Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year

2013 is just around the corner...hard to believe. Seems like only yesterday when even the year 2000 seemed ages away. Going to be a quiet little evening for Madam and I. We don't usually make a big deal out of New Years Eve. I have 4 nice little lamb cutlets that are marinating in fresh rosemary, garlic and olive oil that I'll toss on a hot Hibachi a bit later and some asparagus and new potatoes to roast. We probably will be in bed and sound asleep when the new year rolls in.
I do have three whole days off to catch up on all the stuff that is waiting. I got the Julia Child biography "Dearie" for Christmas and I have two more books on the Nexus to read. Finally got around to watching Dark Night last night on DVD....didn't really think it was all that good. Also watched Beasts of the Southern Wild and it wasn't a super movie either. I'll see if Netflix has anything worthwhile for tonight but I doubt it.

Anyhoo....everybody have a great new year and we'll see you in 2013.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lose The Pricey Coffee

So Much for Starbucks

from the Starbuck's CEO
In the spirit of the Holiday season and the Starbucks tradition of bringing people together, we have a unique opportunity to unite and take action on an incredibly important topic. As many of you know, our elected officials in Washington D.C. have been unable to come together and compromise to solve the tremendously important, time-sensitive issue to fix the national debt. You can learn more about this impending crisis at

Rather than be bystanders, we have an opportunity—and I believe a responsibility—to use our company’s scale for good by sending a respectful and optimistic message to our elected officials to come together and reach common ground on this important issue. This week through December 28, partners in our Washington D.C. area stores are writing “Come Together” on customers’ cups.

I, personally, think this is way out of line for a public company. I have a good friend who is a store manager here in the Atlanta burbs and I would be interested to hear her take on this. For some reason I have always seemed to work for right wingers and I have been very careful not to spew too much of hippie pinko stuff and even though most of my bosses knew I was a dirty hippie socialist whatever they didn't make a big deal out of it probably because I didn't make a lot of noise.

Regardless, and even though I don't visit there often I guess I won't be patronizing Starbucks anymore. I really only drink one good strong cup a day anyway and that I make myself from fresh ground free trade organic French roasted bean and it beats the hell out of anything you can get at Starbucks.Not to mention that for little more than the price of a couple of double tall latte I can buy a whole can of my beans from Trader Joe's.

Like I said in a post a while back; "Every dollar you spend is a vote for the world you want to live in." and I am making an extra effort to live by my words.

Boxing Day

How was everyone's Christmas? I hope Santa did well. Today is Boxing Day in the UK and pretty much all of what was the British Empire so maybe you will get a few farthings from the poor box today to help you with the Visa or AX bill that is due soon.
Back to work for me but it is a short day. 8 til noon in the garden center. Madam is throwing a little luncheon for her buddies so I will be out of the way for that today. I'll finish putting my new dual fuel smoker(propane/wood/charcoal) that Santa brought this afternoon...I was thwarted by the weather and couldn't use it for the ribs yesterday. Madam seems to think her new kiln is neat. It's a used Skutt and I got a really good deal(new they run 4K$ but I got this one for $350 from a couple that have to move out of state) and it has been barely used. It is an older model without all the fancy electronics but it will do the job.
Off to work....everyone try and recover.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Christmas

Even though it is going to be a wet Christmas around these parts I want to wish all my electronic friends (both real and imagined) a very Happy Christmas and wonderful New Year. Going to be rather quiet in the Monk house this year but we will have Mini Monk and clan over on Christmas Day. My plan to smoke ribs for the occasion is going to have to be slightly adjusted but we'll get it done in spite of the rain.

Again, thanks for being here on occasion and have a very Merry Christmas. I'll try and do a little better at content in the coming year. Now I have to go bake some pumpkin and pecan pies.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Enabling Transformation

I haven't weighed in on the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary yet. I've been about to post something everyday since last week but somehow never felt sufficiently sure I was adding anything to the conversation. I have been reading though and something is abundantly clear, beyond the fact that there are some truly stupid people making suggestions and explaining why and how something like this could happen.  What is clear is that people are searching for" THE ANSWER". People seem to believe that we can have some magic single solution like taking a pill for a headache.

One of the most important lessons of Zen is that there is not one solitary path to enlightenment or the proper way. Every seeker must find their own way on their own terms. The lessons of Zen can point out the general direction and illuminate errors but they cannot lead you there.  There is no single "right" way.

There are a multitude of societal problems that enabled this and the other tragedies. We instinctively know that there is no "THE ANSWER" . There is no single answer that, by itself, will stop  mass slayings and the other atrocities we seem to witness day in and day out.  There is no simple solution for the millions of deadly weapons in the country just like there is no simple answer to 20% of American children going to bed hungry at night. We have to understand and internalize the fact that in order to change anything we will require myriad answers and tugging on dozens, if not hundreds or thousands of the strands that weave through the universe.

I am not so bold enough to suggest that I even have a clue as to what to do, which strings to pull, but I do understand one thing. Not one of us, as an individual, can make a significant change happen within society as a whole. We, individually, don't have that kind of power. The only power we truly possess is the power to change ourselves. That means that if we want to see change in our society the change needs to begin within ourselves. If we want the collective to move in a different direction or what we see as a more positive direction then we, as individuals, need to move in that direction. If enough of us move in a positive direction and change, then society will be changed as well.  A society and its behavior reflect that of its constituents. Period.

