Friday, April 28, 2006

Semper Memoralis

Thanks for the Memory to Lisa at This Life.

And she's an Oregonian.

Trade Ya!

Thanks for the Memory to Vulture Six.

This guy is my new hero.

I'm Going In

Last time I tried to make Beer Butt Chicken, the weight of the chicken knocked the can over and the results were disappointing. But I recently picked up a litle metal frame intended to hold the can and keep the chicken upright, so I'm giving it another shot this weekend. Wish me luck.

Side note: when cooking with alcohol, my philosophy for choosing the right beer with which to cook is in opposition to my philosophy regarding wine: I never cook with a wine I wouldn't drink, but I never waste a good beer by cooking with it (well, almost never -- there are a few recipes that call for specific beer types). I am a beer snob, preferring local micro and craft brews. But when I cook, I prefer to use Bud or Old Milwaukee. I have a theory as to why: cheap beer tends to be weak beer, and thus it prvides the cooking benefits of beer without taking over the flavor of the dish. If you use a good pale ale or amber ale, the dish is gonna TASTE like pale ale or amber ale.

Gratuitous Use of Gratuitous in a Blog Post A La The Llama Butchers: Music Review Edition

I finally broke down yesterday and bought a CD I've wanted for some time:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I was not disappointed. Loretta Lynn's music and lyrics lend themselves well to the rock-tinged production of Jack White. And yet, despite having a real edge to them, they never abandon their country identity.

I bought the album specifically fothe song "Portland, Oregon", but ironically, it turns out it's not my favorite song on the album. That honor goes to the title track, a ballad about the romance between Lynn's mother and father.

And this "Rose" also has some thorns -- Loretta Lynn has not lost any of her attitude, her spirit, or the internal strength that has always marked her music. If you like old school, blues and bluegrass-tinged Country Western music, this album is worth getting.

B****Slap of the Week

Required Reading

Thanks for the Memory to Dawn at Daily Record Blogs.

Before you argue against immigration reform from the standpoint that "Illegal immigrants do jobs Americans won't", go read Dawn's post and the linked Washington Times article. Americans WILL do those jobs -- but they will expect a decent living wage in return.


Last night I tried my hand at a dish I'd been contemplating for some time, a Mexican Lasagna. No clever bastardization of Spanish and Italian comes to mind as a name for it. The point of the exercize was to see if I could make something that looked and tasted like lasagna, but had a Mexican twist to the flavors. I'd tried it once before, but the result tased like enchiladas. This time, success.

In the first chapter of A Christmas Carol, Dicken's writes, "There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate." The same is true of this recipe and my desire to avoid merely making enchiladas. For that reason, it is important to note that when the recipe calls for flour tortillas, what it really means is FLOUR TORTILLAS. If you use corn tortillas, you get enchiladas.

2 lbs ground beef or buffalo
12 oz. chorizo
2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
1/4 cup chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
8 oz jack or white cheddar cheese
8 oz queso fresco casero
4 oz queso Cotija
10-12 large (burrito style) FLOUR tortillas

Fold tortillas in half. Cut parallel to the fold into strips the width of lasagna noodles. Unfold and cut along the fold. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large skillet, combine the hamburger, chorizo, and onions. Cook over medioum high heat for 10-15 minutes or until the meat is blended and firm. Add the tomato sauce, garlic, herbs and spices. simmer for 10 minutes, remove from heat.

Spoon a layer of meat sauce into a rectsangular casserole dish. Crumble a layer of Queso casero over the meat. Place a layer of tortilla strips over the cheese. Repeat the layers until the dish is almost full, ending with a tortilla layer. cover with grated jack or white chedar cheese, then with Cotija. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool. Serve 8.

Your Weekly Dose of Steve Taylor Lyrics: Installment #3

And on time, this week.

Back to trying to be germane -- this one's been stuck in my head for some time. Given all of the issues I've taken with the MSM during the last couple of years (Rathergate, etc.), and the rise of the blogs, this one could have been written yesterday (except for the lame-attempt-at-rap cadence):

Meat the Press
From the album "Meltdown"

In a ninety-floor Manhattan address
lives a watchdog called the National Press
and around his collar's written the line
"The Protector Of Our Hearts And Minds"

Hark! Hark! The dog will bark
and we believe this hierarch
but read between the lines and see
this dog's been barking up the wrong tree

Meat The Press

When the ratings point the camera's eye
They can state the facts while telling a lie
and then watchdog shows to the viewers at ten
he's a bloodhound with a pad and pen
can't pin the blame--he's out of reach
just call the dog "His Royal Leech"
we held the rights for heaven's sake
'til we gave this sucker an even break

Meat The Press

When the godless chair the judgment seat
we can thank the godless media elite
they can silence those who fall from their grace
with a note that says "we haven't the space"
well lookee there--the dog's asleep
whenever we march or say a peep
A Christian can't get equal time
Unless he's a looney committing a crime
listen up if you've got ears
I'm tired of condescending sneers
I've got a dog who smells a fight
and he still believes in wrong and right

Meat The Press

Thursday, April 27, 2006

One of These Things is Not Like The Others

How is it that a 15-month-old child, playing in a room strewn with toys thicker than a Cambodian minefield, will invariably zero in on the one out-of-place item he shouldn't have (eg. remote control, cordless phone), and decide that that is what he wants for his plaything? Without fail?

