Welcome to my web logs for 2005 and years before...
We had a good time on Christmas Eve when my children, Penelope, Andrea, Vic and Danny came over along with Trista and Leila (click to see her in a recent portrait at left), my two granddaughters. Also present were Julie and Ryota, Brandon and Sam. We had pasta primavera, roast lamb, bûche de Noël by Andrea, and other desserts. We opened presents.
By 21h30, I was at St. Mary’s to sing two programs, a pre-mass, then mass itself. On the first program was the Distler piece, noted in a recent blog, combined with the original, Bach setting adjusted half a step to the same key.
On Christmas morning, I went to the MTC to interpret Sherrie Dew for the missionaries.
Helene and Taylor spent the day with us. They had spent the Eve with his parents even though they were staying in our spare bedroom. Julie and Ryota came again in the afternoon; we watched a movie and chatted.
My employment offer from Quest/Vintela became official today. In my days of waning leisure as I’m about to get responsible and return to work, I turn my thoughts to watching a 3-hour film matinee while it’s still possible. Indeed, I just finished a program in Java this morning and need to get busy on a couple of assigments in C#. So I called up a couple of friends and off we went.
Whatever disagreements I may have had with Jackson in his interpretation of The Lord of the Rings, I have none over King Kong. Though 3 hours long, I never tired. I had fun the entire time through. The action was gripping, there was light comedic reference to the original film plus plenty of Jurassic Park-style entertainment.
The cast was magnificent. I don’t ordinarily like Jack Black, but he was perfect in the role of Carl Denham, the stop-at-nothing cinematographer. Naomi Watts, as Ann Darrow, was more lovely and charming than Faye Wray and Kong powerful, agile, imposing and real. Only once did I even think I detected anything that would make me think the greatest star of the silver screen this year was actually computer-generated, but then I’m easy to convince.
And, wow! Did Peter Jackson get himself a gastric by-pass between LoTR and Kong?
Check out these movie posters...
The moment eagerly awaited each year came today as we sang for an hour and a half in the annual concert that has been taking place for over a quarter of a century now, modeled on the format long made popular by the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s College in Cambridge, England, at the end of the First World War.
This used to be the Provo, Utah Central Stake choir, but that stake was divided and I suspect that the vast majority of the voices are now former stake members.
Practices at 7h00 each Saturday morning began as usual back in October. Disturbed by Doug’s two weeks of travel in Germany and by myriad untimely absences by everyone else, the choir pulled the concert off in good stead after all. There had been reason to worry over quality the day before.
On the program were the traditional Once in Royal David’s City (the Willcocks arrangement as always), plus mumerous carols and hymns for the congregation to sing with us. Our own numbers included
This is just from memory as I neglected to save a copy of the program. In retrospect, it must have been decidedly the year of Sir David Willcocks at the expense of John Rutter who has never otherwise missed a performance in my memory.
Each year, we sing a tiny fraction of our repertoire. We could—and I personally wish it were possible—sing quite literally for hours given the scores of beautiful numbers we’ve sung over the years. Doug spoke in passing and briefly of the possibility of another compact disk for the choir. It’s a lot of work, but so rewarding.
Now that I’ve shared this information with Julene, I guess I can inform the rest of you that the long wait may be over.
While I haven’t received the official form letter, I did speak to the hiring director (over the team lead’s that interviewed me) at Vintela, part of Quest Software. They are extending an offer to me.
Now, Quest is sort of like Computer Associates, with offices and development centers worldwide, acquiring good technology, supporting it and marketing it to the world. The division I will be working for is based in Lindon, Utah (between Orem and Pleasant Grove) in the Canopy I building (behind Home Depot). Canopy is (or was) a collection of companies and offices that Novell founder Ray Noorda created when he left Novell in the mid-1990s. My director, who happens also to be a neighbor (though that fact played very little in that he left everything to the team lead to decide), is over not only teams in Utah, but also in St. Petersberg, Russia, and Australia.
I could keep looking, I suppose, but I’ve had enough and this seems like a very good opportunity. I feel for everyone else that is still looking. However, I’m done. Novell made it pretty pleasant to be laid off and to find other employment, but just changing so much in my life is in itself too traumatic and vaguely reminiscent of divorce. I don’t shed tears as I pass in front of Novell (I am, if nothing else, a stoïc, Western American male), but it’s still a surreal experience to drive through the Novell campus or see the buildings there and think that it’s home, but wait: it’s not home anymore! Weird, disorienting, I’m getting too old for change.
My work environment will probably be a Linux of my choice. I’m already agitating, as an old fart who’s nearly blind, for two 20" monitors. However, it will be “cubicle hell” in place of the nice office digs I’ve enjoyed for the last 24 years of my life—it will make the Dilbert cartoons funnier to me now. In all the other companies I’ve interviewed at, cubicles has been the rule.
After so long doing research, I’m finally getting interviewed here and there. Some places appear to be highly motivated to get their positions filled, while I hear nothing out of others even after following up. This past week I interviewed in two places, both looking very promising as far as the job duties are concerned. Both want to fill the position soon so joy or disappointment should come this very season.
Yesterday, we began a C#/.NET boot camp with five of us in attendance. It’s being taught in my family room by Sheldon Hancock who teaches C# and .NET at Utah Valley State College. The course will last roughly 20 hours with the last period falling sometime between Christmas and New Years. In attendance are Scott Franson, John Gay, Chuck Felice and Rey Furner. All of us are veterans of the most recent Novell lay-off.
Actually, I quite like winter, but I thought it would be fun to have Dad and Mom over for a barbecue along with everyone else. It coincides with the annual KSL Christmas Party.
So, it was pot luck, with pulled pork, spare ribs (tasty, but not yet quite as good cosmetically as at The Smokehouse Restaurant), two kinds of cornbreak, baked beans, coleslaw, salad and an assortment of pies.
