Showing posts from June, 2008

Secrets of a Restaurant Chef

There's a new show on Food Network named Secrets of a Restaurant Chef and it had its first episode today. It's running once a week (Sunday mornings) with no repeats during the week, at least not at first, which is unusual for Food Network.

The Chef that hosts the show is Anne Burrell, seen over there to the left. Does she remind you of a young  Sharon Gless?  Maybe I just have Gless on my mind due to the imminent start of season two of Burn Notice on July 10th.

In any case, Secrets of a Restaurant Chef is a very good show. I plan on watching it every week. Burrell plays it over the top, which is a far cry from how she appears when she works as Mario Batali's sous chef on Iron Chef America, but I suspect this is her real personality. There's no denying that she has enthusiasm!

Burrell is now the Executive Chef at Centro Vinoteca in New York City, near 7th Ave and Bleecker Street. The restaurant's been open for a year now to fairly good reviews.

What I really like about …

Damn Errands

Don't you just hate all those damn errands that make a household run?  I was going to go hike at Eno River today before it got too hot--but guilt set in. I just had too much crap on my to-do list and so no hike. Maybe tomorrow tho.

That's a close up of a snake skin I found while hiking at Eno River last week. It was still damn and flexible so I figure that snake hadn't shed it very long before. Too bad I missed him--he must have been a big one. On the other hand, they're grumpy while shedding...

So far today I updated my IBS blog, first things first--after all, then gathered garbage together and made a run to the landfill. Next up was my color wash which was way overdue. It actually exceeded the capacity of my washer so I'll have to do another one soon.   *sigh*  And then came a run to the gas station since I'm out of gas for my mower. That's 2.5 gallons and a scary $10.  *ouch*

Next up? Well, there's the lawn mowing. I'll put in an hour on that befor…


I'm currently reading Michael Ruhlman's book The Making of a Chef and there's a lot of information in there about making sauces so that topic has been on my mind of late.

Sauces got their start in the Western world with garum (sometimes referred to as liquamen), a sauce created by Romans for seasoning meat. This garum was used like a condiment, sprinkled on meat at the table, and probably wouldn't appeal to most of us.

Garum was typically made from anchovies and the intestines of larger fish. This was mixed and then heavily salted, and allowed to sit for 24 hours. Then this fishy mix was placed in sealed containers in the sun and allowed to ferment for several months.

Today most sauces are variations on the sauces derived by 3 famous French chefs, La Varenne, Careme, and Escoffier. One of my favorite meals is based on Béchamel, a French sauce developed around 1650 (or maybe from Italy if you believe the Catherine de Medici line of thought--personally, I don't). Since …

Heart Attacks and Strokes

Last Friday I had an EKG for the first time in my life---very non-traumatic, by the way, it's such a simple test to have done---so an article I read regarding heart disease and it's causes on Science Daily today really resonated.

According to the article, heart disease is the number one killer of Americans and about 29 percent of all U.S. deaths are from heart disease (approximately 700,000 a year). Ouch! I love the following quote:

"Even if we delay the process [atherosclerosis] by exercise and rabbit food, sooner or later our blood vessels rot," said Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "Now that we appreciate that atherosclerosis is inflammation gone awry, we can attack its root causes. Studies like these take us closer to delaying the inevitable, and help us understand the factors that provoke heart attacks and strokes."
I find it very amusing that an MD editor of a famous journal would call greens "rabbit food."


3 at Once

I was trying to go for the cycle (baseball terminology) but I fell one short. I got the single as you can see below, followed up by a double, and even a triple--but that elusive four-bagger just would not materialize. Still, this is the most I've seen in my yard at any one time to date.

Supersize mine, please

Here's the results of two tests I took at Hello Quizzy (a site from the same folk that do okCupid). At the bottom of each is a link to the test if you want to take it, and there's plenty of other quizzes there should you feel like something of a different nature. Enjoy!

