Classic Dishes...

Stock Update

The stock pot was strained into another pot, producing I’d say about six quarts of nice brown liquid. Following a bath in a sink of ice water, it has been moved to the refrigerator, where if all goes according to plan, the remaining fat will rise to the top and harden into an easily removed Frisbee-O-Lard, at which point I will reduce the remainder down to about 2/3 of its volume and call the project finished.

In the meantime, I ordered a new bookcase from Staples today, and was told that it SHOULD deliver tomorrow. Gawd, I hope so. I suppose tonight I should clean my room some and get the furniture rearranged for its arrival.

Stocked Up

So after some discussion with my friend Peter (proprietor of Static Zombie, publisher of The Game Report, and fellow foodie), I decided to try my hand at making chicken stock, following this lesson on

Since the instructor has a 20-quart stock pot, and mine is a mere 15, we had some problems from the start – namely, that I was trying to put too many veggies in there. The chickens didn’t fit. So, out came some onions, and the chickens now fit. Barely. I was not happy with the fullness of the whole thing, but there it was.

After a while, and the veggies cooked down a bit, things look much better. Once an hour passed, I fished out the carcasses (one broke neatly for me right along the breast/thigh line…since the breast meat was all I wanted anyhow, score), let them cool, and neatly plucked the breast meat off. That will become chow mein later this week.

So now I’m feeling better about the whole operation…the items in the pot have some room to breathe and release their individual goodnesses into the pot, and the liquid is definitely taking on some stocklike properties…and the stuff has six hours to simmer yet. I even threw in some peppercorns and a few bay leaves. I may need to run out later and get some cheesecloth to ensure the best strainage, though, as I suspect my colander isn’t gonna quite cut it. But the house is smelling _great_.

Holiday Nerdvana

By the by, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Funky Kwanzaa to each and every one of The Four Of You. I hope you were appropriately and thoroughly begifted, ate well, properly coated in crushed-up Shredded Wheat, or whatever is the custom around the holiday you celebrate.

Growing up as a technology geek in California, and within driving distance of the Silicon Valley thereof, Fry’s Electronics was Mecca. As soon as I was old enough to travel there by myself, a Fry’s run was a regular and necessary part of every San Jose trip.

(For those of you who have never been in a Fry’s: Take a Best Buy. Roughly double the size. Now graft on a similarly-doubled Radio Shack. Stick a Starbucks in the middle, and the World’s Longest Magazine Rack in front, including one of the finest selections of printed pornography outside of a city tobacco shop. Finally, take all of the employees and replace them with disdainful minimally-paid workers who speak very little English. Don’t worry, it’s part of the charm.)

Anyhoo, when I moved up here, I missed Fry’s terribly. The opening of a couple Best Buy’s within easy driving distance of my place made it a little easier, but there was still that something. Then, a year and a half ago, it finally came to fruition: a Fry’s store was opening in Renton.

For the longest time, I wouldn’t go. Renton was a pain in the ass to drive to, reports indicated it was always crowded as hell, and most importantly, I had read articles talking about how friendly and helpful the staff were being trained to be. Friendly? Helpful? That’s not the Fry’s I know.

Anyhow, the weekend before Christmas, I got a wild hair to finally go to Fry’s. I needed an adapter so I could use PlayStation 2 controllers on a PC’s USB port, I didn’t feel like waiting to order one from (or paying insane shipping fees to) the overseas accessory shops, and regular computer stores don’t carry that sort of thing. But Fry’s does, my friends. Fry’s does.

So down I drive to Renton, with no information other than the knowledge that Fry’s is in Renton. That should be enough, right? I mean, it’s freakin’ Renton, and this is Fry’s. Should stick out like a sore thumb.

…well, after fumbling around for 20 minutes in downtown Renton and coming across only the one monolith that is Sam’s Club, I grab a newspaper (The Saturday one-page Fry’s ad runs on the back of Section 1, and that’s apparently no exception in Seattle), and find out that the Renton Fry’s is in Renton the same way that I live in Seattle…if you went a couple blocks north you’d be in another city. I missed it by two full exits, and to this day I have no idea how this is possible, as when I approach it from the south it’s quite visible from the freeway and exactly what you might expect: a MAMMOTH FREAKIN’ BUILDING with a MAMMOTH FREAKIN’ PARKING LOT attached to it, sporting the familiar Fry’s logo on both the front and back.

I think I burned a full year’s worth of Parking Karma when I pulled into the lot, as I kid you not when I tell you the spot LITERALLY closest to the store opened up JUST as I got there. And as you would expect for the week before Christmas, this was not a slow day. People were parking all the way out in Goofy. (That’s a little joke for anyone whose ever been to Disneyland before they turned the parking lot into that ridiculous roller-coaster park.)

