down.

This may sound very small; but, it is actually huge. She has never been able to lift her shoulders before, let alone get up on her elbows. Its a first for her. She's gaining muscular control and balance.

They aren't babies forever.

Now then, there's a bright side here as well. She can now turn a bit and rearrange her body position. That means when she's a little uncomfortable and needs to move she just moves into a more comfortable position. Before now she would cry until we picked her up and put her body in a different position. This means an extra hour of sleep for us every day! Hooray! (Well, at least it means an extra hour of sleep once Leia catches up and can do the same.)

Happy Baby

For those following the Leia saga, she started eating from a bottle regularly again two days ago. She now takes it fairly easily,though not as easily as Alisa. Moreover, she let loose with a really dirty diaper about fifteen minutes ago. Yeehaw! She's grinning and laughing away now.

06 September 2008

Omnivore Meme

From Very Good Taste, via Toast and Angelos:

1. Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2. Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
(4. I've added my own bit - put asterisks after what you must try before you die. - Tracy)
(5. Put a question mark (?) next to the ones you had to look up because you had absolutely no idea what they were. - Tracy)

1. Venison (An interesting cooking story here. I destroyed the poor creature.)
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare (There’s a similar Korean dish as well that’s just as good.)
5. Crocodile (can I count alligator?)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns (Oh, man. About 400 meters west of Kichijooji station’s North entrance is a place that is to die for.)
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans (Oh, man! I'm so digging into this particular dish now that I'm not following NHE.)
25. Brawn, or head cheese

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (?)
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda (?) *
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi (Oh, man. Weekly before the girls were born.)
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine *
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake (There’s a million varieties of things things all over the world. The best churro is in a back-alley Xiocialato in Barcelona.)
68. Haggis *
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost

75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu (Free bottle for anyone who wants this stuff. I've got one to give away. It actually doesn't taste bad; but, it comes up like a MFer.)
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa *
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor (What a waste of a good lobster!)
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake


As Angelos said, “I now have a purpose in life...” Poutine!

--e

03 September 2008

Cop Attacked

Interesting dynamic going on here. A cop is dragging a protester through the streets. The cop is attacked by an unarmed protester, freeing his fellow protester. The cop then retaliates with pepper spray to fend ensure the crowd doesn’t attack him.

There are a couple of ways to respond to this. It is possible to sympathize with the cop; but, my inclination is to side with the protesters. In my opinion the cop made a dangerous error in judgment. We’re lucky people escaped with just a pepper spray and a few bruises.

* First of all, there is already a really high tension situation. People are becoming desperate in their stance toward the government. More and more of our civil liberties are being crushed. The economy is spiraling downward. Peaceful protest is slow to have an effect. So the protests can easily turn to vandalism and violence.
* Secondly, peaceful groups, some of which really are likely to be innocent, have been targeted over the past year with infiltration.
* Third, extremely reckless raids were perpetrated by the police in the last couple of days against gathering protesters. Sure, some of the protesters were likely spoiling for some vandalism. Sure, traffic was going to be shut down and the convention slightly disrupted. But many of those targetted were not going to do more than block some traffic. That’s hardly worth breaking into a home at gunpoint and carting people off to jail. This one makes even me think about taking up arms against the Police State.
* Fourth, that cop was alone in a volatile situation without backup. He had weapons at his side. People are angry. He was taking much to big of a risk. He may actually be a “good cop”; but, this failure in judgment is not excusable. He’s paid to do his job professionally. Putting himself in a dangerous situation, particularly with a weapon at his side, is not acceptable job performance.
* Finally, his indiscriminate use of pepper spray is probably forgivable given a paranoid mind set. Although he never should have put himself in the position he was in, it is conceivable that he truly felt he was personally in danger. In a country that wasn’t full of WATB he would have been in danger and his blue suited behind would have been pummeled senseless. So he reacted in what he felt was self defense against a hostile crowd. The fact that the crowd was teenage girls and boys in shorts and tee-shirts is kinda silly and shows his paranoia. The few masked people there could have been targeted individually had he not panicked.