Present in addition to the patriarch and matriarch were Randy and Cheryl Jean’s family minus Richard and Julie, Nedra, Alan and Brian, JD and Michele (Marie Louise’s daughter), Didi, Greg, Danny, Penelope, (Vic couldn’t get off work), Julie, Ryota and Clémence. Sam and Brandon came too.
Of course, it snowed this morning as if to underline the point.
...but the fire in here’s delightful. Winter is upon us and we haven’t finished the landscaping yet. Oh well. (Click to enlarge two views out the back of our house and one looking up into the mountains outside our front door.)
This evening, we had a tasty mesclun salad, chicken crêpes and a cranberry cake washed down with piña colada. We weren’t letting the cold weather outside dampen our spirits. Our external thermometer reads 25° (-4° C).
This year, after a hiatus of about a decade, we’re again singing an English translation of Michael Prætorius’ Es ist ein Ros’ entsprungen (Lo! How a Rose E’er Blooming) in a stunningly beautiful setting by Hugo Distler. Stunningly beautiful if done well, that is, otherwise, it is a bit cacaphonic.
Distler was a remarkable German composer of the first half of the XXth century. He had deep religious roots at a time when religion was fast draining away from Teutonic society and admired the music of Palestrina, da Vittoria and other Renaissance-era composers. His music is often melismatic—in which a single syllable is held over a range of several notes, a strongly liturgical style less practiced now than it once was.
Hugo Distler was at odds with the National Socialists, partly over his music which some Nazis labeled “degenerate” on account of his use of (Renaissance) polyphony, melisma and the pentatonic scale, and partly because he didn’t share an adequate enthusiasm for Germany’s political agenda.
Depressed by the death of friends, the incessant Allied bombing, job pressures and the ever-present risk of being conscripted into the Wehrmacht, Distler retired to his artist apartments in Berlin, 1 November 1942, and turned on the gas.
In an ironic and tragic twist of fate, his family received notice from the Army a few days later that by reason of his service to Germany as a composer and artist, he would not be called up to serve in the armed forces. He was 34 years old.
Got the results back from a blood test late Wednesday that I had taken Tuesday. The first figure is today’s level; the second is what it was last summer (or one year ago in the case of the insulin reading):
|16.5||35||fasting insulin level|
|90||93||glucose (total serum sugars)|
|108||157||LDL (bad cholesterol)|
|39||HDL (good cholesterol)|
|96||63||liver function (ALT)|
So, the liver reading is the result of a statin I’m taking: the impact of a drug keeping the LDL down. Looks the world will have to put up with me a few more years.
However, the doctor does want me to buy one of those meters diabetics use to measure their blood sugar.
Don’t you just hate this kind of stuff? I just want to write code. I’m not rude to people, I even enjoy explaining to them why we’ve done this component or what we’re planning on doing to code our way around that problem. But, in the end, I just want to write code. I don’t want to learn to sell myself or network, or write a resume or a 30-second elevator speech or 30-50 power statements about myself, or spend $300 on shoes, a shirt, tie and slacks, or learn to be comfortable in an interview, to talk on the phone, etc. I just want to write code.
(Well, enough crying, I’m off to an interview here.)
Yeah, you got it baby, Buckwheat’s a lookin’ for love from a company in need of a good software engineer. It’s taking up all my time; I scarcely have time to organize myself. All the cool stuff I was going to do around the house and even professionally just ain’t gettin’ done.
I’ve been to two seminars now, one with a firm that Novell contracted for us to use as a resource and the other from LDS Employment Resource Services. I’ve learned a lot from both, but the main thing I’ve learned is that I’d rather be writing code than calling people on the telephone (and let’s not talk about interviews).
As far as self-employment opportunities go, I haven’t had the time to push that forward either. I hope I can get my time under control now that these seminars are over.
As I have expected now for over two months, Novell dismissed hundreds yesterday and I was among them. It’s been a good run: sixteen and a half years of large quantities of free money. I mean, I worked very hard, but it’s not like Novell didn’t ask me to do pretty much what I would have wanted to do anyway. The benefits, the salary, the bonuses were all very copious.
That’s over now and, unfortunately, it’s going to be over soon for those who remain. Their survival is only a reprieve of short duration. Maybe someday I’ll share where I think Novell (and corporate America in general) went wrong. I’m not pouting; I don’t really have an axe to grind and I am profoundly grateful for all the years I had and I still have many loved and respected colleagues that are going to stay with Novell for sometime longer.
For over a month now, I have, in collaboration with a couple of friends, been undertaking a retooling of my skill set (see J2EE). In addition to this, I have contacted a company, that shall remain nameless for now, that has some interest in me coming to work with them dependent upon finding a suitable project.
I have created an LLC and am presently embarked on setting up a consulting company for writing software. (My website is an old pile of disorganized rubbish for now.) However, my resume (CV) can be found at http://18.104.22.168/keltia/resume.pdf.
There is a little group of three or four of us at work working on “updating our skills” in a study group ( http://22.214.171.124/j2ee/), something that future employment security requires.
The name you can hang on this is “J2EE,” an open framework for network programming that runs on all computers and not just on Windows which is where Microsoft’s answer to this, called “dot net” (.NET) runs. You may have heard of the Microsoft thing; they like to beat the drum a lot and are very good at it.
It’s sort of complicated to explain how the software world has evolved and where it’s going from here. I’ll just say that the greatest number of job opportunities are no longer in pure programming--where a programmer writes a new piece of stand-alone software like WordPerfect, Quicken, Excel, etc., but in network applications that run some software in your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.) and some on the back end at the server (a computer somewhere you can’t see but that holds the pages you look at in your browser).
This sort of thing is generally less well paid, but to pursue what I’ve been doing the next time I need to change jobs would mean relocating to Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles or other ghastly places where any continued gain in salary would be more than swallowed up by the cost of living. Added to that is the disadvantage of living far away from family. It’s been sweet living in Provo making a world-class salary and benefits for all these years, but the party won’t last.
