Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

31 January, 2006

On the Gramophone

Self-described purveyors of "stupidcore" Fudgie and Fufu provides this week's song. It's called "God Bless America, Especially Florida & Texas" and is an extremely funny poke at Christianity.
|| Palmer, 7:01 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

30 January, 2006

Prost Gotvin - Part 16

This is Prost Gotvins geometri by Gert Nygårdshaug. The translation was done by Roy Johansen. Nygårdshaug is a Norwegian author and the text has not yet been published in English. Roy is a friend of mine who recently moved back to his native Norway. He has translated a good part of the novel and I'm trying to convince him to finish it.

Here’s Part 15.


Father Gotvin's First Journey (continued)

He wasn't hurt; his glasses fell off; he picked them up, got up, stared at me in astonishment, put out his cigar, bowed, and left the compartment. I was shaking and my knees buckled under me. I sank down on the seat and buried my face in my hands. "Lord, my omnipotent Father, help me. I beg You, Lord Jesus Christ our God, Father of glory to grant all us insignificant humans the Spirit of Revelation to truly know you and grant our hearts enlightened eyes." My mind was roaming freely in the Ephesians, other epistles, scraps of quotes I knew and loved commingled into a clutter of works. Finally I managed to collect my thoughts to a real prayer: "Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear. Though war should rise against me, in this I will be confident, dear God Father: I trust you in all things. You are my shepherd and the temptations You put to me I shall resist." Then I wept silently, without tears, for a long time, but I knew I had found my God again, that he was still with me; no one would ever be allowed to remove me from Him. Again I dared look up, rose to my feet, and pulled down the window – the cigar smoke had to get out. I put my head out of the window and beheld the vineyards around Narbonne. I was seized by a strong, intense homesickness. I wished Vanndal would be the next station, that Magnus Stormarkbråten would be there waiting for me, stolid and reticent, but secure. Then we could talk about the water level in the Vandøla river, about fishing grayling and trout and the possibilities of catching the big one, but that's not how it was. The next station was Narbonne, southern France, and the feeling of bliss and terror were fighting a battle in my chest. She was there, would always be there, along with God, but I had struck a human being; not dangerously, but struck nonetheless. I was at the window as the train stopped at Narbonne. I stood there remembering the terror in the face of the toothless garbage man, Pedro Urz. What had happened to the other two infidels? I still stood there as the train again set in motion. I felt like shouting out loud about the glory of God as the train picked up speed through the suburbs. Instead I whispered her name into the air. Then I sank back in my seat and curled up in the corner and fell asleep.
|| Palmer, 6:46 PM || link || (2) comments | links to this post

Fear of Girls

This isn't true - I swear!
|| Palmer, 6:19 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

29 January, 2006

Another Foray Into Teutonic Cuisine

My foray into German cuisine continued this weekend. I had intended to make Hasenpfeffer after my friend Jason surprised me by handing to me a rabbit on Friday morning at work. Unfortunately, I completely forgot to bring the beast home with me and an attempt to retrieve it on Saturday morning failed miserably. So I headed out to Bavaria Sausage Kitchen after deciding on Gefüllte Schweinerippchen a la Holstein instead. These are stuffed pork chops Holstein style. I ran around town for almost three hours including my now-weekly stop at Alex Polish-American Deli. Upon my returning home, I hastily put my groceries away and started prepping the chops.

The first thing I did was pop open ein bier.



In this case, it was an altbier from the folks at BluCreek Brewing up in Black River Falls. It was quite tasty, I assure you, with its notable malty goodness as well a good measure of hops. Since The Dulcinea would not be over until later, I figured I'd get the chops all prepped and throw them in the frig until later when I'd throw them in the oven. Gefüllte Schweinerippchen a la Holstein involves stuffing the chops with a mix of apples, raisins, and bread crumbs along with a bit of seasoning.



I got my raisins soaking in some brandy and then peeled & cored the apples. They were then sautéed in butta.



Once done, I chopped them and added the raisins and brandy. To that I added bread crumbs and proceeded to season to taste with a dash of cinammon and a pinch of sugar. A couple hours later, The Dulcinea arrived. I arranged the chops in my cast iron kettle along with some pork stock. Into the oven they went.



To go with the porky goodness, I made Meerettichkartoffeln or Potatoes in Horseradish Cream Sauce. As the potatoes boiled, we enjoyed some Swiss cheese and slices of Pfefferjager, which is basically a spicy beef summer sausage. It actually had a bit of zing and was very tasty. When the spuds were done, I drained and cooled them. Meanwhile, The Dulcinea got on with making the sauce. Onions sautéed in lots of butter, flour, milk, and horseradish made a delicious sauce.



As everything was coming together, I warmed up some sweet & sour red cabbage. To round things out, I had bought some rye bread. This was the super-heavy rib-sticking variety. In the words of Dr. Zoidberg, each pound weighed 10,000 pounds. Here's the final (sparse) presentation sans brot:



Just before dinner was ready, my prepping of dessert came to a close. It was a Frankfurt Pudding. This wasn't the stuff you make out of milk and powder from box - more the stuff made from fat & flour and steamed. The recipe called for a melon mold but I don't own was and, after 3 hours of grocery shopping, there wasn't a cat in hell's chance I was going to look for a mold. So I threw it in a cake pan.



It turned out really well. And by "relly well" I mean fucking awesome! It was nice'n'chocolatey. Plus, being served warm, it was very hearty.

As an addendum, I want to mention the jelly roll I bought at Alex Polish-American Deli. It was incredible! The Dulcinea and I ate some of it this morning. Apricot and whipped cream filling...mmmm...It went surprisingly well with my egg & bacon sandwich which had 2 kinds of bacon: Gypsy and spiced bacon roll. My heart took another pounding this weekend though probably not quite as bad as last.



Prost!
|| Palmer, 9:52 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

27 January, 2006

Lectures To Go

Standford University has become the first university to post a large amount of recording of lectures, speeches, etc. on the web to the general public.

In an unprecedented move, Stanford University is collaborating with Apple Computer to allow public access a wide range of lectures, speeches, debates and other university content through iTunes. No need to pay the $31,200 tuition. No need to live on campus. No need even to be a student. The nearly 500 tracks that constitute “Stanford on iTunes” are available to anyone willing to spend the few minutes it takes to download them from the Internet.

While a number of other universities are now using iTunes to distribute class-specific content to their students, including Duke University, Drexel University’s School of Education and the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, Stanford is the first to make a substantial amount of recorded university events available to the public at large.


It is called Standford on iTunes.
|| Palmer, 5:41 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Knitting As Art



I may not know art, but I know what I like.
|| Palmer, 4:49 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

It's the Size That Counts



That's a big goddamn schnitzel! Puts mine to shame.
|| Palmer, 4:43 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Neverwinter Nights 2

For all you gaming dorks out there, I see that some screenshots from the forthcoming Neverwinter Nights 2 have been posted. I think I'll have to get me a new video card if I'm gonna be able to play it.
|| Palmer, 4:41 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Richard Dawkins to Appear on Infidel Guy

Noted zoologist and godless heathen Richard Dawkins is scheduled to appear on the Internet radio program The Infidel Guy Show on Saturday, 18 February.
|| Palmer, 4:17 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

The Porn Star Shortage

Personally, I think Tucker Carlson is a weasel but the guy apparently has a sense of humor. Here he is interviewing Michael Feldenkrais. Feldenkrais is the lawyer for Dorismar, an Argentine woman who came to this country and became a porn star. The INS wants to deport her as she's been living here illegally.

CARLSON: Do you think—is there a porn shortage in this country, do you think? I mean, is there a lack of homegrown porn actresses? Is this a crisis?

FELDENKRAIS: I do not believe it‘s a crisis. There‘s definitely a lot of talent out there. And but that doesn‘t stop us from...

CARLSON: Why should we flood the market with cheap foreign imports, thereby forcing our own porn actresses out of work and oppressing their wages?
|| Palmer, 4:09 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Friday Skin

|| Palmer, 7:13 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

26 January, 2006

Prost Gotvins Geometri – Part 15

This is Prost Gotvins geometri by Gert Nygårdshaug. The translation was done by Roy Johansen. Nygårdshaug is a Norwegian author and the text has not yet been published in English. Roy is a friend of mine who recently moved back to his native Norway. He has translated a good part of the novel and I'm trying to convince him to finish it.

Here’s Part 14.


Father Gotvin's First Journey (continued)

The hotel, my sleep, the departure from Santiago de Compostella, and most of the train ride to Madrid and on to Barcelona must have taken place in a state of total emptiness where no thoughts existed. I was thinking, naturally, but I did not reflect on the thoughts I was thinking. I took in very little of what happened outside of my own self, which was centered on the image of her, a static image. Could love be this spontaneous? Did I pray? Did I remember my prayers? Where was the Lord my God? I did not know. Thinking back, I'm pretty sure I followed my rituals and did what I was supposed to do. We were approaching the French border when two things happened almost simultaneously that made me wake up. I ate my breakfast which consisted of dry bread and water and tried to read a little in a magazine I had found at the station in Barcelona. But the letters did not form words. Instead everything smeared into a gray, meaningless matter. Then her sentence appeared again, the one she had spoken as she stepped off the train after our first encounter: "If you decipher this drawing, you shall learn what truly is concealed in Heaven."

The riddle.
I must solve the riddle.
That was a demand, an absolute.
Viking fortress in Denmark.

