May 22, 2009

Friday Catblogging!

I took the picture and everything, but nearly forgot to post it.

Obviously, this week has been taken up with my new gadget, so here’s Sebastian posing with it.

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It may have taken some persuasion to get him to pose.

Less discussed, but almost equally awesome (and way cheaper at only $25 or so) is my new chef’s knife.  I’ve been hankering for one for a while—my santoku knife is great, but sometimes it’s hard to get quite the necessary speed without a curved blade.  I’ve had the chance to use the knew knife a little, and it’s dreamy.  I’ll get more opportunities this weekend.

Also, I just ordered the power plug converters I’ll need for my trip.  It’s coming fast.

Speaking of the weekend, have a great one!

Posted by Macknzie at 7:14 AM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2009

Wonders of Technology

My new iPod Touch 32GB arrived yesterday.  It’s a remarkable piece of technology.  I remember our first family computer, perhaps only 20 years ago.  It had no hard drive—we had to switch out 5.25” floppy disks to do anything.  When we did eventually get a computer with a hard drive, its capacity was only 40 MB (it was a Wang.  Anyone remember them?).  At the time, that was pretty good.  32GB would have been incomprehensible at the time.  I would have wondered why anyone would ever need that much space.

Now, I have in my hand a device that appears to be a little less than a centimeter thick. It contains a fair chunk of my music, also video, connects to the internet, allows me to browse the web, get email, you name it.  Really, the advances are nothing short of miraculous.

Posted by Macknzie at 6:18 AM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2009

Busy Weekend

[Note: this was supposed to be posted yesterday, but there was a mild issue with the server.]

In which, for whatever reason, I went to two churches in two days.  The first was for a wedding—the daughter of a work-mate got married this weekend.  The ceremony took place in a downtown church, originally built in 1886, a national historic landmark.  It’s a nice little church, and it was a nice ceremony.

Yesterday was the Yiddish Food Festival, hosted by the local synagogue.  (Do we have more than one?  I don’t know, but I sort of doubt it—Cheyenne is relatively small.)  The place was absolutely packed, and they were sold out of a few of the food items.  The line for cold foods wrapped around the main hall.  I’m really happy to see stuff like this get a lot of attendance so that it can continue and thrive, even if I wish I could have gotten a cabbage roll.

That marked the first time I’ve ever been in a synagogue.  One thing that really struck me was the fact that they had a bunch of bookshelves in the foyer area packed with—you guessed it—books.  It was apparently a sort of lending library for Judaism-related media.  (For you lawyers out there, I noticed one volume of “The Restatement of Rabbinical Law.”  Awesome.)  I have no idea if all synagogues have this arrangement or something like it, but I found myself thinking that I definitely like the idea of a religion that put books front and center.

Also this weekend: Lawn care, planted some vegetables, saw the new Star Trek (more on that tomorrow), and played quite a bit of Fallout 3 (now that I have it running—It’s awesome!).

Posted by Macknzie at 6:28 AM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2009

Fallout 3!

Hah!  Got it working in Win7!  Awesome!

Posted by Macknzie at 6:53 PM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2009

Friday Catblogging!

And another week draws to its inevitable end.  Is it just me, or is this month going by really fast?  Anyway, here’s a little photo of Sebastian just after this morning’s sunrise:

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In other news, I finally got around to watching the Fringe finale last night (DVR is a wonderful thing).  I was a bit dubious about the show when it began.  I’m still not entirely sure what to make of it, but my overall opinion is much more favorable now that some of the overall “series plot” has kicked in.  Babylon 5 ruined me—so many shows seem so empty without some sort of overarching plot.

I’ve been running Windows 7 for quite a while (I’m on the RC, but ran the beta since it came out).  I really like it, but I have had trouble getting Fallout 3 to run.  It’s frustrating, because it’s such a great game.  I have plenty of other things to do, but it is frustrating.

Speaking of games, I picked up Defense Grid: The Awakening on Steam last week for $5, and I have to say that it was worth every penny and a lot more.  It’s just a fun game.  Recommended.

I’ve been trying to rate my music in my “spare” time.  I have a lot of it, and I rely on ratings to determine what goes on my random playlist and my iPod, so it becomes relatively important.  But it takes a long time to get through it all.  If I ever get caught up, hopefully I can just rate stuff when I buy it.  The great thing, though, is that I am getting re-exposed to a lot of stuff I haven’t listened to in a while.  That’s nice because, for me, music brings back memories as much as (or more than) smell.

That’s it for now.  Have a great weekend (I’m going to a wedding, Star Trek, and a Yiddish food festival—packed)!

Posted by Macknzie at 6:30 AM | Comments (0)

May 14, 2009

Light Side of the [Credit Card] Force

As part of planning for my trip (and, really, life in general) I engaged in a significant financial revision.  Most notably, I paid off one credit card that I used to carry a balance on (the other one has a balance that’s too high to do that—although I expect it’ll be paid off in a year or so).  So, for the last few months, I’ve been using that card for all my day to day expenses and then paying the balance in full at the end of the month on payday.*

This has some advantages, including a better cashback program than my debit card and I now have all my finances automated.  Of course, the setup is only possible when I trust myself to limit my spending.  I like to think I’ve developed a habit of carefully considering any purchase before making it, but I’m still keeping a close eye on myself just in case I slip into buying stuff I don’t need.  (I’m not much for budgets, at least not more than a broad strategic plan, but building a habit—that is, internal motivation—is a good strategy for me.)

