Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Peeling Onions

My latest project at work is like peeling onions. It's been going on for the whole quarter, and it's pretty much been a constant task of peeling one layer to reveal another one, peeling that and finding another one. And since I'm the first person to use this new technology, I'm the lucky one who gets to peel each layer back.

Just the other day I realized there's another reason the analogy fits so well.

Just like peeling onions, this project makes me cry.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Mary got a copy of Martha Stewart magazine last month. It was open on the table so I took a look (honestly, I was only there for the pictures). It was open to the page that had a photo of these:

They're not meringues, they're orange macaroons.

Make them, make them, make them.

(there are none left here)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Bring It!

Mary found out about this infomercial-style workout, P90X. Turns out, it's hugely popular - it got more searches than the hula-hoop, wii exercise, yoga, and other exercise searches last year. Some people Mary knew had gotten great results using this program to get/stay in shape.

I thought it sounded a little odd - the whole infomercial thing was kind of a turnoff. But, I like to think I'm a supportive husband, and I'm all for getting in better shape myself. So I said I'd be up for it.

Mary ordered the DVD's, and I got the power bands and pullup bar. The DVDs came along with a couple of brochures - one detailing the workouts and one with a meal plan. Turns out we're going to eat differently.

We sit down and watch one of the workouts (Chest and Back) before we embark on this... and it looked pretty good. Difficult to do, yes, but a real workout. And the main character, the dude behind the program, Tony Horton, seemed like a real guy. He told some corny jokes, was humorously self-deprecating - very watchable.

P90X is basically a workout 6 days a week, a different workout each day, and a change of the workouts every 4 weeks. Every 4th week is a "rest" week (which jives with all the reading I've done on training). The program pushes you, but does an ok job of showing you variants for
those who aren't as capable as the perfect specimens on the videos.

We decided to do the "lean" program, which differs from the "classic" in that there the lean program does one more aerobic day in place of a strength training day. Depending on how things go after the first 90 days, we might go back and do the "classic".

Mary and I took the pre-test, passing with nearly flying colors. I wasn't flexible enough (failing the toe touch).

That was over two weeks ago. We kept it up through Thanksgiving and all.

The workouts can be intense, but you can throttle it back if you want (you pansy).

What is really nice about the videos is that there's someone telling you what to do. It's kind of like watching TV, you plug in and turn off your mind. He tells you, do pushups, you do them - you don't have to think about it. Workouts on my own are usually laxidasical, I take longer and longer breaks or just decide it's time to hit the shower. Here he just lays it out, and no individual exercise is more than maybe 2 minutes, so you're always changing it up.

Plus, all the exercises are real and need minimal equipment. You're doing push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, jumps, stretches, punches, etc. etc.

Mary found a video on their web page where people told their stories. One of the ladies said that she often hears friends talk about celebrities, dismissing their fitness by saying, "well, if i had a
trainer telling me what to eat and what to do..." - this program does that for you. No more excuses.

We'll see if we keep it up for the 90 days, I think we can.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Rolls and "Dog Park"

The other morning, Simone and I hung out for a few hours alone. Simone decided she wanted to make something with flour, and she'd just found the packets of yeast, so I suggested we make rolls. Here are two pics of Simone kneading the dough. She can be quite the kitchen helper (she helped cut out and ice some gingerbread cookies just the other night).

After putting the rolls together, we chose to go to the "dog park" - which is a kids playground at the church down the street. They've got a fence around the park, so we go there and watch Hazel run around. Hazel still loves the slides, so we had a great time cheering her down them.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Everything seems to have two categories, regular and "kid-sized".

Simone and I were looking though a Christmas catalog at breakfast today (the cover had a 4 button trumpet, very silly). We got to the page that had the musical bells, looking like this:

What did dear Simone say? "Look Papa! Kid-sized plungers!"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We're Born With It

Looks like we might very well be born with an understanding of math:
One sign that this skill truly is innate: Children enter the world with a head for numbers. Veronique Izard, a cognitive psychologist at Harvard University, demonstrated this in a recent study of newborns. She and her colleagues played cooing sounds to babies, with varying numbers of sounds in each trial. The babies were then shown a set of shapes on a computer screen, and the scientists measured how long the babies gazed at it. (The length of time a baby spends looking at an object reflects its interest.) Newborns consistently looked longer at the screen when the number of shapes matched the number of sounds they had just heard. For example, a baby who heard “tuuu, tuuu, tuuu, tuuu” would look the longest at four shapes, less at eight, and still less at twelve. Izard’s study suggests that newborns already have a basic understanding of numbers. Moreover, their concept of numbers is abstract; they can transfer it across the senses from sounds to pictures.
Read the whole article here.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

AT&T: Why Do You Make It So Hard To Give You Money?

So, we've got AT&T for our cell phones. We've been relatively happy, we're simple users - we just make calls and we don't really text.

