Sunday, December 30, 2007

Birthday Song

Jeff and Janet came up for new year's weekend. We recorded this song using Sharon's cell phone and the minidisk recorder with otter box. Production was done on my Mac with iMovie and GarageBand 08.

Royan is (left to right) Janet, Sharon, Jeff and Jaya. Recorded December 29, 2007.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Grill Break In

Andrew and I assembled the new grill on Christmas day. Picked up tongs after work the next day. Last night we made a Safeway run to get the meat for this weekend (see future post for recipes). Today I bought the LP gas and some apple wood chips.

I'm using the Blue Rhino gas technology mainly because my old friend Judo Dave started this kind of business and it still sounds like a great idea. Instead of taking your LP tank down the the RV/Camping store and having someone fill it you just go down to the neighborhood hardware store and swap the empty for a full tank.

To break in the grill you need something with a lot of fat to get the thing greased up properly. I chose Italian sausage. After lunch I'll start the pulled pork with significant modifications based on my expertise.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Weber Gas Grill

Sharon gave me a new Weber gas grill for Christmas.

First, read the instructions.

Prepare the turkey for Christmas dinner. Make the gravy.

Assemble the grill. Carry up to the back porch.

Make a shopping list to break in the grill.

  • Gas
  • Grill brush, the Grill Wizard on-line purchase
  • Italian sausage (for the grease, season the grill)
  • Vegetables
On the way home from work Wednesday pick up the above supplies.

Make dinner on the grill :)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Turkey Gravy, 4 hour version

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

My biggest problem with traditional gravy recipes is that they are last-minute. This is the final kitchen task of the day, since you need the drippings from the turkey roasting pan and stock from simmering giblets for the best flavor. For best results, try to get others to help with finishing other dishes while you concentrate on that gravy. I've never even attempted to pull this off but instead settle for something quicker and get down to the eating.

There are some secrets to making perfect gravy.

  • Use a wire whisk to stir the gravy to avoid lumps.
  • Make sure to thoroughly cook the flour in the fat (before adding liquid) to avoid a starchy taste.
  • Salt is the key to the best flavor.

This recipe is adapted from Cook's Illustrated magazine, November/December 2001 edition. ATK recipe for Make Ahead Turkey Gravy.

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: about 3 hours Yield: approximately 1 quart

Turkey giblets (discard the liver, as it will make the stock cloudy and taste metallic) and neck plus the ribs, back bone, loose skin and fat (see butterflied turkey recipe) from the turkey. 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped into 1-inch pieces 1 celery rib, coarsely chopped into 1-inch pieces 2 small onions, coarsely chopped into 1-inch pieces 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled

3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth 3 cups water 2 cups dry white wine 6 sprigs fresh thyme 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Heat the oven to 450°. Place turkey giblets, necks, backs, carrot, celery, onions, and garlic into a large flameproof roasting pan. Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray and toss to combine. Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden-browned, about 45 minutes.

Remove roasting pan from oven and dump the solids into a large saucepan or stock pot. Place the roasting pan over 1 or 2 burners set at high heat. Add some of the chicken stock and deglaze the pan, scraping up browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

Transfer contents of the roasting pan to the saucepan. Add wine, 2 cups of water, and thyme sprigs; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced by half, about 1 1/2 hours. Strain stock into a large measuring cup or container. Cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until fat congeals, about 1 hour.

Skim fat from the stock and reserve/save. Pour the stock through a fine-mesh strainer to remove remaining bits of fat; discard bits in strainer. Bring stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. In a second medium saucepan, heat 4 Tbsp of the reserved turkey fat over medium-high heat until bubbling (if you don't have 4 Tbsp of fat, make up the difference with butter). Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until combined and toasty honey-colored, about 2 minutes. Continuing to whisk constantly, gradually add the hot stock; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

To serve: bring the gravy to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add a few grinds of black pepper, and then stir well to combine. Taste the gravy carefully. Adjust seasonings with more salt and pepper if necessary.

Salt is the key to the best gravy. But you have to add and taste constantly. Start with about 1/2 tsp. for 4 cups of liquid. Then sprinkle in a tiny bit at a time, stirring and tasting. You'll know when you have the right amount, because the gravy will suddenly come alive with a marvelous meaty flavor.

Transfer the gravy to a boat and serve.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Knife Sharpener

We are going to butterfly a turkey for Christmas so I needed to get a knife sharp enough to cut the back bone out of a 20 pound bird. It just so happend the ATK send some email this weeek that included an article of knife shapeners.

Instead of getting the $150 electric sharpener I went for the bust buy manual recommendation, AccuSharp, only $12.

It works like a charm. You can feel when the knife is sharp, the resistance/drag significantly reduces when it is sharp.

A couple of knives that Sharon says are mine would not sharpen. I done ever remember using them so we threw them away. Now we are going to keep the knifes properly sharp or we won't keep them at all.

The AccuSharp website has instructions for use and even tells you how to swap the working bits around to double the life of the tool. I recommend getting one of these for your kitchen to keep knifes sharp. But if the blade is to far gone either get a new knife or take your good knifes to a professional sharpener to regrind the blade and use the AccuSharp to maintain your cutting edge.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tools and productivity improvement

...well over half of the time you spend working on a project (on the order of 70 percent) is spent thinking, and no tool, no matter how advanced, can think for you. Consequently, even if a tool did everything except the thinking for you -- if it wrote 100 percent of the code, wrote 100 percent of the documentation, did 100 percent of the testing, burned the CD-ROMs, put them in boxes, and mailed them to your customers -- the best you could hope for would be a 30 percent improvement in productivity.

In order to do better than that, you have to change the way you think.

-Frederick P. Brooks, [paraphrased]

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My friend hurt his back, what to do?

Yoga is one of the better things for rehabilitating back injuries.

I strongly recommend Dr. Leon Root's book Oh my aching back. I used it to understand the anatomy and kinesiology of my back. Once you know how it is designed and works you can begin doing the things that will stabilize it and give it a chance to heal. The book Posture Alignment by D'Arezzo should also be studied.

I haven't though about my 'bad back' for years. But know this, when I was going through the pain and inability to stand up straight I never imagined I would be care free again in my life time. It took a couple of year before I wasn't thinking about or worrying about by back. The last 10 years it doesn't even cross my mind, true peace :)

There are links to the books by Dr. Root on my site, The book I used is out of print, I imagine the new book is improved.

Bottom line: educate yourself then take action. You have to develop strength and flexibility in addition to removing/minimizing the things that resulted in a broken back.

With the education you can structure a yoga program that will be beneficial. Many of the therapy exercises are also yoga exercises. But yoga is so much more than the physical, it is like Qigong, put your mind and intention into the body and breath. Simply going to a class that is labeled yoga will not do it, you have to have the mental intention a yogic approach to whatever you do.

Restoration Therapy is also very helpful if the person is in a serious program to change their body.

Make sure he knows that difference between pain and injury. My hip surgeon told me that the body will not allow you to do things that will injure the body, you can ignore the pain.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ian Lambe Low Whistle

I play an Ian Lambe low D whistle that I discovered in Galway on our first trip to Ireland.Ian Lambe logo I wanted to get a low whistle and I had heard how hard they are to play but I love the tone and find the range more my style than the high D whistles. I played all the low whistles they had and the Lambe was the only one that was playable. I got a great low D right off the bat without any difficulties in covering all the holes.

Mr. Lambe keeps a pretty low profile on the web. In fact today is the first time since 2003 that his website came up when I tried the URL. But marketing and distribution channels doesn't do squat to make a fine musical instrument.

