31 December 2009

digging (the?) Le Creuset grillpan

The Le Creuset double-sided grillpan was my main xmas gift to the gf, who had apparently been dropping hints throughout the year (let us credit my subconscious for picking up on that, and question either my cluelessness or forgetfulness for thinking it was my own idea).

I've lost count how many times we've used it in the last week, but every time we've been pleased. last night, we did up a couple porkchops with a dry rub. by luck and/or the use of the thermapen, i pulled them at the right time. fantastic. the inside was just a bit pink, and completely delicious. the carmelization was pretty darn good, too.

when i got closer to the bone, however, i saw that it was just a bit undercooked around there. so i cut off bitesize chunks and put them back on the grill, searing the undercooked parts, and eating them right off the grill when each was done.

good god, was that tasty.

24 December 2009

salt of the month club


two years ago, at xmas, my sister played a "hilarious" joke on me. she packed a pair of sweatpants into a fake gift box from the Onion, "Salt of the Month Club." from the Onion shopping site:


No, the products aren't real. But the empty boxes are. Wrap your otherwise forgettable gift in an Onion decoy gift box, and watch their faces fall when they realize there is no such thing as...


I was indeed taken in, and having recently begun cooking for myself more frequently, was actually really excited by all the different kinds of salt I'd get to try. Once I opened it, I assume my sister enjoyed "watching my face fall".

Flash forward to today, when, for xmas, my amazing gf packaged up 12 salts from around the world, along with a book called "Salt: Your Way to Health."

i am so damn lucky.

lmgtfy.com

just spreading the word on this smart-ass site.

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=what+time+is+the+midnight+buffet%3F

20 December 2009

Fox's Dr. Oz

i've never seen his show, but i was "treated" to this quick-spot just now, with him dressed in scrubs and holding a football:

Why do we need all those electrolytes in sports drinks? Because without those delicious charged ions, your muscles wouldn't contract.


so there we have it. drink Gatorade or risk collapsing to the pavement, unable to move your pathetic bag of bones to an upright position.

i wonder who sponsors his show.

what is a legacy system?


from various web sites: "old computer system", "used generically to distinguish the existing or old system from the new or planned system", "existing or inherited system", "based on mainframe computer or older programming languages", "has a considerable investment in", "old or outdated", "original designers and implementors are no longer available to perform the system's maintenance"...

some years ago, i read a definition along the lines of, "no suite of tests that confirm its functionality." That was an interesting definition to me, though out of the mainstream. It also means that any just-deployed system could qualify.

I think the last one up there captures it best, though it's incomplete. imho, a legacy system is one where either 1) some component of the system limits changes, 2) the failure of a hardware component would be critical, or 3) the system cannot be extended in a reasonable manner.

in #1, I'm including in that list a lack of understanding of the system, such as when the original designers are long gone. in #2, I'm thinking of, say, an outdated compiler would be unusable should an outdated hardware piece fail (and cannot be replaced by a new piece, only another used piece).

i do not accept that a system is legacy just because of its age, or someone's desire to replace it. If an APL system written in 1978, still in production, can be compiled, extended, and deployed, and if the tools needed to maintain it still install and run on a new Dell workstation under, say, Windows 7, then what's legacy about it?

sadly, my dual g5 powermac PPC, which i bought in 2004 and is my main music machine -- and which I just upgraded to 8 gig RAM -- is about to become legacy. I just read that Digidesign, with their release of ProTools 8.0.3, is now supporting only Intel machines. Further, Apple themselves have abandoned it by requiring Intel for Snow Leopard. Though I can still run Tiger and the PT 7.3 I currently have installed, I am locked out of future changes.

it's too bad -- it's still a very capable machine.

16 December 2009

"Quaaaaaaaid..... Start the reactooooooor."



photo (taken on nyc subway) and comment courtesy my friend Emily M.

13 December 2009

headline: "NFL Defensive Backs Prevent Single Reception Entire Season"

i just watched an Eagles defensive back turn to the ref to signal "no catch", while a Giants receiver, untouched, picked himself up off the ground and ran past him.

it seems that anymore, with no regard to what happened on the field or how bloody obviously a catch was made, the defense frantically turns to the refs to plead the case that there was no reception.

you would think that no receiver ever caught the ball, ever, according to the defense.

so why bother, defensive backs? when receivers and running backs complain to the refs that they've been facemasked, they typically have a case.

i say give it a rest.

lovely lamb dinner



gf "threw together" a lovely dinner tonight, after a day of making (and me eating) xmas cookies. the rack came with yesterday's CSA pickup from Mint Creek, who feature grass-fed lamb.

and i really must toss my worse-than-completely useless Oxo meat thermometer. the lamb ended up being perfect, but the Oxo unit hindered much and helped none. i strongly suspect i'll be ordering myself a Thermopen in the next day or two.

raw milk sting




link

The above description is a dramatization of real events that happened recently in Springfield, Missouri, where the state has decided to spend considerable taxpayer resources running a sting operating against a family that was caught dealing -- gulp! -- raw milk in a parking lot.

