Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Screw Google

Google has decided in their empirical wisdom that I violated the terms and agreements of the Adsense service and therefore am no longer eligible for the service.

Because they have not told me what I did wrong I'm pissed at them. (I’m saying this in very nice terms. Last night when it all came to a head I was less than g-rated.)

I’m not surprised. My recent post where I discussed the ads was probably what caused it. But they need to be man enough to tell me what caused it and not refer to the terms and conditions over and over, and send me form letter after form letter. Besides, according to their terms and conditions my post the other day did not violate a single one of them. But what can you do? They have a monopoly service and no need to give a shit about me.

I’m not going to waste my time on them anymore. I copied my blog over to Wordpress. (Surprisingly easy to do. Took about 15 minutes.)

Here is the new location.

I just set this all up last night so it isn’t finished, but at least you’ll be able to read what I write, if you are interested in doing that. Sorry for the change up.

I also will never use their services again. I have little respect for companies that treat people like this. It seems to flash in the face of their motto about being “nice” to everyone.

Fuck you Google.

Oh yeah, hey Google! Before you spend $1.6 Billion buying a company with no profit you might want to have some attorneys review your deal. I’m sure all the companies with copyrighted material on You Tube are super happy that you and your Billions of dollars of cash just bought a company that previously was not sueable. Idiots.


Monday, October 09, 2006

Weekend cooking

This weekend I spent some time in the kitchen and I thought I would share.

I’ve been buying butternut squash at the market to store over the winter, but last night I cut one open to try to roast it. My recipe called for me to cut the squash into chunks, remove the skin and roll it in a roasting pan with melted butter, onions, salt, pepper and dried rosemary. I decided to use a red onion wedge I had because I like red onion, a lot, and it was already mostly cut, and I smashed the dried rosemary under my meat mallet to crush it up. It was quite outstanding. Everyone loved it and I actually regretted that I had only cut up one squash. Here is the recipe in its entirety.

3 butternut squash (about 1 ¾ lbs each) 1 inch cubes with skin removed.
4 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion-diced
1 3/4 teaspoon salt
3/8 teaspoon pepper
1 ½ teaspoon crushed dried rosemary

Set oven at 400 degrees. Melt butter in pan. When butter is melted add all the ingredients and stir to coat. Bake until squash is tender. Adjust spices to your preference.

The red onion that I used made a nice sweet-salty mix on the squash. Quite tasty. I wouldn’t change anything with this recipe.

I also cooked up some soup. It was good, but I think my 2 year old liked it the most. He had 3 bowls of it. And he was so busy eating the broth from it he was actually eating the zucchini, which is the first time he’s eaten that vegetable, even after we present it over and over. It was kind of a strange soup taste. It had a Chinese/Japanese like taste that I think came from either the Zucchini or the Ginger. I’m not really sure which one. Recipe:

1 large carrot-julienned
1 medium zucchini-diced
1 can of chicken broth (13oz)
1 package frozen ravioli
2 teaspoons ginger
A bunch of watercress

Bring broth up to a boil. Add carrots and simmer 5 minutes. Add ginger and zucchini and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. In the meantime prepare the ravioli per the package directions. Add water cress and ravioli to bowls and ladle broth and vegetables over. Serve.

My thoughts: I think I would add more vegetables, although this number is pretty sufficient. This soup is really an appetizer. I tripled the recipe and it barely fed 5 adults and 2 kids, albeit one that was hungry. Keep that in mind. Next time I’m just going to add the ravioli to the broth mixture and perhaps increase the broth by 50% to make up for the broth the ravioli will absorb. Next time instead of water cress I’ll just use spinach or even better, arugula. I love that stuff.

Also, on Saturday night I made some chili. Well really, it was quite a long process. Everyone and their dog has a chili recipe but I figure what’s one more? I’ll discuss it here.

This is really the first time I’ve made chili for the whole family for about 4 years. I’ve been afraid my kids wouldn’t eat it because of how spicy it is, but after seeing them tear into the salsa I’ve made this summer it’s clear that my wife is the wimp in the family. I still took it easy so that no one would have any problems.

I cut up a beef roast. (No ground beef in this recipe) I estimate it was probably about 3 lbs but I’m not really sure. After these pieces were sliced I coated them with flour. In the bottom of my biggest soup pan I added some vegetable oil and put in the beef pieces to brown. To this I added 4 cloves of garlic and ½ of a medium red onion, diced.

