Nov. 9th, 2005

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Google cost me the post I was writing yesterday, and work on dinner precluded my reconstructing (that and I hate trying to rebuild one right away. I may do it better, but I am always certain there was some turn of phrase I need to recapture and the frustration of losing the line of thought (or worse arguement) is often more than the post was worth. I'll do it later), but, in the course of my catching up on five days of no blog-surfing, or news reading, I found a nice little site against Alito.

Law Students Against Alito

It's not that they have a great amount of stuff yet, but there's great promise. If it gels it will give non-lawyers a place to get some insight on how the issues are playing out, and they are compiling a list of questions senators ought to ask him.

Having those, with which to pester your senator, might make the confirmation hearings a bit more meaningful, since the White House wants to present him as a mainstream jurist, being smeared by radical liberals.

Later a post on the weekend, some food, and my thoughts on the election here in Calif., yesterday.

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Catching up

Nov. 9th, 2005 09:17 pm
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This weekend was drill. In it's way drill is one of those things which never change, and are never the same. Sadly I am moving up in the world, which means more paperwork. As a middle manager I have to do annual reviews of some of the NCOs junior to me. In the active side of the house this isn't too hard. I'd get to see them every day. Once a year we'd sit down and go over expectations and how to achieve them. Once a quarter we'd review them, and see how much progress was, or wasn't, being made. Once a year I'd write it all up.

Some of it would reflect on me. If my expectations were out of line the senior rater can talk to me, and the reviewer can backstop him.

On the Reserve Component it's a little different. We only see each other once a month (and in my unit I don't have the advantage of a two-week Annual Training to try and squeeze some observational time in, because we do our ATs one at a time).

Last week I got told I had two to do. One of them on someone who has been away for ten months, and I've been away for the two he wasn't. Great. When I got to drill it turned out I had to do one more, and that one on someone whose in his fifties, and used to outrank me. Fun.

That wasn't the high point of the weekend. I suppose the high point might have been the fellow who stopped me to ask a metaphorical question about coercive interrogation (no he didn't know I was an interrogator, he just saw PFC Jones and I in uniform; on a coffee run. One of the perks of rank is being able to draft help. I didn't want to drive, and needed two more hands to carry things, so I grabbed the nearest private. I had practical motives as well, since I needed to teach him how to run a guidon, so there was a justification for choosing him, but the power is there. Ah, what abuses I could practice!).

He probably got more than he bargained for, what with illustrations running from Vietnam, to Louis XIV and all sorts of points in between. Had we not been in uniform, and such a situation come up, it might have been a shorter catechism on my part, but I wanted him to have this in his mind the next time the subject came up.

Or perhaps it was the Army Physical Fitness Test I took Sunday morning.

I hate PT tests. Even when I don't have questions about passing the damned thing, it hurts. Two minutes each of push-ups and sit-ups, followed by a two-mile run. All of these done to muscle failure. One (at least this one) hurts for three to four days after.

To make it more fun, I've not been in training. Seriously, between my general dislike of exercise for the sake of exercise, and the Reiter's, I've done damn all. Used to be I had a notable fraction of an acre I was gardening. I walked the dogs a couple of miles, at least every couple of days. I rode the horses more. No longer.

The closest I come to real exercise is baking bread.

To pass I needed to do 38 push-ups. I had to do the same for sit-ups, but so what. Push ups are my bête noire. If I can pass them the rest is a done deal. Given my slight frame, long arms and lack of upper body mass, push-ups kill me. The most I've ever done was 44, and that was when I was in the best shape of my life. A regular workout 4 times a week, followed by 3-8 miles of running.

I more than half expected to fail.

Push-ups: 44
Sit-ups: 61
Run: 14:23

The only thing I can credit for the push-ups is the baking. I've been kneading a lot of bread, and when I had Maia checking my kokyu (because I was trying to incorporate one of the most important aspects of my aikido into some of my regular routine) I noticed my lats are more developed than I tend to think them.

Before I cut this off, and get to the food porn, some quizzy-goodness.

You scored 17 in Malice and 27 in Chaos!
You are the Kitsune, or "Fox demon," the ultimate doer of mischief. Kitsune belong to a class of demons known as "Henge," or animal shape-shifters, along with the Tanuki, or badger-demon. They are uncanny creatures who are notorious as much for their malevolence as for their wild and unpredictable behavior; a fox demon may help a human, only to betray him in deepest consequence at a later date. Kitsune are known to frequently possess women or pose as humans, causing chaos and catastrophe where ever they go. They are mischievous creatures who take great pleasure in playing terrible tricks on unsuspecting mortals; however, this behavior indicates that they are more perversely playful and apathetic to human suffering than genuinely evil and desirous of harm.

