28 February 2008

Clearly Insane People

I discovered a few of my favorite Kids in the Hall sketches were up on YouTube, and so for the edification of those who have never encountered them, they are posted below the fold; meanwhile, I shall endeavor to make this sentence as long as I possibly can, even beyond the point where it has expressed its useful meaning and should, rightfully, have ended and spared all my readers its horrific rambling length, rambling like the edge of a river dipped in too much tobasco sauce (no, not even I know what that means), randomly exploring whatever words choose to express themselves through my fingers... *THUD!* (typing stops)

This is probably my VERY favorite KitH sketch:

Next favorite:

There's a prequel to that one that I won't embed, as I don't like it as well, but you can find it here.

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24 February 2008

GF Tips: Hot Vanilla

As I'm currently trying NOT to re-addict myself to caffeine, I've been looking for alternatives to hot cocoa. First thing I found was a recipe for hot vanilla. I modified it very slightly:

Mix 1/4 - 1/2 t cinnamon** with 2-3 t sugar in the bottom of a microwave safe mug. Add 1-2 t GF vanilla extract*. Pour milk over the mixture and heat in the microwave. Stir. Drink.

*Artificial Vanilla flavoring almost always has caramel color in it, which can be made from wheat. Pure vanilla extract generally has alcohol in it, which can also be made from wheat or barley, but the fermentation process has been shown to remove/destroy the gluten. There are some specifically labeled "gluten free", but I've never had a problem with any of the pure vanilla extracts made with unlabeled alcohol.

**Discovered today (27.Feb) that Saigon cinnamon makes an enormous difference. With regular cinnamon, it's good. With Saigon cinnamon, it's awesome.

Modifications: I decreased the amount of cinnamon, as 1 teaspoon seemed like an awful lot for a single cup of milk, and modified the order, so that the liquid ingredients are poured over the dry ones. In my experience, this generally makes things mix together better. And the reason I put ranges on the measurements is because not all mugs are the same size. If you've got a very small mug, the smaller value is probably better. I used the larger amounts in a mug that holds roughly 1.5 cups.

As for timing, that will depend both on the size of the mug and on the power of your microwave. If you've already worked out how long it takes for hot cocoa to heat up without boiling over in your microwave, the time should be the same. For my microwave and mug size, it's 2:35. In my mom's microwave, it's more like 1:30.

GF Tips Index

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22 February 2008

2^10 and time to maunder

I didn't actually notice when I crossed the 10^3 mark in posting, but I happened to notice that this would be the 2^10'th post, so I figure I'll mention that. I don't think I like having a 3-credit class that meets once a week. Too much to process all at once, which is certainly part of the reason that I haven't posted much about my philosophy/literature class. That and I'm usually exhausted after it on Wednesdays.

We've been reading various tragedies and discussions of tragedies. Prometheus Bound. Oedipus. Antigone. There's an almost crystalline quality to the feelings evoked by a well-written tragedy, as if there's something that they could reveal to us that we can't see in everyday life. Sometimes I've encountered that crystalline sense in my own life, but it's rare, and it disappears quickly, as if it were ice to melt away. I'll try to find more to say about it at some point.

Still feeling mostly better. I got the impression that this cold was trying to turn bacterial on me, and I'm fed up with doctors at the moment, so I'm trying goldenseal to head it off. It seems to have an effect on the mucous membranes of the nose, if nothing else. As I've only taken one dose thusfar, I can't eliminate the possibility that it was due to the placebo effect. We shall see. I don't want to drag myself out to the clinic THREE times in the space of three months. Ack. So I'm hoping the goldenseal works.

What else... Oh yes. The kittens got their booster shots this week. The vets remembered Jilly. They said, "Oh, she hate us." But apparently with me there, she was a lot calmer than she'd been for her first shots. Incidentally, I was able to lure the male cats into the carriers using food. The females weren't remotely fooled. And I think I'm out of things to ramble about.

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21 February 2008


I allowed myself a (weak) hot chocolate today. Partially because I was cold, and partially to see if any of the symptoms I was still experiencing abated with it; i.e. if I was still in withdrawal. And the results aren't definite enough for me to be certain. My withdrawal symptoms are confounded with the lingering effects of the cold. But I haven't had any waves of dizziness or nausea today, so I think maybe the caffeine withdrawal is done with. I just need to take it easy on the stuff.

