brooksmoses: (Default)
I just looked at the Schlock Mercenary comic for tomorrow, and the sound effect for firing the Very Large Gun that was introduced a storyline or two ago is making my vibrate and clap my hands with utter glee.

It works well as a standalone strip even if you're not familiar with the comic, too, so I'm going to make you click through to see it rather than spoiling it.
brooksmoses: (Two)
A Dittmer's Wursthaus today, I discovered a thing they call a Hannover wurst.

Hannover wurst appears to be what happens is when you have the question of whether to have sausage or bacon with your breakfast, and you make the obvious-in-retrospect choice of "Both! At the same time!" and make sausage in part out of bacon.

Needless to say, it is delicious.
brooksmoses: (Default)
This wasn't really planned; it was just a "what have I got in the fridge?" day that happened to come out exceptionally well.

Sweet Potatoes

These were simple. Three small white sweet potatoes, sliced into quarter-inch slices, put into a glass bowl with a chunk of butter on top of the potatoes and a plate on top of the bowl to hold the steam in. Microwaved for 5 minutes, until potatoes are soft, and tossed with the butter. And that's all.

Red Chard

I had a bunch of chard that had been forgotten from the farmshare that shares pickup space with our community-supported-fishing share, which needed to be cooked. Also we had some red onions, so I chopped up a couple of small ones of those and sauteed them while prepping the chard. Then I put in the chard stems, also chopped, and cooked those for a while.

One of the things that I find less than ideal about the chard I've been cooking (especially red chard) is that it has a little bit of bitter flavor that needs something to offset it, and using vinegar seems too sour. So, I tried experimenting with sweet, and put in a tablespoon or so of dried currants. I also put in a third of a cup or so of red wine, and cooked that down.

The other thing that I find often happens with chard, and with other greens that I saute with onions, is that they don't end up mixing very well. This time, I chopped the green parts of the chard a little smaller than usual, and then I tried the same trick I use to make roux-based sauces not go lumpy: I put in a small handful of the greens, mixed them in well, added some more, mixed, and repeated -- so that I wasn't trying to mix it all at once.

Both experiments turned out to work beautifully: The dish was quite evenly mixed, and the sweetness was exactly what it needed.

Ridgeback Shrimp

These were this week's delivery from the fish share, and like the chard, were needing to be cooked very soon. A ridgeback shrimp is notably reddish -- they color the rinse water and dry-towels red, though it's just on the surface, not in the meat -- and also notably sweet. These were also relatively large -- 2 inches or so. And in the shells; most of the prep time for all of dinner was de-shelling the shrimp.

To cook these, I melted some butter in a pan, and put in the shrimp once it was all melted and bubbling. When the shrimp were done, I took them out, put a third of a cup of white wine and juice of half a lime in the pan, and cooked it down to a reduced sauce to spoon over the shrimp. It came out just as tasty as I was hoping it would.
brooksmoses: (Default)
Resharing from my dear friend Elena Rose (aka "Little Light"), on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/burnlittlelight/posts/761138051178):
My loves, life is full of losing, and the price of caring is grief, eventually, always. And all of it is worth it.

I know a lot of us have been feeling this year like the decks are getting cleared of people we admired and looked up to, friends, family, cultural icons, just in such a time of trial when we need inspiration and hope and beauty more than ever.

I have been telling myself this: the world is declaring to us just how much it needs us to be new sources of inspiration and hope and beauty. Nobody is going to do the job for us. Nobody is going to shine so bright that we don't have to learn to shine too. Nobody is going to be excellent for us. It's time for all of us to carry our corner of the sky. It's time for us all to light the lantern. It's time for all of us to find our footing and our grip and the place to put our weight.

When I got ordained in May, one of the strongest feelings I had was the overwhelming certainty that there was no more time for childish things. I found my place in the world of adults and vowed to be the person I was waiting for, with no more excuses. I declared myself grown and declared a direction to keep growing in and people to keep growing toward. I made a commitment to no more backwards, no more hiding, no more being small--to being consequential. It has been challenging, brutal, laced through with a fresh education in grief and endurance beyond any limits I thought I had. It has also been worth every moment, fulfilling and gorgeous and blazing with warmth, and in this cold season I have found myself more than once in tears of gratitude that I am able to help, that I know what I am for and have the chance to fulfill that purpose.

Each of us needs to be someone in the world. I found who that someone was for me and went all in. The world needs you, too, your particular self, awake and alive and in it. It needs what you know, what you make, what you do, what you nurture, what you care about. We would not have come together this way, all our stories, all our particularities and peculiarities, if it wasn't going to matter.

