Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I thought some of you would be amused by this - "The Most Ridiculous 'Very Special' Episodes ever"; view clips and summaries here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Hillary has always been my girl, but I'm increasingly impressed by Nancy Pelosi. What she has done, how she has done it, is nothing short of impressive. She knew what she wanted, she stuck by her principles, and she worked tirelessly to get it done, even when it seemed that defeat was certain.

In her way stood a series of obstacles that would give most normal people a migraine so intractable that insurance companies would deem it a pre-existing condition. There was Bart Stupak and his faction of anti-abortion Democrats. There was the equally large bloc of pro-choice lawmakers who threatened to revolt if Stupak's demands for restrictions on insurance coverage of abortions prevailed. There were the unions, livid at the idea that the House might entrench the Senate's tax on high-cost health plans. There was Dennis Kucinich. Each week seemed to bring an explanation of some obscure parliamentary manoeuvre that had been proposed and proved impossible.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A subtle distinction

Communism is a political/economic system and socialism is an economic system. Here is a decent essay on the subject.

The core belief of all socialists is that human beings thrive or die depending on their social relations. As such, socialists believe that our actions are shaped by our social structures, not by an inherent human nature or individual choices. [...] The core belief of all socialists is that human beings thrive or die depending on their social relations. As such, socialists believe that our actions are shaped by our social structures, not by an inherent human nature or individual choices. [...] Communists ... advocated an all-powerful state, in which a central government wields total control over its people - the economy, the media, industry, education, etc. This is contrary to many socialists who believe that control of these things should belong to people on a de-centralized local level, rather than a centralized national level.
Oh well

It may be time to retire this machine; it's too slow for even the job hunting websites. Which makes an already unfun process that much more so. I'm curiously attached to this computer though; we've been through a lot of words together, not to mention lots of job searching. Maybe a little bit more memory could do the trick...

Sunday, March 21, 2010


House Approves Health Overhaul. Just wow. I never thought this day would come. Unbelievable. Amazing.

Should you buy or rent? -- good question given the current state of the economy and the "deals" that might exist out there.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pins and needles

I've been eagerly following the votes for the health care reform bill, scheduled to be voted on tomorrow. I've got my fingers crossed that it will pass. I'm also concerned that the move to repeal it will start on Monday. It's exciting, daunting, terrifying and while nothing will happen until 2014 at the earliest, I can't believe we're actually seeing some progress on this front. It's imperfect (I wanted a public option, but alas) but it's a step in the right direction. People with pre-existing conditions (acne to cancer) will no longer have to worry about being denied and in this age of recession, people who lose their jobs won't be burdened by COBRA payments or such high premiums that they forgo health insurance (my COBRA payment, btw, was quoted at $590/month just for me; I imagine a family of 4 would be much, much higher).

Friday, March 19, 2010

LotD version HCR

The healthcare bill: 10 things you need to know. This is a pretty good briefing on what is actually in the 2,700-page bill.

I should have been looking for a job but ended up spending too much time reading this blog and got exposed to things like a gigantic baby tattoo on a parental arm and a placenta shake for the first post-partum meal (REALLY? People do this????) and all sorts of craziness (mostly grammatically incorrect) related to kids (I need to know about pink poop why?), belly casts, and "push" gifts, all courtesy of Facebook.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Why you've never really heard the 'Moonlight Sonata'. This intrigued me because I played "Moonlight Sonata" at my very last piano recital and believe you me, I heard it a lot that year. I may have even had a professional tape recording of it for inspiration (yes, this was in the days BEFORE CD players). So I found this article intriguing but especially cool are the sound files that showcase the difference between modern pianos and those from the classical/romantic eras; that sound is distinctly different. I'm ashamed to admit that I prefer the more modern sounding pianos, but it could also be that's what happens when you spend six months with a piece of music.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March Madness

I know nothing about college basketball (my university had its heyday back in the '90s and I haven't paid attention since graduating) but I decided to throw my $5 into the ring and enter a bracket in the fantasy league tournmanent. At one point I had Vermont winning over Syracuse (sentimentality over practicality) but then my competitive spirit took over and I switched it (J kindly explained to me that the #16 seed, *Vermont, this year), has never ever ever beaten the #1 seed, aka Syracuse). I've chosen Duke to win the whole thing. At one point I had Ohio State playing Duke in the national championship, but I think I've got Syracuse in that spot now. I think conventional wisdom says Kentucky is going to win the whole thing, but I kinda like the idea of Duke.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Bollywood soars to Hollywood. I wasn't a fan of "My Name is Khan" (*great* soundtrack, though) but "Kite" sounds pretty interesting. In general, it's awesome that Bollywood movies are becoming more accessible here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy (belated) New Year

Where I was on December 31, 2009


I don't post or frequent the group any more (Real Life(tm) interference, unfortunately), but today's plug is for the good folks and good writing over at alt.startrek.creative which is where I got my start in fanfiction and where I met some good friends. So if you're a Trek fan, if you are looking for that sense of community, and want to experience the full range of creative output, this is the place for you.

