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September 27, 2003

Upgrade

Upgraded to MT 2.64 last night. May attempt to clean up the template if I have any brain cells left tonight. The work website redesign (please see previous post) seems to have taken a lot of them away.

Posted by dylan at 11:01 AM

September 26, 2003

It just keeps coming

Today, I launched the new work web site. One heck of a labor, and a tableless design (becoming the second school in the university to go tableless... damn Law School beat me by a week, but I think my design is slightly better). Just a wild week all around.

Posted by dylan at 01:01 AM

September 23, 2003

Yet another birth

Susan finished the book. Yay wife!! I am very proud of her. :)

Posted by dylan at 10:35 PM

Alton Brown holds court

us_n_alton.jpg

Went to an Alton Brown book signing. Damn, he's funny. I swore off book signings after a bad experience with Douglas Adams (RIP), but he more than made up for it tonight.

Posted by dylan at 10:28 PM | Comments (1)

September 22, 2003

Baby

We are pleased to announce what we call The Player To Be Named Later (or PTBNL for short). The baby is scheduled to arrive sometime in April 2004. Further details in our handy FAQ.

Posted by dylan at 12:00 AM | Comments (4)

Happy...

Happy, happy birthday to me
Happy birthday to me and to you.

Thirty-one today.

Posted by dylan at 12:00 AM

September 14, 2003

The Pouch Table

This is the big table that was shown on the Good Eats episode "The Pouch Principle." You had to look really fast to see the last few items on the liquids list... or have a TiVo. :)

Meat
(Choose one)
Vegetables
(any)
Starch
(optional - choose one)
Aromatics
(<=2)
Seasonings
(any)
Liquids
(mix/match)
beef
pork
lamb
fish
shrimp
chicken
etc.
mushroom
artichoke
tomato
peppers
snow pea
broccoli
bok choy
rice
noodle
potato
dumpling
cous cous
onion
garlic
scallions
shallot
celery
fennel
carrots
red pepper
white pepper
honey
salt
pepper
coriander
cilantro
lemon
parsley
soy sauce
mirin
veg. broth
sesame oil
vermouth
white or red wine
chicken stock
fruit juice
fish sauce

The quantity notes were per Alton's commentary.

Based on my experience with starchy/sugary vegetables in pouches (potato, parsnip, carrot, onion, garlic, 1 tbsp olive oil, fresh rosemary and thyme, bake at 350F for about an hour), if you're cooking mainly starch/sugar, USE A FAT TO KEEP THE VEGGIES FROM STICKING. Trust me, chunks of potato permanently stuck to the aluminum foil are not edible. Also, if you're using a higher (say, >5%) acidity vinegar, don't use aluminum foil. Also goes for acidic veggies (like tomatoes). Finally, if you look at the list and connect the dots, you'll notice that you can create a significant number Asian wok and noodle dishes with this table. What you can't see is that you can create pretty much any salmon dish that doesn't require searing. Old Seattle trick is to put salmon, dill, and lemon in aluminum foil, seal it tightly, and run it through the dishwasher (top rack). I am not making this up. (Some argue you need to run through two complete cycles, while others say no heat dry.)

Posted by dylan at 05:51 PM | Comments (1)

September 12, 2003

Past performance no guarantee of future Series appearances

Derek Zumsteg has written an article on the problems of the Mariners fan base. This paragraph jumped out at me:

It will be interesting to see if it's the season-ticket holders or the occasional attendee who abandons the Mariners first if they fail again to reach the playoffs and the blame is laid at the feet of the team's management. In other markets with good teams, we've seen both sides of the fan base devastated. If you go from sold out every season, like the Indians, to drawing 20,000 or less, that's a massive desertion of fans of all stripes. I would suspect that it comes on all fronts, that season-ticket holders give up 81 tickets for smaller packages, and then only come to a few games, while casual fans cut back from five or 10 games a year and stop going at all. But what if the team is competitive--as the Mariners aim to be every year--provide a nice ballpark and a win half the time, while never being good enough to advance in the playoffs without great luck? Do the sometime fans keep coming out, while the season-ticket holders give up their seats in disgust?

There's tension between the fan base and the Mariners management right now. The M's want to profit, and they want to do it by fielding a "competitive team," one that will be in the pennant race a majority of years. The boards and sports talk shows are full of fans who want them to drop the major coin on the kind of players that will more than likely win the Series (or at least not wilt in August and September).

My question: Which is better, to be good but not great for a number of years and maybe get lucky every once in a while, or to be truly great for a year or two -- then proceed to become awful for years because you blew all your capital on great players?

In the former camp, you have the Mariners and the A's (though with a much smaller budget). They contend every year, but they never seem to break through to the World Series. They're both fun to watch, but it does leave you wanting after a while. In the latter camp you have the Blue Jays and the extreme example of the Marlins, teams that bought a lot of great of players who won World Series titles, but then lost them to fire sales and retirement, leaving teams that dwell in the lower divisions of the league. Yeah, that magical year was wonderful, but in the case of Toronto, it's been ten years since Joe Carter parked that Mitch Williams ball in the Skydome seats, and this is the first year they've been within a weekend series sweep of first since the strike season.