So, all in all I do feel the cop had it coming. He performed his job poorly and so lost the arrest and got his ego bruised. He put people, himself and the community, in danger in a context that was way over his head.

Hopefully this coming revolution is resolved before it gets too violent.

31 August 2008

Divide and Conquer

These girls are pretty tiring. I think this is the first chance I've had all day to sit down to myself for more than 10 minutes. Now Alisa is waking up, so I have to be fast. Our tactic tonight is "Divide and Conquer". I've got The Empress and Hirono has The Fox. We've both got our hands full; but, at least there are moments to do things like eat.

Loving of every minute of it! I don't think I really could articulate precisely the absolute joy of being with these girls and watching them grow.

--e

Whem Will They Come For Me?

Greenwald.

29 August 2008

My, how fast they grow.

The girls will be three months old next week. It is quite amazing how quickly they grow and mature.

Both girls sleep in bed with Hirono and me. This morning Alisa was sleeping on top of my chest. Leia was on the bed between Hirono and me. Leia was wide awake and looking around the room. Leia's eyes settled on Alisa's face. I noticed Alisa stirring and she cracked open one eye. Just then Leia got a big grin on her face as she saw her sister wake up.

It was quite an incredible experience. The girls are growing and becoming their own persons. They're even starting to interact with each other rather than just Mama and Daddy. There's still too many diapers...

Global Colleagues

What fun! Yesterday I scheduled a trip to two offices in Asia with which I work closely. In my InBox this morning was two travel advisories for both disease and unrest in these two places. Lovely.

18 August 2008

Insignia for FF League Team


Ripped it off from Wildebeest Records.

Updated: Alright, maybe not. The ESPN sight has been quite buggy for me.

15 August 2008

Innocent Before Proven Guilty as Defined by The Courts

OK. If you use InDesign, how do you make that a full page headline in a weekly magazine? Wouldn't that be interesting to see? I've worked at Adobe for more than 16 years and I still can't use our products for squat. I can hella'build software for you, though.

--e

Updated: Damn links.

13 August 2008

Name That Tune Meme

I violated the rules a little bit. Sometimes I added more than four lines since that made the lyrics more of a conceptual stanza. I sorta used the same band twice; but, not quite.


(1)
Prince or pauper, beggar man or thing
Play the game with ev'ry flow'r you bring
[song title] don't tell no lies
[song title] will make you wise. Tell me if she laughs or cries
Blow away [song title]

(2)
She lives in this house over there
Has her world outside it
Scrapples in the earth with her fingers and her mouth
Shes five years old

(3)
Try and keep it simple,
Not too far away,
Movin' slow, so simple,
Never felt this way.

(4)
Once upon a time
I was on a mind to lay your burden down
And leave you where you stood
You believed I could
Youd seen it done before

(5)
War has been declared
We are forced to fight
Take lives of my men
My Kingdom falls this night

(6)
They're gathered in circles
the lamps light their faces
The crescent moon rocks in the sky
The poets of drumming
keep heartbeats suspended
The smoke swirls up and then dies

(7) "Sacrificial Bonfire" by XTC, provided by Toast
Fire they cried
So evil must die
And yields are good
So men pull back hoods and smile

(8)
They're walking by the night
The moon has frozen blue
Long black coats a shelter for the rain
Their load must get through

(9) "Collideascope" by the Dukes of Stratosphere, provided by Toast
[song title]
Careful, don't look down the wrong end
You will see ships that fall out of the sky
Who put that nail in your eye
You make me want to cry with your...

(10)
[song title]
Brings the dawn in
It's just a restless feeling by my side
Early dawning
[song title]
It's just the wasted years so close behind

12 August 2008

No cars on Campbell Avenue

Here’s another positive event that brings hope for our race’s future. I’ve got no statistics; but, anecdotally, there seems to be a slowly growing swell of support for closing off areas to automobiles and encouraging public transport/walking areas. I’ve long held that downtown Campbell would be much better off financially if its main street were closed to traffic. Its impossible to drive down it with all the stop signs and pedestrians. The traffic that does drive through is usually bad enough to make al fresco dining unpleasant. My guess is that closing off the street would propel the upscale shopping and art galleries forward, improving the ambience and tax revenue.