These are the mysteries of the Universe that overworked, under-rested fathers contemplate.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Plagiarism Revisited

Thanks for the Memory to The Sheila Variations and Emily at Second Breakfast.

Most of the blogosphere has heard of the really sorry tale of Ms. Kaavya Viswanathan, who has recently been busted for stealing many passages of her first novel, How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life, from other recent works by Megan McCafferty.

She also had the services of a "book packager," who is called that because they stand behind the scenes and massage workable novels out of the rambles of authors. In other words, she couldn't even plagiarize somebody else's work on her own - she required help.

It's a small advance for society, I suppose, that Ms. Viswanathan didn't merely throw it all on the anonymous packager. And she did contribute some original material. She and her publisher have announced that future editions of her novel will offer more of it in place of the stolen bits. In software terms, that means that "Opal Mehta" was a beta version pawned off as a finished product, requiring patches and additional work that the consumer should have gotten in the first place. I was rather hoping that the practice wouldn't catch on elsewhere. (And I Cullen Ken Nightfly should know, since I Cullen Ken Nightfly ran a blog carnival that blew up in my face some months back. Yes, it was my his fault.)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A REAL All Star

Quote of the Week

Thanks for the Memory to Flopping Aces via Allahpundit:

It has long been pretty obvious to me that the official-secrecy faction within the state machinery has received a gigantic fillip from the press witch hunt against Lewis Libby and Karl Rove. What bureaucrat could believe the luck of an editorial campaign to uncover and punish leaking? A campaign that furthermore invokes the most reactionary law against disclosure this century: the Intelligence Identities Protection Act? It was obvious from the first that the press, in taking Wilson and Plame at their own estimation, was fashioning a rod for its own back. I await the squeals that will follow when this rod is applied, which it will be again and again.
- Christopher Hitchens, commenting on the Mary McCarthy case

Tantas Cruzes

Thanks for the Memory to Ken at It Comes in Pints?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So what happens when you combine such a picture with an essay that's just as valuable?

You get Val Prieto's 3000th blogh entry at babalu. It's worth the read.

Monday, April 24, 2006

And Yet, No Crazy Blog Money

Thanks for the Memory to Vonski.

My blog is worth $135,489.60.
How much is your blog worth?

Your Weekly Dose of Steve Taylor Lyrics: Installment #2 (3 days late)

I promised to make ths a Friday occurrence, and dropped the ball. Sorry about that.

No germane personal or cultural anecdotes to accompany this one, it's just that this song got stuck in my head and has been there for a few days:

( From the album "Meltdown")

On a Saturday night all the girls run free
singing "bury me not on the lone prairie"
but where do you go when you finish broken-hearted?
back to the dust where you started

Jenny cut her teeth in a midwest shack
as a shantytown girl on the wrong end of the tracks
her mama taught her everything she'd need to get along
and her Sunday School teacher taught her right and wrong
raised to be respectable but born to be poor
it was all she'd ever known but she figured there was more
when she came of age Jenny made herself a vow
"I'm gonna get out and I don't care how"

It appeared every Autumn on the courthouse lawn
and the leaves never fell till the carnival was gone
Michael was a barker for an arcade ride
with a smooth-talk tongue and a wandering eye
"get your tickets here for the Halls O'Mirrors maze
if you can't get out I know I couple ways"
he caught Jenny's eye but her thoughts looked down
all she wanted was a ticket going out of that town

Oh how I wanna bury you
bury you and run away--done away
how I wanna bury your memory
why don't you let me be?

Michael stole a kiss then he whispered at last
"you're a little old-fashioned so forget about your past
these Bible belt folks think living is a sin
so they all start dying from the day they're born again"
and there atop the Ferris wheel the colours were a blur
the morning said he loved her but she wasn't really sure
he made her promise not to leave until he came to get her
she promised him but she should have known better
she cried she cried


On a train--stowaway
Jesus loves you still and your mama wants you home
but oh bridges burn
when you carry your shame and you think you can't return


When they finally found her body on a cold dog day
it was in a cattle car buried in the hay
a note in the pocket of her calico dress
said "I'm guilty as sin but I can't confess"
once you know the truth you can hide it on a shelf
but unless you bring it down you can't live with yourself
in her right hand Jenny held the Bible of her mother
Jenny had a pistol in the other

On a Saturday night all the girls run free
singing "bury me not on the lone prairie"
but where do you go when you finish broken-hearted?
back to the dust where you started

Spring has Sprung

Wow, what a gorgeous weekend we had! Both days were sunny and bright, with only a few occasional clouds. Saturday was a bit breezy and cool, but yesterday it was very warm.

On Saturday, I took the Lad for a very long walk, and incorporated a little grocery shopping. The daffodils are starting to fade, which bums me out a bit, but the bluebells were out in force, and to their visual beauty, Spring added a frangrant one: the lilacs are in bloom. I absolutely love their fragrance.

I also tried my hand at Asian-style barbecued beef ribs. Well, ok, I used buffalo ribs. The barbecue sauce was inspired by Chinese and Korean barbecue:

1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tsp Chinese hot mustard
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp white pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

The flavor was good, but I broke my cardinal rule of cooking buffalo: Cook it fast or cook it in liquid. I believe in cooking barbecue slow. Next time, I think I'll reduce the sauce to make it thicker, and use a faster cooking method.