"Barking up the wrong tree," she had said, and I blushed again, but they were names of Viking fortresses in Denmark, weren't they? Niels Igneby wasn't likely to be mistaken. I pulled out the drawing from my pocket; it was crumpled, worn, but perfectly legible. What could she possibly mean? She was absolutely serious about this, that much I had gathered. I could not call her or contact her in any other way until I had solved this riddle and found out what Heaven truly conceals. I noticed I was feeling nauseated. There was something here I ought to watch out for. I perceived an inner voice telling me to be careful. Should not I, of all people, already know what is concealed in Heaven? Were there more than one Heaven? Unlikely. I couldn't eat anymore bread but thinking about his riddle and the words that went with it awoke me, brought me back to the real world. The real world was the train home to Vanndal, where Father Gotvin was to resume his vocational duties, his daily routine, but an unsolved riddle had the power to disrupt all that. I couldn't contact her, wasn't allowed to hear her voice on the telephone – she had been adamant about this – and suddenly I knew just as a traveler entered the compartment where I had been the only occupant; he was an older man, heavy set. I knew I would never again see Lucienne Lopez unless I did what she had demanded; which meant I could not go home to Vanndal, to Magnus Stormarkbråten, my father Kastor, to my neighbors Margit and Anders Nederstuen or my friends who were calling me "Father" until I had solved this riddle. That's how it was, that was reality. I must stop in Denmark and find a man called Preben Hansson. Did I have the money for a few days' stay in Denmark? No, but I could have a small amount transferred.

"Am I disturbing?"

The older, corpulent man was addressing me, looking at me through a pair of thick eyeglasses while lighting a slim cigar. Tobacco smoke never bothered me. On the contrary rather. Did he want to talk to me? He spoke French, which I could handle tolerably well. Would a conversation with a stranger about neutral subjects help me forget my own thoughts? Hardly, but I could try.

"Not at all," I replied.
"Bullfighting," he said, "is a noble sport."
"It is?"
"I have just been in Barcelona and seen El grande matador, señor Rodrigo Gavista."
"And what's the other bull's name?"

The man laughed and was not offended by my, for me totally unexpected, ironic remark. Irony had never been part of my discursive arsenal. Who had I become? He introduced himself as painter-artist Dupont from Bordeaux. Then he continued and I received an in-depth lecture on the finer points of bullfighting; its sublime aesthetics and ethics; the corrida was a theater in its most elevated form, un lanca de capa and natura con la izquierda, to say nothing of the masterpiece brindis del toreo. This was ballet – that's how it was – and, with regards to the ox, the bull in question, he personally would, given a choice between being a regular bull and one destined for bullfighting, without a shadow of a doubt have chosen the latter. Bullfighting bulls lived all their lives as kings and died as kings whereas bulls whose fate it was to become beef lead a paltry, miserable life and died in surroundings reeking with urine, excrement, blood, and terror in the butcher shops. Had I ever been to a Spanish butcher shop and looked for myself? No, that I hadn't, but where was I from? He noticed my boreal accent.

"From Norway," I replied.
"Vacation?"
I nodded. "Been to Santiago de Compostella."
"Really?" He blinked eagerly behind his glasses and pulled closer. "A pilgrimage. A visit to the scene of a recently proclaimed miracle. Did you see anything?"
"No." I squirmed, feeling uneasy.
He moved even closer screwed up his eyes until they became narrow slits, and continued in a muted voice.

"Let me tell you something, stranger, stay away from places like that. I can be fatally dangerous for non-believers, but perhaps you are a believer?"
I nodded and looked away.
"Then let me tell you a story you should know. I myself happen to have been interested in these phenomena. I have certain connections; reliable sources and, with respect to the incident in Fatima in October of 1917, I'm sure you have heard about it. There were also present among the onlookers non-believers, dissenters, dissidents who interpreted the phenomenon differently. They were free to do so as long as they did not go public with their views, but four men independent of each other, did. One of them was even a professor of philosophy. Afterwards they were visited by lackeys of the cardinals in Rome and were tortured in unimaginable ways. João Herreira had his balls cut off and they were all threatened with even worse things befalling their families unless they put an end to their public heresies. I happen to know that the cardinals Timoteus Villalobos, Jaroslaw Tugor, and Alfons de Montesquieller personally participated in the ball lopping. They are all dead now, victims as well as villains. I know it's not a comfortable story for a believer, but one you should know about because these things are supposed to have happened in Santiago de Compostella as well. There were three or four infidels present when the so-called "Mary" appeared in the sky.

I had turned away.
I did not want to hear.
I was freezing.
I wanted to hear nothing.

"Two of these infidels who witnessed the miracle on the cathedral square on September 20th of last year are dead – perished under very mysterious circumstances. Did you know?"

I did not move.
I did not listen.
I saw the scenery flicker by.
"You did not know? Well, now you do." He hissed like a snake and I felt his breath – garlic – close to my cheek.

I rose and took the magazine.
Rolled it up.
I struck as hard as I could.
Hit him on top of the head.
|| Palmer, 8:25 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

"We eliminated almost 4,000 positions from the state payroll."

So said our governor, James Doyle, last week. (OK – it's in the prepared text, anyway.) He labeled it a "tough cut" and I'm wondering exactly at whom that comment was directed. I'm thinking he probably didn't direct at the people who have lost their jobs or their families. I am also inclined to think that he didn't direct it at the remaining thousands of state employees. Or maybe he did. Was it a bit of honesty? Was it a warning to state employees and their unions? I really don't know what to think. I haven't heard the speech so, if that remark was spoken, I don't know what tone of voice he used to say those words. Did he sound rueful? Did he sound proud for having done this to help reduce the state debt? Or did he sound otherwise?

Doyle also said: "We reduced outside contracting by 12 percent - the first reduction in a decade." I don't have any statistics on this so I assume that this is accurate. Where I work, there certainly isn't any shortage of contractors, though, and FTEs are getting fewer and fewer. If we contractors disappeared, well, let's just say it would be very difficult to conduct business. Of course, my experience does not cover every state agency and is mostly limited to IT. There is a boatload of restructuring going on in the state IT world. Some people have lost or will lose their jobs. Other folks have had their position transferred to a different agency. And there are those that have been put into different positions. But there's no doubt that rules about hiring contractors have changed. On 1 June of last year, the Wisconsin IT Directors Council had their monthly meeting. From the minutes:

Staff levels are down significantly (from 30 to 20) in at least one agency. The general expectation among the group was that this trend will continue in response to the SIS initiative as well as other factors. The VMS procurement process being behind schedule, which currently precludes agencies from obtaining new contractors, was also mentioned. It was suggested that perhaps recent retirees may be willing to return in LTE positions.

And from their November meeting:

New Contractor Sourcing Contract – Has anyone used it yet? Three attendees indicated they have used the new sourcing process. Of those three IT directors, the general consensus was that they are not getting many responses as with the previous process and that the respondents they were getting were from a larger geographical area. As many as ~70% of the respondents for one agency were from out of state including one individual from outside the country. Another general comment was that upon interviewing applicants, a notable portion e.g. ~ 50% for one agency, of the respondents appeared not to be qualified for the advertised position. The comment was made that some individuals appeared to be mismatched with the resume submitted. This prompted a discussion on what different agencies are doing and what resources are available to check backgrounds and access the truthfulness of information supplied by individuals applying for contractor spots.

Doyle also said: "We're using the state's buying power to save taxpayers $150 million on everything from office paper to computers to prescription drugs." This brings to mind a comment a friend, who works at a state agency, made to me today:

I just received word that I'm no longer able to order toner cartridges from the little local company that we've used for years. The new contract is to order new ones from Office Max or remans from a company in Minnesota. So this means that now instead of ordering pc's from a company in Pewaukee I have to order them from China and I now have to get my toner from a company in Mnpls. I find it hard to understand how the Governor feels he's going to help the local economy (let's face it, you can only cut so much, you need to increase revenue) by sending our tax dollars out of state or out of the country and bankrupting local businesses. Meanwhile the head of consolidated procurement at DOA has just been indicted.

One should also note that the Wisconsin Help Desk is no longer staffed by a Wisconsin company but rather by one in Illinois. I cannot vouch for other contracts going out of state and it is certainly possible that these are tough but necessary actions that will benefit the state in the long run even if it is rough in the short run. I just don't know. But I am curious to know what it is about the new Contractor Sourcing Contract that would produce a body of applicants which found nearly 70% of them coming from out of state. If we've gotta induce recent retirees to return as LTEs to get the job done within budget, so be it. But what if not enough of them can be cajoled back into service?

While I reducing the state deficit is a good thing, only time will tell if the measures Doyle has taken hold true. If staffing levels go down, will the work that needs to be done actually get done? After the SIS initiative is in place, will we the taxpayers be saving money? I sure hope so. But, if you read those meeting minutes, you can see that IT directors have a lot of questions about $$$ that, as of the time of the meeting, were unanswered. SIS involves the Department of Administration hosting various IT services and thusly forcing the other agencies to pay DOA for them. This is a top-level thing so you can't just opt-out. What if part of your agency's operating budget comes not from the state coffer but from business? You are a company and you pay a state agency to regulate your industry - you will find yourself, in essence, paying the DOA for services. How will that go over?

There's a lot going on now and so there's a lot of money at stake and a lot of politics involved. And we're just going to have to wait to see how it all pans out.
|| Palmer, 7:45 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

American Life in Poetry: Column 039

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Many of us keep journals, but while doing so few of us pay much attention to selecting the most precise words, to determining their most effective order, to working with effective pauses and breath-like pacing, to presenting an engaging impression of a single, unique day. This poem by Nebraskan Nancy McCleery is a good example of one poet’s carefully recorded observations.