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Er, I don't THINK I'm hallucinating... (UPDATE: I wasn't)

About 3 minutes ago, roughly 7:18 am, the building where I work shook for 5-10 seconds. I could hear it as well as feel it, so I don't think it's just a caffeine withdrawal thing. Now, wind loud enough to hear inside the building isn't unusual, but this is a rather large, solid building, so I don't think the wind be enough to make it shake on its own (plus a glance out the nearest window shows no wind). So... earthquake? Vibration from an explosion? I don't know, but earthquake seems the most likely. Which then brings up the question of aftershocks...

*sighs* back to work.

UPDATE: Nevada Earthquake felt across Idaho And I was only two minutes off for the time!

And here is a more local news source on it.

Oh, and here's a segment of a seismograph from somewhere near Yellowstone

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19 February 2008

Anatomy of a Lousy Two Weeks

Here's what I think happened.

The fever was a by-product of my body trying to fend off this rather nasty cold that is finally starting to abate. As soon as that fever went away, the fuse started burning for when the cold itself would hit. Then, on Sunday, the caffeine I'd been utilizing to function through the fatigue, er, backfired. Nastily.

It was my own fault. I had a yerba mate in the morning, a Thai iced tea with lunch, and a dark chocolate bar in the afternoon. The waves of dizziness and nausea started about three hours later. Sleep helped some, but I was still pretty light-headed on Monday (but managed to put a severe dent in a shadow-mage-creature-thing anyway; how else would you celebrate president's day?). I made a helpful discovery on Monday, though: the dizziness was worse in warmer areas than in colder ones. So I turned the heat down five degrees below where I usually keep it. Today, only one major bout of it, and that was after taking a nap wrapped up in a warm shawl... apparently I would have been better off shivering.

It usually takes three days for caffeine withdrawal to go away completely for me... The first day it was easy to avoid it, as just the thought of it made me nauseous. Today was a mite worse. Nothing with large amounts of caffeine in it sounded good, but something with a small amount did, like very pale milk chocolate... Quite frankly, I wouldn't trust myself to STOP if I allowed myself even a small piece, so I didn't (also helps that there's no chocolate in the house right now). Tomorrow should be easier, as I will be busy pretty much from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm.

Still, the waves of dizziness were more enjoyable than the cold, though less enjoyable than the fever. And they seem to be 90% gone now. Every so often I catch the tail end of one, but it's nothing like it was on Sunday.

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18 February 2008


I suspect that I have the writer's strike to thank for this, but one of the broadcast networks is showing the first season of Dexter. Edited, of course, from the original Showtime version. It's about a serial killer, who is very nearly a "good guy". It might be more accurate to say that he's about as close as a serial killer could ever come to being a good guy: he only goes after other killers, particularly ones the police are unable to prosecute. In fact, he works as a forensics expert with the police.

Funny thing is, the show works. It walks a very fine line, but it works. It's entertaining. In many aspects, it's funny. I wouldn't quite call it a black comedy, but there are certainly aspects of black comedy in it... like when, at his forensics job, Dexter expresses admiration for another killer's technique; or has to walk away because there is too little blood. And Dexter himself is quite interesting, and very nearly likeable.

As far as I can tell, he has nothing comparable to a moral compass. What he does have is something akin to a sense of honor, and perhaps loyalty to his foster parents. "Harry and Dorris Morgan did a wonderful job raising me. But they're both dead now. I didn't kill them. Honest." Essentially, he's worked out rules that allow him to function in the world, and follows them scrupulously. One of those rules is kill only other killers. The killing itself is just a chore that he has to do, like grocery shopping. "People fake a lot of human interactions, but I feel like I fake them all, and I fake them very well; that's my burden, I guess."

So if you've got a somewhat morbid sense of fun, this is a good show to try. I will say that I'm just as happy to be seeing it on broadcast tv rather than on Showtime. There was some obvious language editing (friggin'; motherlovin'), and I rather suspect that some of the gore was cut out, and likely some nude corpses as well. It's not so much that those things offend me as that they aren't really necessary to the show. 'Round these parts, it's showing on Sunday nights for anyone who wants to give it a try.

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17 February 2008

Hair Gone!

I just attacked my hair with my clippers. Normally I try to let other people do the attacking during the semester, professionals for instance, but this semester... when I've had time, I've felt lousy; when I've felt like getting it done, I haven't had time. Ergo, clippers. I have a day or so to do any touch-ups before anyone at school/work can have a fit about it.

