Sunday, December 31, 2006

Auld Lang Syne

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind ?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and auld lang syne ?

For auld lang
syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And surely ye’ll be your
pint-stowp !
And surely I’ll be mine !
And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne,
my dear, for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
and pou’d the gowans fine ;
But we’ve wander’d mony a weary fit,
sin’ auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne,
my dear, for auld
lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine ;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne,
my dear, for auld
lang syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.

And there’s a hand, my trusty
fiere !
And gies a hand o’ thine !
And we’ll tak a right gude-willie-waught,
for auld lang syne.
For auld lang syne,
my dear, for auld lang
syne,
we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
- Robert Burns
Happy Hogmanay to all my friends, family, and readers.

QOTD

"I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food."

- W.C. Fields

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Hurt So Good

Further proof that any song he sang, he owned.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Faith and Begorrah!

A Tip of the Toque to Robbo the Llama Butcher:







What Kind of Cross are You?




You are the Celtic Cross: This cross was first made out of stone and is often found atop hills, in front of castles and in graveyards throughout Ireland and Scotland. The stone was carved with various symbols including a circle or halo (representing eternal life) and variations of the celtic knot.
Take this quiz!








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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Musical Geography Question of the Day

Because I know he will get it in a heartbeat, Vic is forbidded from playing this round, but gets an automatic win -- this one's for second place, folks:

If you're going to go ahead and wreck your health, where are you going?

Good to the Bone

Based on an earlier recipe I tried almost 2 years ago, I porceeded to take responsibility for the preparation of Christmas ham this year. My new glaze was 2 cups of water, brought to a boil and then steeped with 2 Stash brand Chai Spice Decaf Tea, simmered for 8 minutes. To this I added a 12 oz can of OJ concentrate, 1/2 cup mollasses, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 cup bourbon, and 1 cup ginger ale.

I covered the bottom of the pan with rosemary sprigs, and added water just up to the top of the sprig layer. The bone-in, spiral cut ham was placed on top of this, open face down, and prepared with bay leaves and cloves inserted into the cuts. More rosemary was placed over the top, and it was roasted at 300 degrees for 15 minutes/pound, with the glaze being added throughout.

I must say, it was quite well received, and I was pleased with the results. The ham came out so succulent that I decided to try something I've been curious about since starting culinary school. Based on the results, I have two pieces of advice if you cook a ham this way:

1. Try the marrow.

2. Don't let your wife or sister-in-law see you.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Lad's Aunties are Evil

Christmas.

Noisy toys.

'Nuff said?

Not quite, one more thing:

Payback.

RIP

President Ford has passed away. He was 93, the oldest-lived of any U.S. president. God rest his humble soul.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pun Fun

Has it been that long?

Anyway, I've decided to develop a new cartoon super-villain. It'll be a giant sentient rodent who takes delight in letting the air out of people's tires so they can't escape.

That's right, he's... Deflater Mouse!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bait and Which?

Almost thou persuadeth me to respond, Smallholder.

But again you have made the same mischaracterization of my position which you have made every time this point comes up, and I have ceased believing that is unintentional. As long as that happens, I refuse to respond to the body of your post. You're going to beat a straw man every time, why should I bother defending the poor inanimate agrarian mannequin?

Update (12/23/2006):

Can anyone guess what that mischaracterization is? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

Monday, December 18, 2006

I See Plot Devices

After the discussion in Emily's post about the big news in the world of scatology... er... scamology... er... sciencefictiony...... degenerated into a discussion of really bad moviemaking in general, Nightfly was inspired.. or something.... to pen this little ditty to the tune of "Road to Shambala".

Feel the groove, man.

The Th*tanic Verses (Or is that Bend it Like Xenu?)

A tip of the Toque to Emily at It Comes in Pints?

A new movie is in the works. Obligatory couch-hopping to ensue.

Friday, December 15, 2006

I've been Ambush Tagged

By the Llama Butchers.

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?

Oh, yes please. Don't forget the wassail, the hot spiced cider, and the hot buttered rum.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?

Depends on the physical bulk of the gift. Usually he wraps them, but if, for instance, the gift is a bike or wagon, a simple bow will do.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?

Colored on the tree, white on the house.

4. Do you hang mistletoe?

Sometimes.

5. When do you put your decorations up?

As soon after Thanksgiving as we have a chance to, though this year that wasn't until Dec. 11th. Living here in Oregon, trees are VERY fresh when we get them, so they last a good long time.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?

Crackers, beef stick, port wine cheese, and other snacky stuff. It has always been a tradition in my family to forego a real meal on New Year's Day, and instead nosh on hors d'oeuvres all day while watching the Rose Parade and bowl games.

7. Favorite holiday memory as a child:

Christmas tree hunting. Again, growing up in the Pacific Northwest, where evergreen trees are so abundant, we never BOUGHT a tree. We always drove up into the hills/mountains (back in those days you didn't need a permit) and cut one ourselves -- always from BLM land, never national forest or provate land. My mom would pick the tree, and my dad would cut it down and haul it back to the vehicle. More often than not, my mom would make my dad traipse across the hillside for an hour before finally returning to the first tree we'd spotted, and often the ideal tree was the top 7 feet of a 20-foot-tall tree.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?

My parents never told me he really did exist, so I don't ever recall an Earth-shattering moment of revelation to the contrary. This is currently a bone of contention in our household, since TFR grew up in a family that to this days perpetuates the myth among its children. I don't want to play up Santa Claus to The Lad, but TFR has won on this one.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?

Yes. In my family, it was one gift Christmas Eve, all the rest on Christmas Day. We've adopted TFR's family's tradition, which is to open gifts between family members on Christmas Eve, and Santa gifts Christmas Day.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?

When I was a child, my parents started a tradition of giving my sisterand me one new ornament each year. A few were lost or destroyed over the years (moves, flooding, etc.), but most survived. When each of us married, those ornaments went with us. Lo and behold, TFR grew up with a similar tradition, and we're carrying it on with The Lad. Therefore, our tree is covered in an eclectic variety of ornaments. As for the exat process, we start by stringing lights (including two strings of light shaped like Winnie-the-Pooh and friends), then the garland, and then ornaments. Every few years, TFR lets me indulge in icicle tinsel.

11. Snow! Love it or dread it?

Love it, almost never get it. TFR hates it, except at Christmastime (a result of her Minnesota upbringing).

12. Can you ice skate?

I've seldom had a chance to, but took right to it when I tried.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift?

The used copy of BH Liddel-Hart's A History of the Second World War given to me by TFR our first (very poor) Christmas together.

14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you?

Time spent with friends and family. I'm a very social person, and since moving back to Oregon, I've made few friends and often find myself very very lonely. The holidays often are the only time I am with a large number of people about whom I care deeply.

15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?

Homemade caramel corn.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

Reading the gospel account of the nativity on Christmas Eve.

17. What tops your tree?

A star.

18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving?

Giving. And when it comes to receiving, it's all about the surprise. No matter how small the present is, if it's unexpected and thoughtful, that's more important than how expensive it is.

19. What is your favorite Christmas song?

It's a tossup between O Come All Ye Faithful, Silent Night, and O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

20. Candy canes:

Mmmmm.... Love 'em. I used to give them out to customers when I worked as a parking lot attendant.

21. Favorite Christmas movie?

Scrooged.

22. What do you leave for Santa?

We don't, yet. At TFR's family's, it's the traditional milk and cookies, and carrots for the reindeer.

Consider yourself tagged, Ken at It Comes in Pints, Bob at Eugene Rant, and the Nightfly.

Do the Math

A tip of the toque to my best friend Lurch.

It has to be heard to be believed.