To date I have yet to play or hear a better low D whistle then the Ian Lambe I have.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Agile Software Development

The main topic in the 2007 symposium on software development held at my work this week was "agile development". One presenter recommended reading the Agile Manifesto.

At this site I learned that Brian Marick was one of the signers of the manifesto. I know Brian from some of the Los Altos Workshop on Software Testing (LAWST) weekends. When I have an opportunity to work in an agile environment Brian's website is where I'll start my training.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Long Arm Quilting Class

Today I am taking a class on how to use a long arm quilting machine at Howell's Sew & Vac, Auburn. After successful completion of this class they will allow me to rent time on their machine.

By the end of the class my brain was full.

This is an art form that requires development of specific physical skills in addition to artistic interpretation. I was hoping that it would be like using the Gammell machines where you program in the design/pattern and let it ripe. Instead, you do all the movement of the needle and you make the nice even curves.

Don't think I will be using this machine to do much quilting. I don't have the time to develop the level of skill I would expect of myself before finishing a top.

Lessons Learned

Draw First, Quilt Second for Better Freehand Quilting

For freehand free motion quilting, drawing your design first helps train your brain for quilting. The easiest continuous line design you can quilt is your signature because you've practiced writing it over and over. The same logic applies to any other continuous line design. Even stippling is best learned by drawing first. Always practice drawing by filling in a square, rectangle, or other shape you might find our your quilt top. Your quilt has boundaries-so should your drawing area.

Successful Quilting Starts by Looking Down the Road

The best analogy for successful free motion quilting is from Harriet Hargrave. She compares free motion quilting to driving. If you drive by looking at your hood ornament, you're likely to crash often. Looking down the road and anticipating the next curve or stopping point is a much better driving plan. Periodically check your mirrors and blind spot and slow down when you're stopping or parking.

The same philosophy applies to quilting. Don't focus on the needle hitting the fabric, not even when you're quilting a marked line. Look ahead for changes in a curve or towards the next point in your design and quilt towards it. Trust that your peripheral vision will help guide you. Slow down when you have to hit a specific point. Look at the needle hitting the fabric only occasionally.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Trevor's Pulled Pork

This is mainly for Jaya, but I thought that maybe one or more of you would be interested in this recipe as well. It also contains the recipe for Fried Pickles and Cole Slaw, which I did not make. :)


Barbecued Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Homemade BBQ Sauce, Cole Slaw, and Fried Pickles

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2001.

1 boneless pork butt, about 4 pounds
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Essence, recipe follows
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne
Wet Mop Basting Sauce [recipe follows]
Barbecue Sauce [recipe follows]
8 Hamburger buns
Kicked Up Cole Slaw [recipe follows]
Fried Pickles [recipe follows]

Place the pork in a baking dish. In a bowl, combine the sugar, Essence, salt, cumin, paprika, pepper, and cayenne. Rub the seasoning evenly over the pork to coat. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat an oven or smoker to 225° F.

Bring the pork to room temperature and place in a roasting pan, fat side up. Slow cook in the oven, basting with the wet mop basting sauce every 45 minutes, until tender and the internal temperature reaches 160° F. (The cooking should take about 6 to 7 hours.) Remove from the oven and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

With a knife and fork or two forks, pull the meat apart into small slices or chunks. Toss with the barbecue sauce, to taste, and divide among the hamburger buns. Top with the coleslaw. Serve with the fried pickles and additional Barbecue Sauce on the side.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.

Wet Mop Basting Sauce:
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon salt

The night before you cook the pork, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and whisk well. Refrigerate and let the flavors blend overnight.

Yield: 2 1/4 cups

Barbecue Sauce:
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients and whisk well to dissolve the sugar. Place in a squeeze bottle and dress the pulled pork sandwiches to taste.

Yield: about 2 cups

Fried Pickles:
1 (16-ounce) jar whole dill pickles
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons hot red pepper sauce
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tablespoons Essence, plus more for dusting
4 cups vegetable oil, for frying

Drain the pickles in a colander, then spread on paper towels to drain completely.

Combine the buttermilk and hot sauce in a bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, and 2 tablespoons of Essence.

Heat the oil in a medium pot to 350° F. Submerge the pickles in batches in the buttermilk, then dip into the flour mixture, tossing to evenly coat. Shake in a strainer to remove any excess batter. Add to the oil in batches, turning, until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels, and season with Essence and salt, to taste. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Serve hot.

Yield: about 6 servings

Cole Slaw:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons buttermilk
4 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
3 cups shredded green cabbage (about 1/2 head cabbage)
3 cups shredded red cabbage (about 1/2 head cabbage)
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
1/2 cup grated yellow onion
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, vinegar, buttermilk, celery seeds, salt, pepper, and cayenne, and whisk well to dissolve the sugar.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Toss with the dressing until evenly coated. Adjust seasoning, to taste. Place in the refrigerator, covered, to chill slightly before serving.

Yield: 8 servings

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cake Pans

I picked up a pair of Chicago Metallic PROFESSIONAL™ 9 inch by 2 inch round non-stick cake pans to make the New German's Chocolate Cake.

The label said to lower the temperature specified in the recipe by 25° F but it didn't say why. I though that it might be an error or an omission in the "before first use" directions. But checking the manufacturer's website I found the following.

Cooking Tips
  • Place pan in upper third of oven
  • Bake at 25° F lower than a recipes recommended setting
  • Dark non-stick color absorbs more heat than lighter pans and bakes the bottoms of food more quickly
  • Ideal for crispier crusts; superior performance in roasting and broiling applications

Friday, November 16, 2007

New German Chocolate Cake

Click to see the real thing. My group at work has a big lunch before Thanksgiving. This year it will be on Tuesday. Here is the email about the event. SQA, Software and Product Support


Thank you all for responding and from the list below I know we'll be having quite a feast. So,

  1. Try to shop early and beat the crowd this weekend
  2. For some of you who are trying out "new" recipe, please taste test your dish and be prepared to execute Plan B
  3. For Brendan who is trying to catch Some Bird out there, please don't get those from the Bay that is soaked in oil
  4. Steve you can bring either Dessert or Drinks or maybe Some Thing
We'll see everyone next Tuesday!!

Side Dish - John (Steamed Veggies), Wendy, Stephen (Stuffing), Paul (Deviled Eggs), Prayrana (Something cool)

Entree - Trevor (Pulled Pork), Brendan (Some Bird), Wayne (Tri Tip), Bart, Mary Ann (Pasta), Andrew (Italian sausage tomato cream pasta)

Salad - Joe

Dessert - Jaya (The"New" German Chocolate Cake), Marie

Drinks - Chris (Coke), Paul (Egg Nog)

Soup - Jason (Potato Leek Soup)


I wanted to try the ATK recipe for German's Chocolate Cake for a few reasons.

  • I have never liked German's Chocolate cakes
  • I don't like things with shredded coconut in it
  • It doesn't taste like chocolate
  • I enjoyed watching the episode, Session 6, on the recipe remodel
  • The changes ATK made to the traditional recipe sound like they are addressing my concerns so maybe I would like their version.
Recipe from American's Test Kitchen.

Jaya's Modifications to the ATK recipe above.

Since I used my new cake pans I lowered the oven temperature 25 ° F as recommended by the manufacturer. The cook time turned out to be 35 minutes, 5 minutes more the ATK said. Most likely it is the altitude of Auburn that lengthened the baking time.

