The carpeted stairs are a faded cream color. Despite the sporadic professional cleaning, even a few years wear is giving the steps a lived-in look. It’s around 3am and my ass is planted on one of those steps; I’m scratching behind my dog’s ears. Tonight’s bath washed away his oily coat and musty smell so I like him more than usual. I remove the earbuds from my ear to quiet the umpteenth re-listen of the latest violent aggression release. Just as I thought: Nathan’s crying and this is the third or fourth time I’ve heard him tonight.
Maybe he’s not really crying, doesn’t matter, I’m already walking up the stairs. I leave the door to my son’s room slightly ajar to allow a small beam of light through. Once Nathan, sitting on his bed, sees me, he lies back down; he’s ready for sleep. I think: Why can’t you just fall asleep yourself? I don’t say anything the entire time, just re-cover him in blankets and gently play with his hair. Head massages are so nice. sometimes while watching television, Janine will play with my hair and it puts me right to sleep.
It’s three in the morning and I don’t sleep very well most days. That is, I am awake late into the night. Sometimes it’s fun but sometimes it sucks monkey chum. Before I heard Nate crying I was contemplating bottling some beer I have sitting in a carboy downstairs. I thought: well, I might be done by 5am, should I? Ugh, that would make it so late. I think I’d almost decided to just go to bed.
Nathan’s lying in his bed while I sit beside it, rubbing his hair. I’ve recently changed his bedtime routine to actually take place in bed instead of sitting in the rocking chair to have his milk, story and song. (The chair had to move to the room being prepared for our new baby. I didn’t want the baby’s arrival and the disappearance of his chair to happen at the same time). So instead of Nathan nestled into my arms as we sit in the rocking chair, his head now lays in my lap and I give him a head rub and play with his hair while singing a bedtime song. Routines help kids (and adults) know what to do. Repeating the head rub part of the routine sends Nathan’s elastic kid brain the “go to sleep” message. We swaddled him as a baby and I’ve been singing “The Rainbow Connection” to him since we brought him home from the hospital. That kid’s going to fall asleep if he ever watches the Muppet Movie. Ha! That would be funny.
|03½||Catching child molesters on camera|
|05—||The perils of nipple stimulation|
|06½||Dead hookers, blow, combinations thereof|
|08½||We introduce ourselves and Liam is conned into screwing up his intro. again.|
|11—||A discussion of the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes segues into a detailed discussion of a different show which doesn't exist|
|15½||viewer mail: what would it take to be a VA podcaster? Possibly an egregious amount of genital modifications|
|17½||Vlad's failure as the husband of an pregnant wife|
|21½||Wildly inaccurate predictions as to the fate of Egypt|
|24½||New Monopoly is Stupid! So is Smurfs, but that didn’t stop James from becoming addicted to the stupid Farmville-like game|
|29½||viewer mail: is VA for sale? does VA have scruples? Well, the introduction of TheRiseborough (an item for enhanced sexual pleasure) should answer that question once and for all|
|33—||Twilight! What kind of podcast would it be if we didn't talk about the Twilight saga? Spoiler alert: Kelly admits he has read the entire series and knows in depth details about upcoming movies.|
|37—||Nero's Valentine's Day Sweetheart promotion|
|39½||Promotional consideration provided by the Liam for Violent Aggression Podcaster of the Year association|
|41½||Kelly's daughter's sophisticated ploy to obtain “some XBox and computer games”|
|47—||viewer mail: Kelly recounts the painful memory of being raped by Kickboxer Chris at his “Birthday Party”|
|51—||A man was killed by a cock; discuss. Discussion doesn’t stay on topic long|
|56½||Scientology & L.Ron Hubbard’s other fictional creations are very easy target. But we don’t like to put too much effort into these things|
|63—||Finally. It ends|
If you haven’t heard, there’s an additional brand new twelve minutes of Lost goodness that comes bundled with the DVD set. A search engine fairy also told me it was available via torrents, if you’re into that sort of thing.
I discussed the Lost finale at length in Violent Aggression podcast #7, but in case you haven’t got ‘round to listening to it the quick version is that more or less, I liked it. I wasn’t completely happy with the lack of resolution. It was disappointing that many of the questions they teased us with were just that: teases. Something to trick us into watching. Although that said, I liked the challenging finale and was happy with all that it implied, even if it showed and explained too little. Leaving us viewers to fill in the blanks seemed an ending most apropos.
I did not expect, nor need, to hear anything more from Lost. Then along came an epilogue. I liked it. It was a very small serving with very meagre ambitions. Perhaps knowing it was a DVD extra in advance calibrated my expectations at just the right level. I recommend viewing it, if you’re into that sort of thing.
