Showing posts from September, 2007

recipe for cookies

There was some interest in the recipe for the cookies I posted about earlier today. Here tis:
2 cups sugar1/3 cup shortening1/4 cup dry milk1/2 cup water3 cups rolled oats1/4 cup cocoa powder1/2 cup peanut butter1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
Mix the sugar, shortening, milk and water in a saucepan. Heat until the mixture boils. Remove from heat, add other ingredients and mix well. Allow to cool slightly then drop on waxed paper by spoonful. When cool, store in tight container.


I was very lazy on Saturday. Hell, I barely even bothered to breathe. I never went outside despite it being a beautiful day--I didn't even pick up my mail from the mailbox.

This was all due to a little burnout from a bad week of work. My solution? Well, just before midnight I decided that making some cookies might help. Over there on the left you can see the ingredients as I started heating the syrup.

This type of cookie isn't baked -- there's no chemistry involved. No flour, no butter, not even any eggs. This is just a process involving heat transfer from the stovetop to the ingredients.

You use sugar, water, powdered milk, shortening, peanut butter, cocoa powder and some vanilla (or almond) extract and a whole lot of oatmeal--3 cups of it.

As you might be able to gather from the odd list of ingredients, this recipe was devised in a time of shortages. During WW2 when many dairy products were rationed recipes like this one were used to allow households to have items like cook…


I took some pictures of turtles last week when I was walking along the paths at Sarah Duke. Most didn't turn out well due to my inability to focus on the little suckers while they were in the water but here's 5 that are mostly in focus:

what a week

My boss has been keeping me so busy at work that I haven't been able to post while there, and I'm too tired and hungry to post after I get home. Food and then sleep is all I'm thinking about. Now that the weekend is here, hopefully I'll catch up on both.

Do you think the duck is hypnotizing the leaf or maybe it's the leaf that has the upper hand.

Let's dish a bit about television. I've only watched a few shows this week so most of the stuff I recorded is still waiting on my hard drive, but nothing that I have seen has impressed me much. Earlier I commented that I liked Journeyman and so far that's been the highlight of the week.

I thought the pilot episode of Back to You, the new Kelsey Grammer sitcom, was quite bland. The second episode was a lot better but it used easy joke subjects (sex, gender differences, and dead fish) to develop a warm relationship with the audience. It worked with me, I'll admit. I'm a sucker for dead fish jokes.

Dirty Sexy …

tele and peptides

That might look like gibberish to you, but it's a major pain in the bootie for me. And if you just change 5 of those letters, albeit 5 specific ones, it becomes even more a source of annoyance for me.

In other complaints, I never had a chance last night to watch Heroes so I'll be watching it tonight, I guess. I did watch the pilot episode of NBC's show Journeyman. I almost deleted it in the first few minutes but I'm glad I watched it to the end. It was quite good but I don't know if I'll watch it every week. The lead characters are all very interesting and Kevin McKidd, best known from HBO's Rome, is a very charismatic lead.

Here's the very brief description of the …

Of Heroes and Burn Notice

This past weekend, in an undisclosed suburban Atlanta location, in an unsecured garage, revealing documents were located by an agent known to but not controlled by yours truly. The documents reveal an entire year of my life that had been blocked from my memory by powers that are not immediately apparent. Details to follow unless shadowy forces intervene...
If that seems a little cloak and dagger, that's just in homage to Burn Notice which had its last episode, a two hour season closer, last week. I watched it late last night and the spy thing is still resonating in my head. I really liked the show and was hoping that it'd be a mid-season replacement on USA Network but unfortunately at the end of the show it was stated that the next season would start in the Summer of 2008. That's 8 months away!!!!

On the other hand, Heroes' new season starts tonight and it's not a minute too soon. I think this is the most anticipated show of the season. I hope it doesn't fall pre…

3:10 to Yuma

I went to see a movie Saturday night with an ex-girlfriend. She'd heard from several friends that 3:10 to Yuma was really great and she just had to see it--so I was enlisted to keep her company. In the end, I think I liked the movie more than she did--much to my surprise.