Yesterday we did some preliminary Spring Cleaning -- mostly taking stuff to the recycling center, followed by a spate of long-overdue yardwork. The place is looking much better -- at least the front yard is.

The back yard is another story. The duplex is L-shaped, and the yard is in the northeast corner of the property, with our half of the building to the west of it and the other half to the south. This means that the southern half of our back yard doesn't ever get sunlight (except maybe on Solstice). So it's been reduced to mud and moss. Ironically, the northern half is lush and during summer, needs to be mowed every 3 days or so.

So I'm hoping my readers can help. we need a pet/child-safe means of killing the moss, after which I plan to plant some Dense shade-friendly grass seed. I also need some ideas for pet/child-safe weed&feed alternatives for the front yard. Suggestions?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Be My Guinea Pigs

I'm going to try something different today. Usually when I post a recipe, it's to brag about a meal I've already cooked. Today I'm going to post a recipe I have conceived but not tried, and challenge my readers to try the recipe, then comment here or email me and tell me how it turns out. Go on, I dare you.

I will give you this reassurance -- the recipe is based on other tried and true recipes, and was inspired by a successful spur-of-the-moment recipe I tried last night. So it's not completely out of left field.

I enjoy making stuffed meat dishes, and lately have become quite good at it. I also have a mean non-stuffed chicken dish based on Chicken Cordon Bleu.

So the other day as I was raiding the freezer for meat to thaw for the next few days' meals, and noticed a turkey breast right next to a package of Prosciutto, I had an idea. I stuffed the tuyrkey with the prosciutto and some Spanish cheese, and it came out delicious.

That got me to thinking of Chicken Cordon Bleu and Chicken Parmesan and how they both have something to offer, and inspired the following idea for an upgraded Chicken Parmesan recipe:

Pollo farcito del parmigiano

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 slices prosciutto
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup crushed bread crumbs
1 cup and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
2 eggs
2 oz. fresh mozarella cheese
1 bunch fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp & 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp & 1/2 tsp onion powder
1 16 oz. can tomato puree
1/4 cup chopped onion
2-4 cloves minced garlic (to taste)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

In a small saucepan over medium heat combine the tomato puree, chopped onion, minced garlic (to taste), basil, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer while making the chicken.

Prepare the stations for the outer coating. In a plate or wide shallow pan mix the flour with 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. Crack the eggs into a wide bowl and whip the yolks into the whites. In another plate or wide shallow pan mix the bread crumbs with 1 cup grated parmesan, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper.

Slice the mozarella as thinly as possible. Butterfly the chicken breasts and lay them open on the cutting board. Lay two or three slices of mozarella on one half of each breast. Lay a slice of prosciutto on top of the mozarella so that only half of the prosciutto slice is on top of the mozarella, and the other half os on the cutting board. Rinse three or four large basil leaves for each breast. Lay the leaves on the half of the prosciutto slice that is on top of the mozarella, then fold the other half of the prosciutto over to cover the leaves. Lay down two ore three more slices of mozarella on top of the prosciutto, then close the chicken breast.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in an oven-safe sautee pan over medium heat. Carefully place each breast in turn in the dish containing the flour, then coat it thoroughly. Repeat the process in the egg and then the bread crumb/parmesan mix. Place the chicken breasts in the sautee pan and cook for about a minute per side, until the coating is a golden color. remove from the stovetop and place in the oven. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until the breasts are just done.

Plate the chicken and cover with the red sauce. Garnish with more grated parmesan and fresh basil leaves. Side serving suggestions: Leftover red sauce can be used with a side of spaghetti. A light salad or sauteed green beans would go nicely. Serve with a dry white, soft red, or blush wine.

UPDATE (08 May, 2006):
I finally tried this myself. Based on my efforts, I'd recommend these changes to the recipe: leave the salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder out of the dredge and the breading, and add some dried oregano and basil to the breading. Beyond that, it really was as delicious as I hoped it would be.

The Truth Hurts

Thanks for the Memory to Vulture Six.

Image hosting by Photobucket


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Semper Fidelis

From the official U.S. Marine Corps website:

Semper Fidelis was adopted about 1883 as the motto of the Corps. Taken from Latin, it means "Alwas Faithful." But it is more than just a motto for Marines, it is a way of life. It is a commitment we all share to our country, to our Corps, and to each other. This is why there are no ex-Marines, only former Marines.

Thanks for the Memory to Trouble at Dubious Wonder.

If you're unclear on what that statement at the Corps website means, if you don't get it, if you want a glimpse of the kind of sacrifice and commitment and camaraderie that's embodied in the phrase "Semper Fidelis" (or "Semper Fi" for short), go read these twelve pages.

Done reading? Now do you get it?

It's all there: the faithfulness to their country even if it means dying (Lincoln's "final full measure of devotion); the faithfulness to each other even beyond that death ("Instead, he found himself faced with an assignment that starts with a long walk to a stranger's porch and an outstretched hand. It continues with a promise steeped in the history of the Corps that most people associate only with the battlefield: Never leave a Marine behind"). And it goes beyond that -- there's a faithfulness being displayed in these stories that is obvious, but that the USMC site modestly overlooks: The Marine Corps is, in return, faithful to its Marines, and to their families.