Oh, and, yes, I'm feeling somewhat better today. The progression was:

Monday - feeling mostly okay
Tuesday - a bit off
Wednesday - further off
Thursday - ACK.
Saturday - DITTO
Sunday - better than I've felt since Wednesday

Incidentally, watching Ninja cartoons whilst sick can have odd side effects. Like screaming at the germs that they'll never defeat you, and that they'll soon call your body the "dying ground." And, no, I wasn't screaming aloud...though that could have been entertaining, especially at the grocery store. `/^

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More Godless Stuff

A few other highlights from today's CotG(dirty or clean; the dirty version is much more interesting; if nothing else, I didn't know that book covers like that even existed! `/^ ) :

A very nearly Epicurean Rant.

A question of Beliefs vs. Lifestyles. Also a question of how many people actually live as if they believe in a hell for nonbelievers.

A look at biases and perception. Actually, I can answer part of the dilemma. One party is trying to establish plausibility, and then claim that's sufficient as proof; the other is looking for hard evidence and not finding any. People who care about hard evidence will find the latter more convincing; people who only want vindication of something they already believe to be true will have no quibbles with the former, and not understand why anyone would even care about hard evidence. As for me, I think that if you're going to take the track of finding a "rational reason to believe," you'd better have some hard evidence. The "plausibility" track is actually the opposite of finding a "rational reason to believe": it's finding a "rational reason not to stop believing". That is, apologetics will never convince a non-believer of a gods-bedamned thing. The purpose of it seems to be to keep believers who have noticed some of the discrepancies from jumping ship.

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Today's Carnival of the Godless (dirty or clean) included an article discussing Huckabee. I agree with about 90% of it. In a few cases, I think Alexander gets a touch carried away, but I recognize the signs of extreme frustration in the writing and can sympathize.

One quote:

Of course, he will say it is not a civil rights issue but a religious one because homosexuality is a "sin" and this just shows us that Huckabee has no idea what the role of our secular federal government is. Because it certainly is not the function of our government to enforce religious orthodoxy and recognize "sin." Who is next after the homosexuals, anyhow? Lots of "sin" out there.

If the only justification for banning a behavior is religious, then the federal government has no place in it. Period. It's called "separation of church and state". Huckabee, in fact, has made it clear that he has every intention of ignoring/abolishing this separation. The full text of the infamous quote is available at the linked blog. Here's the most damning portion: "And that's what we need to do -- to amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards." That, Mr. Huckabee, is called theocracy, and is in complete violation of the first amendment. Oh, wait, you probably want to get rid of that, too, so that heathens like me can't complain about it when our rights are shoved right out the window. Seriously, how long would it be before he decided to make it so that only (the right kind of) Christians could hold office or even vote? That is what putting "God" back in the Constitution would ultimately mean.

As Huckabee currently stands almost no chance of securing the Republican nomination, this is less of an issue now. But it highlights an extreme inequity in American politics. It is very nearly impossible for a professed non-Christian to hold office, particularly for a professed non-theist. Two different studies from 2001 put the number of non-Christians in the US at 23.5% or 18.9%. So let's call it 20%. That's one in five people in the population marginalized. Then when we dare to complain, it's the Christians who are being persecuted. Got news for you: losing undeserved privileges ain't the same as persecution*.

Now, to be fair, my experience has been that 99% of the time, there is no actual intent to marginalize non-Christians. It's a by-product. Around these parts, the population is overwhelmingly Mormon. That gives Mormons applying for jobs, etc., an advantage, whether there's intent to discriminate or not. If a Mormon employer has two candidates with identical qualifications, where A is a stranger but he's seen B around at local Mormon events, which do you think will be hired?

It's truly sad and ironic that, when these discrepancies are pointed out, the usual response is to try and silence or discredit the dissenter. Sorta proves the point, don't it? Yup, can't have all them ignernt heathens tellin' 'em what t'do. Nope. If they was worth anythin', they'd be good an' keep their mouths shut*.

As for me, at various times I've been left out of things by dint of not being a Christian; I've been omitted for consideration by dint of not being a Christian; my point-of-view has been ignored because I'm not Christian. Thusfar, it hasn't involved anything extreme, like a job, but it's...upsetting, especially when I realize that they don't even realize what bigots they're being. Would it be less upsetting if it were deliberate...? I don't know. Maybe. At least then I could get good and angry at a specific person rather than at the bloody system.

*I don't know why, but I tend to adopt atrocious grammar for emphasis in certain places. Sorry if it bugs you.

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16 February 2008

More on Naruto

I've made it through the first two seasons now and part of the third. I still like the series a lot. It is very character driven, and that's something that appeals to me. Even the villains/anatagonists have richly detailed characters, particularly Haku from the end of S1 and the beginning of S2.