I don’t plan to give it a full discussion; at twelve minutes it doesn’t warrant it. I also don’t want to give anything away. So I shall couch my reactions in hyperlinks. Do NOT click/hover over them unless you want to be spoiled. And if anyone cares to comment on this article, let’s call the comments a spoiler zone. Say anything you want. You’ve been warned.
I was so glad something made a reappearance, it’s been a long time, it made me giggle, especially the audio. The surprising re-appearance of someone was kick ass. My reaction was to smile and clap my hands like a two year old. The explanation of that thing they explained was unnecessary, sure, but I like how it implied a network of other such things.
I can see how not everyone might agree, but I gotta go with my gut. It made me smile. A lot.
I just wanted to point and laugh at fat Americans. Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution concerns his journey to Huntington, the unhealthiest city in all of America, where he plans to convince the whole town to, y’know, stop being fat bastards. I’ve been to America and there are some fat fatty fat fats walking the streets and malls. Does living south of the Canadian border cause one to automatically gain 50 lbs? Or do they have to give you injections?
Indeed, Jamie visits a family where the deep fryer is the most used appliance (Jamie throws a “funeral” and gets them to bury it in their yard). He backs a dump truck full of fat and pours it into a dumpster, telling horrified parents “This is how much fat you eat in a year”. He encounters some prickly personality, including a radio DJ and some outspoken lunch ladies, who tell Jamie they flat-out do not want him there. He takes a family of fatties to get diabetes tests and — surprise, surprise — they are all on the verge of getting diabetes if they don’t have it already; I think the boy is about eleven?
That said, will you think me horrible when I say it was surprisingly good television? Good enough to watch the next one at least. I shook my head at the stupidity of these ignorant Americans. The elementary school was feeding the children pizza for breakfast every day. How stupid are these people? My Fucking God! You idiots! No wonder you’re all going to die early. The next morning I made breakfast for Nathan and myself, reheated some frozen pizza from last nights supper—
I mean, wait... wasn’t I just, last night? Yeah, I was making fun of... No, I mean, it’s not like I feed my child this every day. It’s just that we had it last night and there’s leftovers and... I’m not a bad parent, am I? No, I’m not.
Mind you, none of the idiots on the television think they’re bad parents either.
Within a few episodes I stopped seeing the kids as stupid fat Americans and began seeing them as what my son could be like ten or fifteen years from now, if I wasn’t careful. Militant even. The people of Huntington aren’t stupid, they were just short on time and/or didn’t know any other way (not unlike myself). It is so easy to ignore the consequences of processed food, ready-made meals and eating whatever they serve at the drive-thru window. Like those in the town of Huntington, Jamie had invaded my home and was making me a bit squeamish.
There are no villains in the Food Revolution. It’s a documentary (in reality tv format) of Jamie’s arrival in a town where he meets a bunch of normal people. A few rush to see the celebrity and get free cooking lessons, most are indifferent, others are pissed off he’s there. Imagine someone doing a documentary on the town/city where you live that focuses on what a terrible place it is as a result of the terrible choices everyone living there is making. Or some asinine celebrity coming to where you work and making your life and job annoying difficult because he’s got a television show to make. What a prick, eh?
At the heart of the show is Jamie Oliver. His demeanour is the opposite of the article you’re currently reading. At no point does he call anyone a fatty fat bastard. Truthfully I don’t get much joy out of that either. It was the amazing person that is Jamie Oliver that caused me watch more than a single episode. He’s just like, this guy, y’know? Not a pompous ass, just some guy that I can easily see going for a pint with. Nice bloke. But also driven.
It becomes very clear, very quickly, that he’s there to improve people’s lives. To save lives, like that of the obese 16 year old girl diagnosed with 6 years to live. He cares deeply about trying to make a fundamental change in the people he meets and have that change spread to everyone and everything. He did not do this to make another television show. He made an Emmy-award winning television show because he felt it was the best way to reach people. It must’ve worked; it reached me.
It’s a documentary about a man trying to start a movement. I said there’s no villains in the Food Revolution but there are people who oppose him. This is actual reality television; no eat-the-live-insect challenges. When the radio DJ rips Jamie a new one on air, he really meant it and that really happened. The weeks march on and what happens with that radio DJ cannot be scripted. The Food Revolution touches many lives but even as opponents become allies change remains elusive because they find themselves trapped in “the system.”