Sounds like a letter to the local newspaper and city council is in order.

Update: fixed link

07 August 2008

The Horserace

I do have hope. If we don't get it right this time, we will get it right within my lifetime - if we can solve the energy crisis. Give peace a chance.

--e

06 August 2008

This Pretty Much Seals It

Well, to my mind, this pretty much confirms the fact that Bruce Ivins either is innocent or is part of a larger effort. If there is anything the Bush administration has taught me its that whatever they say, the opposite is most likely true.

26 July 2008

Through the Past Darkly

Its a shame the album in the title of this post didn’t make the list. So many great albums before I was born; but, the rules of the meme are that it must be during the years of my life.

1968 White Light/White Heat (The Velvet Underground)
1969 In the Court of the Crimson King (King Crimson)
1970 Bitches Brew (Miles Davis)

This was a hard one. Runners up are John Barleycorn Must Die (Traffic), Loaded (Velvet Underground), The Madcap Laughs (Syd Barrett), Sex Machine (James Brown).

1971 What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye)

This was another year of truly outstanding music. Most of these albums are just a razor’s edge from the top. But James Jamerson’s bass work on What’s Going On is a true classic in the instrument. Runners up are Frigile (Yes), Hunky Dory (David Bowie), Led Zeppelin IV (Led Zeppelin), The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys (Traffic), Master of Reality (Black Sabbath).

1972 Songs in the Key of Life (Stevie Wonder)

Closely followed by #1 Record (Big Star).

1973 Tales from Topographic Oceans (Yes)
1974 Bad Company (Bad Company)
1975 A Night at the Opera (Queen)

Runner up of Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)

1976 The Modern Lovers (The Modern Lovers)

Yet another great year for albums. Runners up include Blondie (Blondie), Ramones (Ramones), Jaco Pastorius (Jaco Pastorius), A Day at the Races (Queen)

1977 Sin After Sin (Judas Priest)
- favorite, not best
1978 Van Halen (Van Halen)
1979 Rust Never Sleeps (Neil Young)
1980 Blizzard of Oz (Ozzy Osbourne)

The year Metal matured. So many to choose from: Back In Black (AC/DC), British Steel (Judas Priest), Heaven and Hell (Black Sabbath), Iron Maiden (Iron Maiden), Women and Children First (Van Halen), and Permanent Waves (Rush). Non-metal excellent albums were Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel) and One for the Road (The Kinks).

1981 Diary of a Madman (Ozzy Osbourne)

Shoutout to Discipline (King Crimson); but, you can’t top this Ozzy album.

1982 Violent Femmes (Violent Femmes)
1983 Murmer (R.E.M.)

My favorite song must be “Freezer Burn/I Wanna Be Your Dog” from Confusion Is Sex (Sonic Youth). Crue, of course, was close.

1984 Ride the Lightning (Metallica)

This is the pinnacle of heavy metal in my opinion. Some other classics this year include Defenders of the Faith (Judas Priest), Fried (Julian Cope), I Often Dream of Trains (Robyn Hitchcock), Last in Line (Dio), Purple Rain (Prince) and Zen Arcade (Husker Du).

1985 Telephone Free Landslide Victory (Camper Van Beethoven)
1986 Skylarking (XTC)
1987 Appetite for Destruction (Guns & Roses)
1988 Fisherman’s Blues (Waterboys)

Another difficult decision. Life’s Too Good (Sugarcubes), The Trinity Session (Cowboy Junkies), Substance (Joy Division) and Kings of Metal (Manowar) nearly made it to the top.

1989 On Fire (Galaxy 500)
1990 Extricate (The Fall)
1991 Peggy Suicide (Julian Cope)
1992 Rage Against the Machine (Rage Against the Machine)
1993 Pablo Honey (Radiohead)
1994 Mellow Gold (Beck)
1995 Garbage (Garbage)

What a sexy voice and attitude!