Your result for The Tits, Ass, and Cuteness Test...Curvy and NaughtyRaw score: 63% Big Breasts, 64% Big Ass, and 60% Cute!

Thanks for taking the T and A and C test! Based on your selections, the results are clear: you show an attraction to larger breasts, larger asses, and cuter composures than others who've taken the test.

Note that you like women overall curvier than average.

My third variable, "cuteness" is a mostly objective measure of how innocent a given model looked. It's determined by a combination of a lot of factors: lack of dark eye makeup, facial expression, posture, etc. If you scored high on that variable, you are either really nice OR you're into deflowering teens. If you scor…

Getting Hooked

After ignoring the medical community for over 11 years I've gotten hooked into the whole thing. My first doctor's visit 5 weeks ago was very interesting. I really like her and feel comfortable so I'll probably not have a lengthy gap in coverage again. On the other hand, once the doctor-thing gets its hooks into you, they don't let go.

Today was my second visit and there's a third scheduled for a month from now--and I suspect there'll be at least one more following that. I think I'm paying the price for not visiting the med community more regularly in the past. This is their way of making me pay! LOL

And now it's not just my doctor--she's got me set up to visit more of the little critters. 3 more in the next month or so. Now, there's nothing wrong with me other than the IBS (and maybe a few pesky little things) but doctors seem to want to run tests for everything... just in case. What a waste of time and money, huh?

Anyway, there's going to b…

Is Speed the Answer?

I'm thinking of changing my broadband provider. Right now I use Roadrunner, in fact the new availability of Roadrunner in my area 4 years ago is what made me decide to switch from satellite to cable. Now that I have satellite tv again (so as to better serve my lovely high-def tv set), I'm thinking of getting rid of Roadrunner.

That's the speed of my current connection over there on the left. At least it is at 3am. It's probably slower during the day. If you want to check your speed try this site.

Due to my living out in the boonies, there's not many options for broadband Internet service. That's why I went with Roadrunner 4 years ago. What I'm thinking of going with is the cellular connection from Verizon.

Now in more populated areas there's a regular service from Verizon which has a nice price. Unfortunately it's not extended this far out, so what I'd have to use is a $60/month USB thingy that would connect my laptop to the Internet. I suspect it…

Meme alert

This is my first tag response, perhaps ever first!

Well, here’s the rules of this tagged:
1. Link the person(s) who tagged you
2. Mention these rules on your blog.,
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged.

Maryam Tagged me.

Utenzi Quirks:

Actually the difficult thing here is limiting it to 6. I've got so many quirks that I could come up with 6 dozen easy.

1. I like to peer out of windows before I go outside just in case there's enemies lurking.

2. I hate to cook with meat that's been defrosted but it doesn't bother me when other people do it.

3. I hate to have my pillows touch the floor--though Lee is even worse about that than I am.

4. I'm a little obsessive about washing my hands to the tune of maybe 12-15 times a day.

5. I don't like having other people see me so as a result I tend to do things at odd times of the day.

6. My nat…

R U an idiot?

Here's one of those cute little Flash based thinking tests.

This one tests how well you follow simple instructions.

Of course there's a few twists--but that's what makes it fun. It took me 7 tries before I got all the way through it. Sad, but I've never followed instructions very well.

There's plenty of people that can attest to that--and a number of them read this blog.


Last week a post-doc we recruited last year returned from a trip to his native country of Nepal. He arrived bearing gifts--small pouches that were handmade and adorned with gilt on one side and some embroidery on jute on the other side.

The subject of the pouch is "Buddha's Eyes" aka "Wisdom Eyes." Check out the images on this site to see just how they're used on a Stupa in Kathmandu.

On virtually every stupa (Buddhist shrine) in Nepal, there are giant pairs of eyes staring out from the four sides of the main tower.

These are Buddha Eyes (also known as Wisdom Eyes), and they look out in the four directions to symbolize the omniscience (all-seeing) of a Buddha.

The Buddha eyes are so prevalent throughout the country that they have become a symbol of Nepal itself.