December Notes

The backyard is one white sheet
Where we read in the bird tracks

The songs we hear. Delicate
Sparrow, heavier cardinal,

Filigree threads of chickadee.
And wing patterns where one flew

Low, then up and away, gone
To the woods but calling out

Clearly its bright epigrams.
More snow promised for tonight.

The postal van is stalled
In the road again, the mail

Will be late and any good news
Will reach us by hand.

Reprinted from “Girl Talk,” The Backwaters Press, 2002, by permission of the author. Copyright © 1994 by Nancy McCleery. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.
|| Palmer, 1:30 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

25 January, 2006

Teach a Man To Use a Microwave...



This and many more at Fark.
|| Palmer, 12:37 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Word of the Week

soporific (sŏpƏ-rĭfĭk) adj. Inducing or tending to induce sleep.

As in "dumb girls make me soporific" from yesterday's song.
|| Palmer, 12:37 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

24 January, 2006

Probable Cause For Being Pissed Off

General Michael V. Hayden is the Deputy Director of National Intelligence. While I'm not quite sure what this title entails, is presumably means that he's one of the highest officials of the NSA. He gave a press conference yesterday and I've listened to some of the exchanges. One reporter, Jonathan Landay of Knight-Ridder, began his question by saying:

I'm no lawyer but my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probably cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American's right against unlawful...searches and seizures.

I'm no lawyer either but this doesn't sound like the words of judicial activist. Hayden, however, took issue with this statement:

No, actually...The Fourth Amendment actually, uh, protects all of us against unreasonable (his emphasis) search and seizure.

Landay: The measure is probable cause, I believe.

Hayden: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

Landay: But does it not say prob...
(he is cut off by Hayden)

Hayden: No.


OK, I know the President swears an oath to uphold the Constiution but that doesn't mean that the Deputy Director of National Intelligence does. But, holy shit! How in the name of fuck does a person get such a high falutin' title and not know the Fourth Amendment?! According to the National Archives, it reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Emphasis is mine and I make it quite emphatically. If Hayden or anyone else doesn't believe me, go look at the primary document yourself at this site. If you're too lazy to actually go look at it, here's the relevant text blown up and cropped.



Is it unreasonable to expect the Deputy Director of National Intelligence to know the Constitution?
|| Palmer, 8:14 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Medieval

Tonight Nova is airing a program about a bunch of dorks like me who enjoy things medieval, especially seige engines. They build trebuchets! (A trebuchet is like a catapult.) While Abrams tanks are definitely a marvel of engineering, it's still really fucking impressive to watch a bunch of guys transform whole trees into machines that hurl 250-300 pound stone balls a couple hundred yards sans gunpowder.



Tanks today have all these computers for targeting. Contrast this with a counterweight that can accommodate 12 tons of dirt for distance and having to move a couple tons of wood to one side or the other. When that ball hit the stone wall built to simulate that of a castle, it put a good-sized hole in it. Quite impressive.
|| Palmer, 7:47 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Shiver Me Timbers!

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has admitted that it (gasp!) pirated a movie! Oh, luscious irony! The group that stands behind the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to make sure Jane and Joe Average Consumer can't copy DVDs for their own personal use has done so:

What happens when an organization that is best known for inveighing against the unauthorized copying of movies gets caught doing exactly that? The Motion Picture Association of America was caught with its pants down, admitting to making unauthorized copies of the documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated in advance of this week's Sundance Film Festival.

This Film Is Not Yet Rated looks at the motion picture ratings system created and run by the MPAA. Director Kirby Dick submitted the film for rating in November. After receiving the movie, the MPAA subsequently made copies without Dick's permission. Dick had specifically requested in an e-mail that the MPAA not make copies of the movie. The MPAA responded by saying that "the confidentiality of your film is our first priority."

What makes this all the more amusing is that the pirated film is all about the hypocrisy of the MPAA and its ratings system:

A little background: This Film looks at how the rating system functions, specifically at how some types of content are treated differently by the MPAA. Dick feels that the MPAA is full of—surprise—double standards, especially when it comes to how they treat graphic violence vs. sexual content, heterosexual vs. homosexual sex, and big-studio vs. independent films. As part of the documentary's creation, Dick trailed and identified some of the previously anonymous members of the ratings board. Dick's conduct became a cause for concern for both the MPAA and its employees, leading to their calling the police on some occasions.

According to Mark Lemley, a professor at the Stanford Law School, the MPAA may have been within its rights to make copies of the film. Given that the MPAA's intent isn't financial gain and that the whole situation may rise above the level of trading barbs through the media into legal action, making a copy may be justified. Personally, I can't see any justification for an organization such as the MPAA ignoring a directive from a copyright owner, but IANAL. A "digital version" of the movie was submitted for screening, according to Dick's attorney, Michael Donaldson. If that digital version turns out to be a DVD, the MPAA could also find itself in hot water for violating the DMCA. Oh, the irony! Either way, the MPAA can't be happy about being put into a position where they are forced to justify the same actions they decry when undertaken by a consumer.


|| Palmer, 7:25 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Chocolate Follow-up

As a follow-up to my earlier post about how chocolate is good for one's sex life, I present this bit of science.

While it's been known for some time that a group of chemicals called flavanols--found in tea, wine and cocoa--are good for the vascular system, these recent findings identify a specific chemical, epicatechin, as linked to improved circulation and heart health. Scientists from University of California, Davis, Harvard Medical School and the Heinrich-Heine University of Duesseldorf, Germany published the results of their study in the January 17 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Finally, science catches up with us chocolate lovers.
|| Palmer, 7:22 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

International Festival

In addition to being Darwin Day, the twelfth of February brings the International Festival at the Overture Center here in Madison. The event lasts from 11-5 and features music, dance, crafts, and (of course) food. There's a full schedule (in PDF) up at the site with a variety of events on tap.

Musically, there's a plethora of local performers. Yid Vicious will be showering us with their semetic klezmer goodness; the Madison Maennerchor will perform "German classical and folk choral music" to whip the audience into a Teutonic frenzy; the Swiss Alphorns of nearby New Glarus will regale the crowds with their 12-foot Alphorns - listen for me yelling "Ricola!"; the Madison Chinese Cultural Association will dance "dances from various regions of China with spectacular costumes"; Tri Bratovchedki Singers will sing a variety of Eastern European folks songs. Plus there's lots more where these came from.

There will also be a similarly large number of folks offering crafts including Hmong Arts & Akarim African Experience. Near and dear to me will be the chance to learn more about Polish culture via the Madison Polish Heritage Club. To satiate your desire for tasty treats, there will be food aplenty. Let's see...we have Thai, Italian, Jamaican, and Native American. The folks from the Ojibwa Nation will be serving Indian fry bread and "Indian tacos". What the fuck is an Indian taco?! It sounds like some goofy name created to appeal to the stupid white man who can't handle a little Ojibwa on his ass. Well, I'll be sure try one to solve this tantalizing conundrum.

So be there or be a rhombus!
|| Palmer, 7:08 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Why Chocolate is Good for your Sex Life

This comes from Dr. Myrtle at my local shoppe for all things naughty, A Woman's Touch.

If there was one food that you could eat in moderation, was enjoyable to consume, left you feeling satisfied, happy and relaxed, and can be manufactured in a way respectful to the earth and the people processing it, you would eat it, right? What if this same food actually REVERSED some of the negative effects caused by other life choices (like smoking damage to blood vessels), lowered our bad cholesterol, helped our insulin system work more effectively to strip dangerous blood sugar peaks out of our lives, and improved our ability to enjoy sexual pleasure? You would run out to buy it!

Chocolate is this impressive wonder food, determined by the ancient Mayans to be the "food of the gods". Multiple studies have shown that there are positive effects from diets rich in dark chocolate. One such study, just published in a leading heart-research magazine, confirmed that chocolate has direct positive effects on enhancing the flexibility and function of small blood vessels (the "endothelial layer") that are critical to healthy heart functioning, even in individuals who smoke cigarettes.

What's this got to do with sex?

In a nutshell, sexual arousal depends upon two different things functioning: your nerves and your blood vessels. The nerves have to be healthy enough to transmit pleasure information to and from your brain, skin, genitals, ears, eyes … any part, really. When the brain is willing to be sexual and this information begins zinging around your nervous system, its next influence is on little blood vessels in your body and, specifically, in your genitals.

Everything would be fine if we knew how to care for our little blood vessels, but actually most of us are pretty poor custodians. We allow all sorts of junk to lie around; we bring bad influences in; we eat "junk food," and many of us have diets that don’t include healthy, vessel-protective substances that could allow our vessels to function more efficiently. We breathe in toxic air pollution (including smoking). We don’t give the little vessels much of a healthy workout while we’re living our lives of quiet desperation, all stressed out and angry at that *@#* driver up there. Sheesh. Then we expect our blood vessels to perform miracles?

Blood vessel dysfunction is not only due to little clogged-up vessels. It's also that we are poisoning the inside of our little vessels. To be healthy, blood vessels need to be supple and flexible, so they can transport vital fluids to other parts of our body. When the vessels are poisoned, their inner lining, something called "endothelial cells," can't work properly, and they become underfed, un-exercised and inflexible.