In other news, Pizza 2.0 went over quite well.  The crust didn’t toss well, perhaps a result of its freezing and eventual thaw.  But flour definitely made all the difference.  It wasn’t a huge pizza, but I still ate 5/8 of it.

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(I put a lot of green pepper and jalapeno slivers on the top.)

 

* On a related note, I’ve been getting paid monthly at my state job for the last two years, and I have to say, I love it.  I was dubious at first—I’ve always been paid every two weeks or twice a month—but it has worked out nicely.  Highly recommended.

Posted by Macknzie at 6:34 AM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2009

Kitchen Boredom

So I mentioned last week that I was watching Kitchen Nightmares, first the first series of the British version, then the US version.  Not anymore—I just got bored.  Every story was the same: Gordon eats the crappy food (although once he said a crab cake wasn’t bad—I fell out of my chair), finds that the staff doesn’t know what they’re doing and the kitchen is filthy, cleans the kitchen, simplifies the menu, redesigns the restaurant, etc.  Then it relaunches and, after a shaky start, everything is a success.  Oh, and every episode involves a lot of yelling and swearing.

Meh.

I’m still interested in seeing more of the British version, but the US version is just not entertaining.  Maybe I’d feel differently if I watched them once a week rather than a bunch at once, but I have too much to do to waste time with something I’m bored with.

Posted by Macknzie at 6:00 AM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2009

Back to Basics

I’ve been doing less cooking over the last few months.  Instead, I’ve been drawing on the stores of supplies from last summer and fall.  But this weekend I got the bug and spent quite a bit of time in the kitchen.  First, I made a lot of tamales.  Most of them got divided into bunches and ended up in the freezer.

Pizza was also on the menu.  I love a good white pizza, so that’s what I decided to make.  Unfortunately, I discovered after I’d already started the crust that I was pretty low on flour.  I threw in some whole wheat, but I only had a little bit.  It didn’t go far.

So, naturally, I was at a loss when the time came to make the bechamel.  The only real starch I had was masa (see how I looped back?), so I gave that a shot.  (I also used the rendered fat from the roast I had cooked for the tamale filling.)  It didn’t work out all that great.  Masa, as you may know, is basically ground corn, just finer ground than “corn meal.”  That doesn’t mean that it’s ground as fine as flour, though.

End result: the roux thickened nicely, but the end product was a bit more grainy than I would like.  Very flavorful, though.  And piling on the toppings greatly mitigated any problem with the bechamel.

Needless to say, I went out and bought flour yesterday.  AP and whole wheat.

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It’s also just a smidge overcooked.  I’ll correct that (and I’ll have proper roux) when I use the second half of the dough, either tonight or tomorrow.

Posted by Macknzie at 6:19 AM | Comments (0)

May 6, 2009

Kitchen Madness

So I’ve now seen a couple episodes of Kitchen Nightmares.  I much prefer the UK version.  It appears the US producers tried to jazz things up, create more tension, etc.  It’s not as cool.  It is apparent, however, that the US version has a lot more money to spend.  Watching the whole UK first series, it is apparent that the restaurant owners really had to turn the places around on their own with some direction from Ramsay.  In the US version, he seems to take a much more active role—and the network money is used a lot to refurbish the restaurants.  I kind of liked the low-key British version better.

There is one constant: the kitchens are pretty much universally disgusting.  It seems to always be the first step to strip down the kitchen and clean the hell out of it.  In the first few US episodes, Ramsay shut down two restaurants for a night because the kitchens were so atrocious.

Rule 1: don’t poison customers.  Duly noted.

On a related note, I had a dream last night involving a terribly salty miso soup (as in, salt block salty).  Perhaps I’ve been watching too much Kitchen Nightmares.

Posted by Macknzie at 6:36 AM | Comments (0)

May 5, 2009

Yes I Can!

I just started watching Kitchen Nightmares (the UK version, but I’m close to starting on the US version).  Considering that I fled food service about 14 years ago, why does watching this show make me want to open a restaurant?

In other news, I’m now running the release candidate of Windows 7.  Generally, the few changes are good, although the Win7 beta was good enough to run full time since it came out.  I’ll probably run the RC until I eventually buy the retail version.  I’ll have to—it’ll stop working in the spring of 2010.  Overall, I endorse it.

In still other news, I just (as I wrote the prior paragraph) saw a bird mating dance outside my window.  It was kind of cool, but it appears the male just got shot down.  I guess his little dance wasn’t impressive enough.  Bummer.

Posted by Macknzie at 6:49 PM | Comments (0)

May 1, 2009

Friday Catblogging!

With a fresh photo this week—how on the ball am I?

Ok, still not much, but baby steps.

It’s spring, so that means housing starts are up—bird housing starts.  Sadly, that doesn’t help the economy much, but at least we can be entertained by photos of my cat being completely enthralled by a foraging robin.

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The close-up:

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You can’t see it, but the robin has a sweet piece of dry grass in its beak.

In other news, I finished Sunstein and Thaler’s book, Nudge.  I like it, and I really hope that its general ideas make it into policy.

In any case, have a great weekend!

Posted by Macknzie at 6:56 AM | Comments (0)