Between the Buddha's eyes where the nose would be is a curly symbol that looks like question mark.

This is the Nepali character for the number 1, which symbolizes unity of all the things as well as t…

Smoky post #2

Here's three more pictures from Thursday. I posted yesterday about the red-alert causing smoke here in the Triad area of NC. The first two pictures below illustrate what it looked like in my back yard.

This first picture looks over from my backyard to my neighbor's side yard (behind the hedge of trees). The yellowish aspect of the atmosphere in the picture was real. The air looked like that. You can see just a glimmer of the sun through the smoke. The low light made it seem more like 8pm than 5pm.

This second picture illustrates how the visibility dropped off with distance. You can see the trees in my backyard quite clearly, the shed in the next yard starts to get fuzzy then the neighbor's house across the street is fuzzier still. And the trees behind that house get quite indistinct. Not quite pea soup but the effect was as strong as the morning fogs we get here most days.

...and for those crazy folk that like cats, this one belongs to my neighbor across the street from me. H…

Smoke and bad luck days

It's Friday the 13th today. Yesterday saw this area banked in with nasty smoke from wildfires near the coast. They'd been suffering the effects of those fires for nearly a week but it was our first taste of it here, a couple of hours away from the coast. I can't say I liked it. But since today's a lot better, I'm wondering if it was Thursday the 12th that was unlucky--at least in this area of NC.

It was quite murky here in the Chapel Hill area but just 30 miles to the East in Raleigh apparently it was dark enough to force people to use headlights while driving:

Many drivers switched on their headlights in the middle of the day to help negotiate streets around Raleigh and be seen by other drivers.

"Most of the cars have their lights on today. I noticed it in commuting across the city," driver Dave Bamford said.

The smoky conditions definitely got everyone's attention on Thursday. The smoke prompted more than 300 people to call Wake County 911 on Thursday …

Sex test

Here's the results from a new test I took over on OKCupid. Apparently I should get out more, huh? LOL

What can I say? I'm just not very adventuresome.
Your Score:Jack or JillYou are 27% sexually experienced. (Kink = 37, Social = 0, Rebel = 8)

The higher your kink factor, the more likely you are to try something new.

The higher your social factor, the more likely you are to make sex a group activity.

The higher your rebel factor, the less constrained you are by social norms.

Link: The 20 Question Sexual Experience Test

Poopy Peppers

How's this for a headline?

Common bowel problem linked to chilli pepper pain receptor
Study increases understanding of irritable bowel syndrome

It's of interest to me due to my suffering symptoms of IBS. And while I don't have unusual sensitivity to pain in general, I do have a serious sensitivity to strong spices, particularly capsaicin. 3-alarm chili will send me to the bathroom in minutes. It's amazing how fast that stuff works its "magic" on me.

Here's the gist of the article if it's something that might interest you. The research is published in the June 11 issue of Gut.

People with irritable bowel syndrome have a higher than usual number of chilli pepper pain receptors, according to a new study published tomorrow (Wednesday 11 June).

The research, published in the journal Gut, could lead to new therapies for the estimated one in five UK adults who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a painful condition which is poorly understood. Symptoms of IBS incl…


Sassy over at that Glittery blog inspired me with her new hair styling. I figured it was time for me to have my overly long locks to be trimmed back too so after work today I had the woman nearly shave my head. Unlike Sassy I didn't have my hair colored tho--and the gray is rapidly taking over. It's a race between thinning hair and what's left changing color on me. Damnedest thing is that I don't win either way.

You might notice that I don't look happy. I don't like taking my own picture. The only thing worse is when somebody else takes my picture. At least this way I can toss out most of the pictures and nobody will ever see them!


I just finished watching an interview with Leslie Caron. It was conducted by Robert Osborne in 1999 when Leslie Caron was 68 --- she's 76 now and living back in France, where she owns and operates an affordable bed and breakfast, Auberge La Lucarne aux Chouettes.