Yes, both the Missouri Dept. of Health and the state Attorney General (Chris Koster) have decided that prosecuting a farm family for illegally "trafficking" raw milk should be at the top of their list of priorities. The family being targeted by state officials is the Bechard family, of Armand and Teddi Bechard, and their children Joseph, Hananiah, Kazia and Katie.

The name of the cow offering the milk is reportedly "Misty."

Not the best-written article, but worth a read. along with the Illinois law prohibiting farmers from selling non-frozen meat at farmers' markets (in addition to the IL law prohibiting the sale of raw milk), I have to wonder if there isn't some lobbying pressure being applied by the factory farming industry.

call me a conspiracist...

12 December 2009

Gene's Sausage Shop has finally opened


Lincoln Square finally has a grocery again, complete with a/the neon sign from Meyer's. Gene's is more of a Euro-style grocer than simply a butcher, though a glance at the butcher counter did look promising, including some grass-fed options.

Last time I went, there were some sausages hanging in the front window, and today was cow (see photo). It has a second floor that overlooks the first. Very crowded, very promising.

11 December 2009

Lou Malnati's crustless pizza = yum!

it's not really crustless, it has a crust of sausage. i still think Lou's has the best deep dish pizza -- and that includes the bread crust -- but now that I'm off bread, the sausage-crust pizza is an excellent alternative to scraping.

i've tried 3 so far: no toppings, pepperoni, green pepper + mushroom. Actually, the no toppings works the best. obviously, lots of sausage in every bite, and that can get a little overwhelming. Two slices more than kicks my butt.

kudos to Lou's for offering it and making it a damn good alternative.

07 December 2009

why are goods so inexpensive?



from Home Depot today, i bought a 25' outdoor extension cord and a can of black spraypaint. with tax, it was $6.23.

from Microcenter, i bought a tiny screwdriver set, packaged as a pocket pen. it was 79 cents, pre-tax.

these items are worth more to me than what I paid for them. i'd pay $20 for a good 25' extension cord. for a good set of screwdrivers, i'd be happy to pay $15. i have no issue with the quality of the these items, i simply think they're underpriced.

i assume i'm "benefiting" from cheap overseas labor and lax environmental laws, if not in the US then elsewhere. but i have to think "this'll hurt come winter." at a minimum, there's really no consumer downside to seeing these things as disposable.

this practice seems highly unsustainable to me.

06 December 2009

onside kicks

i am not digging the new (not sure how new) NFL rule that, when kicking off, you cannot have fewer than 4 players lined up on either side of the kicker.

i like seeing all 10 guys bunched together, or 9 guys on one side then kicking it towards the lone guy.

was this a competitive advantage to the kicking team? who cares? onside kicks / recoveries are exciting. i say encourage it.

05 December 2009

iPhone 3GS = fantastic upgrade


i upgraded from my iPhone 2G, and what a good idea. The performance things bumming me out about my original iphone were not so much 2G v 3G related, but some things just seemed to take forever:

  1. stopping a page load in Safari

  2. getting to the point where i could open a new page in Safari

  3. switching apps

  4. connecting to the Exchange server at work

  5. updating the emails from said Exchange server

  6. opening the camera app and taking the first pic


... and so on. Good god does the 3GS fix all that and more. I hadn't even realized how bothered I was by how long the 2G took to connect to my home wifi node.

so far, the 3G connection speed has been good, somehow better than the gf's non-S 3G connection speed. the camera, though not great, is far superior (the very first pic I took is above; taken in low-light conditions). the maps app handles zooming and scrolling much better. simply put, everything is faster.

I may have waited too long, or jumped the gun, as the first reports of the next-gen iphone "in the wild" have surfaced. And to get the pricing, I did have to re-up for a 2 year contract. But I reckon I'll be happy with this for that duration. sweet!

update: only downside is the battery life has suffered, in an obvious manner.

Brazilian steak house

my office xmas party was last night. sadly, not at Fogo de Chao, but I still ate very well at Texas de Brazil. Though rather aware of how much corn-raised beef I was eating in the process, I kept signaling for the Meat Wanderers to stop by and fill my plate.

We were offered the salad bar first; I took this opportunity to load up on some cheese, plus tomato and roasted red pepper, to nibble on between meat courses. This worked out well.

My favorite ended up being the flank steak; I don't know what they marinated it in, but it was fantastic. Even better than the bacon-wrapped filet mignon and what they were pushing as their specialty, a top sirloin. Only the lamb leg disappointed, though the other lamb parts were good.