So, which is really better? Would you rather mortgage your future for a World Series title knowing that you may not get back to that height for years (or decades)? Or, would you rather be in the mix every year, good but not great, and maybe get lucky?

For those who aren't into sports, if you were gambling, would you rather have "the sure thing" on a modest payout knowing that your luck would be terrible for the next twenty years, or would you rather have a number of good chances to win a large number of bets, but no guarantee than any of your bets will pay off at all?

Posted by dylan at 12:25 PM

9/11 + 2 + 1

I'm in a foul mood today. Johnny Cash died, and it's just snowballed from there.

I figured I'd post two things I've written on Fotolog, since they seem to be where I'm at. Two years on, I'm still ruminating on 9/11, but then, I have a brain like a cow has a stomach, so no surprises there.

Comment #1, slightly edited, was on my fotolog for 9/11/2003.

(black picture with white border posted) You can imagine what should go here. Shock. Horror. Anxiety. Vengeance. Fear. Loss. Requiem.

I`m tired of the endless media treacle, the twee faux-patriotic displays, and the fascism that seems to be prevailing in this country. I don`t want any more endless intellectual navel-gazing that gets us nowhere. I don`t want to sing "God Bless America" just because otherwise the terrorists have already won. I`m fed up with Todd Beamer being treated as if he was the only person on that plane who resisted. I`m fed up with the snobbish, arrogant anti-Americanism pouring from the mouths of so-called intellegent people, and I`ve equally had it with the pro-American jingoists who wave aside any reasonable question with some equivocation of the query to not being a true patriot. And, most of all, I`m weary of a war of terrorism whose fruits are hundreds of dead Americans, thousands of dead civilians, and a certain Saudi ass still alive and well and living in Pakistan.

What I want is for 3,000 people to still be living and not senselessly annihilated by hate. I want the world that existed on September 10th back. That, however, is impossible. Time is linear. I have to live with the immutability of the final acts of nineteen cowardly men fueled by the policies of my government and the governments of the Middle East.

We`re all human beings, regardless of what we believe or where we were born. The evil that lives in this world thrives on the inflammatory hatred that comes from the streets and the informed hatred that comes from the so-called elite. And it must stop, before another man is tortured for knowing the wrong people or another truck delivers another incendiary payload....

Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed. -- G.K. Chesterson

Comment #2 I left in the comments for this picture.

We try our best as Americans to be good people, give to charity, show some civility. Yeah, we're cluefucks when it comes to geography and what goes on outside our borders, but we give billions in foreign aid, and we respond when there's a disaster by sending immense quantities of aid. We're not the best at rebuilding, but we try. And, yet, all we get is endless anger from the rest of the world. Laughing Brazilian morons laughing at our misfortune. It's like a crowd in a soccer stadium cheering because the best player on a hated rival just got severely injured by a vicious tackle from a player on the home team. Then they boo because the player is still alive at the end of it.

No one deserves to be murdered, just as no one deserves to die of starvation or disease. Showing your support for murder or starvation or disease just because you think the victim "deserved it" is a sign of ignorance and cowardice and hate. Ignorance and cowardice and hate is what terrorism thrives on.

I'm starting to understand why there are so many in the USA who think we should cut off foreign aid. Even though we give far too little to help the less fortunate, we rarely get a word of gratitude, and if we do we can't hear it above the anti-American snobs with the blood-soaked words of hate pouring from their mouths and pens.

Shakespeare was right:
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones;
-- Julius Caesar, Act III Sc. 2

Posted by dylan at 11:45 AM

September 10, 2003

Shock. Amazement.

Tulsa passed all four tax increases. And it was about a 3/5ths majority on them all.

I'm stunned. I thought this one was going down in flames, but something got 60,000 people to show up and vote it in.

One advantage Tulsa has over Seattle is once a tax increase is passed, the talking period is over and the building begins, where in Seattle the talking has hardly even begun. If you could build a light rail line with talk, the Link would be running right now and would have already been extended to the airport.

Posted by dylan at 12:09 AM | Comments (1)

September 09, 2003

RIP Mr. Zevon

I was a latecomer to the works of Warren Zevon, but I'm wishing I hadn't been.

I should probably put in some nice quote, but I'll just link to one of his better later story songs. Hit somebody.

Posted by dylan at 08:37 PM

September 07, 2003

Will the last one out of Tulsa....

So, on Tuesday, Tulsans will go to the poll and reject yet another plan to try and revive the city's fortunes. The usual kneejerk anti-tax wingnuts are out in force, and is that a tumbleweed I see rolling down 11th St?