Icing the cake—didn't mix the pecans into the frosting until half the cake was assembled. What I did was spread a quarter of the frosting on the bottom layer and then sprinkled a quarter of the nut on top. Did the same for layer two. Then I mixed the remaining half of the pecans with the remaining icing and completed the cake. So that the top of the cake would look yummy I shorted layer three of icing and put it all on top. Yummm, feed concluded.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Pine Bark Restart


A week or so ago I laid out the cut pieces in the final pattern. Sunday I started sewing them together. It became immediately apparent that I was not going to be able to get this thing together in any way shape or form that I will be happy with. The pieces just don't sew together perfectly.

Sharon calmed me down. She suggested that she do the sewing and I feed her the pieces and do the ironing. That worked out nicely.

However, the blocks are not straight. We decided to just sew them all together and then trim the sides to make them "square". I'm going to keep going to learn from the mistakes. Besides, I need something to quilt at the freehand quilting machine class I'm taking at the end of the month.

I just phoned Cabin Fever to ask about help with this project. I talked to Kathy Sanchez who happens to be one of two employees who have experience with the Japanese Puzzle. Kathy offered to help me out if I would drop by the store this Saturday.

She is also teaching a three day class the first weekend in February 2008.

All-Purpose Gravy

After running around for two days and preparing a big holiday meal I don't seem to have the energy or time to make gravy. I just want to get off my feet and feed. ATK to the rescue with a gravy recipe that you can make ahead of time. No turkey giblets required.

All-Purpose Gravy

This gravy can be served with almost any type of meat or poultry or with mashed potatoes. If you would like to double the recipe, use a Dutch oven to give the vegetables ample space for browning and increase the cooking times by roughly 50 percent.

The finished gravy can be frozen. To thaw either a single or double recipe, place the gravy and 1 tablespoon of water in a saucepan over low heat and bring slowly to a simmer. The gravy may appear broken or curdled as it thaws, but a vigorous whisking will recombine it.

Makes 2 cups

1 small carrot , peeled and chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1 small rib celery , chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1 small onion , chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
5 whole black peppercorns
Table salt and ground black pepper
  1. In food processor, pulse carrot until broken into rough 1/4-inch pieces, about five 1-second pulses. Add celery and onion; pulse until all vegetables are broken into 1/8-inch pieces, about five 1-second pulses.

  2. Heat butter in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat; when foaming subsides, add vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and well browned, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually add broths; bring to boil, skimming off any foam that forms on surface. Reduce heat to medium-low and add bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to 3 cups, 20 to 25 minutes.

  3. Strain gravy through fine-mesh strainer into clean saucepan, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tooth Care

As part of my personal development a few months ago I improved my dental hygiene routine. Now instead of flossing a couple of times before my dental appointment I am flossing a few times a week.

Years ago I started using a Sonicare electric toothbrush. It is great, it cleans much better than the manual method and improves gum health as well. Not sure why I having been using it but it was last regularly used back in the twentieth century.

On the chance that my reluctance to put this high speed electrical device into my wet mouth might have something to do with that little voice in the back of my head, You should get a new tooth brush every three to four months, I am ordering my first set of replacement brushes.

The only criticism I have for this product is that it is programmed to run for four 30 second intervals, the idea being that each quadrant gets the same treatment. I like this feature very much but you know sometimes you just need to spend a little more time on a particularly gnarly bit of gristle and before you know it it is time to move on. The current model, the Philips Sonicare Elite e9500 Custom Care Power Toothbrush, actually takes this into account by giving the user an optional fifth 30 second set. This is the one to get for the ones you love.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Auburn - Reno bus

There is an inexpensive way to go between Auburn (Sacramento) and Reno. It is the Coach America bus. The round trip fare is $28 for the two hour trip. Bus leaves twice a day. Don't forget to use the $5 coupon at the Nugget.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Bob Kunkel is an Danzan Ryu black belt I have known for years. He has been working with solders in Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Bethesda Maryland.

Bob is the personification of kokua. Check out the CNN video interview. This is part of CNN's Heroes; Ordinary people.

Read the AJJF Kiai Echo article, Spring 2005; page 1, page 9 and page 10,

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Light and Crispy Waffles

The path to seriously crisp waffles leads down the cereal aisle. I haven't tried this recipe from ATK but if I ever do make waffles this is the recipe I'll follow. I have never cooked with Rice Krispies, have you?

Light and Crispy Waffles

Makes 8 (7-inch) round waffles

All waffle irons are not created equal. If your first waffle comes off the iron too pale or too dark, adjust the heat as necessary. Make sure to fill the waffle iron as directed; if you don't use enough batter, the Rice Krispies can scorch.

  • 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup Rice Krispies
  • ¾ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon table salt
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1½ cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  1. Preheat traditional waffle iron to medium. Meanwhile, stir flour, Rice Krispies, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk egg yolks, milk, vanilla, and oil together in medium bowl.
  2. With electric mixer or balloon whisk, beat egg whites in bowl to soft peaks. Pour milk mixture over dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Whisk in beaten whites until just combined. Do not overmix; a few streaks of whites should be visible.
  3. Pour 2/3 cup batter into center of preheated waffle iron and use back of dinner spoon to spread batter toward outer edges (batter should reach about 1/2 inch from edges of iron before lid is closed). Close lid and cook until deep golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fall is cooking time.

It is getting dark before I get home from work and the heater is kicking on. The sky is full of dark clouds and we feel like nesting.

In the fall I want to cook and stay home. I have season six and seven of the Test Kitchen to watch. I've been saving them because we haven't seen them yet and I want to experience to last. Tonight I watched a recipe for black bean soup that I want to try in my new dutch oven.

I think I will order myself a nice chef's knife, the R H Forschner 8-inch Chef's Knife, Black Fibrox Handle, recommended by ATK.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Story of Texas Chili

Word has it that chili was invented in San Antonio, Texas. It began as a simple peasant stew using materials inexpensive and at hand. Meat, chile peppers, comino, oregano and garlic made up the first recipes. All the spices, except the comino, grow wild in South Texas. The straight story on the origin of chili is difficult to determine, as it's mixed with much conjecture and story-telling. General consensus dates its beginnings to the mid-1800s with Texas trail cooks who had to feed hungry cowboys on long trail drives, using whatever ingredients were on hand.

In 1967, at the ghost town of Terlingua, Texas, the first known chili competition took place. The object was to determine who was the best chili chef in the whole world. This happening grew into the huge chili cook-off industry that continues today. Every weekend, hundreds of chili heads gather at dozens of chili cook offs to find the perfect bowl of red. Here's a starting recipe for chili novices:

Basic Texas Chili

  • 2 pounds beef, round or chuck, cut into ½" cubes, all white removed
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Water
  • 2-3 tablespoons blended chili powder, Adams preferred
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup water
In a heavy skillet, sauté the meat in a small amount of oil or shortening until it is gray and gives up its juices. Transfer the meat to a stew pot and discard the juices.

While the meat is still hot, mix in the onion and garlic, salt and black pepper to taste. Cover and let set for 30 minutes.

Add enough water to cover the meat. Put in the spices and bring to a simmer. Cook until the meat is tender. You may have to add more water if the mix becomes too dry. Add the tomato sauce and simmer another 20 minutes.

If the chili is not spicy enough for your taste, add a small amount of cayenne.

Mix 2 tablespoons flour with one half cup of water. Raise the heat under the chili until you get a good boil. Stir in the flour/water mixture and continue stirring until mixture thickens. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 more minutes. Serve with saltines or tortillas.

This recipe will get you started on your way to becoming a fine chili chef. Experiment with the recipe. Try different brands of chili powder. If you end up with two favorite brands, mix them half-and-half and see what result that brings.