Anyway, to give you a taste of what we’re doing, here is a link to a mock-up of one aspect of the exercise we’ve set for ourselves. Of course, real applications will usually be a great deal more complicated than this, but as an exercise in learning, this is what we’ve chosen to do. The project is to create a database in which to keep our personal DVD title collection with a browser-based capability to add to that database for use by ourselves only, and another to permit others to see the collection and even sort it for viewing according to various parameters. This would let my bishop get a list of all my R-rated movies so he could see, for instance, that none of those titles are thus rated for pornographic content. Or, someone else could list out all the chick flics. Or whatever.
This is a mock-up only with precious few titles. I haven’t actually dumped my titles into a database and I am not presently serving them up, but am working on the software to do this over the next few weeks. Among the things I have to learn first are how to run various magic pieces of server software on my own webserver in order to make this all a reality. The part that is mere programming isn’t any more challenging than what I’m used to doing, but this world is a jumble of standards, protocols and methods, many of them redundant and confusing, and it’s the patchwork quilt that makes for the steep learning curve plus the fact that I have to learn all of this rather immediately.
I have several other irons in my professional fire, most that do not require a complete retooling, but rather than put off for yet more years the updating I think will be inevitable, I’m for now assuming that this is the direction I will need to move. If things progress at Novell the way they are shaping up, then I’ll probably get into Linux programming, which is a pretty similar environment to what I used to use many years ago (UNIX). Nevertheless, I have sworn not to put this J2EE stuff off no matter what and I still see it as a more likely future.
It occurs to me that I know nothing of U.S. or Utah unemployment practices. Here, however, is what is new in France, though I do not know what decisions were in effect previously to this report I heard in the news today.
Powers in France have decided that, as a measure of reducing unemployment, after 6 months out of work, the agency is to begin offering jobs that fall outside a person’s skill set. Moreover, after turning down the second job tendered to him, a chômeur* sees his unemployment compensation reduced to 50% of what it was and after the third job turned down, he receives nothing more at all.
(As of December 2005, the French national unemployment insurance system, L’ASSEDIC, was better than 14,000,000 Euros in deficit.)
I have heard in recent months that there is a fair number of jobs going unfilled in France these days, but this morning’s news report did not make that assertion.
* “unemployed person,” in case you didn’t get it from the context.
Au cas où cela intéresse le monde, le passage du projet de loi annoncé ce matin sur www.france2.fr...
BERLIN—While much of the world has reacted with shock and sympathy to the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, senior government leaders in Germany warned the United States to expect more natural catastrophes if it did not get serious about global warming.
Katrina was still spinning northward through the United States when Germany’s environment minister, Jürgen Trittin, penned a column for the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper blaming President Bush’s environmental policies for increasing the risk of killer storms and floods around the world.
Fascinating. I wonder what God, Isaiah, Jeremiah and the Book of Revelations have to say about natural catastrophies, killer storms and floods around the world and how effective a world-wide global environmental policy would be in preventing them? Another example of humanist desperation.
A couple of days ago, I wrote in frustration of what was going on in New Orleans. The invective was directed against those in habitants I felt least exemplified what it means to be a true human being let alone American. This article better elucidates the point without lapsing into the unproductive hyperbole of my text.
Yes, this is the conclusion I was reaching for in my own statements recently although I was unable to see it as clearly as this writer. Plus I didn‘t have the information that the city had opened the jails too. It is good for us to understand the catastrophe that the last half-century of abandoned liberalism has created among this country‘s poor and lower classes. It sickens me that the world would look on and draw inaccurate and even surreal conclusions about what America really is about from this. New Orleans (and the slums of Chicago, New York, East L.A. and Watts) are not America; they‘re a sort of vicious Third World more akin to post-modern nihilistic Mad Max movies than starving Africa.
This is reprinted here without permission; the actual URL is at the end of the article.
It took four long days for state and federal officials to figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can‘t blame them, because it also took me four long days to figure out what was going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster.
If this is just a natural disaster, the response for public officials is obvious: you bring in food, water, and doctors; you send transportation to evacuate refugees to temporary shelters; you send engineers to stop the flooding and rebuild the city‘s infrastructure. For journalists, natural disasters also have a familiar pattern: the heroism of ordinary people pulling together to survive; the hard work and dedication of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers; the steps being taken to clean up and rebuild.
Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicle, as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And journalists—myself included—did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting.
But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster.
The man-made disaster is not an inadequate or incompetent response by federal relief agencies, and it was not directly caused by Hurricane Katrina. This is where just about every newspaper and television channel has gotten the story wrong.
The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over four days last week. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view.
The man-made disaster is the welfare state.
For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency—indeed, they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country.
When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out, causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11).
So what explains the chaos in New Orleans?
To give you an idea of the magnitude of what is going on, here is a description from a Washington Times story:
“Storm victims are raped and beaten; fights erupt with flying fists, knives and guns; fires are breaking out; corpses litter the streets; and police and rescue helicopters are repeatedly fired on.
“The plea from Mayor C. Ray Nagin came even as National Guardsmen poured in to restore order and stop the looting, carjackings and gunfire....
“Last night, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said 300 Iraq-hardened Arkansas National Guard members were inside New Orleans with shoot-to-kill orders.
“ ‘These troops are...under my orders to restore order in the streets,’ she said. ‘They have M-16s, and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will.’ ”
The reference to Iraq is eerie. The photo that accompanies this article shows a SWAT team with rifles and armored vests riding on an armored vehicle through trash-strewn streets lined by a rabble of squalid, listless people, one of whom appears to be yelling at them. It looks exactly like a scene from Sadr City in Baghdad.
What explains bands of thugs using a natural disaster as an excuse for an orgy of looting, armed robbery, and rape? What causes unruly mobs to storm the very buses that have arrived to evacuate them, causing the drivers to speed away, frightened for their lives? What causes people to attack the doctors trying to treat patients at the Superdome?
Why are people responding to natural destruction by causing further destruction? Why are they attacking the people who are trying to help them?