On a somewhat related note, I finally have my computer up and running! Hooray! It's been in a box since in the move due to a lack of a computer desk, but after coming back to the States, a solution was found, and a couple weeks later, the computer was set up. It's SO good to have all of my files back and all of my software (including AIM! I can chat again!), and of course, rough drafts from God only knows when. Maybe something will spark...
Tofu tip

I started freezing tofu by chance; I had three blocks of tofu in my fridge back in December and as I was leaving the country for a month, I didn't want them to go bad in my absence. I put them in the freezer and crossed my fingers, hoping for the best. Fast forward more than a month and I thawed the tofu out in the fridge. The consistency had definitely changed; the tofu was a little drier, more chewy. What was interesting though is that after freezing/thawing, the tofu absorbed marinades much, much better, and as a result, became more flavorable. Also, it was easier to get the moisture out of the block and hence, it would fry up more quickly in the wok. So if you're a tofu eater, I definitely recommend trying the freezing technique and see how it works for you. The only downside is that it takes a LONG time to thaw the tofu in the fridge; a warm water bath is a good option if you need it more quickly than that.
Bagging it

I recently started bringing my own bags to stores because a) my cupboards were overflowing with plastic bags and b) frequent trade show attendance gets you lots of high quality cloth bags. I've been wanting to use my own bags for a long time now but I always forgot to bring the bags. Sometimes I'd bring the bags and then leave them in the car.

Anyway, I found out that Target will refund you a nickle for every bag you bring. It doesn't sound like a lot but I shop at Target a lot, mayb 2-3 times a month. It probably totals about 10 bags a month and so I'd save 50 cents per month or $6/year. So far my grocery store (Safeway) doesn't refund for plastic bags but other grocery stores do. I figure I could probably save about $20/year by using my own bags, help the environment, and cut down on the plastic bag clutter in my house. It doesn't sound like a lot but with a job situation in jeopardy, every little bit helps.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Is the runaway Prius the next balloon boy hoax? I thought this story was a bit crazy when it came out because the guy refused to put his Prius in neutral when the emergency worker told him to. Plus, I just didn't see how he was able to try and unstick the accelerator pedal with his hand while driving; he'd practically have to duck below the steering wheel to do so. The story could be true, but it's really odd. All of the other sudden acceleration stories (most of which have unhappy endings) ended quite quickly. This was a 20-minute joyride. Something's rotten in Denmark, that's for sure.
Uh oh...

Blogger will be cutting off FTP access to blogs not hosted on their custom domains or blogspot on May 1 (or thereabouts). I don't want to move to their custom domain because it would mean splitting up this website and that doesn't make any sense. I'm not planning to give up the blog because while I'm inconsistent and infrequent these days, I do still enjoy having this forum. So I'm looking for a new solution. WordPress is one I'm investigating but if anyone knows of an FTP access blogging software similar to Blogger, please let me know; I'd prefer to make the transition as painlessly as possible.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Associate by John Grisham

I like John Grisham novels in the sense you know what you're going to get -- a story based around some aspect of the law, some kind of intrigue, thinly sketched characters, and liberal use of words like "goons". Grisham is short on details and descriptions and the suspension of disbelief is a requirement. But still, the books are quick and easy to read and that's why I come back to Grisham every now and then. I like familiarity.

However, "The Associate" is possibly one of the worst books Grisham has ever written. It starts out well. Kyle, a law student, is accosted by some "goons" (Grishma's favorite bad guy descriptor) with some incriminating evidence and blackmail him into taking an offer at a high power NYC law firm. So far so good, right? Well, the story actually falls apart right there as the evidence against Kyle is flimsy, at best, and the set-up and expectation of some moral outrage is woefully missing. However, if you buy this premise and keep reading, there are hints here and there that Something Big (tm) is coming and yet it never comes. Instead, the entire storyline collapses and it's almost as if Grisham looked up from his computer, saw his deadline was in 10 minutes and slapped "The end" on it. I actually went over to Amazon.com to read what others had to say about the ending as I thought maybe I'd missed something. Fortunately for me and unfortunately for the book, the majority found the ending wholly unsatisfying; the only way it works is if Grisham has a sequel planned. Unfortunately, Kyle and his friends are not interesting or likeable enough to follow for a second outing.

The flatness of the ending and the utter laziness surrounding it is baffling; after nearly two decades of storytelling, Grisham should know better. There's nothing more disappointing than investing hours into a book and having it turn out this way, especially when there are glimmers are excitement and suspense. In fact, his early offering, "The Firm", is a much more compelling and mature book than this one; I recommend reading that one instead.

Saturday, March 06, 2010


Civilization V comes out this fall. Had no idea. I'm still trying to conquer the Civ IV suite. It might be a couple of years (and a new computer) before I can graduate to V.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Head's up

If you have AT&T DSL, watch your bill carefully; they just upped my rate from $25 to $35 without any notice. This is doubly outrageous when you realize that their top rate for ALL packages (sans one) is $25 and the other one is $19.99. Just insane -- I've been with them since 2004 when my DSL was $14.99 and now they just willy-nilly keep raising it $5 by $5 as if I wouldn't notice. So watch out for this one and call if you see your bill go up.
The Seinfeld Curse

I caught the new Seinfeld vehicle, "The Marriage Ref," at the conclusion of the Olympics (wah!) and it was... not good. The situations with the couples were funny and in at least one case, ridiculously so. But then the attention turned away from the couples to the panel of judges who seemed more interesting in hanging out and laughing at each other's not-so-funny punchlines than truly rendering a verdict. And you wonder what qualifies people like Alec Baldwin or Jerry Seinfeld or Madonna to render opinions on other people's marriage foibles, given their own not-so-stellar track record; though to be fair, Seinfeld is still married, even if he started dating his wife right after she married another man but that's another tabloid story. So if you have an hour to spend on a Thursday night, don't mind watching other people trying to out-do each other with the awful and unfunny punchlines, then this the show for you. Me, I'm changing the channel.