Santa's Downfall

Say "No" to this cuteness:



Go ahead, try.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sympathy for the Devil

Whatever else you think of Martha Stewart, you have to give her this -- the B knows how to throw down when it comes to libations.

'Tis the season to be jolly, indeed.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Musical Geography Question of the Day

If he keeps his pocket full of spending loot, from where is he?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I Lied to Myself

After a stressful first term readjusting to life as a full-time student, I told myself I didn't care about my actual grades, as long as I passed.

I lied.

Grades are supposed to be posted tomorrow, but mine were available today. I got a B in Cooking Theories I (a 6-hour course), a B in Human Relations in the Workplace, and an A in Restaurant Operations (both 3-hour courses), for a GPA of 3.25.

I'm pissed at myself for the B in Cooking Theories. That's the core cirriculum of the program, the foundation of everything else. And I could have had an A, if I'd finished one more cooking lab.

I'll do better next term in CookingTheories II.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Gives a Whole New Meaning to Ho! Ho! Ho!

A tip of the Toque to the Bling Blog:

Pimp My Nutcracker.

Seasons Beatings

A tip of the toque to Tree Hugging Sister at Coalition of the Swilling via Ken at It Comes in Pints?

Not only is Dennis Miller dead on right, he's the only man I know who could pull of references to Ronnie Lott and capers in one monologue.

Single Malt/Latin Dance/Ballroom Dance

If anyone knows what's up with Haloscan, drop me an email.

Wreck the Halls

You're not alone, Robbo.

Since last Christmas was The Lad's first, it was spent in Minnesota, where TFR's family lives, and my mother, as well as my sister and her husband (all of whom live in Michigan) met us there. Because we left on the 18th and didn't return until after New Years Day, we didn't get a tree for our place. That means the last time we had a tree and did serious decorating was Christmas of 2004, and the last time we put AWAY Christmas ornaments and decorations was some time in January of 2005 (Hey, we're not as bad as SOME people). We have color-coded Rubbermaid containers for our decorations and ornaments, but by the time they were filled, we didn't have room left in them for our lights. Money was tight, and (more importantly) I was feeling lazy, so instead of going to the store and getting another container, and rather than risking the lights in a flimsy cardboard box, I decided (despite TFR's protests) to store them in an old Samsonite hardside suitcase. I tied red and green ribbon on the handle (so I'd remember what was in them), and stored them in the attic (you see what's coming, doncha?).

Fast forward almost two years, to yesterday evening. We spent the afternoon after church driving out to a Christmas tree farm in Veneta, because the proceeds of the sales there yesterday went to our church youth group's mission trip this spring. We picked out a 7' douglas fir. Usually I would prefer a white or noble fir, but because they were for a fundraiser, and fresh cut, the trees were higher priced than we usually pay -- the doug alone cost $25.

So we got home, got the living room rearranged, and the tree set up, and I went to the garage to get out the Christmas decorations. I got all of the boxes out, and began to panic. Why?

You guessed it -- no lights. I searched high 9the attic) and low (the garage), but no lights. I eventually gave up and went to bed.

This morning I started again with the search, and ended up doing a yeoman's job of cleaning the garage in an attempt to find the missing box of lights (box, mind you), all to no avail. TFR even questioned whether I had truly looked through ALL of the boxes in the garage and attiv.

After about an hour, and at wit's end, it suddenly dawned on me what had happened. I clambered back up into the attic, dug out the suitcase, and let out a triumphant whoop as soon as I saw the red and green ribbon. I hauled it down and lugged it into the house, putting a triumphant spin on things when I declared, "See? I TOLD you I looked in all the boxes!"

Friday, December 08, 2006

Thursday, December 07, 2006

It's Its

A while back I made a common grammatical mistake, but one I should not have, and a good friend called me on it.

I have atoned:

Your Language Arts Grade: 100%

Way to go! You know not to trust the MS Grammar Check and you know "no" from "know." Now, go forth and spread the good word (or at least, the proper use of apostrophes).

Are You Gooder at Grammar?
Make a Quiz



A tip of the toque to Robbo of the Llama Butchers.

Musical Geography Question of the Day

What could you walk across with five steps down, and where?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Light at the End of the Tunnel is Usually an Oncoming Train...

... But hopefully, not this time. I finished my finals on Monday, and go in this morning to make up some kitchen lab work. One final was easier than I expected, the other harder, so, it balanced out.

I also just received confirmation that I passed the ServSafe exam we took back in November. The ServSafe certification is a food handling safety and sanitation certification that is accepted in all 50 states in lieu of a food handler's card, and is in fact more stringent than many state standards (and no LESS stringent than any). Passing that is a make or break for the program.

Now I just need to scrape up $900 so I can pay the rest of this term's tuition and register for winter term.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Early Holiday Wishes

Usually I wait until this coming Friday to extend this special holiday wish, but the mood has struck me tonight:

GO

!!!!!

BEAT
ARMY
!!!!!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Did You Get That Memo?

I received an e-mail today from a (still bitter, apparently) Sooners fan. I thought I'd share, and respond here:
just found your blog looks good. the reason to
email i wanted to know ifthat phony call against the sooners was worth it seeing
how your seasonended up. at least i hope your a honest duck fan not many of them
you willagree the sooners got screwed. hell the repaly offical quit because he
newthey blew it. keep up the good writing and by the way
BOOMERSOONERS!!!!!!!!!!!


Well, J, thanks for the compliment. Yeah, we had a bit of a let-down in the latter stages of our season, didn't we? I saw it coming, I'm afraid, during the Cal game. As for whether that "Phony" call was worth it, well, since I don't believe in karma, and thus don't believe there's any causal realtionship between the UO-OU game and the rest of our season, It's rather a moot point, isn't it? But if gloating over the Would I prefer we had beaten the Sooners without the controversy? Sure. But that's the way the ball bounces. Teams have lost games due to blown calls by officials forever. What do you propose -- that every bad call ever be reversed retroactively?
As for intentionally insulting all Oregon fans by questioning our "honesty": well, if that's what passes for sportsmanship in Soonerland, I'm afraid you don't have much moral standing to complain about a blown call. Besides, people who root for a team whose nickname historically was synonymous with cheating (at the land grants), really shouldn't throw stones. Glass houses are pricey these days. And, while we're on the subject of being honest, do you expect me to believe that if the situation had been reversed, and Oregon had lost the game on a blown call, the Sooners and their fans would be any more inclined to surrender the victory? Yeah, right.
Do I think Oklahoma got screwed? Absolutely. Do I feel bad that the outcome of the game is tainted by that? Sure. Do I think the Ducks themselves intentionally did the screwing? No -- they played to the best of their ability, they played clean, it was a lousy officiating crew that screwed you guys. Do I think the Ducks should have the voctory stripped from them because of htis? No. If they had intentionally cheated to get the win, yes. But again, these things happen, and the best we can do is to fix what breaks so it doesn't happen again. And finally, do I think you're a crybaby poor sport with no life for feeling the need to email me about this months after my last post on the topic, let alone the game?
Oh, Hell yes.

Musical Geography Question of the Day

In what city is there gonna be a certain party at the station?

(Last Round's winner: Tony of blah blah blog fam... er... notorie... er... of blah blah blog)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Musical Geography Question(s) of the Day

Where did our fathers spend their weekends?

Where are we living?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Conference of Champions

I make no bones about being a fan of the University of Oregon Ducks. However, whenever I can do so without conflict, I also root for the University of Southern California, and have my whole life, because my grandfather and father were, and mother is, lifelong Trojan fans. My Grandfather swore to his dying day that the greatest football player in history was Ambrose Bierce [huh?] Schindler [thanks, mom].