Now, the movie does have a few problems--like nobody would ever act in the way that the "bad guy," outlaw Ben Wade, does here but Russell Crowe manages to sell the actions, more or less, with a smooth acting style that reminded me more of Clooney than Crowe. In less gifted hands the bad writing would have sank the movie. And that would be a shame since there's some great acting here by Christian Bale (the good guy) and Ben Foster (bad guy sidekick). And the cinematography is first rate albeit there's a few too many closeups for my taste.

Now don't get me wrong. The movie is well written for the most part but the actions of the outlaw, Ben Wade, just defy logic at a number of junctures. I'v…


I should be getting my garbage together for a run to the landfill. I started then got sidetracked and now just don't feel like finishing the job. I can always wait until next week, right? Or maybe drop it off before work? LOL As if that'll ever happen.

Anyway, since I'm not doing my chore for the morning--in my defense I already did my bill paying and have those suckers out in my mailbox awaiting pickup--I might as well post something on here. So here goes...

Space. The final frontier? I dunno about that but it might be much more obtainable in the near future. The October issue of Popular Science has an article on commercial spaceflights and the progress that is being made towards that goal. There's a number of companies that will be offering flights into space in the 2009 - 2012 time frame. They're going to start off expensive--$200,000 per person on Virgin Atlantic, probably starting in 2009 and $275,000 per person on EADS in 2012--but those prices would soon dro…

summer vacation

I wasn't able to take any time off from work this summer and with autumn only a few days away it's good to step back and see if anything else was busy all summer long.

Lo and behold, the nasty ole flu virus was equally as industrious. You see, influenza is active all year round in the tropics but here in the temperate regions the flu is seasonal, coming on strong every winter then disappearing in the late spring.

There's a story on the Penn State website that relates to this dilemma, titled Flu virus trots globe during off season. Catchy title, huh?

Here's an excerpt from that article:

Flu infections in the Northern Hemisphere typically follow a familiar pattern. Some time before the start of the winter infection season, the virus evolves, changing enough to evade the previously primed immune system. Then, just before summer, the virus disappears, only to resurface the next fall with a completely different genetic makeup, ready to fool the immune system anew.

But little is …

a new toy

I bought a new toy on Monday. I was waiting for my boss to get back with the eggs from State's Ag farm and I happened to see a 22" LCD that was on sale at Staple's. Oops.

Before I knew what hit me I'd ordered the damn thing.

Over there to the left is my old monitor. Actually it's my old, old one. My old one isn't working anymore, you see. It came with my Dell desktop computer when I bought it 8 years ago in October. The computer is still going strong but the monitor died a year ago. And so I've been using the monitor (both are 19" CRT's that weigh a ton!) that came with my previous system around 11 years back.

I've been waiting to get a new monitor since I figured I'd just get one with a new computer--but this Dell just won't die so I finally tossed in the towel and bought a LCD as a replacement and am keeping the Dell for another year. I hope. I'll tell you though--my computer is old enough that there weren't any provisions for w…

angiogenesis and omelettes

How many eggs do you prepare at one time? We did 30 on Monday.

These weren't to eat, however. They were fertilized eggs we bought from the Ag unit over at State and we got them for a CAM (chorioallantoic membrane) assay to test some peptides for angiogenesis properties.

Only a bit over half were actually fertilize so some rooster is apparently falling down on the job. Bad rooster! But the 17 that are fertile will be used to further the reach of medical knowledge. Just warms your heart, huh?

The photo above was the eggs in an incubator waiting for us to be ready to do the assay prep. Below are the eggs after deshelling (that's a serious scientifc procedure marked mainly by hitting the side of the egg against a hard object) and being placed into petri dishes. The assay takes 2 weeks to run and I'll be taking more pictures...


