Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Bad Idea for Halloween - From WikiHow

How to Give Healthy Treats for Halloween - WikiHow

I don't know about you but if someone gave me different flavors of popcorn in small cellophane bags tied with a ribbon, a little packet of organic raisins, a granola bar, or a low-sugar trans fat-free cookie from a health food store for a halloween treat - I'd be soaping their windows.

That's the candy talking...I wouldn't really soap anyone's windows. We talked big about that sort of thing when I as a kid but never actually followed through. If I soaped anyones windows now the neighborhood watch would be on me like perfume on Pepé Le Pew.

When I was a kid and someone gave me a healthy treat, or anything homemade for that matter, - I was bummed out. Of course nowadays anything that isn't store bought and pre-wrapped would end up in the trash anyway.

If you want to try something different, give kids jumbo sized Hershey bars or even a regular sized candy bar, and see their eyes light up.

Halloween is once a year - you can eat granola and sawdust the other 364 days.


Postscript - It's the day after Halloween and I ended up not following my own advice. My apologies to the three teenagers that ended up with the small boxes of raisins. I was running out of candy by the time you came. Sorry about that boys, I figured as teens you'd be able to handle the disappointment better than some small trick or treaters.

We had one interesting request from two scruffy little trick or treaters last night who asked if they could have some pumpkins from the porch. We didn't get around to carving pumpkins this year but we had made a fall display with various items including some pumpkins. These little guys asked if they could have a pumpkin because they wanted to carve their own jack o' lanterns. B got them each a bag to carry them in and they left lugging some fairly good-sized pumpkins.

We missed out on the first part of trick or treating because we were down at Swedish where B had an emergency root canal yesterday afternoon and we didn't get home until about an hour after dark. Before we left we were trying to think how we could handle trick or treating since we knew we would be home late. Maybe we could ask a friend to come over? or leave treats on the porch? Neither one of those options seemed good so we ended up leaving our front door unlocked.

Actually we did leave our front door unlocked by accident; with various laptops, cameras etc laying around in the living room. We were joking when we realized our absent-mindedness that we should have left a note on the door "come on in - help yourself to some candy." Nothing was missing, although I'm sure the neighborhood watch would be sorely disapointed in my carelessness.



Sunday, October 29, 2006

Thomas Paine

I was listening to an interview on C-Span Book Notes this afternoon, with the author Craig Nelson who has written a book about the lesser known founding father and pamphleteer Thomas Paine. Craig Nelson and the hosts of Book Guys, made the life of Thomas Paine sound like something that would be fun and interesting to read about.

Yes - History can be fun and interesting to read and learn about, contrary to what some of you mis-learned in school. It's never ceased to amaze me how boring some people can make history considering how exciting and interesting it can be. I coachs/P.E. teachers who taught us American History in junior high and high school days. It was terrible, they were bored with the subject and it showed - I thought I hated history, until my first year of college.

I had a great professor - Dr. Martin Lutter who loved history and let us read novels, and various fiction and non-fiction works, to learn about history. He loved history. He was the total absent-minded professor type. He'd come to class with a big stack of books filled with little book marks and put them on his podium and then just start talking....he was fascinating, he loved what he was doing and had so much energy it rubbed off on his students.

This is the book by Craig Nelson -

There's an interview with Craig Nelson on the Book Guy's Archives #640 which was on C-Span BOOK TV.ORG this afternoon. From the interview it sounded like his book on Thomas Paine was fun to write and will be fun to read.

This Wired 3.05: The Age of Paine article by Jon Katz says of Paine -

"If any father has been forsaken by his children, it is Thomas Paine. Statues of the man should greet incoming journalism students; his words should be chiseled above newsroom doors and taped to laptops, guiding the communications media through their many travails, controversies, and challenges. Yet Paine, a fuzzy historical figure of the 1700s, is remembered mostly for one or two sparkling patriotic quotes - "These are the times that try men's souls" - and little else."

A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines

The book A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines written by Janna Levin Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University, and published on August 22, 2006 - sounds really good. You can watch a video interview with Janna Levin on the The Colbert Report and download an mp3 file, to listen to on your iPod or computer, of a Janna Levin interview with the The Book Guys Allan Stypeck, Mike Cutbert and Nick Basbanes.