French fries are considered a vegetable. Government incentive programs make processed food cheaper than the raw food stuffs they come from. They cannot keep flavoured/sugary milk out of the cafeteria, even when everyone wants this, because of “the rules.” Rules created with the intent of ensuring that quality food reaches children. Even the rules aren’t the villains. Although I still don’t quite understand why teaching children to use forks and knives was so scandalous and possibly not allowable.
That’s right, I said teaching children to use forks and knives. Six years old and older. You don’t need utensils if all the school serves is fries and pizza and at home you eat chicken nuggets for supper. Marvel in amazement as children fail to properly identify basic vegetables. Most of these children are three or four generations removed from anyone who’s cooked from scratch and the results are terrifying and deadly. That’s not hyperbole, they are literally dying because of what and how they eat.
I don’t live in Huntington and my mother cooked from scratch. But would my children? I saw a vision of that future and it scared the shit out of me. I know I shouldn’t eat so many potato chips but willpower is an exhaustible resource so I often do. Huntington and the potential future it represents is what keeps the emotional and logical parts of me pointed in the same direction.
I’ve almost certainly built this simple television show up too much. Can it really be good as I’ve depicted it? Likely not. For one thing, the reality tv format leads to too many “previouslys” and “next times” but I just fast-forwarded through those. I’m not claiming to be objective and consider the words I’ve written more diary entry than review. Many things led to where I am today; this adventure with food upon which I’ve embarked. But I give a lot of credit to this show, especially seeing as I had no loftier aims than being entertainingly diverted. Now I’m part of the Food Revolution.
Want to join my cult? You can torrent episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6. That’s right, there’s only six. Would you rather watch on YouTube, because you can! Seems like the sort of thing that’ll get yanked, but all the episodes are currently there. I’ve embedded episode one below, someone else made a playlist of all the episodes, and failing that you can always search
Next time I’m going to a proper nail salon and getting a proper fake nail put on, just like my wife suggested. Superglue just doesn’t bond to human nails as well as it does to human skin.
I am an inexperienced chef. N00b city. I’m not content to just overcook pasta or permanently blacken the interiors of our pots. A month or three ago I hacked my finger good enough to require stitches. I was in shock and thought I calmly turned to Janine and said we need to go to the emergency room. I was informed I also yelled quite loudly...
Thanks be given to Kyle’s brother Dr. Tyler, who helped keep my emergency visit short enough that I returned home just in time to eat the dinner I had started preparing, finished by Janine and Sandy, one of our dinner guests. Phone call I made: “Hey Mike, are you on your way? If you get there and we aren’t, it’s because I’m and the emergency room.” Mike: “Oh my god? Are you okay? Should we still come over?” Me: “Oh yeah, totally, I’ll just be a little late, you guys start without me.”
The moral of the story: If you want to get out of cooking dinner, stab yourself with a knife.
Oh wait, no the moral was get a fake nail. So I get stitches, I wear a bandaid, flesh heals, nails grow. It occurred to me that once the still severed nail reached the end of my finger a large triangle portion would easily catch on some stray fabric and rip off. See attached diagram. This is where I ignored my wife’s stellar advice to get a fake nail professionally attached and went the manly (stupid) route and decided to just super glue it together.
Sunday I was squeezing a lime with my nail and the superglue attached to the nail route came unglued. Thankfully the triangle of potential pain remains firmly attached to the large mound of hard crusty glue now covering my finger. I used a box cutter to cut back as much of the shell as I could and spent an hour or two calmly applying more superglue a drop or two at a time, waiting for it to dry, then adding adding another drop or two (when gluing glue to itself, it is strangely un-super). This is about the fourth or fifth time I’ve had to do this. A contributing factor to the day of Sparticus was the need to spend the duration of Nathan’s nap re-coating my finger.
Words with a ‘w’, ‘s’ or ‘x’ exert an unfamiliar force against my hand as the nail, so much longer than the rest, clicks against my laptop keyboard. I obsessively check my finger nail throughout the days to check it’s structural integrity. I need to be careful next time I squeeze a lime. I did not picture this scenario when deciding to improve my culinary skills.
"Yo Cliff, it's James"
"Hey man, what's up?"
"Umm.... so I been doing this new hobby and y'know, it's really been going good. Anyway, I was wondering if you might be interested in joining us?"
"Us? Who? what are you talking about?"
"Oh, I forgot to mention, Chad's doing it and Kelly said he'd be up for it too. So if you joined that'd be four guys. I mean, it'd be epic. Really it works better if there's more guys."
"What? You still haven't told me what you are inviting me for."