Last Tuesday I posted about the new and returning television shows that I intended on watching this season. Last night I watched the first of these, FOX's K-ville.

This is a show with great acting, very good production values, and a very good sense of the city behind the entire show, New Orleans and more specifically the 9th Ward. That said, this show sucks. Not a little--a lot.

Anthony Anderson (as Marlin Boulet) does a great job acting. He's the cop who represents the soul, if you will, of the Ninth Ward. However his role, as written, is that of a lawless thug. Boulet's next door neighbor is murdered near the beginning of the pilot episode and he goes on a rampage that involves torturing the victim's ex-boyfriend, threatening his partner with a gun, and blackmailing a prominent, albeit morally questionable, local businessman. Not the kind of cop I'd want patrolling my neighborhood!

Here's a paragraph from the FOX site that describes the beginning of the pilot e…

Guys smell like vanilla

Hey, I'm not making this stuff up people. According to a research group (some of them at Duke University over in Durham NC--just a few miles from where I work) some people perceive male sweat as smelling like vanilla. Kinda makes me feel like a potential air fragrance factory. Not just stinky.

Here's the lead paragraphs from the Reuter's Newswire story:

When it comes to a man's body odor, the fragrance -- or stench -- is in the nose of the beholder, according to U.S. researchers who suggest a single gene may determine how people perceive body odor.

The study, published online on Sunday in the journal Nature, helps explain why the same sweaty man can smell like vanilla to some, like urine to others and for about a third of adults, have no smell at all.

So what do you think? You women out there--do men smell as good as fresh baked cookies?

Androstenone, a chemical which is created when the body breaks down the male sex hormone testosterone, is in the sweat of men and women, b…

Dry days in Duke Forest

Here on the Eastern side of NC we've largely been without rain all Summer long. We had a hard rain on Friday--between a half inch to two inches depending on location--and it was the first recorded rainfall here in 4 weeks.

I went to Duke Forest on Saturday hoping to get some pictures of the stream running again what with the influx of that water. Ha! Just a few isolated pools of water there. This is the dryest I've ever seen the streams and rivers of the region in the 9 years that I've lived here.

Normally all the rocks in that picture above are covered with running water. Now just the lowest spots have a little standing water--and that's after having a deluge of rain just the night before. No fish in that river anymore! I might go back today to explore the upper reaches of the stream a little further...

Puppy ears forever

Several people wrote me and asked how in the world I could stay on the phone for 9 hours, as I mentioned in yesterday's post.

Actually it's easy--at least for me. I've always liked to talk and phones add in the safety that no matter what I say I can't get hit for it. At least not immediately and I'm not one to worry about what'll happen the next day or weekend. Hell, Chris and I commonly had 4 hour phone conversations and according to her, she didn't like to talk on the phone. Same with me and Renee--3 hours, 4 hours, even longer at times.

However these past few days I've been talking with an old friend who --due to a disagreement way back before I moved to NC-- I'd not talked to in nearly a decade. So we had a lot of catching up to do. Something like 24 hours on the phone in one week of catching up. Not much chance of anything romantic here--she's in a "domestic partnership"--but I didn't realize just how much I'd missed talki…

cells phones and your health

According to a six-year British study, cellphones have no short-term adverse health effects. Unfortunately the report couldn't make any conclusions for longer-term exposure since studies so far have only included a limited number of participants who have used their cellphones for 10 years or more. That's not too surprising since cell phones haven't been around all that long--particularly the small ones that get pressed directly against our noggins.

The Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Program said in its 2007 Report that it found no association between short-term cellphone use and brain cancer, said study leader Lawrie Challis, Emeritus Professor of Physics at The University of Nottingham in England. In addition, studies on volunteers also showed no evidence that brain function was affected by cellphone signals.

"The results are so far reassuring but there is still a need for more research, especially to check that no effects emerge from longer-term phone u…

schools, teachers and guns

According to UPI, a Michigan lawmaker has proposed arming teachers with handguns so they can defend their students against attack by students or terrorists.

