Tuesday, January 31, 2006

When is your medical information everybody's business?

When you want to drive a commercial vehicle across state lines.

I can understand the reasons, but I'm not sure that I personally need to know that Johnny W. Bradford has a prosthetic eye...

Monday, January 30, 2006

Himalayan lamb barley soup

My father came for a visit, and one of the meals we had was from a recipe he found while looking for soups.

I tinkered, of course, and wound up using less butter (2 tablespoons, not 4) more onion (1 onion, not 1 cup), more ginger (a 1-inch cube, not 1 teaspoon) and chicken stock instead of lamb (but I used lamb shanks and stewed the meat-stripped bones with the lot, so I think it was plenty lamb-y). The soy sauce, which seems like an unusual soup ingredient to me, is indeed unusual, but also very good.

The soup - which was more like a stew - was even better on day two.

Friday, January 27, 2006

outstanding product recall notice!

The CPSC and L.L. Bean "together" announced recall Tuesday of a genus of products that include a no-battery flashlight and a compass. Here's the reason:

The products have a flashlight that relies on a powerful magnet and copper coil for manual recharging. The magnet adversely affects the polarity of the compass rendering it unreliable.


on a less funny note, the flashlight could also, the notice suggests, interfere with an implantable cardiac defibrillator. but still...

Do people really read jumps?

Another thought that drifted in while counting the bolts on the Tyngsborough Bridge:

Do enough people really turn to Page A7 to make it worth the trouble?

I know some people will read the paper word for word regardless, but I'm not one of them. I think my jump percentage in 2005 was at least 60 percent, way over our stated goal of 25 percent but low if you consider that a previous employer assumes all A1 stories will jump and even has a designated page with no ads - "superjump" - for the A1 runover.

If you browse through front pages on any given day, you'll see a LOT of jumps. And if you listen to the tinny voices that squeak reason, you'll hear a lot about how readers don't like jumps.

Jumps are sometimes credited with allowing for more in-depth coverage than you get if you cut the hell out of everything. Maybe, but why not just run a non-jumped story with a refer to all the in-depth stuff on an inside page.

Hey, most stories aren't worth jumping, even if there's good information in them. A diligent reader won't expect the newspaper to be her only source of news and information and would just surf for the uncut versions online anyway.

So I've cut back. This month, I'm a little over our annual goal of 33 percent - 25 for 71 with two layout days (Monday and Tuesday) left to go. I'm not the page designer on Sundays or holidays, so I can't control every front page, but I can keep score, and this is a fairly fun challenge...

Odwalla v. Clif

I think Clif wins, but I like the occasional variety of the Odwalla. I'd really rather have biscuits and gravy over either one...

Thursday, January 26, 2006

get to know your government

You pay for it, so you might as well know what it does, right?

While trolling through the Government Printing Office's offerings, I found this handy manual on the federal government.

The manual covers all the branches and agencies, as well as quasi-official outfits like the Smithsonian. First surprise? The legislative branch includes the U.S. Botanic Garden.

Alas, there's also plenty to bore you to tears.

Burns Supper - tasty!

The recipes came from Rampant Scotland's recipe section, and the menu was, indeed:

Chicken in the heather
Potato scones
Cauliflower cheese and whisky

and a bottle of Speyburn's 10-year old single-malt Scotch

The chicken was quite delicately flavored, which came as something of a surprise considering the ingredients. The sauce for the cauliflower - also a delicate dish - made a nice gravy for the chicken and potatoes, too. Quite good food, if I do say so myself, and it really only took about two hours from scratch to table.

Readings were read, of course, including a hilarious rendition by Dave of "Nine Inch Will Please a Lady."

I'm still leery of manufacturing haggis, but I think the supper's a keeper :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

"natural quiet" in the Grand Canyon

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Park Service published notice in the Federal Register today that indicates they're planning to get the ball rolling in an effort to cut down on aircraft noise at the Grand Canyon.

This "scoping process" comes prior to publication of a draft EIS. This means that if you've ever thought "those all suck" about the alternatives presented during the rule-making process, you should speak up now.

Want to comment? Send your thoughts by April 27 to Docket Management
System, Doc No. FAA-2005-23402, U.S. Department of Transportation, Room
Plaza 401, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590-0001.

Happy Burns Day

I'm sure I should say something in Scottish (uh, so to speak), but instead I'll just say this, to my lovely wife:

As down the burn they took their way,
And thro' the flowery dale;
His cheek to hers he aft did lay,
And love was aye the tale:

With "Mary, when shall we return,
Sic pleasure to renew?"
Quoth Mary - "Love, I like the burn,
And aye shall follow you."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Burns Supper rough draft

to be revised at game time, but here's the general scheme:

Besides whisky, readings and song:

Chicken in the heather
Potato scones
Cauliflower cheese and whisky

OK, there's not a lot of leafy greens here, but there's not a lot of haggis, either :)

Also, the upped yardage worked OK on day three, but I still get that feeling I'll run out of gas during the warmpup. Which is weird, because even when I swim hard, I don't get that feeling after the warmup. Well, whatever.