It is this flexibility that is critical for blood vessels to swell and transport fluids properly. Fluids flowing and getting temporarily trapped in the genitals is the cause of that … stiff and swollen experience also known as sexual arousal. Poor blood flow, by itself, can further cause damage to parts of the body which swell with sexual arousal (like the clitoris and the penis).

Eating diets containing predominantly fruits and vegetables, mono-unsaturated oils (olive, canola, etc.) non-beef protein sources, good and varied amounts of spices and herbs, 74% dark chocolate, and allowing yourself a smattering of white things (flour, sugars, etc.) to fill in the mix is a SEX-HEALTHY way to live – a balanced diet including dark chocolate helps our little vessels get cleared out so they can let fluids through and, thus, make sexual arousal easier, leading to more pleasure.

Some other facts about chocolate to consider:
* Eating chocolate infuses PEA (a "love hormone" in the adrenaline family which helps us feel sexy, alive, and loved) and theobromide (which causes mild mood elevation without an increase in stress and helps our body’s system that enhances early sexual arousal) into our blood streams for a light, positive buzz.

* Eating chocolate also causes us to release endorphins into our systems. Other things that do this are: hearty laughter, acupressure and acupuncture, warm hydro-massage, hypnosis, visualization, massage, using peripheral vision and exercise.

* Although chocolate contains caffeine, a very large study again confirms that chocolate does NOT cause heart arrhythmias, as caffeine by itself can.

* Although sugar is associated with some types of cancer, chocolate itself is anti-inflammatory. So don’t eat milk chocolate (which is mostly sugar); eat the good stuff that's at least 70% cacao, or nothing!

* The fat in dark chocolate is healthy fat that decreases your bad cholesterol and increases the good.

* Regular chocolate consumption suppresses chocolate cravings.

My prescription: Eat 1-4 ounces of at least 70% dark chocolate, and call me in the morning.

Take care and pass the chocolate,
Dr. Myrtle
|| Palmer, 7:09 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

On the Gramophone

George Hrab may be the only person to have ever included references to Eddie Jobson and Tori Wells in the same song. And that song is "Braindbodyboth". It's funky, naughty, and geeky at the same time. Quite a feat!
|| Palmer, 6:23 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

22 January, 2006

Chelyabinsk

A co-worker of mine is from Russia and she recently told me that she's going back there next month to visit family and friends. I told her that I was jealous as I'd love to go to Mother Russia so she invited me along! Alas and alack, I don't have the vacation time for such a venture. Instead, I asked that she bring me back some vodka and some Russian chocolate because she's always telling me how good it is. We started talking about Russia generally and the conversation turned to film. She told me that the film which most accurately captures Russian culture and the Russian way of doing things is Sibirskiy tsiryulnik (The Barber of Siberia). It's not available here in the States but she's vowed to get me a copy in Chelyabinsk, her hometown.

Never having heard of the place, I decided to learn more about it. Chelyabinsk's home page says:

Chelyabinsk is the major industrial, scientific, and cultural center of the southern Ural. The city is located on the eastern slope of the Ural Mountains along the banks of the Miass River (the inflow of Iseti) and has geographical coordinates: 61°08'-61°17' east longitude, 55°03'-55°19' north latitude, bordered by pine forest to the west and to the north.

The relief of the city is slightly hilly in the west, gradually descending to the east and sectioned by the Miass River and narrows with lakes, and marshes. The banks of the Miass River are partly covered by woods and shrubs. The Miass flows past the Shershni reservoir, which lies in the southwest of the city. Other ponds surround Chelyabinsk: Pervoye to the northeast, and Smolino and Sineglazovo to the south. Ice bespreads rivers from the beginning of November to the midst of April. Its thickness runs up to 80 centimeter to the end of winter. Forest and groves around the city are mixed, generally piny and birchen.

Chelyabinsk first appeared as a military fortress on the 13th (2) of September in 1736 in the course of Russian colonization of the southern Urals. In 1781 Chelyabinsk gained status as a city, since 1934 it has been the center of Chelyabinsk Oblast.

Nowadays Chelyabinsk is one of major industrial centers of Russia. Metal products made here are well-known in all regions and republics of the former Soviet Union. Many countries throughout the world purchase them. This city produces nearly one-fifth of big-bore pipes, produced in the country, one-third of smelted ferroalloys and ball-bearing steel, over 60 per cent of stainless steel, and about 40 per cent of road-building machines. During World War II, famous Katyusha's and T-34 tanks were produced in Chelyabinsk. Not without reason it was named 'Tankograd' at that time.


So it's kinda like Pittsburgh. In my surfings, I also found this page for a documentary about the city and how it is supposedly "the most contaminated spot on the planet".

For forty-five years, Chelyabinsk province of Russia was closed to all foreigners. Only in January of 1992 did President Boris Yeltsin sign a decree changing that.Shortly afterwards, I made my first trip to this region, which later Western scientists declared to be the most polluted spot on earth.

The people of the area have suffered no less than three nuclear disasters: For over six years, the Mayak complex systematically dumped radioactive waste into the Techa River, the only source of water for the 24 villages which lined its banks.The four largest of those villages were never evacuated, and only recently have the authorities revealed to the population why they strung barbed wire along the banks of the river some 35 years ago. Russian doctors who study radiation sickness in the area estimate that those living along the Techa River received an average of four times more radiation than the Chernobyl victims.


I directed my co-worker to this site and here is her reaction:

That is hilarious!
I would have to show it to my friends :)
Partially it is true, about the closed region, and about the accident... but not as much as they say. Have to give a credit to a writer though - he sure did make a "story"


Perhaps it isn't as bad as the above would lead one to believe. I mean, my co-worker doesn't have two heads or webbed hands or any such malformation. In fact, she's quite pulchritudinous. She went on to tell me about towns in the area which are fenced in and require passes for ingress and egress. Communism may have collapsed but it sure ain't like Kansas over there.
|| Palmer, 1:15 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Ach, Mein Herz!

This weekend I started my exploration of German cuisine und mein Herz tut mir weh. I made Schnitzel Huhn – schnitzel made of chicken instead of veal, as is the standard bit of flesh. To go with it, I whipped up some Spätzle. For dessert I baked a Schokoladen-Kartoffeltorte or Chocolate Potato Torte. Since the torte would take the longest, I began making it before all else. But first I had to set the mood correctly with some music and beer.



Next I got a few potatoes boiling.



And then I melted some chocolate in a double boiler.



From there, I separated some eggs and sifted flour. Notice the cherry brandy in the background…



I was feeling too lazy to go get my mixer so I just did everything by hand. Instead of adding vanilla extract, I gave the batter a liberal douche of the cherry brandy. I bought it months ago for a recipe and only used a couple tablespoons then so it's gotta get used up somehow. Besides, it was just sitting there tempting me. In addition, we have a bit of chocolate liqueur about too so I put some of that in there. Here's the batter just before the eggs whites got folded into it.



When all was mixed, I poured the batter into a springform pan and threw it in the oven. I then began on the next item – the spätzle. I decided to cook it ahead of time and reheat it in hot water just before serving. This would make things easier. I made the batter and headed down to the basement to grab the spätzle hoolie I inherited from my father when he passed.



It was the first time I'd used it and memories of helping him make spätzle a few years ago came to mind as I ran the funnel across the grater. Here they are cooking to light, fluffy perfection.



The Dulcinea was supposed to have come over at 7:30 but was nowhere to be found. I called her cell and left a message. And so I continued to make a big mess and prep the schnitzel. The breasts were pounded; the egg wash and breading were laid; and I brought out my largest frying pan. Oh, and I had another brew.





During the wait, the torte had cooled sufficiently and I cut it in half. I'd decided to do a cherry and whipped cream filling. Again I was too lazy to grab my mixer from the basement so I whipped the cream by hand. For the cherry bit, I decided to use some of this cherry jam I'd bought at Alex Polish American Deli. While not German, it was close enough. I mean, Poland was occupied by the Germans, right?.



Perhaps jam isn't correct – more like preserves. It was full of whole cherries. It's really good stuff and isn't very sweet, which I liked. The batter had almost a pound of butter in it and sugar plus there'd be more sugar in the whipped cream. I didn't want it to be a massively sweet thing so I tried to get it so that each part of the torte was only slightly sweet so, when they were put together, you'd get something that was moderately sweet but wouldn't instantly cause a cavity. In addition, I threw some of the cherries that I had preserved in brandy into the mix for a little sumpin' extra.



I threw the torte together and put it in the refrigerator. The Dulcinea finally called, saying that she had lost track of time and was on her way. When she arrived, I melted the lard and started a-fryin'!



There was a recipe in the new German cookbook for Schnitzel a la Holstein which involved putting a fried egg on top of the schnitzel along with a couple anchovies as well as capers. I didn't have any anchovies and I don't particularly care for them so I did my own variation. I laid a slice of spiced bacon roll atop the schnitzel and then the egg followed by capers. Like the preserves, the bacon also came from Alex Polish American Deli. I'm not really sure if the stuff is strictly Polish or not. I can say that the little sign next to it in the deli case didn't give a Polish name, just the English one. Still, it's pork and Germans & Poles both have a predilection for all things porcine. To round things out, I buttered sourdough rye bread and embellished the plate with some of the bread & butter pickled squash that I canned last summer. Here's The Dulcinea's plate:



Here's mine along with some beer in a stein that my dad got when he was stationed in Germany in the late 1950s:



I thought that everything turned out well. The spätzle was all light'n'fluffy as it should be. The schnitzel was quite tasty and I loved how the lemon just added that little something extra and different to the rest of the flavors. Admittedly, I ate my fill but The Dulcinea went that extra mile. She'd drunk too much coffee during the day and had an upset tummy but, trooper she is, she kept at it and ate even when he gullet cried "No!". With my plate cleared, I dug into the torte.



