Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Meal Creation by Wandering the Supermarket Aisles

First of all, full disclosure, I cook for fun. I do not have to do the amazing feat of feeding people on a day in day out basis. In fact, I'm not sure I could or if I did I would have no energy for anything remotely creative wrt cooking. Terri and I both cook and we don't have human children.

Just for fun today I was standing in the grocery store and was pondering lunch and my imagination got carried away and found myself dreaming up something that was a dinner not a lunch (for lunch I think I just had something simple like take out chicken wings and a salad.

So first I picked up some salad stuff and grabbed an onion and a head of garlic, then wandered past the meats but was still in lunch mode and thought that was too much trouble, but then I took a right into the canned/packaged fish/chicken and a small package of Wild Caught Salmon called out to me.While holding it I imagined onions, garlic, tomatoes, and capers all simmering with the salmon over a nice pasta.

The trick is remembering what you did. I'm not sure I have it all yet.

Salmon, Tomatoes and Klamata Olives over Pasta

olive oil
1/2 small white onion chopped (could have used more)
2 cloves garlic smashed and chopped (could have used more)
1 3 oz pkg Chicken of the Sea Wild Caught Smoked Salmon
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
some water (approx 4 oz)
pinch of coriander powder
some dried basil (1 tsp?)
some dried oregano (1/2 tsp?)
5-6 klamata olives pitted and chopped - pit them like you smash the garlic - press down with the side of a knife the olive will separate from the pit.
red wine vinegar - I have no idea the amount, try 5 seconds of sounding like the Muppet Swedish Chef while shaking the bottle over the pan

What I wished I had
Italian Parsley
capers - forgot to buy them

and of course pasta - I used thin spaghetti but penne or bow tie would be nice

saute onion and garlic in olive oil till soft and delicious smelling, add salmon and let it heat through for a minute or so (it's already cooked). [Right around here put the pasta water on to boil] Add tomatoes and water (optional) bring to boil then as sauce reduces, add salt pepper, coriander powder, basil, oregano (and whatever herbs strike your fancy) reduce heat, [you should have the pasta in the water by now] let cook till sauce is further reduced and then add olives and sprinkle liberally with red wine vinegar, let cook for another few (I dunno 3-5?) minutes until it looks and tastes right.

Optional: Serve with salad and a baguette.

Ref: http://frap.org/Cooking/

Interest Rate Free Fall

I have a semi high interest savings account that I pay house expenses out of.

This is from a reputable bank fortunately, but the interest rates have recently been readjusting at a startling rate: Here it is from late 2007 on:

Nov 1, 2007 Interest Rate Change to 4.121% (4.20% APY)
Dec 13, 2007 Interest Rate Change to 4.025% (4.10% APY)
Jan 23, 2008 Interest Rate Change to 3.590% (3.65% APY)
Feb 1, 2008 Interest Rate Change to 3.348% (3.40% APY)
Mar 11, 2008 Interest Rate Change to 3.057% (3.10% APY)
Mar 19, 2008 Interest Rate Change to 2.960% (3.00% APY)
Oct 9, 2008 Interest Rate Change to 2.716% (2.75% APY)
Dec 30, 2008 Interest Rate Change to 2.472% (2.50% APY)
Jan 20, 2009 Interest Rate Change to 2.374% (2.40% APY)
Feb 3, 2009 Interest Rate Change to 2.178% (2.20% APY)
Mar 3, 2009 Interest Rate Change to 1.638% (1.65% APY)
Mar 21, 2009 Interest Rate Change to 1.490% (1.50% APY)

In 2007 it hardly changed at all, then went through a spate of changes in 2008, then it stabilized and now in 2009 it's jumped off the building. Wow. A friend jokes that soon we'll be paying them. i just saw Hero's for the first time (the first DVD). Maybe the interest rates will suddenly figure out how to fly just before hitting the ground.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gimo Investigations - And So It Begins

Well we can't say we weren't warned. In this post:


I did a summary/rehash of the information contained in a Phillipe Sands interview on Fresh Air mostly just so I would have the names of the major players we were likely to see again within easy reach, and sure enough what he said is prophetic. The Spanish are considering opening an inquiry into Gitmo and funny if a lot of the same names crop up again:


And funny how we're hearing all the players protest their innocence even though we all knew the potential for this to happen was all too real.

