Saturday, December 13, 2008

Wine instead of Whine

By about 1pm on this gray Saturday afternoon in the midst of a Southern California cold-front (I know, seems like an oxymoron) we were bored. But hungry as always. So Catherine suggested we check out the wine bar at our local purveyor of wines. And a right good suggestion it was.

We ended up with an ultimately delicious panini made from some of the finest charcuterie I've had since leaving Italy this past summer, a lovely cheese platter (more about that in a moment) and I had a delicious rich, berry-infused Slingshot 2005 Cabernet. Catherine had the Mark West 2006 Pinot Noir, also tasty but much too brown-sugar/vanilla for my taste.

Anyway, I'm not nearly the wine connoisseur that my Dad's wife Dee Dee is, however I do know a damn good cheese when I taste it. I not only consume a lot of various cheese from everywhere from Ralphs to Whole Foods to Italian Farmer's Markets (if it's good and not environmentally harmful it doesn't really matter where it's sold) but I also have a passionate love of the salty cave-aged cheeses, odoriferous bleus and rich truffle whites.

So for the 2nd time Catherine and I were able to taste the Emmi Cave-Aged Gruyere and it was every bit as good as I recall it being (we first had it 6 weeks ago for a spur of the moment wine and cheese tasting at our house with our neighbors). It was amazingly good. Small crystals of salt seem to linger like little stocking stuffers inside what is every bit cocaine for the tongue. The smalls cuts would melt in my mouth like shell-less M&Ms might but with a much more pungent yet broadly-enjoyed flavor.

Anyway, it was a lovely outing. We got out of the house, were far from bored and spent $30 for wine, a filling lunch and what amounts to pretty darn good entertainment. When Dee Dee and my Dad visit in a few weeks we intend to go back yet again and pick up some bottles, some more gruyere and who knows what else!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

2000 Years of Budgeting

My Dad sent me this and it's so good it not only makes me feel better when I read it but it also is blog-worthy for sure. I looked on to see if it's really a valid quote and I couldn't find it. That's usually a good sign. Either way I don't care if it is -- the point is still 100% valid.

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance."
Cicero - 55 BC

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I was going to write about ZQK shares being at $0.88 now. Or how I'll probably lose my job. Or how I've taken a 55% loss in everything I'd ever put toward retirement. Or maybe even how my company canceled bonuses AND 401k match. And potentially talk about how utterly depressing this all could be. Much worse than 9-11-01 when I ALSO was unemployed due to a SIMILAR fucking market bubble deflating and going kaboom. I was going to do all that. But then I read an entertainment blog from the LA Times and came across this great article about Seth Green and how awesome Robot Chicken is. I agree, their Star Wars spoofs are probably the best thing I've seen come out of the Star Wars universe since 1983. This particular clip made me cry I was laughing so hard. And if you haven't seen Star Wars, no, you won't get it.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The New Poll tax

I thought this commentary was super apropos given the ridiculous lines that are forming the day BEFORE and weekend before the election. I put in my time at Obama HQ in Mission Viejo, CA this weekend. Called about 100 democratic-leaning North Carolina voters.

At least I feel I did my part. Now those of you who haven't voted (I voted early in CA) please commit to standing in line. Make it count. Be part of history.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Healthy Halloween Treat

For Halloween, Caesar recommends a Caesar Salad instead of your normal treats. Happy Halloween everyone! (note the crouton headpiece that took me 2-hrs, a box of croutons and a lot of elmer's glue to create as well as the anchovies duct-taped to my shoulders).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Whine & Cheese

It's been far too easy to complain as of late. The state of the whole physical world seems to have turned upside down. Financial panic, our country in two wars, instability in the workplace, a seemingly never-ending monotony of bad news in the paper, online, on the radio, on television, etc. And so there's been stress. It shows in my face in the worry about company politics. It shows in the formation of gray hairs. I feel it in my very guts.

But then as quickly as it comes (weeks in the making), it fades just as fast. Just 24 hours ago I was on the verge of going stir crazy. I'd looked to all my hobbies to alleviate the frustration but as soon as I finished one task the moment of calm would usher in an unforeseen neuro-overload.

Cut to last night. Halloween 2008 at my neighbor's house. A time to be someone else. "Hello," the man formerly known as me said, "I'm Caesar Salad." The smiles came freely and the social conversation was finally something other than stocks and bonds and bears, oh my. And just like that (with the help of some sangria and a few tequila shots) the world melted away for a time. I awoke refreshed this morning, if not a bit hung-over. I felt like a weight had been lifted. We shopped for groceries, prepared a menu for the week, cooked a delicious dinner, went for a lovely walk and watched a film from Netflix. What's not to like?