I know it's not a great picture but it's the only one I have, at the moment. It turned out really great! My sugar rationing did the trick as it wasn't too sweet but remained very flavorful and rich. The marriage of the chocolate and cherries was consummated in my mouth. My slice had a bit of brandied cherry and biting into it, I was greeted with a bit of a bite. They're potent, alright!

This morning I thumbed through the cookbook once again looking for breakfast fare. The Kaiserschmarren (Emperor's Pancakes) sounded tasty so I went with them, much to my arteries' chagrin.

The first thing I did was to get some dried cherries soaking in brandy.



Next, I whipped up the batter and made the cakes. They are supposed to be very thin – like crepes.



Once they were done, I cut them into small rectangles and kept them warm in the oven. I then melted a whole stick of margarine. I know, I know – what the fuck was I doing with margarine? Well, I was out of butter so it had to suffice. With it melted, I drained the cherries and added them as well as some cinnamon.



I then added the pancakes pieces. From here, one is supposed to dump a whole cup of sugar on it and toss. However, I only used about half a cup. I tossed it so that everything was coated in a gooey mixture of buttery, cinammony, cherry goodness and then served.



Now, when I had come down to start making breakfast, Becca was just beginning to serve pancakes and bacon for herself and Stevie. But when they The Dulcinea's and my plates, they were intrigued. I let them sample it and they were impressed enough that Stevie gleefully went into the kitchen and got a plateful for he and Becca to share.

I think that these two meals provided enough calories to sustain a draft horse. At least my arteries are now well lubricated. I'm not sure what German fare I'll make next but The Dulcinea is itchin' for some Hasenpfeffer. In the meantime, I'm gonna have to eat a country ton of granola.
|| Palmer, 1:04 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

20 January, 2006

Friday Skin

|| Palmer, 6:58 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

19 January, 2006

American Life in Poetry: Column 023

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

In this fine poem about camping by Washington poet E. G. Burrows, vivid memories of the speaker's father, set down one after another, move gracefully toward speculation about how experiences cling to us despite any efforts to put them aside. And then, quite suddenly, the father is gone, forever. But life goes on, the coffee is hot, and the bird that opens the poem is still there at its close, singing for life.

Camping Out

I watched the nesting redstart
when we camped by Lake Winnepesaukee.
The tent pegs pulled out in soft soil.
Rain made pawprints on the canvas.

So much clings to the shoes,
the old shoes must be discarded,
but we're fools to think that does it:
burning the scraps.

I listened for the rain at Mt. Monadnock,
for the barred owl on a tent peak
among scrub pines in Michigan.
I can hear my father stir

and the cot creak. The flap opens.
He goes out and never returns
though the coffee steams on the grill
and the redstart sings in the alders.

Reprinted from "Passager," 2001, by permission of the author. Copyright © 2001 by E. G. Burrows, whose most recent book is "Sailing As Before", Devil's Millhopper Press, 2001. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.
|| Palmer, 7:10 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

18 January, 2006

Word of the Week

The Dulcinea and I watched The Name of the Rose last week so this week I have chosen:

tonsure (tŏn' shƏr) n. The part of a monk's or priest's head that has been shaved.
|| Palmer, 9:32 AM || link || (5) comments | links to this post

17 January, 2006

IA!!


(via Sivacracy)
|| Palmer, 10:14 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Private Parts and Pieces

While the Supreme Court has read a right to privacy into the Constiution, the business world sure couldn't give a flying fuck about it.
|| Palmer, 10:11 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Weekend in Review

Today Charles and I went to Maharaja, our local purveyors of Indian cuisine for lunch and ate ourselves silly. The buffet there is a trap like the Tree of Knowledge. It just sits there with its Chicken Tikka Masala goodness steaming at you in the face. Although I ate too much, I did try several dishes that I'd never had before, the names of which I cannot recall. One was this cabbage and cashew thingy which was mild but very tasty. And then there was the something-or-other that had yogurt in the sauce that was very tasty as well. Plus I tried those little brown balls in syrup. They were luscious balls of sweetened cottage cheese fried to perfection. Rich, but not overly so. The daily special was a chicken something-or-other that was OK. It was very mild and pulled back from the precipice of blandness, but only just. And then there were these fried slices of eggplant and some kind of pancake hooile with vegetables in them that made perfect folding devices when a glob of onion chutney was applied.

Surprisingly, the meal didn't make me all soporific. Then again, we did stop at Escape Java Joint and I got me a nice cuppa joe. I stopped in there for the first time a couple weeks ago and was pleased to find that one of the proprietors was someone I recognized as a former barista from the Ancora just off the Square. He even remembered me. I've only ever stopped there on my way to work but it looks like a pretty nice space, especially with the big furnished room at the front. I shall have to go there and actually sit my ass down and spend some time soaking up the atmosphere. Writing these words makes me miss Toad Hill. It was just a couple blocks from my house and I knew all the baristas, who were wonderful folk. A great spot for doing the crossword puzzle and good chat. R.I.P.

This weekend was mellow but wonderfully varied. On Saturday, I trekked out to Bavaria Sausage and got me some good German comestibles including some soft pretzels (to go with my chocolate fudge mustard), smoked pork chops, sweet & sour cabbage, Black Forest ham, et al. Is it me or does German cuisine center around pork? There were about 80 different types of hams and even more variations on the pig including wurst, chops, and the like. Although I have designated 2006 as the year that I delve into German cooking, my venture there was more along the lines of just having food for this week than a concerted effort to learn a country's cuisine. From there I went to Alex Polish-American deli. Now, when I got to Bavaria Sausage, mine was the only car in the lot. When I left, I found that half a dozen cars had joined mine. The deli was a different matter. The lot of the little mall in which it resides was almost full when I got there yet I found myself to be the only customer. There were a couple guys in there speaking in Polish to one of the women behind the counter but they left shortly after I arrived. As I had no particular recipe in mind, I stood there looking around and running potential meals through my head. The younger woman behind the counter asked me if I was looking for anything in particular with her stunning Polish accent. I told her that I wasn't and proceeded to grab some bread – a loaf of chleb babuni or "Grandma's bread". The stuff is really good. It has a very spongy texture and sticks to your ribs like glue. It was one of three loaves left so I think I ought to frequent the joint more often so as to find out when they get their stuff in. A lot, if not most, of the stuff they carry comes from Chicago, including the bread which is from Ideal Bakery, a joint just a few blocks from my mom's place in Jefferson Park. I also grabbed a bag of German potato chips which were seasoned with paprika. While good, Jay's makes the same thing down in Chicago. Perusing the shelves, I decided to make kolacky again and so bought some dzem wi?niowy, which I think translates to "cherry preserves" because that's sure what it looks like. Turning my attention to the deli case, I bought some garlic ham, a couple links of a sausage whose name I cannot recall but begins with "p", and some spiced bacon roll. (Again, the pig dominates.) The bacon roll turned out to be quite a score. Take a slab of bacon, wrap it around a pork loin, and then spice & tie. I fried some for breakfast the next morning and The Dulcinea and I both were in fits about how tasty it is. In the cooler I spied a Polish sernik or cheesecake also from Ideal. The stuff is heaven on a plate, lemme tell ya. Unlike American cheesecake, the stuff is very light with a much drier texture yet it is mighty moist.

The Dulcinea came over that night and we went to the rollerderby! It was the Mad Rollin' Dolls' season opener. Although we'd seen them play an exhibition game last month, this was much better. There were more elbows thrown, hips checked, and more fights! I don't know what it is, but the sight of two hotties coming to fisticuffs just sets off part of the reptilian section of my brain. The matches were good and I've decided that I'm an Unholy Rollers fan. I just have a thing for Jewel of Denile and all things unholy. Before the Resevoir Dolls match, one of their mascots led one unholy sight around by a chain. Marty, a local bartender of some reknown, had volunteered his services for the night. Marty is fairly short and rotund with a long beard ala the boys in ZZ Top and long hair. Plus he wears prescription sunglass all the time. So Marty is paraded about while wearing only hip-hugger shorts and this leather harness. And I thought watching him dance to Nine Inch Nails while standing on a barstool was funny. Uff da! Later on I saw Ryan, a former co-worker of mine. He was clad in bowling shirt and with a beer in hand, if I recall correctly. PBR silos are $3.50. Is PBR still a hip beer? I managed to drink 16 oz. of the stuff before cutting myself off from the horrid stuff. How in the fuck did PBR become fashionable? I mean, what kind of statement is it to drink that crap intentionally? "I drink crappy beer." I've been at a couple fancy joints and seen some well-heeled gentlemen quaffing it down. I mean, these are the kind of guys who would wear a tuxedo to their own vasectomy and they're drinking PBR. Wow. If drinking shite beer is what it takes to be a hipster, I'll just stay uncool, thanks. I'll stick with New Glarus. Next time I'm not driving and I'm bringing a hip flask.