Semper Fidelis. Always faithful. Not just to each other, but to a country that sometimes repays that fidelity with scorn. That is why, when it comes to those in our military, this lifelong civilian has adopted for himsef a motto based on the Marine Corps motto: Semper Memoralis.

Always Grateful.

Quote of the Day

Thanks for the Memory to Anna at A Rose By any Other Name.

"People can be divided into two classes: those who go ahead and do something, and those who sit still and inquire, why wasn't it done the other way?"

Oliver Wendell Holmes

"All Things Being Equal" Only Applies When All Things ARE Equal

Thanks for the Memory to Hans Gruber at Advocatus Diaboli.

On Monday, Steve Sailer wrote an excellent piece in rebuttal to an article in the New York Times regarding the impact of illegal immigration on wages in the US.

The article in question looks at the change in averages wages of high school dropouts in California from 1984 to 2000 and compares that change to Ohio during the same time period. Because the change is far more significant (17% in California vs. 31% in Ohio), the article concludes that such unskilled labor is far worse off in Ohio than in California, and thast therefore, the impact of illegal immigration is far less.

But as Sailer points out, the article makes a couple of glaring omissions. For one, it fails to take into account differences in cost of living. California's cost of living is one of the highest in the nation, while Ohio's is below the national average. Adjusted for cost of living, underemployed Californians are far worse of than similar Ohioans.

Furthermore, the NYT article ignores other dynamics that may have had an impact on Ohio -- namely, the loss of high-paying Union jobs in Ohio, as opposed to California, a traditionally less unionized state.

I'm no economist, but it seems obvious even to me that it was disingenuous of Porter to ignore the other dynamics that affected the statistics, and I remember just enough of my statistics class to know that taking one state to compare is cherry-picking.

But as both Sailer and Hans Gruber point out, such considerations seem to be ignored when discussing issues of immigration, whether it's out of a fervor for supporting illegals, as Hans asserts, or out of a disdain for the American working class, as Salier claims (I suspect it's a combination of both). The Times has its mind made up -- don't confuse it with facts.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Thanks for the Memory to Vulture Six.

Warplane Pr0n.

The Shot Heard 'Round the World

Quote of the Day

You know that ugly feeling you get when someone tells you "turn on the TV. ANY channel"?

-Emily from It Comes In Pints?, regarding the OKC bombing
(which happened exactly 11 years ago today, two years to the date after the tragedy in Waco)

Playing the Devil's Advocate.

When making and reading comments on other blogs, and even on this one, if I appreciate a comment and the commwnter has a blog, I'll follow the link to their blog just to look around. It was in just such a manner that I found my way from Mean Mr. Mustard over to Advocatus Diaboli. It's a new blog, with only a couple of posts so far, but he has a very logical approach (which I appreciate). He takes points that have already been made, and I believe are valid, and presents them in a rational, well-though-out manner. Go give him a read.

Besides, you gotta like a guy who adopts as his Nom de Plume the name of the slickest, smartest fictional eurotrash terrorist/criminal mastermind of all time.

The Ring of Fire

I finally got around to seeing the movie Walk the Line last night. That may come as some surprise to those who know what a HUGE Johnny Cash fan I am, but life has been hectic these past months, and I haven't been doing a lot of movie watching. But TFR got home from work early last night, and The Lad hit the hay early, so we were left with this strange, foreign concept called Free Time. At least that's what the legends passed down by the elders tell me it's called.

I had mentioned to TFR that Joaquin Phoenix, a PETA supporter, had refused to wear leather for the film and that all of the costumes were vinyl. She asked me if he also refused to wear cotton as well, and when I told her I wasn't sure, she asked, "But what about all those poor suffering Peter Cottontails?" My wife is weird.

The movie was well done. Phoenix didn't really LOOK all that much like Johnny, he certainly got hice voice, inflections, and mannerisms down well. The sound track -- not just Johnny's songs, but the entire background score as well -- was amazing (no surprise considering T Bone Burnett was the executive music producer). The lighting, the mood -- they really managed to evoke a certain feeling that helped tell the story.

The movie also did an excellent job showing the development of the relationship between Johnny and June. I was struck by just how fragile Johnny seemed, despite the bad boy image he cultivated with such calculated carelessness. It was June who brought that vulnerability out (as evoked by the shots we see of Johnny watching her when noone but the camera is watching, how genuine the look on his face is), and it was June who say through his disguise. The other thing I was struck by, and this was a well-known, well-documented aspect of their relationship, was just how feisty, strong, and level-headed June was. She not only stood up to Johnny, she backed him down. And while she was definitely his better half, she also made him better.

At one point early in the movie, when Johnny and his band are auditioning for Sam Phillips, and he tells Johnny to sing a song that he will believe -- and Johnny belts out Folsom Prison Blues. The raw anguish and anger are believable. At the end of the movie, as the epilogue and credits roll, they play a duet by Johnny and June -- not Joaquin and Reese this time, it's actually Johnny and June. And the joy, exuberance, and love that comes through the song is equally believable.

I remember the day Johnny Cash died. A friend of mine emailed me the news at work. The Regarding: line of the email really said it all: He must have really missed June.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

You Want an Order of High Culture With that Big Mac?

Thanks for the Memory to Sobek (who puts "it" in "Egyptian Deities").

A Very Brief History of Art, Featuring Mr. Potato Head

Someone must be very, very bored.

Just Breathe -- Oh, Wait, I Can't!