Garlic needs to go in the pot in the last half of the cooking process as it will lose its whomp if cooked too long. Oregano will become bitter with too much cooking, so it too needs to go in toward the end of the cooking time.

Most of all, experiment. Read all the recipes you can find. This way you will be ready for that cool weather that demands CHILI!
Article from the Texas West BBQ, Sacramento, news letter.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Morning Cat Call

I wanted to test the new video upload but the video I chose isn't a file, its a weblink. Therefore, you are just going to have to click here to see it.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Mr. Bean's Holiday

For my birthday movie I saw Mr. Bean's Holiday. Release in US summer 2007 staring Rowan Atkinson. Rowan was the Black Adder in the 1980s British historical comedies of the same name. The French web site is interesting, check it out (Engrish).

<spoilers> Plot outline: Mr. Bean wins a trip to Cannes where he unwittingly separates a young boy from his father and must help the two come back together. On the way he discovers France, bicycling, and true love, among other things. </spoiler>

A sweet sensitive film. Pretty much a silent film with a solid musical score and audible dialog cards (occasional speech when required). Very loose collection of small vinyets, slapstick or silly, some times tragic.

Bean --> Beam (of light)

A beam of light striking out from its source to its destination with a one track pointedness of purpose. I hate to say child like, more naivete and oblivious to the past and future, wonderment in the moment with a ever present eye to words. His goal-the beach in Cannes. contrasted by the brash American self absorbed film maker, Carson Clay, going to the film festive to premier his artistic police drama Playback. Self important gray scale monogram on the ultimate question (listen to this podcast if you don't get this reference.) Bean splices his cinema veritie under the sound track of Fast Forward providing what could have been a heavy handed commentary that skillfully straddled the fine balance of sentiment, sweetness, affirmation, resolution of subplots, the strength of the nuclear family (reunited) realization of the hopeful if not naive dreams of a young starlet with the unruffled single minded focus of The Bean.

He checks a map for his destination/goal and literally walks straight for it guided by his compass and inability to be distracted. Cool high speed trains throughout the movie serve to reinforce the 1 track metaphor.

Bean is not distracted like a small child or a kitten, his attention changes to things normal adults no longer see. He stays in that moment until it has left (time to move on) for another, seamingly arbitrary, undirected...where was I?

As the film unfolds I realized it is unforgivingly linear and direct. Like a beam of light it travels straight illuminating many things, taking on their color, slicing through time and space without regard for anything enviromental.

Like many of the films I love, Mr. Bean's Holiday is not fully resolved until the final frames, after the credits. If you talk to anyone about this movie ask what they though about the final scene of Beans foot in the sand. I wagger that if they stayed to the end then the film may have impacted them like it did me. [spoiler deleted]

Fade to black.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Importance of "good" passwords

Poor choice of password. In setting up my new Mac I am making use of the Keychain app to record all the various passwords required in today's networked security aware world.

I am now using more complex site specific passwords that are almost imposable to remember/crack. But since they are all written down in the Keychain I can find and use them as needed. Some I only use once a year.

Gone are the days of running hash tables in my mind, remembering who I was dating when the account was set up, playing 20 questions to have the password changed when I don't remember, getting locked out when I use the "wrong" passwords three times in row, remembering who I was dating the last time I was forced to change the password, what name I assumed at that site, et cetera.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Films shot in Auburn

Auburn's Black & White Ball is tonight and the theme is James Bond. This got me thinking about some of the films that have been shot in and around Auburn.

That great stunt in XXX, Triple-X, where Vin Diesel's character Zander drives a red vet convertible off the Foresthill Bridge. Many of your hikes grant a view of this stunning bridge. We just watched it again, now that I know the area it is very clear that they actually jumped the car over the side and the stunt man air surfed the slick red Corvette through the air before pulling his parachute.

One of my favorite DVDs is The Hire staring BMW and Clive Owen. The episode where he is transporting the heart for transplant was short at Circle Bridge on Mosquito Ridge Road (not far from the Foresthill Bridge).

Some time after moving to Auburn I bought our own copy of Phenomenon shot in old town Auburn and countryside. I always like the movie and now it is even more sentimental because I know the town.

Auburn was the setting for best selling author Morton Thompson's 1954 novel and film Not as a Stranger. Thompson lived in Auburn after the war and drew the characters from his experiences here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Paint Me On Velvet

Goto ALL site.

I'm a man of few words
But a few is enough
A man don't need to talk
He just gets up and walks
When the going gets rough
I've got feelings down deep
Still I think you don't care
I've made up my mind
Got to leave you behind
And start living out there

So paint me on velvet
And do not disguise
The bright silver teardrops
That you've brought to my eyes
Hang me out by the roadside
For the whole world to see
Jesus and Elvis
The Confederate flag
And Willie and me

Ran away to a motel
But before I checked in
Met a bouncer named Steve
And decided to leave
For a gathering of men
With our drums in our hands
And our hearts on our sleeves
We stood around in the rain
Just sharing our pain
And learning to grieve

So paint me on velvet
And do not disguise
The bright silver teardrops
That you brought to my eyes
Sell me out by the roadside
And there we'll all be
Jesus and Elvis
The dogs playing poker
And Willie and me

Find some on eBay.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Windows XP to iMac port

Yesterday I received my new iMac with a 24 wide screen display. Cool. Before doing much more I want to investigate Move2Mac. Here is my checklist for porting (see also Apple page).
  1. Backup copy of Quicken file
  2. Backup the My Documents onto external disk
  3. Backup cygwin content files onto external disk
  4. Virus scan C: and external disk
  5. Export email contacts as vCards
  6. Run Outlook 2 Mail (O2M) program
  7. Export IE bookmarks

Here is my checklist for importing to iMac.

  1. Download software upgrades
  2. Install iLife
  3. Mount external disk
  4. Copy My Pictures to Pictures
  5. Copy My Videos to Movies
  6. Copy My Music to Music
  7. Copy My Document to Documents
  8. iTunes setup
  9. Sync iPod
  10. Import vCards to Address Book
  11. Configure Mail accounts
  12. Sign up for .Mac
  13. Buy Quicken
  14. Install Microsoft Office software
  15. Install Mozilla Firefox
  16. Import IE bookmarks to Safari
  17. Import IE bookmarks to Firefox

Double Sticking Practice

Many others may reply to your post in more detail but essentially there are two strands of double sticking, those at the 'top end', that is where the beater hangs down from the hand, and the other which is more centre based. Last time I saw Mel play he was a centre player. Most players these days do a bit of both. All that is said below can be used either way.

Double sticking involves a departure from the traditional 'down up' technique, to a 'down down up' style. The reason for this emerging style was to accommodate more syncopated rhythms that the traditional style found difficult or impossible to achieve. Everybody has their own way of getting this double downstroke Shiobahjn O'Donnell does it by mimicking the drag roll of a snare drummer, allowing the beater to bounce off the skin in a single downstroke action. The sound is quite effective but to my mind does not give you the measure of control, which was one of the main reasons for going to double sticking in the first place. Most players make two distinctive beats on the downstroke followed immediately by an up stroke. The first part of the down stroke, (which in 'top end' drumming is the first of two strokes away from you) is more of a tap, with the second stoke following through to the up stroke. Many hours of practice are required before this action becomes natural, but once achieved its advantages immediately become apparent.

