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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Memorial Day in San Diego


I spent Memorial Day weekend in San Diego with Beth, my friend Tom and his fiance� Sue. This was a picture taken just outside the Botanical Gardens in Balboa Park, San Diego. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A guide to sushi

From Chowhound.com

A recent study of sushi in restaurants in Oregon found that an appreciable amount of salmon sushi contains parasitic worms. Salmon was by far the worst, tuna the safest (no worms found at all).

As chowhound technical attache Pierre Jelenc (a biochemist) points out, even LIVING fish often contain wormy parasites, so it's not just a question of freshness. Sushi is risky food, and you might consider enjoying it sparingly and carefully.

On the other hand, you're never alone with a parasite...

One year in L.A.

So it's been a year since I moved to Los Angeles. This is not my first complete year in Los Angeles; I lived in the suburbs of LA (Thousand Oaks) as a contractor from June, 2000 to September, 2001. The difference is that back then I lived in corporate housing, didn't do very much outside of work and (corporate) apartment except for playing some Ultimate Frisbee and flying to New Jersey every month.

No, this time the cord is cut, so I can really say I'm living here. With my one year behind me, and at the risk of being a "quantity over quality" blogger, I'm going to list some of my favorite things about living in Los Angeles:

Sunday, May 22, 2005

OK, I'll bitch about Revenge of the Sith, but just a little.

I have another question: Why the hell didn't Owen and Beru name their child "Luke Lars?" Obi-wan knew Anakin was still alive, and naming the boy "Luke Not-My-Son-But-Son-Of-Sith-Lord" has a bit of "too stupid" to it.

When Moses was abandoned by his Levite mother and subsequently taken in by the Pharaoh's daughter, do you think he would have lived so long if he was intentionally named "Mike Levi"?

If you paint a giant bulls-eye and then watch it very carefully, you'll have enough time to watch it get hit; that's about it.

Thank God for Star Wars III

Preface: Am I going to mention any spoilers in this post? If you have lived under a rock and haven't heard what happens to Anakin, Obi-wan, Yoda, R2-D2 and C-3PO, this posting isn't for you. If you don't want to read someone's opinions of having seen Revenge of the Sith, this posting isn't for you, either.



I can't say that The Empire Strikes Back was the first movie sequel I can remember. I still remember commercials for The Bad News Bears go to Japan ("Are we gonna sit on our butts all day or are we gonna play ball?") and I never actually saw it until years later when we got 36-channels of cable bliss. However, The Empire Strikes Back, was a movie I was well aware of. I had seen Star Wars in the theaters (I hadn't seen either of the two Bad News Bears movies) and was really excited about the idea of a sequel movie.

Clearly, this was 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm making long-term marketing impressions in me. When the girl who sat in front of me in my 8th grade English class saw the movie, I asked her to describe everything to me. "He wants me to describe every second of the movie!" she said to someone next to her. This was technically incorrect since I really only wanted something a little more detailed than broad strokes, but that's not important.

So even though Star Wars Episodes I and II were mediocre, I was still going to see Revenge of the Sith. And I'm pleased for having seen it once and for all, because, unlike The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, this movie has left me both compete and empty, like the half-hour after coming down from attending a good, but not great, party. I'm pleased it's over; I'm pleased that the Star Wars Engine hasn't entangled me further, and best of all, I've no interest in seeing Revenge of the Sith a second time.

Here's the thing: there were a couple of things that everyone knew would occur between the beginning of ROTS and the beginning of ANH. They include, but are not limited to:
  • Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader
  • The Chancellor becomes the Emperor
  • The Republic becomes the Empire
  • A rebellion is formed, of which Leia Organa is a member
  • C-3PO and R2-D2 have no memory of their relationship with Anakin and Obi-Wan
  • Anakin fathers two children. Luke is hidden on Tattoine and Leia is adopted by Organan royalty
  • Almost all the Jedi are killed.
  • Obi-Wan hides on Tattoine
  • Yoda hides on Dagobah
  • A "Death Star" is almost completely built.
Now, George Lucas had a problem: there were so many plot-lines which needed addressing he could choose to resolve all of them, just the critical ones, or some in-between. Clearly he had to resolve primary plot issues with elegance, and that he did. But, he chose to resolve all secondary plot lines, and he did a poor, clumsy job of it.

