Friday, November 30, 2007

Sudan sucks, too

So you wanna kill a teacher who let her students name a teddy bear Muhammad?

Fuck you is about all I have to say for Sudan, which is such a pile of crap it isn't up to the whole stop-genocide thing. Fucking assholes.

Hey, post 500

I guess that's halfway to a cliche of some sort.

We're undergoing a major overhaul of our hardware and software at work, from pretty much the stone age to super up-to-date.

To wit: My PC (say no more, eh?) has a floppy drive, no USB port and uses, like, Windows NT. The software we design news pages with won an award in 1998, I believe, the year before we installed it, during my first tour at the local paper. I just can't say enough about the old system, mostly because I am trying to cut back on swearing.

On the flip side (literally, almost: I have both computer on right now), we are trading in the old for snazzy 24-inch iMacs (2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, etc.) with the latest Adobe creative suite.

So, from totally nontransferable and junky old stuff to the leading edge of life in newspaper publishing. Hooray!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Come on, people, this is easy. Big easy.

Jeopardy question for $1,000, cities in songs:

"I'm the train they call" this city. "I'll be gone 500 miles when the day is done."

Needless to say, nobody got it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Busy weekend

Thanksgiving weekend was a busy one:
  • Drove to Willamette Valley on Thursday morning for visit/studio sale/etc.
  • Drove to Bellingham (and back) on Friday to pick up loom.
  • Helped with studio sale on Saturday. Went shopping afterward.
  • Drove to sunny (well, usually sunny) Walla Walla on Sunday (about 1,200 miles for the weekend).
So now I have a different new-to-me loom, one that is similar to the one I'd been using and therefore much easier to get into working shape for production weaving.

I also sold and/or traded five scarves, which means I am due for a couple of massages in Portland down the line and also have some inventory actually out walking around in the world. This is a nice validation.

Of course, the butterfly lady and I also got to have a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat with my mother, who made a great dinner. We consumed a healthy amount of wine, too.

Damn, that was a lot of driving.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lentil soup

I'm OK with lentils, although I wouldn't call them a favorite. I've made a bunch of lentil dishes, all of which, I think, are Indian. Even with plenty of tinkering, nothing special. This soup, however, passes the relatively easy "me" test and the much more stringent butterfly lady test.

This was a fact-finding mission, not a closely measured soup session, so measurements are approximate:

Mix and cook. Serves portions.

Just kidding.

Lentil soup
Three 3/4-inch thick pieces of smoked pork shank (shanks are much better than hocks)
1.5 cups lentils, carefully sorted and rinsed
1 small yellow onion, halved
4-5 cloves garlic, peeled
12 peppercorns
1 dried chili (more if you want noticeably spicy soup)
6 cloves
2 dried bay leaves
A stalk or two of celery
1/4 cup wild rice
1/4 cup barley

In a spacious soup pot (mine is 9 inches in diameter), simmer the shanks in about three times as much water as it would take to just cover them (aka a couple of inches). You may need to add more water later.

Give it about 10 minutes a-simmer, then add everything but the barley and wild rice.

This is a little tricky. You want to simmer the lot until the lentils are about 35 minutes from ready, then add the rice and barley. I guess this is an unnecessary and fiddly step - maybe you could add the grains earlier, but I feared they would wind up mushy.

In the initial simmer, you can let the soup get near a boil, and skim off the scum from the top. I think the scum's zenith (or nadir, depending on how gross you find it) tends to be about 10 minutes into the simmer.

This makes plenty - maybe six medium to large bowls of soup (I think!)

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I have a tendency to collect things. I'm pretty good about not being a huge pack rat, but not always:
I'm not really sure when I started saving corks, but I think it might have been 1994 or 1995. Needless to say, not every bottle of wine had/has a cork that can be saved, and not all of the corks I've saved are even from wine bottles. I have a few left over. Here's what I made:

The first one was kind of predictable and simple:

Here are a few of the others:

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Dust devil

What better way to start off a Saturday than to clean out the garage?

Wait, don't answer that. I did make coffee first, though. And the whole cleanup was really only about an hour of furious sweeping and a small amount of tossing junk in the trash. No big deal.

I did find a very large spider - large for these parts, that is. When I was a boy, I nearly trod on a tarantula while running barefoot down a path. This was no biggie, about the size of a wolf spider but not as bulky. I let her out in the yard, which is probably arachnicide for that species and her cousins will come to get me later.