And so another week begins. It's so critical to be able to take a step back (or out) from what we perceive to be reality and look at what is truly (physically, spiritually, philosophically?) essential. I see an absolutely beautiful life. So tonight I toast to just that. To having wine with my cheese, instead of whine with my cheese.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Welcome Misha

I have to brag about how cute my niece is. Misha was born last Monday, Oct 6th at 1:45am. She was 8lbs 9oz and already has a full head of hair! I'm including a slideshow below that will be updated as I get photos. These are over the first week.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Can't wait for tonight's show

Railroad Earth
7/4/08 High Sierra Music Festival, Quincy, CA

Click below to preview tracks from this show


Monday, September 22, 2008

First Day of Fall at Last

Those who know me best are very well aware of my love of Fall. It's been my favorite season since I was a kid and I don't know why. I remember the weekends with crisp leaves, fireplaces and Redskins game comin' over the rabbit ears onto the color 13" Sony TV in the "family room". I believe we even had a red shag carpet in those days. Sweet!

But either way Fall brings the annual holiday ritual of craving Wild Turkey Surprise and dressing up like a complete idiot to drink a foggy cocktail with your neighbors (you know the scene I'm talking about, with the puggle dressed as a bat and the weiner dog with a butler outfit on). It brings turkey, stuffing and the like.

And I suppose it all started as the season of the bountiful harvest. Sure, now-a-days we think of summer as the bounty because we're used to southern fruits like citrus and nectarines and peaches. But those northern pilgranatives were plantin' away the corn, squash and maybe even a hearty melon. Certainly pumpkins and gourds. Lord knows how much butternut squash an average Pilgrim had to consume in an average Fall.

Anyway, I digress. My point is that I never thought of Fall as the bounty. But now that I'm in the CSA program this is my 4th season since I joined and my first summer into fall. Summer brought lots of goodies like 2-3 melons per basket. Do you know what that meant? Well, since Catherine isn't a big melon-eater (she's a apple, peach, banana, grape kinda girl) I basically eat fruit salad every day. But the gourds are coming from the farm. And the pumpkins. And the apples and pears have already started. We're talking tarts and pies time. Hot food. The goodbye for gazpacho and the hello to goulash.

And maybe that's why I'm glad it's the first day of Fall at last.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Bacon vs Financials

You could read the reports that the Nasdaq dropped 5% today and the Dow 4% (over an additional 4% two days ago). And you could fret that your 401k is nearly valueless. You could laugh that our next President may be so dumb as to privatize Social Security or thinks the economy is ok.

Or you could spend much more valuable time reading this recent find that a friend sent to me which is essentially the only real financial decision you have to make: buy bacon now or buy bacon later?

You could spend your time whithering away in your cubicle at work wondering when you'll lose your job as your grandfather before you did in 1929 or attempting to distract your children from telling you how hungry they are because you couldn't afford to buy Pop-Tarts anymore.

Or you could look at this lovely photo of me eating a bacon-bit-laden chocolate bar. Yes, baco-chocolate bar. No, you didn't read that wrong. See the photo evidence!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Palin: Pales in Comparison

For days now I've been in absolute shock. You see, it's not that I didn't realize that John McCain is an irrational war-mongering idiot; but rather I now see that I was blind to his complete lack of understanding of a fundamental fact: he is an old geezer.

There, I said it. McCain is an old geezer. He is obviously senile. Whereas sometime around 2002 I might have actually found McCain's anti-Republican-but-still-Republican message somewhat agreeable (after all, this was a man who didn't just bow to Bush's every whim) it is now apparent that he is crazy. An unfortunate reality folks. He not only now bows to Bush's every whim but also, in his complete denial of his own age, is pushing a crazed maniac from the Christian-right as his replacement for when he keels over in 18-24 months from heart-related issues.

Now then, I was going to take the time to rant about Palin's ignorance on everything from foreign policy to women's rights (rights which she apparently loves to have for her knocked-up 17-year-old daughter -- prominently featured with a bottle of Captain Morgan or some such thing on various websites) but I needn't do so. For the Daily Show has already completed my quest. Thanks Jon Stewart!

My opinion now is that McCain's perfect choice would have been an equally crazed 72-year-old Jewish grandmother with senile dementia. This would have been a knock-out choice, and I'll explain why.