On Sunday we resumed gaming after a multi-month layoff. Marv, Christopher, Pete, and I convened at Dogger's for the occasion. When I got there, Miss Regan (now in her Terrible Twos) was sitting on Dogger's lap in the basement while he played music and waited for folks to arrive. There was some Porcupine Tree playing and Regan started dancing to it at one point. Poor kid – she's been tainted by progressive rock. People eventually filed in and we began. Pete was DMing and we played a sci-fi adventure of his which was vaguely Fireflyish. We just transposed D&D's D20 rules over to the scenario. We play a bunch of young prospector types who get Shanghai'd by a trader. So we're on this ship carrying an unknown cargo getting attacked by various bad guys. My character is an engineer so I'm basically Scotty (from Star Trek) diverting power from the propulsion units to the shields or the lasers and back. At the beginning of the game, Pete explained the game world. On the outer planets, the de facto police is a group known as The Orphans. A few hours later when we were playing, I had completely forgotten this. We land on a planet and the captain tells us not to go to the Orphanage, i.e. – their headquarters. I, having the mind that I do, took this statement a different way and nearly spit Coke through my nose laughing which caused Marv to laugh and so we spiraled down into a vicious circle of belly laughs. Just as we calmed down, Pete described the inhabitants of the planet who were mostly miners. He said they were very short and had no hair. Being all smart-alecky, I said, "At least not on their heads" which caused Marv to make a hand gesture indicating that, if their pants were unzipped, a whole forest of pubic hair would spring out. I started laughing uncontrollably and so did he. Things were not helped much when a whole conversation ensued about getting lost in the hair, finding pubic lice the size of squirrels inside and, well you get the gist.

Luckily Miss Regan wasn't around for all of this but she did wander down shortly thereafter, much to Mel's chagrin. You see, role playing is about role playing; about being your character. While Regan was coveting some dice, Marv really got into character. We're a bunch of young punks out in the depths of space fighting for our lives so of course this involves profanity. He said "bullshit" at one point and Regan mimed him with "booshit!" This was quite funny and so was watching Marv get yelled at by Mel.

I'm looking forward to continuing the adventure next weekend, especially now that we've gotten all the preliminary crap out of the way.

Also this past weekend, I went to the bookstore. I bought the second Discworld book, The Light Fantastic, for my mom, a cheapie CD of the music of Oktoberfest, and a couple of tomes for myself. To get my German cooking venture off the ground, I bought a German cookbook. Although there were 80 Indian cookbooks and a million different ones for Chinese cooking, I grabbed the only general cookbook for German cuisine. Presumably it's not too hip these days. You know, considering that over half of the people in this state have German ancestry, there sure is a paucity of German culture outside of beer and brats. Schnitzel should be served at every corner tavern, for fuck's sake. Corner restaurants should be serving liverwurst on rye with a big slab of raw onion on top. Considering the preponderance of people of northern European stock around here, you sure can't tell by the local culture. But that's a rant for another time. I also bought Breweries of Wisconsin by a professor here at the university. (There's that German thing again.) It's interesting to read about how great of a part of people's lives beer and the brewing industry was. Firstly there was the economic aspect of it but there was also the element of community in the whole deal. For example, some small towns would get together to pick hops and make a celebration of it with food, musicians, and dancing.

This week…this week I need to get my arse in gear and pay some bills. Work has been work. Tomorrow I have lunch with my contracting company boss. Since I don’t work at their office, I am out of the loop. My company sued to be the help desk for many state agencies but they lost the contract to an Illinois company. They weren't able to get Steve back to DHFS with me and now another of us is leaving to take a job closer to home with a different company. And then there were two. I highly suspect that contracts with the state are quite lucrative so someone has to be in trouble.
|| Palmer, 9:39 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

New(ish) MC Hawking Video

Yo! Check out some phat beats!

Nerdcore superstar MC Hawking has a new video out for his song, "What We Need More of Is Science". It is quite humourous but may not be safe for work as it contains depictions of Christian fundamentalists.
|| Palmer, 4:16 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

On the Gramophone

I chose this week's entry as I'm looking forward to the performance by Madison's progressive rock cover band, PROG next month and have been listening to Rush quite a bit lately. And so point your browswer here to hear PROG doing Rush's "Subdivisions". (It's a .wma file - sorry.)
|| Palmer, 4:10 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

16 January, 2006

Cold Calling for Country

Has anyone else gotten an annoying call out of the blue imploring you to listen to some new country station like 96.3? They want me to listen to their crappy music and call them to let them know what I think. Oh, I'll let them know what I think alright...
|| Palmer, 8:01 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Local Vernacular

On the same day last week, someone sent me an e-mail with one of those "You May Be From Wisconsin If…" lists like this one. Later that day I was surfing the Net and came across the site Chicago Vocabulary!. Having grown up in Chicago and moved to rural Wisconsin at age 14, I could appreciate both sites. I have an obvious Midwestern accent that, I'm told, varies between the Wisconsin and Chicago varieties. For instance, every native Wisconsonian I've ever met pronounces "Chicago" as "shi-kah-go". Now, most of my family pronounces it as "shi-kaw-go" and so do I. This is a dead giveaway as to my origins.

Beginning with site about Chicago vernacular, I found that I recognized most of the entries. For instance, "beef" as in "Gimme a beef!" is short for an Italian beef sandwich or that "a Polish" means a Polish sausage. Plus I knew the names given to the various expressways such as the Kennedy or the Eisenhower. It was funny to see various businesses listed such as Empire Carpet and Victory Autowreckers because of their ubiquitous television commercials that I remember well from my youth. However, there are some entries that I either don't recall ever having heard or were created after I left the city. For example, I don't remember ever hearing the top of the John Hancock referred to as "The Top of the Cock" but this could just be my memory at fault here. Then there's the Allstate Arena which was the Rosemont Horizon when I lived there. Of course the list wouldn't be complete without the dig at we Wisconsinites and so "cheesehead" makes the list.

In addition to terms specific to Chicago, there was the odd term for something that's universal but has a different name depending on location. Take for example the ATM – the Automated Teller Machine. In Chicago they seem to be known as "cash stations" as per the name of the largest ATM network in the city. Amongst my crowd here in Wisconsin, they're known as TYME machines, after the ATM network TYME – Take Your Money Everywhere. Upon moving to Wisconsin, I noticed that many people pronounced "creek" like "krik" as in one of guys that discovered DNA. Chicagoans strictly say it as "kreek" – like seek with the long e sound and most definitely not with the short i sound. I also found a "You May Be From Chicago If…" list and it includes these:

Grocery stores have bags, not sacks.
You drink pop.


The use of "sacks" tends to be more of a rural thing, from my experience and I know I always use "pop" and never "soda". In fact, I think pop is pretty standard in Wisconsin. Still, I guess that a short drive up or down I-90 can produce a profound effect on speech.

The "You May Be From Wisconsin If…" list is pretty humorous. We have "You can identify an Illinois accent" and "You know what a bubbler is". I don't think I encountered the term "bubbler" until I moved to Madison. It means a water fountain and, from my understanding, the word comes from Milwaukee. The gulf between Wisconsonians and our Illinois neighbors is evident in "Down South to you means Chicago" and "You know what a FIB is". (FIB = Fucking Illinois Bastard.) One of the things not on the above list which should be is that folks in Wisconsin measure distance by hours and time generally. I know that the list for Chicago says the same thing but my experience was always that people in Chicago would refer to a location within the city by the nearest intersection of major streets or nearest landmark like a ballpark, museum, or something similar. If a location was in the 'burbs, they'd refer to it as being beyond a particular side of town if it were in an inner suburb and, if it were in an outer 'burb, they'd describe it in relation to an inner one. I mean, travel times vary so much depending on the time of day, which route you take, if there's an accident on the expressway, if there's a sporting event that day, etc. In Wisconsin, we almost always refer to a location, especially outside of town, by driving time. The answer to "Where is Small Town X?" will almost always be phrased something like, "About 4 hours north". At this point one might add something like "About 30 miles outside of Rhinelander" or wherever the location happens to be. Another thing that Wisconsonians refer to in these cases which Chicagoites don't when referring to location is county. As I said, folks in Chicago tend to describe locations by their relation to the city whereas we here in Wisconsin love to refer to which county a location is in. E.g. -

"What are you up to this weekend?"
"Me and my dad are going fishing up in Bayfield county"

I would also say that, if someone asks where a particular town is, that it's also fairly common for someone to begin by stating in which county the town resides.

My friend, Old Man Standiford, pointed out another bit of vernacular to me recently. He was speaking with someone from California, I think, and the woman asked what he was going to do over the weekend. He casually replied that he was going to "go drinking". She told him that only people from Wisconsin use drinking as a destination. Apparently the rest of the country would say something like "I'm going to Louie's Tavern for drinks". Who knew?

As I wrote this, I began wondering if there is such a thing as a Madison vocabulary or vernacular. Along the lines of the Chicago Vocabulary site above, there are certainly various locations that could make the list. The Square, State Street, Willy Street, and Miffland come to mind. I suppose you could at "The Co-Op" to the list as Madisonians use this to refer to the Willy Street Cooperative. Let's see…"The Union" for Memorial Union. Although there are a billion farmer's markets in and around town, when we say "the farmer's market", we usually mean the Dane County Farmer's Market. Another could be "Halloween". I think that, in recent years, the term has come to be used to signify the riots on State Street on that day as much as the day itself. "The Funky Drummer" refers to Clyde Stubblefield, former with James Brown's backing band. I suppose we could also throw in "TYME machine" and "FIB" from above while we're at it. Should the Beltline be included? I don't know about any of my fellow Madisonians, but I still use "the Coliseum" instead of the Alliant Energy Center. (I can't remember when the name changed happened.) Does anyone call the art museum on campus by its proper name? It's still the Elvehjem to me. Is Chadborne Hall still referred to as the "Virgin Vault"? I think someone told me that the dorm is co-ed now. Doesn't the Humanities building have a peculiar nickname too? Since we're talking about the UW, we'd have to include the phrase "Ogg sucks". "Frat row". To be inclusive, I'd add Bucky and Paul Bunyan's Axe. And let's not forget "the Rathskeller". "The Bou" as referring to The Caribou, a tavern. The nicknames "Madtown" and "Madcity". How about "The Ban" referring to the smoking ban?