Monday, January 23, 2006

A sign of the coming Apocalypse

While trolling the wires for a front page story this morning, I stumbled on a good first-person piece on the Fat Economy, in which the writer, who reports himself to be overweight, expounds on the goods and bads of the contribution of the over-heavy to the national piggy bank.

He also mentions, in passing, this business.

I especially like their use of a quotation from Isaiah. Nothing says "let's make a buck!" like Scripture.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

increased yardage

Figuring that a plateau is not a good thing, I decided to step up my baseline workout from 1,600 meters to 1,800. No big deal, but I'm wondering if I can pick up enough speed to run it up to 2,000 (and beyond) and still have time in the generous 60 minutes (minus the slowpokes who run over and the pressure to get out early at the end to accomodate the next helping of pool users) alloted by the Facility Operations Cabal.

Also, awaiting audio gear that is alleged to be en route (or "in rout" if you work at an emergency services dispatch center) so as to carry out the podcast strategy. More on that to come...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Suitable word

is me.

Eight-fold basket weave, illustrated

So, here's what such animals look like. The patterns come from Marguerite Davison's "A Handweaver's Pattern Book," of which I have my mother's 1970s copy. It is also available new, amazingly enough.

For what it's worth, these are varieties II and III of the eight-fold basket weave, woven using four colors of a lambswool/silk blend, one of which is the borders in the warp and also the weft. I've also tinkered a little with using the other warp yarns as wefts, but I'm still mulling how to use them. The latter are quite subtle.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

new to science

are a bunch of critters found in caves in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Pretty neat! I've always seen the ocean as the undiscovered country, but I think caves fit that bill, too.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

a little weak

But still a mile in the water, so I suppose that is OK.

Having wound on a chocolate/cappucino warp, I started a scarf in an 8-fold basket weave, which would be easier to show than describe, of course. I think there's a saying about procrastination I'm supposed to insert here.

That link, by the way, is way better than this one.

Talk about the difference between night and day!

ok, cheesy, but I couldn't resist. Idioms are fun. So are scarves in 8-fold basket weave!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


like pizza and the English language, sandwiches are easily done, but also easily done badly.

These guys make a very good one. A half sandwich - salami on eight-grain with dijon - makes a nice lunch (and no, you don't have to get a loaf of bread and some more people to go with it). A cookie, a soda and a friendly smile are nice, too!

Sunday, January 15, 2006


Having had callaloo soup once before, I decided to try to make it. It seems to be like so many other good foods, an item without a single recipe. This one looked good, so I fooled with it and got this:

saute for a few minutes in 2 T olive oil:

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (see a theme here?)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
3/4 stalk celery, finely chopped
4 green onion stalks (I just used the green part, but I'm sure the whole shebang would be great), chopped

then add and saute for a couple of minutes

1 box chopped frozen spinach, thawed out

stir in:
6 cups chicken broth (homemade, of course!)
1 can coconut milk
2 teaspoons salt
juice of a lime
meat from 2 dungeness crabs (these were about 4 pounds to start out, so I'm guessing a pound of meat?)
1 scotch bonnet, whole

raise to a boil, then lower heat and simmer about 45 minutes, then remove scotch bonnet and serve. Makes plenty, but not so much when you consider the cost of the ingredients.

Possible amendments: Add fresh grated ginger and maybe sea vegetable.

Oh, and it is delicious.

Friday, January 13, 2006

stuff arrives!

goggles (now assembled!) and trunks (no speedo yet :) and pants (that actually fit!), oh my.

hurray for shipping finally coming through.

I don't know that I'm done, but that makes 25 pounds or so and 2 pant sizes since August or so. Most of that was done early, but the second pant size is recent.

thank goodness.

nose clips needed?

perhaps so, thinks I. Although I don't have any problems in the pool, and very few at home, the next day from about 8:30 a.m. to at least lunchtime is runny nose city.

Unlucky? I guess so, but I didn't notice this problem until the venue switch, and even then it has only recently become a real nuisance. Maybe they've altered the chemistry... I've thought, too, of OTC remedies because my breathing rhythm involves exhaling through my snoot. I suppose it doesn't have to, so I'll experiment, and maybe ante up for clippies.

well, so it goes.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A national emergency

Lock the doors and hide the children!