First off, starvation for the poor of the USA would be a thing of the past because she'd forget we'd just eaten any gov't cheese and try to "feed the country" some more. Secondly, we'd all get tax rebates every Xmas because... well, because that's what Grandma's are good at, especially crazy ones. And lastly foreign heads-of-state dinner parties would be a riot. Just imagine the two of them forgetting everyone's name and slamming down a few swigs of Manischewitz blackberry wine and releasing some noxious gas fumes. What a scene it could have been. Alas, I'll be voting for Obama.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pink Asparagus

Just a quick note that I've happily contributed to my friend Catherine's blog over at Catherine is a longtime and dear friend from my Boulder days. She and her husband Peter are not only fellow full time geeks but also sassy! And who doesn't like SASSY?!

Anyway, head on over there and check out my interview. You might even learn a few things about me that you didn't know and probably don't want to:

And thanks to Catherine for being the best blogger around. She's dedicated, witty, timely, geeky and downright family friendly to boot. You go girl.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Why Apple's stock chart is going UP

Once upon a time I worked on a Windows PC at work. Then I joined a liberal forward-thinking company. Now I use the computer of my choice. Why? Because when I'm on a conference call my computer works, I don't tell the other callers to wait for my computer to reboot. I can get to the documents I require. So I use a Mac. I attribute about 1% of my success at work simply to the quality of the computer I use. Lest you think 1% is low, that's a HUGE number. The other 99% is intention.

Once upon a time I used a Palm Treo for my telephone. I used it exclusively as I had/have no land-line at home and no interest in paying AT&T for one. Then they had a firmware upgrade that allowed me to get my email pushed to me like a BlackBerry. It's called ActiveSync. It worked... for a while. Then it didn't. Then other things started failing. And the calls started dropping. So I got an iPhone. Those things aren't broken anymore. They work. I attribute 1% of my productivity simply to having a phone that works. You know the rest.

Once upon a time I had a MP3 player that was among the first ones on the market. Before people knew what the hell an MP3 was. An MP-What? It worked... somewhat. It was highly portable but not highly usable. It had maybe 50 minutes of music. The company went bankrupt. So I got an iPod. I have lots of storage the UI is simple and it runs forever. It works. I attribute 1% of my on-the-go music enjoyment simply to having a music player that works. You know the rest.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


I believe I may have hit a near-record in stinginess having made it until August 7th at 10:30pm to turn on the air conditioning this year. In the meantime I have saved:

1) Money
2) The environment
3) Wear and tear on my on-its-last-legs unit (my neighbors just had to replace and identical model; mine was built in 1985 and still going strong!)

I have created:
1) Sweat
2) Complaints from girlfriend and guests
3) Hot kitties

Amazingly, my house is normally super-cool during the day due to the tile flooring. Even being at the bottom of a valley we normally cool off at night due to our proximity to that giant pond called the Pacific Ocean. But last night was toasty. I swear it was hotter at night than it was during the day (though I work at the beach so I have a false sense of daytime temperatures).

No, that's not strong enough wording. Basically the devil himself came and visited my bedroom last night and complained about the heat. He said something about moving back to Washington, DC where the 99% humidity seemed much cooler than the ambient temperature on Eastview Rd.

So not wanting to disappoint the devil, with whom I have a life-time pact which I shall not disclose lest he double-cross me, I turned on the A/C. The unit is working OK for now . And all it took to cool the house down was to set the temp to 77 from 79.

Lesson Learned: Cat fur does not melt at 3984 Kelvin.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

English 101 1/2

Picked this up from my Dad via email. Fun to look over:

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes..
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that, and three would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

English muffins weren't invented in England.

We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend. If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it, and odd or an end?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.

In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? We ship by truck but send cargo by ship. We have noses that run and feet that smell. We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway. And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

And in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

12 Seasons

For 12 seasons there was anticipation of the next;
the wind blew mornings and sunsets one after the other
regardless of weather
or mood

Ignorant hope danced with informed optimism
that came with each new opportunity, so life
always smelled clean,
like new,

Alas youth too has its drawbacks and fresh cuttings
release fresh colors, but also fresh pollen,
allergy be damned
and so forth.

Enter understanding and love without expectation --
Ghosts get scared and a protagonist arises
at the perfect time
with a grin

Suddenly there’s no rush for Fall to relieve Summer;
it’s hot and muggy but the weather’s just right,
rejoice now, the heart is ravenous at the feast
of indulgent peace.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Letter to Mobile-Addicted Drivers

Dear Guy on the Freeway Still Talking on the Phone without a Headset,

It's been a month now. The law still says you can't talk on the phone without a hands-free device. Please put it down. Save yourself. Save the rest of us. Save the insurance companies. Save some innocent victim. Put down the cell.

Headsets are $0.99 on eBay. Even Bluetooth ones are pretty available.