The book is about the connection between brilliant minds and eccentric behavior and sometimes - complete insanity of two great thinkers - Alan Turing and Kurt Godel.

Alan Turing and Kurt Godel share some traits - particularly eccentric behaviour and brilliant minds, and diverge completely when it came to a philosophy of life. Alan Turing was an atheist who believed human beings were biological machines. Kurt Godel had little trust in the sensory world and believed in transmigration of the soul.

Alan Turing was a homosexual at a time when that was thought to be a mental illness and possibly a crime. He is thought by some to have had a form of autism known as Asperger's syndrome. In 1952 he was arrested for his homosexual behavior and forced to take estrogen for a year to reduce his libido. He died in 1954 after eating half an apple which he had laced with cyanide.

Kurt Godel suffered a number of nervous breakdowns, was paranoid to the point that he would not eat any food that was not prepared by his wife (who spoon fed him) and died in 1978 weighing 65 pounds as a result of self-starvation, after his wife became to ill to feed him. Kurt Godel was a friend of Albert Einstein and provided input to Einstein as he developed his General Theory of Relativity.

An Amazon book reviewer going by the name "bookish" says of the book "A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines" -
"I would have to say that it is the best book I have read in years. Let's put it this way, I have never felt impelled to write a review before. This book sent me reeling with so many ideas. I want other people to read it.

The writing is luminous. On the dust jacket the word "Incantatory" is used and I couldn't select a better descriptor myself. The language is incantatory. It is an extremely well crafted novel. There are passages so beautiful that I've found myself returning to read them long after I finished the book. As a former teacher of English, once involved in the publishing industry, I have to say she is an unusually skillful writer."

Continue reading the book review by Bookish
Other books byJanna Levin available on Amazon.com
A wealth of information on Alan Turing, known as the founder of computer science and also as one of the key people in deciphering the encryption used by the German Enigma machine during WW-II can be found on a site maintained by Andrew Hodges, author of the book Alan Turing: The Enigma and Turing (Great Philosophers).

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Cowboy Cultural Society

COWBOY CULTURAL SOCIETY is another internet radio station I've been listening to since I started using iTunes. They seem to play what I think of as Roy Rogers happy trails type western music - old timey and generally pretty sweet stuff. They stream some nice cowboy poety too.

There's a YouTube video of a corny, and kind of cool, 40's western musical movie made for the USO, featuring Miss Constance Shaw in her Western Rope Dance, with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra - and a virtural campfire.

I like corny stuff sometimes...maybe a better word than corny would be honest, or simple, naive or something along that line.

The Official ROY ROGERS - DALE EVANS Website.


Additional Roy Rogers items available from .


bee 2

Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 27, 2006

Pomme Frites - Seattle Capital Hill

I want to try the Belgian Fries at "Frites" - located on Capital Hill in Seattle at 925 East Pike Street. They peel and fry the potatoes themselves - served in a paper cone with a huge selection of sauces.

Pomme frites as the Belgian's call them are fried twice to give them a special crunchy texture.


Open from 3:00 pm to midnight Sunday - Wednesday, and from 3:00 pm until 2:30 am Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.


Food Network

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

SomaFM - Listener Supported - Commercial Free - Internet Radio

They play a really interesting mix of western, old timey, eclectic country and other music on SomaFM's Boot Liquor internet radio station. I haven't listened long enough to understand the genre but the tag line says it's -

Americana Roots music for Cowhands, Cowpokes and Cowtippers

This San Francisco Chronicle teaser said of SomaFM, "Move over, pirate radio — from a Bernal Heights garage, Internet station SomaFM plays tunes for the whole wide world, and it’s all perfectly legal."

Boot Liquor is only one of their 11 streams aka internet radio stations, which cover a wide range of musical tastes.