Firstly, by combining double sticking and conventional down ups, you can engineer your play so that all your accents are on downsrokes. Many players find this to be an advantage, although I personally don't stick to it. An up beat accent always sounds different to a down beat one, and adds a lightness to many rhythms, so I use a fusion of the two which adds a measure of interest to the tune instead of merely repeating the same thing over and over again. For example, many a jig has a twelve beat cycle broken down into two sixes. For this I play DduDduDudUdu, (two double sticks of three notes each and traditional 6 note jig to finish). This routine adds a nice variety to the tune and can be further lifted by missing one of the traditional notes out. DduDduD-dUdu.

However the main advantage is the ability to place accents in positions that traditional sticking does not allow. The simplest of all is to put the accent on the second note of a set of three, dDu dDu. Placing the accent in this position causes the first note of the set of three to become the grace note to the accent, (a note that tells you the main beat note is about to follow). This type of action allows you to syncopate a rhythm in ways the lend a little swing or jazz into the playing. for example for an 8 note reel, instead of playing DuduDudu, you might give it a swing by playing DdudDudu (DOWN down up, down DOWN up down up). This has an incredible lilt to it even though the two accents are in the traditional places.

All of this takes a while to sink in but once you are happy with your double sticking try the RHYTHM SCALES as an exercise. The idea is to go through every rhythm from 1-16, integrating double and single sticking to get your numbers right. I have listed a few below as a starting point. Where I have a hyphen that is a paused note, but where I have a comma this is merely to separate visually the parts, there is no break in the rhythm, play the sequence as though the commas are not there

1 D-D-D-D
2 DuDuDu
3 Ddu,Ddu,Ddu, or grace noting dDu,dDu,dDu
4 Dudu,Dudu, (the motor rhythm)
5 Ddudu,Ddudu, or rather dDudu,dDudu
6 DudUdu,DudUdu (pineapple apricot)
7 Ddududu,Ddududu, of rather dDududu,dDududu
8 DdudDudu,DdudDudu or the paradiddle DDudUUdu,DDudUUdu
9 DdududUdu,dDududUdu
10 dDudDududu,dDudDududu
11 DduDduDdudu
12 DduDdududUdu,DdudduDudUdu,
12a or the syncopated version which is a 5 and a7 rolled together, 
13 dDudDudDududu,dDudDudDududu
14 DdudDudududUdu, DdudDuduDudUdu, an 8 and a 6 rolled together
15 DdudDududDududu,DdudDududDududu, an 8 and a 7 rolled together
16 dDudDudDuDudUdu,dDudDudDuDudUdu, 3 x dDu followed by a pineapple 
I play each one for a little while then change to the next in the sequence. When I get to 16 I go back to 1. Because the sequences vary as you go you have to stay alert, but because of this it doesn't get boring. Beginners usually try 1-6 first and the go on to 1-9 etc. Give it a go and let me know how you get on.

Once you get into the higher numbers there are endless variations to choose from, make up your own. And finally you can add triplets or rolls at any time to make it a bit more explosive. For the double stick triplet you merely put 4 notes wherever there is a DDU. This roll is made up of a dudu.

Naturally the caveat in all this is that the music determines what you play, but the ability to switch rapidly from double to single sticking in any combination means that you are ready for anything those pesky musicians can throw at you.

Happy drumming

Alan Collinson

[Posted to on September 11, 2007.]

Friday, September 7, 2007

Android dreams come true

I don't know about electric sheep but the final approved definitive 20 years better late then never someday before I die new and improved version of Blade Runner (movie) will be shipping in December. Order now. There are five DVDs in this "All-New Final-Cut" release. However, they are selling subsets so you can buy sets of 2-disc, 4-disc, and 5-disc. I don't see the point of not getting the complete 5-disc set especially since it comes in this cool briefcase. If you are thinking about getting this as a gift for me, jaya, talk to Sharon before you click on the order now link.

Modify + to compute the right answer

Root cause analysis, ha, ha, ha.

Allow me a brief rant. Consider the program:

a + b

This is a very failure prone program because it fails silently in many useful cases.

Root cause analysis would suggest that one should modify + to simply compute the right answer in all useful cases. This has been done by programmers over and over but these implementations of + are judged "odd ball" by management who would rather run a strict java or c# shop out of some weird distortion of the "prudent man" rule. (The prudent man rule says that you can't be accused of being reckless with your investor's money if you are doing the same thing everyone else does.)

I wrote financial software once and traced the root cause of difficult bugs to the implementation of + for data of types Date and Money. Fortunately I was programming in Smalltalk where the implementation of + was accessible. I took several days to correct these deficiencies after which my life, and that of my customers, became much better.

You might be thinking that there is nothing wrong with + and that Ward is just being cranky. I then say to you, you have not gone far enough in your root cause analysis.

And I say to business, who has selected and paid for most of today's computing infrastructure, you are fools for having funded 50 years of software and not yet gotten a + that works well for time or money.

I once advised an international company on how to implement a useful + for money. The developers loved it. The customers loved it. But the database didn't like it much at all. I met one of the developers a few years later. He asked, "do you have any idea how hard it is to persist that money abstraction to the database?" Yes, I had to admit that I knew it would be trouble but I also knew that they would get through it somehow once they got hooked on getting right answers in all of their money calculations.

(Aside: The database problem comes from the fact that the sum of a+b can take twice the storage of either a or b when a and b are international currency. This requires either a variable size storage mechanism or preallocation of space for hundreds of currencies. Databases favor neither solution. Again business has been fooled by the database vendors, not the programmers.)

I saw recently where the IEEE was proposing a standard for "decimal floating point" under the misguided believe that this would alleviate rounding errors. They are fools, for they attempted to do this within fixed sized storage, the one "feature" of floating a "point".

(Aside: The program a / b introduces additional potential errors which are again more correctly solved by variable allocation of storage than by "floating" a "point", decimal or otherwise.)

I have intentionally stopped one sentence short of offering a complete solution in each of these cases. This is so that you can print this email and give it to the next Six Sigma guy that comes around as a test. Ask him to explain what I am talking about. If he gets it, ask him why he isn't hounding the vendors into fixing + instead of bothering you. If he doesn't get it, ask him how his methods are going to work on large programs when they can't find the bug in a + b.

(Aside: I heard that my financial software written for DOS is still in use today managing trillions of dollars. I also heard that the current owner/vendor was trying to meet customer demand by porting it to an industry standard database rather than the "odd ball" one I wrote for them. This porting effort was not going well. No surprise.)

You may need to read this post several times to get all the good advice that I've hidden between the sentences. I thank you for your attention. Best regards. -- Ward

This was posted to by Ward Cunningham, 09/07/2007.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Carlos Gavito, tango wisdom

Photograph by Pablo Corral Vega Carlos Gavito and Mariana Dragone; stillness in the midst of chaos.

"Relax to go, arrive and stretch.”

"Never go for the step, go for the music.”

"The secret of tango is in this moment of improvisation that happens between step and step. It is to make the impossible thing possible: to dance silence.”

“A woman is not a marionette. She should be treated like she is the most precious thing in your arms.”

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Garden Lighting

Dave came by with the draft of the landscape design. I've started thinking about power and lighting. Just found this Outdoor lighting supplies site, brouse it to see what is available. Here are our notes from the Landscape Design Class.
  • Low voltage, not solar
  • defused glass, reduce glare
  • sconces illuminate without getting in your eyes
  • well lights or up lights
  • high quality equipment, Home Depot crap will need replacing is a couple of years
  • plan early, install after plants
  • low voltage wires run under mulch
We are thinking:
  • uplighting the oak outside the master bedroom.
  • moonlight patio from oak
  • accent light on water feature
  • illumine the steps next to the drive way
  • massive shadow out of front planters up side of garage
  • Japanese maple shadow under parlor window
  • uplights along pateo rock wall to highlight stones and grasses
What do we need to do in order to have session outside after dark? Want to see each other but not have to read any music.