So I went inside. And I was home again. The salespeople were, as I’d been warned, somewhat more helpful than I was expecting, but it’s my hope they were just holiday temps and that they’ll be worthless again if I go back in a couple months.

So, long story short, if you wanna know what it’s like to be a geek in the World’s Center of geekiness, make the pilgrimage to Fry’s at least once. Expect to buy something. You won’t regret it.

Reality Post-Mortem

It’s been a while, so let’s clean up some odds and ends…

First off, I can’t think of a Survivor in the history of the show who played the Final Council better than Chris Daughtery. Told every jury member EXACTLY what they wanted to hear, answered every question perfectly, he just did it all right. Between that and surviving a five-to-one women-to-men outnumbering just to GET to that Final, he may be the most deserving recipient of the million dollars, in terms of pure skill, that the show has seen to date. Bravissimo.

So, over to NBC and The Apprentice: Once Raj and Andy got fired, I admit my interest waned, so long as that silly bitch Ivana didn’t get the gig. Fortunately, The Donald finally ran out of excuses to keep her around and sent her packing, leaving Kelly to wipe up the floor with Jennifer M. in the Final Assignment. Hokay. The next installment, with the teams being broken up into Street Smarts and Book Smarts, should be much more interesting.

And that brings us to The Amazing Race. And I’ve been waffling on posting about this for a while, because I’m just not sure how I feel about it. Mainly, I’m disgusted with myself that I continue to watch every week and allow Jerry Bruckheimer to document and exploit Jonathan’s continued verbal abuse of Victoria in the name of good TV. Something about it (mainly, that Victoria continues to put up with it, but don’t get me started on THAT subject) doesn’t sit right with me. Based on the bio I linked above, it sounds like this marriage wasn’t on the best of terms going into the Race, I can only hope that we learn come the end that Victoria has grown a pair and told Jonathan to go screw after it.

We're light, so tell Ron in his IFB to pimp the kicker.

Had to share this real quick. This is actually how people talk in a TV newsroom. I used to talk like this. Hell, in a lot of instances I STILL talk like this.

My Tivo Weekend

First and foremost, a quick shout-out to my man Jesse over at Gestalt Circus, the newest member of the blogging scene. Give him a look, he has some good stuff to say, and we’ve apparently gotten him at least interested in Survivor (and at just the right time!)

Hope everyone had a fine and filling Thanksgiving. or whatever you might celebrate around your neck of the woods.

First, some quick housekeeping: the commenting is gonna stay as-is for now. I just don’t like how Blogger does it. In fact, I need to remember to give Haloscan a few bucks so they’ll turn my archives back on.

The big project this weekend was upgrading my Tivo. A little bit ago I took advantage of a great deal on to pick up a 160 gig drive for $50 (after rebate, of course, but that rebate seems to be fast in processing), with plans to replace the current 80 gig drive and possibly add the various and sundry hacks to the Tivo kernel that allow me to extract video and what not.

I ended up wussing out on the hacking, for a couple reasons: one, I had heard that the hacking method I was going to use was obsolete, and I wasn’t 100% sure of the technical aspects of what I was doing anyhow. The Tivo hacking community can be somewhat elitist, and it’s damn hard to find any kind of step-by-step guide to getting these things set up, prolly because nobody wants the trail of bread crumbs to lead back to them if someone gets litigious. Moreover, I’d learned that Tivo plans to roll out their Tivo ToGo service before the end of the year, and part of that service should allow me to download programs to my machine and burn them to DVD and such, which is really all I was interested in with the kernel hacks in the first place. So, best to keep it simple, and just worry about upgrading the drive.

The folks at have a fine guide on upgrading pretty much any kind of Tivo to any kind of drive configuration you could like, but it doesn’t go into detail as to any kind of time investment. So let me present a timeline of my Tivo upgrade:

Earlier in day, Saturday: Downloaded and burned MFSTools 2.0 CD image, and attached target Tivo drive to a spare drive tray. (My desktop PC has a neat hard drive mounting system where the drives are secured to these little trays with rubber grommets in them to prevent vibration, and then they slide into the drive rack and snap into place with a spring latch. Makes it a cakewalk to swap out drives. In fact, thinking about it, I should dig up an old drive and stick Fedora on it.) Took about five minutes.

4:00P: Moved storage cubes that double as a speaker tower (a greatly simplified process now that I’ve figured out how to do it without having to pull out a hundred or so Dreamcast games) and gained access to back of television set. Detached all connections from back of Tivo. Was pleased to find that power cord was detachable as well, as this made extraction of unit from component stack that much easier.