Even when the Pac-10 race is tight, there's one game, fortunately non-conference, in which I ALWAYS root for USC, regardless of the ramifications for the Ducks.

Which is why tonight's outcome gives me some consolation after the Ducks' heartbreaker in the Civil War:

USC 44
Notre Dame 24

Fight On.

Friday, November 24, 2006

One More Reason to Give Thanks

My very first attempt at a merengue pie (lime), cooling before dinner yesterday:


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I Wish I Knew Jack

I wrote the following post two year ago, and can still be found in my archives for this day last year. I really can't add much to it, so I thought I'd update and repost it.

Today marks the forty-second anniversary of the death of, arguably, one of the men who most influenced Western thought in the Twentieth Century. He also happened to be one of the men I admired most greatly, so it seems fitting that I should mark his passing.

Though most of the world recognizes his name when they hear his initials, his friends called him "Jack".

He was a war veteran, and his service influenced much of his later thought.

His romance with his wife was the stuff movies are made about.

He was a thinker, a man of convictions, whose words stir the soul, stimulate the mind, and challenge the will into acts of conviction.

And so I bid him Rest in Peace. He has shaped the way I think, as he has many others I know. Here's looking forward to meeting you on the other side, Jack.



C.S. Lewis
November 29, 1898 - November 22, 1963


UPDATE:

OK, so I felt the need to add a Lewis Quote:

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."

--Mere Christianity

Monday, November 20, 2006

Musical Geography Question of the Day

If the local guitar picker got his guitar picking thumb, in what city are you?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Moment With Mike and the Bots

Tonight The Feared Redhead and I were watching one of our favorite television shows, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, which was rebuilding a house in Dundee, Wisconsin. My Minnesota-born wife with the Wisconsinite relatives had never heard of Dundee, so I Googled it.

Hmmmm....

Wisconsin...

UFO's...

I hate to admit it, but the first thought that came to my mind consisted of two words:

Packers! Woooooo!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Musical Geography Question of the Day

If she died of a fever, and no one could save her, where did you first meet her?

Buttermilk Sky

Taken on the campus of Lane Community College:

Growing Up Too Fast

This picture was taken tonight, and while it's a bit blurry, it's significant:



That dark blur at the top of the stairs, entering the slide, is The Lad -- about 7 or 8 feet up, which he ascended by himself, and down which he descended by himself -- at 21 months!

I'm proud, but sad. He's supposed to stay little, dammit!

The Lad: Camera Phone Photoblogging

These pictures cover quite a few months:

The very first picture I took of him with the camera phone, thios time last year:



Last spring, just before he started walking:




Also last spring or winter:



Also back in the spring or summer, before he gave up the bottle. We had a surprisingly easy time making the transition, but this day, not even sleep could rob him of his ba-ba:



Early summer. You buy them toys, they play with the box:



Early summer, a glimpse of things to come *shudder*:



At the same mall -- dream big, little boy:



This past summer, we took him to Lone Pine Farm to see the tractor:

And the goats:







The sheep weren't so thrilled to meet him. Mutton, anyone?:



We bought fresh produce that day. Like any good Oregon boy, he loves berries:



And watermelon:



This summer, at the park:



He liked the sand at the park so much, we had to:



At the Portland Zoo:



This Halloween (he was too sick to wear this outfit trick-or-treating):

So Much for being the Cool Dad

I had a bit of trouble with the stroller the other day:

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Sound of Silence

Sorry for the lack of posting, not much to say these days.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I've Been Everywhere, Man

A tip of the Toque to Maximum Leader at Naked Villainy, who turned me on to this quiz:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West
Boston
North Central
Philadelphia
The Northeast
The South
The Inland North
What American accent do you have?


The results aren't surprising, considering how much I've moved in my life -- Born in Oregon, I moved to California at 4 -- Southern first, then Northern. We moved to Idaho when I was in the 4th grade, and back to Oregon for my high school years. I went to bible college in Indiana, then moved to San Diego, then back to Oregon. Along the way I developed best friendships with Michiganders and Texans and married a Minnesotan. So like my ethnic background, I'm a dialectic mutt.

So what's the Oregon accent? It varies from region, but for the most part it's typically western -- slower, and a bit lazy in our pronunciation.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

When You Gonna Wake Up

When you gonna wake up strengthen the things
that remain?
- Bob Dylan, "When You Gonna Wake Up?" Slow
Train Coming
A few political matters to attend to tonight:
OK, there's no way around it, this was a bad night to be a Republican. We've lost control of the House, and at this hour the Senate is still up for grabs. Closer to home, it looks like Oregon is stin unready to face the fact that a generation of Democratic governors has left us in the economic backwaters of America, and thanks to Measure 43 being defeated, teenage girls can't get a tattoo without her parents knowing, but she can get an abortion.
But things could be worse. For one thing, a lot of the Democrats being elected across the country are moderate and conservative Democrats: Anti-Tax, pro-Life, Pro-Sencond Amendment. And while Pelosi may be Speaker, she doesn't have the unanimous support for all of her agenda from all of the House Dems.
So here's my message to fellow Republicans and conservatives: Butch up. Let's not act like the Left did in 2000, 2002, and 2004. No whining, I don't want to hear "they stole it!", no threats to move to Canad... er Australia. Let's look at what went wrong, look at what we did right, and, like the song says, strengthen what remains. It's more important now than ever that we fight the good fight and stand up for our beliefs. Balls, Boys, Balls!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Kitchen Theology

I believe there is a very special Hell reserved for chefs who take without asking from another chef's Mise en Place.

Friday, November 03, 2006

New Blogroll Addition

Today while checking my site traffick, I discovered that I was linked to by a page that listed a whole bunch of Blogs that had blogged on the John F "Not so Swift a Boater" Kerry kerfluffle. While checking out that link, I stumbled across another blog and just had to add it to my blogroll.

Why? Well, for three specific reasons:

1. He's a fellow conservative, and a well-spoken one at that.

2. He's a fellow Oregonian. 'Nuff said.

3. He served in the U.S. Navy, specifically in the amphibious fleet. Now, for this I have a doubly soft spot in my heart for him. I come from a family brimming with sailors, on both sides of the family. My father, my sister's husband, two paternal cousins and a maternal cousin all served or are currently serving in the U.S. Navy, including one who retired after making a career of it. My best friend Vulture Six also served in the modern U.S. Navy. In addition, my maternal grandfather not only served in the Navy, he served on an LSD in Worl War II. My grandad was a real man, the kind of man who made Ernest Hemingway seem like a pansy. He worked during his life as a ranch hand, a ranch foreman, a laborer and later a superintendant of a salt harvesting operation, and a shipfitter in the Navy. During his service, he went aboard a sister ship that had been struck by a kamikaze and rescued several men from a burning compartment. He was a father, a husband, a grandfather, a hunter, an angler, a joketeller extraordinaire, and all around just plain one helluva man. So anyone who has any sort of connection to him, be it personal or via career path, is ok in my book.

For all of those reasons, I hereby commend to you The Bow Ramp. Go read. He seems like a good guy.

For a Beavers fan.

It's Not Always About the Money

Some of you may recall the pleas I put out about a year ago for financial support and prayer for Jaqcui Probst, the little Oregon girl with a big medical problem and a bigger heart. With the support of many people, her surgeries were more than paid for. I feel good knowing I did what I could, and knowing so many people gave.

Well, while the giving financially isn't necessary anymore, the prayers are still needed. I just received the following email from her family, along with permission to reprint it on my Blog:


Second Verse, Same as the First...


Well Everyone,


We're having a serious deja vous experience around here. Once again, we will soon be boarding a plane to New York for a surgery for Jacqui, her second. Well, second of this type. I was counting them up the other day and this will actually make a grand total of 23 times under anesthesia for various surgeries and procedures. No wonder we can't seem to shake off that shell-shocked look! The good news is that this
time, it is courtesy of one of her surgeon's private grants. For those of you
who are scratching your heads thinking we were finished, uh… so did we.
Allow us to explain...