I insist that there will be generations to follow us. They will need heroes to look up to, too. Let's give them everything we've got.

Take heart, friends. Everything ends; nothing is over yet.
brooksmoses: (Two)
It is a very small thing, but I am feeling very happy with our kitchen things right now.

The stove in our new house has a burner labeled "turbo boil flex", and I had fairly quickly discovered what the "turbo boil" part was. When turned on high, it produces quite a little inferno that does, indeed, boil water quite quickly. Combined with the "turbo pot" that I got a while back -- which is basically the result of a bay-area-tech-company electrical engineer noticing that flat-bottomed pots aren't particularly great for picking up heat from flames, and also noting that the tech industry has a solution for this, and thus quitting his job and starting a little company selling pots with finned heat exchangers on the bottom -- and it boils water quite quickly indeed.

Yesterday, though, I happened to turn the burner down to "low" and discovered what the "flex" part of the name meant. When turned down to low, the outer burner ring turns off, and there's only a flame from a little "button" in the middle of the burner that's barely bigger than a candle flame. It turns out that's exactly enough to keep 4 inches of water in the large turbo pot bubbling gently in the middle, which is exactly what I want for simmering bone broth overnight.

This makes me very happy.
brooksmoses: (Default)
For want of a nail, the horseshoe was lost.
For want of a horseshoe, the horse was lost.
For want of a horse, the wagon was lost.
For want of a wagon, the supplies were lost.
For want of supplies, the outpost was lost.
For want of an outpost, the expedition was lost.

This is usually read as a parable about the importance of horseshoe nails.

This is incorrect. This is a parable about the importance of safety factors at all levels of one's supply chain.
brooksmoses: (Default)
"Wow, look at those goalposts go! Zoom, zoom!"
brooksmoses: (Default)
I'd like to write up session summaries of the 13th Age game I've started playing in (and, given that I'm playing a bard, it seems appropriate), but I get home from the games about 11:00, so I'm not sure whether that's likely to ever happen regularly. Anyway, this was the 4th session that I've been to, I think -- and, rather than trying to start at the beginning and catch up, here are some highlights from today's session. Because today we learned that my character is kind of a badass when he wants to be.

Cut tag for gaming neepery )
brooksmoses: (bird)
One of the things about home construction projects is that there are quite a number of thingummies that one knows the existence of (or, often, doesn't know the existence of, until one discovers them and realizes that they are exactly what one needed), but one doesn't know what they are called.

Sometimes these names are rather ... evocative.

Today I learned that the thingummy that I was looking for is called a "cable gland".
brooksmoses: (Default)
The benefits of keeping up the volunteer tomato plants that show up in one's garden (or front flowerbed!) from the homemade compost are that many of them are cheerful and hardy and they take very little effort other than staking them up.

This has, however, led to the observation that while standard bulk-handling-resilient grocery-store Roma tomatoes are passably tasty, they don't actually taste much better when homegrown than they do from the store.
brooksmoses: (me-and-morgan)
[livejournal.com profile] siderea posted a question earlier this morning asking how her readers got into "geeky stuff", and my answer had a lot about my father, so given the day I thought I'd repost it here.




I don't really remember a lot from that young, but I know that when I was eight or so, in 1984, my father brought home a tiny "pocket computer" from a yard sale and we had fun programming it, and that seemed entirely normal to me. He was an engineering professor, and so I spent a fair bit of time when I was small visiting him in his office and playing with his box of turbine blades and with the toy tractor that one of the admins had. And then in 1985, when I was nine, he brought home an IBM PC and I started learning to write BASIC programs -- and, a bit later, helped him write programs that would do simple engineering computations and in a couple of cases would create numerical-milling-machine programs to make parts for his experiments.

Also my brother and I had vast amounts of LEGO bricks, and we already had a significant number of them when I was seven or so. That probably also contributed to the habits of making things. Once we got to an age of doing things with the Technic bricks, which would have started around 10 or 11, I was doing things like figuring out how to build a front-wheel-drive mechanism. (With the parts available at the time, it wasn't particularly satisfying and was a bit fragile, but it worked.)