Our last 2 year contract is over and now it's time to upgrade phones. I don't really like how in the U.S., the cell carriers have a lock on the market and force you to subsidize people's phones. I wish the phones weren't locked to carriers and you were free to move between them (yes, I know you can buy unlocked phones, the point is that the 99% of folks are locked into their carrier).

Anyway, it's time to get new phones, and we're also going to add a line (move the home phone to a cell line).

I get a corporate discount. Why do I tell you this? Because you can only use your corporate discount on the web page. When I called in to do the upgrades, the kind lady informed me that I get a discount, only she can't give it to me. ungh? Yup, she can see the discount, but can't use it. Great, only the web page was down at that time, so I couldn't use the web page.

When I can finally log in, the web page is even slower than Comcast's. It literally takes from one to three minutes for each link to be processed. It's like I'm using dialup, only, I know I'm not using dialup because I can watch a YouTube videos while I wait.

So, I go through the agonizing steps to get my new phone, and then try to add Mary's phone. Whamo, I'm logged out of AT&T and am presented with a login page asking for my zip code and phone number. Evidently, you can only upgrade one phone at a time, even though they're all on the same account. Oh, and the free phone I just upgraded to? It costs $18 to activate. Fine, whatever, I pay the price and finish the order. I click on "continue shopping" and it logs me out again.

After much swearing, I try to log in again to get my phone upgraded. Nope, not tonight, the server is having problems and cannot log me in because of server error 114.

AT&T: I'm trying to throw money at you. Really, your mediocre service is fine, I want to buy some stuff and upgrade my plan. You're making it incredibly difficult to do so. If it weren't such a pain to switch carriers, I would...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

SImone Smorgasbord

Just before Labor Day, we went camping at Paradise Campground, just down the McKenzie River from where we were married a short 8 years ago.

We got a campsite that had this view:

Pretty nice, eh? Check out the other photos from the trip here.

This one was kind of odd, a cross between Dopey and Blair Witch:

After camping we went to the beach. It rained, it poured, we stayed warm and dry with a big fire every day. It was great. Simone took a few good pictures:

Simone cuddling with the stuffed monkey.

Simone sprinting.

Simone's doll is holding a coin

Simone and Mary

Oh, and what did I learn today? Simone knows "left" and "right"! I was all excited to teach her, but she passed the test with flying colors - even figuring out the right answer to, "which side of mine are you on?"

Ever wonder which colors Simone likes to use for coloring? Here they are, lined up by usage. Apparently green and white are not so much fun...

And a bonus Hazel note: did you know she likes going down slides? Check it out:

Hazel in motion.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Vodka Vodka Vodka

I'm not a huge van of vodka, mainly because I think there's no real reason to drink alcohol unless you can taste it. And, the better the vodka, the less flavor it has (vodka being just water and ethanol).

But, because of that, it works really well as an ingredient in flavored alcohols (like kahlua, or nocino). And this is the weekend of flavored vodkas. I have a bottle of vodka and vanilla beans to make some vanilla extract. I've got a bunch of cherry pits that I crushed that are infusing a vodka with an intense almond flavor.

And, lastly, I took 8 jalapenos, chopped them up and soaked in vodka to make a green pepper vodka. Why? Well, on memorial day I was treated to a wonderful drink that was just like a mojito, except it used jalapeno vodka in place of rum. And, I must say, it is an awesome drink.

That's what I'm drinking right now:
  • 1 oz fresh lime
  • 1 oz simple syrup
  • 1 oz jalapeno vodka
  • 2 oz club soda

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tasty Dinner

A quick note to remind myself of a very tasty dinner.

I also tried grilling some cantaloupe, but that wasn't worth repeating.

Monday, September 07, 2009

R.I.P. Agnes

We came home from vacation to find Agnes pretty lethargic - hiding under the coop. At night I went out to shut the girls in their coop, where I found Agnes out from under the coop, but just laying there. Mary and I brought her inside to get a better look at her, and she passed away...

to the chicken coop in the sky.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Slideshow just emailed me to let me know I can put a slide show in my blog with a simple cut and paste. Check it out:

Now that's service.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Blatant Plug

We just had a tankless hot water heater installed. Why? Because we're eco-hippie folks.

Turns out, our former (tank) hot water heater decided its time was up and began leaking on our wood floors. yay...

We looked at our options. Some company (who shall remain nameless) sent out a dude who was ho-hum on tankless heaters. He looked around and called back with a bid the next business day.

Rice Heating came out two days later, with documentation on three different options (one tanked heater, two tankless), full costs of each, tax incentives/energy rebates, the works. And, the bid was 20% under the other company. Plus, with all the information given us, it was obvious that the net difference in cost between the high-end tankless and the tanked heater was a mere $350. Plus, according to Energy Star, we'd make up the difference in about 3 years.

We chose to go with Rice Heating.

Calvin Rice (the owner of the company) himself came to install the hot water heater and did a very nice job. Jeremy was the guy who gave us the bid, and came back after it was all done to give us all the paperwork for the rebates/taxes. The paperwork was already filled out and came with stamped envelopes. The guys always remembered our names (including Simone's and Hazel's (Jupiter was nowhere to be found)). They took time to answer all the questions we had at every point in the process, and will be coming out to service the hot water heater (and the furnace!) twice in the next year for free.