"Oh, right, sorry. It's like, well everyone does it a little differently but it's like having pretend sex with different things. Like, I'm really partial to grinding on the sofa. Chad's got this thing where he just lays the hammer down on the edge of the coffee table. Kelly figures he's just going to grind against the floor, or maybe just hump the air."
I've only got fifteen minutes.
I deeply identified with Erron's "Why I do it". Like her I want my website to be an amazing collection of nothing but top quality articles, I want brilliant presentation, pictures sounds and videos.
I've only got ten minutes.
I believe this is what they call a cop out post, right? I'm just typing something to type something. I've got ideas for bigger and grander things but pretty soon I have to put on the shirt and suit I spent an hour ironing, tie a tie and go to a wedding. I'm going to break my rule and have more than two drinks at dinner. But not write something today? Fail to feed the dragon? That I don't want to do. I won’t be in the mood for writing after a long night of wedding enjoyment
Seriously: that paragraph took me three minutes to write? Chad and I had a wonderful visit yesterday and one topic that came up is how much time it takes to do all this. Why do I want to do it? Why does Liam want to spend all that time writing a novel. Once you start calculating 50K~300K words divided by whatever your word count goal is (150? 500? 2000?), nevermind plotting, outlining, character development. It takes huge chunks of your life. Why do I want to do it too?
I’ve got to go get ready very soon. When I was passionate, the quality of writing and presentation on Feelings of White rose to such staggering heights that I didn’t want to, y’know, sully such a beautiful website with crap posts. Posts like this one. My internal editor shut me down before I even started typing. I don’t even have time to respond to the brilliant comments left on my last post. I didn’t even think that was last good, and I stole lots of it, and look what happened. I am weeks behind in reading what everyone else in this Summer Blog Challenge is writing about. Because I’m making myself write instead.
Shit, I’ve got more to say. I don’t want to quit typing because now I’ve got points to make. Creativity is like a plant, or a dragon. I dunno, maybe both. You’ve got to feed it every day. If you do it grows huge and large and it’s capable of amazing things. If you don’t it withers but it doesn’t ever die. It can shrink so small you forget it’s there. Afterwards you can always edit. I went through years of my old website and picked the best. But if you don’t type there’s nothing to edit
minus four minutes
Okay, now I’ve really got to go. I’m glad my tie is pre-tied and Windows Live Writer makes it easy to wysywig blog (I was going to do a whole post on that once… but I dunno, would it live up to the lofty heights of my other entries). Shit! I forgot the upper-right banner. Okay added.
minus seven minutes
I just made “zero minutes” be big and bold, I gotta stop now. Fuck! Jimbo out!
nine minutes past my deadline
I never was good with deadlines
I beg you grant me a liberty for the duration: Allow me to assume you’re an average person. I’ll also be assuming you’re American. Maybe you’re a Canadian so you say “eh?” a lot more but who cares. The “Western Diet” you’re eating (remember, you’re an average person) originated in America. America’s the sign of things to come.
Why are you eating so much soy? What little tofu you eat is barely measurable but you’re eating more soy every day than someone following a traditional Chinese diet.
75% of the vegetable oils you eat come from soy (representing 20 percent of your daily calories). Over half the sweeteners you consume come from corn (around 10% of your daily calories). These two plants are among natures most efficient transformers of sunlight and chemical fertilizer into carbohydrate energy (corn), fats and proteins (soy). Doesn’t hurt that the government subsidizes those crops (in the U.s.; not sure about Canada).
The food you’re eating is getting emptier and I’m not referring to the twinkies. You have to eat three apples to get as much iron as a single apple would yield in 1940. Milk from modern Holstein cows (breeders have tripled output since the 1950s) has considerably less butterfat and other nutrients than older less “improved” breeds. The USDA has tracked forty-three crops since the 1950s: on average vitamin C is down 20%, Iron’s down 15%, riboflavin’s down 38% and calcium’s down 16%. Wheat, over the last 130 years of improvements (during which yields have tripled) has seen it’s iron content down 28%, zinc and selenium are both down 33%.
Pungent smoke wafted from the cigarette in his hand to Sal’s nose. His nostrils flared slightly as he became aware of the smell. Raising his hand to look at it, he had neglected it long enough for the last half to turn to ash, burning all the way down to the filter. He could really use a fucking cigarette right about now.
He dropped the filter to the ground and pulled the pack of cigarettes from his pocket to his mouth. Extracting one, it was lit before the pack returned to his jacket. He felt like his hands should be shaking but it was too practiced a motion. He inhaled deeply. Then again. Then without the cigarette; a trace of cool air was present from a nearby window.