I finished it all off with some 18-year Macallan and a few bites of a really nice cheesecake with a layer of chocolate / caramel ganache.

It is the following morning and I am still not hungry.

02 December 2009

remember those scary baby masks in Brazil?


i found this disturbing mannequin at Nordstrom.

26 November 2009

XBench figures for Fall 2009 Macbook lineup

Here's just the results for the laptops, making the comparison more interesting. I may add Macbook data, once I get it. I think the faster MB Pro with an SSD would really kick butt.

green = best score for category, red = worst.

























































































MacBook 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook Air 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, SSD
RAM, gig 2 2 4 2
Overall Score 114.16 116.60 128.33 131.29
CPU 160.81 160.58 181.45 151.83
Thread 250.11 244.86 309.72 218.52
Memory 184.56 183.66 190.57 177.25
Quartz Graphics 169.17 177.97 197.14 157.63
OpenGL Graphics 77.98 82.69 90.44 70.70
User Interface 201.94 241.03 278.42 217.89
Disk, Overall 45.46 44.61 47.99 87.94
Disk, Sequential 87.52 83.58 95.06 76.62
Disk, Random 30.71 30.42 32.09 103.17



update: added the results from the gf's MacBook. the first time I ran XBench on her machine, it scored in the low 120's (overall score). This time it was lower. Just goes to show the variance of XBench results from run-to-run.

the MacBook and the low-end MBPro are really on par with one another, speed-wise. The $200 extra for the MBPro get you a firewire port, a better case, a backlit keyboard, and a smaller hard drive. hm.

XBench figures for Fall 2009 Mac lineup

I'm shopping for a new mac, not sure what I want. The other day I went to the Apple Store and ran XBench on a number of models. Figures are below. Note that I ran these one time only, so some results may be an outlier.

With the exception of the Air, all the laptop drives were 5400 RPM. The Air had an SSD drive. Also, I'm pretty sure the tower was the Quad core, not the 8-core, but I'm not certain. Finally, I didn't run benchmarks on the Macbook or the mini. Sorry!

I didn't reproduce all the results here, just the category ones (I did break down the Disk Test to its two sub-categories). I still have the full results and can provide additional numbers for the curious.

For XBench, the higher number is better. I have no idea how they're weighted for the total score, but here we are:



































































































MacPro 2.66GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon iMac 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo MacBook Air 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, SSD
RAM, gig 3 4 2 4 2
Overall Score 196.45 123.33 116.60 128.33 131.29
CPU 197.83 217.22 160.58 181.45 151.83
Thread 875.92 367.74 244.86 309.72 218.52
Memory 399.97 210.98 183.66 190.57 177.25
Quartz Graphics 254.35 243.05 177.97 197.14 157.63
OpenGL Graphics 126.66 173.48 82.69 90.44 70.70
User Interface 367.85 51.245 241.03 278.42 217.89
Disk, Overall 80.70 65.08 44.61 47.99 87.94
Disk, Sequential 159.01 170.75 83.58 95.06 76.62
Disk, Random 54.07 40.20 30.42 32.09 103.17



XBench version: 1.3

23 November 2009

not icing the kicker

the Titans just beat the Texans as the Texan kicker missed a FG wide left that would have tied the game with time expiring. clearly, Jeff Fisher would call a timeout to ice the kicker.

but no! he didn't, and I honestly think that affected the kicker.

i have no particular stake in the game, but huzzah!

08 November 2009

in rather bad taste

Verizon just started running a new Droid commercial with stealth fighters. here is a link, though i'm not certain for how long it will be good.

i must say, in this post-bush era, the image of US stealth fighters dropping payloads onto american soil is a little disturbing to me. and maybe it's simply my cold-war era sensitivities, but seeing missile streak through the skies while people watch from the ground, confused and concerned, does put me off.

but to do this just a couple days after the Fort Hood shootings? that seems to be in pretty bad taste. i don't know if there are a lot of people making such associations, but i doubt that's what Verizon wants in our heads.

06 November 2009

another "wtf is wrong with healthcare" data point

on her last doctor's visit, i had the gf request some additional bloodwork, including 25(OH)D, TSH, T4, T3 and HbA1c. (if i'm dosing her with fish oil, vit D, kelp et. al., i want to make sure i'm not off base). she called today to get the results and, basically, was told by the nurse to f*** off.

initially, the nurse was unwilling to say more than "your cholesterol is good," and the gf had to pry out of her the separate HDL, LDL and tri levels. once she started requesting the 25(OH)D, the nurse said she was too busy to tell her all those numbers and she should come in and talk to the doctor.

she refused to fax them, mail them, or provide them at a later date.

what. the. f***.