Sakura has done a few useful things now, but is still the weakest of the main characters. What's particularly odd is that she's the only identifiable character without a distinctive jutsu of her own. Naruto can do "shadow clones," multiple solid copies of himself; Sasuke can do "phoenix fire" where he essentially breathes out a fireball and sends it at his opponenets. All the rest of the village rookies have something distinctive: mind-sharing; super-senses; talking to bugs; talking to a strange little dog; turning into a giant ball of death. Wait. There may be one other without a distinctive jutsu that we've seen yet. I don't know the name, but in nearly every scene he says, "What a drag." But he's not a main character, so it's not as odd for him. {...brief interlude while I check Wikipedia...} Ah, it looks like she does eventually develop something distinctive.

Other than that, my only real complaint is with the overall structure. Story arcs do not, in general, coincide with ends or beginnings of seasons. Also, I wish there were an option to play all the episodes skipping the intro/closing credits except at the very first and last. I liked the S1 and S2 theme song better than what they're using in S3, but a quick scan showed that that theme song won't last, either. I can only hope the next new one is an improvement. The original theme song I liked well enough to watch through now and again between eps. The S3 one has me reaching for FF almost instantly. Also, the original end-sequence was beautifully illustrated. The S3 end sequence is incredibly boring. Again, these don't have any effect on the quality of the stories, so they aren't major drawbacks: Just minor irritations.

Oh, I started checking for latter seasons on Amazon today...and found that I'd gotten a very good deal on the first four seasons at Wal-Mart. They were actually $25 each, rather than $20 as I posted earlier, but most of the ones on Amazon are right around $40. Looks like some of them are special editions, but I don't think all of them are. Ah well.

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15 February 2008

Sick Day

As in, I currently feel rotten and would rather like the 100 degree fever back, if it would make my head clear up. I made it to my one lecture today, primarily to give students the second set of Chapter 5 homework and to clarify something I'd loused up on Wednesday. Then I let them go. I made it to Wal-Mart to buy catfood, and forgot everything else I'd meant to look for there; called a bit before two to check the Math 108 center, and it wasn't busy, so I didn't go. I covered for Nathan two weeks in a row when it wasn't busy, so no worries there. Then Chang's for dinner, as I was starved and cooking sounded comparable to driving nails into my skull. I picked up some stuff for stew at WinCo, and e-mailed in sick for taiji tomorrow. Ugh. Who'd've thought that a high fever could produce fond memories? On the bright side, my breathing is mostly okay. The Flovent is doing that much for me, at least.

ADDENDUM: Tried ibuprofen this morning. Didn't do much. Tried aspirin tonight...and roughly an hour later I'm feeling considerably better. Neither one touched the high fever from a week ago, but aspirin seems to help with whatever I've got now. The only reason I even have any aspirin is because of the rebound headaches I got from ibuprofen this summer. So perhaps I should be grateful for them... I can probably manage that right up until I overdo the ibuprofen and they start up again.

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14 February 2008

Valentine Poem by W. H. Auden

As I Walked Out One Evening

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
"Love has no ending.

"I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
Till China and Afica meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street.

"I'll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.

"The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world."

But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
"O let not Time deceive you
You cannot conquer Time.

"In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.

"In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.

"Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.

"O plunge your hands in water
Plunge them up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed."

"The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.

"Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer
And Jill goes down on her back."

"O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress;
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless."

"O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbor
With your crooked heart."

It was late, late in the evening
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.

~W.H. Auden

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13 February 2008

Jim Brickman

Concert tonight. I almost didn't go, as I seem to now have the sinus nonsense that should have come with the fever. I suppose that next week the sinus stuff will be gone and I'll just have body aches or something equally bizarre. Anyway, Jim Brickman is a pianist, but he had plenty of company. Just as well. I would have been bored halfway through if it had all been his piano stuff. I mean, he's good, but his style tends to make things sound alike after a while. No where near as bad as George Winston, though. Jim Brickman's pieces tend to be enjoyable one or two at a time, but a bit blah en masse.

So he had help from three sources. First up, a local backup orchestra (Teton Symphony? Teton something, anyway). That added some interest, though they needed to turn the amp on the piano down just a smidgen as it was drowning out the orchestra. Second, Tracy Silverman on the electric violin. He is awesome. He occasionally extemporized rock "guitar" solos on his violin in the middle of other songs, as well as more standard accompanying. Third, Anne Cochran sang some songs with the piano and/or violin and/or orchestra. She's got a good voice, though she's just a touch too twangy for my tastes. I think that a 3 hour concert of any one of those three artists would have been too much, but combining and swapping out the three of them worked beautifully.