This may get nowhere, but it is amusing to watch even this much transpire.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Roche vs Genetech - An Agreement is Reached

I got my latest black plastic encased mail from Sharebuilder. I've started looking forward to them. This one tells me that they actually have reached an agreement. The letter is from Genetech and not Roche and the offer is for $95/share and they recommend I take it. Given that the current value is around $81 that's probably a good idea.

So the Genetech board suggests "tendering" the shares. And what happens if I don't? Pretty much the exact same thing if I did though I would be "paid" later.

Ok fine, I'll tender my glorious 1.5 shares. But just trying to follow instructions is proving to be a challenge as the site isn't responding.

I enter the site and enter my control number and it says that the site isn't working please try again later (I've tried at 2 different times). Oh and when does this offer expire? In 3 days. Thanks guys for yanking me around. You ask me to do something, say it's urgent, and then things don't work. I do believe the proper response is sod off.

I will try one more time on Monday then will just let them do whatever they are going to do. I did send Sharebuilder email about it though have not heard back

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A Jacket to Help You Feel the Movies? I'm not so sure about that

I'm a member of IEEE an engineering professional association mostly so I can qualify for their life insurance (which for me is mortgage insurance). I normally don't pay too much attention to their newsletter, but once in a while I take a look as it's often quite fascinating to see what people are working on.

This time one of the articles talks about a jacket you can wear that helps you experience the emotions that a character might be experiencing: http://www.spectrum.ieee.org/mar09/8287

While it sounds intriguing, I thought it through, and started to shudder.
You see I have much too good of an imagination. Visual images (especially violent ones) stick with me for a very long time especially if there is some emotional impact associated with it. I actually had to learn to get more, not less, emotional distance from what I was watching just so I could watch things like CSI, and enjoy the eye-candy of certain NCIS characters (of both genders) without freaking out about the open chest on the table. I watched Blair Witch Project on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I would take the time to stop and look out the window and say to myself "What a nice DAY it is. Such a beautiful, peaceful DAY" (and breathe :) Can you imagine something designed to help you experience the same stress level of the BWP characters? Heebe-jeebe-jeebe.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

AIG: Finally a Consensus

After all these years, it was starting to look the Left and the Right were were never going to agree on anything ever again. Then AIG had to come along and try to pull off probably the most openly egregious and audacious (and shockingly oblivious) abuse of government funding ever attempted, and suddenly we have unity. Nothing like a good public flogging to bring people together. Fortunately, AIG isn't even a scapegoat, they completely deserve it. I can hear the fires being lit right now that certain executive feet will be held to. I wonder if a lot of AIG execs (and ex-execs) have fled the country.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Songs for Riding a Bike to Nowhere

I've been taking RPM/Spin classes at my gym for over a year now and am pretty used to what makes good music for it and have been working on my own sets for when I can't make it to class but want to go in and use the Spin Bike on my own.

RPM classes feature a lot of cadence changes, but lack in maintaining a pace for an extended period of time, so I tend to do that more when working on my own.

Here's my current list:

Songs for Spinning

  • Sheryl Crowe - Everyday is a Winding Road
  • K T Tunstall - Suddenly I See
  • Sneakerpimps - Walking on the Sun
  • Offspring - Come Out and Play
Stand in the pedals for the choruses of all 4, the songs build in intensity - do the same.

  • Oingo Boingo - Weird Science
Now to crank the heartbeat- do 1/3 of the song anaerobically, standing in the pedals, the song seems slow but is excellent at getting you to work harder.

