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October 31, 2003

Two Hundred Twenty

I did it.

(220 lbs/[72in^2]) *703 = 29.83 BMI (formula explanation is here)

I am no longer obese, merely overweight. I'm no longer at very high risk for heart disease or type 2 diabetes, just high risk.

Since May 1, I've lost 40 lbs, and I'm halfway to a "normal" BMI (<25). I feel great. I feel... like a plate of ribs, Dreamland sauce, plenty of white bread, and potato salad. Now. I mean it. Bring it to me before I start eating you.

Posted by dylan at 05:40 PM | Comments (4)

October 29, 2003

Aurora Borealis, the icy skies at night

Here comes the solar flare. We're going out to see if we can see the aurora, but it's questionable considering how much light pollution there is in Seattle. Also, it's C-O-L-D out there -- heading for the 20s and 30s tonight, much colder than normal -- so I don't know if I'll last very long with my thinner layer of blubber.

Posted by dylan at 11:30 PM

October 27, 2003

October's End

Didn't really do much of anything this weekend. Went to the University District Farmers Market, where I was surprised to see the sheer number of warm weather crops (melons, peppers, tomatoes) that were still available. Plenty of fall produce as well, including squash and apples. Also, it was all extremely cheap. Tomatillos were $1 a pound. Peppers were under $2/pound (at one point a couple months ago bell peppers were $2.99 each at the grocery store -- yes, each).

The sheer cheapness of tomatillos inspired me to make some wimpy salsa.

Wimpy Salsa
2 lbs. tomatillos
10-12 banana peppers + 1-2 red peppers (I used anchos)
1/2 purple onion, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 freezer bag

Roast the peppers. If you have a gas stove, stick a fork into the stem end and blacken the skin over an open gas flame, rotating it like you would a marshmallow over a fire. You're looking for blackened, popping skin. If you have an electric stove, fire up the broiler and place all the peppers on the broiler pan about 6" from the coils. Broil until the skin is blackened and popping, rotating with tongs. Either way you roast the peppers, put them into the freezer bag the moment you get them off the heat. Seal bag tightly (you did use a Ziploc, right?) and let them sit for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven at 350F. Peel, wash the tomatillos, and put them in a roasting pan. Pour the olive oil over the tomatillos and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp of salt. Stir to get everything coated. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes, or until all the tomatillos are soft and roasted.

Remove the skin from the peppers (should rub straight off if it's nice and blackened), seed them, then dice them and add them to the onions and cilantro. When the tomatillos are done, let them cool for 5-10 minutes, then mash them with a potato masher until you have a green, seedy goo. (You can also use a blender, but I like a lack of uniformity.) Add the cilantro/onion/pepper mixture, the remaining salt, pepper, and cayenne. Mix and mash until you have things well combined. Pour into a container and chill. Makes about 3 1/2 cups. (You can also throw in about half a dozen smashed cloves of garlic if you want it less wimpy.)

Posted by dylan at 01:10 AM

October 24, 2003

Potpourri for $600, Alex

A List Apart is back. Woohoo.

I've been considering switching my primary browser from Internet Explorer to Mozilla Firebird. Firebird is a lot faster, a lot cleaner, and a lot more standards compliant than IE. And, yeesh, look at all the available extensions. (The Cards extension is horribly addictive.) I think Mozilla has finally recovered from that nasty misstep we web people called Netscape 6.

I'm trying out the beta of FeedDemon, the RSS reader from Nick Bradbury. Bradbury created the greatest HTML editor of all time (and, sadly, quite absorbed into Macromedia), Homesite, and a damn fine CSS editor, TopStyle. FeedDemon doesn't disappoint -- it's as easy to use as TopStyle, as flexible and extensible as Homesite, and it lets you slice 'n' dice feeds in a lot of ways I've haven't seen in other RSS readers.

And then there's football. My Colorado Buffaloes aren't doing too well in football this year, and that's due to their inability to play defense. They're in the bottom ten of every defensive category the NCAA tracks. This weekend, they play #1 ranked Oklahoma and its #2 ranked offense. Next weekend, it's Texas Tech's #1 ranked offense. Bad defense. High-powered offense. Records could be broken. I don't know if I'm even going to watch.

A lot's been said about Elliot Smith. I liked his music, though I thought he was trying too hard at times to channel Nick Drake. Sad end, though. Seems that singer-songwriters, composers of many a quiet and mournful song about some sad death or loss, always seem to die in very sad ways.