The two bid processes left were so completely different, and Rice's followed through extremely well, providing great service. I've no doubt that if I called them up in a month or two to ask about some inane detail on how to operate the remote or about the gas connection, they'd have someone stop by the house free of charge (I don't know that, I just got that impression).

So, if you're in the area and need some heating/cooling work done, I'd go with Rice's.

Friday, August 07, 2009

All Around The Mulberry Bush

Ever wondered about a mulberry? This is what it looks like:

It tastes kind of like a cross between bing cherries and a blackberry, only not as strong. But it is very sweet.

Oh, and it's not so much a bush as a tree. Who would have thunk it?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Mmm... peach, tomato salad

I read a caption that said, "peach and tomato salad" and thought, I've got both of those, time for lunch!
Chef Rowley Leigh, Cafe Anglais
Peach, tomato and basil salad

Pour boiling water over six white peaches and let stand for 10 to 30 seconds, depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Refresh in cold water and skin. Do the same for six large tomatoes, which should still be firm and full of flavour. Slice the tomatoes thinly and salt them. Cut the peaches into thin segments. Arrange them in an overlapping circle, alternating the two fruits. Squeeze the juice of a lemon over the salad and drizzle lightly with oil (very lightly if you are using walnut oil). Tear six basil leaves and scatter these over the salad. Mill some black pepper, and serve.
hat tip: The Kitchn

Friday, July 24, 2009

Nocino, take 2

A couple of weeks ago I bottled up some Nocino.

Something that had concerned me was knowing when the walnuts were ripe enough to use. In France they harvest them mid-June, which seemed way too early to do here.

My favorite cooking blogger, David Lebovitz, wrote an article on Nocino himself, just last week. In it, he described a little more clearly, the condition of the walnuts they use in France (see, he lives in France). Plus, he posted a couple of photos.

I determined I'd picked the walnuts too early. sigh...

So, I waited, and today seems like a good day to pick them. Now, the walnuts have a very thin shell - it's just a little tough to cut through with a chef's knife. Plus, the walnut meat is starting to show a skin - just like the pictures in Lebovitz' post.

Anyway, I just bottled some more. Yum!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Home Depot

Home Depot. What can I say?

I want to like you, for a big company you treat your employees well.
While I generally prefer the local (smaller) hardware stores, some
times your huge selection is what I need.

But, I've got to say, your employees know about as much as I do about
home repair, and that's something in between diddly and squat.

I'm sure there are a few crusty old men who retired from their jobs at
65 who work at Home Depot for something to do and a little pocket
money. They probably know something, but I always get the people who
talk knowledgeable but end up giving me bad information.

The latest saga was our exterior water spigot. It's one of those
frost-free kinds that turn the water off 12" from the handle,
hopefully eliminating any problems from cold weather because there's
no water in pipes outside the foundation of the house.

So it's leaked. For two years, maybe four. But it only leaks when the
water is on, so not that big a deal. That is, until we want to go
on vacation - we can't set a timer on that spigot because it'd leak like
100 gallons of water a day, which I just can't do.

Last year, maybe the year before, I went to a Home Depot (b/c the
local hardware shop didn't carry these spigots) and asked where I'd
find the parts to fix one.

Ok, now before you get all snarky on me. Yes, if I'd just done a
little thinking - I'd have realized it's probably just like every
other spigot in the house, and since I've repaired leaks in bathroom
spigots a couple of times, I should realize it's the same principle
for the exterior ones. Heck, I'm pretty sure I've even done it for an
exterior one (at my old Portland house). That's not the point.

As I was saying, I asked where I'd find the parts to fix one. What
was the response? Oh, you can't fix those, you have to replace them.

WTF, how stupid! But, we live in the throw-away economy in America.
And it *is* a Home Depot employee telling me you can't fix them but
can only replace. So I checked out the replacements: something like
$30, but there's 4 lengths of 2 different sizes each. Oh, and bonus,
they're often soldered.

I don't know how to solder. It's supposed to be straight forward, but
I'm not going to start out by soldering *under* the house, in the spot
furthest from the entrance to the crawl space. Oh, and I'd have to
learn how to *un*solder the original. So... not happening.

And paying some crack showing plumber $60/hour to replace the one
thing just seemed excessive.

So I stalled, and it wasn't a big deal, until the next long vacation
where we really wanted to water the plants in the front yard...

Over the 4th of July I mentioned the leak to my dad and he said to
just take a crescent wrench to the faucet and open it up.

So I did. Lo and behold! It's just like any standard faucet. The
guts came out with a simple twist. Great, now I was on somewhat
familiar turf, I could see the washer I needed to replace.

Into Home Depot I venture again.