Today's federal register includes the following presidential document:

Continuation of the National Emergency Relating
to Cuba and of the Emergency Authority Relating to the
Regulation of the Anchorage and Movement of Vessels

On March 1, 1996, by Proclamation 6867, a national
emergency was declared to address the disturbance or
threatened disturbance of international relations
caused by the February 24, 1996, destruction by the
Cuban government of two unarmed U.S.-registered
civilian aircraft in international airspace north of
Cuba. In July 1996 and on subsequent occasions, the
Cuban government stated its intent to forcefully defend
its sovereignty against any U.S.-registered vessels or
aircraft that might enter Cuban territorial waters or
airspace while involved in a flotilla or peaceful
protest. Since these events, the Cuban government has
not demonstrated that it will refrain from the future
use of reckless and excessive force against U.S.
vessels or aircraft that may engage in memorial
activities or peaceful protest north of Cuba. On
February 26, 2004, by Proclamation 7757, the scope of
the national emergency was expanded in order to deny
monetary and material support to the repressive Cuban
government, which had taken a series of steps to
destabilize relations with the United States, including
threatening to abrogate the Migration Accords with the
United States and to close the United States Interests

Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the
National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)), I am
continuing for 1 year the national emergency with
respect to Cuba and the emergency authority relating to
the regulation of the anchorage and movement of vessels
set out in Proclamation 6687, as amended and expanded
by Proclamation 7757.

To which I say: Rubbish and horseshit. But thanks for keeping us safe, big guy.

need more time/more speed

probably the latter more than the former. Wednesday's swim was a 500 meter and a mile and according to the pool authorities ran 12 seconds over the alotted time for lap swimmers. drat.

I could see the heat coming, so the last 100 or 150 was pretty quick. Which shows I now have more than two speeds (sink & swim).

On a related note, swim gear I ordered Friday shipped (not arrived, damn it) yesterday. Yegods, I didn't order a swimming POOL, just some regular stuff. Maybe they had to manufacture each item first. By hand.

In an unrelated development, the last scarf of warp II is on deck, which means a flurry of warping over the weekend. And a coincidental flurry of forgetting to post images of the stock so far. :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

In pursuit of the American dream

The National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina E. Olson, issued her annual report today , the highlight of which - if you are a wire service - is red-flagging the Internal Revenue Service for delaying tens or even hundreds of thousands of tax refunds each year because of alleged impropriety on taxpayers' parts. The evil of the delays, Olson writes, is compounded by their disproportionate effect on poor people and failure by the IRS to notify folks they're suspected of being brigands and thieves.

The advocate is charged with outlining the top 20 problems facing American taxpayers each year, and this year she found 21 top nuisances. The top problem is so boring you would fall asleep if I copied it from her report, the No. 2 problem is the above and the No. 3 problem (I remind you, facing the American taxpayer) is "The Cash Economy."

According to the advocate, unreported income in this arena adds up to $100 billion or more each year, and her bizarre logic concludes that self-employed tax cheaters (she saddles this group with the majority of the blame in this category) cost law-abiding taxpayers $2,000 each per year.

Right, so if all cash economy earnings were reported, the IRS would reduce each taxpayer's bill by $2,000? Um, Earth to Ogden?

Besides which, the advocate's Top 21 didn't even throw a bone to the self-employed, who enjoy the advantage of plenty of special treatment from the IRS and our excellent tax code.

If you look through the other 18 "top problems" you'll see the taxpayer advocate is maybe not looking out for the little guy as much as her refund-delay spiel suggests.

Color me unimpressed.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

sunday swimming

just a typical workout - 500 meters, then 1,000, then 100 to cool down. That's turned out to be the baseline. so, nothing much to report :)

Friday, January 06, 2006

let it be resolved...

I don't know about how other people do it, but I usually wind up making my new year's resolutions well into the new year. Say, about Burns Day.

Besides private resolutions, I'm not sure what to shoot for this year except for one thing: Become an active podcaster (and soon!). I see Comedy Central almost has the idea, but shows yet again - by streaming its video on only one platform - that big media doesn't have all the answers.

there's a fly in my soup!

In the form of this guy, also a regular at the pool, who apparently hasn't figured out that the Monkey Playing Soldier (yeah, yeah, Plane) puts his arms in other people's space. If you're going to do a backstroke, keep your damn hands out of my lane.

There's plenty of room because the pool is configured for the lap swim with only two lane dividers instead of five. In each of these three boulevards the establishment seems to believe belong three swimmers, so their ingenious configuration increases turbulence while reducing the number of swimmers. Super!