03 November 2009

the death of the service industry

from the other day, on the phone:

me: i'd like to order a pizza for carryout.
her: pickup or delivery?
me: carryout.
her (very uncertain): uhhhh.... delivery?
me: okayyyy, pickup.
her (back to normal): okay!

maybe i'm being naive, but i'm rather under the impression that a pizza phone answering job 1) isn't terribly complex, and 2) has a rather limited jargon set. there are really only four terms for describing three options for accessing the pizza: dine in, carryout, pickup, delivery. MAYBE takeout, for those used to ordering Chinese.

this isn't even a training issue! and i will cite not-a-language-barrior, as the order-taker was a white teenager from the chicago suburbs.

these are the people who will be running the country when i'm retired. egads.

winter-friendly accessory

i just had installed a TDI FrostHeater -- a 1000w electric heater/pump that circulates the coolant. this morning was my first start after a cold-ish (mid-30's) night. instant heat! no blue engine temp light!

the coolant was already 175 degrees F, the oil about 125. i'm very curious to see how well it does when it's 20 below.

22 October 2009

low-carb eating in Spain

first off, let me say it was with the best of dietary intentions with which i began our trip. i knew from last time that i could get tapas (or larger) of jamon serrano and queso manchego and be perfectly fine with my food plan. i was also planning on eating less olive oil, though i knew a lot of dishes would be prepared with it (and not eating bread is a great excuse to not dip into the olive oil while waiting on a meal).

[side note: i'm not totally down on olive oil and do believe it confers some health benefits, but at a 1:11 n-3:n-6 fatty acid ratio, it is on the far end of what i'm trying to eat]

i knew breakfast would be a problem, since Spain seems very happy to eat pastries or tostadas (basically, toast with a spread) for breakfast. this did prove problematic at times -- though fried eggs were common (and always with deep orange yolks), we sometimes had trouble finding them before the typical 10:30 am breakfast cutoff. and when we did succeed, orange juice was invariably included.

the OJ was my gateway food into what became an ever-increasing consumption of sugar. damn are their fresh-squeezed oranges tasty. desserts are, in general, less sweet than in the US, so rationalizations were applied there as well (especially when included with a prix fixe menu).

i ate more bocadillos (usually open-faced, to halve the bread content) than i had intended, but they sure are handy for taking on trains and such. and of course i had to have frequent servings of the spanish hot chocolate, though whether it was that fantastic de la Taza (super-thick) variety, or more like what we get in the US, was always a crapshoot.

heck, i even had risotto at one meal.

the two prevailing rationalizations were: 1) i'm on vacation, and 2) i burn a lot more calories when on vacation.

the end result was my post-weight trip was about the same, certainly within the range of daily swings. not sure how much muscle mass i added, or if i just simply burned off any excess calories. i do find myself craving sugar now that i'm back home and back on my food plan. must break myself of sugar again, it seems.

in Spain, i certainly did find a lot i could eat. there are grilled meats galore, and many meals come with a salad (sadly, they are usually as lame as the US ones, but at least tomatoes are common). bread is served with every meal, and we found that waiters sometimes got offended if we tried to refuse it; perhaps the extra charge typical for bread was tied to their tips.

even in the worst of the places we ended up eating, the food quality seemed much higher than the bad places in the US. and it seemed that butter and olive oil as cooking fats ruled -- i'm not sure that we ever encountered vegetable oil.

a final note: we thought we were being clever by ordering the diabetic meals for the airplane meals. i was shocked at the amount of carbs served to us (bread, rice, dumplings, potatoes, breading on meats, fruit pieces), and depressed at the margarine and low-fat salad dressing also included. it seemed the only effort to reduce sugar was to provide fruit instead of the sweet dessert given to the rest of the travelers. i guess i was being naive in thinking that it would be low-carb.

26 September 2009

happy ambiguity



from the comments for this chest freezer.

I purchased for my son, he bakes all the time and was using all my freezer space.

"eat pork, be happy"


indeed.

21 September 2009

wishbone!

something crazy is going on with the Miami Dolphins. they're tearing up the Colts defense by running the wishbone! who said it couldn't be done in the NFL?

18 September 2009

miata: hardtop or softtop?


which would YOU get?

13 September 2009

safe fun


it's good to know things can't get *too* dire.

07 September 2009

three eggs


... from 3 different vendors. the top yolk is a standard Dominick's non-organic. the lower right is a yolk from TJ's farm, where we've been getting eggs for a while.

but the lower left yolk is from a new place we're trying, Meadow Heaven in Sheffield, IL. we haven't tasted them yet (and this particular breakfast won't help because all the eggs pictured will end up in it), but we're excited about the yolk color.

05 September 2009

studebaker!


saw this in Des Plaines last week. i love the side mirrors.