The first guy I get tries to help, but doesn't know a lot. He calls
for the "plumbing" guy, and a second guy starts trying to help (not
the plumbing guy). While waiting we're actually trying to get the
handle off the fixture (I didn't have enough time to do that before
leaving the house - Simone had a class to get to). The handle is
crusted on because of all the water that had flowed over it every time
we turned it on. So, we're mucking with a vice and a wrench and
eventually some WD40 (that was the trick). Then, how to get the
washer out? It's turned to hard plastic, and is just chipping away.
Meanwhile, the two guys helping keep mentioning how they don't know
where the washers would be for this.

Finally the "plumbing" guy arrives and declares that they wouldn't
have any washers that fit. We could probably find some whose exterior
dimension fits, but the hole in the washer would be too small. I
question the "expert" saying, "Really? I'd figure these things would
be kind of standardized." The expert knowingly says, "Nah, these
frost-free spigots are all unique. Here you go, some washers that
should fit - you'll just have to bore the hole out."

This is where I made the same stupid mistake, trusting the Home Depot

So I left with some washers whose holes were too small, and some
graphite tape, which happens to be made for exactly the leak I
had... (if only we hadn't picked apart the old washer).

I take my findings home and sit down to try to drill out a larger hole
in a rubber washer.

Ever tried to do that?

It's not easy. First, you can't grip the washer too tightly or the
hole you're drilling will be very oval. But, if you don't grip it
tightly enough, the washer just spins away. And I don't have a drill
press, so it's tough to even drill in the center...

I'm getting frustrated because the damn washer is just not going to
have a good seal because I'm jury-rigging the hole, and it's not going
well. The graphite tape might save me, but it just seems so hacky.

The $60/hour crack-showing plumber is starting to look better by the

Luckily I'd just installed a new dishwasher.


Yah, I'd just installed a new dishwasher. And there were some
left-over parts from the various hoses and adapters that either came
with the washer or I'd bought. There were even two washers.
Hmmm... maybe I'll take a look at those. The first one is way too
large, no chance. The second one ... boo-yah! It was nearly
perfect! It was a flat washer, and the fitting wanted a beveled/cone
washer. Easy enough to fix with a couple swipes of the exacto knife.

I put some of the graphite tape on for added security, tightened down
all the fittings, turned the water on and presto! No more leaks.

So, Home Depot. I'm not listening to your experts any longer. They
can tell me where stuff is, but that's the extent of it. I may take
an hour searching through the 100 washers you have hanging on the
rack, but I'm going to find the right one next time because, contrary
to your expert opinion, it exists.

Simone Has A Bike

We went garage sale hopping two weekends ago and found Simone a bike.
A beautiful purple bike with white wheels and a white seat. It's a
tiny bit too large for her, but she's long enough to stand over the
frame (which was always the ruler we measured bikes by as kids).

We took our treasure home, washed it up real shiny, put the training
wheels back on, and headed over to the nearby school to give it a
whirl in their parking lot.

Simone was pretty interested in biking and started to get the idea of
how to pedal the bike (she gets stuck with the pedals vertical because
she's not pedalling quite fast enough) - but as soon as another car
showed up with two kids and their bikes, she was very excited.

We've since gone biking a couple more times, and just this past
Saturday she had her first fall. We were cycling in the neighbor's
driveway (no cars) and she went off the pavement into the grass. I'd
caught her the couple of times earlier but decided to see what
happened. She quickly came to a stop and teetered to the grassy side
and fell over. Not quite sure what happened, she stood up, started to
pull on the handlebars and then decided that the fall was scary enough
that she wanted Momma and was done with biking for the day.

I know, mean Poppa.

In the past, Mary and I had talked about whether to use training
wheels or not and we both agreed that we'd prefer not to use them.
However, with Simone's current age and disposition toward the bike, I
don't think she'd be interested in the least in the bike if it didn't
have the wheels.

It's a new learning adventure.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


A friend of mine told me I should make Nocino. I'd never heard of it, but I like doing weird food things, so I looked it up.

It's essentially a green-walnut infused vodka (with some other flavors like cinnamon, clove, lemon). Simone and I picked a bunch of green walnuts from the trees down the street last night and I chopped them up and tossed them in some vodka.

Now I have to wait 6 months, or, as some some report, an entire year.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Brass Monkey

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cash For Clunkers

Unbelievable, I read the story in the paper today. Congress will pay folks $3500-$4500 for upgrading their auto from a gas guzzling SUV/truck getting 16mpg to a mean green machine that gets 18mpg... wait, what?

Yup, you'll get paid $3500 to buy a 18mpg gas guzzler, even $4500 for a 23mpg guzzler.

What a moronic idea.

For a real breakdown devoid of the anger and frustration I harbor, read: The Oil Drum | The 2012 Oil Crunch vs. Cash for Clunkers

Momma's 3 Days Away Summary

Simone did great while Mary was away. A big part of that is due to Nana coming down and hanging with her, but I've got to give credit to Simone as well.

Every once in a while she'd mention "momma" but that was about it.

We waited on the front porch for Mary to come home, and we definitely had a love fest when she walked up to greet us.