Last year, as you know, there were some complications with Jacqui's surgery. We knew there likely would be, so it really didn't catch us by surprise. Jacqui's Lymphatic Malformation (LM) was even more extensive than originally thought and it made for some serious challenges for her surgeon. We are asked a lot, “Didn't you go to New York so nothing would go wrong?” The answer surprises some - "Well, no, not really." The primary reason we went to New York was that we knew there was a very high probability, almost an inevitability, that something would go wrong. When it and if things did go wrong, we wanted her to be in the most experienced hands possible so that the problems would be addressed quickly, appropriately and with experience and skill. And, that is exactly what happened. Looking back on the entire experience of everything that happened makes us incredibly grateful that her surgeon did have such extensive experience. The rare occasions where we ponder what might have happened had she been in different hands results in a sensation not unlike staring over the edge of a 1,000 foot cliff after a nasty tumble in its general
direction. About all that goes through your head while your heart pounds at 100
miles per hour is "Whew!!" Then we thank God for all of you and your prayers!


Jacqui's surgery last year went very well over all. Her LM was successfully removed and we have had no incidence of recurrence, which is very good. Chances are very small now that it will re-generate. Her breathing is worlds better! We really have to listen to hear her now when she is sleeping and she no longer needs a heart-rate monitor for apnea. Her cyclic vomiting syndrome and migraine symptoms appear to have stabilized and she hasn't had an episode since January. She has been regaining nerve function in the right side of her face and is right on track with anticipated recovery rates. Every month we see new improvements. She has had a very, very good year!


Now, about last year's surgery complications. The surgery was a long one - just over 8 hours. The surgeon told us that it was one of the most difficult surgeries that he had done and estimated that the mass they removed was about 2 pounds. It was so large that it had pressed all the structures in her neck far left of center - muscles,
blood vessels, everything. That made it impossible to guess where everything was
ultimately going to end up after things had a chance to settle down for a few
months after the surgery. Because of this, they had to leave more skin than they
had originally planned on to give things room to return to as close to normal as
possible positions in her neck. This resulted in a baggy section of skin under
her jaw-line and meant that a follow-up procedure would be necessary to do
cosmetic touch-up work. So, just out of the gate we were already looking at a
second surgery. Also, all of the fat tissue in her neck had been pushed up into
her cheek or over under her chin by the LM with very little fat tissue in her
neck or jaw line. This too would need additional surgery at a later time to
position it correctly.


Then there were breathing complications. She had to have a temporary trach put in which, incidentally, didn't slow her down at all. In fact, she decided she was done with having a trach several months early at about 3 am on Christmas Eve morning of last year. She pulled it out herself. She did such a very fine job of it that we were not able to put it back in place. So, after being scared out of our wits followed by a 3 am ambulance ride which Jacqui referred to as “allotta fun“, we had the unique joy of spending Christmas Eve day in the hospital. We waited while it was debated whether or not Jacqui needed to have her trach put back in place surgically. After several hours of her bouncing-off-the-wall antics, the hospital staff finally conceded that she
didn’t appear to be in any eminent danger of respiratory distress. I think they
all sighed in relief when the lobby doors closed behind us. Ken later asked
Jacqui why she pulled her trach out. Her reply? “I had things to do.“ What a
nut.


During our stay in New York, Jacqui had another complication. Her drain, a device that was temporarily placed to route fluid away from her incision line, lost suction and she had to go back to surgery to have it repaired. The suture line became stressed from the extra procedures and some stitches prematurely broke loose requiring another surgery to put them back in place. All of this unfortunately made it impossible for the incision to heal in the nice thin line that it would have had it been able to have been left undisturbed.


Every complication was addressed with incredible skill and efficiency. The compassion displayed by the entire surgical team was overwhelming. We really couldn't picture the surgeon's level of concern being any greater for his own child. After all the complications had been addressed and we were getting ready to go, the surgeon did something extraordinary. He told us that whatever needed to be done to get Jacqui to his initial intended goal for her, he was committed to seeing through to the end - at his expense. He told us he wanted to bring us back to New York in a year and fine-tune the unexpected cosmetic issues that had surfaced for her. All on his tab. We were overwhelmed. We told him that we hadn't come to New York for an iron-clad guarantee that nothing would go wrong, but rather because he was the best qualified individual to see to her needs if something did go wrong. He gave us a tired smile. His response although nearly unheard of in medical circles was a commonplace one for him, "Whatever it takes. Whatever it takes to get her to where she needs to be - I am committed to getting her there." We thought that as her parents, we were the only people alive possessing that level of commitment to her medical care. How wonderful and unexpected to find that same deep-seated commitment in our child's surgeon!


A brief side note: We have been fortunate to find not just one, but two excellent surgeons. Some of you may remember that we had been told Jacqui would need to have a couple of surgeries to strengthen her trachea. Thanks to her wonderful new ENT in Seattle, those procedures are on hold indefinitely. While assessing the state of her trachea in January, he noticed a tissue flap that was falling over her vocal cords whenever she took a breath. He removed it in a simple lasering procedure, suspecting that it might be heavily contributing to her breathing complications. He was right and her breathing has improved so dramatically that the other corrective surgeries have been put on hold and it appears they may not be necessary at all. He is a very detail oriented person and we are so grateful that he notices what he calls
“little things”. His attention to such “little things” has had a huge and positive impact on Jacqui’s health.


We are hopeful that this November’s surgery in New York will be her last surgery for a very long time. Her surgeon plans for this procedure include the following: Achieving as much symmetry in her face and neck as possible, removing the excess skin left behind in the first surgery, repositioning any necessary adipose tissue, and repairing her LM removal scar and her trach scars. He also plans to assess the percent of nerve function that has returned to the right side of her face compared to her left by measuring electrical potentials of the nerves and comparing them to the left side. This will give us a better idea of how well her nerve function is recovering. This surgery is expected to be about a 5 hour surgery in contrast to the surgery last year which was estimated at about 10 hours.

Our itinerary?

We plan to leave here on Saturday night, November 11th, see her surgeon on Monday November 13th in clinic, see an assortment of other specialists involved in her surgery on the 14th and 15th, have surgery on the 16th, suture removal on the 22nd, fly into Portland late on the 23rd (Thanksgiving Day), and return home Friday morning the 24th. Then the plan is to sleep like zombies until one of the kiddos insists on waking us up (thanks to Jacqui's baby brother, that interval may be painfully brief).


So, here we are one year later. Very soon, we will be boarding another plane to New York because of the care and commitment of a very special surgeon, because of steadfast friends a loving family, and because of the extraordinary kindness of a community. Our airfare, apartment rental and Jacqui's medical expenses all paid before they even accrue. If ever you find yourself doubting God's faithfulness or the significance of prayer, call. We'll talk.


Deepest gratitude for each of you,

Ken and Michelle Propst (and Jacqui and Kyle too!)


P.S. The photo is from Jacqui’s 4-year pictures. We purchased the negatives and rights to copy and transmit the photos from her photo session.





So again, thanks for all the support, dear readers, and please keep up the prayers.

And yes, I've already let the Probsts know that if Jacqui likes younger men, The Lad is available.

What He Said

There's a series of political ads going on here in Oregon for Representative Peter DeFazio. In the ads, he and his supporters tell you that you should vote for his opponent if you want "more of the same in Washington", then goes on to list a litany of woes. He then tells you to vote for him if you want "change in Washington".