The stock market is dying. The economy is dying. Soldiers in Iraq are dying. The "American Way" (whatever that is anymore) appears to be dying. Even Obama's campaign is losing steam. Everything politico-policy-wise is heading for the shitter. But this one law, this one seems pretty well thought out. So put the phone down, free your hands and feel that wheel. Remember how invigorating the feel of the open road can be? Take the time to feel it. Take time out. Away from your screaming wife, your "on-call" work and your 2.35 children.

I know that you think you need it. So have it. Just get a headset of some kind. And you don't need it, by the way. Any more than you "needed" that old SUV you just lost $10k on when you ducked out of that lease. And you got rid of that right? So get rid of this habit at the same time. Hell, my friend Kelly has a 4th kid on the way and she manages without the SUV, without the cell. She doesn't even have email. It is possible to still thrive. Yes, it's scary.

VW says, "Drivers Wanted". Hands-free required.


Yoga Journal Pose of the Day 3

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Making Ends

How do you people do it? The ones out there with the recurring monthly bills for "necessary services". Lets add up the ones I don't pay, shall we?

- Hard-line telephone even though you already have two cell phones

- Digital Cable (cuz I weeely weeely need TNT, pweety pleeze) and this is not with HBO or anything fancy, just freakin' cable (probably bundled with that useless phone above)
$50/month but most likely $70/month because you like that DVR

- Cell phone with data, text and voice minutes

- Gym membership

- Recreation costs (yoga, tennis club, dance, whatever wakes ya up in the morning)

Ok, so far that's a hell of a lot of stuff. $250/month in stuff you had to have. I'm guilty of some of that stuff, but I manage to get it through work. Get a job requiring a cell phone, cancel the one at home. Don't do cable, sorry. Work at a gym. Work at a recreation area or studio. Check. Check.

Lest you think I'm lecturing, I'm just pointing out that it amazes me those folks who are paying all of those things above can still go out to eat, save for retirement, send the kid to college and pay the bills while not bargaining with the devil himself. Or perhaps that's the piece I'm missing? Whatever it is, I want the skills required to know that those things are possible easily. I already have the skills to know they aren't necessary.

Gasholes and the bicycle backlash

I read an article just the other day in the LA Times about some crazed angry motorist killing two cyclists. Apparently he slammed on his brakes while descending some crazy-ass hill (Mandeville Canyon) and one guy flew into his back window. He's under arrest for manslaughter. Unbelievable. It's not bad enough to blow $5/gallon on your super-jumbo SUV, you also have to run over the other people trying to enjoy themselves and not contribute to the problem! Click here for all the details.

There's quite the discussion in the LA Times blog.

And then today my friend Aaron sent me a link to an article about some gashole there (the USA's most bike-friendly city according to Bicycle magazine!) drove around with some cyclist clinging to his hood. No shitting. That's real stuff people. Get a god-damn grip on reality folks!

Daruma-otoshi skyscraper demolition

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

Only a web geek can appreciate

This is the funniest thing I've ever seen from a web geek.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

An AM Gem

This morning I ended up on YouTube watching a video of Paul McCartney singing "A Day in the Life" for the first time ever (yes, ever!) for a live audience ( It was mentioned in the LA Times and on this rare occasion I actually remembered to view it once I got to work. But after clicking through a few links I found this gem. You have to love YouTube. Imagine a world with no DRM.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Shambling Mound

At the times that I'm most convinced that I'm starting to achieve some semblance of physical prowess I find myself in the most distressingly opposite mindset. And vice versa. Take, for instance, my current state. Essentially a diseased monkey at the point, I have some crazy-ass virus attacking my right shoulder causing me burning and pain. The generalized 'sore muscle' neck pain I get from working my butt off in a Level 3 Iyengar class isn't enough. No, my body had to rebel hard core. It decided that my chicken pox from 2.5 decades ago (yes, that's 25 years folks) was going to make a stand.

Normally health issues aren't really my focus. During my last doctor's visit I actually had a nurse ask me why I hadn't been to Kaiser very often. My response was that I was not sick and didn't require western medicine regularly. But this ailment is particularly annoying. This virus is attacking my shoulder, according to the doctor, from within my spine. It travels in one's nervous system and attacks one node of the body. And it will probably be all cleared in 2-3 weeks.

I suppose I should be thankful, yes? That I'm still strong. Still able to go to yoga and cook and eat and enjoy life despite a bit of burn. But I'm not feeling thankful. I think about the enormous amount of fresh fruit and veggies I consume compared to most Americans and feel wonderfully aloof. And then I'm thinking about the amount of everything else I consume (see my recent blog on bacon) and wondering if somehow one can bring illness upon oneself despite seemingly normal health? [Note: what the hell is normal anyway? Does an obese person remember what it's like to be free to run and play without limits? Does a work-out junky remember what it's like to sit and eat a cookie without guilt while simultaneously being free of soreness and pain?]