I look forward to the next adventure with Simone.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I'm tired of the torture debate.

I'm especially tired of the media and how it presents the debate. Almost always the story is set up as "human rights" versus "freedom to be safe", i.e. either torture the guy or the ticking time-bomb goes off. Almost never does anyone bring up the fact that torture doesn't work, let alone the fact that not torturing people but instead earning their respect and trust is what works.

Even my favorite, John Stewart, fails to bring up those points and falls into the debate of the ticking time bomb.

The more nuanced, pro-torture, debater brings up the argument that the anti-torturing side thinks that the idea of anything but the most benign interrogation techniques is not allowed. Again, this is a straw man, don't accept the argument, for once you do, you end up debating where to draw the line for torture.

The bottom line is:
  • torture doesn't work, you get bad intelligence
  • not torturing does work, it has worked, and it will continue to work
  • water boarding is torture
  • there's never been a ticking time bomb situation - stop watching 24

Monday, June 15, 2009

Some Simone Pics

Simone with a daisy. We couldn't find the horses this particular day, so we looked at some flowers.

Simone and Ayli sharing a seat.

Ayli playing peekaboo with Mary. By the end of Carl and Jana's visit, Ayli was smiling lots, but it was so quick. This was the best one I got on film.

Simone waiting for some lunch - so much fun eating at a restaurant, especially one with fish tanks!

Simone, Carl and Ayli at the water fountain.

A picture on our hike at Breitenbush.

Another shot of Simone and Papa at Breitenbush - Simone was pretty worn out from all the tubbing.

Simone and Momma racing around in a car at the playground.

Check out the little photo albums (some of the same pics).

Momma's First Day Away

I guess I'm kind of live-blogging the adventures of Momma being away. It'd be interesting to know what she's going through at the same time, but phones don't work at Breitenbush, so we can't really know.

Simone slept solid the night through, nearly 11 hours. I slept a chunk with her because she requested it shortly after getting the drink last night. Other than slowly rotating in bed, I think she slept peacefully.

Nana drove down early today to hang out with Simone so I could do my time in the office in Wilsonville. I think it was a good move as her first response to me was, "no, no, no" when I walked in the room (I don't know what that's about, but am hoping it's a phase). Then Nana poked her head in the room and Simone lit up, hid against the wall for a second, and came out hopping and dancing. They had a very pleasant morning/day/afternoon, while I did my usual drudgery in Wilsonville.

We had a dinner of left-overs and fresh strawberries (picked by Simone), and now she's in bed, reading stories with Nana.

I'd better go clean off the bed in the back room so Nana has somewhere to sleep tonight.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Momma's First Night Away

Mary is at a retreat for the next three nights, her first nights away.

We spent the day together at Breitenbush, soaking in the tubs, eating lunch and dinner, and taking a nice little hike. It was my second time at Breitenbush, and I must say the food was really good this time (it was rather disappointing the first time) - I guess it just depends on the mood of the cook.

Simone had a great time going from tub to tub at the spiral tubs, and even got into the cold water dunk tank.

We said our goodbyes to Mary and headed home after dinner. Simone sang some for the next half hour and dropped off to sleep. Once home, she transferred to bed real easily, and slept for an hour while I unpacked. I knew she'd woken up when she walked into the kitchen saying, "I want juice."

She's getting very clear like that, both a blessing and a curse.

I opened the fridge, and saw the strawberry lemonade. Simone saw it too and said, "strawberry." So I poured her some.

After downing 6 ounces she asked to be carried into bed (a new and unusual request), so I carried her in and laid her in bed.

She finished the drink, I asked if she was all done, to which she replied, "yeah," turned her head to the side and closed her eyes to go to sleep.

I don't think I've ever had a night like that with her, it was very sweet and just pointed out how much she's changed recently. All sorts of new phrases and sentences are coming out now. Whereas before you could kind of gauge what she might say, pretty much every sentence she utters is new and unique.

Friday, May 22, 2009

It's Made It To The Comics

I knew that our "harsh interrogation techniques" were borrowed from the military's program where soldiers are subjected to ... torture. What I didn't know was that those programs were specifically introduced to give our soldiers an idea of what the communist countries were doing to our soldiers during the cold war specifically to extract false confessions to be used against us. I'm still having trouble choking down the irony.

Now that information has bubbled up to our comic strips:

"We have seen the enemy and it is us." - Walt Kelly

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Cupcake Catchers

For the past week, Simone has sporadically mentioned that she wanted a cupcake catcher.

Tonight at dinner we figured it out, she wanted one of the cupcake/muffin tin liners.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

How Does Danny MacAskill See The World?

I've seen this video from a number of different sources, and the cyclist is amazing.

When I watch him, I wonder, "how does he see the world?"

Think of a little kid, everything is big and an obstacle: chairs and bookcases are to be climbed, a doorknob or lightswitch is likely out of reach, counter tops are the unknown.

A rock climber might look at buildings as potential playgrounds, whereas an architect might notice the design, and a contractor might notice the workmanship.