Here's a link to the story if you want to read more.

Apparently Representative David Agema (R), said that he believes the measure would save lives. The measure has gained the support of 15 other House members which I find more than a little scary. Fortunately school officials said they are horrified by the suggestion that carrying a weapon is necessary to work with children but I suspect the bill will go forward anyway. We live in strange times, very strange times.

Agema’s bill would not require teachers to carry a handgun, but it would give school administrators the option of allowing employees to carry a concealed weapon. My concern is that how do you know these teachers are stable? Everyone has bad days and I've had more than a few teachers that were, quite frankly, off their rockers. I'd not want a gun in the hands of…

Fall television season

I was really tired last night so I went to sleep early for me, at 1am. So, I woke up at 5am which is several hours early and I'm posting on here to fill the time. This is why I tend to go to sleep around 4am--I can't seem to get more than 4 hours sleep in one go.

There's a bunch of new shows starting up this Fall that I'm going to try. I don't have high hopes for most of them--in terms of my liking them, that is. I don't try to guess which ones will get canceled. That seems to almost be random each year. Good ones get canceled, bad ones too--and bad ones don't get canceled and some good ones survive also. Random.

Monday new: Chuck; K-ville; Samantha Who?; and Journeyman. The returning shows I'll watch are: How I met Your Mother; Heroes; and Rules of Engagement.

Tuesday new: Reaper and Cane. The returning show is NCIS. Tuesday is a much quieter day for me than Monday, it seems.

Wednesday new: Back to You; Pushing Daisies; Bionic Woman; Kitchen Nightmares; …

Cupid's Arrow

I was wandering around the Internet tonight since sleep seems to be escaping me at the moment and I found an interesting site for dating and finding activity partners and what not. The place is called OKCupid and I'd seen surveys placed on blogs before from the site, but never followed any links back to the OKCupid site. From what I've seen in the past hour --in my admittedly sleep deprived and slightly incoherent state-- I really like the place.

First of all it's free (Free! Free! Free!) which appeals to my sense of parsimony, and you allow others to "get to know you" by answering the standard type questions but also "off the wall" type questions that are submitted by experienced users of the site. One of the weirder of the questions appears to the left. I answered "yes" but I'd have some serious misgivings over anyone who wanted to do that!

As you can probably guess by my wandering around a site like this, I am sans relationship once agai…

numbers, telemarketing, and snow crash

I finished reading Snow Crash for the 5th time about an hour ago. I read the book on average once every 3 years with the first time being right after it was published in 1992. Great book.

Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson, was an early book in the Cyberpunk literary movement in the science fiction genre. While it kept with the incredible idea-rich legacy of other founding Cyberpunk authors like William Gibson and Rudy Rucker, it differed in that it emphasized satire and black humor. Many parts are truly "laugh out loud" in nature.

Here's an excerpt from Wikipedia's plot summary of the book:

The hero and protagonist whose story the book follows is the aptly-named Hiro Protagonist, whose business card reads "Last of the freelance hackers and Greatest swordfighter in the world". When Hiro loses his job as a pizza delivery driver for the Mafia, he meets a streetwise young girl nicknamed Y.T. (short for Yours Truly), who works as a skateboard "Kourier", and …


I've been exploring--very slowly--the art and science of cooking and baking for about 10 years now. I've been in no hurry and my progress has been hampered a number of times by substandard living conditions. I'm a wimpy cook, you see. If I'm living with a bad kitchen then it's straight to the microwave for me. But the house I've owned (actually the bank owns most of it) for the past 4 years has a very nice kitchen so I've been making more progress of late.