Saturday, September 1, 2007


Changes by Alan Price

Everyone is going through changes No one knows what's going on. And everybody changes places- But the world still carries on.

Love must always change to sorrow And everyone must play the game, Here today and gone tomorrow- But the world goes on the same.

Everyone is going through changes... Now love must always change to sorrow... Everyone is going through changes... Now love must always change to sorrow... Everyone is going through changes But the world still carries on.

Barbecue Basting Brush

ATK has done a study of barbecue basting brushes, now I know what brush to buy when I get my new gas grill. Precision Grill Tools Super Silicone Angled BBQ Basting Brush
The Precision Grill Tools BBQ Silicone Basting Brush, had all the features we required. In addition, it had a uniquely angled head that gave us greater control and precision.
You can buy it now on My birthday is later this month.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Where's the pain?

It has been two days now that I have been pain free and walking with a long stride.

After ripping the lateral insertion of my left gastroc it took me 3 days before I could limp around OK. One week later I was walking without a limp. Now it is 10 days later and my hips are good?


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Argentine Tango

I'm starting an Argentine Tango thread.

From here on in this blog all references to Tango mean Argentine Tango.

Here are a couple of Tango sites to check out.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

BP Tip#10

Tip #10 - What are other people doing to lower their blood-pressure?

Managing high blood-pressure consistently is often challenging. Luckily, you are not alone in your quest to control your blood-pressure. This last tip of ours, will introduce you to others who share your concerns so you can learn what works for them.

To facilitate such conversations, we have created an online forum, focusing on non-drug treatments for blood-pressure.

You are invited to participate in the LowerBP forum and urge you to share your good and bad experiences relating to high blood-pressure with other people. The LowerBP forum also includes a free "ask the expert" opportunity featuring world leading experts on blood-pressure.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

BP Tip#9

Tip #9 - Beware of blood-pressure & pain reliever mix.

Did you know that extended use of some over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers like Advil may interfere with some high blood-pressure medications and even elevate blood-pressure?

The pain relievers of concern belong to a group known as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs or NSAIDs, These drugs work by blocking the body's production of prostaglandins, substances which play a role in inflammation and fever.

The problem is that by blocking prostaglandin production, NSAID pain relievers may prevent your blood-pressure medication from working properly. In addition, NSAIDs themselves may increase blood-pressure and can cause salt and water retention in the body.

What can be done about it?

Tylenol and other pain relievers that have acetaminophen as the active ingredient may be less problematic. Acetaminophen has not been shown to have any negative effects on blood-pressure medications. In any case, be sure to talk to your doctor before using any OTC pain reliever for more than 10 days. Be SMART about the medications you take and their effect on your body. To view the blood-pressure specific website of Tylenol Click Here.

BP Tip#8

Tip #8 - How sleep affects your blood-pressure.

This may sound trivial but it's important to acknowledge that sleeping well can help lower blood-pressure. Here are some facts and suggestions for getting a good night's sleep, every night.

Get plenty of sleep - When you are refreshed, you're better able to tackle the next day's problems, allowing you to avoid and better cope with stress.

If you have difficulty falling asleep, try keeping a schedule; going to sleep and awakening at a consistent time each day. A bedtime ritual such as taking a warm bath, reading or eating a light snack helps many people relax. Make sure you sleep healthily - People with high blood-pressure are more likely to suffer from a condition called sleep apnea. In this potentially serious sleep disorder, breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. Apnea is Greek for "without breath."

If you have been told that you snore loudly or you wake up feeling tired after a full night's sleep or you are sleepy during the day, it may be worthwhile to learn more about sleep apnea. For more information from the Mayo Clinic Sleep Center Click Here.

BP Tip#7

Tip #7 - Can supplements lower blood-pressure?

According to the Mayo Clinic, some dietary supplements may help you lower your blood-pressure to a certain degree. The following supplements are categorized by the strength of the scientific evidence that shows they lower blood-pressure. Be careful when taking supplements. They can do more harm than good if used inappropriately.

Strong evidence for lowering blood-pressure: Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil, alpha-linolenic acid

Good evidence for lowering blood-pressure: Coenzyme Q10

Unclear evidence for lowering blood-pressure: Garlic

To learn more about how to use supplements correctly from the Mayo Clinic's High blood-pressure Center Click Here.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

BP Tip#6

Tip #6 - Exercise your way to lower blood-pressure.

In addition to diet, it's likely that your doctor has also mentioned that physical exercise can help lower blood-pressure. But did you know that mild exercise, such as walking, may reduce blood-pressure just as much or even more than strenuous activities, such as jogging? The good news is that every bit of activity counts.

A recent statement prepared jointly by the American College of Sports Medicine and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you accumulate 30 minutes or more of exercise on most days of the week.

For the American College of Sports Medicine white paper about exercising your way to lower blood-pressure Click Here.

In addition, here are few fun gadgets available on the market that can help you keep track of your activity.

A rather inexpensive pedometer can help you reach your goals counting steps, aerobic steps, distance in miles and calories burned. For more information about popular pedometers Click Here.

If you want to be more scientific, you might want to also use a heart rate monitor. For more information about popular monitors Click Here.

For those who would like the latest gadget in fitness monitoring complete with a calorie management system, take a look at a new device, named bodybugg by the Apex Fitness Group. For more information about the bodybugg Click Here.

BP Tip#5

Tip #5 - Can your diet help lower blood-pressure?

Ok, we are sure your doctor has told you (on more than one occasion) that losing extra weight and eating better can reduce high blood-pressure.

As we know it is "easier said than done," we thought we'd provide you with few facts and tools that can help.

If you are overweight, every 10 pound (4.5 Kg) reduction can lower blood-pressure by 5-20 points.

Reducing sodium intake for salt sensitive people was shown to reduce BP 2-8 points.

Limiting your alcohol consumption to two glasses for men and one glass for women (and light weighted individuals) can lower blood-pressure by 2-4 points.

Cutting caffeine can also make a difference.

The "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension" (DASH) project funded by the National Institutes of Health demonstrated that people who adhered to this diet, which is rich in potassium and calcium and limits fat and sodium, were able to reduce BP 8-14 points within just 8 weeks. To download a NIH white paper about the DASH diet Click Here.

Monday, August 20, 2007

BP Tip#4

Tip #4 - How to deal with "blood-pressure elevating" stress.

It is common wisdom that stress can momentarily elevate your blood-pressure. In fact, many scientists believe that our highly stressed modern way of life is one of the underlying causes of high blood-pressure (hypertension).

Risks increase over the long term

According to the Mayo Clinic on High Blood Pressure, "The effects of acute stress are usually only temporary. However, if you experience stress regularly, the increases in blood-pressure that it produces over time damage your arteries, heart, brain, kidneys and eyes -- just as with persistent high blood-pressure. This cumulative effect of stress often goes unrecognized until it manifests itself as a serious health problem."
[ Stress and High Blood Pressure: What's the connection?]

So what can be done about it?

To reduce stress, relaxation is always recommended, however in most cases it is impractical.

Here are some suggestions you can try instead: If you are about to embark on a stressful situation (i.e. phone call, walking into the boss's office), take a few deep breaths and exhale slowly. While this simple breathing maneuver will not provide a sustained reduction, it can certainly reduce the temporary BP elevation, which is important in itself.

Practicing meditation, yoga and other techniques which incorporate slow breathing exercises enable better coping with stressful events and in some cases even lower blood-pressure.