This is the play list from the Boot Liquor stream for around midnight tonight; it's a pretty amazing variety of music, you would never hear on commercial radio, with basically no talking -

00:17:49 Phil Ochs A Toast To Those Who Are Gone
00:14:21 Roger Clyne The Peacemakers Tell Yer Momma
00:11:56 Lyle Lovett They Don't Like Me
00:09:24 Rosie Flores Down To The River
00:06:51 Waco Brothers Johnson To Jones
00:04:05 Phil Lee 2 For The Price Of 1
00:02:00 Patsy Montana Cowboy's Sweetheart
23:57:07 Bob Dylan Absolutely Sweet Marie
23:54:26 Hank Snow I've Been Everywhere
23:51:29 Bill Monroe And His Blue Grass Boys Six White Horses
23:49:31 Derailers Take It Back
23:49:26 Station Identification
23:47:08 Townes Van Zandt Lungs
23:44:08 Dwight Yoakam Smoke Along The Track
23:41:45 Al Barkle Jumpin' From 6 To 6
23:38:59 Gary U.s. Bonds New Orleans
23:37:25 Elvis Costello Why Don't You Love Me (Like You Used To Do)
23:34:17 Violet Days Like This
23:30:44 Buddy And Julie Miller Rachel

Monday, October 23, 2006

Pumpkin Pies and Baked Pumpkin Seeds

Here's the pics from the two pumpkin pies I made today. I used two 6 to 8 inch pumpkins and ended up with enough pumpkin mix left over to make a few pumpkin shakes. I used a package of tofu, soymilk, 2 cups of brown sugar, a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch mixed in a little cold water for a thickening agent, two tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice and a teaspoon of salt for my pie filling. It set up nicely after it cooled and is pretty light. Quite tasty.

Posted by Picasa

The pumpkins had a couple of cups of nice seeds which we are baking. Wash the seeds, coat with melted butter or a good oil, spread them out so they don't touch on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake at 275 F stirring occasionally until they get a little crispy and possibly slightly browned (the main idea is to dry them out so they are crunchy, if you are using oil rather than butter the seeds tend to retain their color rather than browning). Depending on the moisture content of the seeds, and how many you are baking, this might take 1/2 hour up to an hour or so. Taste a few every so often and use that as your guide for when to take them out of the oven. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of minerals, protein, and monounsaturated fats.

Meditation of the Week - Appreciation

"Appreciation" is the topic of the Interlude meditation of the week. The meditation concludes that one way to have a happier life is to spend more time in the states of appreciation, gratitude and compassion.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

How to Make Pumpkin Pie or Soup from Fresh Pumpkins

This WikiHow for making a pumpkin pie using a real pumpkin, might come in handy during this pumpkin season.

The recipe calls for a 6 inch diameter sugar pumpkin, which is not one of the larger field pumpkin varieties typically used for Jack O' Lanterns.

I always buy the canned pumpkin pie mix but if I was going to make a pumpkin pie from a pumpkin I would -

Cut two 6 inch sugar pumpkins in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff, then put them cut-side up in a shallow pan in a medium oven (350 F) for about an hour, until they get tender. You can lay a piece of tinfoil over them and put a 1/2 cup or so of water in the pan to keep them from drying out if you like (or you could cook them cut side down). I cooked mine cut-side up and put a little brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice and some oil in each pumpkin so they can absorb those flavors while they cook. You will have enough pumpkin mix for two pies.

Blend the cooked pumpkin.

Add this mix to your mooshed up pumpkin -

Combine two cups of milk, cream or soymilk, three eggs or egg substitute, 2 cups of sugar or light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and two tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice. I used a package of tofu and a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch mixed in a little cold water in lieu of eggs.

Make two pie crusts using Crisco, flour and water (recipe on the back of the can) or buy a crust.

Classic Crisco Pie Crust single crust recipe -

1 1/3 level cups all-purpose flour
1/2 level teaspoon salt
1/2 level cup Crisco all-vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons cold water

Use a knife and then a fork to mix the ingredients. Try to not overwork the dough because the more you mess around with it the tougher it gets.

Seneca says to bake in a hot oven (450 F) for 10 minutes, then reduce heat and bake at 350 F for 40 to 45 minutes. Pie is done when knife, inserted in center, comes out clean. It might take an hour to get it to set up...but keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn. If you don't want to fool around with changing the temperature just put it in the oven at 375 F for about an hour.