My wife, Sherri, figured it out first, and she figured it out on a sense-of-life level. While watching the coverage one night on Fox News Channel, she told me that she was getting a familiar feeling. She studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Chicago, which is located in the South Side of Chicago just blocks away from the Robert Taylor Homes, one of the largest high-rise public housing projects in America. “The projects,” as they were known, were infamous for uncontrollable crime and irremediable squalor. (They have since, mercifully, been demolished.)
What Sherri was getting from last night‘s television coverage was a whiff of the sense of life of “the projects.” Then the “crawl”—the informational phrases flashed at the bottom of the screen on most news channels—gave some vital statistics to confirm this sense: 75% of the residents of New Orleans had already evacuated before the hurricane, and of those who remained, a large number were from the city‘s public housing projects. Jack Wakeland then told me that early reports from CNN and Fox indicated that the city had no plan for evacuating all of the prisoners in the city‘s jails—so they just let many of them loose. [Update: I have been searching for news reports on this last story, but I have not been able to confirm it. Instead, I have found numerous reports about the collapse of the corrupt and incompetent New Orleans Police Department]
There is no doubt a significant overlap between these two populations—that is, a large number of people in the jails used to live in the housing projects, and vice versa.
There were many decent, innocent people trapped in New Orleans when the deluge hit—but they were trapped alongside large numbers of people from two groups: criminals—and wards of the welfare state, people selected, over decades, for their lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness. The welfare wards were a mass of sheep—on whom the incompetent administration of New Orleans unleashed a pack of wolves.
All of this is related, incidentally, to the incompetence of the city government, which failed to plan for a total evacuation of the city, despite the knowledge that this might be necessary. In a city corrupted by the welfare state, the job of city officials is to ensure the flow of handouts to welfare recipients and patronage to political supporters—not to ensure a lawful, orderly evacuation in case of emergency.
No one has really reported this story, as far as I can tell. In fact, some are already actively distorting it, blaming President Bush, for example, for failing to personally ensure that the Mayor of New Orleans had drafted an adequate evacuation plan. The worst example is an execrable piece from the Toronto Globe and Mail, by a supercilious Canadian who blames the chaos on American “individualism.” But the truth is precisely the opposite: the chaos was caused by a system that was the exact opposite of individualism.
What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider “normal” behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don‘t sit around and complain that the government hasn‘t taken care of them. And they don‘t use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.
But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don‘t, because they don‘t own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them.
People living in piles of their own trash, while petulantly complaining that other people aren‘t doing enough to take care of them and then shooting at those who come to rescue them—this is not just a description of the chaos at the Superdome. It is a perfect summary of the 40-year history of the welfare state and its public housing projects.
The welfare state—and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages—is the man-made disaster that explains the moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one is reporting.
Source: The Intelligent Activist Daily—September 2, 2005
A disaster of memorable—nay, Apocalyptic—proportions.
I don’t think we’ve begun to understand the size of this catastrophe in terms of humanity, but also in terms of the localized meridian it will constitute in the life of our nation. It might produce something akin to the mental shift occasioned by 9/11. It might be remembered, for example, as the event that signaled the end of inexpensive gasoline in the United States changing the propensity of Americans to take long trips. We may henceforth stay home like Europeans. A drive to Madrid from Paris is a once in a lifetime opportunity for a Parisian. Perhaps our days of driving to Disneyland for something less than a week’s vacation are now over. I’m not minimizing the horrible loss of life; I’m conscious of that, but I’m thinking ahead to the potentially gross social consequences of this disaster.
Sadly, this speech is mere preaching to the choir. While it is well documented, she presents no logical progression drawn from her personal experience that would compel anyone who doesn’t already believe in what she says. Perhaps there is nothing that can be said, though I’m looking for it if it is there. Will Canada lead us far enough ahead that her consequences will become visible to us in time for the United States to avert disaster?
No, too sad indeed and the specter she raises of a society of slithering, fornicating snakes copulating and worse with everyone and everything in sight is surely the one that will bring destruction upon us all from a revolted God who will cause our cities to "be sunk, and made hills and valleys in the places thereof; and the inhabitants thereof [...] buried up in the depths of the earth, to hide their wickedness and abominations from before [His] face, that the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up any more unto [Him] against them." (3 Ne 9:8)
I am sometimes embarrassed to be called of the same species as these people.
“I walked back through the dark and did the radio interview by cell phone. During such interviews, I get the impression that people at home are losing faith in the effort, though we are winning. But at home they cannot see it, and when I said goodbye that time, I sat in the dark.”
A writer embedded with a patrol unit in an Iraqi hotbed of insurgency, the city of Mosul, writes a blog telling the truth about what American soldiers are doing in Iraq, how well they are doing it, and what the Iraqis who wish to live free think about them.
Michael Yon had combat training and, convinced there was a huge delta between the truth and what the world press was publishing, left his paid profession and went to Iraq to see for himself. As the months stretch on and the experiences multiply, so do the stories of honor, bravery and sacrifice.
Last June, we got the opportunity to host a young lady from Petrozavodsk, Russia for a few days. This city is on a beautiful lake about 8 hours northeast of St. Peterburg and 14 hours northwest of Moscow by train.
Due to circumstantial changes in her travel plans—and happily for us—she stayed for two months leaving us the 15th of August 2005, but now we miss her.
We didn‘t get around to taking many pictures before she left, but fortunately, she sent us some of her and her friends back home.
It was announced today from the Vatican, according to france2.fr, that those youths not participating in the Third Millenium World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne, Germany can nevertheless receive the decreed remission of their sins. The mere recitation of a few prayers will suffice.
Whew! What a relief! I was really worried there for just the tiniest little moment.
I ripped this off from another website, a good list of clever Windows keyboard shortcuts. In case you’re a Windows neophyte, the Windows key is the one with the Windows flag on it next to the Ctrl key at bottom left.
|| brings up new File Explorer window
|| brings up System Properties dialog
|| brings up Run Command dialog
|| (desktop toggle) minimizes all open windows,
or restores them if you just minimized
|| minimizes all open windows
|| restores minimized windows
|| bring up Find Files dialog
|| locks Windows
|| brings up Windows Help menu
|| cycles through taskbar buttons
I found this on another site as wellthings you might have assumed were in the Constitution of the United States, but are not actually in that document.