So overall I liked it. I did find some of the between-set-schtick rather tiresome, but that was partly because I was in analysis mode and noting things like, "ah, yes, invoke local names as often as possible" and "deliberately make a fool of yourself so any later mistakes seem intentional." Nothing unusual in it, except that I was in the mood to rip it to shreds rather than to enjoy it. Probably on a night that I was feeling better, I would have liked it somewhat more.

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12 February 2008

Gluten Free Products: Amy's Rice Crust Pizza

The local Fred Meyer carries one variety of frozen gluten free pizza. The brand name is "Amy's". It's a cheese pizza on a rice flour crust. I bought one a month or so ago to have around on a night when I needed a low effort meal. It was okay, but no where near worth the price.

It's a very thin crust, which is good in a frozen pizza because that makes it more likely to get crisp in the middle. Flavor and texture wise... Eh, it actually reminds me of some cheap, non-GF pizzas that I used to microwave way back when. Bland crust. Almost no toppings. I mean, I think I put more tomato sauce on a single rice cake pizza (approx. 3" across) as was on this entire 10" pizza. More cheese, too. I did have some mozzarella on hand to help the cheese out, and I put some Canadian bacon slices on it.

It was...edible, but little more than that. Without the extra toppings, I doubt I would even call it edible. That said, it's no worse than most of the non-GF frozen pizzas I've tried in the past, and perhaps better than some. So I think the problem is not that it's gluten free. The problem is that it's a frozen pizza, and there seems to be no such thing as a good, well-made, frozen pizza. Since it is GF, and made with some organic ingredients, the cost is rather ridiculous compared to the actual product. I have no plans to buy one again. I'd just as soon stick with ricecake pizzas. They taste better and cost less.

GF Tips Index

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Down With This Sort of Thing

This may just be the coolest protest ever. Oh, and a small heads-up to the Scientology, er, high priests or whatever they're called: Tom Cruise is not helping you. Quite the opposite. He is scaring people away from your, er, organization.

For the record, I have the same problem with Scientology that I have with televangelists: it's all about the money. If even a tenth of the rumors about Scientology are true, then my problems with it become even worse. I don't particularly mind their basic myths, which make about as much sense as most other religious myths. But when part of their schtick is to deny the validity of all psychological/psychiatric medicine, it can have dire consequences. I hope that the stories are exaggerated... but I suspect that they are not.

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10 February 2008

Random Observation

I am the top result for a Google search on "vile dungeon" Wal Mart. There are two other sites, one of which is an odd advice column from BYU, where "vile dungeon" and "Wal Mart" appear in entirely different letters...and the other isn't in English. I'm not in the mood to read enough to decide if the advice column is serious or a parody... Possibly some of both from the few I scanned.

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Snow melting—into oblivion—
the world, too, melts away.
Solidity beneath betrays
ephemeral existence.

Piles of snow—like ghosts—
testify to Winter's power:
Now waning, melting, scouring
potholes in Its wake.

Tire tracks in the sleet—crisply stamped—
evidence of many a voyage,
now become inchoate slush:
Forlorn, forgotten, finished.

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09 February 2008


I ran across Naruto on Cartoon Network maybe a month ago. One episode. I never had the tv on at the same time again, and I was wondering if I'd ever see any others...but, amazingly, in the vile dungeon sometimes known as Wal-Mart, I ran across several seasons' worth of the show. I'm more than halfway through the first season now. It's enjoyable, though the episode I stumbled across on tv was quite a bit more engaging. Then again, it's almost certainly from a later season, so it stands to reason that the series has improved as it's gone along.

It's an anime series. (Dear goddess of technology... Mozilla doesn't recognize the word "anime"?!??) Naruto is a mischievous Ninja in training. The backstory, which hasn't been particularly relevant in the first several eps, is that when Naruto was a baby, a 7-tailed fox demon was sealed inside him. Apparently this was the only way to save the village. Two observed effects and one guess of this thusfar: (1) the people of the village are mistrustful and suspicious of him; (2) Possibly his mischievous nature stems from this fox-demon; (3) He healed a wound surprisingly quickly. To be honest, though, Naruto isn't the most interesting character. Possibly he'll get more interesting later.

In his training team is also Sasuke (seems to be pronounced SAUCE-kay), and he was the focus of the episode I saw on tv. Rather, his backstory was. He's the sole survivor of the Uchiha clan and wants revenge on the person who wiped out his family. I have no idea when exactly the attacker's identity will be revealed in the series, so I won't post it as a spoiler (though you can probably find it somewhere on Wikipedia or one of the links therefrom). Sasuke is much more likeable than Naruto, from my perspective. Quiet, introspective, intense, dark... whereas Naruto is loud, outgoing, still intense but in an annoying/idiotic way, and bright.