1996 Sublime (Sublime)

I've heard women say the same thing about his voice.

1997 My Own Prison (Creed)
1998 Devil Without A Cause (Kid Rock)
1999 Californication (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
2000 Mer de Noms (A Perfect Circle)
2001 Lateralus (Tool)
2002 Audioslave (Audioslave)

This is one of my favorite albums. A Hundred Days Off (Underworld) is also pretty high up there.

2003 Singles 93-03 (Chemical Brothers)
2004 American Idiot (Green Day)
2005 Wolfmother (Wolfmother)
2006 We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (Bruce Springsteen)
2007 Back to Black (Amy Winehouse)
2008 It ain’t over yet

There you go. So many good albums passed over.

--e

Update: Per Mike's comment, Songs in the Key of Life came out in '76. So Stevie Wonder gets the top spot in '76 and '72 goes to Big Star.

21 July 2008

Sesame Encrusted Salmon


In keeping with the quick dinner theme, here’s my lunch today. It took about 15 minutes from start to finish, including the side dish. The electricity for the neighborhood was out the whole time; but, its very simple to prepare and needs no special gadgetry.

salmon filet, skin on
white sesame seeds
black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons of dark sesame oil
salt


Wash and cut the salmon filet into steaks about 2.5 inches wide. Sprinkle steaks all around with salt.

Heat the sesame oil at high heat. Sesame oil burns, so getting the heat just high enough to not smoke but still sear the sesame seeds to the salmon is the key.

Lay out the white sesame seeds on a wide plate, enough to coat half the salmon steaks. Do the same with the black sesame seeds on a different wide plate. Take a salmon steak and press the left and right sides of the steak into the black sesame seeds. Carefully press the bottom of the steak into the white sesame seeds. You should now have a salmon steak coated on three sides, two black and one white. The skin side should remain clear of sesame seeds.

Place the coated salmon steak skin side down into the hot oil. Quickly repeat with all the steaks. Fry the salmon steak crispy on all four sides. After frying the top and bottom sides you may be able to turn down the heat of the oil, depending on how rare you want your steak to be.

Serve with a side of leafy greens and white rice.

Update: I finally got around to uploading the photo.

10 July 2008

Breaking the Law

With yesterday's Senate decision and Rove ignoring subpoenas, why do we even bother having laws?

09 July 2008

This Really Does Scare Me

Kiss the Constitution goodbye.

So ends the Fourth Amendment. Thank you, Senator Obama, for the sterling leadership that provides us hope and promises change - not. Count 69 members of the Senate along the roll of traitors to their oaths and to this country.

Many folks, such as Hot Air's Michelle Malkin, call the Democrats "Defeatocrats". She's right on that count, if wrong on so many others. The Democrats bent over to get plugged up the arse by Bush yet again. Losers. They're getting none of my money. The only reason I vote for them is that they're better than the evil and equally incompetent Republicans. Give me an alternative and that alternative gets my vote.

05 July 2008

No Recipe Needed

Here's a hidden gem found within the middle of the new stove. These are just put on. Unfortunately, I don't have an after cooked picture. I was too hungry to wait. They were nicely scored with marks from the extremely hot grill.

Updated: Lunch to the tune of Kid Rock, "Cowboy". --e

Updated II: Doesn't this smile just make you melt? It does me. --e

04 July 2008

A month

Update on the baby front:

Yesterday Alisa and Leia turned one month old. Congratulations little girls! On that same day we estimate we hit the 1000 diaper mark.

Medically, they've both gained a fair amount of weight. They each weigh in at 7 lbs 14 oz. Alisa passed her first pediatrician visit with flying colors. Leia made a mess of the place with every type of body fluid imaginable. Poor nurse had to clean it all up. Leia also has a very minor heart murmur. Nothing to worry about though.

This is supposed to scare me?

Isn't this the point, really?

Shouldn't people illegally detained be let free to be on the streets? I thought that was a good thing! Not that most of the people in Guantanamo will ever be allowed across the border into the US anyway. Of course, maybe there are more US citizens there who will indeed be free on the streets of the US, where they belong.

