Monday, May 29, 2006

The rule of lost things and maintaining cooking faith

Today, we stopped at Target to return a skirt (my wife's, not mine, you weirdos). Target has a dollar section, which really made the kids happy, since they could buy crap for a dollar. I was about to make a crass comment about how junky it was and I discovered some cool Napoleon Dynamite window clings, sticky notes, pencils, etc. But I digress.

Among the $1 crap, they had Hawaiian floral printed dog collars and leashes. We bought one for each dog.

Two days ago, we had tried to take a walk, but couldn't find the dog leashes. Our dogs (like everybody else's') can't talk, but boy did they communicate their disappointment in us. No, they didn't pee all over our house, but they hung their heads and looked at us with their big brown eyes. Sad eyes.

Target, the great place that it is, also had a deal on a stainless BBQ grill, so I'm getting a new grill for Father's Day (funny, I just typoed and wrote Farters Day, hmmm). As we were making room in the back of our car, to get the grill home, we found all kinds of things, including the dog leashes.

This just is another proof of the fact that lost things always reappear when they have been replaced. It happened with our Tivo remote control, too.

Saturday night, I made a dinner from Martha Stewart Magazine. What I made looked very similar to what was pictured in the magazine. However, the shredded pork had almost no flavor. It was dry and bland and very disappointing.

As Heather and I were reviewing the recipe to try to figure out what was wrong, we discovered
that I failed to properly follow the directions. After braising the tenderloin, I was supposed to broil the shredded meat with the braising liquids. I dumped all those out. Fresh cilantro, cumin, onions and chicken stock. All the flavorful things.

Heather was glad that it was me that screwed up. The recipe looked pretty good, if you followed the directions. She was glad that Martha didn't let her down and that she could still trust Martha's recipes.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The multi-media experience

I really only watch four TV shows - Alias, Lost, Desparate Housewives and Robot Chicken. For whatever reason, the Alias episode from three weeks ago wasn't recorded because of some higher priority show on our Tivo.

As the series is coming to an end (it was the fourth to last episode) I knew I had to see it. I bought it on iTunes.

I've used my laptop and watched iTunes purchased TV shows, DVDs, and shows downloaded from my Tivo. It works, but it isn't the same entertainment experience as watching on our TV.

I'd never done it before, but I decided that I would hook up my laptop to the TV and sound system. It took a while of rooting around for the right cables (needed 1 mini-jack to RCA and the Laptop's TV Output to RCA cable and then one more RCA cabe) but it worked!

The sound quality was just as good as over the TV and the iTunes video quality was pretty good. There were only a few instances when you could actually see some distortion. It was totally bad ass.

It will never cease to amaze me what you can do with computers.

Monday, May 22, 2006

'Naked Guy' ex-student dies in jail - May 20, 2006 - 'Naked Guy' ex-student dies in jail - May 20, 2006

I knew this guy. Not personally, but I traded jokes with him and a homeless guy just before he got arrested the first time. The homeless guy had the better joke:
What's the difference between a New Yorker and a dentist?

One roots for the Yanks and the other yanks for the roots.

I'm not sure that he is an "icon" of my days at Cal, but he definitely got some notoriety.

It is sad when people take their own life, especially people my own age (although WTF about the assault and battery?).

He once told me that he "like to go with the flow." I'm not sure what he meant by that with all the free expression he was trying to make.

This can be my eulogy for the Naked Guy.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Lost Easter Eggs

I usually don't find these kinds of things, but last night when I was watching Lost, I saw an ad that just didn't seem right.

The ad made a reference to making a "better future" and referred to the Hanso foundation. I followed the URL ( in the ad and it took me to an interesting page. It worked last night, during the episode, but not tonight. Hmm.

The page simply a compass needle that would follow your mouse pointer. There was a hyperlink that would take you to another page.

There was some mumbo-jumbo quasi unix shell stuff that asked the question "Are you one of the good ones?"

If you answered no, you were taken to the Hanso Foundation webpage.

If you answered yes, you were taken to what looked like a backdoor into the Hanso Foundation user accounts. I don't remember the URL...