This is something else I found on the web. I haven’t tried it yet because I keep forgetting to do so, but it sounds interesting: many elevators reputedly have a secret express mode: if you hold down Door Close while pressing the button for your floor, it won’t stop at any other floor on its way.
It’s a bit hard to test since if you don’t know whether other people are waiting at other floors.
...is making the record books in terms of popularity it seems. I may have to set aside my basic aversion to films with animals in them and go see it.
I was watching the news on france2.fr this morning and the anchorman pointed out that the principal actors in this film were obviously anticipating invitations to the Academy Awards next year as evidenced by them already donning tuxedos on set.
The French are, of course, very interested in the success of this documentary since they made it. Observing its success in the American market is a rare pleasure they are not slow to pick up on.
Deseret News film critic Jeff Vice rates it quite highly.
Yea, verily, and the messenger from on high saith unto me, there existeth a beast clean to eat that giveth much pleasure; nevertheless, the manner in which thou eatest it determineth the enjoyment thereof.
Its steaks are legion: round for him who eateth infrequently of the beast and knoweth not its very goodness; sirloin for the establishment and hospitality; chuck for the likeness of rib at the humble man’s table; Porterhouse and T-bone for the tempting of natural, carnal and sensual man; New York for the seasoned diner; ribeye for the connoisseur and the hedonist; and filet mignon for the romantic tête-à-tête;
Communal and tasty are its roasts, except rump and round for the grocer’s sale and the uninformed hostess; but chuck for the large family gathering, taking care not to over-cook; crossrib for smaller gatherings; and prime rib for the entertainment of quality persons that disobey not the injunction against cooking over-much;
The animal’s flank and skirt for the stir-fry and the savoury roll, but slice thinly lest it be tough and more suitable for the fabrication of thy sandals;
Succulent is the barbecue thereof: spare ribs for slow cooking; back ribs for Texas and for the winter sporting event; the beast’s brisket somptuous if thou perservere with smoke and vapour.
Employ therefore but a little salt and much pepper; spices in all their variety; the reduction of vine fruits after the cooking of the meat; great smoke and all manner of aromates including the onion, the shallot and the garlic.
This is the teaching I give thee and hold thee hard to its accounting; see thou dost not offend the sanctity thereof by inattentive or over-long cooking except for the slowness and patience of a pot or smoking pit; nor by the application of untoward or heavy sauces that obscure the taste thereof (ketchup and steak sauce lead thee swiftly to hell!); and see that thou givest thanks for this beast before thy Maker.
And the name of the joyous beast is beef.
Liber Russell, L.719
This morning I arose a man who had never acted in so much as a play in all his life. This evening, after a day in the desert sun 20 miles west of Lehi, Utah, I retire a star, hehehe.
I’m not certain of all of the details and may have others distorted, but here’s what I think I know.
Indeed, I played the lead role in a dramatized segment of a documentary being done by the local Assemblies of God (AG). I have a work colleague in this congregation and I know one or two others. After today, I can tell you that they are all an astounding bunch of great, friendly people who know how to have fun. I felt right at home with them and I hope they didn’t feel too uncomfortable with me (what am I saying? they’re drowning in Mormons around here aren’t they?).
Well, it seems in the past year or so, an AG missionary in Niger was traveling a back road in that country along with another missionary and a young family. A jeep pulled alongside and shot the missionary with a burt of AK-47 fire (that’s serious .308 rounds) cutting into both knees. He pulled the Toyota Land Cruiser to the side of the road and his attackers dragged him out onto the ground, then ordered him into the back seat. One of the terrorists took the wheel and then they drove on further.
Then both vehicles stopped and the terrorists ordered everyone out. The passengers pleaded for their lives, then the other missionary and the father of the family helped Brent Teague to the ground off to the side of the road. One of the attackers was all for shooting everyone, but the other prevailed upon him to leave them, take the vehicle (the apparent motivation for the attack), and get out fast. So the family left to go get help (some 40 kilometers away) while the other missionary applied a tourniquet to Brent.
However, an Army truck pulled up a few minutes later and Brent was loaded into it and driven back to safety and medical services. It seems—and there were miracles all along this story—that someone anonymous warned the Army that this was going to happen and they had to go check it out. They arrived just after the terrorists left, but before the missionary bled to death.
While it shouldn’t be news to anyone who is likely to read this, it nevertheless goes to show that God doesn’t constrain His blessings among His children, but gives freely to all regardless of how they conceive of Him. I do not say this to observe that the evangelical conception is radically different from the Mormon for this does not matter, only that there are myriad ideas, but one God, one people and one intent to bless upon His earth.
I was chosen in the part because originally there was French involved. It was to be a speaking part and they needed a white guy who spoke French. Also, the young family was to have been French-speaking, but because we didn’t have French-speaking black people who agreed to work on the film, there will only be a bit of mumbling in the background of the dramatization while Brent Teague tells his story in the foreground.
It turns out that the attackers were Al Quaeda-affiliated and that if Brent had not spent a lot of time in the Ivory Coast when younger and had his French had a strong American accent instead of the other colors that does have (Lebanese and Ivorian—no, I didn’t grok the connection there either), they would almost surely have killed him.
My role was the easiest one. I didn’t have to act much. I certainly was in no shape to be pleading with my attackers nor doing much other than being hurt and in pain which, as we will one day get to see, I may or may not have pulled off well. I basically writhed as convincingly as possible in pain without overdoing it. I clawed at the earth with blood all over my pants and in my fingers. I clenched my teeth, I strained, I did all the things I can remember doing the last time I was in pain at the hospital. I got real gooey with Caro syrup and red food coloring.
I had a pretty good time. It was a privilege to do this for them even though now I regret somewhat taking the opportunity away from one of their parishioners. As the French-speaking role became irrelevant, just about any one else could have done what I did.