Admittedly, the plan is pretty damn bass-ackwards. One percent sales tax, of which 40% goes to Boeing if they put the 7E7 assembly line in town. (If you believe that, maybe I can interest you in an on-time on-budget light rail line?) The remaining 60% is a mishmash of corporate welfare for American Airlines, random road projects, museums, a new downtown arena and convention center to replace the arena and convention center built in the 1980s to replace the original arena and convention center built in the 1960s, and apparently some school money. However, at least someone's trying to revive the old town's sagging fortunes.

Half my high school graduating class has abandoned Tulsa over the last ten years. I'm in Seattle, while others are in Dallas, Boston, DC, Houston, Denver, LA, New York. The reasons for leaving you can probably guess if you've ever been to Tulsa -- low pay, backwards politics, bad schools, boredom. Still, we come home every once in a while and discover that T-Town is getting a little bit grayer and a little bit smaller, and it's sad.

The problem with Tulsa (and Oklahoma for that matter) is the lack of high-paying jobs. The Oil Bust killed off almost all the white collar organizations, and the ones that were left moved to Houston and Dallas. What's left is a lot of $10/hour jobs, jobs that don't produce nearly the same tax base as a good white collar job that pays $30-50/hour equivalent. Think about it. A project manager at Microsoft makes about $60K, while a mid-level Wal-Mart employee can expect about $20K. If your tax rate is 10% and you need $1M/year just to keep basic services in a city running, you'd need a employed population of 500 people in blue vests -- but only 167 Microsoft PMs. If the populations were equal, you could provide a lot more services to the higher income people at a lower tax rate.

As the white-collar jobs left, Tulsa did two things: Blamed Oklahoma City, and blamed Oklahoma City. But OKC was facing much the same problem with the job exodus, and their solutions were to milk the state legislature (as always) and pass something called the MAPS Project. What MAPS did was revitalize the historic Bricktown District into a place that yuppies could get a drink, catch a ballgame or a concert, and maybe even move into loft space. Suddenly, going to the City isn't such a bad thing; in fact, I think OKC is now far more livable than Tulsa. It has life, history, and the Flaming Lips.

So, now, Tulsa is attempting yet again to copy what its bigger little brother is doing down the road, and the usual gamut of wingnuts is coming out against the plan. And it's the usual problem -- they all oppose all taxes, but they all don't offer any good solutions to the problem of the encroaching tumbleweeds.

Here's the usual "small business rules all" argument. OK, that's great and all, but a majority of all small businesses fail within five years. Also, because they're small, they by law aren't required to offer the benefits that a big corporation can. Would you rather have a job working for Jimbob's Plastic Widgets with no health insurance or RayRay International which offers health and a 401(k)? Small businesses don't have the income stream to offer the pay that a large corporation can, even in an area with as low a cost of living as Oklahoma. Finally, small businesses tend to move towards jobs, not vice versa. You didn't see a lot of dotcoms popping up in Kansas, and if you did they were on the next plane to San Jose the moment the first VC firm cut them a check.

Most people, though, are just anti-tax anti-government, and that's all they want -- squeeze more juice out of smaller lemons and cut back on the sugar (unnecessary luxury). That's great and all, but at the end of the day it's not just them drinking that lemonade, it's everyone who could potentially create jobs and income. You offer them a watered-down unsweetened lemon juice, and they'll bolt straight across the street for the lemonade stands owned by Oklahoma City and Dallas, and you'll be left with lemons.

I have little hope for Tulsa. I see Flint or Fort Wayne in its future, with boarded up buildings and vacant lots. The brain drain that has plagued Oklahoma since the Oil Bust will only increase with the opportunities that other places offer and the chronic underfunding of education in the state. Oklahoma City may escape it by offering a business-friendly place that keeps some of the bright and beautiful home with the diversions the city offers. Tulsa, though, is a truck stop on the NAFTA highway, and the only ones who will be making the big bucks in ten years will be the dealers, the pimps, and the home care workers who are paid by former Tulsans to take care of aging parents without the ex-Okies having to dare set foot in T-Town.

Will the last one out of Tulsa please turn out the lights?

Posted by dylan at 01:32 AM | Comments (1)

September 06, 2003

The Dietification of Dylan

Back in May, I got on the scale and gaaaa. Over 260 for the second time in my life. No wonder my clothes felt rock-star tight and people in Greenpeace slickers kept trying to push me in the ocean.

So, on the diet train for me. My BMI was 35.5, not as terrible as some people I know, but still pretty deep into obese territory. Since then, I've hit Weight Watchers hard and reached 231 this week, or a BMI of 31.5. I'm aiming to cross the obese/overweight line (a BMI of 30) sometime in early October and hoping to come to rest in the middle of the band sometime next spring -- somewhere around 160. One hundred pounds off. That's a lot of butter for snickerdoodles.

Posted by dylan at 12:30 AM | Comments (1)