I stumbled upon an Easter Egg... I poked around and then found some references to a book that didn't speak too highly of the Hanso Foundation, Bad Twin published by Hyperion Books. I looked for that on the web and I found it and it refers to the last writings of the author Gary Traub before he went down on Oceanic Flight 815.

What I find surprising is that I actually found all this. I don't usually catch these things. As I've been trying to reconstruct what I did last night, I've discovered that this is part of some interactive online game... I found a blog at TV Guide that refers to this...

Now isn't all this interesting?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Freakish medical conditions

This evening Heather was watching House and called me over as she was repeatedly pushing the rewind button on the Tivo remote.

She wanted me to watch the brainstorming session, when House and the other doctors try to figure out what mystery ailment is causing their patient problems.

"Acute myocaridal infarction?" - Evidently their patient has someting with their heart.
"No, ER ruled that out. Retest."
"Wolf-Parkinson White Syndrome?"

Heather jumps forward on the couch. "You've got one of those freakish medical conditions that they talk about on House!"

Yes, I do. I'm a freak and proud of it. I belong to a select group of the population (.1% - 3%) that has extra conduction paths in their heart which could, for no good reason, make their heart beat like a bad techno song. And yes, eventually the heart could get tired and decide to stop. Then bad things set in. Like death.

It is always interesting when I get an EKG. Because it is an electrical problem it shows up on the EKG and the techs are always really concerned about it (I guess abnormal EKGs are uncommon). I've had doctors ask if they can use my EKG in professional discussions because they haven't seen it before.

I'm asymptomatic, so don't worry yourself too much. It was identified before I joined the Army and that didn't stop me. And if my time comes, well then, its my time.

You can learn more about Wolf-Parkinson White Syndrome here.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Picnic dinner!

Today the weather was great in Seattle. It started out a little cloudy but then it got into the 80's. I ate lunch today with my friend Roger and we ate outside at a mexican restaurant.

I had planned on making polenta and grilled sausages for dinner, but it seemed to warm to eat that, so I asked Heather if she wanted to have a picnic after the kids' swim practice. She was up for it and so we had KFC for dinner on the lawn in front of the community center.

It is starting to cool off now as the sun goes down. This was just a great day!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Don't mess with Texas

It's real life fight club!

Texas Teens Accused of Filming Brawls

And these kids are eligible for life in prison? For making violent films of willing partcipants?

Matches from long-lost hiker save pair in San Jacinto Wilderness

Can you believe this. A couple gets lost and stumbles upon the gear of another hiker who got lost a year ago - and was never found - assumed dead. They also found his journal. Creepy.

It turns out that his old gear ended up saving them.

Matches from long-lost hiker save pair in San Jacinto Wilderness

Yeah, I was a Boy Scout and I really believe in be prepared.

That's why at my Engineer Basic Course I was humping a 80 pound rucksack in our field exercises and could have gotten away with much less.

That's why when we go hiking as a family I always carry more than I need to. If I end up getting stuck in the woods, dammit, I'm going to be comfortable when they find me.

These people got lucky.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Vegas, baby, Vegas

Well, the trip really wasn't like that, but I spent two and a half days in Las Vegas last week. I was there for a conference on Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID), for which I am managing our pilot at work.

The convention was at the MGM Grand. This was convenient because the hotel has a check in desk at the airport and will include the cost of the shuttle on my hotel bill. I also discovered that they'll have a bellman take my bags to the shuttle for me (expects a tip), who will take me to the hotel (expects a tip) and have baggage handlers bring the bag to my room for me (expects a tip). I'm cheap and not too keen on the expected tips. I can drag my bag around and I don't need someone to carrry it for me. There are times when I want that to happen and I'll ask someone to do it for me. So, for those who are wondering, I tipped the bellman, didn't tip the driver and snatched my own bag before the baggage handlers could bring it up to my room.

My room was in the West Tower which was pretty trendy. The hallway was super long (unfortunately, no picture) and the room was totally bad-ass. All muted grays and reds, lots of glass (the desks, the sink, shower and bathroom door), TV built into bathroom miror and more. The bed's headboard was a cool red leather and you can seee the light on the side of the bed (there is only one, just mirrors on the corner there). It was swank and modern.