To his right was Johnny, standing a respectful distance away in the hallway. Ostensibly watching the hallway to make sure they weren’t interrupted. Yet turned just enough that Sal could easily catch his eye. His hands were clasped in front of him, emphasizing his bulky shoulders. His head tilted just slightly forward. A comfortable pose, useful for intimidation, standing watch or paying respects at a funeral. Why have different body language when all you need is a single word.
“Johnny? How are we?” Sal didn’t know how long he’d been standing there, his instincts were to reacquaint his bearings.
Johnny’s feet remained planted in the hallway as he turned to face Sal. “We’re tight. We got boys watching the entrances and so forth. Nobody comes calling we don’t got the drop on.” Johnny’s head returned to its former position of not quite looking at Sal. How expressive Johnny could be when he chose: Take all the time you want, Sal.
Lying in front of Sal was what was left of his brother, rolled slightly to one side. A dark pool of blood had formed under his gut where the first or second bullet had blown through him. A thinner trail of blood traced from the middle of the room, near a discarded gun, to the larger puddle underneath him. Looking up at the door to the hallway it seemed pretty clear that someone had shot him from that angle and he’d fallen or dragged himself to where he now lay. Another bullet pierced his right shoulder but there didn’t seem to be an exit wound.
I must insist that you click on the video above. That video is exactly how I feel about my new job. It makes me laugh but also, hell yay! I’M A STAY AT HOME DAD!
In January my wife and I switched roles. Her year of maternity leave ended and she went back to work. I’d arranged for my contract to end in December and I stayed home. I’d never spent an entire day alone with my son until then. I remember dreading coming home from my office job because infants are terrible conversationalists, they just cry. Binary communication: 0: Okay; 1: Scream and Cry
That first month or two is a complete haze of memories. It was pure survival mode as I acclimatized to my new life. Discovering when it was okay to ignore his cries and when I needed to stop whatever I was doing and pay attention. I remember staring at the clock thinking when is Janine coming home? and regretting all the times I didn’t immediately rush home from work. Sometimes you need backup.
I’ve gone on record saying the stay-at-home parent’s job is the hardest but it’s also the easiest. Some days all I do is play with Nathan, we laugh, we giggle and I’m nothing more than a tour guide as he explores the world around him. Shopping at Wal-Mart becomes a fun adventure and Ikea roxors because I let him out of the shopping cart and he runs around playing with all the display toys. I play too. Every dad should force their baby’s mama out of the house on a regular basis and just spend some one on one time with their kid(s). It can be frightening and scary and the complete opposite of fun, for many many days in a row even. But it’s worth it. There’s no other way to get that parenting confidence then having absolutely no backup.
Parent’s complain, a lot. If you listen to them it’s like they are constantly bitching about their child(ren) or how difficult their life is. The other way parents behave is a polite nod and say “everything's good” with a smile; that just means you don’t know them well enough or they can’t complain just now because if they did they would have a complete melt down. Something’s always bad. When you get into a good bitch session about parenthood the conversation can go on for hours. Some of the stories about the stupid thing your child did take minutes of conversation just to set up, they require background information, geographic details and in-depth descriptions of your state of mind with caveats like how they’d been keeping you awake all nights for many days in a row. It also keeps us sane, letting vent on these problems, knowing that we are not, in fact, alone.
I theorize we, as parents, complain because the good things about parenthood are so minor in their details. Because, actually, something’s always good. Every single moment is what makes it worth it. Tiny little moments like watching him spill less yoghurt all over himself as he gets better with a spoon. Watching him play with a dinosaur instead of just chew on it. When he learned to give us kisses. Practicing high-fives with him and the moment where he got it. Listening to him say “bye” to everyone we pass in the store. Handing me a rock he just found on the ground like it’s the most awesome thing he’s ever seen and he just needs me to hold onto it for a moment so he can investigate the hundreds of other rocks nearby. Being so proud of his sippy cup because he can carry it around and drink water whenever he wants (I mean, that’s technology). Playing with the remote control for the fan. Watching him in his sleep grabbing for his soother. No details, no setup, see… not really great conversation.
