Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Back from my mini-roadtrip: Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and everything around 'em. Five states, Seven days, Three Thousand Miles.

Details to follow.

Catchup time!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Unchecked carbon emissions will likely cause icebergs to melt. Unchecked greenback emissions will certainly cause the purchasing power of currency to melt. The dollar's destiny lies with Congress." -- Warren Buffett in the New York Times, Wed 19 Aug 09

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Product Test -- On The Go Hazlenut Cappuccino Coffee House Beverage by Kraft Foods.

I couldn't resist this gem.

Could you?

I like coffee. I am going camping next week. A helpful coworker provided me a sample of this fantastic product. What's not to like?

Pour hot water in, and it foams and froths like a latte! Caffeine, plus some lovely artificial hazelnut flavor, and a lotta artificial sweetner.

Really, I think there's got to be something wrong with me that I gave this masochistic creation a try. I gather it's mostly like the diet version of the stuff they serve at the 7-11's "cappuccino machine," with some kind of chemical aeration to boot.

All I know is it tasted like the dried, charred remnants of a Diet Coke can that had been in the sun too long, mixed with baking soda, and poured in hot vinegar.

Oh, but with hazelnut added.

In other news, I just read this article in my local newspaper's online edition, for some reason -- I have to kill time somehow when I'm on hold at work. It's talking about back to school suggestions for youngsters, and it has this to say:

"While a kindergarten child might not know the alphabet, it’s important to foster letter recognition and number sense. When you drive past a store, point to the first letter and say its name out loud..."

Waitasecond.

Kindergarteners not knowing their ABC's?

Okay, MAYBE everyone can't already read by K-G, but, wow.

In other news, this post is quickly losing steam. I'm going to depart from it and go back to a letter about the sea change that's come to the credit card industry.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Urgent:

Okay, not really.

But WHAT do you call this character: |


You know, just above ENTER, on US keyboards, anyway. SHIFT + BACKSLASH.

What is the name of that symbol? I use it in my day to day life, actually -- it performs a function in a work program, but I never know how to refer to it.

I once heard it called a "Pipe." I think. No, not that kind of pipe.

EDIT : I'm hearing that "Pipe" is acceptable, as is "Bar" or "vertical bar."

Thoughts?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hello again, Old Friend: the rain returned for a couple of days to the Sound.

Drinking coffee at night once more, watching the drops scatter across the patio, not wondering from whence the sands of Arrakis had descended upon us, and what have you.

As generic about talking about the weather is, it was nice; especially since it brought about days like today. It will reach the high sixties, with some clouds, and maybe a few sprinkles. This is my absolute favorite type of weather.

Also generic is talking about food, but here is a dinner last night, which was awesome, even if there are some breaks from tradition here. This is pozole verde con mole, in a vegetarian version, arroz rojo, and, so what if the corn bread isn't a tostada? It's pretty good. Of course, it doesn't hold up enough to use it like a spoon, but, I prefer less liquid in the pozole anyway -- as you can see below.

We haven't cooked this as many times as I'm letting on, so I'm stil learning, here. Next time we may make it a couple of days' effort and make the hominy ourselves, "they" say it tastes better that way.



Also, I'm going to reveal my award of the day for a couple of modern technologies that I actually DO like, since yours truly seems to have gotten a needlessly retro-grouchy reputation.

Sure, I hate suburbia and the disposable world and stuff, but sometimes they get it right. I'll have to go and take my own pic, I guess, because Googling "Ziploc Twist Loc," even with all of their whacky copyrighted spelling, doesn't come up with a picture of how cool these little suckers are.

Trust me, they're one of the great inventions of my day. They're little plastic tubs into which you put, um, whatever you want, and close a screw-top lid. It's just like a jar, right, what's the big deal?

Look, my ride to work is two hours long. If I want to carry something here, what do I use? Plastic wrap or a baggie won't do even for fairly solid things, let alone rice, pasta, or anything squishy.

These little containers are a daily lifesaver for me; without them I'd have to resort to empty cottage cheese tubs, and I HATE cottage cheese. No, little bits of pineapple do NOT help.

SECOND, I want to give honorable mention to threaded tops on milk and juice cartons. This single invention lets things stay fresh in the refrigerator nearly twice as long after opening, and means you don't get little dribbles of orange juice all over the place when you're a slob and drink from the carton like I do.