30 August 2009

basement rehab continues


this phase includes cleaning up the brickwork -- the skimcoat can be seen clearly in the pic -- including fixing up the windows. the rear downspout has been re-routed from spilling into the yard to going into my catch basin. the rear corner under the stairs, where i was getting a lot of water due to the downspout, has been ripped up.

frighteningly, there was a good bit of mold forming under those stairs. that's been cleaned up, the 2x4 landing supports will be replaced with metal studs, and the old wooden steps are gone to be replaced by wolmanized wood. when it's done, it should be much drier and much more presentable. i'm having new electric run to that area so i can keep a de-humidifier going year-round.

cool bugs



"there are more species of beetles than species of all insects combined." are these one of those species?

is it possible to get a haircut in Crystal Lake?


this weekend, the we drove up to Crystal Lake, IL to visit Walkup Heritage Farm to research next spring's plantings.

after, we stopped in the downtown area for lunch. i correctly determined that the downtown area would be, well, downtownish, and right by the Metra stop. though car-centric, it was reasonably pedestrian friendly and did have some cool old buildings, such as banks and historic houses converted to shops.

if someone had told me beforehand that this area would have a shockingly high number of places to get one's hair done, i would still have been shocked by the shockingly high number places to get one's hair done. it is not an exaggeration that there are fewer restaurants than hair places, and probably not an exaggeration to suggest there is a ratio of 1:4. i may be underestimating.

in fact, we found zero proper restaurants that were open for a late afternoon lunch. we found 4 grill pubs, none of which looked particularly inviting (and one, the Cottage, which apparently has no front door at all, but only a rear entrance off the parking lot -- so much for pedestrian-friendly). there was a french "cafe", but that was more of a bakery than a proper restaurant.

but good god were there hair places. one after the other, some in a row. i half-suspect that the wives of the guys driving the expensive cars (i saw both a Ferrari F430 and an Audi R8 in the area) have opened up shop as a vanity project; I have little idea how an area that small could support so many beauty salons, especially if the "restaurant scene" is a proper indication of what the area can support.

we left without eating, or, astonishingly, getting our hair done.

25 August 2009

new camera!



i tired of the online comparisons, of trying to decipher the Canon numbering scheme, and instead headed to a local appliance superstore and had a look myself.

though i really, really liked the specs of the 970, not to mention its cool navigation wheel and superior onboard OS, I walked out with the Canon Powershot SD780 IS for a cool (pre-tax) $214.

what sold me was the compactness of it. there was a competing Nikon Coolpix of similar diminutive size, but I'd already gotten the hang of the Canon OS and, frankly, didn't feel like doing a whole 'nother round of research.

the 780 has (only) 3x optical zoom, and its shot lag is a bit more than i could have gotten for $100-150 more, but it really is the right size for me.

hurray! the battery is still charging, so no fun yet.

now i must decipher the world of "SD/SDHC/MMC/MMCplus/HD MMCplus" and decide what to get to replace the $7 1GB SD card i got to go with it.

anyone know which format is fastest? and if it takes longer to write to, say, a 32 gig card than an 8 gig one?

23 August 2009

new camera?

best to start a new post, than bury camera-buying concerns in an unrelated topic.

i like my Canon Powershot S100 Digital Elph. I have a good-sized memory card that holds some 400 "standard size" photos. it eats batteries.

i suppose i could buy YARB (yet another replacement battery) and take the kit with me to Spain, hoping the battery behaves. obvious advantage is initial cost savings, though that may be nulled if i have to get a new camera regardless.

i like the size of the Canon, i like the photos (even though it's only 2.1 megapixels), i find the operation of it intuitive. i like that there's not much lag time between photo taking, unlike the gf's camera that we took last time to Spain (plus, i didn't realize it put all those dates in the images. yargh!)

i shall investigate the links from pyker in the other post, and update here.

what's for breakfast?



i thought i'd put up this photo while i wait for the dishwasher to finish washing the removable stove parts (cleaning up from the bathroom rehab -- dust!)

it's been years since i've actually seen non-jumbo eggs. these we bought at the market yesterday from T&J Farms. the yolks, while not orange, are a nicely deep yellow. the spanish chorizo we get from Paulina Meat Market, and the salsa also comes from the market.

the photo is sans-flash, from my Canon PowerShot S100 Digital Elph. aka the battery eater. still, i like the camera a lot.

update: cooked, eaten and delicious. the side of milk is whole milk from Blue Marble farms. yum.