Mostly, though, I'm annoyed with backstroke guy, who swims close to the lane barrier and swipes at passers-by, who include me. Well, whatever. He stayed the hell away from me Thursday, to swim about 2,200 meters unmolested.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A folk song archive

While shopping for White Stripes music at the iTunes Music Store, I found the band's cool rendition of Black Jack Davey, a song I hadn't heard before. I listened to the other versions available at the store, but they did nothing for me. So I went out a-huntin'.

And found this

As the site - and others - notes, Max Hunter was a traveling salesman in the Ozarks (based near my sometimes old stomping grounds in Springfield, Mo.) and recorded about 1,600 songs from 1956-1976. What a feat he performed! You can access all these recordings for free, and with ease, bro.

I particulary like Black Jack Davey (and Black Jack Davy, respectively) sung by Wise Jones and Sara Jo Bell...

It's always nice to find these treasures :)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

fundamental attribution error

No, I'm not talking about psychology: When is attribution necessary? Only when the news is bad? Obviously, the answer is no. But check out these three wire services stories (and the two write-thrus that followed):

of The Associated Press
TALLMANSVILLE, W.Va. _ Twelve of the 13 miners trapped in an explosion in a coal mine were found alive late Tuesday after more than 41 hours underground, turning a community's worst fears to unbridled joy. Family members streamed from the church where they had kept vigil, shouting "Praise the Lord!"
Bells at the church rang out as family members ran out screaming in jubilation. Relatives yelled "They're alive!"
"They told us they have 12 alive," said Gov. Joe Manchin, leader of the nation's No. 2 coal-producing state. "We have some people that are going to need some medical attention."

By Jonathan Peterson and Stephen Braun
of the Los Angeles Times
TALLMANSVILLE, W.Va. -- In a dramatic end to two days of desperation in the West Virginia hollows, rescuers late Tuesday found
12 exhausted coal miners alive deep inside a remote mineshaft, threatened by rising concentrations of deadly carbon monoxide gas.
The body of a 13th miner was found earlier in the night by searchers, leading to grim speculation that the other men missing since an explosion in the mine Monday were also likely dead. But just before midnight, the roar of jubilant shouts from rescue crews near the mine entrance signaled that searchers proceeding cautiously 260 feet below ground had found all the remaining miners.

By Ann Scott Tyson
of The Washington Post
SAGO, W.Va. _ A dozen miners trapped 12,000 feet into a mountainside since early Monday were found alive Tuesday night just hours after rescuers found the body of a 13th man, who died in an explosion in an adjacent coal mine that was sealed off in early December.
The bells at the Sago Baptist Church pealed, and joyous relatives rushed outside to celebrate their miracle: Miners surfacing after being underground in the cold, damp chamber for 41 hours. Gov. Joe Manchin III said some would need medical attention.
"Everybody ran from the church screaming, `They're alive! They're coming!'" said Loretta Ables, whose fiance, Fred Ware, was among the missing miners. She had lost hope when she learned about the dangerously high levels of carbon monoxide in the mine, but she was elated as she waited outside the church. "I feel great, very great."

Now, check out these:

of The Associated Press
TALLMANSVILLE, W.Va. _ Family members learned early Wednesday that 11 of the 12 coal miners who were initially thought to have survived an explosion in a coal mine have died.
Families learned of the deaths from mine officials more than three hours after Gov. Joe Manchin said he had been told 12 of the miners survived the disaster. The sole survivor of the disaster was hospitalized, a doctor said.

By Jonathan Peterson and Stephen Braun
of the Los Angeles Times
TALLMANSVILLE, W.Va. -- Only hours after family members were told that 12 coal miners had been found alive, officials announced Wednesday morning that in fact only one had survived Monday morning's explosion.
Jubilation had broken out when word that rescuers near the mine entrance signaled that they had found a dozen men 41 hours after the deadly explosion. But three hours later, families learned that only one person, Ronald McCloy, had been transported alive to the hospital.

The back story, revealed in some of the reports to varying degrees, is that miscommunication sparked a rumor, which led to cell-phone conversations that were overheard, which propagated the rumor, that these guys had made it (or something like that). If you drop by www.newseum.org, you will see widespread complicity by recipients of the wire stories, who to be fair wouldn't have been able to ferret out reasons for skepticism from the stories as they arrived over the wires - because those stories contained no attribution for the key statement. That should have been a signal, of course, of trouble.

The mistakes of media are no tragedy here, but are silly and embarassing. One can only hope the hand wringing about the erroneous report isn't louder than the hand wringing about the 12 miners who never made it home.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

out of the holidaze

which means, I hope, a good stretch of routine in the pool. I still haven't resolved what to resolve as far as that goes. I'd like to pick something hard but reachable, naturally...

Closing in on the end of a warp, which opens up the possibilities again, and my plan is to put on a couple more this weekend. The selling hour draws near. :)