This works even better than the flip-top that is on oh-so-euro quart-sized asceptic boxes.

No, I'm not going to cut it out. No, I don't pound back the cow stuff this way -- the idea of drinking a glass of milk is a pretty revolting concept here. Yes, even with cookies. YES, even if they are chocolate chip. Cold breakfast cereal is about the only place outside of cooking that stuff is good for.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

And you know I only embed when it's worthwhile, not some kind of lazy excuse for a post.

Thanks, Bikeportland.




Monday, August 10, 2009

Way to Diet:

I generally believe that most "diet" concepts are pretty silly. Overall, I've thought that a Blackberry Pie diet would work just as well as a Superfad Diet #942, or, I Only Eat Foods With Seven Letters in Their Name.

But, last night I was proven wrong.

We made some hummus -- roasted red pepper and garlic -- and some fresh pita. This went along with a salad of spinach, lettuce, and kale. It was supposed to be a fairly simple dinner.

So.

Full.

You don't even understand. I know hummus is high calorie-density, but have you ever tried eating a thousand calories of hummus and pita?

I think I am still full.

I could barely make myself hungry enough for aforementioned blackberry pie. I managed it.

Yeah, it's a hard life.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Noxious and Condemned -- Saturday 1 August



I grew up in a cul-de-sac in unincorporated suburbia, at nearly the bottom of a little hill. All three houses at the bottom of this street had roughly half-acre lots, but the backyards were down a full storey from ground level, with rocky slopes formed from an old riverbed. All were overrun with a jungle of growth: fir trees, hawthorne, and birch but also English Ivy and, of course, Himalayan Blackberries.

Sure, it's a Noxious Weed, but blackberries have always been one of my favorite fruits, and apparently they're a pretty good thing to eat.

Late summertime was always one of my favorite seasons, and a tradition of August is blackberry picking. The ones in the stores are awfully expensive and usually quite underripe, since ripe berries don't travel well, but if you can find a source set back from the exhaust and dirt of the road, they're free for the taking around here.

This is the spot I found, on my commute into work. This is a scrap of land owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation, and several houses in this area have all been condemned and boarded up -- I think with the plan was to be able to build a highway interchange here, which may or may not happen in the next twenty-five years or the like.



But, for now, the houses stand, boarded up, empty. In their place, I guess, a few miles down the road -- in the flood plain of the Puyallup River, is a bunch of shiny new, identical subdevelopments. I guess people could move there.

But these were perfectly good houses, built to live in, not make a buck. It's really eerie to be here. I feel like I'm in The Road.

I pull off of the road onto the long gravel drive, and roll up alongside the house. It's just like I'm coming home, as I look briefly at the yard, the pear tree and the Noble Fir, the remains of the tree fort. Anyone know what kind of tree that is? Yours Truly is no arborist.

But, of course, no one lives here. The blackberries and morning glory have taken over the yard, spilling over the fence, the garden trellis, the walls of the shed.



Picking berries at the garden, looking at the still green pears, out across the field to the still-active farm a bit down the road, it’s easy to imagine going into the mudroom, washing off the fruit, making a pie – but no one will live here again except the wasps that have burrowed their way into the walls.



Of course, some squatter had already pried off the plywood covering the rear door, made a little pallet out of a scrap of carpet and a space blanket. There’s a 3-year old receipt and an empty CD case in an overturned bureau drawer.

This house is otherwise pretty nice. It has hardwood floors, a two-tier starcase to a little top floor furnished attic, with an old-style slope-sided ceiling that'd never fly in today's clone-a-home.

Wow, that's a lot of hyphens.



The thing of it is, I would've love to live in a house like this. It's attractive, solidly built, ergonomically sound. People would call it "cute," with a lot of "charm," though the nearby freeway would give it "character." One would certainly always hear the noise from it, but so what?

This whole ex-neighborhood is full of empty lots, boarded up houses, and a big, blank field which has a sign suggesting that commercial lot space is available. It's been there, unchanged and unbuilt, for the three years I've lived in the area.

But this is progress, right?

You've got to build bypasses.

It's not the end of the world. Just don't go back for your bag.

The important part about houses isn't that they are livable, "charming," or aesthetically pleasing. The important part is their square footage, the two-car garage, the central air.

Right?