  • Oingo Boingo - Dead Men's Party
Mixed terrain recovery - lots of ups and down, just like Oingo Boingo. I've also used "No One Lives Forever" but got tired of hearing about my doggy getting old in 10 years so swapped it out.

  • Prince - Take Me with You
Recovery - cruise like the song does, or since it's a short song, double your pace and stay at 110-120 rpm.

  • Sheryl Crowe - My Favorite Mistake
Everybody's got one (I have around three :) - sit down, add resistance and grind your way through the metaphor like you know you can.

  • Alanis Morrisette - Thank U
Do whatever you need to do to recover from the last one.

Tons of other options
Sheryl Crowe - All I Wanna Do (yes, the silly bar and car wash song)
Garbage - just about anything, but it's really easy to get caught up and completely overdo it.
Depeche Mode - Personal Jesus or Enjoy the Silence
New Order - Blue Monday, or Bizarre Love Triangle, or Perfect Kiss (haven't tried them in a workout yet)
k. d. lang - Constant Craving works nicely as a recovery track or even a drive home track
The Police - Murder by Numbers is a great recovery track
Romeo Void - I Might Like You Better If We Slept Together - actually kinda long and I took it out.
Midnight Oil - Power and the Passion - also long
The The - Uncertain Smile extended mix - one of my all time favorite songs but still quite long
RPM - Losing My Religion

Things I haven't tried yet but might be fun are
The Go Gos
B-52s (same overdoing it caution as with Garbage :)
English Beat
any of the 80's haircut bands
Billy Idol - Dancing with Myself - worked nicely when an instructor played it just for fun

I have an RPM instructor who occasionally tries to kill me with doing intervals to Cheap Trick (I'm blocking out which track :)

Squaw Ski Lesson

Apoligies, but this is a bit dry and techie, but it's what I learned and I don't want to forget it.

I just blew the rest of the season's ski budget on a 2 hour private lesson with an instructor I like at Squaw Valley. "Blew" implies wasted, it wasn't. It was very effective and I'm not likely to forget it though I want to get it all down here as best I can.

My instructor was Greg Rosenthal, and Greg is very good at deconstructing the mechanics of skiing and what makes a ski turn smooth and effective. (Those classic S shaped turns.)

Sadly, it now is completely evident to me that I'm not going to become good enough of a skier this season to feel comfortable on Shasta with its ungroomed slopes and little details like steepness and these things called trees that inhabit the less steep parts. I think for me to feel comfortable off piste, I'm going to have to be able to ski without thinking about the mechanics of turning and that's going to take another season. Right now, there's about a month left in the season and I certainly could spend it skiing, but I'm going to Shasta to climb it in May so my time is probably better spent training to go up the mountain instead of down. :) though it would be so nice to just ski up on skins as that is easier than walking. Ah well, some day.

Back to the ski lesson. First bad, but important, news is that I'm working too hard on my right turns and overusing my left quad instead of shin pressure on the boots to cut the turn too short and slow myself down. I've always struggled on the right turns, but never realized that it was the over-braking that was exhausting my quad (it's been two days and it's still tired). I need to learn to stay in the turn longer and not put so much effort in my quad, but instead use skletal force from my shins to the front of the boot to weight the ski. In other words, bend at the knees, and lean more forward. Like really lean forward. I actually tried falling forward (slightly terrifying - what a trust exercise) and suddenly I had a lot more control because the front part of the ski is widest and the easiest to steer. I tend to lean backwards even after stopping carrying a pack.

Greg taught me another way to learn to shift forward by showing me how to ski backwards. Skiing backwards resembles a silly terrain park trick, but you simply can not do it unless you shift your weight forward and this helps you to learn that positition which is what you need going forward as well. What was fun, that skiing backwards involved overturning all the way around which is something I do by accident all the time when I forget to look down the mountain and turn my hips up the slope. So now I feel I have a touch more things I can do when that happens and I feel a bit less of a dork.