My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 44% on Malice

free online dating free online dating
You scored higher than 57% on Chaos
Link: The Japanese Demon Profile Test written by Maharbal on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

It seems appropriate, mostly.

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Food Porn

Nov. 9th, 2005 09:39 pm
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Monday, when Maia and I got home at 1800 (I decided I wasn't going to pick her up at the airport. Her father was going that way to get her mother and sister, so I went to bed, and the plan was to get up at the ugly hour of 0330 and drive to SLO, so she could make her eight o'clock. She decided not to go, and we got up at 0900, chatted with Barry for a bit, and got her to her two o'clock lab. After that we fed the horses and ran some errands) I made dinner.

It was fast and lazy.

Some marsala, and curry, simmer sauce from TJs. Microwave a couple of potatoes, for about three minutes (they were smallish). Cut them up, and let them finish in the sauce. In the meanwhile, make some basmati, and boil some lentils. To the basmati add a few strands of saffron. Chop some chicken breast and toss it in the sauce.

Take some cumin, cardamom, cinnamon (in order a ratio of 4/2/1) and powder them. Add them to the lentils when they are done. At the same time put some peas in the chicken, potato, curry/marsala mix.


The whole thing takes about an hour.

Last night was salad, butternut squash soup and pan-grilled chicken with jelled sesame sauce, and carrots with peas and two onions. Bread was kaiser style dinner rolls.

Chop the squash (about 3 lbs.) into chunks. Scoop the seeds and pith, set aside. Lightly caramalise a shallot (or two) in a stick of butter, at the bottom of a heavy bottomed stock pot, or dutch oven. Add the reserved pith and seeds, sauté until the butter is at least saffron colored, and orange if you can get it.

Add six cups of water, and steam the squash pieces above the butter, shallot, pith and seeds, which are boiling in the water. When they are done (a fork goes in with ease) scrape the meat from the skins, strain the liquid and purée the two in a blender (not a food processor, not a food mill, a blender).

If this is the main dish, heat it until done, just before you finish it, add 1/2 cup heavy cream, garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg; some parsley or watercress for color and contrast (this can be in the pot/tureen, or in each bowl).

If it's a course, set it aside, and wait. Heat it to done (as above) so as to be served hot from the stove.

For the jellied sesame sauce take some chicken stock, some seasame oil, some soy sauce and some vinegar (cider is best, but basalmic will do). Adjust to taste. Bring to a high simmer and add enough cornstarch (mixed with water, so it's at least a thin paste) to make it thick, while still hot.

Grill the chicken (you can use a very hot pan, undercook it, and toss it in a low (170-200) oven to stay warm/finish. The last pieces will need to be cooked through on the stove. This will keep the chicken moist, and hot. Brining helps too) and serve with the sauce; and a dusting of toasted sesame seeds. If you let it rest for a couple of moments the sauce will thicken on the meat.

When you start the chicken do the veggies. A pot of water on simmer gets raised to boil, baby carrots go in. When you sauce the meat, add the peas. The onions were started already. Caramelize some long slices. About the time the chicken goes on the stove, add some finely chopped onion to the caramlizing ones, and you'll get sweated (which will still have some tooth, and a bit of bite) as well as the really sweet strings of the darker onions.

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Here in Grover Beach the only things on the ballot were the statewide measures of the special election.

I voted against all but two.

They all lost.

Which isn't, if you ask me, the real story.

This was a power play by Arnie.

Last year he wanted the legislature to do some things. They didn't want to. He threatened to take them to referenda. The legislature caved and he got most of what he wanted. He also got bragging rights, and an image as someone who could cut through "politics as usual."

The he pissed off the nurses and the teachers. That gave the legislature the cover they needed to tell him to piss off this time around.

So he sought the special election, despite the voters saying they didn't want to spend the $80 million it cost.

A friend of mine describes himself as "slightly to the right of Genghis Khan." He exaggerates, but he's a lot more to the right than I am. He thinks the media is liberal, the democrats are overtaxing thieves and voted for Bush (I think; he hasn't said, and I've not asked) because he didn't trust Kerry.

He told me to vote no on everything.