The funny thing is, guess who the incumbent who's been in Washington for-freaking-ever is? You guessed it, Pete. His opponent is the challenger, he's the incumbent. So I guess he's going to change htings by doing what he's always done?

But let's give him the benefit of the doubt, and accept his argument that if re-elected, he'll "turn this country around". Is that what we really want? Go read this excellent post by Tony at Blah Blah Blog, and see what "more of the same" looks like. Then ask yourself if you really want to turn this country away from all of that.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Musical Geography Question of the Day

If every one of them loggers looked like Paul Bunyon to you as a skinny kid about sixteen, to where did you ride the train?

Bonus Question:
Why would this blogger post a question about that place?

Update 1:59 PM PST 11/03/06
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I Insulted the Troops before I Didnt Insult the Troops

Rather than go off on Kerry's latest gaffe, I'll just refer you to this excellent essay by Dave E. at Fish Fear Me.

And I'll just quickly remind Kerry that October Surprises are supposed to hurt your enemies.

Damn You, Dissident Frogman!

You couldn't wait until after we've covered Meat Fabrication and Charcuterie at culinary school, could you?

Musical Geography Question of the Day

If they tell you you can't sell no stripers, and there's no luck in swordfishing here, from what part of what U.S. state do you hail?

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Musical Geography Question of the Day

If your heart is down, and your head is spinning around, where did you have to leave a little girl?

Harvest Dinner

Now that I've had time to rest, I'd like to share my thoughts on and impressions of the Harvest Dinner and the prep day for it, before they fade.

Monday, we had no classes, and instead all the first year students, from both both the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management programs, received training on how to serve and bus. By the end of the week, I was sure of one thing -- I'd rather work 16 hours in the back than 4 in the front.

Also on Monday, because The Feared Redhead had a training class all day up in Salem, I had the duty of dropping The Lad off at daycare. That's a job I don't envy TFR. When he cried at my leaving, it pretty much tore my heart out.

Tuesday we had Cooking Theory class in the morning, but our Restaurant Operations class was taken up with more training -- including a game of follow-the-leader around campus carrying serving trays. I made a reference to Supertramp's Breakfast In America album cover, and got a blank stare from a couple of my classmates. That pretty much put me in my place -- and age bracket -- for the week.

Wednesday, no classes or training for my group.

Thursday was prep day, getting all the Mise en Place ready for Friday. I was assigned to the salad station, which was also tasked with developing the vegan options for the dinner. Caprial and John had not specified any, and when asked about it, instructed the school to adapt recipes from Caprial and John's latest cookbooks. The second year students running our station were good about accepting input from us first years, and between all of us we came up with options that fit the theme of the dinner ("Autumn in the Vineyard"), as well as being plausible substitutes for their meat counterparts. I volunteered for the job of doing the conversions, since the recipes were all for 6 servings and we were preparing 24 of each.

So for those who have been wondering, here is the menu for this past Friday's Harvest Dinner:

Appetizer:
Dungeness Crab [Thanks to Sgt. Jeff for the editing] and Parsnip Cakes in Orange Oil
(Vegan) Baked Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Pilaf and Apple Cranberry Chutney
Wine: Griffin Creek Pinot Gris

Soup:
Celeriac Soup

Salad:
Baby Arugula with Rosemary Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
(Vinaigrette made with sugar instead of honey available for Vegans)

Entree:
Roast Tenderloin with Wild Mushrooms in a Veal Demi-Glace accompanied by Caramelized Onions
(Vegan) Marinated Portobello Mushrooms with Pear and Onion Compote
Wine: Lorane Valley Pinot Noir

Dessert:
Mascarpone Cheesecake with Apple Compote
(Vegan): Apple Tartlets with Caramel Sauce
Wine: Sylvan Ridge Early Muscat

We ended the day Thursday with a meeting after cleanup in which our guest celebrity chefs were introduced to us. I was impressed with how gracious and down-to-earth they were. They heard that several students had asked our instructors if we were allowed to speak directly to the guest chefs. They made it clear that yes, they wanted us to talk to them. They also gave us strict orders not to address them as "Chef" -- John's exact wordswere, "I'm john, this is Caprial." They fielded questions from us. My classmate Patty, the "Mom" of our class, asked the best question, I felt, and I appreciated their answer. The question was regarding the philosophy behind the menu they selected. Caprial explained that the menu was selected with an eye for what ingredients are available locally this time of year, so that they are seasonal. The Pences are very strongly influenced by the Slow Food Movement. They also explained that for large events such as this, they believe in simple, elegant dishes wthout a lot of complex components. They shared a story about a dinner for Julia Child in which they participated, and how they were able to spend time mingling with other chefs while some of the participants were stuck in the kitchen for many more hours because of the complexity of the dishes they chose to prepare. I agree with them in this regard, and besides, Caprial is a James Beard Award recipient, so it's safe o say she knows what she's talking about.

The most touching moment of the day came as we were leaving. I have a classmate who has missed quite a few classes because his three-year-old daughter has a malignant tumor in jer jaw muscle. We were passing around a card for them, and Caprial and John were happy to sign it for us. altogether very warm, personable people, and John has a quirky sense of humor much like my own.

Friday was hectic all day. It started when I woke up remembering I had homework due for my 10 AM "Human Relations in the Workplace" class. Ugh. Not only is this class almost universally viewed as a waste of time in terms of what we're getting out of it, it has more take-home work than any other class we're taking. But I got it done and got to school with time to print it out at the library and still get to class.

After class ended at 1, I went directly to the Center for Meeting and Learning and got changed into my Black & Whites, then waited around until the auditorium was ready for us to start setup, around 2 or so. Then we met with our section captains (all second year Hospitality students) and received our table assignments, where I learned that I would be serving the president of the college. Apparently, I wasn't already nervous enough.

We began seating at 6 and serving at 6:30. The evening went well. Between the cost of dinner itself, the silent auction held in the lobby and the oral auction during dinner, we raised around $200,000 for the College Foundation, which will mostly go to scholarships. At the end of the night they had all of us students come to the front and we received a standing ovation. It choked me up, to be honest, knowing how generous all these people were being, and knowing that my efforts helped raise money to pay the tuitions of people I pass on campus every day.

We were done cleaning up by around 10 or 10:15. I must say, the students who worked as stewards rawked. Their efficiency clearing trays as we bussed made things run incredibly smoothly. I can't tell you how much I appreciated them.

I got dropped off at home around 10:30 or so. TFR had a nice bourbon and Coke waiting for me, and I took a long, hot bath, then went to bed for what I expected to be a good night's rest. No such luck. The Lad has a cold, so I was up with him at midnight, again at 2 and then fro 2:30 to 2:45, at 4:15, at 6:30, and finally when he was up for good at 8. It was a challenge keeping my eyes open all day yesterday while I cared for him, so I was grateful that TFR took over last night -- of course, he slept most of the night, only waking once.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Watch This Spa.......zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

The Harvest Dinner was very eventful, and I have a lot to say about it, but The Lad is sick, and adter getting home at around 11 last night, I was up with him at midnight, again from 2:15 to 2:45, again at 4 AM, and yet one more time at 6:30. I'm too exhausted to articulate everything I have to say about this week. I'll be back sometime later this weekend.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Halfway There

This week is by all accounts one of the hardest and busiest weeks of the academic year for the Culinary Arts program -- it's the week of the Harvest Dinner, the biggest fundraiser of the year for the entire college. A guest chef is invited, and the culinary students prepare a meal for around 400 guests who each pay $100 to attend, using a menu created by the guest chef. Today was prep day -- all culinary students helped prep the Mise en Place. Tomorrow the Second Years will be doing the cooking, while we First Years, along with the Hospitality Management students, will be the serving staff.