Pumpkin pie spice is a blend of "warm" spices, generally including some or all of the following: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, allspice, mace. The easiest way to get it is to buy a can at the grocery store but if you wanted to make your own, the proportions are -

1/4 c Ground cinnamon
1 tb Ground ginger
2 ts Ground nutmeg
1 ts Ground allspice
1 ts Ground cloves

Not sure about the mace. You could put a 1/2 teaspoon in I suppose. Actually if you used cinnamon, and if you have some other spices on the list added those - you'd be doing just fine.

You could try substituting a healthy oil in place of the hydrogenated Crisco. Your crust may be a little cardboard-like but it'll be healthier.

There's an interesting discussion thread on Flickr: vegan baking regarding possible egg substitutes for baking. One of the commercial products is called Ener-G egg replacer. A package is six dollars and replaces 100 eggs, so it sounds pretty economical. I like the idea of being able to use regular kitchen stuff rather than having to buy some special vegan thing so I might try this recipe that Trixy4 posted as an egg substitute -

1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons water

I've tried bananas or tofu with mixed results, so maybe the baking powder in T4's recipe will lighten things up a little. I'm still a little skeptical that anything can replace an egg for some types of cooking but when I have some time I'd like to try out some of these Eggless Cake Recipes.


The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest Magazine has a recipe for Sugar Pumpkin Soup that might be good during these cool fall days.

This is a recipe for pumpkin soup from Food & Nutrition Center - MayoClinic.com

3/4 cup water
1 small onion, chopped
1 can (8 ounces) pumpkin puree
1 cup unsalted vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup fat-free milk
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 green onion, green top only, chopped


In a large saucepan, heat 1/4 cup of the water over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Don't let the onion dry out.

Add the remaining water, pumpkin, broth, cinnamon and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the milk and cook until hot. Don't boil.

Ladle into warmed individual bowls and garnish with black pepper and green onion tops. Serve immediately.


Borat Movie Clip

Rupert Everett Has Not Cooked A Meal Since 1981

I was looking for movie showtimes in Everett (the place I live) and through the wonders of the internet pipes I happened across this fascinating tidbit - Rupert Everett Has Not Cooked A Meal Since 1981

It has something to do with a dinner party that went wrong 25 years ago. He's eaten in restaurants every day since.

I'm not sure who Rupert Everett is but I thought you might want to know ;-)

The Next Big Thing on The Web?

There's an article in this week's TIME Magazine about what might be the next big thing for Web 2.0.

They define Web 2.0 as the thousands of start-ups using new tools to quickly and cheaply create sites and services that would have taken years - and millions - to build in the 90's.

YouTube, Flickr and MySpace have been aquired by big name companies for lots of dollarinos - who might be next?

Maybe one of these -

Farecast - Airfare Predictions, Find Cheap Airline Tickets

Kayak - Cheap Airfare, Hotel Reservations, Car Rentals

Zillow - Provides Real Estate Values

Yelp - Restaurant Reviews, Doctors, Bars, Salons, Dentists and More

30 Boxes - Calendar for young people who use Facebook, MySpace and Flickr

Pinger - Instant voice message - no ring just ping.

Doostang - Career oriented online community - connecting people - by invitation only.

37signals - Simple software to help you get organized (I use their Ta-da list and like it).

Pandora - Internet Radio - Find New Music, Listen to Free Web Radio - Create an Instant Station that Suits Your Taste

BRINGO - Stop Talking to Customer Support Machines, Pushing Buttons and Talk to a Real Human

Note: some claim swearing at the automated attendent works too, since the voice recognition s/w is programmed to recognize cursing as a sign they have a frustrated customer and it's time to actually try and help them.

Blurb - Create a Bookstore Quality Book from a Blog for $30

More on Blurb from Eoin Purcell’s Blog, the New York Times and Wired News.


$15 off $75

And You Get One Free Piece of Toilet Paper

"At the end of 2000, as part of a citywide pre-Olympic campaign to improve sanitation facilities, the government rebuilt the public toilet at the head of Ju'er Hutong. The change was so dramatic that it was as if a shaft of light had descended directly from Mt. Olympus to the alleyway, leaving a magnificent structure in its wake. The building had running water, infrared-atomated flush toilets, and signs in Chinese, English, and Braille. Gray rooftop tiles recalled traditional Hutong architecture. Rules were printed onto stainless steel."