A few complaints about the first season thusfar. There's a female on the team as well, Sakura. She hasn't yet done anything useful and I find this irritating. On the other hand, they haven't done the obvious ploy of having her always be the hostage and have the two males rescue her, plus they're still in the training stages, so perhaps this will improve. Also, there are some anime conventions that just irritate me. Poorly drawing the face when someone is upset or screaming, for one. This was done more obviously in the first few eps but has decreased somewhat in the latter part of the season. It's also a bit odd to have characters announcing the names of the techniques they're performing in the midst of a battle. In training, sure, but in an actual battle?

Still, I'm liking it well enough that I'll probably pick up the second season soon. Twenty dollars for a season isn't bad at all. Oh, just for reference, according to the main web-site, Episode 138 is about to air...and I'm on roughly Episode 10. No clue what the number of the one I watched was, but I would have to guess in the hundreds somewhere.

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08 February 2008


at once perfect and doomed
—shattered pieces

within—pure light unfettered
without—a chained illusion

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06 February 2008


So. I mentioned that I stayed home from taiji because of a fever. I've still got it. It's been hovering around 100.4° F ever since. I thought it was starting to break last night, but, no, it's back again this morning. Other than the fever, and some mild fatigue likely caused by the fever, there aren't really any other symptoms. Maybe a touch more trouble breathing than usual. That's it. Fever. It's...annoying. According to a nurse that my mom knows, for a fever like that to linger on, it's probably bacterial. *sighs* I really don't want to have to go into a doctor again. But I think if the blasted thing is still with me on Friday, I'd better.

Incidentally, there are actually specific diagnostic criteria for something called ""Fever of Unknown Origin." You can't just call a fever that if its origin is unknown. It must be demonstrably unknown, as testified to by a series of tests and physicians. To which I reply, "There must be rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!"

ADDENDUM: I did go into the walk-in clinic today, largely because it seemed like I was getting worse rather than better. The primary benefit of it was that I had time to grade Math 143 tests while I was waiting. The doc decided to give me Flovent for the breathing issues, but didn't think the symptoms were bacterial due to the lack of major sinus issues. He figures that I got a virus that decided it wanted to make a home in my lungs. So apparently I need to evict the blasted thing. One more lecture to give this week. This would be more reassuring had I already written the test that I'm supposed to give tomorrow in lieu of lecturing.

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03 February 2008

Gluten Free Tips: Making Chicken Stew

I've never eaten a stew that I didn't make. Why? Because I've always had tastes fairly orthogonal to most Americans. And, in fact, I never made a stew before finding out I was gluten-intolerant. I'll tell you my process, but I can't say how it compares to how anyone else might go about making a stew.

Pictured above are the primary ingredients besides chicken: two (large) cloves garlic, one sweet onion, 4 bell peppers (2 red and 2 yellow), quite a lot of shiitake mushrooms (stems removed), and four carrots, all chopped into sizes that will fit in a spoon. I didn't actually measure, but there's probably about 1.5-2 cups of each of these. As for the chicken, I baked 5 boneless-skinless-breasts for about an hour, and wound up with roughly twice as much chicken as any of the pictured ingredients. I also put in a cup of wild rice and a cup of quinoa, after rinsing them well. Other than that, I used a bit of olive oil and whatever spices I had on hand that smelled good to me (today: chili pepper, cardamom, basil, red pepper, garam masala, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, marjoram, turmeric, thyme, sage).

Wrap chicken breasts individually in foil and put in to bake at 350° F. Chop all the vegetables, mushrooms, etc, and peel the garlic cloves while the chicken is baking. Rinse rice/quinoa or whatever grain you decide to use. Heat olive oil on low heat in a large stewpot. Mince the garlic (I used a garlic press) and add to the heated oil. Add the onions. Let them saute until the onions are roughly transparent. This is a good time to add any spices that you want. Then add the bell peppers, let simmer a bit, and then the rinsed rice/quinoa/etc. and stir. You may need to increase the heat as you keep adding things. Next add the mushrooms, and finally the carrots. If you time things just right, the chicken will get done as you start to add ingredients, and you can chop it into bite size pieces between adding things. Add about two cups of water after all the vegetables are in and start adding the chopped chicken. If you use roughly the same amount of ingredients as I did, you'll probably need 6 cups of water total. This is also where I add the salt, so that it can dissolve in the water rather than coating the ingredients directly. When the chicken and all the water are in the pot, bring to a boil, then put a lid on it and turn down to low heat and let simmer for about an hour. Wild rice sometimes takes longer to get done: when nearly all the grains have split open, it's done. The quinoa will have been done long since.


