Monday, March 31, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Embarrased To Be American

Bruce Schneier finds Science Fiction authors advising Homeland Security embarrassing. I don't know that it's any more embarrassing than Crichton advising Congress on Global Warming.

Either way, it's yet another indication this government has no clue what it's doing (executive or legislative branches)

To Open A Frozen Car Door Lock

We're experiencing some non-spring like weather (it actually snowed yesterday and today), and as a result, the Mazda's locks were frozen up. What worked like a charm was heating the key up with a match. Gotta remember that in the future.

Sigh... And We Still Have 10 Months Left

Simply galling... Bush intervention led EPA to scale back ozone limits

Social Security Explained

I used to have a great article explaining Social Security and how it wasn't in trouble - but that was hosted on a friend's web page which is no longer available. The short version was that folks use the most pessimistic analysis results - which have always been wrong - to "show" that Social Security is having problems.

This is a nice explanation with the politics thrown in. I suspect the issue really is this simple.

Hat tip to Quentin, with other similar videos.

Monday, March 24, 2008

What Did I Eat?

I use CalorieKing to track my calories. I was too lazy to check out the free options before I started, and I knew CalorieKing was decent because Mary had used their software for the Palm (which worked pretty well).

Turns out, one of the "benefits" is that my food diary can be made public, so for all my adoring fans, check out what I have eaten since January 18, 2008: CalorieKing Community - Public Diaries - Bigfaceworm

Fit Bowl at 9 Weeks

Fit Bowl '08 has been going for 9 weeks now, and how are things shaping up? Rather nicely.

As a group, we've lost 92 pounds, and Sam is leading the pack at -11.15%. And everyone except Tim has lost weight. Not bad. I'm about the middle of the pack (-7%), but that's not counting the odd initial weigh-in (it's my "secret" weapon, a 13 pound bump the "official" scale gave me).

To date I'm down 23 pounds, and it's easy to see the clothes fitting more loosely. Some days my wedding ring even feels a little loose (it's been snug for quite a while).

The plan of 2000 calories + exercise has been working well. My intake has been a little erratic the past two weeks - way high two weekends ago (up in Portland), and low a couple of nights this week, but on the whole it's been pretty consistent. I don't usually feel too hungry, nor too full, and the smaller portion sizes are becoming more habitual.

I've started running again (only two weeks until the triathlon) and it feels pretty good - I definitely notice not having the extra 20+ pounds on my frame. My joints feel good. Plus it's nice having that exercise as an option - it's a lot quicker than a bike ride and Simone still appeases me by hanging out in the Burley while I jog.

Here are the graphs of my food intake for the past 2+ months (ignore the bars on the right, the graph only allowed 1 or 3 months to be displayed). The first is my net calorie intake (that's the 2000+exercise allowance):
And here's the total calorie intake - which hasn't been too crazy even without exercise. I'm hoping I can sustain my weight while eating around 2500 calories a day (counting exercise), because it's been straight forward to eat less than 2500 calories:

Of course, as my weight drops, so does my basal metabolic rate, and by the time I weigh 220 (if I get there), I'll have to eat 300 fewer calories a day than I was eating at 265. So 2500 calories might be more than what I can consistently eat w/out gaining weight. In fact, I'm expecting my weight loss to taper off at some point because of the dropping BMR. The question is, will it drop off before I get to my goal weight (whatever that is)?

Yeah, so what is my ideal weight? No idea. The plan was to reach goal weights decreasing in 15 pound increments. I've passed 250 (woo-hoo), and am well on my way to 235. I definitely want to be at or below 235 - which was my weight when we got married. I pretty sure I'll try for 220 after that, and the experience of getting to that weight will help guide me in choosing my goal weight.

I love eating, and while I've been able to change how I eat so far, I'm a little scared of what I'd have to (not) eat to remain at 220. Maybe it'll be no big deal, it might just be what I'm doing right now (220#, 6'3" and 36 years old supposedly has a BMR of 2140 calories). If that's the case, I might hang out there. But maybe I'll have difficulty with the portions required to sustain that weight.

So far I've been able to simply monitor (and cut) my portions, and I haven't explicitly cut anything out of my diet. I have dessert semi-regularly, just small portions. I even had a bag of crunchy Cheetos a couple of weeks ago on the drive home (they totally weren't worth it). The goal is to find a lifestyle I can maintain.

