Archive for December, 2012

Turnip^H^H^H^H^H^H Rutabaga Oats

December 28, 2012

Christmas is over, the goose gave up its fat. Please to note the crater where the old man sat.

A tradition we picked up in England is to have goose for Christmas, and save the turkey for Thanksgiving. For 2012, we decided to BBQ the goose, once I’d cleared the 4″ of snow from the deck. It was an epic effort, worthy of a saga.

This is not that saga.

This is a side quest. Specifically, it’s the story of a potato/turnip rutabaga mash that MJ made as a side dish, based on a recipe from a long-dead relative from Iowa. Essentially, it calls for a medium turnip rutabaga and a couple of potatoes, cubed, boiled, and mashed, then thinned with giblet broth. As it turned out, MJ got a little enthusiastic with the thinning and the result was more like an applesauce texture than a mash. It was very good, if a little earthy. Added a peasant touch to the white tablecloth and cut crystal.

Of course there were leftovers, and of course they ended up in the next day’s breakfast.

Setup: 1/3 cup oatmeal, 1 cup chicken broth, 1/3 cup mash, salt. Dump everything in, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and go exercise for ten minutes.

Results: Not bad. If you like turnip rutabaga, you’ll like this. I’ll certainly keep this in mind for when our crop matures next Fall.

Update: How embarrassing.


From wikipedia

A turnip/cabbage cross


From WIkipedia

Turnips are much cleaner

Only Connect

December 27, 2012

Thursday, December 27th
Over the weekend I posted another query on the Ubuntu Forums, and this time got an answer. Not on what might be wrong, but what might be a useful diagnostic. As a result I downloaded wireshark, a packet sniffer program, and got some captures of failures. Things run fine, then suddenly there’s a whole bunch of bad packets. It’s definitely logon associated, since I don’t see many bad packets when just surfing.

Also brought a new (refurb) computer online — Win7 with IE9. Funnily enough, it doesn’t have a problem.

Thursday still another CenLink guy came, stayed about three hours. He’d also been working from the central office side, changing ports and such. Got things to work on his XP laptop. Went back to office. He called later and said his techs thought it might be an ‘ethernet port config’ issue. I doubt this because it’s on so many different machines.

So, that’s my status. For blogging and banking I’m reduced to using Windows. For email, I can still receive on Evolution, and sometimes send. Fallback is gMail.

MJ is in somewhat worse shape, because she’s got a lot of groups and stuff she mails to. Right now, she still gets mail through Thunderbird, plus she’s got CenturyLink Webmail open on the U12 PC to handle replies, and she’s been getting the old Apple laptop re-synched for her trip next week.

I’ve looked into alternative ISP’s, and have been told they’re worse than CenturyLink. At least CenturyLink was willing to try.

1. It’s OS associated. Win7 works. Two flavors of Ubuntu, and one Fedora, don’t. My Nexus 7 has problems.
2. It’s not just an OS issue. I can’t believe I’m the only Linux user in this college town, but they haven’t had any other complaints. So it’s local to me, or CenLink’s configuration for me.
3. It’s not browser associated. Four different browsers have failed.
4. It’s not the DSL modem. We swapped it out and the problems continued, so we swapped it back.
5. It’s not something mundane like distance to the Central Office. I couldn’t hit it with a baseball from my back yard, but Willie Mays probably could.

My guess is that it has something to do with how the secure links handshake. Windows and Google are evidently more relaxed about how they do things.

Cheesy Oats

December 27, 2012

I thought the cheese had gone off.

It was green. Not dyed-green, like it was for Saint Patrick’s Day, but a mottled green, as if the Aspergillus nidulans was taking over. Turns out, that was intentional. It was a sage-green, because it was a sage cheese, Sage Derby to be exact.* It didn’t taste all that sagelike, more like rosemary, and a little too much so  .

Setup: Cup of chicken broth, 1/3 cup of oatmeal, 1/4 cup (roughly) of Ford Farm Sage Derby (pronounced ‘darby’) diced, two tsp of potato flakes.

Result: Not bad. The herbiness spreads out and is muted, which is a Good Thing. The first time I made it I added the cheese at the beginning, upon which it melted into a fondue. The second time, I added it after the potatoes, just as I was about to turn it out into the bowl. Better.

*OK, so maybe it was dyed. Doing the Wiki, I find that it can be made with sage, or with spinach dye and colorless sage flavorant. Since ours only listed sage, I presume it was one of the higher-class supermarket cheeses..

Green Thumb Up My Nose

December 24, 2012

Garden Report for 12/12/24

This will be the last Garden Report for 2012. It’s more of a tidying-up, because the garden has been pretty well frozen since the beginning of the month.