I SO FREAKING HATE stupid bureaucracy!

About five years or so ago I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea -- I occasionally stop breathing in my sleep. This can be a serious health issue, so I was issued a CPAP. CPAP stands for Constant Positive Air Pressure. A CPAP machine is a small air pump that forces a steady stream of air at slightly higher than atmospheric pressure throungh my nose to create an "air splint" that keeps my airway open and prevents the apneas from occurring.

So yesterday I went to the local medical supply store to get some needed replacement parts for the CPAP -- a filter to make sure I'm breathing in clean air, a new pad to protect my forehead from the mask, a plastic piece that holds the nosepiece in places, and a new strap that holds it all in place. I went in to this place when we first moved to Eugene, so they have my data on file -- which machine I have, what sized mask, and what size filter. They suggested that I just get a whole new mask assembly.

But they couldn't give them to me.



*deep breath*

OK, I understand requiring renewed prescriptions for things like drugs, especially for conditions that can change. But this isn't a medication -- it's a few pieces of plastic and a 1"x2" piece of hepafilter. And it's not like I'm some schmick off the street -- they have my data on file. And apnea is a long-term condition. But thanks to Federal regulations, I have to make a doctor's appointment, go see the doctor, make sure he gets my medical records from the sleep center in San Diego, pay the copay, just so he can tell them it's ok to give me a freaking face mask! Unbelievable!

To Your Health!

Last Night TFR came in after I'd gone to bed to tell me about an interesting news piece she'd seen on the local Fox affiliate. I was unable to find any local news links on their website, but a bit of Googling produced the gist of the article, if not the article itself. The gist of it is this: If you want to reap the greatest health benefits possible from drinking red wine in moderation, your best bet is Oregon Pinot Noirs.

Apparently, it's all about the resveratol. Resveratol is a flavanoid that has been linked by several studies to a reduction in heart disease and certain kinds of cancer, and is found in several foods, but most prominently in the skins of red wine grapes. And the grape varietal that has the highest levels? Yup, Pinot Noir.

But the report on TV last night highlighted Something else -- something that local growers have jumped on and are bragging about. That is the fact that Oregon-grown pinot noir grapes have even higher levels of resveratol than pinot grown in other regions. The reason for this seems to be the rainy, cool climate here in Oregon -- rseveratol is produced by plants to combat fungus, and the climate here is fungus-friendly (as witnessed by our booming wild mushroom industry), so the plants produce more of it.

Reveratol isn't proven to be a miracle cure, but it is believed to be the ingredient in red wine that makes it so healthy. And if you do decide to crack open a bottle of Oregon Pinot, here's an added benefit: it's darned good wine!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Much Tastier than Prairie Hay, Thank You Very Much!

While we were in San Diego for my Grandmother's funeral, The Feared Redhead and I decided we'd like to go back down there for vacation, so we can visit when we have more time and aren't there to bury anyone (the reason for both our visits since leaving). One resolution I made while there was to stay in closer touch with my family. Towards that end, we plan on throwing a barbecue for my family, to be hosted at my cousin's house.

In preparation for said event, I decided to try my hand at making bacon and beans. Baked beans, pork and beans, ham and beans -- beans are a common staple in every part of the US. And they go well with barbecue. Because this was practice, I made a huge batch. They were delicious, but be aware that this makes enough beans to feed an army if you decide to try the recipe.

Bacon and Beans
2 lbs pinto beans
enough water to soak said beans and keep them covered once soaked
1/2 lb bacon
1/4 of a large onion or 1/2 of a medium onion
2 clove of garlic
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup honey
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1-2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
2 bay leaves
dash cayenne

Soak the beans overnight (at least 8 hours, I soaked these for 24). Strain beans, saving soak water. Cut bacon into 1 inch long pieces. Chop onions and mince garlic. In a 4-quart dutch oven, heat bacon over medium high heat until it starts to sizzle. Add onions and garlic. When Onions soften, add the beans, honey, molasses, tomato paste, and enough soak water to fill to just below the lid. Add in paprika, oregano, cayenne, cumin, bay leaves, and salt to taste. Heat to a boil, lower heat to medium low and continue to boil for 10 minutes. Cover and place in a 275 degree oven for 6 hours, stirring occasionally.

Serves everyone.

Friday, April 14, 2006


STILL waiting to hear from the Culinary Arts Program regarding my application. Sure, feel free to borrow my mind, I'm about to lose it anyway.

Virtually From the Horse's Ass's Mouth

Thanks for the Memory to Emily at It Comes in Pints? (Boy, they're just EN FUEGO today!), who links to this cool chatbot, Ask Chomsky. I did, and just couldn't resist asking:

Me: How does an advanced degree in linguistics make one an expert in diplomacy?
Chomsky: How should I know how it does.

Just "Plane" Stupid

Thanks for the Memory to Emily at It Comes in Pints?

When one views the modern mainstream media from a certain political perspective, and one notices the omission of certain stories or details of stories, it is easy to reach the conclusion that said media have an agenda: that they hold to a certain political and philosophical viewpoint; and that they select the stories and images to be presented to their audience in such a way as to paint their own beliefs in a positive light, and that of their opponents in a negative.