Of course, once I reach 220, I might try for even lower. Heck, I might even try for some Hip Hop Abs!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

David Lebovitz: Taza Chocolate

Mr. Lebovitz hits another home run. I've tried his chocolate ice cream and his butterscotch pudding and both rocked. This idea (not so much a recipe) turned out awesome.

David Lebovitz: Taza Chocolate

I don't have Taza chocolate, but I do have some Mexican hot chocolate bars that I brought back from Mexico way back when. I go in spurts of drinking Mexican hot chocolate - it's tasty, but usually falls a little short of what I get in Mexico. Senor Lebovitz simmered his hot chocolate for 5-10 minutes and was rewarded with a silky, chocolaty drink. So I gave it a shot.

3 ounces of chocolate, one cup of 1% milk, simmered for nearly 15 minutes, and mmm.... almost pudding like. it reminds me of the (no longer available) Starbucks Chantico drink: it was so rich and creamy, I'm gonna have to do it again.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


We have a bunch of bananas (no pun intended), so what do you do?

Mary already made banana bread. I've eaten several. I could make the easiest chocolate ice cream.

But what's on my mind is banana cream pie. Of course with the diet, I'd rather not have an entire pie tempting me, especially with a yummy crust. So what about banana pudding?

We have a couple of recipes for banana pudding in various cook books, but I was curious if I could find one that didn't call for cream/condensed milk. A "lite" recipe.

So I turned to Google which resulted in a bazillion (well, 85,500) matches. But look at the recipes people put up!!!

banana pudding lite recipe - Google Search

99% of them call for a pudding mix and some bananas.

Um, duh. Absolutely no help there.

It reminds me of Steve Martin's bit:
You, too, can be a millionaire and never pay taxes. First, get a million dollars.

Chicken Stock

A while back I took Caprial and John's cooking class. One of the things they said was best to do was make your own stock. I didn't ask them why they sometimes used the boxed stuff on TV (answer: sponsorship).

Anyway, they recommended getting a pressure cooker and throwing a pound or two of wings in, with some water, carrots, onion, bay leaf, celery, etc. In an hour you've got stock.

Well, we're already a little gadget happy in our house (not all are mine, but I have to admit to owning 20 or so bamboo utensils), so I didn't really want to get a pressure cooker. Plus, I'm kind of slow in the kitchen, so "whipping up" stock to use for that meal seems like yet another impediment.

I decided to make a big batch of stock and freeze it. So I ordered a "case" of wings from the co-op (which is 20 pounds) and waited. It came as a single block of frozen wings - kind of difficult to deal with.

I started thawing the wings in the oven, and when possible, I split the bunch in two. I used half the wings for stock, and roasted the other half for making stock later. Five pounds of wings, a chicken carcass from the night before, two onions, four carrots, four stalks of celery, and some bay leaves simmered in the 10 quart pot for most of the day. After straining off the solids, I had nearly 7 quarts of stock.

I did want to compare this process to buying stock from the store. Turns out, on sale, a quart of organic, free-range chicken broth will cost around $2.29, regularly nearly $3.29 - and the google search shows cases selling for $3.50 a quart. The wings cost $22, plus the carrots/celery/onion, and the cost is about $2 a quart - even cheaper than the lowest sale price I could find.

Not to mention, the homemade stock is miles better than the store bought. The store bought stuff is pretty much just colored water, and the homemade is so thick with goodness that it has the consistency of jello when cool.

Cooking tasty meals is a lot easier when you have some good staples on hand, and stock is certainly one of them.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama and race

So Geraldine Ferraro resigned from Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign because she said something people deemed racist, namely that he was where he was in part because he was black.

I picked up the Oregonian this weekend and saw an editorial (one of many similar editorials and opinion pieces around the country) calling Ferraro a racist and concluding "good riddance." There are some other articles (like the one at slate that spin the story claiming Ferraro is hiding behind the "they're unfairly calling me a racist" defense.

But few people actually look into whether or not what she said was racist. Are not people saying similar things about Hillary Clinton? That she's where she is in large part due to her formerly being a First Lady? Does noting that make someone a sexist? By noting that are you discounting her record in the senate? No, and it's disingenuous to say so.

