December 29, 2004

Point Reyes

Sutter (pictured), Lane and I trekked up to Point Reyes National Seashore and saw a whole mess of cows as well as some amazing scenery.

Also, pictures were taken (tho' not of cows).

December 23, 2004

December 15, 2004


I bought some chestnuts the other day not realizing that you couldn't eat them raw. I'd always figured that the whole 'roasted' thing was optional.
(Raw chestnuts taste like cedar chips, incidentally.)

Luckily, a query for 'roasting chesnut' returned exactly what I needed - easy roasting instructions. This part of the recipe particularly intrigued me, "Take your chestnuts and make a cut across the round side of each to keep them from exploding."

So I cut the heck out of those roundsides, stuck 'em in the oven, and waited (as the site says) for my nutmeats to soften. If you cut a little cross into the top of the nut, the edges will curl back during roasting like the slimeflaps of an alien egg sack. Which is a bonus.

After 20 minutes, I removed the roasted nuts, placed them in a towel and squeezed to loosen the shells. I heard some light crackling at first and then POP! My hands seared with pain and I dropped the scalding hot towel.

When I peered inside, I saw that the biggest of the chestnuts had split along its equator and a dark crater had been left at its center. Apparently, I had not scored this giant deeply enough and pressure had built in its core during roasting. When I squeezed it, a plume of superheated nut gas escaped, leaving me with light burns on the palms of my hands.

The nuts were still tasty. But, nonetheless, this is why I don't cook.

December 13, 2004

End of Innocence

I saw this story on BoingBoing - Wal-Mart sells a CD with 'fuck' in its lyrics, Maryland family buys the album for daughter, Maryland family seeks "damages up to $74,500 for each of the thousands of people who bought the music."

It's a great American moment, really. The combination of puritanical outrage coupled with down-home litigiousness.

But I'm wondering about this: "Skeens said he and his wife, Melanie, let their daughter buy the music for her 13th birthday and were shocked when they played it in their car while driving home."

Here's what I figure happened: The Skeens are wending their way home from a successful outing at the 'Mart, bopping along to the new Evanescence CD. Dad's saying stuff like "These guys've got nothing on Credence" and the young birthday girl rolls her eyes. Outside, fall leaves shine on damp asphalt.

The fifth track cues up on the CD player and the minivan's speakers ring out:

Why are you trying to make fun of me?

You think it's funny?

What the fuck you think it's doing to me?

You take your turn lashing out at me

I want you crying with your dirty ass in front of me

At first, Skeens' brains refuse to process the f-bomb with which they've been hit. But the chorus repeats (oh, why not a verse!) and the vulgar shockwave washes over the family a second time.

A moment of silent disbelief.

And then ... panic.

Mom screams in anguish and claws at her blouse. Dad roars and turns his head to the backseat. He sees - literally sees - the dissolution of the profanity-free bubble that's encased his little girl for thirteen years. The soft glow that's always surrounded her fades and her face becomes ashen. She begins to visibly adolesce.

Dad jerks the car over to the shoulder and leaps from the driver's seat. He pulls his little girl from the backseat and sees she's now sporting a bare midriff and black fingernail polish. He holds her face close his and watches as her pupils contract and tiny track lines appear in the small blood vessels of her eyes.

"Why God! Why?!"

His daughter mumbles back, "What the fuck you think it's doing to me? I want you crying with your dirty ass in front of me."

And Dad now does begin to cry - a high-pitched, tortured whine punctuated by heavy sobs. And his ass is indeed dirty.

December 10, 2004

What's wrong with Sutter?

Seriously, I've been asking that for years.

December 08, 2004

Clockwork Khaki

Meet Sgt. Frank Ford. Up until recently, Ford was a counterintelligence agent in the California National Guard. He has been in the miliary for over 30 years.

That is, he had been in the military until he reported incidents of prisoner abuse to the commanding officer at his base in Samarra, Iraq.

At that point Salon reports that "According to both Ford and a credible witness, Ford was strapped to a gurney and bundled off to a mental ward on the basis of a coerced diagnosis for an indefinite period of time."

Surprisingly, this somewhat soured Ford on military life. He's retired now and looking to get involved with human rights organizations like Amnesty International.

In short, we're actually sending soldiers off to the booby hatch if they're unwilling to go along with torture.

Honestly, what could possibly be next.


Rumsfeld had a question and answer session with the troops in Kuwait - which is a pretty daring choice, really. When asked why soldiers had to root through local landfills to scavenge armor for their vehicles, Rumsfeld offered reassurances that more armor was being produced.

He then added that armor wouldn't actually save troops from the roadside bombs being used by insurgents. "You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up."

Which is sort of like being told that you shouldn't worry about not having any seatbelts because the car's breaks don't work either.

December 02, 2004

Snake Eater

I was in a bathroom stall here at GoogleHQ when a security guard entered (the bathroom, not the stall). I didn't hear him enter - I was alerted to his presence by the crackling of his walkie talkie.

Reflexively, I groped for a non-existent R2 button so as to arm myself with my MK-22 "Hush Puppy" Tranq Gun - I had to lullaby this bad mamajama before he saw through my camouflage and radioed in for HQ to send reinforcements.

And that's when I realized that maybe I'd been taking Metal Gear Solid 3 a bit too seriously.