I spent the day helping prep for the salad - Arugula with a honey, mutard and rosemary vinaigrette. We were also responsible for coming up with optional vegan dishes based on recipes in the latest cookbook from our guest chefs, Capriak and John Pence (Not John and Caprial, Caprial and John -- that was very specifically communicated to us). To replace the first course of crab cakes, we decided on baked acorn squash stuffed with wild rice pilaf and apple cranberry chutney. The tenderloin entree was replaced (WHY?) with a marinated portobello mushroom with apple and onion consomme. And finally, instead of an apple mascarpone cheesecake, the vegan dessert is an apple and phyllo dough tartlet.

All in all a pretty long, demanding day. But I'd still repeat it a dozen times over rather than face tomorrow and the front of the house.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Musical Geography Question of the Day

If you'll be looking for eight when they pull that gate, where will you be and when?
Note:
I talked to Vic in person and asked him this, and yes, he got it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Pun Fun

While enjoying the aforementioned dessert, I did something I haven't done in ages -- bumped my funny bone. I didn't find it humerus at all.

Something Wicked This Way Crumbs

Oh, man. I just had one of the most decadent desserts I've ever had in my life. The Feared Redhead picked me up after class, and before she went to work, we went out for Mexican food, then stopped by Sweet Life -- a patisserie here in Eugene that is (justifiably) renowned for their cakes, pies, and other desserts. I had the caramel chocolate shortbread, and just about died.

Unimpressed? I'm sorry, let me go into detail. They start with a scalloped shortbread.... I guess you'd call it a cookie, though it's as big as a coffee cup saucer, and a full quarter inch thick. It's the richest shortbreat I've EVER had -- when I asked them how much butter they use, the answer was, "You don't want to know". Then half of it is coated in caramel and then dark chocolate. Dear Lord, this thing was RICH, but not as sweet as you'd expect -- the dark chocolate and shortbread offset the caramel nicely. I'm telling you, this thing was pure evil. If you ever get to Eugene, join its dark side.

Shut Up, Cartman!


Which South Park kid are you most like?

Kyle

You are clever, and often come up with intelligent and funny comebacks to other people's stupid remarks.

Personality Test Results

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

My Son the Preschool Gourmand

From the time he began eating solid foods, The Lad has preferred small portions of our grownup food to the baby foods we presented to him. As I've mentioned before, this has led to a toddler with some very refined tastes. His latest obsessions? Dill pickles, hot salsas, green olives, and Gruyere.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Praise the Lord and Pass the Twelve-Gauge

A big tip of the toque to Maximum Leader via Bobgirrl.







The Zombie Movie Survival Quiz




Francesco Dellamorte is your name, and killing zombies is your game. Living at Buffalora Cemetery, where the dead rise quite frequently, you know how to take care of zombies. Yes, you are definitely a bad ass. Too bad your sexy model girlfriend is a zombie.
Take this quiz!








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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Preemptive Hindsight

DuhA Big tip of the toque to Ken at It Comes in Pints?

The next time someone on the Left tells you that the entire reason we went to war with Iraq was WMD's, and that all the other reasons were tacked on later, send them over to Fish Fear Me to read this entry and its linked references.

Persecution?

Nah, it can't be. Christians don't get persecuted.

Pun Fun

The Feared Redhead said to The Lad this evening: "Give Peas a Chance."

An Interesting Perspective

A tip of the Toque to HMIL at Teapot Tantrums.

HMIL has posted a column by Victor David Hanson, who is in my mind one of the more intelligent, erudite spokesmen for the right today. I recommend you go read it. As in, right now.

There's a lot to digest there -- not only about how we're presented with information on Iraq, but on the state of affairs at home.

Comeback Weekend

This weekend in sports is going much better for me than last. Last week, by Padres got dumped from the playoffs with only 1 win. My Ducks got their tails whipped by Cal. And in Fantasy Football, I lost for the second week in a row -- going from alone in first and undefeated to being in fourth with a 3-2 record.

Well, this week, the Ducks recovered well from their loss and trounced UCLA 30-20, re-establishing themselves as one of 3 PAC-10 teams to watch.

In the meantime, I'm up 13.4 to 7.0 against one of the 4-1 teams in my league. It's way too early to call, but if I win, I could move up as high as second in the league, since another 4-1 team is also losing.

UPDATE:

Nope. After several reversals of fortune, I got trounced, 70.3-36.4. Oh, well, at least the Ducks won.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Musical Geography Question of the Day

If your destination is a world away from the coaly Tyne, to where are you sailing?

Friday, October 13, 2006

News to Me

I'm blogging from campus this morning -- something I've never done before, but being away from the house allows me the quiet and detatchment to think a little more clearly.

I was having my morning coffee down in the cafeteria a while ago. The table at which I sat was across the aisle from our Student Government kiosk (mostly because it's ALSO right next to the door -- quick in, quick out), where they're holding a voter registration drive. That in and of itself is an admirable activity. But what caught my eye and troubled me was one of the posters they have printed up and plastered al around, the one that says, "Education! It's a Right!"

Oh, really? Refresh my memory -- which part of the constitution states that? Where is that listed in the Declaration as a "Certain inalienable right"? Education isn't a right, it's a privilege. It's not yours by birthright, it has to be earned.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm a firm believer in the importance of education. It's one of the few causes to which I'll give my money. Heck, I'm even accepting assistance to get an education myself (though, to be fair, that assistance is coming mostly from charitable donations and from unemployment funds into which I've paid my share for the last 20 years).

But I reject the assertion that it's a right to which everyone is entitled, no questions asked, and I reject that the bill for providing that "right" is necessarily to be footed by the taxpaying public. It's certainly everyone's right to pursue an education, as that falls under the pursuit of happiness and definitely helps enable one to secure ones liberty. But the right to pursue does not necessarily convey the right to being aided in that pursuit. In fact, I'm beginning to see that as one of the basic differences between a right and a privilege -- a right can be defined as something that an individual must be free to do or not do, at their will, without hindrance or coercion from society or government or other individuals. A privilege is something that an individual is allowed to do or assisted in doing or shielded from by society, the government or other individuals, contingent upon the individual meeting certain criteria and/or taking certain reciprocal actions.

An education falls into that category. Does everyone have a right to a Harvard education? No -- that would require a certain level of academic performance, as well as financial resources. Does everyone deserve a PHD in quantum physics? No -- the level of education one attains is contingent upon both one's innate intelligence as well as ones willingness to make the required effort. Even among high school graduates, the quality of education they received is to a argue extent dependent on how much attention they paid, and how muh work they did. Garbage In, Garbage Out.

That's the part of the education priviledge bestowed upon students by educators. In the case of public education, we must also be aware of the fact that the priviledge is also besatowed by the taxpayers who fund education. They expect, or at least SHOULD expect, certain conditions be met in return for the funding they provide -- including accountability on the part of both students and educators for the quality and content of the education. They're footing the bill, they should get to see the statement.

In conclusion, and to reiterate, no, my dear ASLCC, education is NOT a right. It's a priviledge. Granted, it's a priviledge which in the long run is prudent to extend, but a priviledge nonetheless. So while I appreciate your efforts to motivate young people to ote, I'm not so thrilled about the way you're encouraging them to think about my wallet. I'm a student, but I'm also a taxpayer. And to answer the question of the young lady with the clipboard, yes, I'm registered to vote.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

More Good News

Just got back from a meeting with my counselor at the Workforce Network, an agency that helps with placement and training for unemployed individuals. It turns out that that $740 scholarship I'm getting is PER TERM, not overall. In addition, they're going to help with childcare as well, to the tune of an additional $500/term.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Comments Are Fixed

Fire Away.