A few notes:

If you're serving this to a large group, you may need to add water as it cooks. I generally don't, because it's easier for me to take to work with me if it's a bit dry. I then add water before heating it back up.

Regular rice works fine, and will cook more quickly than wild rice. Probably any GF grain you like will work. I've also used GF noodles instead of rice on occasion. That may require adjusting the amount of water.

As the chicken cooks, a clear liquid will leak out of it. Some save this as chicken stock; I generally just add it to the stew.

The cloves of garlic I had today were extra-large. With smaller cloves, I generally use four.

My favorite thing to do is to make some fresh GF bread to serve with the stew. However, this generally requires better organizations skills than I possess; i.e getting the bread done before starting the chicken cooking.

As far as ingredients go, add whatever sounds good to you that you don't mind chopping up. I often use jicama. It's the only vegetable I've found that actually stays crisp after boiling for an hour. I also like to add other peppers besides bells (the hotter the better). I've put zucchini in it, or asparagus, or bok choy. On a time-crunch, desperado day, I've used frozen pre-chopped veggies. It turns out better with fresh, but the frozen ones weren't too bad.

Final thought: I wouldn't buy a pre-made chicken stew that did not specifically say "gluten free" on the label. Even if there's nothing suspicious in the ingredients, if the company makes anything-noodle-soup, there's probably cross-contamination. And as I've never had any interest in pre-made stews, I can't tell you which (if any) are safe.

Gluten Free Tips Index

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Nonlinear Dreams

I was riding on a rather odd bus. It did not have the customary rows of seats all lined up neatly. Instead, everything was fluid and curvy, and the back ring of seats was elevated above the front-most ring. The arrangement might have made sense for, say, a series of heated pools, where the topmost pool got the hottest water, and it had cooled off some before it made it to the lower level, but there was no water. Just these odd seats made out of some sort of plastic that looked rather like rock. It was white with grey speckles, and not particularly comfortable to sit on. Oh, and unless the bus was smaller on the outside, it was rather too wide to fit on most roads.

At any rate, something happened to the driver. Not sure if he got shot or had a heart attack or what. Then three friends (one of them my POV character) notice what time* it is, and realize that they have a perfect opportunity for a heist. One guy takes over driving the bus. The other guy secures the other passengers (there seem to be quite a lot of them, despite the fact that every time I saw the seats they were empty). Me? I don't know what I'm doing there. Eventually we get to wherever we were going.

The other two leap out and leave me to deal with the passengers. I'm not very happy about this. One guy is insistently trying to get out. Finally I whisper at him that I'll let him go, but that we have to put on a good show so that it looks like I tried to stop him. So he makes it off the bus and I tackle him, but he's not fighting back. I can't very well just stop fighting, but without any resistance I don't know how, exactly, I'm going to be able to let him go.

Finally he turns into a grey cat with crooked ears (I think it's called a "scottish fold"). So do all the other passengers. They're quite beautiful cats, in fact. I think they all start to wander off at this point, but I'm not really sure.

*This detail tells me that it was inspired by an episode of Monk that I watched yesterday, involving a heist of an armored car that required people to be in the right places at the right time. No clue where the rest of it came from.

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02 February 2008

Re Rated

And while I'm posting silly things, my blog is apparently no longer NC-17. I'm sort of disappointed, really:

Why? Because of the following abominable words:
ab*rti*n (2x)
m*rder (1x)

Incidentally, the Wikipedia page on Epicureanism is also rated PG-13. I find that highly amusing.

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Quizzical Saturday

Fever, so I stayed home from taiji. And, hey, quizzes! I wound up as Magneto, destined for redemption, and also as chandragupta and the sphynx. If I'd heard the name Chandragupta before today, I'd forgotten it, but the full results are below the fold. Mostly. I deleted a bit of the Magneto history stuff as it seemed rather long.

~*~ The End of History and You~*~
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Redemption

You scored as Redemption
You have been selected to be redeemed! Meaning that you are deemed worthy enough to enter the new world as yourself! You shall be one of the few who will know the past history of this Earth and also the future of it. You are one of the rarer breeds of humans with actual intelligence and morals. Your individuality shall be rewarded as you're allowed to witness all the changes as they appear!
(Please take into consideration that this result is much more valid if you scored LOW on Relentless Death and Assimilation.)