Of course, being a white man, I can't "safely" say that Obama is where he is because he's black, so I'll point you to someone who can. I heard him on CounterSpin the other day: Glen Ford on Obama-Clinton. If you don't want to listen to the mp3, you can read an article by Margaret Kimberly (which sounds very much like what Glen Ford was saying on CounterSpin). I think the quote I put here is a good indicator of the article: - Freedom Rider: Why We Write About Obama: "Not only did Obama praise Reagan, but he used racist, conservative code words from the GOP play book to do it."
Flatly put, Barak Obama is where he is because he is black - a white man/woman would never be in his position after the overtures he's made to the powers that be. And Obama is playing the race card at every turn. When Clinton made the remark about King's movement needing the support of Lyndon Johnson, she was vilified. The truth is, she was correct, but the Obama campaign (and the willing media) immediately played the race card.

As Glen Ford says in the CounterSpin piece, neither Obama nor Clinton are staying true to MLK Jr.'s vision because after the Civil Rights Act (heh, one of the "excesses of the 60's and 70's" Obama was referring to) King immediately began railing against the military establishment:

(from a BAR story by Paul Street):
"The evils of racism, economic exploitation and militarism are all tied together," King said, "and you really can't get rid of one of them without getting rid of the others."
And neither Clinton nor Obama have any designs on changing the militarization of this country, and as a result (in King's eyes), the inequities in this country will persist. You can kiss the promises of health care and education good-bye, Clinton and Obama will both keep spending all our money on the military.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Corned Beef

We were up in Portland this weekend: Mary had a conference. Mom and Dad had everyone over for dinner, which was corned beef. I'd never made corned beef before, but it's pretty easy. I found it interesting that Ruhlman talks about brine (and corned beef) today. Brine, an extraordinary tool: "The above image is from the corned beef soon to simmer in a spicy liquid. I used a five percent brine along with chilli flakes, mustard seed, coriander, ginger, peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, garlic and importantly, pink salt (which gives the meat its distinctive piquant flavor and rosy color). Home-cured beef is fantastic, easy, and enormously satisfying (there’s a complete recipe in Charcuterie)."

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Grow Your Family Healthy

Yeah, odd name, eh?

It's the brand for a non-dairy, non-soy "ice cream" (they call it "Ice La Crème"). The co-op had a tasting on Friday and I did my duty to taste each of the 6 flavors (I care that much).

It's pretty darn tasty stuff, and I'd definitely eat it again. My favorite flavors were the Strawberry, Vanilla Espresso, Rich Chocolate, and Amaretto Chunk. The chocolate was surprisingly chocolaty. The texture is more of a sorbet than an ice cream, so go in with your expectations set for that.

So, if you know someone who can't eat dairy or soy or sugar (they use agave syrup), this is an awesome choice. Here is the ingredient list for the chocolate:
Ingredients: Purified-Filtered Water, Organic Agave, Almond Oil, Blend of Dutched & Natural Cocoa’s, Almonds, Organic Brown Rice, Tapioca Starch, Slippery Elm Bark Powder, Guar Gum, Xantham Gum & Celtic Sea Salt.
Of course, I prefer the coconut milk ice cream, mmmm... coconut.

Their web page is: Grow Your Family Healthy

Saturday, March 08, 2008


Simone quickly follows up her trick of putting on socks with putting on shoes. Occasionally she tries to put shoes on shoes, but only Mary has mastered that (wearing my shoes while wearing her slippers - for quick errands outside like picking up the mail).

Today Simone helped us with some yardwork, pulling (her first?) weeds and moving compost around. Very helpful.

She also repeated her first swear word (if you call "crap" a swear word), though the offending teacher shall remain nameless.

Each day is better than the last.

Friday, March 07, 2008

AlterNet: Noam Chomsky: International Terror Most-Wanted List

I really need to read more (some!) Chomsky. He's got a new book out, and this is a plug for it (including an essay of Chomsky's): AlterNet: Noam Chomsky: International Terror Most-Wanted List

It reminds me, again, of how little we know about what our government does around the world. We would be ashamed.

NPR: Shooting Kills 8 at Jerusalem Religious School

I've read a couple of articles that talk about the bias in our news showing bias for Israel. And though I respected the sources, I was still a bit skeptical. I figured I'd just keep their point in mind, after all, it's easy to make a point if you only need to give a couple sound bites.