I did want to say too what a pleasure it was working with the AG people on the shoot. Everyone was fun to be around and so profusely grateful for my participation that they probably missed how happy I was to give it to them. I got this really cool, stainless steel, transportable thermos for hot chocolate (hehehe) with the AG logo on it. A treasure to be sure.
Now, does anyone know the name of Spielberg’s casting director?
Un ami et collègue, Jean-Jacques Clar, m’écrit :
Pierre Foglia couvre le tour de France pour LaPresse depuis des lustres. Il demeure au Québec depuis au moins 20-25 ans. Originaire d’Italie, elevé en France, il est mon journaliste favori de loin. Ses chroniques ne sont habituellement disponibles que pour les abonnés, mais disponibles pour tous pour la durée du tour de France. J’espère que tu aimeras autant que moi :
J’ai lu et ensuite répondu :
Un journaliste américain écrivant sur un événement sportif n’aurait jamais le culot d’écrire ce que la Tour de France occasionne à notre cher Foglia ici. Nous sommes en générale beaucoup trop boring pour faire cela :
|« Garçon! Que servez-vous avec le plat du jour? Déjà des pommes de terre nouvelles? J’en veux. En attendant d’être servi, je suis allé me laver les mains noires de l’encre des journaux du jour, et il y avait cette petite affiche sur le mur des toilettes du café : Après avoir tiré la chasse d’eau, merci de bien vouloir laisser redescendre la tirette toute seule. C’est toujours le premier exotisme qui me frappe quand j’arrive en France : l’éloquence. Cette précision dans le discours.|
|Qu’aurait-on dit chez nous? Dans le meilleur des cas : touchez pas à la clenche, merci. Ou plus probablement qu’on aurait réparé la foutue tirette et voilà, on n’en parlerait plus. J’ai parfois l’impression que d’avoir les mots pour dire les choses dispensent les Français de... les faire. »|
Oui, en effet. J’aime beaucoup son expression aussi. Je me suis totalement fendu la gu**le en lisant la simple solution de réparer la sonnette—la vraie, la bonne, la plus évidente, la « ben, voyons ». Je pense qu’il a compris une de ces différences de culture et de mentalité entre les gens qui font très rire.
Ce paragraphe m’a fait penser aux ascenseurs sans porte protégeante quand j’habitais la France : Eloigner les enfants de la paroi lisse. Imaginons cela : une enfance éloignée des parois lisses ?* Que faire pour épanouir la vie d’un jeune français ansi privé de ce danger ? D’où la France actuelle tient-elle ses cascadeurs cinématographiques ? Certainement de villages sans immeubles à plus de trois étages.
Au métro de Paris, c’était plus intelligent et moins oblique : au niveau de l’œuil de l’enfant, on lisait : Ne reste pas près de la porte pendant la fermeture ; tu risques de te faire pincer très fort !
* J’avoue plagier fortement Pierre Daninos qui au moyen des Carnets du Major Thompson m’a suggéré la contemplation de tels notices. Cela a ouvert mes yeux de jeune américain à une toute nouvelle façon de voir l’humour dans le monde.
This is simply the best superhero movie. The car is perfect—not that nambie-pambie, Barbie Cadillac of other representations. (Okay, laying down in the car is a little silly, granted, and it’s unclear why he must do this while she remains sitting.) They should throw away all the other movies and let Nolan & company redo them all. Even Tim Burton’s should be tossed. I loved every minute of it.
Lots of baddies—that was fun. Bale is a perfect Batman. Caine worked well as Alfred. What am I saying? Caine was superb, a sort of man’s man Alfred. Morgan Freeman as Batman’s “Q”—great stuff!
Rutger Hauer’s character wasn’t developed quite as well as it might have been—should have been better linked to Liam Neeson’s. I loved Liam Neeson and, as he began giving Bruce Wayne advice, I immediately began adding “my young padawan” after every sentence which cracked me up.
Over the weekend, I finally made some pulled pork in a new smoker I built using a hotplate and two flower pots. The idea came from that Bill Nye of the kitchen: Alton Brown and his cooking show episode entitled simply “Q.”
Indeed, the roast was smokey, tasty and juicy. Details on my recipe page. I also threw in a rack of ribs that was the best I’ve ever made.
In the words of young Anakin Skywalker as he blasts away the Trade Federation mother ship in Episode I, “Now this is barbecue!”
Just goes to show you that even mouth-breathing European liberals know a rotten deal a-foot when they see one. They gladly trudge around the cesspool of tyranny, championing the causes with the worst possible out-come, but when the offer of an out-right bath in the sludge is extended, to their credit they are still squeamish. Of course, unlike the Continentals, the British have long resisted removing their wellies to make the squish-squish sound in the soggy grass. They will be the last flies stuck to the paper of totalitarianism.
[Note to those who do not want the movie spoiled: there are no spoilers in this log entry.]
I have read the novel written by Matthew Stover authorized by George Lucas and based (presumably) wholly on the film. First, I would like to express my opinion that it is the best written Star Wars novel I have ever read, though admittedly, I have only read half a dozen of them including two or three of the novelizations.
Second, I would caution you that if you are at all interested in what George Lucas is really trying to say about “the Force,” about human nature, about temptation, good, evil, etc., I believe that you will have to read the book because I doubt that much at all on these topics will be too evident in the mere action of the film (which, based on what I know now from the book and from the previews, will be stupendous).
Indeed, there is much more in Lucas’ brain about all of this than what has been portrayed in all of the other films or their novelizations. There are twists and turns to this subplot of the Force that will not come out without explanation. And, may I say, they are surprising and rich. Again, I don’t think that you will get them even if you watch all the movies in chronological order (instead of order of the films’ appearance).
You have to ask yourself how much Lucas started out with all those years ago when he began to tell the tale? How much of the finished product of plot, subplot, etc. did he know?