Modern medicine would likely say no. They'd say that there's no explanation for such things. That chickenpox could have come out of my spine at age 12 or 22 or 52 or 92. And I don't disagree. But I believe there's cause and effect for most things in life. That's the Buddha in me I suppose. Maybe this one was a reminder to keep my ego in check. Something pent up ready to remind me that whereas I am an enviro-organism that the environment can sometimes get the better of me if I'm not focused. Or maybe it was the Level III class I reference above and the deep work we've been doing there. Perhaps I released something that needed releasing and this is really doing me good?!

Either way it's a reminder, good or bad, of how fragile life is. I was thinking upon the fragility of life not long ago when I was reminded of a friend who passed away at too young an age from stomach cancer. Here one day, gone the next. Makes my scabby, itchy shoulder seem pretty damn normal. Pain reminds us we're alive, after all (yes, I just quoted GI Jane and World Trade Center in one reference). So Lord knows, I'm alive. Physically defunct but maybe, just maybe, mentally growing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Suggestions for a feng shui lifestyle

This was sent to me via email and seemed worth blogging. It was called "Lotus Touts":

ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

TWO. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.

THREE. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.

FOUR. When you say, 'I love you,' mean it.

FIVE. When you say, 'I'm sorry,' look the person in the eye.

SIX. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.

SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight.

EIGHT. Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much.

NINE. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.

TEN.. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.

ELEVEN. Don't judge people by their relatives.

TWELVE. Talk slowly but think quickly.

THIRTEEN: When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, 'Why do you want to know?'

FOURTEEN. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

FIFTEEN. Say 'bless you' when you hear someone sneeze.

SIXTEEN. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

SEVENTEEN. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions.

EIGHTEEN. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

NINETEEN. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

TWENTY. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

TWENTY-ONE. Spend some time alone.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mac attack

In retrospect... I saw this keynote back in the day in San Francisco. Who knew I'd be using a Mac in the Enterprise, full-time, with iPhones and a dock for this crazy iPod? Happy birthday iMac. I'm so glad you helped my Mom and Dad not need 24x7 tech support.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bloggin' Bacon

Some folks already realize that I make sausage. From scratch. Yes, with the big long hog intestine casing and the ground up meat. That sausage. And it's delicious (or so says the many tasters who've been lucky recipients of said sausages).

Whereas sausage was a great entry point into the world of meat, it wasn't too long ago that I was surfing over to Butcher & Packer for some new natural casings when I saw this phenomenal looking book: Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. And so began the journey into the art of charcuterie.

This week after obtaining curing salt, a remote probe meat thermometer, a Salter-brand scale (accurate from 1/4 of an oz up to 11 lbs!) and a fresh pork belly from El Toro Meats I have officially cured my own bacon. I made about a pound of standard cure out of nitrate-based salt (aka pink salt or curing salt), kosher salt and sugar. And then I spread it on that 3lb pork belly and flipped and waited and flipped and waited. 7 days.

The process was one in which I truly had to trust Chef Brian Polcyn. It's really quite easy. However the concept is counter intuitive to everything we've been taught. Why? Well, several reasons:
  1. Leaving a piece of meat in the fridge for 7 days usually means that your significant other starts to question your sanity and goes looking for green or blue fuzzy stuff on the meat.
  2. The amount of curing salt needed (that is, the salt with the nitrates) is so minute that one questions if this really is going to work (note: it does)
  3. There is a big thick skin on a pork belly. And though bacon has lots of fat on it, even a seasoned sausage-maker such as myself starts to wonder if this sucker isn't supposed to be trimmed in some way (it's trimmed post-smoking/baking)
Anyway, trust I did. I went for 8.5 days since I was busy and Polcyn said 1-2 days extra is OK. Since I don't have a smoker at home [yet] I followed his recommendation to slow roast the belly for approximately 2 hrs until it reached 150 degrees internally. I believe it took 2 hrs 8 mins (Polcyn is a genius, by the way, and a well-written one at that).

After baking one can taste the belly warm; it really tastes somewhere between a fresh ham and a pork loin with salt (the curing salts are thorougly rinsed before baking, FYI). My girlfriend and I were doubting that it would really taste like bacon if cooked in a pan. After all, it was tasting like ham to us and why would cooking it render the taste changed?