Any locals out there that can add to the list?
|| Palmer, 2:14 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Prost Gotvins Geometri – Part 14

This is Prost Gotvins geometri by Gert Nygårdshaug. The translation was done by Roy Johansen. Nygårdshaug is a Norwegian author and the text has not yet been published in English. Roy is a friend of mine who recently moved back to his native Norway. He has translated a good part of the novel and I'm trying to convince him to finish it.

Here’s Part 13.


Father Gotvin's First Journey (continued)

We had wine and cheese and bread while talking quietly. She told me about herself cadidly and solemnly. There had been three men in her life but the relationships had been utter misunderstandings. She had certain demands but some of these demands could not be expressed verbally. However, she could feel; she knew when something was right or wrong; she felt that what had just happened was right but what was to happen next? Her intuition was strong. She had to take some chances despite not knowing me at all and despite how quickly this had developed. She too was surprised and she was only twenty-eight. I nodded in agreement, but where was my God? Gone – he was not with us then and there. I could feel only her presence and the inexpressible joy of being a man. I munched on some cheese and followed the movements of her lips. She had opened up to me. I too was open and could speak without embarrassment. There had not been any other women in my life. She had gathered as much and appreciated it but how come I had made such a skillful performance? "Skillful"? I giggled and looked down. I didn't want to understand what she had meant nor could I give her an answer. Our soft, almost whispering, voices and the cicadas melded in the balmy darkness under the jasmine bushes, beyond time.

"Why did you really come here?"
"To confirm that I don't believe in miracles."
"Don't you believe in Mary's appearance?"
"No, do you?"
"No, but are you a believer?"
"Yes, I am a believer. I am a minister, as you know."
"Do you believe in me?"
"Yes, I believe in you, Lucienne."
"But I am not a Catholic woman. I would be a whore if I were."
"You are an honest person."
"In your eyes I'm an infidel, a lost soul."
"Don't talk like that. What do you believe?"
"In what I see in you. In your inquisitive nature. In truth."
"Truth is God. I am merely his instrument."
"But you still seek to understand."

I held back for a moment. Being this close to her made clear, rational arguments impossible. For my Christian point of view, my reservation with respect to Catholic miracles – God was not present except as a notion and for this I was sorry. Yes, I was still seeking and she must know what for, surely? The way we were looking at each other, the depth of our gazes, our hands intertwined, all the smells…

"Will you promise me something?" she asked.
"Promise?"
"Yes. Promise me that you will believe in me."
""Of course I'll believe in you."

She looked down. There was something she wanted to say, something she didn't say. She looked solemn and squeezed my hand as if her life depended on it. I knew it had something to do with the promise I had given her but she had said as much as she was going to and I felt no urgent need to know. She started to talk about her profession, about archaeology. Her specialty was settlements – remnants, traces of a time far, far from our own. She was a paleoarchaeologist which meant that she concentrated on settlements and cultures from before the last ice age, a period fifty to a hundred thousand years back in time – the Quarternary Period. Could it be possible? I listened with interest as she explained that, at the time, our ancestors the Neanderthals were still around and that they were not all that different from us. As a matter of fact, the brain volume of homo sapiens neanderthalis was actually larger than ours and one must assume that they had formed communities and settlement structures from which one might still find traces. This was her speciality; a largely unexplored branch of archaeology and one that she was rarely given the opportunity to pursue. But theories too were important and the theories seemed to indicate that the Neanderthals had been particularly numerous in Northern Europe, especially in Scandinavia. Consequently there might well be remnants, although much had been destroyed by the glaciers. It made me happy to hear this. Maybe it might attract her to my own area; perhaps she would be able to find traces of them in the mountains around Vanndal? I did not tell her this, of course. I listened and nodded. What were my own particular professional areas? Christ's suffering on the Cross and the daily suffering facing all of us, spiritual guidance, marriage counseling, weddings and burials – these were my areas. This she knew, of course, but did I sense something in her eyes, something impish? Something teasing when I talked about this? I bit the tip of her finger softly and she threw herself around my neck. Again we held each other tightly and she laid down on her back, pulling me with her. My desire, my inscrutable lust sent hot pulses through my body as I felt her soft, moist womanhood receive me, and again we were one rhythm, one body. How long could it last? Long, long, long.

Again we lay silently.
It was night.
We were lying on the Fields of Stars, watching a sky of stars.
Tomorrow I would leave.
Today. It was almost dawn.
"You have to go?"
I nodded.
"I'll go also. We're going on an excursion to the caves at Mondonedo. I and my seven students. Can't you come with us?"
"No," I said quietly.
"No," she rejoined.
"You cannot call or write to me."

I startled, froze, for a moment. It was as though everything collapsed around me. The night turned cold and painful, but then she was there in front of me on her knees. She put her arms around my neck while tilting her head and smiling mischievously.

"You cannot contact me until you have solved the riddle."
"The riddle?" Then I remembered.
"You must find out, you understand?"
"No," I replied. "I don't understand."
"You will understand. That is one of my demands."
"Absolutely?"
"Absolutely."
"And if I'm not able to?"
"Then I shall cry. Cry so long and loud that you'll hear me and then you'll be able to."

I laughed – relieved – and kissed her gently. We got up and packed our things together, walked up to the pool, and got dressed. She locked the place up. I got into her uncle's car, a red Fiesta, and she drove slowly through empty streets very slowly. She too knew that a goodbye remained to be said, a goodbye that neither of us wanted, that neither of us knew what it might entail. That's how it was, but had not these hours forged a bond, a tie, a connection too strong to ever break? That's how I felt. Still, I felt like crying because I didn't know and she didn't know. Slowly she pulled up to Hotel Gabriel and stopped. We turned to each other and just looked without touching.

"Gotvin."
"Lucienne."
|| Palmer, 10:35 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

"All freemen who are opposed to being made slaves or slave-catchers turn out to a meeting in the courthouse square at 2 o'clock!"



Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to one and all! Perhaps you aren't an American - Happy MLK Day to you anyway. As you can imagine, the web is filled with information about the man. A good spot to start when looking for information about him is The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute whose webpage is here. Even those who know very little about King generally know about his "I Have a Dream" speech which he delivered on 28 August 1963. (See above pic.) It is truly a fantastic piece of speaking and you can listen to it and watch part of it at the American Rhetoric webpage.

But King was just one person in a great movement that started long before him and continues today. The Library of Congress has an exhibition called "The African-American Odyssey" which examines the lives and contributions of African-Americans throughout the history of our country from Slavery to Civil Rights. I found this site which gives a broad history of the Civil Rights Movement starting with the Dred Scott case in 1857 continuing through the mid 1970s and school integration. The National Park Service has put many sites on the National Register of Historic Places relating to the modern Civil Rights Movement and they're detailed at the NPS webpage.

On a more personal note, I found out a few years ago I was told that there was a stop on the Underground Railroad in the Chicago neighborhood where I grew up. Closer to my current home here in Madison, WI is the town of Milton which featured a stop on the Underground Railroad. It is Joseph Goodrich's Milton House.



Prior to the Civil War, runaway slaves were given safe haven in the basement of the Milton House. Runaways entered through the cabin to the rear of the inn and then through a trap door in the cabin's floor to the dirt tunnel that led to the basement of the inn. In 1864, Mary Schackelmann Meyer was worked in the dining room of the Milton House and took runaways in through the cabin, through the trap door and the tunnel to their hiding place in the basement (L. Lukas, unpublished term paper, 1981).

"Milton's underground tunnel which is also unique in the nation for being the only segment of the Underground Railroad that was actually underground and has retained its identity and is open to the public. There are rumors of others but none of them are available for inspections (Dr. Rachel Salisbury, unpublished notes, 1972)."

...Mr. Goodrich who was operating an inn a few miles away [from Janesville] had no such security. He had no idea whether the people who came and signed their names in his register were Abolitionists or non-Abolitionists, whether he could trust them or whether he could not trust them. And so he had to devise an entirely different method of helping the slaves to escape. . . . He cared for them quietly in the basement [of the inn] where they could eat and rest and get ready for the next stage of their journey. But if the alarm were sounded here, his method of helping the slaves to escape was to have them crawl through his tunnel which came up under the log cabin at the back of the house through the trap door in the floor and then they could get away down to Storrs Lake and go on up through bowers lake to the Otter Creek area and get out to Lake Koshkonong and keep on their northward journey to Fort Atkinson or where they were going next. He could not, under any circumstances, bring them through the inn because he did not know whether he could trust his patrons or not (Dr. Rachel Salisbury, unpublished notes, 1972)."


More info on the Underground Railroad here in Wisconsin can be found here with more here. Also from the pages of Wisconsin history is the story of this man:



He is Joshua Glover, a runaway slave who sought asylum in Racine in 1854.