Watch all the way to the end, he does some amazing stunts. Fences and rails are not barriers, they are paths, trees and walls are ramps for him to ride or bounce off, stairs are an excuse to turn a 360, walls are merely steps for him to jump (climb), and curbs are like the cracks in the sidewalk you cannot step on.

At least, that's how I imagine he looks at everyday objects.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Study: "The Irony of Satire"

Amazing, check out the abstract for this study, "The Irony of Satire":
This study investigated biased message processing of political satire in The Colbert Report and the influence of political ideology on perceptions of Stephen Colbert. Results indicate that political ideology influences biased processing of ambiguous political messages and source in late-night comedy. Using data from an experiment (N = 332), we found that individual-level political ideology significantly predicted perceptions of Colbert's political ideology. Additionally, there was no significant difference between the groups in thinking Colbert was funny, but conservatives were more likely to report that Colbert only pretends to be joking and genuinely meant what he said while liberals were more likely to report that Colbert used satire and was not serious when offering political statements. Conservatism also significantly predicted perceptions that Colbert disliked liberalism. Finally, a post hoc analysis revealed that perceptions of Colbert's political opinions fully mediated the relationship between political ideology and individual-level opinion.

I wonder what Colbert thinks about the study.

Also, I wonder what conservatives thought of Colbert's speech at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. You should seriously watch it. It's painfully funny, made even funnier by the fact the butt of the jokes (W and many of the people in the room) don't find it funny. The Wikipedia article has a nice summary if you don't want to watch the whole video.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Beaver Freezer 2009

The 2009 Beaver Freezer is over, and here are the full results. I placed 89th out of 229 people, 68th out of 107 men, 11th out of 18 men aged 35-39.

How was the race? The day started out freezing cold, but clear. Luckily, I was in the 3rd to last heat, and by the time I started, it'd warmed up nicely. The swim went fairly well, though my googles began filling with water almost immediately. I stopped on the 2nd lap and drained them. My time was a PR 7:59, and that includes time spent draining the goggles and waiting for some dude who took nearly 11 minutes to finish (everyone lapped him twice). I was definitely happy to finish under 8 minutes considering I'd swum maybe a dozen times since last year's Freezer. The first transition went pretty smoothly, though I donned a hat (thanks Sam!) and two shirts b/c of the chill, which probably slowed me a little. The bike was difficult, I struggled through the entire ride - I only passed one person and was passed by many. The second transition went pretty well, nothing dramatic to show - though Sam had a good idea - to borrow the cyclocross method of carrying your bike - I'll have to check to see if it's legal. The run (though painful) felt pretty good and I PR'ed with a 25 minute run. I did have to stop to tie my shoe in the run - so there's room for improvement there. I do want to get my pace up to a 7 minute mile, which is essential for my goal time of 1h10min.

Here's my standard breakdown of the race:

Trey's 2009 Beaver Freezer
Stage Time Pace Place in StageCumulative TimeCumulative Place
Swim 7:59 1:35.8 52-T 7:59 52-T
T1 N/A N/A N/A
Bike* 44:33*16.2* 101 52.32 91
Bike 42:00?17.1?
T2 1:38 65-T 54:10 86
Run 25:008:03.9 96 1:19:11 89

* Due to problems at the timing station at the end of the first transition, there are no T1 times, so I guessed my T1 time by averaging the times from my other freezers - which conveniently made the bike time an even 42 minutes.

And here's a comparision of all 4 Freezers:

Comparing Trey's Beaver Freezers
Stage 2005 2007 2008 2009
Swim 8:15 8:12 8:26 7:59
T1 2:37 2:22 2:39 2:33*
Bike 36:16 39:06 38:59 42:00*
T2 2:12 2:13 1:31 1:38
Run 25:57 26:11 25:31 25:00
Race 1:15:17 1:18:04 1:17:06 1:19:11

As you can see, it was my worst showing overall, entirely due to the bike (* adjusted by the guess of a T1 time). I'm not quite sure why my 2005 bike conditioning was so much better than the other years. I still think that a time of 1h10min is possible, but I've got to kick it up b/c I'm not getting any younger.

Thanks to my supporters for cheering me on: Mary, Simone, Sam, the entire Mattson clan (with cowbells), and Memere.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

A Moment Of Silence Please

Tonight I found my batch of sauerkraut went bad.

I'd slowed down eating sauerkraut because the last batch was better described as "salty cabbage" than "fermented kraut." Mary brought home a cute little 2# head of cabbage that Simone and I chopped and salted and put in the crock.

Well, tonight I checked it, and it was bad.

If you think kraut is stinky, wait until you get a whiff of kraut moldy...

I had to add a little water because the cabbage didn't release enough on its own. I think I didn't add enough salt to the water (I just guessed, should have read the book). You can make kraut w/less salt, but you need to be vigilant, and I was taking the hands-off approach.

Live and learn.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mustard Tasting

I went to a mustard tasting today. Some gal named Rebecka Weinsteiger got lots of compliments from her friends on the mustards she'd been making, so she thought she'd give it a go.