Our garage is too small for our car (an SUV-lite from Honda), so it is really an uninsulated shop without electricity (aka storage shed). But it does have a good roof. And way less dust than earlier today.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Talk like an Egyptian

An interesting tidbit showed up in a wire story about a former police officer suspected of killing his wife. A previous wife, who died under possibly suspicious circumstances, has been exhumed, to which the ex-officer said (to NBC):

"It's a shame her rest in peace has to be disturbed for something like this."

Uh, what?

So, she's just taking a nap in that coffin? Does that mean that if the Cubs win the World Series, she'll be exhumed and he'll be happy?

Weird with a capital W.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Staph nose

I have finally defeated, I think, staph nose.

Maybe it will come back, but I haven't had a bout in quite a while. Not coincidentally, I suspect, I have started using a nose clip at the pool. Ergo, I'm not congested around the clock and maybe not such a good breeding ground for our friends the bacteria.

I bring this up because I have noticed a spike in unique visitors to this blog, and statcounter informs me that many (most :) visitors come here by googling "staph nose" or "staph in nose" or "staphylococcus aureus in proboscis" or something like that.

I strongly suspect either an outbreak or a routine seasonal spike in staph infections. Of course, as an influential member of the media, I don't have to sit around wondering. I'll report back after a member of my staff has investigated.

Things I miss about big cities

A weekend visit to Portland reminded me that some things are better when you live in a more densely populated area:

  • Haggling over whether to eat at the Ethiopian place, the Japanese place or the Pakistani place (in Walla Walla, the only place to enjoy those cuisines is our dinner table or the table of able friends).
  • Large, good bookstores (Walla Walla is OK, but our stores can't hold a candle to Powell's).
  • More than one choice of where to buy dog crud for the Newfy, and being able to find a good deal.
  • Stylish clothing. Stylish people. In force.
  • Ethnic grocery stores. Counting Uwajimaya, large ethnic grocery stores.
  • A million other little things.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

In the shuffle

Besides a couple of Arab songs I would get big cred for being able to ID, here's what I'm listening to on deadline:

Tom Joad - Country Joe MacDonald
Waitin' Round to Die - Rhonda Harris
Big Wheel - Tori Amos
Jimmy the Exploder - The White Stripes
One More Cup of Coffee - The White Stripes
Kathleen - Rhonda Harris
Rock the Casbah - The Clash
Store-bought Bones - The Raconteurs
President - Wyclef Jean
Diamonds and Rust - Joan Baez
Rattlesnakes - Tori Amos

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What's your favorite doughnut?

I'm torn between maple bars and bearclaws.

Although I don't mind Boston cream, old-fashioned (like you get at Mister Donut), glazed... Um, OK, I like doughnuts period, I suppose.

As I've suggested here or elsewhere, one of the hidden benefits of working at my current employer's place is the occasional appearance of doughnuts, for any of several "reasons." I do have to swim them off, of course, but I'm not one to look a raspberry jelly in the mouth.

Wouldn't that be something to put on your resume: Invented doughnuts. That'd be the ultimate get-out-of-jail card.

Plus, here's the video for that super-awesome/wicked-dippy iPhone commercial song:

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Effecting social change, effectively

I put a story on the front page today about how NOAA Fisheries (the agency in charge of fish recovery) thinks the new plan for operation of dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers will probably work out OK for salmon and steelhead. And yesterday, I ran a story on a dike breaching in the Klamath Basin that is a step in the restoration of habitat for endangered suckerfish.

Just as these stories signify probably good news for species threatened by humans, they are also about Chapter 1,000 in these ongoing struggles. And my god, in this region you would be hard pressed to find more divisive problems.

The deep irony is that unlike the process of finding a solution, these fish vs. people problems are simple. If you damage fish habitat, you hurt fish. If you want to help fish, quit damming their rivers/using their water/killing them. Not too complicated, except, you know, for the livelihoods of people who benefit from dead fish.

In the Northeast, where the culture is as different from the Northwest as the topography is similar, these problems aren't really problems.

Writ small, wilderness lovers and snowmobilers coexist peacefully (how? they just work out a deal for who can play where) and damn near nobody minds if you hunt or hike on their land (but please ask permission or at least check in with the owner).

Writ large, businesses and activists work together to reduce air pollution, improve fish habitat, you name it.

As I suggested above, I'd put this down to cultural differences. But another factor is that the businesses and activists find ways to make being "green" make some green, which is the thesis of yet another econ disseration I will not write.

If you want change, make sure it keeps you in the black.

Like Wilford Brimley said, it's the right thing to do, and a tasty way to do it.