It Was a Very Good Year

My Restaurant Operations professor, who has years of experience in the food and beverage industry, and is quite knowledgeable, informed us yesterday that this is going to be a very very VERY good year for Oregon wine. Apparently, from what he was saying, the grapes are both of high quality and in abundance -- usually you get one or the other. Furthermore, this is the height of the harvest, and we haven't had rain in almost a week, and don't expect any until some time NEXT week -- by then the grapes will be in. In the meantime, our weather is warm (almost hot) and dry, with mild, cool nights.

What does this mean for the wine drinker? It means that within a year or so, maybe as soon as six months, you should see a huge influx of very good wine from Oregon at a very reasonable price.

Musical Geography Question(s) of the Day

1. Through where do the move it?
2. Where do they sell it?
3. Where do they hide it?

Quote of the Day

Coffee should be black as Hell, strong as death, sweet as love.

- Turkish proverb

OK, So I'm a Lunatic Too!

The other day, my friend Lurch and I were discussing the gibbous moon:



(Not to be confused with the Gibbonous moon:)


I was mentioning how it has always seemed to me that the shading of the gibbous moon provides a sense of depth that a full moon doesn't, and that a gibbous appears most like the sphere that the moon is, while a full moon appears more flat and disc-like.

We were also discussing the appearance of the moon during daylight hours, and how it appears more mysterious and surreal than at night when it shines so brightly.

Well, this morning, while relaxing before class, I looked outside and noticed the moon. Because it was just after sunrise, the sky was a deeper blue than is normal for full daylight hours, so the moon was clearer, more pronounced, and incredibly beautiful. It was quite a sight.

Black and White Issue

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we now wear full brigade in class. In fact, it's required both in lecture and kitchen lab classes. In addition, Culinary Arts students also take some hospitality management classes, and we are required to attend those in brigade as well.

This morning around 7:30 I was relaxing in a student lounge area on campus before class when one of my classmates walked by, not yet in Brigade. She made some snarky comment about not understanding why all of the rest of us came to school already in brigade, and how it would get our whites dirty.

I'll give you three guesses which classmate it was, and the first two don't count.

Personally, I enjoy wearing my brigade. Maybe for someone who's just learning about cuisine, it's a silly school uniform. And I can understand her reticence to get it dirty.

But for an aspiring chef, it's a badge of identity -- it represents not just culinary school, but being a culinarian -- it's inclusive and exclusive at the same time, marking me as an acolyte into a special society. I may be just barely in the door of that society, but I'm already embracing it not just as a vocation, but a lifestyle, a culture.

And if it gets dirty, I'll wash it. But when I'm going to and from school and someday work, I intend to wear it so that people can see me and think, "Oh, there goes a chef." Clothes don't make the man, but they sure to lay a foundation.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Why, Yes,

Cal, those ARE our feathered Duck Butts. Could you be so kind as to hand them to us now that you're kicking them off? Thanks ever so much.

Hmph. I had a bad feeling about today.

I'm Not Dead Yet!

Quote of the Day

I just hate health food.

- Julia Child

Friday, October 06, 2006

Americans Are Americans Too!

One of the central themes you'll hear emphasized by many who advocate a more lenient attitude towards illegal aliens is the arguement that they're merely seeking a pbetter life, an American life, and that they deserve the same rights that the rest of us do.

Without arguing the specific merits of that argument, recent events at Columbia University leave me wondering how committed to those rights some of those individuals (especially the more radically leftist end of the pro-illegal spectrum) truly are -- especially with regards to the exercise of those rights by those with whom they disagree.

Seeing Red (and Tasting It)

My home state has what are considered the strictest wine labelling laws of any state in the US. Oregon winemkers are not allowed to use foreign place names -- you'll never see an Oregon wine called Burgundy, Bordeaux, or Champagne. Furthermore, if it says it's an Oregon wine, all the grapes used to make that wine will have been grown in oregon, and all of them will be from the region of the state specified on the bottle, and (with the exception of Cabernet Sauvignon), at least 90% of the grapes will be of the state varietal.

And while this has been for the most part a good thing, there have been, in my mind, a few negative side effects. The main one has been that due to the focus on varietals and the prohibition against names like Burgundy and Bordeaux, there has been, especially in the past, an almost cult-like bias for straight varietal wines -- Pinots, Chard, etc. This means that less time and effort was spent on blended wines, and so they gained an unfortunately deserved reputation for being of lesser quality than the straight varietals.

But that lesser quality had to do with the effort being expended on them, not on the inherent superiority of pure varietal wines. And I'm happy to report that Oregon winemakers are starting to experiment more with higher quality blended reds -- with pleasing results. Some of the better results come from Cab-Merlot blends and Syrah-based blends, as well as more complex and esoteric blends.

Two of my favorites are Girardet Winery's Grande Rouge and Bergstrom's Red (how straightforward is that? Nice, huh?). The Bergstrom is a marvelous, full-bodied wine, both drier and bolder than the usual demure pinot noirs for which Oregon is known. It also has more oak flavor to it, and pairs well with steak and beef. The Girardet Grande Rouge is also dry, but not as in-your-face as the Bergstrom, and finds a middle ground between fuller-bodied wines and the softness of Pinot Noir. It went well with salmon last night, but I'd also not hesitate to pair it with Italian food or beef. And the best part? It'll st you back about $7 a bottle.

All in all, I'm encouraged by the new blended reds. I'm also interested, bemused, and at times amused by the names the winemakers come up for for these blended wines. One winery names them all after members of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Appropriate, given the adventurous spirit this new trend reflects.

Are you ready to join the Corps of Discovery?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Badge and the Spatula

I'm really looking forward to the new show coming out on the Food Network, The Hungry Detective. The star is a real LAPD Detective and a food critic. Why does this show's concept jazz me so much?

Back when I was in my early twenties, I worked as a parking valet. My workday started in the evening and went until well after midnight. I had friends who were night owls as well, and usually didn't go to bed until around 4 AM or so. One thing I learned: If it's 2 AM and you're hungry for good food, look for cop cars. If you see 2 or more police cruisers parked at the same establishment and their lights are NOT flashing, eat there. Trust me on this one. Cops know food.

It Can Happen That Fast

Today I had the... opportunity(?) to help avoid a missing child incident. No, not The Lad, someone else's kid.

On Thursdays, TFR doesn't go to work until 3:30, and I have no classes, so we decided to spend the early part of day together OUTSIDE of the house. It's been a glorious day, sunny and warm with only the slightest hint of chill in the breeze. We went first to Lone Pine, a farm stand/petting farm where The Lad got to feed goats, and we had pop and a caramel apple. Then we drove into Eugene and went to Emerald Park, where there is an excellent playground and sandbox. While we were there, we met several other parents with toddlers. One woman was there with a boy of about 4 or 5, and a little girl of 2. At one point a preschool class came marching out of the rec center to play on the playground, and this woman went over to talk to the teacher and ask her if there were any openings, then returned to the sandbox. A few minutes later, she told the boy to get ready to go, then went over to the playground area to get the girl. Within a minute she was back, frantically calling the girl's name and asking if we had seen her. She wasn't anywhere to be seen -- not in the sandbox, the playground, or the parking lot.

As a parent, my heart went out to her, so while TFR stayed with The Lad I went looking too. For some reason, I was drawn to the north end of the park, past the playground, where there was a picnic pavillion, grassy ares and volleyball pits. As I headed that way, a woman coming in the opposite direction asked if I was looking for a little girl. She pointed me in the right direction, and within a minute I had found her. She had seen a squirrel and taken off chasing it. The scary thing was, when I caught up with her, 100 yards north of the sandbox, she was within 20 feet of the edge of the park. I herded her (she was skittish and I didn't think it appropriate to pick her up or try to take her hand) back towards the sandbox, when the woman she had been with came running. She thanked me, expressed surprise that a 2-year-old could move that fast (Oh, yeah, believe it, lady!), then confided in me that the girl wasn't her daughter -- she was watching her for a friend.