Winter Garden

Winter Garden

On the 5th of December, we ate the last of the homegrown tomatoes. These were ones that were harvested green and left to ripen on the living room floor. We had probably five pounds left, but not all were salad-worthy. A few were beyond help, most were destined for the tomatosauce pan that day, and the ones that were not too soft or wrinkled went into the chard and lettuce salad  .

Also on the 5th, I pulled up the last of the carrots (we finished those yesterday), the last few frost-blasted chard leaves, and the green onions. These were interesting. They were not intended to be ‘green’ onions. In fact, some of them were leeks. But I had planted them late (they were in Section 3 of the KHG), and the dull weather kept them from developing properly. So I had about a pound of mixed scallions (including a nice purple Italian variety). We’re still using them. They’re a little hot because of their size, but still good.

I have a whole box of unused seeds. One website says that if you have seeds that have gone past their plant-by date, just clear a patch of disused ground the next Spring and throw them all in and see what comes up. I might try that with the herbs and the greens, but not with the squash and corn.

We had 4″ of snow overnight, and it looks like we’ll be bouncing along right at freezing for the rest of the year (which means there’s a reasonable chance that this snow will still be here on President’s Day), so I don’t expect any garden activity until February, when the seed-ordering takes place.

In the meantime:Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and for Setsubun: !鬼は外! 福は内!

Garlic Oats

December 22, 2012

Woke up feeling poorly. Decided it might be a cold, and that I should fight it the way my grandmother would, with old-fashioned garlicky chicken soup. Of course, since this is part of the Oataku Chronicles, you know what happens next. So, chicken stock and lots of crushed garlic, fresh from the jar. No chicken fat to give it that chicken fat goodness, but we’ve got some unsalted butter, and salt.

Setup: Chicken stock, garlic, poultry seasoning, onion powder, unsalted butter, salt

Result: Very, very good, in a chicken soup sort of way. Maybe too much salt. Salty goes much better in soup than in oatmeal. Nevertheless, I feel much better now.

Joys of Home Ownership

December 22, 2012

A vortex full of angry Mayan gods boiled up in the basement last night, and I had to turn the sump pump on them. Good thing I was home, otherwise there’s no way of predicting what might have happened.

Only Connect

December 21, 2012

Friday, December 21st
Different guy this time. Brought his own laptop. Said he’d been working at it from the Central Office end using our user ID and was having the same problems. Left at two, came back at 3 and stayed until a search party arrived looking for him at 5. Poor guy was just a gap-filler from up near Colville.

He swapped out some lines in the house, to put the DSL on its own filtered line. Helped a little. Long weekend ahead, because the phone pholks get off Christmas Eve/Day

Only Connect

December 20, 2012

Wednesday, December 19th

The telco crew was out here surprisingly fast, less than 24hrs. They checked the wiring into the house and found a worn spot just below the box. We couldn’t do anything that day, because the wire went into a section of the garage that was piled with stuff. They went away, and I went to work.

Thursday, December 20th

They’re back, and it was the work of half an hour to splice in a new run of line from the box to a suitable point inside. Did a phone check, no static. Problem continued.

Another CenLink guy came around noon and left at 2. He was on the phone a lot. Voice on the other end saying “I don’t know what to tell you”. He was on the phone so much his charge depleted. Luckily, he was seeing the same problems I was, only moreso, on both his setup at the office and his WinXP laptop. He said the problem isn’t local, which may or may not be true.

Correlation and Causation and Guns and Games

December 20, 2012

The Washington Post has an interesting article on the relationship between video games and gun violence. The TL;DR version is: There isn’t any, get over it. Here’s a helpful graphic. Notice how the datapoints fail to cluster along the hypothesized trendline.

Source: Washington Post

Source: Washington Post

The study they posted compared spending on video games in different countries, vs gun deaths in those countries. Leaving out China, a distinct social and governmental entity all its own, video game spending varies by a factor of almost three, from Germany to socially similar Netherlands. Gun deaths vary from near zero in the UK and Japan, to 0.5 per 100,000 in Canada, which is almost an outlier, because everyone else is down near 0.25. Except for the US, of course, which is a true outlier at 3.2 — for a country that spends less per capita than even Germany. (more…)

TL;DR — Anime I Never Finished

December 19, 2012

This time it’s Eureka Seven (Kōkyōshihen Eureka Sebun, where the first word means symphonic, don’t ask me why). It’s a shounen mecha anime that ran to 40 episodes. I dropped it after three. Twenty-four hundred people rated it 5 out of 5, and only 30 rated it as a 1, so I’m in the minority. It’s just as well that I got out before I had a lot of time invested. I had gotten into the program late, and it turns out that Crunchyroll also dropped it at the end of its run, probably due to licensing requirements.