04 July 2008 Meme

Toasttagged all Americans who read his blog to pass on this meme. Technically I am an American so I’ll do it; but, my self identity doesn’t really include being a part of a tribe called “America”. I rather consider myself a member of the human race, not a patriotic member of some political entity that is actually harmful to the world at this time.

Are you "proud to be an American"?
No. I’m often happy I was lucky enough to be born in such a wealthy country with a fair number of good laws and an excellent Constitution.

Favorite Founding Father?
Ben Franklin. I’d really love to get totally stoned with him and see what makes him say “Whoa!”.

Favorite president?
Its a tie between George Washington and FDR. George because he stepped down. FDR because he was a visionary who could actually put strategy into action.

Biggest "Patriotic Moment"?
Tough one. I don’t really feel any sense of patriotism most times. Probably the time when Carter asked us all to put on a sweater rather than cranking up the heat in order to save fuel.

Favorite patriotic song?
Easy. It happened only once, during Gulf War I. Neil Young took out his trademark big MF’n microphone and tied a giant yellow ribbon on it. He then played the Star Spangled Banner. Well done, brother.

Favorite American cuisine?
Baked potato. Smother it in butter like you’re trying to drown it. Second only to barbecue ribs.

Happiest political moment of your life?
When Al Gore decided to abandon political office (at least temporarily) because it got in the way of actually getting shit done.

Best fireworks display you've ever seen?
Have to admit, “Shock and Awe” over Baghdad. Those rockets were real. That’s what fireworks are supposed to represent anyway, so why not go for the real thing. Can’t really say I enjoyed seeing it, though. Too much blood behind the darkness.

America's gift to the world?
I’ll crib Toast’s answer: Our loud, brash, crass and obnoxious culture. I look at the caricature of the "Ugly American" and I see a happy "Fuck You" to tradition and restraint, and it makes me smile.

Favorite Bill of Rights right?
Number one. Hence my freedom to actually say I think the United States of America really should end as a sovereign entity along with all other nation states.

Favorite American Holiday?
Law Day, May 1. Its such a blatant misfire of an attempt to ignore workers days across the civilized world. The irony is delicious.

Favorite D.C. monument?
Vietnam War Memorial. The big black wall. It really is the most moving monument I’ve ever seen. The history of it, the countless names, the reflection, the color and texture, the flowers occasionally placed along it, so much combines into an incredibly moving experience. In some sense it reminds me of the Taj Mahal, though they are of a very different caliber.

Your dream for America's future?
That the nation state of the United States of America give up much of its sovereignty in favor of a world wide constitutional confederacy. Ideally we wake up from our bond of ignorance and religion voluntarily, apologize to the rest of the world for our evil aggression, strip the executive branch from the government (or at least most of its powers) and join the growing confederacies of Asia and Europe. Realistically, the best I can hope for is that the coming economic disaster doesn’t end in violence and we join a growing world wide constitutional confederacy.

25 June 2008

Paternity Leave is Now Over

Paternity leave is now over. Today is my first day back to work. I took off four weeks, one week before the girls were born and three weeks afterward. It turned out to be perfect timing. I could clean up the house from the remodeling prior to Hirono’s parents coming and the girls arriving. In addition, three weeks with the girls without thinking about work was incredibly satisfying. I’m really happy with how things turned out.

The first three weeks with twin newborns was incredibly intense. The closest I’ve experienced in the past is initiation week at the fraternity. No sleep, random intervals of emergency, never knowing what to expect next, etc. They were also both two time periods in my life that were profound. In each case, trauma shared with another brought us much closer together. Initiation forged friendships that will never be broken. The three weeks with the girls forged a bond that is proving to be extremely strong. It is an experience I will never forget.

On the pragmatic side, I’m now an expert at diaper changing, burping, soothing, dealing with diaper rash, etc. We can tell who’s crying at a distance and in some cases why before even seeing them cry. I’ve even learned to sleep for 2-3 hours straight without moving at all so that they can sleep on top of my abdomen. Hirono and I can also now sit and earnestly discuss bowel movements for hours.