I have no idea how many of the 6 mustards I got to taste were actually hers (I'm guessing #1 was Grey Poupon), but they were all tasty (except for #4). I know, you can't tell the difference between them - don't blame me, you should have gone to the tasting.

Rebecka was just trying to find out what kind of mustard might sell well in the Corvallis area, and what kind of price she could charge. We don't use a lot of mustard, but I'd plunk down $5-$8 for a jar of artisan mustard once or twice a year.

The tasting had a couple of different kinds of sausage to dip, some pretzels, and a tofu sausage (blech!). There were slices of apple and turnip for cleansing the palette. I first tasted all the mustards on pretzels - so I could get a good idea of the mustard by itself. Tasting them that way, I only really liked #1 and #6 (a classic dijon, and a rustic whole-grain mustard). After I filled out the survey cards I went back and tried the mustards with chunks of sausage - wow, all but #4 were great. Sure the sausage was good, but the combination was very tasty and totally changed how the mustards came across.

I did give Rebecka the tip to drop off a little gift basket of mustard at John & Caprial's up in Portland. On one of their cooking shows they went on and on about their love of mustard, so I hope they find Weinsteiger mustard to their liking.

I look forward to buying a bottle of mustard from her farmer's market stand in May.

Simone is Nearing 3!

It's been a while since the last Simone update.

Too many things.

She is commonly using 8-10 word sentences, such as, "I'm closing the door so Hazel can't get in." It's amazing to be able to communicate with her so clearly. Of course when you most want to be that clear she's not generally in the state of mind to be that clear.

We know for sure she's having dreams because she's telling us about them when she wakes up. Very cute.

She's pretty much weaned from nursing.

Simone loves to read. We read 5-15 books a day. Her favorite character is Maisy, which is a really nice line of books. I also had a little stuffed Maisy doll - that Simone loves.

I'm glad Simone is done with Clifford - I can't stand that dog. What is it with people and big, dumb dogs? Marmaduke, Clifford, Harold the Huge. Those dogs are all incredibly destructive and it's supposed to be funny/endearing? Straight to the pound with them!

Simone is on the fast track to not wearing diapers. There are days where she goes without any accidents. Today happened to be a day with a couple accidents - but it's a learning process. She's doing great. Wearing Elmo panties is a big plus for her.

Always changing, always fun.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Last Psychiatrist: To The Brain, God Is Just Another Guy

I remember hearing the NPR story about the research that concluded God is just another guy. I remember being a little skeptical (anything sciency relating to God raises a red flag for me). But the conclusion didn't seem outlandish, so I accepted it.

I appreciate The Last's analysis:
In other words, the study emphatically does not show that 'to the brain, God is just another guy.' At best, it shows that American 30-somethings are not able to see God as anything other than just another guy; but who knows how 3rd century Romans saw God?

Friday, March 20, 2009

xkcd - 1000 Times, bringing home the point

xkcd raises the same issue that torqued me the other day:

1000 Times

Monday, March 16, 2009


Today the media is all up in arms about AIG and the bonuses paid out to its executives. And while I'm not excited about the bonuses, the math makes me pretty uninterested. Bonuses of ~$165M, compared to bailout funding of ~$170B - which works out to not even 0.1% of the money.

Where was the outrage at Wall Street? Read this:
Wall Street's $18.4 Billion Bonus | "Here’s the bottom line on Wall Street bonuses for 2008—according to the New York State Comptroller’s Office. They’re on track to be 50 percent lower than last year’s. That’s a sharp cut, except that it’s still $18.4 billion."
That's right, $125B in bailout, $18B in bonuses - nearly 15% of the bailout went directly to bonuses. That's over two orders of magnitude difference between the two situations!

Where's the outrage for that?

Hell, the Wall Street bonuses alone are nearly enough to bail out the auto industry. But let's balk at giving the auto industry any money...

I don't understand the judgment call that media makes in what constitutes a story worthy of reporting. We've lost billions in money in Iraq (literally lost, not wasted) - no media outrage. We've spent billions on contracts in the last 8 years under W with no accountability (no idea if it's more cost effective, don't even know how many contracts there are).

Yet losing 0.1% of the bailout money to bonuses is an outrage. I'd be stoked if that were the extent of waste over the last 8 years.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Introducing Hazel

Hazel and Hazel and Simone. Best friends already.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Shining Balls Of Dirt

Also known as dorodango.

Mary and I flipped through the channels the other night for 15 minutes, and pretty much nothing was on - except a Myth Busters where they were seeing if you could, in fact, polish poop. They brought in some dude who practiced the art of dorodango.

It turns out you can make a ball of dirty shiny by just applying finer and finer layers of dust (and smoothing it out).

This guy has some very nice pictures of dorodango.

I can't wait for summer, I'm gonna make some shiny balls of dirt!

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Parenting Fail

I saw this and thought, "so true."