So, you might ask, what is the positive direction? We can start by rejecting violence as an answer and this includes war as a form of diplomacy. We can reject the "Screw you I got mine" mentality.  We can reject unfairness and incivility. We need to embrace diversity and inclusion. We need to recognize the sanctity of life in all its forms. We need to understand that we are on a small spaceship with limited resources and that if we don't carefully nuture it and our relationship with it we will perish. We need to grasp that what happens to the least of us happens to all of us.  That's just a start and the list is long but you get the gist.

Finally, we must recognize that what we seek is transformation from where we are to where we want to be. It won't happen quickly and the vision may and probably will change as it evolves. The important thing is that it be positive and that it evolves. Lastly and most importantly, we can't wait for someone else to begin this transformation. We can't wait for someone else to show us the way. If we look to ourselves we already know which direction to head.

I need to move toward the goal and you need to move toward the goal. If we each don't personally and fully embody the change we need and want, then the transformation will not happen.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Positive Thoughts

Our friend Steve Bates over at Yellow Doggerel Democrat is having some surgery associated with his long suffering foot issues. Everyone send him some good vibes and a wish for a speedy recovery.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tempus Fugit

Can't believe it has been 6 days since  I posted anything here. Way too much work and other stuff consuming my time. Madam's Christmas present required a day and a half of electrical work. Needed to run a 60 amp line and plug across the basement. That means 6 AWG wire and all the asssociated headaches of such heavy stuff. Got it done and tested today, so that's out of the way. I just hope she is pleased. I won't reveal what it is since she sometimes stops by here.
Off again to work this afternoon but another day off tomorrow and maybe I will having something interesting to talk about.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Close Call

That was a close call!   Almost made 12/12/12 memorable for another reason.

A newfound asteroid gave Earth a close shave early today, zipping between our planet and the moon just two days after astronomers first spotted it.
The near-Earth asteroid 2012 XE54, which was discovered Sunday (Dec. 9), came within 140,000 miles (230,000 kilometers) of our planet at about 5 a.m. EST (1000 GMT) Tuesday (Dec. 11), researchers said. For comparison, the moon orbits Earth at an average distance of 240,000 miles or so (386,000 km).
Astronomers estimate that 2012 XE54 is about 120 feet (36 meters) wide — big enough to cause substantial damage if it slams into Earth someday. An object of similar size flattened 800 square miles (2,000 square km) of forest when it exploded above Siberia's Podkamennaya Tunguska River in 1908.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Night Time

Here is a link to NASA and some really neat pictures and animations of the earth at night.

Cinnamon Bread

The cinnamon bread turned out pretty nice as you can see. It was dessert tonight after a very nice pulled pork, roasted tangerine carrots, butter peas from the garden and home canned apple sauce. Nice thick slice toasted a bit with good Kerry Gold Irish butter. This recipe is nice in that it is not too sweet and the full flavor of the cinnamon comes through. You don't really notice the dash of cayenne in the filling but it definitely adds something. I'll do this again.

I nearly messed it up though. I had it all rolled and in the bread pan when I noticed the box of raisins on the counter....duh. Out of the pan, unroll and add raisins. That will remind me not to ignore the first rule of cooking and that is a proper mis en place. If I had measured out the raisins and had them on the counter with the rest of the ingredients I would have saved myself an awkward evolution. No harm done but a good lesson.

Again, the recipe is from Stephanie Stiavetti, who writes The Culinary Life blog via Mark Ruhlman.


Finally! Two straight days off. I worked 39 hours last week which is way more than I need or want. I've told them to cut me back to something in the 24 hour range but so far no dice. Anyhow, going to chill today and maybe bake some cinnamon bread from a new recipe posted over at Ruhlman's place. Looks like a winner and something similar to what I have done on my own which is to move some of the cinnamon out of the filling and into the actual bread. It's a guest post by Stephanie Stiavetti, who writes The Culinary Life blog. Yeah, I know it's actually not made from whole grain and it has some sugar but it does have half the sugar of most such recipes but somehow I feel the need and it is almost the holidays and I really have been pretty good...Madam has gone through two panettone since they first appeared at Trader Joe's a couple of weeks ago and I have had just one little bite.

Speaking of the season....I can't tell you how tired I am of Christmas music. I feel like I have been listening to it continuously for weeks which isn't far from the truth. It would be different if they actually played some good music but the loop that plays in the store just repeats the same crappy songs in various renditions over and over. Nothing innovative or non-elevator. What's even worse is you find yourself, in horror,  humming along with the 300th repeat of Rudolph and Frosty and we won't even get into I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas. I've offered my CD of the 3 tenors doing Christmas but....

Well, I'm off to get some raisins for my bread and while I am at it I'll stop by the Publix(they actually still have a real live butcher) and get me a small Boston butt(pork shoulder) that I can slow cook today(300F for 4-5 hours) and we'll celebrate the days off with some nice pulled pork. If you haven't noticed, more and more chain grocers are doing away with having an actual butcher and buying all the meat pre-wrapped from some big packer somewhere. If it isn't in the case and you want a special cut...sorry. I should add that Whole Foods, at least here) still has proper butchers and don't stare at you with a blank look when you ask for something non-standard. Reminds me of the time I had to shop at Wally World (I was trapped in my home town visiting Mom) and went looking for blue cheese(any blue cheese) and the cheese department manager didn't know what I was talking about. Lemme outa here!

Everybody have a great day and maybe I'll be back with something interesting.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Checking In

I know I have been absent lately but I plead life and stuff. I found this at Boing Boing and it just resonated.

Oh! I sold just shy of 100 Christmas trees today.

One more thing. We are rapidly approaching the last time we will be able to have an alliterative date. 12/12/12 is the last time it will ever be possible.