22 August 2009

meprip!

the green city market rules


website

the photo shows only a fraction of the booths there. just fantastic. multiple places to get pasture eggs, several cheese stands (ones where they actually make the cheese they're selling), a choice of grass-fed farms, some excellent whole milk, even a place that specializes in elk.

it reminds me of the Broadway market, but bigger. and without the clothes stalls.

we got their early to ensure we could still get eggs from T&J Farms. we did, but they were already out of bacon (this is where we got the pepper bacon used with the flank steak). no worries, we took home some of their pork chops, which i'm definitely looking forward to. our favorite lamb place, Mint Creek Farms, just this week started offering beef, so we got some ground beef and will also be trying their mexican chorizo sausage, with eggs.

yum.

19 August 2009

oh, you crazy signmakers pt. 2


just found this one online...

16 August 2009

oh, you crazy signmakers


the stupidest person i ever met was a waiter i worked with at a Pizza Hut in southern Indiana. the two of us worked the lunch shift. he, with his one or two tables (more than he could handle, really), and me handling the other twenty.

at least 5x a shift, he would ask me the price of breadsticks. "$1.79," i would reply, my answer always the same. sometimes i would point him to the menu at our station, that we could use to look up prices if we'd forgotten something. he would react as if it were new.

waiting was only one his jobs. he was also a signmaker. discovering this suddenly put into perspective all the "professional" signs i had seen with spelling errors, bad grammar, and all the horrible misuses of quote marks.

today, I am relieved to know that if my writing or speech ever become unclear, or if i go off-message too frequently, that I can use any number of well-known international therapies to get me back on message.

evanston farmers' market = lame

what is it with the residents of Evanston? listening to them, you'd think it'd be the best place on earth for everything. we'd certainly heard overwhelmingly good things about the saturday farmers' market.

due to the Chicago Air and Water Show, we decided to forgo the (much much much) superior Lincoln Park farmers' market and head up to Evanston.

need peaches, cukes, or blueberries? that's good, because about 22 of the 25 stands there have them!

need meat? sorry! only one stand there, "grass started and corn finished." no thanks.

need cheese? sorry! again, only one stand, and he was hawking pre-packaged products from a variety of places, all of which could be found in the same packaging, and for cheaper, at Whole Foods.

need eggs or milk? sorry! none found anywhere.

there were two bakery stands, neither had any customers that I could see (same with the meat stand). No, Evanstonians appear to love their produce, and perhaps I'm projecting but I think a good number of people at the market are vegetarian. Or fruitarians, if the produce on offer is indeed an indication of the prevailing diet of the shoppers.

on the plus side, i had assumed there would be a substantial number of arts/crafts stands. there were none!

we did get a number of things, including some good blueberries. I tried blueberries from, iirc, 7 stands, and 6 were on par (or worse?!) than you'd find at Jewel. The basket we did buy was actually pretty tasty.

i predict zero return trips.

12 August 2009

what's for dinner?


flank steak! marinated for 3 days, then wrapped with (very) peppery bacon and cooked perfectly. very tasty and i could cut it with a butter knife.

09 August 2009

enbluening: complete!


aside from the new treads and risers on the steps, the ironwork has brand new footings and is very solid now.

what is normal, anyway?


i had some bloodwork done recently and compared the results to the "normal" ranges on this page. happily, most results were within normal range.

after some months of vitamin D3 supplementation, i had my 25(OH)D levels included in the workup, and found they were a whopping 94.1 ng/mL. I was shooting for between 40-70, as recommended by Dr. Holick and his http://www.vitamindhealth.org/ page. My score isn't dangerous, I don't think, but I'll dial it back some anyway.

But according to the bloodbook page, "normal" range for 25(OH)D is 8-80 ng/mL. What? Suddenly, "normal" looks to mean, "what people have," and not, "what is optimum range."

Of the two dozen other levels I checked, how many of those "normal" ones are not, in fact, optimum? How is an everyday patient meant to inform himself of the difference between optimum and two standard deviations out?

My doctor doesn't seem to make such distinctions. rather, he freaked when I told him how much D3 I was taking (and my dialback amount is still > 2x his "max dose"). Is it really incumbent upon every person interested in their own health to dedicate hours and hours of research to each supplement, to each blood level, and to sort through the mountains of confusing, conflicting and probably money-influenced trial results?

thank god for the blogs in my health section, at least they give me a good headstart. still....

06 August 2009

balloons


gf found this posted online somewhere...

05 August 2009

of palin and jefferson

amusing piece in the New Yorker, here.


Here’s Jefferson on political change:
Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.


Here’s Palin on same:
Government’s supposed to serve from the bottom up and not move towards this top-down, big-government takeover, but rather will be protectors of individual rights, who also have enough common sense to acknowledge when conditions have drastically changed, and they’re willing to call an audible and pass the ball when it’s time so the team can win.