4:10P: Tivo extracted from component stack, sitting on work (coffee) table. My computer toolkit just happened to have T-10 and T-15 Torx bits, so according to the instructions I’d printed out, I was ready for whatever they threw at me.

4:15P: Top cover of Tivo removed. Most things I’ve read on Tivo hacking repeatedly hit upon the point of not dislodging the ribbon cable that connects the Tivo motherboard to the front panel of the unit, but I can’t see how you would unless you were being pretty careless…mine’s in there pretty tight.

4:30P: Six screws later, the Tivo hard drive (a Western Digital) has been disconnected and removed from the Tivo. Tivo drive is brought to desktop machine and secured to other spare drive tray.

4:45P: Spent a few minutes making sure that I wasn’t gonna need the desktop machine for however long this was gonna take. Shut down PC, swapped PC drives with Tivo drives.

4:55P: Booted from MFSTools 2.0 CD and issued backup command, as given in upgrade instructions.

5:00P: We’re rolling. Fortunately, it counts the megabytes as they are transferred, so we have some idea of progress made. Unfortunately, it’s an 80 gig drive, which means there are 80,000 or so of them. And since we’re going from one drive directly to the other, we’re transferring about 200 MB per minute. Which means we should be done…around 3:00a. Oy. Gotta wonder if it woulda been faster if I’d backed up to a spare drive first and then restored from the spare drive to the new one, but this was more convenient.

Rest of evening: Spent with laptop. Periodic checks of desktop machine indicate that 3:00a seems to be an accurate estimate. Eventually go to bed.

4:30A, Sunday: Get up for bathroom run, and in so doing check in on PC, which is indeed finished and indicates my drive is ready to go at 140 hours and change. Kickass. Swapped PC drives back in, returned to sleep.

1:00P, Sunday: Attach new drive to Tivo, return the cover, replace in the component stack, and plug it all in.

1:10P, Sunday: Wait with lump in throat…Tivo screen changes from initial boot to “Just a few minutes more”…and there’s the welcome animation! And my old programs still play!

1:15P, Sunday: The information screen reports that I now in fact have a 150 hour Tivo. Success!

So you get the idea. Negligible actual work on my part, but if I knew it was gonna be a ten hour wait for the transfer to the new drive, I would have timed things so that happened during an overnight. So maybe I’ll save one of The Four Of You from the hassle one day.

That’s a full lid for now. I may have a Survivor post later.

Order Up!-date

The voting is in, and The Four Of You (actually I think we only enjoyed a 50% voter turnout) voted overwhelmingly for most-to-least-recent archive listing. Last night I looked up some code, and mashed it together with some code I already had, and I appear to have pulled it off. Go me. :)

In doing this (and after much banging of my head against a brick wall – the things I do for My People), I also have discovered a trick to get the blog to completely republish MUCH faster and WAY more reliably than before. (It seems Blogger doesn’t like overwriting files much. Not bad when it’s just dealing with the index, but a pain in the ass when dealing with 100 back entries. So if I blow out the blog manually and let the program republish it from scratch with nothing to write over, what used to be a half-hour of nail-biting happens in about a minute, and the first time.) So because of this, I may start tinkering with bringing the commenting system internal again. I like the LiveJournal conceit of displaying comments directly below a blog entry and providing an easy way to join in. What we have now with HaloScan isn’t bad but I can’t help but think we can do it better. So if you see the site with multiple comment links on each entry, it’s because I’m fiddling with it and it will be back to normal soon enough.

Firefox, by the way, is teh b0mb. Popups? Spyware? Those are things that happen to other, lesser people. Is Microsoft really so dense as to maintain that tabbed browsing isn’t a killer app? Look for it in IE within a year – and look for this Steve Vamos chucklehead to be seeking other employment.

So. I was gonna write my usual Friday piece on Survivor and The Apprentice, but with Raj getting the boot last week from the latter, and Sarge (Just as I’m not gonna tell Glenn Danzig he sucks, I’m not gonna tell Sarge that Lea is a girl’s name) getting axed for owning a penis on the former, there just isn’t much left on either show to hold my interest. Survivor is quickly becoming (what’s the opposite of a sausage fest? A tuna party? :)), and the only real interesting angles on Apprentice remain whether Andy will shake the “he’s just a kid” stigma (despite the fact that he’s carried himself just fine every time the ball’s been thrown his way) and whether The Donald will run out of people to fire instead of Ivana and be forced to hire her dumb ass.

(Revision: In looking up Danzig in Google to get the link. I saw some pictures, and apparently he’s let himself go over the last few years. I’m inclined to think that today, I WOULD tell him he sucks. :))

Reality Roundup

The Merge happened last night on Survivor: Vanuatu. The world yawned. These guys has the unenviable task of following up the All-Stars, but with the exception of Sarge, who doesn’t have a hope in hell of making it any further than the Final Three unless he runs the board outright, there just aren’t a whole lot of interesting people left in the game. CBS is TRYING to make them interesting, but this is just plain a weak cast. I look forward with great excitement to the next installment of The Amazing Race, though.