The “high concept” description might be Evangelion rebellion with mechs on flying surfboards, set on a decayed future Earth. Protagonist is a kid who likes to fly surfboards, has special skills for making mechs work, and is the son of a deceased rebel leader. Gets caught up in the whole fight against an oppressive government thing.

I wasn’t into surfing even back in the Beach Boys era when the music was better, and I have already seen enough Evangelion mechs to last a good while. I won’t miss E7.

Only Connect

December 18, 2012

Tuesday, December 18th

No joy. Called the CIH again. Spent almost an hour on the phone with them. They were surprisingly helpful, given their limited technology. They said they heard a lot of scratching on the line, and suggested I contact the telephone side.

Note: The browser timeout problem appears on my U10 box with Opera, Chromium, and Firefox; on MJ’s U12 machine with Opera and Firefox, and, now, our backup WinXP box with IE7.

Note: General browsing is fine. Downloads are fine. Crunchyroll anime streaming is fine.

Only Connect

December 17, 2012

Monday, December 17th
Not only is there an email problem, but there’s a website logon problem as well. A number of sites that I go to have logon protocols of various levels of security. The problem is, I keep getting server timeouts, but not on all of them and not all the time. WordPress is a problem, as is Twitter, and FlashcardDB and FaceBook. Sometimes WordPress won’t even give me the login screen. No problems with gMail or the EWU systems. Note: the campus is only a couple blocks away, but the actual routing is done somewhere in Oregon, so all of my data gets electronically schlepped five hundred miles or so to go down the street.

Called the CenturyLink Internet Hotline. They had me point our mailers at a different server. Didn’t have any suggestions about browsers.

Posted a query to the Ubuntu Forums. No answer so far.

Second Amendment: WWJD?

December 17, 2012

…and not just Jefferson. What about Adams and Franklin and the like? Or Madison? The Second Amendment starts out by talking about militias, and addresses gun ownership in that context. In The Federalist #46, as Pat Lang points out, the initial discussion was about gun ownership first, as a countervailing power to kings, and only later as a component of a militia.

This was in an era when the way kings controlled the populace was by sending troops and cannons, quite rightly feeling that a whiff of grapeshot would settle all but the most hardened revolutionaries, particularly ones armed only with cobblestones. Madison’s thought was that an armed citizenry is the final defense against dictatorship, hereditary or sequential.

It’s a compelling argument, but it’s as obsolete as bayonets.

You see, the tool of choice for suppressing the population is no longer the national army, at least, not in the developed West. It’s information. It’s propaganda. It’s surveillance. It’s acquiescence to a police state.

What’s happened in the last ten or so years is that the population has been convinced that the existentialist threat to the US from terrorism is so bad that we need to give up some of our liberties to obtain more security. What’s wrong with that last sentence is that it should read a lot of our liberties to obtain a minuscule amount of security. This destruction of our rights to be secure in our persons has been aided and abetted by our elected representatives, and carried out by Presidents of both parties.

So the illegal wiretapping of American citizens is given ex post facto approval by Congress. The collection, retention and analysis of data on American citizens is formally approved by the Attorney General. DHS is paying cities and towns to install surveillance cameras, and will soon pay for systems to record conversations on buses. Precedents are established for seizure of data, all data, from a hosting provider because one of the provider’s customers has been accused of a civil offense. The police don’t need a warrant to track your cell phone. New technology is being developed or deployed that will turn your cell phone or your DVR into a surveillance tool.

Think about that last. In 1984, the government of Big Brother installed monitoring devices in every home. In 2014, you will be paying Microsoft and Verizon to allow you to install the equipment yourself.

Once the government knows what everyone says, where everyone is, what everyone’s Google searches look like, it becomes impossible to create a viable revolution. That’s what we should worry about, not whether or not the rifle in the closet is legal. Somehow, I think that Jefferson and Madison would find that troubling, and that were they to write a new Second Amendment today, it would say “Congress shall pass no law limiting Internet access…”

Japan Trip Update

December 15, 2012

I promised to add pictures and backfill with detail when I had a chance and a useful keyboard. I have now done that for days Three and Four. Next up, Day Five, parts 1 and 2!

Trip To Japan: Japanese Toilets

December 15, 2012

Not the traditional style,

Watch where you put your feet

Watch where you put your feet

but the more modern ones. That is, more modern than they have in countries like, say, the U.S.