I first saw Caron in the movie Gigi, probably around 1975, and was immediately under her spell. She was 28 in that film (portraying a Parisian schoolgirl) and mesmerizing. But age isn't a factor for her: 20s, 30s, even now in her 70s she's just got this amazing quality.

Turner Classic Movies is doing a small retrospective of her movies today but I'm only recording Father Goose and An American in Paris. Caron's been in a handful of movies in the past 20 years but her salad days were the late 50s and 60s. She did have an appearance in 2000 with Judi Dench and Johnny Depp in Chocolat and made a rare television appearance in a guest-star role on NBC's Law & Order: SVU in 2006 but those are rare exceptio…

Public Service Announcement

Don't smoke it, chew it!

Drink up

According to research conducted at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, drinking alcohol cuts the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis by as much as 50%. The results will appear in a future issue of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases though they have released the gist of the findings ahead of print.

The Karolinska Institute assessed 2,750 people in two studies, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases reports. The risk was up to 50% lower for those who drank the equivalent of five glasses of wine a week compared with those who drank the least, they found.

Rheumatoid arthritis, an auto-immune disease caused by a malfunctioning immune system, is a condition which results in tender, stiff and swollen joints. It affects 400,000 people in the UK.

The incidence of Rheumatoid arthritis is in the region of 3 cases per 10,000 population per annum. Onset is uncommon under the age of 15 and from then on the incidence rises with age until the age of 80. Women are affected three to five times as often as me…

Steamy and brutal

Today was pretty hot and I finally gave in and turned on my A/C for the first time of the year around 8pm. If I hadn't, tomorrow would have been the final straw.

Today got up to 90 but tomorrow is projected for 98. And the following days? 99, 101, and 99 again. It's going to be brutal--and since there's occasional afternoon thunder showers expected, steamy too.

For yet another weekend, I'm toying with the idea of going to the NC State Zoo but if I do, it'll have to be as soon as they open 'cause it's going to be so damn hot. *whew* I'm sweating just thinking about it. Maybe I'd best turn that A/C down a degree or two.

And since we're talking about hot and steamy, I just started watching this year's Top Chef competition. Since they're going into the final two shows I thought it was about time to start.

Fortunately since it's a cable show (Bravo Network) they're rebroadcasting the entire season (several times) before they close the s…


I think I'd be a lot healthier if I went to sleep around 11pm like most people seem to.

Exhibit A is below. It's a picture that I took at 2am today. I was reading in bed, naked 'cause it was hot, with a book propped up on my big belly and a bag of Cheetos at my side. Not a pretty picture!

In a way it's almost like a mathematical equation. Cheetos + sedentary activity = big belly. Thought of that way, it's got a certain elegance to it. Hairy elegance, I s'pose.

I watched the first episode of that new USA Network series In Plain Sight last night. It was a lot better than I had expected. I don't usually like Mary McCormack, who plays the lead character, Mary Shannon, but in this role she's very good. I hope the series lives up to the potential displayed in the first episode. But most of all, I'm looking forward to the start of the second season of Burn Notice (another USA network series) in July.

Here's the show summary from the USA Network website:

In …

Warning: naughty word

Let's start off with a joke:

A gentleman is sitting next to the Pope on an airplane. He sees that the Pope is doing a crossword puzzle. He thinks to himself, "I love doing crossword puzzles. I hope he will ask me for help."

Time passes, and the Pope says, "Excuse me, sir, but do you know a four-letter word that describes a woman and ends in 'unt'?"

The gentleman thinks about this and was about to answer when he realized he couldn't say something like that to the Pope. He thinks a while longer and finally says, "I believe the word you're looking for is 'aunt'."

The Pope replies, "Oh, you're right. That fits too. Would you happen to have an eraser?"

That joke transitions us into an inside joke, if you'll excuse the slight pun. Last weekend Lee and I were watching that excruciatingly long 3rd Pirates of the Caribbean movie and near the middle there was a scene between Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. …