Steps to turning
- stand up (out of any bent position)
- with your weight evenly balanced between the skis, steer your feet, meaning turn your feet in the direction you want to go. Many ski lessons now only empasize putting the weight on the outside ski, but on anything but a green run that's actually not quite enough (In my head, I'm saying "point your feet" - in the direction where you want to go). The skis will turn and start to head down the hill (eek - don't panic)
- now just before it starts down the hill, weight the outside ski and bend your knees applying forward pressure from your shins to the front of the outside boot (make sure your weight is forward). By bending your knees you can put more than body weight pressure on the ski.
- hang in there and let the ski turn (this is where trying to fall forward really helps). If your inside ski's inside edge seems stuck, roll your inside knee out some which should let the ski slide over.
- if you feel you're going too fast turn up the hill .

You can see how well you're going by examining your tracks. Mine generally look like backwards number 2's :) which shows me cutting my right turn too short.

Other Notes
You can learn a lot by watching others while you're hanging out on the ski lift. It's disheartening to see how poorly people ski when you're looking at an intermediate run. One day, I should take a video camera and film the expert runs. The trouble is that the expert skiiers are not always easy to see or get to, unlike us amatuers who are everywhere. :)

Also I had just bought a really nice North Face Ski Jacket from REI (on sale - $120.00 off!) and was really glad I did, because at Squaw, I was being pelted by blowing snow while sitting on a chair lift at 8000'. Which was pretty funny since it was a gorgeous snowless day.

Anyway I got to spend the afternoon practicing what I'd learned so it could set into my muscles, but have decided to say good by to the rest of the ski season and spend the rest of winter snowshoeing and training with a pack. Thank you to the weather gods for providing us snow to have fun on and to give us water for the rest of the year. More snow is very much welcome as we really need it here in California.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Humor: The Prejudices of Healthy People

This was meant to be a silly thing that a friend (not in my dog circles) sent me. However it belies some assumptions that I can't stop thinking about. First of all here is the platitude. The punch line is at the end:


How Enlightened Are You? A Test:

If you can live without caffeine or nicotine;
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains;
If you can resist complaining;
If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you any time;
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment;
If you can ignore friends' limited educations and never correct them;
If you can treat the rich and poor alike;
If you can face the world without lies or deceit;
If you can conquer tension without medical help;
If you can relax without liquor;
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs;
If you can have no prejudice against creed, color, religion, gender, sexual preference, or politics

— then you have almost reached the same level of spiritual development as your dog.


Cute. However it reveals some really interesting prejudices of some who consider themselves striving to enlightenment. The key is what does spirtitual enlightenment have to do with your level of health. Ok, some Kudalini Yoga people would say everything, but personally I see them as separate which is totally non-holistic of me but I think a great stride towards sanity and less self-judgement, because honestly what does caffiene have to do with spiritual development. Really??

Despite my MS, I am one of those healthy people. I try not to be an annoying healthy person. I do not scold or cajole or convince anyone (well besides Terri, who needs no such convincing), unless they ask me to about diet or exercise or other healthy habits. I am not in the health gestapo and I think that people should make there own choices. Not to mention our idea of what is healthy changes as our knowledge changes. Some alcohol is actually good for you, same with caffiene, and there are a ton of people who need some sort of herbal or medicinal help sleeping. That does not make them inheritly less spiritual and I think it's completely arrogant of those in the no caffiene, no alcohol, no fun crowd (I'm in that crowd I get to say that - not by choice, more by what my body prefers) to claim that they are somehow more spiritually evolved. I believe the correct response to that is: Oh eff off.

So for fun, I'll take this test (be a fun one to put on facebook)

If you can live without caffeine or nicotine
Yes. Well except for dark chocolate, if you haven't be paying attention that's actually good for you.

If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains
What's so wrong with complaining? The point is to whine all you like, but work through it, not suppress you feelings and frustration with the healing process.

If you can resist complaining
See above. Oh and my dogs complain too, unless my nut ball is chasing a sheep or a squirrel.