I figure a lot of the influence was from my dad, partly just visibly doing engineer things at home and sharing what he was doing. I remember him, when I was young, sitting at the kitchen table tracing the connections on an 80-channel slip ring with a multimeter and labeling all the wires. When the engineering department had a rubber-band-powered dragster contest, we built an entry together (using, among other things, wheels from my Capsela set -- I remember that we had trouble with the wheels slipping and spinning when it started, so the night before the race he coated them in a bit of maple syrup so they would be sticky). And then, when I was ten, we built a new house -- which he and my mom designed, and I helped by helping building small cardboard models of the interior spaces and the outside and coloring them with my colored pencils. A bit later, when I was fourteen or so, the three of us (him and my brother and me) entered a contest to make a small water turbine that would lift a weight using water from an overhead tank -- he did most of the design, but showed us how to do the calculations for it and we helped in designing it.
brooksmoses: (Default)
I just sent my insurance agent an email, and got a reply back, and was struck by the difference in writing tone between the two. I think I'm incapable of not lapsing into formal tone when I write that sort of thing. And then when people write back with an informal-friendly tone, I feel awkward about it.

Not sure what to do about that, but I notice it.
brooksmoses: (Splash)
So it turns out that, although the things in the "sunchoke" bin at the local grocery store looked like (sort of large) sunchokes when I got a bag of them, and even looked rather like sunchokes when [livejournal.com profile] chinders peeled them to put some in the dinner salad, they didn't quite _smell_ like sunchokes. They smelled a little ... peppery, she said. And, so, experimentally, Morgan and I each had a thin slice to taste to see if they tasted odd.

Morgan, wisely, had a tiny bite and then spat it out.

Meanwhile, I ate the whole slice, because why wouldn't one do that.

And now I know that eating a slice of raw horseradish root is not an experiment I particularly want to repeat. Yipe. Oops.

So now I need to figure out what to do with about three pounds of horseradish root.
brooksmoses: (Brooks and Suzanne)
The word "family", in the sense of "chosen family" (which may or may not include one's "blood family"), can mean a lot of different things to different people. Likewise, especially in the poly world but even in the world of standard-appearing monogamous relationships, "partner" (in the relationship sense, not the business sense) can mean a remarkable lot of things.

As a result of some recent miscommunications, I'm chewing over what these mean to me, and I'm feeling very curious: What do these words mean to you, if and when you use them for your relationships? Do they have implications about what sorts of things you can rely on someone for, or what they can rely on you for? Are there expectations of willingness to perform emotional labor, or physical labor, or provide resources? (In exceptional circumstances? As a normal pattern?) Are there expectations of where the relationship fits in daily life? Of there being particular emotions that tend to come from the relationship?
brooksmoses: (Default)
I clicked on a Facebook-ad clickbait link about the things one could do with avocado seed, out of possibly-misguided late-night curiosity. Well, definitely-misguided; the link went to a video that I declined to watch, so it wasn't enlightening at all, but putting "grated avocado seed" into Google found a few more things.

I was particularly entertained by the site that was all about "antioxidants" and "amino acids" and buzzword this and superfood that, and how it will regulate thyroid function; can be used topically as a joint- and muscle-pain reducer and rejuvenates the skin; prevents tumor growth, heart disease, and epilepsy; and is an aphrodisiac -- and, to top it off, "ground avocado seeds mixed with cheese and flour are used for mouse poison"!

Just what I always wanted as a recommendation for a food that will cure all that ails me, yeah?

(As far as I can tell from other sites, yeah, avocado seeds are toxic to rabbits and rodents, but apparently not to humans in quantities of one seed or so -- though the recipes suggest removing the brown skin from the pit. Also, there are claims that a bit of ground avocado pit is a traditional ingredient in some North-Mexican enchilada sauces.)

Perhaps more uncontroversially, one can also use them to make a rather nice dusty-reddish dye. That one, I might try.
brooksmoses: (grumpy)
I posted this on Google+, initially intending to just link to an article and write a paragraph about it, but it turned into a bit of a long-form rant so I'm posting it here as well.

The article I linked to is "Why the South Is Rebelling Again" on politico.com, with a lead photo of a run-down roadside used-to-be-a-gas-station building in Southwest Virginia with a Trump "make America great again" campaign sign out front, and lead-in text of "Rural voters are mad about constant job losses, and they’ve had it with the party establishment."

Here's what I had to say about it:

I find it noteworthy how little airplay this set of issues -- and, for that matter, the ways these communities of people have been systematically disenfranchised and marginalized by our governments and businesses in the last handful of decades -- gets in the political discussions around me here in Silicon Valley.

Frankly, from this perspective, I can't see a thing about the other Republican candidates that I would support -- but I can see quite a lot about Trump that sounds appealing. This is who he's talking to with "make America great again," and for these communities their part of America definitely was great within living memory in ways that it certainly isn't now for reasons that are in part directly because just about every political side in power has shortchanged them for profits elsewhere.