For instance: C-3PO and R2-D2 were resolved in about 8 seconds of incongruity. It was jarring. Had he been able to better integrate them into the key dramatic elements, this would have been worth watching. Instead it felt like the scene was filmed as an obligation. Thanks, but no thanks. I would have preferred he not resolve their characters at all, and leave it to someone's future work, such as a novel or TV show. (As a side note, I realize now that an opportunity was lost by including them in the prequels altogether: creating characters whose future was unknown.)

Speaking of TV shows, Lucas hasn't given up on marketing to us: there are two TV series in the works. Like I said, these shows could could have been the opportunity to create elegant character conclusions. Instead, Lucas resolved everything, leaving nothing to the imagination. And for that, I'm grateful, because now I have the answers to everything. Free at last! Free at last!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Marshmallows - Lessons Learned

  1. You cannot use your grandmother's electric hand mixer to make marshmallows. It is likely to smoke, and you won't get enough air into your marshmallows. As my wife said, "Maybe it'll help if you put it on a higher speed," to which I said, "It's already on the highest speed." The only impact of this was that they didn't fluff up too much.
  2. You can add food coloring during the mixing phase, no trouble. Make sure to add one drop of coloring at a time.
  3. Unflavored gelatin smells. Bad. Don't attempt to overcompensate by adding 50% more vanilla. It leaves your marshmallows with a mild alcohol smell.
  4. After you've cut the marshmallows up, be sure to keep them from drying out. You can do this by putting a piece of bread in the airtight container, which will feed moisture to your confectionary goodies.
  5. When you give people the marshmallows, make sure to say that they're "Home-made." Otherwise they might think that you smooshed store-bought marshmallows into a pan and painted them pink. Save me from the humiliation!
  6. If you want to make breakfast cereal style marshmallows, I bet you could do it by letting the marshmallows dry out and then cut them into little pieces. I suspect it would also be good to limit the amount of air you mix into the batter, not unlike my debacle. Note: blue diamonds and purple horseshoes are your own problem.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

An attempt at making Marshmallows



Well, I decided that on my down-time day I was going to ride my spiffy new bicycle and make marshmallows. I decided on marshmallows because I found a recipe for it online posted on a wonderful blog called Cooking for Engineers. It intruiged me that they had a recipe for marshmallows, and I convinced my wife that it would be fun to make. As the picture shows, fun-to-make also means, really sticky. We haven't eaten it yet because it's hardening, which it should do overnight. It should be ready to eat tomorrow morning, in time for Mother's Day.

Can you spot the marshmallow in my beard? Can you spot the marshmallow all over my t-shirt? Fingers? Oh, man, it just kept getting messier and messier. Nice way to waste a morning.

Today was actually a busy cooking day for me: For breakfast, we had fruit salad (yummy yummy!) with sesame seeds sprinkled in, a tomato and onion fritatta with too much butter and cheese, and some homemade salsa (tomato, onion, red pepper, cilantro, a little salt, pepper and Cholula.) Then I went shopping for cookbooks. No, really. Later in the day was the marshmallow experiment and then I made some plain old chocolate-chip and walnut cookies, but there was extra cocoa added in, making it extra good.

What a very very good day.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Old match.com poem

Back before you were born, son, I was looking for love on match.com. There was a young woman whom I wound up basically not dating, but who asked me for a poem. After one or two back and forth poems, I wrote this, which I've always been fond of, and so now I share it with you:
No... please... no more rhyming...
My brain is so fried from software designing

That trying to match the ends of lines
Isn't working so well this time

And the tempo isn't working so well in these sentences
Which is why you don't write e-mail when you're senseless.

I fear that to rhyme the last word
I must end both lines with the very same word.

(Hey! This isn't as hard as I first might have thought,
It's supposed to be difficult, clearly it is not.)*

But torture is a poem that rhymes only close
And so I must abandon my prose.

The moral is: Poems whose styles are loose
Are best left scribed soley by a really drunk muse.

Synchlessly yours,

Rob

* The failed rhyme here needs a regional accent
Else you might get the joke, but only by ... uh ... accident.