If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you any time
Well ok.

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment
Well ok.

If you can ignore friends' limited educations and never correct them
No, I correct them. Politely.

If you can treat the rich and poor alike
No, I give the rich a much harder time.

If you can face the world without lies or deceit
Wow, you tell the complete truth the whole time?
Remind me not to trust you with sensitive information.

If you can conquer tension without medical help
Just because I can does not make me more enlightened.

If you can relax without liquor
You really aren't any fun are you?

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs
Yes, but piss off.

If you can have no prejudice against creed, color, religion, gender, sexual preference, or politics
Oh I sure do when it comes to Right Wing Assholes, and I don't feel that's something I have to rise above.

So I guess this means that my dogs are more enlightened than me. Guess I should tell them. I'm sure they'll say they already knew that.

The Data Backup Dilemma

I have my new Terrabyte disk and I'm thrilled but now I'm left with - how do I back it up? I guess I can take the approach that we use at work. We use multiple USB disks of the same size. This works great but I don't have those kind of resources.

I take a lot of photos and video. Video data storage is quite large, and I'm likely going to do more, not less.

What I envision is a digital library of easy to access photos and videos, and I want to have it all online but backed up as well. When I started to run out of disk space I copied all of my older electronic photos to CD and took them off the drive. This drives me nuts having to go grab the CD (though it's nice to see that the CD works fine.

This is a common topic and the British Museum is struggling with it:


But even us ordinary humans are trying to cope. This is an excellent article written in 2006, about Mark who is a videographer, and wants to keep his videos past the time he dies. It's interesting to read both his thoughts and the 100 comments as well.


Though I can't believe some people still like tape. I hate tape. I hate that it's slow. I hate that it's not reliable. I had to deal with it for over 10 years and I'm so happy that we've moved to disks.

Someone mentioned Blue Ray DVDs that hold 25 Gig (single layer) or 50 Gig (dual layer), and a 100 G in the works. That would be perfect.

More info: http://www.blu-ray.com/faq/
and http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2005/08/68539

And a Sony bright, shiny object

More speculation is here:

As usual, no mention of Mac compatibility, but it will happen.

Staying tuned. In the meantime, I'll keep my 300 Gig disk around to help with backups.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More Mailbox Drama: Genetech Fights Roche's Buyout Offer

In a completely unsurprising move. Genetech just sent me a letter (to all stockholders - of which I have a glorious 1.5 shares of)

I could have told you that. Oh wait, I did. But it's nice to see they agree.

Genetech continues:
We consistently indicated our willingness to consider an offer from Roche that reflects the full and fair value of Genetech and the significant benefits to Roche of full ownership. It is ironic that even after our many efforts to engage in constructive dialog, Roche not only refused to increase its initial offer [of $89/share], and refused to engage in productive negotiations with the Special Committee--it reduced [italics mine] its offer price to $86.50 per share.

How stupid does Roche think we are? Jerks.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Scary Lily

We have a Lily that we got as a wedding present that has died back this winter. I think that's normal, but because it was a gift I've been keeping an eye on it. Now that it's Spring it's growing back and the rate that it's growing is a little disconcerting. About 1 cm every 24 hours. These photos are taken a day apart. I'll continue to be nice to it as I don't want it mad at me :)

Monday, March 02, 2009

Prop 8 Showdown this week

(I know I've blogged about this before, but wanted to say it again.)

The Supreme Court Prop 8 Showdown is this week on Thur March 5th and the nation will be watching. It's been so strange for me. Getting married is such a personal decision, and even though I knew I was signing up to be a political football, I still wasn't quite prepared for everyone to have an opinion about it. Fortunately, there's overwhelming legislative support to overturn Prop 8. I can only hope I get to remain married in the state's eyes. I know I will always be married, but I really do want for it to stay that way legally as well.

The court will have 90 days to issue a decision after the hearing, but you know they've already made up their minds so I think it will be more the time it takes to write up the decision.