But they are really great moments. Those are some of the moments that warm my heart. I mean where do you go from “Nathan tried to put on my shoes today” maybe you can add “it was sooo cuuute.” Sometimes with fellow parents you get a knowing smile as you share a mutual bond. They say “she’s been pulling herself up on the couch lately” and you smile because you remember that moment, or you know that moment will happen someday for your child, and they smile because they are so proud of their child’s brilliance. We parents smile at each other, as we both think of our own child. It is a deep warm smile that I cannot really describe. Sometimes you nod a little bit as you look at the other parent because, well, yeah, exactly. It’s those small little things. They’re like crack cocaine for parents. We will endure so much just to make it to the next little hit. Watching Nathan grab handfuls of rice and shove it into his mouth because, clearly, that is more efficient than a spoon (he’s right, y’know, it works much better). Pointing at a stuffed animal he’d never seen before and saying “duck” (and it was a duck! How did he know?!). Time spent with children is the potential to experience those moments.
I get to experience more of them now. It is a wonderful privilege.
Before and during the switch people always asked me if I was going to do computer programming from home, in the evenings. But no. Not even tempted. I can barely keep up with life as it is. I don’t have to fill out time sheets, attend meetings, or work on something I know will be completely useless to the client but is the pet project of a manager or business analyst.
I’m a stay at home dad and the core of what I do is directly relevant to raising my child. In ten years the software I wrote will be a crumbling legacy system. In ten years my child will still be developing into a fully fledged human being. At some point I’ll have to go back to the office world and chances are high that I’ll never again get to spend months in a row just reading books and taking baths and going to the library and wrestling and dancing and singing. I’m so blessed. You’ll hear me complaining a lot, I’m sure. It makes better stories and sometimes this is the hardest job in the world (and I’ve only got one child).
But sometimes it’s the easiest. It’s the most rewarding work ever. I know what Nathan’s favourite book is and I know his favourite page in a book and they’re different books. I’m going to say something now that I’ll don’t think I’ll ever be able to say again for the rest of my life, not with the same conviction:
I love my job.
I recently finished watching the entire run of Firefly, plus the follow-up movie Serenity, and I’m here to tell you a few reasons you should consider doing the same. Let’s start with how it’s only going to take you 13 hours to do it (15 episodes x 43min + 119min movie).
Perhaps this show was destined for an early grave. It’s science fiction. It’s a western. It’s serialized. It’s got a large cast. It aired on Fox. That was just out of the gate. Then Fox didn’t air the pilot (which introduced characters/explained the world) and aired the episodes out of order. Yet the brief run and DVDs created a small cult devoted to it, enough that the major questions raised in the series were answered in a theatrical movie.
So let’s get to why you should watch it. It is a rollicking good time. I don’t use the word rollicking that often but this show earns it. It is a relaxed bunch of fun from start to finish and featuring more than a few bits of action. It makes me smile to think of it. Most television shows need time to get their bearings and stumble around trying to discover what they are and what they are about. Firefly explodes onto the screen knowing exactly what it is about and the stories it wants to tell.
Years before the story begins, Malcolm “Mal” Reynolds fought against the Alliance, the central government, for independence. They lost and now he pilots a Firefly class ship (named Serenity) taking whatever jobs he can find. Usually this means crime. If there’s a chance to stick his thumb in the Alliance’s eye while he’s at it, all the better. He and his crew have created a firefly-sized place where they get to make the rules and that’s something he’s willing to fight to defend.
The western bit comes in because, well, it’s also a western. Which is what kept me from watching it for a long time. How can I put this... it doesn’t suck! The inner planets, home of civilization and wealth, are the base of the Alliances power. The outer planets, where the show spends more of it’s time, are neglected impoverished places. Recently terraformed most of them, they have the bare minimum and are basically the old west. Farmers, cows, cowboy hats, whore houses, flintlock rifles.
Except, y’know, the odd guy has a laser pistol. At one point they smuggle contraband from one planet to another and the cargo is cows. Also they swear in Chinese. Trust me, somehow, it works. It really does.
I have no idea how Joss Whedon managed to pitch this show to any network because it just shouldn’t work. But it does so brilliantly. Firefly is easily one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Even more amazing for how much it accomplishes in such a short amount of screen time. Maybe that’s even why. Perhaps episode 16 would’ve been where it all turned to crap. Instead we’re just left with this nearly perfect jewel of television. Just watch the pilot, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Rollercoaster of fun. That’s a good phrase.
One of the aspects of who I am is a computer programmer. I’ve spent years and years finding ways to organize things (pieces of code, data entry fields, processes involving humans and barcode scanners, you name it) in ways that make things flow better. Changing environments to be more conducive to a desired outcome. My most recent environment/programming project is our kitchen.