Live and learn. I sliced the whole 3 lbs into slices of medium-thickness. Then I threw a few in a small All-Clad pan (no non-stick here) and turned on medium heat. The bacon started sizzling and as soon as the fat was liquefied I knew I had done good. The bacon strips become juicy. The fat rendered a smell that filled the house with bacon-ey goodness. As it cooked, the "ham-like" belly turned to lean and crispy strips. And the taste? Out of this world. I've made my own bacon as successfully as I made sausage. And I'm moving forward.

Mission Accomplished. From here on out it's time to make my own charcuterie. I'm shooting for nova lox, prosciutto, Italian dried sausages, etc.

And most readers might have the same skeptical reaction that everyone had when my buddy Rob and I undertook the sausage endeavor. Crazy? Maybe. Breakfast? Delicious.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hat for a Cat

How to Crochet a Cat Hat

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

With these instructions, you can crochet a charming hat for your kitty. You'll probably spend a lot more time making this hat than your cat will spend wearing it (unless your cat likes playing dress-up), but it's still a fun, easy project for a beginning crocheter (and avid cat lover). To follow these steps, you'll need to understand crochet patterns.


  1. Make a slip knot, and crochet 4 Ch (Chains); Slip stitch in first ch made. This will make your ring that you'll crochet into.
  2. Crochet 7 sc (single crochet) into the ring, use slip stitch to join sc into first sc made: 7 sc.
  3. Ch 2, work first hdc (half double crochet) in same stitch as the ch 2; work 2 hdc in each stitch around in circle; Slip stitch in first hdc made: 14 hdc.
  4. Ch 3, dc (double crochet) in same stitch as ch 3, 2 dc in each stitch around, slip stitch in first dc made: 28 dc.
  5. Ch 1, 8 sc in circle, ch 13, skip 4 stitches, re-attach using slip stitch. (This will create the first ear hole.) sc 10 more stitches in circle, ch 13, skip 4 stitches, re-attach using slip stitch, sc 3 more stitches, slip stitch in first sc made. By now your hat should start to curve a little bit, which is what you want.
  6. Ch 1, 7 sc in circle. Note: You will be working into the 'ear hole' now, so you will be working in the space under it, but it's basically like working a normal stitch. 16 sc in the 'hole', sc in in each stitch until you hit the next ear hole, 16 sc in hole, 3 sc, slip stitch in first sc made; cut yarn and tie off. Weave in yarn ends with yarn needle.Alternate explanation:Ch 1, sc in next 7 sts.16 sc around ch of 13.Sc in each st up to next ch.16 sc around ch of 13.Sc in next 3 sts, slst in 1st sc made.

In Other Words
  1. ch 4, slip stitch to first ch to form a ring.
  2. ch 1, 7sc in ring, join with sl st to first sc. (7sc)
  3. ch 2 ( this will be the first hdc) hdc in same st, 2 hdc in each st around, join with sl st in top of ch 2. (14 hdc)
  4. ch 3, dc in same st, 2 dc in ea st around, Sl st in top of ch 3. (28 dc)
  5. ch1, sc in same st and in next 7 dc, ch 13, skip 4 dc, sl st in next dc, sc in next 10 dc, ch 13, sk 4, sl st in next dc, sc in next 3 dc, sl st in first sc.
  6. ch1, sc in same st and next 6 sts, 16 sc in ch 13 loop, sc in ea st around till next loop, 16 sc in ch 13 loop, sc in last 3 sts. Sl st in first sc. Fo weave in ends


  • You can make a chin strap but this is only for the most patient and mellow of cats, and definitely not recommended if there are children who'll be trying to put this hat on the cat. Cut a 6 inch piece of yarn, and tie it onto the middle of the ear hole, try the hat onto your kitty to determine how long the chin strap should be, hold the spot and cut off the extra yarn, but leave an inch so you have room to tie it loosely. If the cat is clearly stressed, tying the hat on with a chin strap is not a good idea--it's rather cruel!

Things You'll Need

  • Size H 5.00 mm crochet hook
  • Yarn
  • Yarn needle

Related wikiHows

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

The New Old Gym

I've blogged previously about returning to the gym and the strange memories that come with that experience. I'm pretty much into a 2-day swim/lift routine now. The rest remains yoga. That leaves Friday to rest (Did the Bible get it wrong? Sunday is for Level 2-3 yoga, big guy, not just napping).

Anyway, I got to thinking this evening, staring around at the gym-rats and reminiscing (and later discussing with my brother who shared the same experience) about my high school days driving to Gold's Gym in Wheaton, MD. Back in those days the gyms weren't fancy shmancy (say that in your best "Grumpy Old Man" voice). This place was pretty much a shit-hole. No really lobby entrance to speak of; just weights, barren floor, posing room (yes, posing room, as in practice for the bodybuilding competition), mirrors, old windows, locker room with occasional steroid use, the works.