Posted by dylan at 12:42 AM | Comments (1)

October 23, 2003

Jamba Grr

George posted today that Jamba Juice is selling $1 smoothies this evening. They are, but not in Seattle. No idea why, but there are no locations listed in the Puget Sound area. I could go down to the "other" Vancouver (as in Washington), but 5 hours round trip to save $3? Not worth it.

To paraphrase the (underrated) movie So I Married An Axe Murderer, they put an addictive chemical in their smoothies that makes you crave it fortnightly.

I'm really coming off as a curmudgeon in this blog, aren't I?

Posted by dylan at 10:27 AM | Comments (1)

October 22, 2003

Susan is simulcast

I was able to get mt-rssfeed running (thanks George) and can now broadcast what Susan is saying on her LiveJournal. It's not live because I can't run cron jobs on this web server, but she posts as often as I do, so we should be in sync 90% of the time.

Posted by dylan at 12:16 AM

October 21, 2003

The sky ripped open

Man, did it dump. 4.86 inches in 24 hours, the wettest day in Seattle recorded history. Outside of the immense growth of Lake Wilbanks (also known as the big divot in our "driveway") and some erosion by the "lakeshore," we made it through without a hitch. It helps to live, literally, on the crest of a hill.

I had to buy new tires for the Mazda over the weekend (eight tires in 14 days, so no Christmas for the next two years), and I am happy I did. Car was doing whatever the opposite of hydroplaning is. Thank you Les Schwab! (Now, where's my free beef?)

Posted by dylan at 11:02 AM

October 17, 2003

Damn Yankees

As Mike Royko once said, "Hating the Yankees is as American as pizza pie and cheating on your income tax." Thus, millions of baseball fans, most of News Corp., and all the romantics who wanted a World Champions pennant flying from the Pesky Pole in Fenway sigh, shake their heads, and start asking when pitchers and catchers report. (February 16)

At least my nights over the next week are free.

Posted by dylan at 01:04 PM | Comments (1)

October 13, 2003

Lunchtime Blogging

Rare for me to blog at lunch, but something's been bugging me. My employer had a catering subsidiary that produced really simple sandwiches. They had a tuna salad sandwich that consisted of tuna, mayo, celery, and wheat bread. Really simple, really good low-cal lunch. They sold these things for $1.99. Or, rather, they did.

In August, the catering subsidiary abruptly stopped making sandwiches. Instead, they signed a contract with Briazz, the local chain of sandwich shops (similar to the Pret for you British readers, only not as good). The nice, simple sandwiches were gone, replaced by the complicated Briazz sandwich. Roasted Kangaroo Loin and Heirloom Beet Sandwich (with Leek-Ginseng Aioli). Dad's Meatloaf If Dad Raised Kobe Beef And Used Breadcrumbs From Day-Old French Bread He Had Flown In On The Concorde Sandwich.

I have three problems with this new arrangement.

  1. The sandwiches, as illustrated above, are way way way too complicated. If I want a turkey sandwich, I want turkey, mayo, maybe a piece of cheese, a slice of tomato, and two slices of decent (but not extravagent) sandwich bread. That's a simple sandwich. I don't need cranberry-orange-Grand Mariner compote on my turkey sandwich.

  2. The sandwiches are jaw-droppingly high in calories. Take the Briazz Tuna Sandwich, the closest analogue to the old tuna salad sandwich. Old sandwich: 317 calories, 9g fat. New sandwich: 620 calories, 35g fat. Almost twice the calories, FOUR times the fat. And, mind you, the Briazz version isn't that much larger. Well, when you cut the bread in half, it isn't. Briazz apparently believes that a sandwich consists of bread, bread, bread, bread, bread, and everything else. I can't get my mouth around their bread slices -- they're too thick. Plus, they're way too chewy.

  3. Worst of all, the prices are painfully high. Old sandwich: $1.99. New sandwich: $4.59. I'm not paying $4.59 for ginger-saffron-caviar chutney. Honestly, I get more nutrition -- and more enjoyment -- out of a Bento box. Six pieces of sushi are the same price as a Briazz gutbomb. Briazz has tried to alleviate the complaints by making "classic" sandwiches that are supposedly simpler and cheaper. One example: A hummus sandwich. Hummus. Lettuce. Same 4.5m thick bread slices. $3.50. $3.50???