Next, it would make the movie a little more enjoyable if you reviewed at least the first, published episode (Star Wars: A New Hope) and perhaps the two following it because (and this is as close as I get to a spoiler comment in here) Episode 3 will “tie it all together”—I mean the whole 6 films—in terms of action, characters and setting. What I’m saying is that you will need to reacqaint yourselves with some characters in the “old” movies that you thought were only extras on the set to get the full enjoyment. You will also understand the changes Lucas’ made to his original 3 films when he reissued them if, upon seeing them, you hadn’t guessed already.
Again, kudos to Matthew Stover and to George Lucas for cooperating with/choosing this writer. Matthew tried (and succeeded) in writing a novel going beyond mere novelization. There is a great deal of introspection and definition in his book that has—of course, because it’s the nature of the beast—gone missing in the films and always been left out of the novelizations. I cannot recommend it more strongly if your interest in George Lucas goes beyond mere mesmerization by special effects.
Last, after reading this novel, I am again chagrined over Lucas’ abandonment of the last 3 tales of his originally imagined triple-trilogy to the chaos of dime-store novelists over the last nigh 30 years. Lucas really does say some interesting things from philosophical and psychological points of view, something that would be better explored in episodes 7, 8 and 9. For example, it is really clear now that Luke will never come close to reaching actual Jedi Mastery by the end of Episode 6 and it is doubtful in my mind that he ever would (I know that the dime novels have explored this in sickening ways). If I said any more, it might not spoil the movie action, but it would spoil the book.
So read it.
I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen doing this Indian food I wrote about last time (aren’t you happy that these blogs aren’t daily things). I have concentrated on
and I’m delighted to report that I have made substantial progress. In particular, I’ve made naan 36 ways from Sunday and settled on a recipe—the one I have on my page.
I have invited friends and family several times and subjected them to my fare. Along the way, I have reached a more or less definitive plateau in each of these dishes. The results are quite edible and I’m happy to say that, unlike my Thai which is as good as restaurant Thai (those dishes I do anyway), my Indian is almost as good and in any case brings quite a bit of enjoyment.
Of course, you can read my recipes (the links are in the above, itemized list) to get my conclusions.
Last year, you may remember me telling you how some guys and I hired a Thai woman, Sarah Woodbury, (no, really, she is Thai, looks it and her English is far from being native) to teach us how to do all the Thai dishes we wanted to learn. The other guys who are more nuts about Thai than I brought her back several more times and the recipes that interest me are on the recipes page of my website. And, I do them as well as I have ever had them in a restaurant (which was the whole point in the first place). We have had Thai at many dinners over the last year and it’s liked by most who have eaten it.
But, my true culinary love—when it comes to the exotic—is, as most of you know, Indian.
But to do Indian you have to be a veritable chemist so myriad are the spices and mixtures of spices that go into it. Like most, I’ve tried those store-bought curry powders and they are just naaaaaaasty. Indian women, I am told by several of them, show up to their marriage with a little tin box containing their trousseau of spices; their own special touch made up from what they learned from their mother and colored by the vices of inevitable adolescent experimentation and rebellion.
I may have shown up to my own marriage knowing how to sew, I even had a couple of pillow cases my mother had made me embroider then put away when I was little, but I sure didn’t have a little tin box.
Well, we’ve looked around for an Indian lady to do for us and Indian what our friend Sarah did for Thai: Indian cuisine made easy. But we’ve found no one.
Last night, I went up early to Novell’s BrainShare conference. I didn’t present this year for the first time in at least 12 years running. But I had a responsibility to attend the evening activity officially known as Meet the Experts. (Between us, we refer to it as Beat the Geek or Stump the Chump.)
My friend Jeff and I went early. Jeff cooks too; he is one of those 10-star hot Thai food freaks that doesn’t think he’s being fed unless droplets of sweat off his own forehead are wetting his plate. And I mean that literally ’cause I’ve seen it. I personally suggested we stop by the the Indian grocery store as I was resolved to buy a mess of those spices and then just hit this Indian cooking thing head on. (Of course, if you are starting to despair of me, note that five minutes after leaving that store found me at the cheese shop on Foothill Boulevard buying ½ pound of Pont l’Evêque and a whole Camembert. I’m not psycho, you know, and I haven’t forgotten my real roots.)
I had a couple of recipes that I had dug up from a Mexican chef at Novell’s cafeteria (a more unlikely source I could never imagine) and another from a chat-room discussion I found on the web via Google (how else?).
As I’m bumping up against my maximum vacation time accrual anyway, I took this afternoon off, bought some chicken, onions, tomatoes, chilis, etc. and went home. Last night Julene had presented me with her mortar and pestle for grinding the seeds and bark, so I was ready to make a serious attempt at creating a mess of muddy-tasting food that I’d throw away, declare myself a loser and an inept cook, and then sulk over the rest of my life.
I prepared half portions of both recipes though I made some major modifications along the way as soon as I could see they were not going where I wanted them to go. Each was a kurma (sometimes also spelled khorma), but very different from the other. (first kurma, second kurma.)
Jeff stopped by to sample my wares after he finished work. He too likes Indian food besides Thai, though again, he prefers it capable of rivalling the worst ulcer. He too frequents Bombay House, our local emporium of sumptuous Indian delights. He pronounced both my curries an unmitigated success! (And, hey, I liked them too.)
My experiment in making naan today was a disaster of course, but I have some ideas on how to fix that. When I succeed, I’ll put that on my page too. If not, and someone moans about its absence at my table, I will only reply that when I say naan, I really mean naan at all!
Yes, I did sort of succeed in making some naan.
Here’s a great picture of my childhood friend, Paul, who’s still a great guitarist. He doctored this photo so that only the heart on his shirt would be in color.
So, to set the record straight, it ain’t my boyhood body anymore. Most of you already know I went to the doctor in late November who put me on drugs and suggested I modify a) my diet and b) my rather sedentary lifestyle. He wanted me back around a month later, so I went to see him yesterday. They drilled for blood again and I got the results today.
So, for the last month I’ve been researching the nature of carbohydrates and their effects on glucose, insulin, etc. I’m preparing a web page with all that I know, but it’s far from done.