For any who haven’t yet had children, I highly recommend really taking some time away from work and getting into the day-in-day-out maintenance of your newborn. There’s no better way to get to know them. Its the most wonderful experience I would never want to have again.

23 June 2008

Sage Cream Omelet

You'll notice that most of my recipes are very low time investments. This has mainly been because of my job; but, now with the twins here its becoming even more important. This little tidbit can be prepared in about 10-15 minutes and feels really decadent. If you want to get elaborate you can add a lit bit of diced ham or onions; but, I suggest keeping the flavors simple and elegant.

In a saucepan combine over high heat:
a small handful of cut sage - I use pretty thinly cut strips of leaves
a sizable pad of butter
a dash of salt

Saute the sauce until the butter starts to give off a nice aroma (< 2 minutes). Don't let the sage brown much at all. Then add:
1/2 cup of heavy cream
liberal dash of dry white wine
- sherry or cognac also works
black pepper to taste - optional

Reduce until really thick. If you've never reduced a cream and liquor sauce, stir constantly over high heat until the sauce is about 1/3 the original volume. Put aside.

Make the omelets by frying in generous amounts of butter. Use the cream sauce as a filling. Makes 2-3 omelets.

22 June 2008

Sorry, Senator Obama, but No

Dear Senator Obama,

Change your stance on the FISA bill and really stand for the Change you claim to represent. I do not want a president who will endorse the continued abuse of our constitution and gathering of power in the Executive branch. Show some leadership and adhere to principles.

You will still have my vote, as a vote against McCain; but, you will have none of my money, none of my time and none of my good will unless you fight vigorously and publicly against this FISA capitulation to President Bush.

19 June 2008

Adventures in Food, Wine Stewed Fruit

I'm a really big foodie. Pretty much all our vacations and excursions are based on food. I've scouted out much of the South Bay for years and know where to go for the best of most ingredients (anyone want some goose fat?). I'm also quite proud of my own cooking.

For many years I've cooked and have definitely improved over time. This may sound like bragging, and it is; but, I consider my own food better than most of even the finer restaurants. Sure, there are plenty of dishes I'd have a hard time cooking (e.g. baked alaska is something I've never tried to do.) Overall, though, I think my own cooking ranks pretty high. Presentation is not important to me, so I'll never make it in the restaurant business. I'm all about aroma, taste and texture.

With this in mind, I'll share a few recipes. A caveat, though: I almost never use any measuring utensils and hardly ever follow recipes exactly. All my measurements are just by eye. So any measurement I ever list will be a pretty rough estimate. Alter the measurements to your own taste. Please, any who read this and want to share their own recipes just point me to your own blog entries.

Hopefully this will be a regular post.

Let's start with today's dessert. Actually, it was yesterday's dessert; but, the resulting sauce lasts a couple of days and makes a mean milkshake.

Wine Stewed Fruit

a handful of tasty fruit - I've tried pears or black mission figs. That would be about six medium sized pears or 8-10 figs. Yesterday was local organic figs.
red wine - Really whatever left over red wine bottles you need to empty out. I had a half bottle of 2 month old bordeaux and about 20% of a bottle of 2 buck chuck to get rid of. That was about 3 cups.
sugar - About 3:1 ratio of wine to sugar.
lemon zest - Go ahead, use the whole lemon's worth of peel. It can't hurt and it makes the dregs much more light and refreshing.
a cinnamon stick

Clean the fruit. If the peal is harsh like a pear then peel it. If the skin is soft like a fig, keep it on. Keep the stem on the fruit since that makes it really pretty and easier to pick up after being cooked.

Dump all the ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer, stirring occasionally. After an hour to 1.5 hours, depending on when you remember that you were cooking dessert, turn it off.

Serve either warm or chilled, with the soupy sauce. Make sure to keep the sauce and use it with anything creamy over the next few days. Its awesome stirred in with yogurt. Tonight I took the last fig and the lemon peel with a bit of sauce, put it in a blender with vanilla ice cream, and made a milkshake that totally rocked.

--e