Volunteer and change the world

Back when I worked for IntelliGenetics Cindy Brehmer and I worked on IEEE standard 1044. As I recall, one of my contributions was to support the use of the term anomaly over the committee's earlier term "error, fault and failure". This may not seem like a very difficult position to take now but at the time Mr. Data had not yet seeded the English language with the term anomaly.

Because I volunteered to work on the IEEE committee and stuck with it until the end the standard reflects Cindy and my best work and point of view.

Today I discovered the FDA's Glossary for Computer Terms and see that they have adopted my definition (the IEEE definition) of anomaly.

Work for what you believe in and keep at it. Your efforts make a difference and the spokes of the wheel you build do serve to support the universe in ways you will never know.

Thanks to Mr. Bach for the pointer, Unambiguous definition. Check out his short ironic blog entry. :)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Homemade Ginger Ale


  • 4 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 2 cups seltzer water
  • Lemon slices
  • Ice

1. Finely chop or shred ginger in a food processor or with a hand grater. Boil water and add the ginger to it. Cover and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain.

2. Add honey. (More can be added to taste.)

3. Allow mixture to reach room temperature. Pour 1/2 cup in a glass. Add seltzer, a lemon slice, and ice. Stir and serve.

Any leftover drink must be refrigerated or the mixture will begin to ferment and you'll have ginger beer! Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information (per serving): 23 calories; 6 g carbohydrate; 0 g fat; 0 g saturated fat; 0 g fiber; 0 mg cholesterol; 25 mg sodium.

Grilled Brätwurst

We went to session in Chico yesterday. The seed that started this particular evening was a discussion of "real" brats has another a couple of months ago. Susan said that her recipe for brats was so much better that we had to try it (the way her German grandmother made it). A date was set and five of us made the 2+ hour trip to Chico to take her up on the offer for the best brats.

Brats is made with a natural casing. When thoroughly cooked, its casing usually splits open. Stops boiling just before that happens.


  • Brätwurst (real, from Chicago)
  • Beer
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Sun dried organic water
  • Hot dog buns
  • Sauerkraut
  • Mustard
  • Hot mustard

Put the brats in a pot and cover with beer. Season the beer with a halved onion and some garlic cloves. You may add some water to get the fluid level up.

Boil in beer for 45 minutes to an hour, this cooks them.

Grill the cooked brätwurst for a few minutes. Not much, just enough to put the grill marks on and dry the casing a bit (reduce the elasticity, improve bitability).

Serve with hot dog buns, sauerkraut, relish, mustard and beer.

Personally, I skip the relish and beer.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

BP Tip#3

Tip #3 - Do you suffer from"white-coat" hypertension?

What is "white-coat" hypertension?

If your home blood-pressure measurements are consistently lower than blood-pressure measured at your doctor's office, you might suffer from a common condition called "white-coat" hypertension.

So what is your real blood-pressure?

Both measurements are true. Physiologically, "white-coat" hypertension means that your body is probably more reactive to stressful events. This means that you probably have elevated blood-pressure many times during the day that you may not be aware of.

Should I be concerned about "white-coat" hypertension?

"White-Coat" hypertension is not as dangerous as sustained hypertension (hypertension which is present all the time). However, individuals who have "white-coat" hypertension may have a higher risk of complications and cardiovascular disease than those with completely normal blood-pressure all the time. Another risk of "white-coat" hypertension is that individuals with this condition may develop sustained hypertension at a later time.

So what can be done about it?

Learn how to deal with daily stress. More on this in tomorrow's tip. Daily home blood-pressure monitoring has been shown to somewhat reduce "white-coat" hypertension, although it's not clear if it reduces the long term risk of high reactivity to stress.

RESPeRATE has been proven to virtually eliminate "white-coat" hypertension. Dr. William Elliot presented these findings at the 2005 American Society of Hypertension annual meeting. To learn more about these findings Click Here.

Ask Dr. Rowena

Do you have medical questions? Dr. Rowena Sobczyk is available to answer your questions about blood-pressure and hypertension. You can also browse the archive of answers. Click Here

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

BP Tip#2

Tip #2 - Are you measuring your blood-pressure correctly?

Did you know that 26% of all people who are told they have high blood-pressure are misdiagnosed and are either over treated or under treated?

Here are a few tips on how to measure blood-pressure correctly. It may seem a bit cumbersome at first, but keep in mind that with blood-pressure, every millimeter point counts. Use a home blood-pressure monitor (BPM) validated for accuracy, and make sure your cuff size fits properly. It may cost a little more, but it's worth every cent. For a list of home BPM that were used in seven separate RESPeRATE clinical trials Click Here.

One measurement of blood-pressure on its own can be misleading. When measuring BP at home, take three consecutive measurements -- the first measurement will be somewhat higher. Your real blood-pressure is the average or the number between the 2nd and 3rd measurement. In addition, as blood-pressure normally fluctuates, it is important that you track a week of daily measurements taken at the same time of day to see the true trend.

To watch a video from the Mayo Clinic on how to accurately measure and track your home blood-pressure Click Here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

BP Tip#1

Tip #1 - What you need to know about high blood-pressure?

Before introducing non-drug ways to lower blood-pressure, let's cover the basic facts about blood-pressure. We'll also provide a few online resources should you want to read more.

What is blood-pressure?

Blood-pressure is the force of blood exerted on the inside walls of blood vessels. Blood-pressure is expressed as a ratio (e.g. 120/80). The first, top number is the systolic pressure or the peak pressure when the heart pushes blood out into the arteries. The second, bottom number is the diastolic pressure or the lowest pressure when the heart rests. Your blood-pressure normally varies during the day. It's generally lowest at night and increases in the morning to reach a peak in the afternoon. It increases during activity and decreases at rest.

What are the risks of high blood-pressure?

Normal blood-pressure is less than 120/80 points. Higher levels of blood-pressure (hypertension), a condition referred to as the "silent killer," can develop for years without any signs or symptoms. Left untreated, the damage high blood-pressure causes to blood vessels and vital organs increases your risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, heart failure, dementia and blindness.

What are the benefits of lowering high blood-pressure?

Luckily, high blood-pressure is manageable and lowering it can greatly reduce your risk of developing associated life-threatening conditions. For example, lowering blood-pressure by 14 systolic points for 5 years has been shown to provide:

  • 37% reduction in strokes
  • 55% reduction in congestive heart failure
  • 27% reduction in heart attacks

Complete information from the NIH.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Blood Pressure Reduction via Yoga

My sister and Fred gave me a blood pressure (BP) monitor years ago, I have been tracking my BP regularly ever since. From time to time I notice/feel that my BP is high and vow to work on lowering it.

When I measure by BP I always do it the same way at the same time of day. First thing in the morning before getting any water on my face (can you save dive response) laying supine in bed with my head on my pillow. I measure the pressure three times and record the third measurement.

Often my BP drops 20 points be the third measurement. This is because I relax and do my yogic breathing. Sharon didn't believe me at first. Now there is AMA style research to validate my assertion.

RESP@TATE is a company that is selling a biofeedback device to teach people how to slow down their breathing. By reducing respiration to less than 10 cycles per minute the body will relax and thus reduce the pressure on the vessels.

The study groups spent 15 minutes a day developing their deep breathing for eight weeks. RESPeRATE users with uncontrolled blood pressure experienced a decrease of BP by up to 36 points systolic ans 20 diastolic. The average reduction was 14/8 mmHg points.