After all this had cooked a bit and the meat was sufficiently browned I used a slotted spoon to move the beef to a bowl and left all the juice in the pot. To the pot with the browned bits I added 1 can of beer as my deglazing liquid. By the way, per Ms. Child the cook always samples any alcohol before adding it to a dish. Helps ensure that everything works OK. Then I proceeded to furiously scrape the pan to get all the yummies off the bottom.

Once this was all together I added 3 packets of chili seasonings (I know, the easy way. But I didn’t have all the spices I needed and didn’t want to make a special trip to the store.) along with some crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper and hot chili powder. I also added a little BBQ spice mixture (a sweet/salty mix for grilling) and a few quick worstershire squirts. I didn’t measure. I just dumped them in and tasted. I also added 3 8 oz cans of tomato sauce and 24 ozs of water.

After this had all blended together for a little while I resampled and adjusted the spices along with salt and pepper until I had them where I wanted them. Then I added the meat and bowl drippings back to the soup pan. Then I left it on a very small simmer for about an hour. A small simmer is a simmer that you would use to make stock. Perhaps a bubble up to the surface per minute or so. I was hoping to cook the meat as slowly as possible so that it would be pretty tender.

After an hour was up I portioned off the chili mixture. A set up a smaller pan of soup for my wife and oldest child who don’t like beans. (I know, the horror) Into the biggest pot I poured one large can of chili beans and left the mixture to simmer for another 30 minutes or so. Let me tell you, this was certainly not a soupy chili. It was a thick rich chili sauce with beef in it.

Even if I was rusty at chili making I need to be rusty more often. This turned out really good. I looked over at the youngest child during dinner and he was using both a spoon and fork to eat it as fast as he could. When he noticed me looking at him he smiled and he had chili all over the lower part of his face. If the camera hadn’t been in the car you would have gotten a picture. I spooned my chili over some cooked ditaliano pasta while others made a sort of non-walking taco with theirs. And I have enough leftover to enjoy all week long. Definately good eats.


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Homecoming at Iowa

Last night was homecoming time in Iowa City. Since we have small children any chance to attend a parade is well received in our house.

The funniest thing I've noticed about Homecoming at Iowa (this is year #2) is that it pales in comparison to the Homecoming parades at the little school I attended down in Missouri. (You can see a pic of a float if you follow the link and click on the Homecoming tab)

I think this is a good thing because in college we spent way, way too much money on useless Homecoming decorations to compete between the Greek organizations. Not to mention the impact to our grades for all the work time over study time, and our wallets for all the beer. After seeing the fantastic floats and house decorations at my college it's kind of a downer though to see how it is at Iowa.

It's too bad too that it's an election year because a lot of the parade was candidates parading up and down the parade route. The even more unfortunate thing is that most of them were Republicans. HA!!

One thing that rocked about Iowa Homecoming was that they had a free concert on the Pentacrest. They had Guster and Kansas. I had never heard of Guster but I've heard of Kansas and we were both bound and determined to see them.

The concernt didn't start until 8 and we had to listen to Guster first. They were actually pretty good. The poor guys were playing on rented equipment because their intstruments didn't make it when they flew in. Gotta love those airlines!

But we were waiting for Kansas. The first rock band to incorporate a violin player. The people that invented Dust in the Wind so Will Ferrell could sing it for Blu and become the stuff of legends. Of yeah, we were excited to hear Kansas. But we had two little kids to contend with and Kansas wasn't going to be on until way, way past their bedtimes. But Mom and I were determined to hear them, even with crying kids and temperatures in the upper 40s at an outdoor concert. So we waited. Outside, in lawn chairs. With a blanket and no hottie totties in sight.

While we waited we had some time to make plenty of observations.

My assumption about the college kids would be that most of them would be two sheets to the wind after a hard day of partying, but I think most of the early ones were relatively sober. As the night progressed we watched girls in halter tops and t-shirts come out and watch the concert. Obviously they were a little sauced otherwise I don't know how they could ignore the cold. And watching them walk across the lawn to the concert was high comedy. Between the beer and heels I was sure someone would turn an ankle and there were plenty of stumbles. Oh the days of yesteryear.

We saw this lady. She was interesting. Yes, she is wearing a cape. And a pleated pink skirt. And a green t-shirt. An interesting mix. The funniest thing about her was her "dance" moves. When she danced she kind of swung around in circles letting her cape fly and billow around her. Kind of like how little kids will sometimes put their hands out to their sides and swing around in circles. It was eerily reminescent of how a superhero would fling their cape around too. If I had a cape I would do the same thing. Wouldn't you? You know you would. Come on now, don't lie to us. But I'm really questioning her thoughts of pairing a t-shirt with a pink skirt. I don't think it really matched well with the cape.