Apparently, I will have to start making my own lunch. I've been avoiding it for a long while (mainly because I'm too unconscious at 7am to make a sandwich), but $5 for sandwich is obscene.

Posted by dylan at 12:56 PM | Comments (3)

October 10, 2003

That little game in Dallas

Yup, it's another year of Oklahoma-Texas. Cotton Bowl gets split down the middle, tens of thousands of drunks flood the streets, and the Red River Rivalry is settled for another year by 60 minutes of football.

I was born in Oklahoma. I then spent the next seventeen years trying to get out of the state. The University of Oklahoma educated almost everyone in my family. Until I was about eight or so I thought the state song was "Boomer Sooner." My middle brother's suggestions for PTBNL names: Leroy, Lucious, Dewey. (I actually gave them more than a passing thought.)

But, despite all the recruiting by my father, I foreswore Norman for Boulder. In the end, Oklahoma and I had different agendas, different paths. The state struggles economically under increasingly reactionary governments. My hometown of Tulsa has leadership comparable to that of a horse trailer, choosing to throw all their economic eggs into the telecommunications boom... and subsequent bust. How many classmates from my high school graduating class have fled the state? A couple dozen still live in town, but I know more who live in DFW than in T-Town.

All the while, Texas has moved foward, invested heavily in its universities, and fostered diverse cities that are friendly to young people (i.e. under the age of 60). Austin's exploded with the rise of Dell. Houston is a diverse, vibrant city. Even Fort Worth has a lot going for it. Texas is now the economic engine that runs the Southwest. Oklahoma is nothing but a place to draw brainpower from.

Texas is, well, my kind of place. Take the Dixie Chicks vs. Toby Keith melee. The Chicks are from Austin and suburban Dallas. Toby Keith is from Clinton, a sizeable town west of Oklahoma City. Who do I side with? The Chicks. Toby Keith is an over-the-hill grandstanding loser of a country singer. The Chicks, though, are young, diverse, and didn't bow to the constricting force of the Country-Star-O-Matic (formerly Adult-Contemporary-Star-O-Matic) machine in Nashville.

I like Texas. It has its head screwed on straight. Big and pompous and producer of the biggest scumbag politician of the decade, sure. But, hey, it's the Lone Star State, where Molly Ivins can live in peace alongside Rick Perry.

The University of Texas, a vast and powerful research institution, is producing world-class science and medicine. The University of Oklahoma, meanwhile, goes on and on about gimmicks. "We have the largest natural science museum! We have more National Merit Scholars! Our buildings are made of brick! We have French impressionist paintings!" While Texas is 53 in the US News listings, Oklahoma isn't in the top 100 -- while the University of Tulsa is. Colorado has produced more Nobel Prize winners than all the universities in Oklahoma combined. They want to be a great academic institution, but they'd rather drop millions on stadium improvements than on academic improvements. Texas, as a university, is so far ahead of Oklahoma that it's like comparing Oxford to a middle school.

So, here on the eve of the greatest rivalry in college football, I have just four words to say about the game between the world-class university in Austin and the glorified high school in Norman:


(and hey OU, mind sandbagging when you come to Boulder later this month? Not like a loss will really hurt you....)

Posted by dylan at 11:57 PM

October 09, 2003

Bill O'Reilly takes his toys and goes home

Bill O'Reilly's interview with Terri Gross (host, Fresh Air, NPR) is priceless. If you don't have a chance to listen to all 40 minutes of spin (and I mean spin -- O'Reilly twists every statement so that he's a victim of some Hatchet Job(TM) by the Liberal Media (TM) and not responsible for at least some of what he's brought on himself), well, I'll give you the 30 second version.

Terri: Hello Bill.

Bill: Hello Terri.

Terri: Why you a player hater?

Bill: I'm not an player hater. The liberal media libels me by calling me a player hater. They are player haters.

Terri: But you're disrespectful, treat people terribly on your show, cut people off in mid-

Bill: Lies! Read the transcripts! It's all there! Liberal media!

Terri: sentence.

Bill: Lying liar liberal loo loo!

Terri: OK. Let's talk about you and your book. What do you believe in?

Bill: I don't have a firm opinion about anything.

Terri: You sound vague there.

Bill: Well, I believe in (mutter). I once hit my father in anger! I was tired of dealing with him!