Still, many of the classic dishes I've not even attempted. One of these is risotto. It's difficult to watch Food Network for any amount of time at all without coming across this dish, yet I've never tried to prepare it. Many people don't like to prepare the dish due to the half hour of constant stirring that it requires--and that also explains why a "simple" rice dish is what often hurts the winning chances of contestants on cooking contests--but I actually like dishes like that. …

heat and muscles

The past few days a pinched nerve in my neck has been bothering me. Yesterday the resulting painful inflammation in my neck muscles sparked a migraine--which I didn't appreciate at all.

As a result I stayed home from work today and made a quick trip to Wal-mart.

Chris suggested I try Menthol on my neck and shoulder while waiting for the pinched nerve to subside. The heating action would result in more comfort, according to her.

As a result I picked up this Deep Heating ointment which contains 8% Menthol (as well as 30% Methyl Salicylate) and it really does seem to help. The ointment, added to some ibuprofen, has me feeling a lot better. Now if only that nerve would stop firing!

Last night I was gabbing away on the phone much of the evening so my dinner was delayed until after midnight. Normally I'd have just had a snack and skipped the meal but in this case I had meat marinating in the 'fridge and didn't want it to dissolve away. As it was, it spent 8 hours in the marinade…

A flat iron on the grill

I actually had to call in sick today. I pinched a nerve Sunday morning, which actually felt at the time like a muscle pull, and really aggravated it today when I tried to back out of my driveway. My neck just doesn't turn to the left right now--at least it's not happy doing so--and I certainly found out just how much it didn't want to turn to the left this morning.

Yesterday, when my neck was unhappy but still working, I took these pictures of my Flat Iron Steak experiment. I ended up marinating it for 5 hours in Worcestershire Sauce with a little olive oil and white pepper added in, then grilled it for 5 minutes on my panini grill. I did make a rookie mistake and sliced half of it up right after the grilling. I should have let it set up for a bit before cutting.

This cut of beef is very, very tender and quite tasty. I'm not a huge fan of beef but the Flat Iron cut might just change my mind about that. It really is good!

The 4 pictures below are of the package of meat bef…

grilling steak

This is what I grilled my steak on. The steak turned out great, but not the video.

The video is way too dark--I'm just trying out this new Blogger feature to see how well it works. It took a while to upload but no problems doing it.

reading update

I finished Deathly Hallows about 15 minutes ago. For the most part I found it as enjoyable as the 6 novels that proceeded it--and the last chapter was quite cute. A great way to end it for the time being. And who knows--maybe another generation will take up the baton (magic wand).

However in general I didn't like the final 100 pages or so. Way too much mumbo-jumbo for me. I'm curious how other people reacted to the ending. If you read the book, what did you think?

My steak has been marinating for nearly 5 hours now. Pretty soon it'll be heading off to the grill and I'll be having lunch!

weekend progress

Not much to report for today. Chris and I had a late morning breakfast of pancakes then she wandered off home.

I somehow strained a muscle in my shoulder/neck so I was sidelined for the day. It made for a nice excuse not to do yardwork or my woodworking project. Maybe tomorrow?

I'm over a third of the way through Deathly Hallows and expect that I'll finish it either Monday or Tuesday. Being couch-bound much of the day meant for lots of reading. And lots of bad food!

I took some pictures of bugs outside but none were all that exciting. :-(

harry, chris, and mike

This weekend is dedicated to some cooking, reading the two most recent Harry Potter books and maybe finally doing that woodworking project I've talked about before, the window seat.

I started rereading the 6th Year Potter book, Half-blood Prince, last night around midnight and tonight I've almost finished it. I wasn't planning on reading much of it today since Chris and I were doing some cooking and a bit of movie and tv viewing, but as you can see to the left--she conked out on me so I got my book out and now, at 11pm, have almost finished it.

It's been 2 years since I originally read the Half-blood Prince and I'd forgotten just how fast the reading goes. Rowling uses a great deal of dialog and books like that are very fast reads. I've been putting off reading the new Potter book and since I'd forgotten a lot of the plot from the first 6 books, I decided I'd best read at least one of the older books just to remind me of what's going on to date.