I want to make bread more often. So I moved the breadmaker off the hard to reach top pantry shelf to a kitchen cupboard (causing other things to move about). It removes an obstacle to homemade bread, making the change easier. I like using the vegetable steamer so I moved that off the top shelf too. The top shelf now has breakfast cereal. We just don’t eat that stuff, never have, although I lived off it as a child. The vegetable steamer is an easy healthy way to cook, so make it easier. Meanwhile the plastic bin full of snack items has been pushed to an inconvenient to reach back corner. I built some under-the-sink bins to store recycled items to promote easier recycling (going all the way to the garage means some recyclable items just end up in the trash during a busy day).
But wait, I’ve got to slow this down and just talk about mason jars for a few paragraphs. I went out and bought a shitload. Well mason jars and some other types of jars, there’s a lot of variety available. If I’d purchased exact matching sets then at some point in the future we would’ve needed more and they’d stop matching so I decided to go intentionally eclectic from the start. Some from Ikea have build in handles. Some acrylic ones from bed bath & beyond (I call that place my mecca) include an absolutely huge container suitable for flour but it was quite expensive. The cheapest and most versatile are simple mason jars (walmart.ca is atrocious, sorry no linkage). Big 2L ones, little 250 mLs and everything in between. I even found some alternate solid plastic lids. I decided wide mouth mason jars are absolutely the way to go – especially if I’m hoping to get a measuring spoon in there.
Buying bulk is cheaper and having attractive (at least to me) containers to put them in is an incentive to make a trip down the bulk isle. It also seems many organic ingredients are easier to find in bulk (I’ve become a big fan of Save-On-Foods). You can buy hot chocolate mix and M&M’s in bulk but typically bulk means healthier more primitive ingredients that I wouldn’t be ashamed to put on display, even if no one else is looking in our pantry but Janine and I (and Nathan if he can get to the dog food. Kid loves dog food for some reason).
Before the mason jar revolution, I knew that if I hunted in the back of the pantry somewhere I would find cornmeal, a plastic bulk bag of raisins, a huge bag of skim milk powder. At the front of the pantry was boxes of rice mix, instant mashed potatoes along with boxes of healthy stuff too. Don’t misunderstand me: we had a good & healthy pantry. I wanted to find a way to emphasize those good cooking ingredients, make them easy to handle and find, as well as deemphasize the easy to stack boxes. Some boxes contained organic whole wheat pasta, some were more questionable.
Now, I can see everything. The jars are easier to rearrange and sort through than plastic bags with the result that I find things quicker. If I don’t know what it is, I turn it upside down. More obscure jars have masking tape on the bottom with the contents written on them. I’ve never purchased lentils before this week. I’ll probably know what they are two months from now, but maybe not. Same for pot barley. And I feel so stupid asking my wife “what’s this?” because sometimes I like the illusion that I’m independent.
Some jars have instructions from a package taped to their side. Last week I briefly wished I hadn’t tossed out the how-to-cook rotini instructions when I’d transferred them from box to jar. Y’know what? I still don’t know how long to cook them but I kept tasting the pasta and I figured it out. Boil salted water then add pasta. The rotini I replaced it with came from the bulk isle and I’ll feel a little more confident when it comes time to cook those.
Also I bought bulk Maynard wine gums and they’re in a jar too. I need to make sure the record clearly states I am no perfect granola crunching preacher. The best way to avoid the bad stuff is not to bring it into your home… but if you never bring the wine gums into your home, then how will they ever enter your stomach? Clearly, the wine gums needed to be purchased. Logic dictates.
The wash cloths and tea towels were always badly stacked and falling out of the shelf conveniently located above the stove on a shelf even I (at 6’0”) couldn’t reach. So I moved them down to a drawer at waist level. The drawer of Tupperware was too full, causing them to break and get stuck when opened, so they moved to a bin in the pantry. Some of the lesser used pantry items, like tins of coffee beans and a 10lb of rice have moved to the basement (there are smaller mason jars and acrylic containers in the pantry that are periodically refilled). The good china was rarely used, so Janine’s just moved them from a primary kitchen cupboard to an inconvenient top pantry shelf (the shelf didn’t exist last week, Janine installed a new one). Now that’s a good thing because we’ve got a bunch of new free space in the kitchen and I’ve been noticing how our gadget drawer has gotten too full of gadgets and it would be nice to move those somewhere…
The kitchen remains in constant flux but my hope is that each time it becomes a place that’s a little closer to perfection. Like a good piece of software or an exquisitely designed website. One that subtly guides you to find what you need exactly when you need it. Where the things you’re supposed to be doing, like cooking with organic flour, are easily located on the toolbar button. It will still support obscure unadvised uses, like providing potato chips, but accessing those functions requires a little more work. This is where a witty one-line sentence should go that summarizes everything.