Over on NBC: You know that feeling you get right before you accidentally knock over a glass of Kool Aid onto a white carpet? The one where you KNOW it’s coming, and time stops, and yet you can do nothing to stop your arm from colliding with the glass? That was me watching Raj do himself in on The Apprentice last night.

Now, my brain knew from Day One that Raj didn’t have a hope in hell of winning. The idea of seeing someone like him actually working under The Donald is up there with appointing Gilbert Gottfried as your Secretary of State. But my heart liked the guy. The bow tie, the cane, the two-tone wingtips, the man was the very textbook definition of “dapper”.

But, he left Trump with no other choice. He was PM on their project, and he ultimately approved the piss-poor contractor they hired, and also didn’t fire him when he realized how poor he was. Trump even offered him an out, when Chris opened his dumb mouth to complain about his team’s makeup AFTER Raj selected his fellow candidates for dismissal, by giving Raj the chance to bring Chris back as well. If Raj accepts that offer, I dunno if there would have even BEEN a second session, Trump was so keen to shitcan Chris on the spot. But Raj, ever the gentleman and champion of fair play, refused, and sealed his fate at that moment.

Gotta give him props for going down swinging, though. As he waited for the Elevator of Fate to open, he took one last shot at getting digits from Robin the receptionist, who, I think, ALMOST gave ’em up. Raj truly _is_ a great man.

Two In The Bush

As one might expect, the folks on the Air America radio network morning show were up in arms when it was announced that Kerry was conceding the election. “How COULD he?” “Keep fighting!” “I thought every vote counted!” As a Kerry supporter, I was embarrassed.


Yeah, I’m not thrilled about it, any more than I am about the realization that I live in a country where much of the Midwest, South, and approximately half of Ohio, Florida, New Mexico, and Nevada are inhabited by ABJECT IDIOTS, but come on.

Trying to find a legal loophole in the Ohio elections when your candidate has been all but mathematically eliminated is every bit as weenie as the tactics these folks have been accusing the Republicans of to keep potential Kerry voters away from the polls. Maybe the system needs fixing, but it’s the one we operate under by now, and by those rules Bush won the election, so shake the man’s hand, call it done, and go back to work trying to make the country better with the tools you have at hand. Prolonging the inevitable just because “you owe it to your supporters” (which, by the way, translates to “we poked some of your campaign money away for just such a situation, and it would look even worse if we just pocketed it”) just makes you look weak and petulant.

Yeah, so Limbaugh and Hannity are gloating right now. I’m sure it’s a lovefest over at KKKVI. At least you guys will have a job for another four years or so.

Yep, it must be Monday…

This may be too geeky for some of The Four Of You, but what the hell. This is my life.

Something caught my eye on one of the message boards I read every morning, so I thought I would fire up Tivo‘s Web site and do a little Remote Scheduling. (If you are not yet Tivo-enlightened, you can basically look at listings online and tell your Tivo to record something even if you’re not home to do it. Pretty sweet.)

And I get an error message at Tivo’s site that says something to the effect of that it can’t get my channel data and to either redo Guided Setup or call ’em. So I call, and the nice fellow at the other end tells me the Tivo hasn’t made a call home in five or six days, so the guide data is prolly insufficient. Odd. I had this problem for a teeny bit when I first plugged the wireless dongle into it, but everything settled into a groove and it’s been fine since. So I figger I gotta check it out when I get home, I thank the nice man for his time, and hang up.

Five or six days ago. Hmm. That would be…..

I smack myself in the head. Tuesday.

See, I recently acquired a new laptop, with a built-in wireless card. It arrived last Tuesday. And the card hasn’t been working with my router, even though other wireless devices work fine with it and the card works with other wireless routers. (It’s a long and tedious post unto itself, believe me. Suffice it to say that a new 802.11g router is incoming and I paid the extra three bucks for two-day delivery.) Well, part of my dicking around with said router to be sure I tested everything was to change from 128-bit encryption, to none at all, and then up to 64-bit encryption, just so I’d have some coverage. And I hadn’t bothered to change it, since the new router was incoming and the 64-bit key is easier to type in.

‘Cept I totally forgot about the Tivo, which is set with a 128-bit WEP key trying to talk to a currently-64-bit WEP-ped router. You’re not gonna make a lot of connections that way, my friends.

What a dumbass. I suppose if that’s the worst thing that happens on a Monday, it’s been a pretty good Monday. But I feel like an idiot. Sheesh.