I think there's also a critical difference in the rhetoric that will appeal, between communities like this that remember doing well, and communities that have "always" been disenfranchised. Rhetoric of "wealth equality" is not going to appeal (to your pocketbook, anyway) when you think of yourself as being on the well-off side of the spectrum, and a lot of that anti-appeal carries over when you think of yourself as should-be-well-off.

Likewise, a critical difference in the rhetoric that will appeal to rural communities where the whole geographic region is economically depressed, and urban communities where you ride the train past the rich neighborhoods on a regular basis. Rhetoric of "wealth equality" talks about solving the problem as if it's a zero-sum game, and in a place where you can't see hardly anyone who has what they had 30 years ago, zero-sum solutions don't look so good. But making the whole pie great again, that's a solution that could go somewhere.

And of course these combine. I'm guessing that the typical Trump supporter in rural Virginia is struggling to get by, but sees themselves as having more than many other people around them, and also habitually sees themselves as more well-off than not. And so the natural expectation is that anything that redistributes wealth is going to redistribute it away from them, not towards them. Oh, and for good measure, add in the politics of seeing themselves as "middle class", seeing typical government social programs as primarily benefiting people who are below middle class, and (rather reasonably) observing that the upper classes are not very populous and generally find -- or buy -- loopholes so that they don't actually pay for anything.

And, when "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you" is a running joke with an awful lot of truth to it -- even with social programs, just look at how much pain we put people through to get even rudimentary social services -- the only sorts of government help that people are likely to really believe in are the ones that involve the government being over there doing something far away from me. Like, say, building walls, or lowering my taxes.

I certainly hope that the Democrats (whether Sanders or Clinton wins the primary) can field a campaign that understands this position as much as Trump does and is as clear about standing up for these people, and then can deliver on those promises.
brooksmoses: (Two)
I've been exploring the attic in our new house in order to run a phone line across to the logical place -- a somewhat centrally-located closet -- to put the networking stuff, and also to put in a power outlet there. (The house has no crawlspace, so everything goes in the attic instead.)

So far, I have found the following things in the attic that I did not expect to find in the attic:
  • A plastic figure of a character from Spongebob Squarepants.
  • The rear window to an unknown (but relatively recent) car.
  • An empty package for a lubricated condom.
Also, the electrical panel for the house is very incompletely and inaccurately documented with a handful of Dymo labels in what we think might be Slovenian. The one that happens to go to the one light in the attic, along with a random assortment of other things throughout the house, is labeled "ZAHODM", which two people have independently suggested may be a typo for "Z'ha'dum".

I am beginning to be slightly concerned about this....
brooksmoses: (Default)
So The Toast posted an essay on the Black woman character in the new "Ghostbusters" movie as she shows up in the trailer. In particular, an essay about the ways that at least in the trailer she's reflecting all the stereotyped Hollywood (and broader-culture) portrayals of black women.

You could read this for the view on "Ghostbusters" and what to make of it as a social-justice-promoting movie for its having an all-female ghostbusting team, and whether you're likely to like to movie.

You could also read this as a very clearly encapsulated illustration of the ways that "I included a positive character who's not a standard white male, so I'm doing my part for diversity" can fail in ways that are worse than not including them, and exactly why that failure state is possible. There are no doubt all sorts of subtleties and corner issues and ways that well-intentioned writers can unknowingly do this badly -- but this isn't one of those cases. This is a very clear and easily-explained and obvious (at least once explained) example, and the things that lead to the problems are big and easy to see.

This seems like a good antidote for writers who are worried that they will do this sort of thing by accident. Go, read this. Here's what the problem actually looks like, and how it works, and why. This isn't a subtle trap that people run into despite trying not to; it is not at all hard to avoid this instance of this problem. It is not at all hard to do a lot better than this. And, once you've written a thing, you can ask people to beta-read it and tell you if it's doing this in a subtle way -- and, if it is, you now know how the problem works so you can fix it.

As is usual with The Toast, also read the comments. The comments are good, and add extra commentary -- such as one that points out the importance of taking responsibility for why your audience is laughing at your jokes, as well as for making them laugh.
brooksmoses: (Brooks and Suzanne)
Beatrice, ???? to 2016.

We adopted her in 2008, and we don't really know how old she was then; the medical paperwork we got with her wasn't very accurate. But she was at least six, and maybe ten, years old then. She was a tiny, tiny cat; maybe seven or eight pounds at the most. She spent most of the nights curled up sleeping on top of Suzanne's hip, or occasionally mine, and was generally quite snuggly. And very patient with Morgan. We will miss her a lot.

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