But Hanlon's Razor dictates that we never presume malice in an individual's actions if those actions can simply be attributed to stupidity. And while I am firmly of the belief that the media have been self-incrimination to the point where simple stupidity cannot explain their actions, and said action seem convincingly evident of malice AND stupidity combined, on occasion, they do present me with anecdotal evidence in support of a pure stupidity theory.

Case in point:

Emily points us in the comments to her entry to this fawning article from People, an interview with Tom "Caligula" Cruise and Katie "Deer in Headlights" Holmes. In the first sentence of the article, the writer, Clint Brewer, writes, "It was a scene straight out of a Tom Cruise blockbuster: the hero in the cockpit of a 1944 P-51 Mustang fighter plane, a beautiful girl on the tarmac, and the roar of the jet's engines as it tore across a Mojave Desert sky."

Most of my beloved readers are well-versed in the history of the US Military and its more famous weapons, and will catch the error in that sentence right away, but for the few of you who aren't and don't, I commend to you this URL about the North American P-51 Mustang, including photo.

If you'll take a look at that photo, a couple of things become clear right away: First of all, the Mustang is a single-engine aircraft. Second of all, it is propeller-driven. And that propeller is driven not by a turbofan (which is, technically, a form of jet engine), oh no, but by a piston engine, like the one in your car (well, nominally like the one in your car, in the same way that a Ferrari Enzo is a car, like my Ford Focus) an Allison F-series V-12 in early models, and a Rolls Merlin V-12 (yes, built by Rolls Royce, and under license by Packard) in the later, more successful models.

The point being that to refer to the P-51's roar as being that of a "jet's engines" is doubly incorrect. Had Mr. Brewer bothered, a simple Google search could have provided him with the information. Do I think that Mr. Brewer hates the military, or P-51 Mustangs, or the memory of the North American Aircraft Company? No. But it is obvious that he is uninformed, and furthermore, lazy. Unfamiliar with the simple nuances of aircraft design (nuances that seem frighteningly obvious), he chose to simply equate "airplane" and "jet", and either missed the distinction himself, or trusted that his readers would do so. In either case, this is irresponsible and stupid, but not malicious.

However, I would offer one caveat to any journalist who might stumble upon my humble blog: falling back on Hanlon's Razor may exhonorate you regarding your motives, but it doesn't exactly commend you regarding your skills.

Your Weekly Dose of Steve Taylor Lyrics: Installment #1

A couple of weeks ago, I reminisced on being a fan of Steve Taylor, a Christian pop musician from the 80's and early 90's with a satyrical twist to his lyrics. I also commented on how those lyrics from two decades ago seem even more germaine today. So I decided I'd start sharing them with you, one song at a time, in whatever order seems most appropriate. I hope to make this a regular feature.

This week I was struck by how many of my fellow bloggers have been registering their annoyance with the owners of hybrid cars -- particularly Prius'. It brought to my mind a recent, hilarious episode of South Park in which the "Smug" of too many hybrid owners threatens South Park and, in fact, the country. This in turn led me to ponder the lyrics to Steve's song "Smug", from his 1993 album Squint:

Strike this little pose
Chin up in the air
Lips together tightly
Nostrils in a flare
Now look like you care
Very nice!

Practice in the mirror
Brushing back a tear
Very sincere
A promising career could begin right here at home
If you've got that smug...
That smug...

Hey mama hey mama lookee what your little babies all have become
Hey mama hey mama don't it ever make you wish you'd been a nun?
Vain and fickle, were we weaned on a pickle?
Is it in our blood?
Rome is burning
We're here turning smug

Strike another pose
Power politics
Swallow their conventions
Get your power fix
We love to mud wrestle
We love to be politically Koreshed

Practice that smug
Post it like a man
One part Master Limbaugh
Two parts Madame Streisand
Now pretend you're in a band
My, my, we're looking smug
Very very very very


All you smug-starved millions in the thick of the search
Welcome to our church
Whatcha wanna solve?
We can help you evolve from merely self-righteous
To perfectly smug

Strike the proud pose of our country club brethren
Friendly as a tomb
Fragrant as the bottom of a locker-room broom
Now what's the matter?
Hey...get off your knees...that part don't come 'til later...
God will not be pleased...

Hey mama hey mama lookee what your little babies all have become...
Rome is cooking
My, we're looking smug

Birthday Meme

Thanks for the Memory (and the meme) to Ken S. at It Comes in Pints?

This is the latest Meme going around, and it's a cool one. Go to Wikipedia, and look up your birth date (excluding the year). Then list three interesting historical events that occurred on that day, two births, and one death.

Here's what I learned about my birthday, June 5th:


70 - Titus and his Roman legions breach the middle wall of Jerusalem.
1783 - The Montgolfier brothers publicly demonstrate their montgolfière (hot air balloon).
1968 - U.S. presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy is shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, California by Sirhan Sirhan. (He dies on June 6). (This one I knew, since it's the same year as well -- my dad heard the news in the hospital waiting room.)

1723 - Adam Smith, Scottish economist and philosopher (d. 1790)
1850 - Pat Garrett, American Western lawman (d. 1908) (For those who don't know and don't care to follow the link, Pat Garret killed Jesse James Billy the Kid. I knew that, duh. Thanks to Ken S. for pointing out the goof.)

2004 - Ronald Reagan, former President of the United States (b. 1911)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Link Love

I finally got around to doing something I've intended to do for a while: Updating my blogroll. For the past couple of months I've been reading some new blogs, and it's time I give credit where due:

Fiddle Dee Dee
GroovyVic is a mom blogger from back east. Her blog is a humorous mixture of commentary on politics, parenting, and Vic's obsession with Ewan MacGregor.