Relentless Death




what good or bad x-man are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as magneto

you are magneto! Real name: Magnus (possibly not his real name, rest of name unrevealed)
Other aliases: (former) The Creator, Eric Magnus Lehnsherr, Michael Xavier, White Pilgrim
Identity: Secret
Occupation: (current) Revolutionary and conqueror, (former) Volunteer orderly, secret agent, adventurer, teacher of the New Mutants
Legal status: Criminal record in the United States, later overturned by the courts; still wanted internationally as an outlaw

History: The man now known as Magnus spent his early teens imprisoned with his family at the Nazi death camp in Auschwitz, Poland. The only member of his family to survive the camp, Magnus here learned how brutally human beings could treat minorities whom they considered different. After World War II Magnus married a woman named Magda and they had a daughter, Anya. When a mob prevented Magnus from rescuing Anya from dying in a fire, he used his powers to destroy them all in revenge...





charles xavier












iron man




the phoenix






What leader of ancient/classical history are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Chandragupta Maurya

You started out living in the small land of Magadha in South-east India. As Alexander the Great's empire failed in the west, you saw the opportunity to fill the administrative void he left and set out on a great conquering adventure. Bit by bit, province by province, you came to rule all of India and founded the Mauryan empire. Of course, the empire wouldn't have been nearly as great without Chandragupta's best friend and advisor Kautalya, who always had good wisdom to give, which Chandragupta listened to eagerly.

To read more about Chandragupta Maurya, click here: Wikipedia

Chandragupta Maurya






Liu Bang




Ashoka Maurya


Han Wudi


Wang Mang




Sargon of Akkad


Yu of China




Alexander the Great


Qin Shihuangdi


Which creature from Greek mythology are you?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Sphynx

Sphynx had a lion's body and face of a female human. It gived people a puzzle and when they got it wrong, Sphynx ate them. However when her puzzle was solved she jumped off a cliff.







Nemean Lion










Lernaean Hydra




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01 February 2008

January Searchlight

A few of the more interesting searches that led people here. At least, if Google Analytics will ever load the report. `/^

beautiful thoughts: I hope you found some.
ornagami: *sighs* I never did finish the models in that book.
snow ghosts: There've been a lot of them lately. Oh, and there's a drift that's more than a foot deep in my driveway!
animal show hosts: I still miss Steve Irwin. I can't stand to watch reruns of his show any more, though. One of the things I liked about the show was knowing that there was someone out there with that much enthusiasm and passion for the natural world. Gone, now.
ethical quiz: I wonder what an unethical quiz would be like... Telling the opposite would be too easy.
coyote waits theme: Yes, it's a book I read and reviewed... but the thing that comes to mind is a symphony of howls...
gf lasagna: If you can find some GF lasagna noodles, you can use just about any regular lasagna recipe. Just make sure to follow the box directions about the noodles. Most of them don't need to be pre-cooked.
strange puppies: How strange are we talkin', here? Like, tentacles and antennas or just slightly eccentric?

These were the most popular ones. A few...odder...ones below the fold.

"how to wrestle crocs: Erm... I suspect you want to make sure that you have control of the mouth at all times. But I would suggest asking a professional about it before trying it.
"there's a hole in the earth like a great black pit": not so much this semester. Thankfully.
lyrical madness: Try turning your world into a musical for a day. Then try talking your way out of the asylum...
"zinc ricinoleate" allergy: Unpleasant, isn't it? The truly, truly annoying thing is that they put it in a lot of the organic/nature-based lotions, cosmetics, and other similar items.
catch-22 is based on t.s. eliot's "the wasteland,": You know, I'd never heard that before. It doesn't seem completely implausible...but I'd have to reread both of them to say more on it.
does the koch snowflake have something to do with fibonacci's numders: Ask me when I get to that chapter again. My initial thought is no. Maybe Fibonacci will edify us on this one...
find my daemon: Well, where did you leave him? *blinks innocently*
galactic spider monkey: Now I'm wondering how it breathes...
galangal st augustine: Ummm... what does Thai ginger have to do with an ancient Christian saint? Anyone know?
gluten free kant: There were lots of GF searches leading here... but last time I checked, books weren't made with gluten, so I'm a bit puzzled by this one...
popup origami box mythbusters: If it exists, I want one. Or at least the instructions for making one.
sweeney todd pocatello: *grumbles* dirty rotten theaters, not showing perfectly good bloody horror comedy musicals...

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