04 August 2009

CNN genius "polling"

i love CNN's Quick Vote polling. they have a special skill in formulating questions and options that provide ambiguous or incomplete results.

last week, they asked if Palin should run for president, and provided Yes and No as options. how many people voted yes because it would be a disaster, versus how many actually want to support her?

no idea. thanks, CNN.

today, they asked if "you" wear your seatbelt while flying. the first option seemed reasonable enough:

"Yes"

... until juxtaposed with the second option:

"Yes, unless I have to get up"

Oh! so the original "yes" meant, "yes, even when I get up and move about." brilliant!

porch rebuilding!


completion of the bluening of the house is dependent upon completion of the porch.

01 August 2009

can i not get fresh meat?


according to one of the farmers at a farmers' market today, Chicago has an ordinance which prevents the sale of non-frozen meat at farmers' markets. I can't find a reference to this anywhere, but from what i've seen offered, it seems to hold true.

an apparent workaround is to arrange sale of the product ahead of time (e.g. purchasing online), and then "merely" picking up your fresh meat at the next market.

but in an era of refrigeration technology, why does it need to be so cumbersome? exactly which prior problem did this ordinance "solve"?

....

I'm not much a milk drinker these days, but the gf did score some whole, pastured milk today. I just tried it and, oh boy, is it tasty. Anyone know if this is a good source of K2?

first detailing ever


maybe i should get my cars detailed more often. it did turn out pretty nice, and they even did some touch-up paint for me.

btw, i opted out of the "engine steam clean," though i'd like to hear opinions on how effective/safe it is.

31 July 2009

no fruit for you!


gf and i went to the Andersonville farmers' market the other day. at one stand, we saw some lovely peaches, offered in small baskets of a half-dozen or so. i'm still rather low on my sugar intake, so i asked if we could buy just two peaches.

the woman said i had to ask "the farmer," and sent her over. i re-inquired, and got a question of my own: "will you be eating this by tomorrow?"

"yes, for breakfast," I replied.

she looked us over some.

"you keep this on the table," she said in her accent, which i couldn't place. "no refrigerator!"

we agreed to the conditions of the sale, and she agreed to sell us two peaches for $2.

they *were* good peaches...

is this what my lawn care people think of me?


this was the stamp used for my last bill.

30 July 2009

the gti has arrive-ed!


... and now belongs to a very happy gf.

it was prepped with the 18" wheels, which we had previously negotiated away for a nice savings. so they had to swap on some 17" ones, which took ages. but imho the 17" ones both look and ride better.

it's a really good looking car, i think. and maybe i'm just a little bit jealous.

29 July 2009

28 July 2009

progress on the highspeed rail front, with Chicago as a hub?

link

An agreement signed today seeking to fast-track high-speed passenger rail projects in the Midwest has three powerful engines pulling in its favor: the Obama administration, the clout of congressional delegations from eight states and the support of the nation's freight railroads.

Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin and the City of Chicago entered into a memorandum of understanding that commits the governments to coordinate plans to develop 110-mile-per-hour rail corridors across the Midwest.

[...]

Several governors mentioned President Barack Obama's strong support for the Midwest high-speed rail initiative, which would be comprised of a network based in Chicago and eventually branch out 3,000 miles over nine states.

But the first priority is to operate faster trains from Chicago to St. Louis; to Detroit/Pontiac; and to Milwaukee/Madison, Wis., within three to five years. Preliminary cost estimates total about $4 billion.


looks promising?

lifted, better photo

27 July 2009

lifted!


Koni was having a sale on their shocks recently, so I grabbed a set of the oranges (aka STR.T) and had them installed. and i got lifted! i wasn't expecting that. it's a little hard to make out in the photo, but i'm some 1-2" higher.

so far, so good. handling seems better, ride is definitely improved, even though the (run of the mill) shocks i replaced were only a year old.

total eclipse of the heart: literal version



surprisingly few mis-steps through the first 2:55, then...

still, darn good effort through most of it.

19 July 2009

chilly in july?


i've always thought the greatest perception crime against global warming was its name. "global climate change" is a little more all-encompassing. heck, i liked the term Greenhouse Effect, but it didn't really catch on.

is that why it's chilly today? dunno, but i did just buy this smashing new hoody.

yummy chocolate found @ whole foods


18g of carbs for the entire 70g bar. the cacao is sourced in Ecuador and the taste is simply fantastic; I like it better than the Lindt 85% and Green & Black's 85% I typically have in the house.

18 July 2009

gf is buying the GTI!

the 2009 GTIs are in really short supply. gf wanted 4-doors with the manual, and in the 7-state search region there were exactly three left. And one of those got sold while we were at the dealership doing the search!

So there is now one being trucked all the way from PA; should arrive near the end of the week. Despite the shortage, she still managed to get it some $1200 under invoice, then got an additional $700 credit for the 18" wheels (they're putting on 17").