Not the rocket science version

Not the rocket science version

My limited experience is with the simple toilets you will find in an economy-class Japanese hotel that caters to travelers more than tourists. This one had three knobs on the side. One to start the hot water (otherwise you get quite a shock), one for the bidet function, and one for the …er…standard…cleansing.

Right is warm, Center is stream, Left is bidet

Right is warm, Center is stream, Left is bidet

Here is what the setup looks like inside.

Do not operate in this position.

Do not operate in this position.

If you bend down and turn one of the dispenser knobs, a funny little arm pops out from the square extension at the back of the bowl and sprays hot water in your face.

When used as directed, it has a surprisingly good aim. The difference between the stream and the bidet settings is that the bidet produces a softer spray, not a high pressure needle sharp stream. Consider yourself warned.

Does it work? Not particularly well. Maybe for … um … post-wipe cleanup, but if you do that, you find the cheap hotel toilet paper dissolves on contact when it comes time to dry. I think I’d rather use the old-fashioned kind. And maybe the U.S. isn’t missing out on that much after all.

Only Connect

December 14, 2012

Friday, December 14th

On the morning of December 14th, a day that shall live in infamy, our CenturyTel email went down. No problem. Happens often. Usually comes back within hours or even minutes. I mention it to MJ so that she doesn’t think it’s something she did.

Well, it’s sort of working. We get email fine. We can’t send well. What’s that mean? I use Evolution mailer on Ubuntu 10, MJ uses Thunderbird mailer on Ubuntu 12. Same problem for both. Can get email OK, but hangs when it tries to send. About 85% of the time it times out. If I leave it in the outbox, it might get sent later, no guarantees. MJ’s problem is, she can send an original message, but not a long one, and she can’t reply.

Patrick Moore 1923-2012

December 9, 2012

Patrick Moore was, in his day, the most famous amateur astronomer in England, if not the world. We lived in England in the early 70’s, the heyday for the US space program. Whenever something interesting was happening, Moore was the man the BBC would turn to to describe it all to us. He died yesterday, aged 89.

Japan Trip Update

December 8, 2012

I promised to add pictures and backfill with detail when I had a chance and a useful keyboard. I have now done that for days One and Two, and this is my way of letting those who care, know. Start here. I will post another of these when I am done with days Three and Four.

Pub Oats

December 6, 2012

A while ago, MJ came back from a trip with a box of “Wind & Willow Irish Pub Soup” — a prepackaged cheese and potato mix.

One of the suggested ways of preparing it was to substitue a can of beer for about a third of the water. This shows the whole pub thing is just marketing spin. No self-respecting pub, and certainly no Irish pub, would ever used canned beer.  We didn’t have a lot of beer in the house because (a) we are snooty enough to prefer it on tap (that’s what years of living in places like Isleham and Portland will do for you), and (b) our snootiness has progressed to the point that we prefer wine for casual breakfast drinking anyway — “Landlord! Wine! And beer for my men!”

We did have a couple of two-year-old bottles of Red Hook Winterhook, a dark, hoppy, seasonal ale, so we sacrificed one (well, half of one, we drank the rest) in the soup. The soup was uninspiring. It tasted like a boxed soup, and the beer was a little too bitter for it.

The next morning there was still some left over (the soup, not the beer), and I did my usual.

Setup: 1/4 cup cheesy potato soup made with dark ale; 1 cup chicken broth, 1/3 cup oatmeal. When it had cooked the right amount of time, it was still a little soupy, so I added the usual 2tsp of potato flakes.

Results: Not bad, at a surprising level. The beer-bitter was spread out over enough oatbland that it became just one of the flavor components. Likewise, the cheese. I’m not going to go out and buy another box of Irish Pub Soup, but I’ll keep the concept in mind for later.

Steve and Friend

December 5, 2012

Just found this photo from a conference I attended a few years ago, and thought I’d post it.

We're in Hawaii. Can you tell?

We’re in Hawaii. Can you tell?

Requiem for the GOP

December 3, 2012

Steve Jobs famously said about Microsoft that

“The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste. And I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas, and they don’t bring much culture into their products.”

What we’ve just seen in the 2012 campaign, the elections and the GOP reactions to their loss tells me that if you replace “taste” with “clue”, the statement applies to today’s Republican Party.

Since before the election, World+Dog have been writing about how the demographics of the country are trending against the GOP, that the party’s core support group is dwindling. That’s a problem for the GOP, but it’s not the big problem. The big problem is, the GOP leadership has no idea what to do about it. (more…)