By the time Kansas came on we had finally gotten one child to sleep in a stroller (using my coat for a blanket) and the other was on my lap wrapped in a blanket and starting to fall asleep. I think the hypnotic effect of their stage lights was helping. And so we listened to Kansas with two sleeping kids and at the end when they FINALLY played the two big songs Rachael made her way up to the stage for a few pics of the band and I rocked out while holding a 2 year old, well, as much as I can anymore.

All we are is Dust in the Wind.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Mapped history of Iraq

My friend Tom sent me this. I thought it was rather neat. Check it out.


They have some other neat stuff too.


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The rest of the story

I came across two different soldier stories. I always find it interesting to hear the real deal from the people who are actually doing the hard work over there.

What I find most startling is the sharp differences between how they say things are happening and what we are told about how things are happening.

Check them out here and here.


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Odds and Ends

I needed to purchase a new back light for my bike recently and luckily I came across this review by Doug of his new rear tail light and decided I should pick one up. Unfortunately my LBS didn’t have that version in stock so I got this one instead. (I am American, I don’t wait for things you know) It’s very similar and it includes a reflector, which is required by law apparently, even with a light. Not to mention this one was $10 less than the CatEye. Let’s hope I rave about it like Doug and Pete have been about their light. All I know is that it’s as bright as a frickin’ laser beam. I swear it seared my cornea when I looked at it flashing in the display.

Along those lines, some of you may have noticed the increase in ads appearing on the blog. I just wanted to let you know the basis behind that. When I started blogging my wife and I decided that any ad revenue that I received from these ads could be put towards bike related purchases for me to feed my habit. This worked out great as it paid for my recent fixed gear project and the check I’m receiving shortly paid for the leftover fixed gear “bill” and this light. I’ve expanded the target of the revenues from the ads to also include things related to my other endeavors such as paying for gardening supplies above and beyond normal levels, home improvement projects related to “off the wall” ideas and other things that are not really things that we would both fall in line on. Really, these ideas are more like things that I don’t feel like negotiating their acceptance and this is my way around the negotiation. If you’re married you know what I mean.

For example, I’m currently working on a design for how to use the excess heat from my corn stove to pre-heat our water for our water heater. If I can get it all worked out then I certainly will detail it here, but since it is kind of an off the wall project the revenue we receive from our ads will pay for these types of projects. I don’t expect the cost to be much, but after my last plumbing incident I’m barred from making plumbing repairs to our house, so I’ll have to hire a pro. Not to mention the solar hot water heater I want to build next spring and possibly hooking a solar panel up to our pool pump so it will run for “free”.

So, I hope you will tolerate the ads and feel that the information I share with you is valuable enough to put up with their appearance.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

Fall garden work

Yesterday was a beautiful day (today is shaping up to be just as nice) so I spent the day outside in the yard.

I had decided I wanted to make my garden space a little larger. I decided to dig out some stupid peonies (or whatever they're called) and I wanted to move a couple of raised beds over to that area along our fence line. I took this opportunity to double dig the beds too since I was digging it up pretty well to get at the peony roots. Then I backfilled the raised beds with grass/leaf clippings from my mowing and then spread on the compost mix to hold it all down. Hopefully over the winter all the clippings will decompose and add matter to the beds and next spring I'll top coat the beds with compost and plant away. These beds are right next to the tomato area from this year which you can see on the right. Miraculously when I went out to the tomatoes yesterday morning to introduce them to the reaper I found about 2 dozen cherry/grape tomatoes on them so they currently have a reprieve in their forthcoming execution date.

I also decided that while I was doing this I might as well get started on the garden expansion. I decided to make a traditional garden area for the plants I have that are larger plants and take up a lot of space. This would be tomatoes, zucchinni, broccoli, squash, melons, etc. I marked out a general area that I wanted to make into this garden area and I cut out an outline with the shovel. Now I'm focusing on rounding up all the grass clippings, leaf clippings and any other stuff I can. My plan is to fill that area up with 3-5 inches of material. Over the next few months it should breakdown and add a nice base of material to the area as well as kill all the grass in that area. (Hopefully) Then next spring I plan to mix this material into the ground along with more compost and get going. I might put a tarp over it for the winter to keep it warmer in there so all the material will break down more quickly. I'm open for comments if you want to make suggestions, well, other than using a tiller to mix it all in. I plan to do it all by hand, although the way I feel today after the digging yesterday I think I'll need to stretch it out over a few days.

In the picture you can see the clippings from one day's mowing along with some of the leftover raised bed material from the beds I moved over against the fence. And if you look closely you can see the lines I cut out in the grass to mark the general outline of the garden area.