And old man named Herman who basically walked around dressed like the strong man of a big-top would dole out advice to "newcomers" and guys on 'roids would bench press 600lbs (no exaggeration) while the remainder of us either helped spot him or drooled.

Yes, folks, this is where I spent a good amount of time after school every day (when I wasn't in Stage Crew or Yearbook I guess) and in reminiscing I determined one thing: what a great way to spend your time. I got healthy, learned about some random characters who somehow ended up in a rotten gym in Wheaton (say Wheaton ten times and tell me if it's not amusing somehow?) and generally enjoyed myself. I pretty much kept quiet and slowly succumbed to the reality that a 16-year old Jewish kid wasn't going to be entering body-building contests without serious steroids (which didn't interest me in the least).

And that's all I got to say about that. Just some random memories of Herman and company. It beats being in a gang I suppose. And I still have the pectorals that I built up then to help me with yoga now. Thanks Gold's.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Rarity Indeed

Cable television hasn't come into my humble abode since June 2005. But from time to time I stray from a steady regimine of LA Times and Netflix and flip on the ole' tube. Tonight was one such occasion and as usual I stumbled upon PBS first and foremost and caught some quality HD programming of Antiques Roadshow.

One item that they reviewed (combined with a thought for the last 6 months that I really oughta be blogging more) seemed blog-worthy. It was a collection of signatures from aviation pioneers. Seems pretty damn boring, I know. But 990 signatures from the days of balloons to astronauts in space capsules is a pretty monumental achievement.

Think about it. In this day and age we're lucky if we get past celebrity gossip long enough to have a single hero. And here's a collection of almost 1000 of them. Genuine pioneers. Amelia Erhart, John Glenn, etc. I've never been a real fan of pilots or astronauts enough to want to collect memorabilia. But that's not the point. It's that somebody was inspired enough to type out letters to individuals during a time in which individuals, famous or not, had genuine understanding of who they were and who the people that supported them were... enough to write back! Try that with P-Diddy. Or President Bush.

Sure you can collect autographs now if that's your thing. And a few genuine individuals would probably sign on the dotted line with some semblance of belief that their autograph would do somebody some good. But as a general rule even the 21st century heroes like Cal Ripken will most likely end up on eBay with cash-in-hand used for a cheap XBox 360 Virtual Baseball 2010 game.

There are few selfless pioneers anymore. Fewer still collections of them. And that's what made me appreciate this collection all the more. Thanks PBS.

Friday, April 04, 2008

The Roxy Chicken Jam, Mammoth Mnt Day 2

This pretty much sums up the experience for 5 days. Sun, snow, blizzard, boarding, blogging, photography... rough life.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Breathtaking View from the Top of Mammoth Mountain

I'm famous. Well, not really, but my photo of cloud cover between the Eastern Sierra's did make it onto the Roxy blog. Check it out!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Will It Blend? - Glow Sticks

Subscribe to the "Will it Blend?" channel. You won't be let down.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

2008 Roxy Chicken Jam Mascot Superpipe Competition!

So ready to witness this in late March.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Running in Place

To re-hab a sore and creaky right knee I have changed up my 4-5 day/week yoga routine and thrown in some non-impact cardio and strengthening exercises. That means that I had to find a gym I could get to after work a few times a week and one in which I can swim. That gym? LA Fitness in Fountain Valley. The gym I joined originally when I moved to California in February 1999!

For those readers who aren't gym-rats let me explain: a gym is like a church, and after-school sport and a social hall all mixed into one. Those who attend regularly find their spirits lifted and start to see the network of recognizable faces form. The machines become like a favorite seat in a classroom -- familiar even when less-than-thrilling. To leave one's gym is like switching teams. You have to have uprooted yourself in some life-change that requires physically departing.

And I had. I left Fountain Valley for Irvine in 2001 and never looked back. For years I worked out in Foothill Ranch and then taught Yoga there when I first started instructing in 2004. Returning to Fountain Valley was both strange and comfortable at the same time. The machines were oddly familiar, the faces were mostly different but a few old-timers still lingered including staff. The pool felt the same: too hot, too shallow, too small and altogether mine for the taking.

But what I found most disturbing was the psychology of the place. I, on a personal level, am in a completely different place than I was in 1999 -- and yet... Being on the same machines and staring at the same walls (or people) brought back extremely vivid memories of the thought patterns I had at that point in my life. How self-limiting they were. How small. Which makes me wonder if my current thoughts are so small that I limit myself year after year.