The opening speaker was Monday night and I went down early to check in and orient myself to the convention center. The convention center is all the way on the other end of the hotel and it took my about 20 minutes to walk there. It wasn't until the second day that I found a shortcut, avoiding most of the casino floor. Before the speaker started, they were playing music in the convention hall. I thought it was strange and actually use my note pad to write down what songs were playing.

  1. Naked Eye - Luscious Jackson
  2. Song 2 - Blur
  3. Odelay - Beck

I enjoyed the music, but I thought that this was pretty strange music for a convention targeted at mid-level and executive supply chain managers and technology companies. But hey, I guess they wanted to recognize the youthfulness of the RFID industry.

The first evening kicked off with appetizers and cocktails in the exhibtion hall and that is always fun when you don't have to pay for alcohol. I decided that I didn't want any of the beer or wine that they had and asked the bartender to make me the cocktail he likes to make. He offered up a Tequila Sunrise and that was what I drank. I would have imagined that there was something else, more interesting that a bartender would like to make, but who am I. I just like cocktails (and I like to make them too, so I supposed I am qualified to ask for something like that).

On the second night, I went to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon. It's a cool French restaurant with bar seating around an open kitchen. It would take the sous-chefs about 5 minutes just to garnish the plates. It was beautiful watching them prepare the food. And oh my god is the food good. It sucked being there alone, because I had no one to share with. I had a smoked salmon appetizer, several nice pieces of lox with dilled creme fraiche and for dinner, a filet of John Dorry with chorizo and fava beans. It was so good. I chatted some with a journalist who works with John Dvorak (at the RFID conference) and a doctor who was at some other convention with her husband.

The MGM Grand has a large pen with several lions. I guess it makes sense, being that they have that lion roar at the beginning of the MGM movies. On the last day, I decided to run by with my camera. I got there right after feeding, so there was quite a crowd, but the big lion was right up at the front of the pen. So, I did the journalist thing and held my camera over my head and snapped some photos. It looks like he is sizing me up for dessert, doesn't it?

The convention was really informative and I didn't just stop at every vendor (I learned my lesson from last time, I don't want all the "follow up" calls). On top of that, I found it to be re-energizing. I've got some ideas to take back to our steering committee so that we can decided upon some options on how to continue to explore RFID (and spend money). This is what I think I liked best about this conference.

I flew out of McCarran International airport, on my way back to Seattle, but I had a few hours to kill in the airport. That airport offers free wi-fi access! How great is that. So, I posted my pictures to my flickr account, responded to some work email, and exchanged a few emails with my friend Laura. My battery started to die, so I didn't get to start writing this post.

So, hopefully this is a better travel-blog - not so painful for me to write and not so long for you to read.

Coca-Cola Blak, or should I say, bleeck.

Coke has a new product that was advertised prominently on I tried to buy it a few weeks ago, but they were out-of-stock (the delivery guy told me that he had been delivering lots of it lately). Finally, after some traveling where I wasn't the one buying groceries, I got my delivery of Coca-Cola Blak.

Coca-Cola Blak is supposed to be a carbonated blend of coffee and coke. I like the two separately, so I thought I'd give it a try. I imagined the two tastes to be complimentary. I was excited when it was delivered and I wanted to share it with Heather. She wasn't ready for a snack, so I let it cool in the fridge for a while.

Before opening it, I reviewed the ingredient statement. Coffee extract was the sixth ingredient, behind the usual cola ingredients. It also had sucralose and aspartame in it, which is a surprising turn off.

I drank it from the bottle (evidently missing out on the coffee-like froth advertised in the press release), and was not pleased. It doesn't have a nice coffee taste. It tastes like over-brewed French press coffee, where the coffee flavor and all the bitterness of the beans has been extracted. Contrary to my thoughts, the two tastes don't go together.

I'm going to try another (to enjoy the coffee-like froth) (doubt it), but that means that two Coca-Cola Blaks will remain in my fridge. If you'd like to come take one off my hands, let me know!

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This not the way he started the day. But look at that smile!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Ex-Disney dancer is Playmate of the Year |

And this is why we all love Disneyland and DisneyWorld so much.

Ex-Disney dancer is Playmate of the Year |

I can't wait until the next time we go, who knows what burgeoning talent we might see!