The Glover episode became a celebrated case elsewhere than in Wisconsin; here it stirred public excitement to fever pitch and profoundly affected the course of future events in politics. Joshua Glover was a runaway slave, who sought asylum in Racine in the early part of the year 1854. Racine was a way station on the route of the underground railway, and the abolition sentiment had made considerable headway among its people. The colored slave found employment in a mill. Learning his whereabouts, the Missouri master of the slave, one B. S. Garland, procured a process in the United States District court and proceeded to Glover's shanty in company with two deputy United States marshals...Sherman M. Booth, editor of The Free Democrat, who took a leading part in the courthouse meeting, according to popular account of the affair rode up and down the streets on a white horse summoning the people to gather, shouting the rallying cry: "Freemen, to the rescue!" Mr. Booth, in a recent address, denied many of the statements that have remained unchallenged for more than forty years. He said that he did not shout "Freemen, to the rescue!" and that he never advised the forcible rescue of Glover. What he did say was: "All freemen who are opposed to being made slaves or slave-catchers turn out to a meeting in the courthouse square at 2 o'clock!" Ringing resolutions were adopted insisting on the slave's right to a writ of habeas corpus and a trial by jury. A local judge issued such a writ, but the refusal of the federal officers to recognize its validity led to the battering in of the jail doors..."

You can read about Glover's story at this page at the UW-Madison Libraries website.
|| Palmer, 9:43 AM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

13 January, 2006

Country Boys

For anyone like myself who missed the epic Frontline episode, "Country Boys", on television, I've got good news. The profile of "Chris Johnson and Cody Perkins, two boys coming of age in the Appalachian hills of Floyd Country in eastern Kentucky" is now available online.
|| Palmer, 8:01 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

When You Talk About Destruction, You Can Count Me...

If you're a peace-loving, dope-smoking, tree-hugging, liberal dove then at some point you and your ideology is going to have to come to terms with this:

Man: May the hands of the infidels be chopped off.

Crowd: May the hands of the infidels be chopped off.

Man: (Chopped off) from the land of the believers.

Crowd: From the land of the believers.

Man: The Audience will now split into two groups: One group will settle the score with America, and the other will settle the score with Israel. This group now: Death to America!

Crowd: Death to America!

Man: Death to Israel!

Crowd: Death to Israel! Death to America!

Man: Death to America!

Crowd: Death to America!

Man: Death to America!

Crowd: Death to Israel! Death to America! Death to Israel!

Man: All together now: Death to America! Death to Israel!

Crowd: Death to America! Death to Israel! Death to America! Death to Israel! Death to America! Death to Israel! Death to America! Death to Israel!


Yes, during the hadj, Iranian television is showing a bunch of people gathered together shouting "Death to America". You can watch it yourself by going here and viewing program #991. The man at the podium says at one point to the crowd, "...will accomplish America's goals of arrogance, and first and foremost stopping the spread of Islam, and removing the Islamic values from the scene." OK, hands up - who thinks that if the United States suddenly became Mr. Nice Guy on the block, this kind of thing would just come grinding to a halt? Well, if Islamic values include chopping the hands off of infidels, desiring the death of America, desiring the death of Israel, taking civilians hostage & slitting their throats, strapping explosives to one's Islamic body & setting them off while standing next to children, etc., then you can count me in on the whole removal of Islamic values from the scene thing.

Now it's quiz time: Which of the following is a picture of an asshole?

A)



B)



I know this was a toughie and I'm sure most folks would choose B. But they'd be wrong. B is, in fact, an anus.

The asshole, a.k.a. – Yousef Al-Khattab, was interviewed by Richard Dawkins in the first part of his show on the BBC, The Root of All Evil?. You can see the interview at this page. He hates me because I'm an atheist and thinks that we American men dress our women like whores. Bubba, I don't dress anyone but myself. No woman in her right mind would let me determine her wardrobe. In addition, he wants and is confident that Islam will spread over the entire earth, presumably wiping out us infidels along the way. While I can't say how many Muslims share Mr. Al-Khattab's views, watching the above excerpt from Iranian television leads me to believe that, not only is Al-Khattab is not alone, but that he has quite a bit of company. Al-Khattab and I would probably not be particularly good neighbors. Additionally, states run by his ilk would probably not be good neighbors to Western states. How can we co-exist peacefully with people like him? How can the United States peacefully co-exist with countries run by people like him, if at all? His views and those of his ilk are completely antithetical to ours here in the West. What should we do if the Al-Khattabs of the world get their hands on nuclear weapons?

While we may not have to worry about that last scenario at the moment, we do have to worry about people like Ted Haggard. At the same page above is an interview Dawkins did with him. It is funny to hear Haggard tell Dawkins that some (significant) number of scientists somewhere and at some time said that the eye evolved by accident. Here's the exchange:

Haggard: We fully embrace the scientific method, as American evangelicals - and we think, as time goes along, as we discover more and more facts, that we'll learn more and more about how God created the heavens and the earth -

Dawkins points out that the evidence shows the earth to be 4.5 billion years old, Haggard says You know what you're doing?' and explains that he's paying attention to just part of the scientific community, and that maybe in a hundred years 'your grandchildren will laugh at you.

Dawkins: You want to bet?

Ted Haggard: Sometimes it's hard for a human being to study the ear or study the eye and think that happened by accident.

Dawkins: I beg your pardon, did you say "by accident"?

Haggard: Yeah.

Dawkins: What do you mean "by accident"?

Haggard: That the eye just formed itself somehow.

Dawkins: Who says it did?

Haggard: Well, some evolutionists say it.

Dawkins: Not a single one that I've ever met.

Haggard: Really?!

Dawkins: Really.

Haggard: Ohh.

Dawkins: You obviously know nothing about evolution.

Haggard: Or maybe you haven't met the people I have. But you see - you do understand - you do understand that this issue right here, of intellectual arrogance, is the reason why, people like you, have a difficult problem with people of faith -


"Intellectual arrogance" is not the reason why people like Dawkins and myself have problems with people of faith - it's faith-based arrogance. Holding up a fictional book full of contradictions and proclaiming it to be true is arrogance. Selectively choosing which proclamations to force others to adhere to goes beyond arrogance into the territory of tyranny.

As the site also points out, this evangelical is consulted by George Bush.

Uff da!
|| Palmer, 7:58 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Getting All Cassandra-y

On a more serious note than gaming, I found that the debate between Scott Ritter and Christopher Hitchens held on 20 December of last year is available online. I haven't listened to it all yet but, so far, it's very interesting and quite a bit of fun to boot.

I've been listening to bits of the Alito hearings and reading about them as well. His deference to the Presidency is scary. And knowing that Bush is the President makes it all the more so. I've gone back and re-read Federalist Paper No. 69. It's a strange juxtaposition - Bush's grabs for power & his rejection of oversight vs. Alexander Hamilton's elucidation on "The Real Character of the Executive". I don't doubt that Hamilton saw the President as being a prime mover in politics and, having been an officer through the Revolutionary War, thought that the Executive Branch would have to be a tough son of a bitch to get the country through times of conflict. But he bends over backwards in Federal No. 69 to demonstrate how the President of the United States wouldn't be like a monarch. Plus he shows how certain powers of the President would be equal to that of the governor or New York. He contrasts the absolute powers of a king with that of the qualified powers of the president. An able and strong Executive Branch is one thing, but Bush's disregard for checks on power and his arrogance is despotic. Being a fan of Jefferson's, I think that the dislocation of the House of Representatives and its ability to check Executive power from the situation today is a catastrophe. Congress generally but the House more specifically is the people's in to the government. If there's to be a government for the people, it certainly isn't going to come from Bush. He ran every business his father gave him into the ground and now look at our national debt. (Ooh! It came down a little over a billion dollars since yesterday! We're down to 8,159,084,910,068.58!) Does any plebe like me really have a say with this guy? Does any plebe really think that he shares our concerns? Our best link to the federal government is via Congress and most directly through the House of Representatives. We'd better take advantage of this and soon.

OK, I think I'm gonna go get some chili.
|| Palmer, 12:29 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post

Friday the 13th Geek-Out

Welcome to the Friday edition, my little paraskavedekatriaphobes! Today is the annual chili cookoff here at work. Ed has a crock pot at his desk with his entry simmering. It's a bit too thin for his taste so he's mulling over thickening options. Where the hell do you find arrowroot around the Square? I would have concocted an entry for the cookoff myself but my chili is shite. It's just plain old garden-variety chili and nothing to write home about. A couple years ago I experimented with actually making a good chili which involved beer and mole sauce. I made some progress but abandoned the experiment in media res for reasons I can't recall.

I've started playing The Temple of Elemental Evil again and I'm at the point of making my full-frontal assault on Lareth's hideout in the moathouse dungeon. I did some reading on the game and found out something pretty neat.

This:




Is becoming this:





Yes, a group of geeks is making a Keep on the Borderlands mod for TOEE! Keep is a very early Dungeons & Dragons adventure that all D&D players around my age or older have gone through. It's a friggin' classic! I played it a few years ago with Marv, et al. We had his roommate Ben with us and it was his first time playing D&D. That boy had no common sense; he'd just barge into rooms willy nilly. And he'd drink from any phial that happened to by lying around. For instance, we went into a room and killed the koblads inside. Ben's character finds a potion. He looks at Marv (our DM) and declares, "I drink the potion." Marv looks at Ben. I look at Marv. Marv looks at me and says with an evil DM grin, "It tastes like bitter almonds..." I nearly fell on the floor laughing. (The taste of cyanide is said to be like bitter almonds.)

OK, enough dorkiness for the moment.
|| Palmer, 12:27 PM || link || (0) comments | links to this post