I think that what has been discovered by western medicine has been known for centuries by yoga, qigong, tai chi and other eastern holistic people. Relax, you'll live longer.

Take a few deep abdominal breathes.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Simpsons Movie

Best movie I have ever seen in my life, so far.
Not only was it politically and environmentally relevant but it was funny too.

This summer's comedy hit is based on the Fox network's long running (December 1989 - present) TV cartoon The Simpsons. Not until it made it to the big screen did I realize how much broadcast TV has limited the show's creators. Homer is his true non-PC self, Bart is portrayed as a lonely boy who only wants to be loved by his father, we get to see the Full Monty and Maggie is allowed to say her first word in 19 years.

In addition to the TV show website, the movie site is also worth wasting your time.

Check out this hot new character named Sharon Simpson, Homer's cousin. She looks a lot like my sweetie don't you think? Hot Redhead Sharon Simpson

Don't be so snooty tooty high and mighty, please view this teaser and see if you are emotionally free enough to grok the gestalt, GATES DOS it!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Beautiful Ikebana site

Daniel Ost has a great Ikebana style. Check out his stuff. I don't know what "style" or Ryu he is from, but my guess is his ego is to large to fit into one. None the less, his eye is wonderful.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Lark Camp 2007 - Initial Schedule

Things change once you get to camp but here is what I am thinking 2 days before camp.
  • 8:00 Away from camp - Qigong and music practice
  • 10:30 Camp Three / Ring Of Fire - Middle Eastern Drumming, Mark Bell
  • 12:30 Camp Three / Ring Of Fire - Zimbabwean Marimba, Russ Landers
  • 2:30 Camp Two / Outdoor Dance Floor - Close Embrace Argentine Tango, Harriet Bye & Larry Sawyer
  • 4:00 Camp One / Behind Kitchen WC - Irish Flute, John Skelton
  • 5:30 Camp Two / Dance Hall - Open Embrace Argentine Tango, Harriet Bye & Larry Sawyer
  • 6:30 Camp Two - Dinner
  • Evening Camp One - Session / Dance

Beyond Compare 2

We have been using a nice file comparison tool at work (since we don't run UNIX). It is called Beyond Compare 2 and is available for free download and trial from Scooter Software.
In addition to a GUI for visualizing the similarities and/or differences BC2 has several add-on tools that gives it a great deal more functionality. I am using it to pretty print XML, to sort, and to convert Microsoft and Adobe proprietary files into simple ASCII text.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pavers for the patio

Did some research into materials for the deck in back. There are a lot of options, most are easily ruled out. Potential materials are:

We are going to go with pavers for these reasons:

  1. Low maintenance
  2. Professional installation, I don't have time/back to do myself
  3. Select color we want
  4. Interesting patten to give the space flow
  5. Flexible dimensions, go around curved wall and water feature
  6. Do it yourself repair
  7. Long life, does not weather
  8. Fire proof
  9. Earthquake resistant, repairable
  10. Not tracked into the house
  11. Not outrageously expensive

I wonder what the cost of running pavers around the house to the drive would be? [Est. 120 linear feet, 3 feet wide, $10-15 per square foot plus stuff comes to about $4ooo-$6000.] It might be a secondary project for another year.


Pacific Outdoor Living, good informational site that explains why you want pavers with professional installation.

A & A Stepping Stone, our local manufacture of pavers, just down the street.

Local library for books on patios, decks and gardens.

Paver estimator widget to figure out what your project is going to need in the way of materials.

Basalite calculator widget is another place to look. Very good specs of different vendors.

Glossary of paver terms.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ill Health

Ill Health is not taking responsibility for your body. It is not an accident.
Prof. Robert C. Hudson

Friday, July 20, 2007


I discovered a new Celtic band this afternoon, Xerfa. Check out their videos on YouTube (Abraham's Reel and Doa os teus Reels). They sound like Flook, good 21st century style bodhran.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Lot Size

The house in on lot #11 of the Woodland Estates development. This bit of map is from the Placer County assessor's office. The building square footage is 2793 and the garage square footage is 808.

The curb is 63 and the back fence is 84 feet long.

Here are the dimensions of the house (a different scale than above). Note that the 2 Car Garage is under the house proper so the measurements of the house are all you need. [Click on the image to get a better view.]

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rain Gutters

K-style root gutter The wild fire mitigation tips say that we should keep the roof and gutters free of debris. I looked into the Rain Helmet type protection systems and they cost $10 to $20.00 per foot installed. We have the k-style gutter pictured.

I don't have that kind of money to spend plus you still need to do maintenance to clear the debris off the roof and clogged gutter protectors. No thanks. I took the money and bought a Little Giant ladder big enough to reach the second story roof. I'll clean them out myself Gates DOS it!

I read a lot about this back in December when we made the decision not to do the fancy solution. There was one place back east that had an interesting design that seamed to be to be very good. All I remember is that I didn't find any negative reviews (but found plenty of negative reviews of the fancy solutions). I'm going to see if I can find that site again and order three inside corners from them. The rest of the gutter I'll going to use the le cheapo Home Depot plastic do-it-yourself covers, $1-2 per foot.

Incidental, it was during the aforementioned research that I came across the idea of taking the money you would have spent to install the ritzy gutter system, invest it in a CD then use the interest to hire a guy to clean the gutters for you when they need it.

eGutter is a place to buy gutter supplies.

What about using rain chains? Perhaps running a hose up into the oak and having rain chain fountain(s) into the suikinkutsu. Ummmh, tinkly.

Eleven things to ask about a gutter protection system.

The Waterloov® leaf guard system could be the one I liked last year.

Wildfire Mitigation

As we develop our landscape plans we want to keep wildfire mitigation in mind.

It is very important to realize that no (livable!) house is fire proof, but you can make it more fire-safe!

Things we could do today:
- Remove leaf and branch debris from roof
- Clean out gutters
- Hoses on all spigots
- Cut back the rest of the "dead" grass in the back
- Remove the small trees under the oak, fire ladder into canopy


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Phase II begins

Dave of LandShaping came by yesterday to start the planning process for Phase II of your garden. This blog details many of the things we talked about.

Fire Mitigation

Plants should be in clumps, burn by them selves, not is stretches that will fuel a path for a wild fire. Visualize a fire ladder when planting next to the house, not good.

Put a garden hose at each spigot. When a fire starts the time to bring the hose around from the other side of the house is critical.

AI 4 jaya- talk to the local fire house. Ask them what we can do. Ask them if there is a way to mark the house so that in case of an emergency they will see that we have a high volume hose for them to utilize.

Weed Control

We will be putting down weed fabric to minimize the growth of unplanted plants.

Poison Oak

I had hoped that Dave would see our poison oak and say "poison oak, I can get rid of that for you." Instead he told us that we should work on getting rid of it and that it may take years to totally eradicate. All the usual warning. He also noticed that the trash shrubbery on the east end of the back fence is a "poison oak tree".

I'm going to start removal after band camp. Should I get some poisoning I don't want to have it on my vacation.

I'll need the large red bio-hazard bags from work, disposable gloves and some Brush-B-Gon . I found Ortho® Brush-B-Gon® Poison Ivy Killer, I think this will do the trick.


We are looking at almost 400 square foot of pavers. Dave suggested we stain the existing concrete pad to match the pavers (less expensive then removal or covering with thin pavers that will show the transition between the types of pavers. We will be using A & A Stepping Stone, just down the road. They have a good website for discovering the possibilities.

Steps and Path

Dave mentioned Three Rivers Wall Stone for consideration out front. We decided NOT to use crushed/decomposed granite as it will get tracked in and damage the floors.