This morning on the radio I heard this AP story: Shooting Kills 8 at Jerusalem Religious School

I don't really care who is "right" or "wrong" in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. But read the story. The headline is about the 8 who died in the shooting. The wording in the rest of the story talks about how the Israelis are thinking about not continuing with peace talks, how this was the deadliest attack since 11 were killed in April 2006. Contrast that with the way it states what motivated this killer of 8: "120 Palestinians and three Israelis died in the clashes, which were sparked by an increase in militant rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel."

So let me get this straight, one crazy guy kills 8 and the horror is described in detail ("a bullet-scarred Jewish seminary", "victims were between ages 15 and 19 except one, who was 26") and Israel is graciously continuing with peace negotiations. But the attack of a nation on Gaza killing 120 (what ages? what was the damage to the neighborhoods?) gets a brief mention.

Ok, so perhaps it's just this one story. Let's do a quick search on the AP stories of the last week (during which the attack on Gaza happened). Notice there are no headlines saying Israel attacked Gaza, nothing about anyone mourning the 120 killed in Gaza. Just headlines about rockets going into Israel. There is the one headline about Syrians protesting the attacks (10s of thousands by the way).

Israeli warplanes fly over BeirutMar 7, 12:22 PM EST
Israelis mourn 8 killed at seminaryMar 7, 12:11 PM EST
Hamas backtracks on attack claimMar 7, 10:53 AM EST
Libya blocks UN from condemning violenceMar 7, 3:56 AM EST
Egypt walls up Gaza borderMar 6, 9:49 PM EST
Quiet US support for Egypt's Gaza effortMar 6, 6:33 PM EST
7 die in shooting at Jerusalem seminaryMar 6, 4:42 PM EST
UN rights council condemns IsraelMar 6, 2:32 PM EST
Egypt presses Hamas on Gaza truceMar 6, 11:21 AM EST
UK rights groups: Gaza in severe crisisMar 5, 8:41 PM EST
Palestinians say peace talks back onMar 5, 6:52 PM EST
Lawyers work to free Israeli soldierMar 5, 12:38 PM EST
Abbas says no talks without Gaza truceMar 5, 6:04 AM EST
Father misses children's Gaza funeralMar 4, 2:31 PM EST
Palestinians call drones a deadly weaponMar 3, 7:22 PM EST
Syrians protest Israeli attacks in GazaMar 3, 4:20 PM EST
Egyptian chopper strays over GazaMar 3, 1:38 PM EST
Israeli city shocked as rockets hitMar 2, 4:48 PM EST
Israeli says comment manipulatedMar 2, 1:32 PM EST
Egypt to treat wounded PalestiniansMar 2, 7:07 AM EST
Analysis: Mideast talks a mixed bagMar 2, 3:45 AM EST
King calls for US help in Middle EastFeb 29, 10:31 PM EST
Girl killed on Egypt-Israel borderFeb 28, 6:56 PM EST
Israelis debate rocket defenseFeb 28, 2:58 PM EST
Rice says Hamas rocket attacks must stopFeb 27, 9:16 PM EST

The message is clear: Palestinians brutally murder Israelis, and if you read closely Palestinians happen to die in "clashes" with the Israeli military. Palestinians are to blame.

Monday, March 03, 2008

It Took A Week To Negotiate With The Fisherman For The Body

I keep plugging away at the headline contest, and I'm a runner up again.

I thought my headline sounded vaguely humorous when I wrote it, but I don't think so any longer. I guess they found it funny (or were hard up for headlines).

Check it: Overheard in New York | Beats Waking Up in Jersey

(my headlines) "It Took A Week To Negotiate With The Fisherman For The Body"
Girl #1: Her brother died.
Girl #2: Oh.
Girl #1: Yeah, they found his body in the Hudson last week.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


Simone can put her socks on all by herself.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Macadamia Nuts

While in Hawaii it was difficult to resist eating a ton of macadamia nuts.

Of course, the bags of nuts are just as expensive on the island as they are on the mainland.

And, while in the natural food store there I noticed you could buy them in bulk, raw and organic, at over $19/pound. Hmmm.... I thought. But it seemed a little expensive.

I come back home and see at our co-op they have the same macadamia nuts for $12/pound. jeesh

I bought a small bag - they taste pretty good raw, but are even better after you roast them: Roasting Macadamia Nuts