Not just the union initiative, not just the anti-teacher intiative (those were both no-brainers for him to be against, his wife is a teacher, and he came of age in the 60s, when unions had clout. He knows they do more good than harm).

But against the redistricting intiative (which I am sort of for, because I think the present system of districting is part of the horrid mess we are in, but that's another post), the budget initiatve and the anti-abortion intiative

He's pro-life, sorta-mostly. He thinks Roe is decent law, but would like to see them harder to get (to be fair, he wants them harder across the board. I don't think he see it as some issue of moral judgement on those who get them, but rather a thing which ought be sought only as last resort, but I digress).

Why? Because Arnold has pissed him off. He was for the recall. He voted against Gray Davis, and probably voted for Arnold (and as he wasn't going to vote for Bustamante, I can't really fault him, Arnold was the second best choice in the field, if Davis was ousted).

But Arnold hasn't lived up to his campaign.

And this became (not that Arnold will admit it) a referendum on Arnold.

And he got skunked. Not only did all of his measures get whomped (and I'd have liked to see the two I voted for pass, just because it would be spit in his eye, as well as thinking they make decent law) but (and this is the kicker) voter turnout was almost as high as in a presidential election year.

Ponder that. According to this mornings news 42 percent of registered voters went to the polls. My first chance to vote was in an off-year election. Turn out (in a year that had a mayoral race, for LA, as I recall) was something like 28 percent.

This one got 42 percent. The verdict is in, and it's that Arnold is almost certainly unelectable next year.

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In Dover, Pennsylvania they had an election for the school board. Eight of the incumbents were turned out.

What makes them worth kicking to the curb? They were all for intelligent design being taught in schools.

This, by the way, is how one does term limits; when the officials stop serving your interests, elect someone else.

Maybe this was because the expensive lawsuit was seen as bad, maybe it was because the public disagrees with them, but the newly elected members are all on record as being against ID.
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Maia took me to lunch today.

There's a restaurant called "The Pelican Point Restaurant", it's next to Pelican Point (what a surprise). We heard a piece on them on the radio the other day.

So we got dressed up, and went, Maia not telling me where we were going, and using it as an excuse to wear some of the jewelry I've bought her over the years (including the first public outing of her new earings, and one of the pendants she complained of not having good earrings to go with).

A great day. The rain was done, dramatic skies inland, and high clouds over the water. We saw dolphins in the distance.

She ordered a "Vegetable polaire" which was a pita bread sandwich. I ordered the prix fixe lunch (three courses, a salad, entrée and desert).

While we waited for that we got bread (three types of roll, baked in house. A plain white, and a sourdough, both with cheese baked onto them) as well as a Roman Meal sort of sweet wheat. The butter was room temperature.

Her sadnwich was huge, came with fries and had avacado, roasted peppers, fresh onions, sprouts, baby zucchine (grilled) and lettuce. Half of it is in the fridge now. The fries were seasoned wedges.

I had the duck salad, bourbon filet (though I forwent the mango bbq sauce; I don't care for mangoes), and chocolate bombe.

The salad was huge; this, it turns out, was because the chef thought it an entrée salad, not a meal salad. It was superb. Local vegetables. The cherry tomatoes were all one could want, sweet, tart, juicy and firm. The cheese was pleasantly blue, the caramelised onions had an astringent note (I think they'd been done in sherry, but it might have been just a hint of cider vinegar). The duck was just warm, and the pieces had been wrapped in bacon. The truly amazing part were the brussells sprouts.

They were baby, had been blanched; barely, and then chopped. Buried in the lettuce and chopped eggs they were excellent. I went looking for them. Half of the salad is also in the fridge.

The meat was ok. It might have been better with the sauce, but there wasn't anything wrong with it. I got fries as well as carrots which had been stewed with a sweet pepper.

The bombe was nice. The ganache had good texture and the berry coulis was a decent counterpoint to the chocolate. I might have wanted the center to be a bit larger, as it's flavor was a trifle lost in the chocolate.

The only off note was the wine, a zinfandel, local (I forgot to record the name, it was the only red zin on the menu, so I didn't really pay specific attention). I think it was decent, but stale, so a lot of the the flavor I expected (it had a very good nose) was absent.

The coffee was well done, and the service (though we were one of two tables, at the end of the lunch service) was good. Maia didn't have to ask after refills of the water for her tea, and she didn't complain it wasn't hot.

For the two of us the bill was 40 bucks.

We'll probably go back for dinner, though I think I'll want to wait until the sun is higher, so we can watch the sea as the sun sets.


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