Terri: So this guy who reviewed your book in People said you called him a pinhead on your show. Could you -

Bill: I will pontificate for five minutes, take my toys, and go home,
because I'm a crybaby who takes myself waaaay too seriously! AL FRANKEN! AL
FRANKEN! *click*

O'Reilly reminds me of some bullies I knew back in the day. He seems smart, but he's merely hiding some deficiency in him by using big words, pettifogging, and brickbats. It's not his fault, it's the liberal media libeling him. If you catch him out, then you must be part of the problem. Having spent my K-12 years getting bullied relentlessly, I have a strong distaste for people like him. Based on what I've heard him quote from his book, I doubt he really has anything to offer in the way of intellectual discourse.

I still find it funny that he claims he's not biased -- what, he's not a human? -- and that he has a "no spin zone" when all he does IS spin. Shift the blame. Man, imagine what Bill Clinton or Richard Nixon could have done with a man like him.

Posted by dylan at 12:26 AM | Comments (1)

October 08, 2003

And now, Guv'nor Ahnold

And now, the people of California get exactly what they deserve. The California GOP has just tied an albatross around its neck, and they better hope it'll fly, because if not... they can write off everything not named Simi Valley.

Meanwhile, the Washington state GOP can't get anyone to run for governor. Well, there's Federico Cruz-Uribe, head of the Pierce County Health Department, who has a strong public health background, has shown himself to be innovative and progressive, and is Hispanic. However, the GOP doesn't think he's "sexy" enough, not like that great political non-entity Dino Rossi. Consider the last two Republican candidates for governor of Washington: a Poulsbo grandmother (who wanted the Death Penalty for pretty much every crime above a parking violation) and a talk show host (whose entire platform consisted of getting rid of affirmative action at state colleges... which had already passed as a referendum two years earlier). Yeah, that worked real well there, guys. Locke beat the first (Ellen Craswell) pretty soundly, then destroyed the second (John Carlson).

Sounds like the Washington GOP needs to get a testosterone-laden loudmouth non-entity to run. Hmm. Is Stephen Seagal doing anything in 2004?

Posted by dylan at 12:10 AM

October 07, 2003

Southern Accents

Added Harry's blog to the list, finally. I was holding off because his site was unstable. OK, it was because I was lazy.

Only two women's blogs on my list, and I'm married to one of them. If there are any female readers that I'm neither married to nor once worked for, I'll be happy to add your blog to the roll.

Posted by dylan at 12:05 AM | Comments (2)

October 06, 2003

Oakland crashes out again

A's lose. Hee hee. All the "we're geenyuses and Billy Beane is GAWD" and the taunting about the Mariners annual summer swoon... and they lose three straight. The home run that tied the game was by Jason Varitek, who was behind the plate to catch Derek Lowe's two decisive strikeouts. Why do I mention them? They were part of the Dumbest Mariner Trade Of All Time.

Since the last time the A's won a playoff series, the Mariners have appeared in seven, winning three. How ironic -- the A's are turning into the 21st century version of the Red Sox.

Wonder if George survived his night at the Coliseum. Oh wait, he did.

Posted by dylan at 11:56 PM

October 05, 2003

Sunday Leftovers

Odds 'n' sods.

The new REM single is "Bad Day," which really isn't a new song, since it was originally recorded during the Lifes Rich Pagent sessions. They did, however, fill in some holes in the lyrics. It's the way REM is supposed to sound. To all of you who were at the REM Bumbershoot show with me (me: 31, right side of stage about four people back from the barrier, blue Mountainsmith pack, Gold Pass, first REM album bought was Dead Letter Office), hi. For all you 26 and under people, I was judging Green to be too commercial about the same time you were snapping up New Kids CDs and you were watching Blossom because you thought Joey was hawt. BTW, the video is pretty funny.

After four years, I'm organizing the kitchen and paring down the appliances. Anybody desire their own Fry Daddy, electric can opener, or a two quart steamer?

Discovered the "broken" pressure cooker during the kitchen cleanout this weekend. When we first got it (as an exchange for a wedding present we already had four of) I couldn't get it to work right, so I shoved it in the cabinet and forgot about it. Four years on, I found it again, and I realized my mistake -- you have to LOCK the lid, not just throw it on top. Duh. So, we have a working pressure cooker that will finally be put to use.

The Cubs are through to play the Marlins, and the Red Sox are one masterful performance by Pedro away from playing the Yankees. The Series of Armageddon draws nearer.

Speaking of supporters of the Series of Armageddon, George has come up with an ingenious way to create a "Now Reading" spot on your MT blog without using a plugin. Excellent if you don't want to deal with convincing your ISP to install XML::Simple.