VW is offering 0% financing, so she's taking that for a whopping 66 months -- I have to think the dealership is getting a nice chunk of change for setting up the financing, and they'll make some money back on the service. Still...

13 July 2009

urban eyechart


as found in Rogers Park...

09 July 2009

the VW GTI is fantastic


gf and i went VW test-driving this evening. i do not like the DSG transmission, even with the sport mode (see below) and flappy paddles. the Rabbit is fun. the R32 is absurd, and even more so when i see how much VW has missed the boat on it.

and the GTI is fantastic.

fantastic with the 6-speed manual, anyway. kind of forgettable with the DSG. I'm more impressed with it as a technical marvel than I am driving it. i rather hate it, actually.

and VW sent only DSG-laden R32's to the states. give the RS32 the manual, take away its ridiculous ricer exhaust noise, and you'd have a friggin' fantastic car! as it stands, it's absurd. a little sluggish, shockingly, until you put the DSG in S mode, but then even the lightest feathering of the pedal makes me look around, wondering where the nitrous-infused Si is...

but the GTI, oh yes. "only" 200 hp? Keep the revs right, and I don't think you'll ever want more. the shifter was not nearly as forgiving as the Rabbit's, but I like it. steering and braking were both exceptional. Cornering was adequate, but pretty impressive considering how good the ride was, even on 18" wheels! (I'll take the standard 17" wheels, thank you)

Nice interior, which is refreshing after the mini cooper disaster. If I hadn't just spent all that money on my bug, i'd be very tempted.

Mileage is rubbish, though, so maybe I don't feel so bad.

the vehicle pictured is a 2008 RS32, never titled, with under 7k miles on it. a very pretty car. even the gf, who wants 4 doors, a manual, and hates the exhaust noise, admits she'd still like it. boy did VW miss the boat there.

04 July 2009

turbo update

the new turbo is in and i'm delighted to report that 1) my max boost is back to a normal 22 psi, and 2) my EGTs (exhaust gas temps) seemed to have declined as well.

with the new turbo, i have a little less power in the lower RPMs (bigger turbo needs a little more time to spool up, I'm guessing) but more power in the higher RPMs. I'm looking at a couple airflow improvements, and then I may head out to a tuning party in Michigan in a couple weeks to get re-tuned for the new hardware.

the new turbo is louder, too. Under heavy boost, I can hear a shrieking noise (sounds like the air being let out of a squeezed balloon neck), which I suspect is a boost leak somewhere. Will have to get that checked out.

03 July 2009

"look around you" series



i've seen only this one ("water") and "maths". i liked "water" better. thanks to Scot C for the link.

palin resignation speech


did anyone see/hear this? it was incomprehensible. fragments of talking points mixed with non-nonsensical sports metaphors. i have no idea what she's doing next (this reads to me more as leaving politics than re-entering the national stage), and this speech certainly didn't have any kind of focus which i thought propelled her to her next position.

i've read speculation that an imminent news cycle is going to have something unpleasant about her; can't say i disagree.

01 July 2009

chorizo in cider and chile rellanos


very yummy dinner tonight. gf made chorizo in cider again (one of my favorites) and poblanos stuffed with cheese and some of last night's leftover taco meat (lamb / beef / pork), coated with an egg batter and fried in this morning's bacon grease.

the bacon grease was a little much for rellanos, so we'll have to find something else for next time. but man do i love that spanish chorizo.

29 June 2009

tasha yar


if you google "tasha yar", this image comes up on the first page.

28 June 2009

taking a poll


which color palette looks the best? the main house color will be blue. the white primer (ignore that) separates the two palettes. the palette on the right also includes two existing house colors: the mahogany around the window and on the door, and the cream accent in the door.

this was taken with my iphone, so the colors are just a little more muted because of that. but the right-most palette is definitely the brighter of the two.

thoughts? current backyard-voting stands at 2-2.

update: left: 6, right: 6

(please note this is a non-binding vote)

update 7/2: saw the colors at night -- the blue on the right looks almost black! bit of a negative for me.

27 June 2009

full-service auto repair


i found this note pinned to the wall of my local diesel mechanic, among all the other letters and postcards they have pinned there.

when in need of a low-carb crust...


why not use prosciutto? that's what the gf did when making this quiche -- genius! delicious genius. (sorry for the low-quality, iphone & florescent photo)

26 June 2009

cool old Scirocco


i saw this next door to where i take my car sometimes. damn is it in nice shape. Not sure what year... '84 perhaps?

lincoln square travesty


aside from Meyer's shutting down a couple years ago, the ruining of Lincoln Square continues: a horrible building has replaced the old Big N Tall store and its adjacent parking lot. it really makes the square with the fountain feel like a canyon. i disapprove.