That put a chill down my spine. It's bad enough that she was inattentive and let the girl get out of her sight, but to be so cavalier with another parent's child? If someone pulled a stunt like that with The Lad, I promise you, I'd have to display my Pimp Hand. You don't take your eyes off of your kid, let alone a child left in your care. That little girl was within moments of possible disappearing forever. When I found her, she was down in a swale where she couldn't be seen until I was within a few yards of her.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

With All Due Respect...

...To Smallholder,

The Demon Rum has been blamed/to blame for congressional shennanigans for much longer than he assumes. But that's all water under the bridge.

Silly, Yet Strangely Intuitive.

Boy, Howdy! to Cabin Mistress at Uncle Sam's Cabin.

The Easiest Personality Quiz you'll ever take:

You Are a Root Beer Jelly Bean
You are truly All American and down to earth. You don't have fancy tastes, and you don't apologize for who you are. You enjoy tradition and proven quality.

Musical Geography Question(s) of the Day

(EVERYONE BUT VIC!):

1. Where are the boys thirsty?

2. Where is there beer?

This is a Test

Just checking the changes to the comments.

Without Further Ado

The new blog name. I hope you like it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Musical Geography Question of the Day

If that stretch down south won't ever stand the strain if it snows, what are you?
A couple of neat things happened today related to school. First of all, I aced my Oregon State Food Handler's exam. This isn't really a major accomplishment -- it requires missing no more than 8 questions on a 32-question exam, all of which are multiple choice. I missed 1, and feel dumb about that one. It's scary to think how much worse than me some people have done and yet are legally serving me food when I eat out. I'm proud of Oregon in many ways, but not about our status as one of the states with the laxest health departments in the nation. But by the end of the term, if I've passed my class, I'll have passed the exam to become Servsafe certified, which is a more stringent standard than any stae health department in the nation.

Second, I received a package in the mail from Amazon.com -- my used (but in good condition) copy of Webster's New World Dictionary of Culinary Arts. It was expensive ($65 new for the full-sized copy), but it's the same culinary dictionary that Chef Chris (my professor) has used since his days as a culinary student. Heck, this sucker even has the definition of Mr. Brown in it.

I'm really starting to get into the groove of culinary school. I even enjoy wearing brigade -- I can feel the way it identifies me as a member of the culinary arts. It's not easy, it's tiring and demanding and at times intimidating, but the Good Lord as my witness, it feels right -- like I'm finally doing something with my life.

That Which We Call a Rose

I'm seriously changing the name of this blog, and wondered what my loyal readers (all 5 of you) would think.

I actually came up with the name "Memento Moron" before I had committed to blogging, and the fact that I was able to come up with a name that was, in my own mind, suitably clever, was one of the reasons I decided to take the leap.

But the name was chosen at a time when my bolgging was primarily of a political and current affairs nature. While I still weigh in on subjects that fire my passions occasionally, the blog has become far more of a catch-all for my meanderings, personal events, daddyblogging, school blogging, etc., and I'm not sure the theme that the name sets matches the tone of the majority of my entries.

I don't want to give away the new name I have in mind, but it would reflect a couple of my passions -- including cooking and certain musical tastes. If I decide to make the change, I'll probably start by changing the name in the heading, but keeping the old Memento Moron URL, until enough time has passed for people to get used to the new name.

So what does everyone think?

Saturday, September 30, 2006

That's Kinda Weird....

Late last night (early this morning, actually) I had to call 911 to report a brawl down the block from our place (yay Springtucky!). It was dark, and I couldn't find the house phone, so I just used my cell.

Today, when I went to use my cell, it was on "Restricted use, emergency calls only". I had to press the * and the # keys to take it out of that mode. I can't help thinking the two events are related, but I've never heard of such a thing, have you?

Good (Sports) News Just Keeps Rolling In

Padres clinched a playoff berth. Also, thanks to their head-to-head record this season vs. the Dodgers (suck), a win by the Padres or a loss by the Dodgers (suck) and the Padres have the penant NL West.

Did I mention that the Dodgers suck?

This Time, Not So Close

Oregon 45 48, Arizona State 13.

Suddenly, the Pac-10 isn't a 1-school conference any more. If Oregon can beat Cal next weekend, USC had better be paying attention.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Musical Geography Question of the Day

If, in early memory, Mission music was ringing round your nursery door, from where were you?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bar Pickup Lines Bite Back

Suddenly "Hey, baby, what's your sign?" takes on a whole new meaning.

Musical Geography Trick Question of the Day

If you wanna hold her tight all through the night, but all she wants to do is dance, where is she from?

Now That I'm Awake...

Yesterday I was pretty useless to the world, resting up from two days of school. Here's my schedule now:

Monday:
TFR's Day Off
8:00 AM-1:50 PM: Intro to Cooking Theories I (we get a couple of breaks including half an hour for lunch)
2:30-3:50 PM: Restaurant Operations (no mid-class break)
After class, TFR picks me up and we have the rest of the afternoon together.
Tuesday:
8:00 AM-1:50 PM: Intro to Cooking Theories I (we get a couple of breaks including half an hour for lunch)
2:30-3:50 PM: Restaurant Operations (no mid-class break)
Meet The Lad and TFR on her lunch break around 4:00-4:30, care for The Lad until TFR gets off work at 8:00
Wednesday:
TFR Goes to work at 12:00, care for The Lad the rest of the day (TFR gets off work at 8:00).
Thursday:
10:00 AM-12:50 PM: Human Relations at Work
TFR Goes to work at 3:30, care for The Lad the rest of the day(TFR gets off work at 8:00).
Friday:
TFR Goes to work at 3:30, care for The Lad the rest of the day(TFR gets off work at 8:00).
Saturday:
TFR Goes to work at 9:00, care for The Lad until she gets off work at 7:00.
Sunday:
TFR's Day Off.
Family day

(Homework gets fit in there somewhere)

So as you can see, my days, especially Mon-Thur, are pretty busy. But I'm truly happy. I feel like I belong there, like I'm among peers, and like I'm actually accomplishing something worthwhile. It's a good -- no, a giddy feeling.

I'm Home....

And among friends.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Musical Geography Question(s) of the Day

If, in 1958, you drove an old V8:

From where were you heading?

To where had you made it to within a mile from?

Quote of the Day

"The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a new star."

Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Like Father, Like Son

From the time The Lad was a very tiny baby, I would hold him while cooking. And it's already rubbed off on him. Kitchen utensils (no, not the sharp ones -- I know how you people's minds work) are among his favorite toys. And after TFR made a comment to him about the whisk with which he was playing this morning, he's added a new word to his vocabulary -- "roux".

That's my boy.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The First Cut is the Deepest

Another day of classes has passed, and it finally feels like we're actually culinary students. It was our first day in full brigade. It was the first day where homework was due. It was the first day we actually got to do hands-on work in the kitchen, practicing using our steels and then peeling and dicing onions.

And most importantly, it was the day that First Blood was drawn. One of my classmates went to loan her knife to another, and forgot to hand it to him grip first. Voila! Two stitches on his index finger. I helped him out of his apron and toque and escorted him to the school clinic (interesting that it's situated only one building over from Culinary Arts).

It was the first wound of our school careers, but I'm sure it won't be the last. Though at least the suspense is over.

The part that bothered me and some of my fellow students was that the young woman who handed the knife improperly took offense when one of us said something to her. Perhaps she felt it wasn't his place as a classmate to say something, but the fact is, he was right -- she SHOULD have practiced proper safety techniques.