My principal research document is a book entitled, Sugarbusters!, by some doctors in New Orleans who’ve had a lot of success with ideas that appear to have been around in Australia for a long time.
I’m assuming that my reader understands that the body runs principally on a primitive sugar called glucose as fuel for the muscles.
The basic concept is that carbohydrates dissolve in water and become glucose in the blood (I’m skipping a couple of steps here...). This causes insulin production to spike in order to meet the demand: the insuling converts the glucose into triglycerides and stores them around one’s middle. Ironically, the insulin tends to reduce large amounts of glucose to levels lower than normal resulting in hypoglycemia within a couple of hours after eating tending to leave one tired and depressed. There is a reason you want to nap after lunch!
Secondarily, one’s body builds up resistance to insulin requiring the pancreas to make even more of it in order to shove glucose down its collective throat. Actually, insulin forces the body’s cells to open up and receive the glucose they need for energy production.
My fasting insulin level (fasting is a control method they use to ensure accuracy in blood tests) was 35. I mentioned in late November that my blood tests revealed my pancreas is putting out more insulin than a Chinese pig farm (I don’t actually know whether Chinese pig farms produce the insulin that is sold here to diabetics, but it sounded impressive as a metaphor if also somewhat politically incorrect.) Soon, the doctor said, my pancreas will raise its hands in abject surrender at which time I’ll become afflicted with adult-onset (type 2) diabetes.
After about a month of Avandamet, which consists of a) Metformin to stop the liver from producing so much glucose (one of the steps I said I skipped) and b) another drug that overcomes the body’s increasing resistance to insulin, my level is now down to 18 (15 is normal). Good news indeed.
Carbohydrates are deceptive. Did you know, for example, that eating an 8 ounce baked potato is the same thing as eating 27½ teaspoons of table sugar? White bread, potatoes, white rice and pasta are evil because they simply dissolve in the body and are turned almost immediately into glucose. This is why, at least in my running days, we carbo-loaded before running by eating pasta.
A recent index seems now more relevant than calories and fat grams. It is called the glycemic index and indicates how quickly a carbohydrate is absorbed into the body (and, therefore, how quickly it will cause glucose levels to go up with the resulting spike in insulin production). Highest on the index are the things I mentioned. In the middle are sweet potatoes (!) because they contain more fibre by far than potatoes. Fruits like pineapple are quite high while most others are fairly low because their sugar is fructose, a carbohydrate whose chains are built in reverse (left-hand direction) from other sugars and must be broken down a great deal more before their components can be used by the liver to create glucose. Actually, my biochemistry class was 25 years ago and my understanding gets weak here, but I think I’m explaining this right: the longer the time to breakdown, the less quickly glucose is synthesized in the liver with a corresponding reduction in the amount of insulin.
Unfortunately for this baker, even so-called whole wheat breads aren’t much better than white. The trick is whole grains which take so much longer to break down, evening out the spiking. Not a baker’s dream. I guess I’m giving up baking as a hobby.
So, the old recommendation about eating a baked potato, but leaving off the sour cream to be healthy is pretty wrong-headed. In fact, leave off the potato and go for the sour cream except...
All is not good news. In my attempts to migrate my food consumption away from carbohydrates, I obviously began to eat more eggs, meat, cheese and other fatty things. (Actually, I didn’t go too far overboard this way, but apparently I must have gone over some...) This showed up in my total cholesterol climbing 15% from 214 to 246.
It is possible, à la Atkins, to eat only protein and fat without impacting cholesterol levels (or even dropping them), but in order to accomplish this, one must force the body into a state known as ketosis. In this state, the body gets no carbohydrates and is consequently forced to pull fat out and burn it (actually, transform it back into glucose) in order to survive. In order to get the body into this state, I have heard that one cannot consume more than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. To give you an idea of how much this is, a cup of whole milk is about 26 grams (a cup of skim milk is 31 grams: neener, neener). Don’t even talk about an 8-ounce baked potato. Being in ketosis drops the body’s cholesterol. (I am completely unfamiliar with this particular bit of chemistry so I won’t attempt to explain why it works.)
I still personally reject Atkins as an imperfect solution that might even be dangerous, though it is hard to argue with the short-term results.
Cholesterol will kill you slower and later than diabetes, but it will kill you. It causes fat molecules (like cholesterol itself) and other stuff to build up in the cracks in the artery walls all over the body and this is especially destructive in the heart itself. There are cracks because an artery is actually several layers of tissue which, as one ages, become inable to stretch and contract with the same ease. The insides crack as they become more brittle. I actually read somewhere in my research that the human cardiovascular system is thought to last only about 120 years under perfect conditions. (Hmmmm: I usually don’t wait for my car to be completely broken down before I discard it.)
So, life is unfair. Basically, in order to avoid dying of heart disease, kidney failure and going blind, I not only have to stop eating carbohydrates, but fat too. Unfortunately, fat is what makes both carbohydrates and protein palatable.
Sawdust is, apparently, my only option and I’ll have to eat a lot of it since it isn’t very nutritional. This means I have got to get my wood-turning shop up and going full swing. I’m planning on turning bowls in a large assortment of woods including some very exotic (and tasty) African varieties.
Or, maybe one of those passing comets could pick me up a little early!? Probably not, so I’ll just have to show up diabetes by contracting a nice cancer!
In the meantime, I’m continuing Avandamet at one-half the dose I’ve been taking, plus an LDL (bad cholesterol) suppressant named Crestor. I’m due back at the doctor’s in March to see how things are going.
I know you were all wondering. If you hear it from me now, you’ll recognize it the next time you hear it—hopefully not in regards to yourself.
On Saturday, 23 March 2002, the High Priests of the Provo XIIth Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held their annual social on the theme Déjeuner sur l’herbe, which we rendered “Dining in the Park”.
About 50 people were in attendance. The hall was decked with pictures of France, Italy and impressionism while the table cloths were red and white gingham and the air resounded with French popular music from the 30s, 40s and 50s playing interweaved with traditional musette and accordeon, generally imparting a Parisian café atmosphere enjoyed by all.