Parenting Fail « FAIL Blog

What is it with parents that never pick their kids up? Sure, if you take your kid out of the stroller s/he might want to run around a little bit. You're at the zoo! - it's where kids run around.

Anyway, it's ok to touch your kids, pick them up, hug them. They're not designed to live their first few years in a car seat/stroller.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Say it ain’t so, Joe’s! | King Arthur Flour - Bakers’ Banter

Turns out Trader Joe's is dropping King Arthur flour for their own, branded flour.

King Arthur didn't take that lying down:

Say it ain’t so, Joe’s! | King Arthur Flour - Bakers’ Banter
"So turn about is fair play. If Trader Joe’s is going to put out their own brand of flour, then by gosh, I’m going to put out my own brand of one of their most popular cookies (and a personal favorite): Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s, Oreo clones with a sassy pink peppermint cream filling. Made with King Arthur Flour, of course."

I find it pretty funny. I will have to try the cookies some time, though I didn't like the texture of the Joe-Joe's when i tried them.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Things A Parent Get Excited About

Simone peed in her potty for the first time today!


Friday, February 27, 2009

The Chocolate Cake Recipe [Dave Lebovitz] Found on a Men's Room Wall - David Lebovitz

Dave Lebovitz offers yet another awesome dessert that is simple to make: The Chocolate Cake Recipe I Found on a Men's Room Wall - David Lebovitz

Now, he just links to the actual recipe, which is in French. I could have guessed at the ingredients, but who wants to screw up a chocolate cake?

I figured, Google has a translator, and also tried babelfish (the first translator I'd ever tried way back when).

They both had pretty poor translations, I could have guessed better. But, if you look now, the Google translation is pretty good (just mussing up the coffee - it's really an espresso, and not a full cup, just an espresso's worth). The Google translator lets you view the original wording by mousing over, and lets you suggest better translations. And, over time the translation of that page gets better. It certainly improved in the last two weeks.

Somebody in the comments provides a nice translation.

I made the cake last night for Mary's birthday, and (this time) I increased the chocolate to 300g, as David Lebovitz suggests. I think I prefer the original ratio. The first time I baked it up, the cake cooked a little more evenly, and the final texture was pretty light. This one was really chocolaty - the center kind of goey. While delicious, I prefer less chocolate. If I were to do the 300g chocolate version, I'd up the baking time to 17 minutes or so, and perhaps reduce the temperature slightly...

Gee, sounds like I have some experimenting to do.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Simone Learns Subjunctive

Simone said this the other night at dinner:

papa, when you done with soup i be happy to feed you cottage cheese

Wow, Mary and I were both blown away. I don't think I am that sophisticated a speaker.

House Concert: Carolyn Cruso

On Sunday I went to a house concert. Mary noticed a blurb in the Friday entertainer about a hammered dulcimer concert - just across the street from our house. So I went.

I have to say it was a lot of fun. There were maybe 14 people in the house, listening to Carolyn Cruso play her music. The setting was very intimate, and the house has a beautiful view of the huge field in front of the house.

Carolyn's music was very interesting - some of the dulcimer music was Scottish/Celtic, but a lot of the original music was very different - which is a refreshing change from Celtic music. She even talked briefly about how she's been trying to make the dulcimer sound more like a piano. She also played guitar and sang some songs (generally sounding "folk" music) which were very pleasant. I didn't care much for her flute music, which was a little too ... different than what I've heard in the past.

I bought two of her CDs, the hammered dulcimer CD (Boundless) is great - I like that one a lot - especially the song The Magic Shirt which she played in the concert. I hope to listen to the other (As Clear A Hue) tonight.

I'm also really intrigued by the notion of a house concert. How cool would it be to get an artist into your house for a small concert. Mary likes the idea too - we may have to find out more.

FCC Finally Regulates Overheard

Another winning headline at Overheard in New York:

FCC Finally Regulates Overheard

Man walking against traffic: Beep! Beep! Beep!
Older black woman: Beep beep, my behind!

--6 Train

Headline by: yours truly

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I just found out about Kaprekar's operation, and the mysterious number 6174. Check it out.

People are amazing - why did Kaprekar even think about this? Similarly, some humorists boggle my mind - I've no idea where xkcd comes up with ideas like:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Oil Drum: Europe | The energy efficiency of cars

The Oil Drum: Europe | The energy efficiency of cars: "The future of motor vehicles lies in improved efficiency and that is to the left of the gasoline ICE in the chart. That future is electric vehicles powered by high ERoEI renewable electricity."

It's a good introduction to automobile efficiency, well worth the 5 minute read. This graph is a nice summary:

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Random Simone Pics, January 2009

Some random pictures from the past month or so. Hope you enjoy.

Dan's Trail Hike

Yesterday I took a hike up Dan's Trail to the top of Dimple Hill. The link says the hike is only 5 miles, but my guide book says 7 miles (I'm going with that). I ended up hiking a bit more than that. Beautiful day, sunny, with occasional clouds that sit on the peaks.

Here are some shots I took (no great view from the peak b/c of clouds when I got there).

Lower Horse Trail