"Number 3: Each user is entitled to one free piece of common toilet paper (length 80 centimeters, width 10 centimeters)."

From "Letters From China - Hutong Karma - The Many Incarnations of a Beijing Alleyway" by Peter Hessler, The New Yorker Feb 13 & 20, 2006.

BJ Hutong (C1)
Originally uploaded by Xiangdian.
This is a very nicely written story about the rapidly changing face of Beijing as China modernizes the city, tearing down traditional ancient neighborhoods and replaces them with modern buildings. The public toilet became a social center for this old neighborhood. I found the idea that users were entitled to one free piece of toilet paper 2 1/2 feet long by 4 inches wide fascinating. We take so much for granted.

The people in the hutong spend a lot of time outside their homes - visiting, buying things from street vendors, selling things, watching a TV set up by the public toilet, drinking and eating. It sounded very social and very connected in comparison to the West, where we tend to stay in our houses, drive in our cars and use the internet as a means to connect.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Thanks to the Internet - Village Idiots Can Go Global

They caught the guy who started the dirty bomb hoax earlier this week.

Smart Retorts has links to the Smoking Gun report of his arrest, his myspace and blog.

Jake's quite an active internet poster as you can see at atriumjake@Everything2.com

It's not that hard to do some idiotic things when you are 20, or any age for that matter. I hope we, including Jake, get wiser as we age.

With the interconnectedness of the web you can generate some pretty amazing impacts with a stupid post (which he reposted 40 times according to the charging papers in New Jersey).

Context is always a challenge in cyberspace but it's hard for me to figure out what context would make the things he has written anything other than just really stupid.

Unfortunately in the case of his dirty bomb post, his stupidity caused a huge waste of law enforcement's time and moments of worry for millions of people.


There's an important lesson here about being aware that what you post on the internet may come back to haunt you years after the fact. This young man may be okay with being single and working in a grocery store today, but it's hard to imagine what a prospective employer or his wife/children/grandchildren/family may think in the future should they come across his internet postings which according to the Smoking Gun include -

"This knucklehead behavior may not come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Brahm's other online activity via MySpace and an ambitious blog on which he recorded all of his 2006 masturbatory activity. In his most recent MySpace blog entry, Brahm, an avowed Japanese pornography enthusiast, mentioned Iran's president: "I admire Mahmoud Ahmadinejad," he wrote. In a separate post, he listed his hobbies as "masturbating, watching foreign language films, playing cards, drumming, and sleeping. One day I hope to leave my house."
The web is an interesting phenomenon in that way.

We've all written or said things that are best thrown out or forgotten about, but it's a different story when we commit things to electronic media stored on the Internet Archive, Google Cached Pages or an email server somewhere.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Jack Nicholson

What a talented actor.

Three of my favorite movies he was in are Easy Rider (1969), Five Easy Pieces (1970) and The Last Detail (1973). He has a pretty small part in Easy Rider but that movie was a generational milestone. If you've never seen it Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper are on a cross country motorcycle trip intending to sell some drugs (hidden in the gas tank of one of the motorcycles) in Mexico. They stop by New Orleans and drop acid with some wild women. It all made sense at the time. Very cool when I was 15 years old, not sure what it would look like today. It's got a great old rock and roll soundtrack.

He plays a Navy lifer chief in Last Detail taking a young kid to the brig. The movie has a classic scene where a bartender threatens to call the shore patrol and Jack gets excited and slams his gun down on the bar and says - "I am the mother f..ing... shore patrol." You'd have to watch it to get the effect.

5 Easy Pieces is just a cool movie. Jack's a worker in the oilfields who is sort of displaced. There's some great scenes where he plays a piano in the back of a pickup truck driving across a bridge and ordering a sandwich in a cafe where he tells the waitress in his sardonic slow voice that she can take the chicken and...

I don't want to ruin it for you.


Easy Rider: Music From The Soundtrack (1969 Film)


Based on the reviews I've read and the trailers The Departed (2006) directed by Martin Scorsese - with Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, and Alec Baldwin looks good. It gets a very high 8.6 rating from viewers on IMDB.