They were simple thoughts: how my girlfriend (some day to become ex-wife) was interacting with me in my apartment, where I might live after my first apartment in Fountain Valley, how much income I could earn at this thrilling new job in California. And now? My thoughts of late have been about living with my girlfriend, how I might be able to reduce my mortgage given the current US economic downturn and why I don't earn what I believe I'm capable of.

But then I smile. I realize that my thoughts aren't about how much I argue with my girlfriend (in retrospect, I suppose ex-wife was right there in my face) but rather how much I am amazed that I can spend hours upon hours with my girlfriend and adore here. My mortgage is a mortgage which I have absolute control over for a house that is perfect for me with neighbors I love and in a location I have chosen of all the places in SoCal. And my income is triple what it was when I moved to California and allows me a life of stability even as I realize I still have upward potential for far more -- my accomplishments are being recognized.

And so the gym is an absolute riotous flashback in my mind and yet makes me feel very comfortable in my own skin. And very glad to be 33, established and experienced (albeit knowing that I know very little compared to my parents and elders) compared to my 24-year-old lost self. It's been quite the ride and it's only week 2. I am a yogi at heart. Not a gym rat. That time has long since passed. My intentions, however, are to enjoy the ride. I'm glad I can recognize the familiar scenery in this second pass.

I am not running in place. But looping back for a look at how good things are... no-one should argue with that. Free, intimate, growing, succeeding. Yes.

For What I Have Got

The last few weeks have been financial chaos. Trying to plan for this Europe trip in the midst of a stock market collapse, a record-low dollar vs Euro, my own company's stock falling over 50% in 3 months and then my bellwether, Apple (AAPL), falling 20% in a week and 35% in a few months.

I suppose as a single individual it's easy to get caught up in what I don't have. I don't have a partner to share my mortgage, a "plan" for when the going gets tough to tighten the belt -- it's already tight being single in SoCal or a second income to fall back on if my company were to commence lay-offs given the fiscal outlook.

But today, sitting outside and enjoying the 65 degree weather that has blessed us between two giant low-pressure rainstorms, it's become a lot easier to see the other side of things. The side where I am blessed. The side where I own this entire town home by myself in Orange County and have made each and every payment for 5 years and still managed to save money every month to prepare for a day when I retire 30 years from now. The side where I just moved into a private office at work because my work is appreciated and rewarded year after year. That same side where I am still in my early thirties, healthy, in love and completely open to do what I want to every weekend.

So when I roll out of bed at 7am, hit yoga for 90 minutes surrounded by folks who know and appreciate my effort, clean my car which I still love and own, pick up leaves in my yard and see the blooms of a fast-approaching Spring (the yard which is paid for and OK for one more month of living, one more month of growth) and then make myself a delicious breakfast of organic, local food, prepare my home for some new furniture my father made by hand, pet my kitties in the sun, drink some shade-grown coffee, air out the house and then write a blog in the sun... well, you get the idea.

Thank you universe. I apologize for fretting about AAPL. I trust you. I promise I am still free and intimate, growing and succeeding.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Relationship Wishes & Owlbear Dreams

I have had a series of disturbing and extremely vivid dreams lately. The strangest part of this is not that I've had them but rather that I actually remember them two days later and have given them enough thought to warrant a blog entry.

Let me explain the most recent one from this past Sunday night. It involved the capture (or raising) of a dinosaur-type creature that walked on two legs and had some type of duck bill. Somehow, in a cage in the San Francisco Zoo, I ended up trapped with this creature. More odd than that was that my girlfriend was a duck in the dream. Yes, a duck.

Did I mention these dreams were strange?

So anyway, the creature was very angry; I would be angry too if I was the last duck-billed dinosaur on Earth and was on display in the middle of a metropolitan zoo. Anyway, the creature attacked me in the dream. I was holding my girlfriend, the duck, who was squished in the subsequent attack. That made me very angry. So in turn I savagely attacked the dino-creature.

It was not until today that I realized what the dinosaur was. It was some kind of meld of two childhood memories:
  1. Dino from the Flintstones
  2. An "Owl Bear" from the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual Vol 1
I realize I am not normal. However this transcends the category of "strange dreams". What I have invented here, in my imagination, is a creature that combines Hanna Barbara and 1980's nerd roll-playing fantasy games.

In my own psycho-analysis I think I am concluding that my girlfriend is a soft, white creature whom I wish to protect from a violent and disturbing world. When that world crushes my plan it comes in the form of my own childhood which leads to violent rage.

IN SUMMATION -- my immaturity has potential to kill my relationship; if it does, the outcome will not be positive. If you can look at the two creatures above and keep a straight face (or not) then let me know if you think I need to be committed. I consider the dream to be a forewarning to myself: don't be a fool. Come to think of it, that's a pretty good lesson for the whole of humanity.