I'm trying to figure out how to parse Susan's Livejournal RSS feed so that I can link to her blog. Any ideas would be helpful.

Went to Wayne and Karen's baby shower last night. Karen bought kebabs with beef sirloin and veggies... but she didn't realize that these were Kobe beef. 3-4 minutes per side on the grill, they came out medium rare, and the beef was like butter. Heaven.

Weight: 225. Change since May 1: -35. Now five pounds from my BMI falling below 30. I'm already wearing 36 waist jeans, though I think they're "36" in name only, probably actually 38s. The Gap has apparently been tossing a few extra inches into their waistbands for a while now.

Posted by dylan at 10:58 PM | Comments (2)

October 04, 2003

A visit to the Renton Fry's

Made it out to the new Fry's in Renton yesterday evening (although it took me 50 minutes -- multiple accidents at Coal Creek, and the construction on 405 through Bellevue wasn't helping). It's billed as an electronic superstore, and indeed, it's HUGE. It's about the size of a larger Costco and is about 1/2 Best Buy, 1/2 Radio Shack.

Two things that Fry's is known for: non-existant, clueless floor staff; and terrible customer service. The latter I haven't dealt with yet (we'll see how the CF card and Brita filter I bought hold out), but the former, well, it was very odd. I mean, you couldn't go 15 feet without running into a salesperson. In 30 minutes I was asked if needed any help SIX times. That's once every five minutes, better than Best Buy and way way better than Lowe's. (The fact I couldn't get anyone to help me in Lowe's lost them a dishwasher sale. I actually SAT ON THE DISHWASHER and no one gave a damn. They're with Rudy's and UPS in the Axis of Bad Customer Service... but I digress.)

The store wasn't very extravagent, something that other Fry's are known for. There were some pictures from the Renton historical society, fake marble and granite floors, and a coffee shop. That was about it.

The improved customer service and understated (bland) decor are apparently part of the plan, at least according to someone on the inside:

Also management, brothers incl. are aware that Fry's is known for its bad customer service, but they have been pushing us real hard to promote customer service to the extreme....the (Fry) brothers told us... about how Best Buy, Compusa, and all those other electronic stores are receiving notices that we were here but they think were just like all the other Fry's and thats with bad customer service.

But like most of you on the board already said this store is different. It is much more classy looking than other Fry's and we are here to change the image, because this is the city of Nordstrom which has great customer service....

Makes me wonder if they were reading a certain Seattle Times article (unfortunately requiring you to register to see it now) back in June.

While Fry's is lauded for its selection and prices, its style of customer service may be unfamiliar to Seattle-area customers.

The company's Web site lists 13 rules for returning or exchanging products a far cry from Nordstrom's famously liberal return policy.

For those of you with no experience with Nordstrom, they'll take pretty much anything in exchange, receipt or no, even if it wasn't bought at Nordies. Fry's requires you to have the receipt, stand in the correct line, produce the videotape proving you were in the store on that date, and wait a minimum of two hours for them to talk to a manager.

On the whole, an OK store, but more of a destination store for me. I mean, I'm a mile from a Best Buy, and the stuff I have a real interest in (i.e. stuff to build a new computer with) I can get online.

Posted by dylan at 12:14 PM

Ordinary Time

Despite the impending baby, the triumph at work, and everything else, I feel very ordinary of late. I don't know if it's the Black Dog coming back, and I'm hoping it's not.

It was never like I've had that exciting of a life to begin with, but now I feel even less exciting. I've done things that 99% of this country has never done (set foot on two continents not named North America, e.g), but now exciting for me means mango (not lemon) sorbet, or eating food that may be past its bin date (tonight's apparent misadventure).

Maybe it's the baby. I'm 31, but I think I've been an adolescent for more than half my life. I noticed the other day that my voice seems to have dropped a few notes, as if my voice finally finished changing. I do, in a way, feel older. I've always felt older than everyone else, but I think that was tempered by my emotional immaturity. Heck, I'm still clueless about when a girl is flirting with me.

This week, the college student I hired to handle (the boring) part of my job asked if I was from before or after the Hippie Era. Ouch. She's 21 and has little recollection of the Soviet Union; her mother was really into Madonna.

Age may be nothing but a number, but it still sucks when you realize that you're not 21 anymore.

Posted by dylan at 01:10 AM | Comments (1)