I don't go in much for reality television. I ain't no purist and occasionally a show will grab me for a while. I got curious enough to watch Jersey Shore and it hooked me good; I may even check out the second season. Both The Apprentice and Hell's Kitchen had me for almost three seasons before I tired of them. That's inevitably what happens, I get tired of seeing the same thing over and over.
There is one show that always always sucks me in and it keeps getting better every year. I love me some America's Got Talent. I had no plans to watch it and this year then I happen upon an episode and somehow it migrates to my PVR recording and as it rounds out the quarter finals I am watching almost every minute of it. The part where show nervous contestants wait as they spend 45 seconds between "the act advancing to the next round is...." and the actual announcement. Yeah, I watch that. Ever single thing the judges say to the contestants. One of the best parts. Although in the early rounds, I skip over all the contestants back stories, just show me some quick change artist accidentally falling off the stage – now that’s entertainment!
I love the variety of this show. It's not all singers, nor dancers. It's the only show I can see a magician shoot fire from a staff all the way across the stage; then a band that plays with of volts of electricity in chain mail suits (they stand between giant tesla coils); a harmonica player; belly dancers; dance numbers that are off the hook; a weird cross dressing fop with an amazing voice; rock climbers who “dance” on the climbing wall (it’s beautiful); Haspop a dancer who’s body moves like jello; and some crazy blacklight matrix-style I don’t even know what to call it that’s awesome. As the final rounds get closer, it usually boils down to a bunch of singers and a dance act or two. Then again, a ventriloquist won the second season, so who knows. My favourite memory from last year is Recycled Percussion. Check out the video where the stage on rotates 90 degrees forwards.
Who can’t love that shit?
Here’s a recipe I’ve made many times. It’s delicious, simple and cooks from scratch. Everything cooks in one pot, steaming the salmon and couscous at once and it tastes delicious. I keep almost all the ingredients in stock including frozen fish and a basil plant; all I need is a fresh fennel bulb and tomatoes and I’m ready to cook – now that’s simple. (if cooking with couscous is new to you, as it was to me, don’t worry you can find it everywhere. Buying bulk is better but you can start with boxes you’ll find at Safeway. Edmontonians: Planet Organic is actually the cheapest source) This recipe comes from Jamie Oliver’s 20 minute meals iPhone app although don’t believe the hype: it’s never twenty minutes. I had to write it up for my mom and got carried away. I made a video tutorial and afterwards I’ve got the full text write up if you don’t fancy watching me cook.
A common theme among my commenters has been how do you find time. I’ve struggled with this as well, so I wrote up the ingredients showing how you can prep this a night or two before but it’s also pretty fast to do all at once. If you’re doing it in one go, you’ll soon realize for yourself that you could be chopping tomatoes while the other vegetables are cooking, or chopping chillis while the onions soften, but let’s start simple.
A few days ago Shaun posted something about dream stealers and like a lot of Shaun’s recent activity it really got me thinking. Chad already wrote a great follow up that in many way said everything I’d want to. This is my second attempt to put my thoughts to words because I’m not entirely sure... oh hell, Jimbo, just start typing:
I worry about the Guthries. They’ve joined the cult of Amway and Shaun’s blog is occasionally incomprehensible without a glossary. In childhood my mom went in for a lot of make money at home schemes and I vividly recall the financial outcomes of all of it. She still goes in for questionable business schemes now and again and the outcomes, to the best of my knowledge, have never been financially rewarding. I worry so much about Shaun and Lindsay. Are they’re headed down a rather thorny path built to look attractive but perhaps less prosperous than the motivational seminars claim? I believe in the dictionary of terms, I’m part of Camp Comfortable, in league with the Dream Stealers. I will most certainly not be making Double Eagle unless I make my own costume.
Expeditions of Truth also contains some occasionally brilliant stuff. His blog is one that has friends saying to one another in meat-space “OMG, did you *see* Shaun’s latest post?” The man can generate buzz. Exactly such a conversation occurred last Sunday. I hadn’t read about the dream stealers so I whipped out my phone to read it, preparing to shake my head in bewilderment, when a funny thing happened. I totally got every word Shaun was saying. I empathized with his plight because I vividly recalled dreams that I allowed to be stolen away by other people’s negativity. Feelings of White represents a dream of mine that I have had to fight to keep alive. Tammy, in another reaction to Shaun’s post (see what I mean about buzz?), described my current dream as “cooking better food and contributing to his families health” which is spot on. Many days I want to give it all up and then I think of my son and I realize I must keep trying. Plenty of haters hatin’ on that dream but I’m still plunging away.