It Comes in Pints?

Ken S. is a frequent commenter on this site, and it's time I returned the love.

1 Girl, 4 Martinis

Bobgirrl is a twenty-somehting California girl whose usually apolitical blog (though she is conservative) is a sassy, sexy, smart insight into food, wine, culture, and the never-ending quest for a "Future Ex-Husband".

Wally Wonders Why

I've just found Wally's blog, but you have to like a guy who blogs about himself in the third person.


How could I forget Dubious Wonder?

Trouble linked to me when she ran the Carnival of Recipes, and gave my recipe high marks. She made an instant friend for that.

Well, I'm Back

Seven days ago this morning we buried my grandmother. The last week has drained me, both physically and emotionally. I'm grateful to my handful of loyal readers, both for their expressions of emotional support, and for continuing to make me feel validated in my blogging.

Wednesday the 5th sucked. There's nothing else for it but to face the ginormous levels of suckiness it exuded. Between the lack of sleep, the emotional drain of my grandmother's death, and the pressure to get everything done and get up to Portland in time to fly out, I was off my game all day, and managed to alienate a fellow blogger I once held in high regard. I shouldn't have even been reading blogs on a day like that. Then, after a stressful time finishing the packing and getting up to Portland, we flew out at 9:something PM and arrived in San Diego at 11:45 PM. By the time we reached my grandma's house in Chula Vista, talked to my mom, and got to bed, it was 2 AM. The Lad woke me up at 5:45, and I was up pretty much for the rest of the day, except for a short nap around 2 or so. I guess that means the suckage seeped into Thursday, huh?

The funeral was... I really can't think of a single adjective that fits. I guess it was what a funeral should be -- happy and sad, with the tears only interrupted by laughter as we remembered my grandmother for the amazing woman she was, and mourned our own loss. We know she's in Heaven and her suffering here is over, but we miss her presence. She was, as was said at the funeral, the glue that held our family together.

Margaret Dittenhaver (nee Bohnstehn) was a direct descendant of Daniel Boone. One of 11 children, she was born in Oklahoma, grew up in Arkansas, and came west to California during the Dust Bowl. She was never ashamed of her roots, though she made it clear she considered herself an Arkie, not an Okie. All of the children gave up school to work and help the family survive. One sister lost the use of her left hand in a dry cleaning press.

There was one bit of irony in the funeral. Only one of my grandmother's sisters, and subsequently her only daughter, was ever embarassed of where our family came from. That niece, now a minister, delivered the eulogy, and referred to my grandma as a "Southern Belle". It rankled me, and when I stood to share, at one point I found myself blurtingh out, "She was a Dust Bowl Okie!" OK, she'd have said Arkie, but after the funeral, numerous family members thanked me for adding that.

My grandmother left behind 5 daughters, 12 grandchildren, and 7 great grandchildren. All of those grandchildren remember her as a loving, nay doting, grandmother, who would do anyhting for her grandkids. And despite the fact that we live far apart and have very different beliefs and lifestyles, we are all close and love each other, in large part thanks to my grandma.

My grandma died on Sunday Night. Earlier in the day, her dog had to be put down. She was sixteen. Two days after my grandmother died, her brother died. Of those 11 kids, only one is living, and he's not long for this world. We're losing a generation, and I for one will miss them.

After the funeral, we all went over to the house of one of my aunts, just a few doors down from my grandma's (and actually, the house where my grandma lived when I was growing up. Long story) and had lunch. The mood there was significantly lighter -- plenty of reminiscence about growing up with "Marg" as a grandma, and all of our memories. I learned that the cousin I most envied for her lifestyle as a kid, envied me for mine. It was really good to be around family -- I grew up, and still live, thousands of miles from the rest of the family. I need to make sure that The Lad gets plenty of chances to visit his family. Family is important.

The rest of the visit was busy with visits to old friends, and spending time with my mom. We also took a trip to Fort Rosecrans National to visit my dad's grave, it was the closest The Lad will ever come to meeting his grandfather.

I do miss some things about San Diego -- the weather was gorgeous. But I don't miss the traffic, or the sales tax.

We arrived in Portland This past Monday at 11:15, and instead of spending the night at the SIL's, drove straight home. I took the last two of my permitted paid bereavment days to rest.

I'm still not sure I'm ready to get back into the swing of blogging. Hell, I'm not ready to get back to work and all of the drudgery of life. Despite the sadness of our reason for going, this was a mini-vacation, and it felt good to get away. But here I am.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

In Time All Things Haunt Us

I spent most of my childhood living a significant distance from my grandparents, and do visiting them was a big deal. A few times, my family would scrape up the money for me and my mom and later sister to fly to San Diego. When we'd leave, my grandmother would see us off at the airport. Invariably, I would begin singing "LEavin' on a Jet Plane", and my grandmother would cry. But being a kid, I didn't know they were real tears, so I'd encourage her to cry louder and keep on singing.

Now I'm getting on a jet plane, but she's the one who's leaving and I'm the one with tears in my eyes.

I won't be posting until we return. In the meantime, thank you to all my readers who have bothered to post their condolences, and please don't forget this little blog is here.

Mon Dieu!

I might end up having to root for the Miami Dolphins

Upgrading Food

For obvious reasons, my head just hasn't been into blogging the last few days, and the last thing I expected to be doing was recipe blogging. But I made an interesting discovery last night that I thought you'd all enjoy.

One of the things we had to do last night in preparation for tonight's trip to San Diego was clean out the fridge -- there was stuff in there that would have been fine for a few more days before we ate them if we were home, but would have spoiled while away for 6 days.

One of them was a buffalo tri-tip that I had thawed Sunday before receiving word of my Grandmother's worsened condition. I decided to do my best with it and make my buffalo (not Buffalo) Steak Sandwiches. The problem is, the grill has been in hibernation and wouldn't fire up. No problem -- I used our electric griller/Pannini maker/Waffle maker. I know, the meat doesn't get that smokey quality, but here's what you can do that's almost as cool:

This variation on the recipe requires an electric grill or a grill pan -- something with a solid surface and raised grill lines, not an open wire grill.

First, start with a good dry rub. I'd recommend 1/4 cup turbinado sugar, 1/4 cup kisher salt, and herbs and spices to taste. I use cumin, cayenne, parika, ground sundried tomato, ground Mexican oregano, mustard powder, onion and garlic powders. The dugar is important for later.

Let the meat stand for about 2 hours before cooking it. Rub the skillet or griller with olive oil and cook the tri-tip to taste (IMHO, if it isn't pink, it's burnt). While the meat is resting, deglase the surface of the griddle with 1-2 tbsp of red wine and 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar. Allow the deglaze to reduce, take your sliced ciabatta bread and lightly drizzle the cut surface with olive oil. Place face down on grill. Cook for 1 minute or until the bread is hot and has soaked up some of the reduction. Continue on with the rest of the original recipe.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Travel Plans

TFR and I will be attending my grandmother's funeral in San Diego. We leave Eugene on Wednesday right after I get off of work, and our flight leaves Portland at 9:20 PM, arriving in San Diego at 11:44. We fly home on Monday night, leaving San Diego at 8:40 PM and arriving in Portland at 11:10. We'll spend the night at the SIL's and drive home Tuesday morning.

The trip will be a bittersweet thing. This is our second trip back to San Diego since we moved to Oregon, and both times it was to bury someone -- first my dad, now my grandma. We'll have plenty of time to visit with old friends, which will be nice, but ultimately will remind us of how lonely we are -- we have not yet cultivated any real, active friendships in the five years we've been here. And from the last trip, I remember that being in a place where one used to live has an odd quality to it, a familiar strangeness -- "I remember all this, but I'm not part of it anymore".

Monday, April 03, 2006

The River Jordan Is Muddy and Cold

My sister just called. My grandmther passed away peacefully last night at 10:59 PM PDT.

My deepest thanks to everyone who has kept her and our family in their prayers ofthe the past months. Please continue to remember us as we go through the process of bidding her farewell.

Bittersweet Morsels

Bitter: My friend Vic's sister Star is not log for this world. Go offer him your support.

Sweet: Spoke with the Program Cooddinator fro the Culinary Arts program today. She said I could expect some word on my application by the end of April. Based on what she saw of my application, she doesn't see why the chef instructors would need to bother with an interview before accepting me.

Bitter: I spoke with my sister yetserdasy. My grandmother's breathing is labored and rapid, and they expect her to go very soon.

Bittersweet: My brother-in-law is out of the hospital and recovering, but he is still having some problems and needs further prayers.

I'm Born Again, There's New Grass on the Field

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It's Opening Day!

In Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It, he writes, "In my family, there was no clear division between religion and fly fishing."

The same could be said in my family of baseball. My father was a lifelong, die-hard fan of the sport. He played it in high school, college, and the Navy. He coached girl's little league softball. He announced the games for my high school. And he loved to go sit in the stands and watch it.

When I was a boy of four, he was given seasons passes to go see the Eugene Emeralds, or Single A minor league team. He'd just get settled in to watch the game when I'd want a hot dog and a pop. So he'd walk with me to concessions, buy the food, and walk back to his seat. By the 3rd or 4th inning, I'd want some cotton candy. By the 5th inning or so, I'd want to go home. My poor father never got to see one of those games through to the end.

But he did manage to plant a seed. And by the time I was a teenager, I was as devoted to Baseball as he was. And because my grandparents lived in San Diego, I'd become (and still am) a diehard Padres fan -- I was a fan back in the days of the Swingin' Friar, the uniforms that looked like McDonalds uniforms (the team WAS owned by Ray Kroc), and teams that couldn't hit their way out of a paper bag. I had the privilege of watching Tony Gwynn (one of the last true gentlemen in baseball) play out his entire career in The Murph (I refuse to think of it as "Qualcomm").

And when we moved to San Diego when I was a young adult, he got the chance to teach me all the tings about baseball that he'd always wanted to. He taught me the main reason that baseball is better watched live and in person, as opposed to on televison (a medium perfect for football but lacking for baseball) -- he taught me not to focus on the battery, but to watch the whole field. He taught me to appreciate hitting to get on base as much as the long ball. And he taught me how to keep the faith -- to not give up on your team no matter how bad things look.

He's gone now, and I no longer have someone to talk baseball with. But I have a young son, and I live just a few short miles from the field where the Emeralds play. Maybe some day....