Sunday, October 24, 2010

Voting Cheat Sheet

Just as a helpful tool for all of you who haven’t voted yet, I made this handy crib sheet so you can cheat off my paper and get the correct answers…

  • Initiative 1053 – Yes
  • Initiative 1082 – Yes
  • Initiative 1098 – No
  • Initiative 1100 – Yes
  • Initiative 1105 – Yes
  • Initiative 1107 – Yes
  • Referendum 52 – Rejected
  • Resolution 8225 – Rejected
  • Resolution 4220 – Approved
  • King County Charter Amendment 1 – No
  • King County Charter Amendment 2 – Yes
  • King County Charter Amendment 3 – No
  • King County Proposition 1 – Rejected
  • US Senate – Rossi
  • US Rep Dist 8 – Reichert
  • State Rep 1 – Rodne
  • State Rep 2 – Anderson
  • State Supreme Court Justice Position 6 – Sanders
  • District Court Position 6 – O’Brien
  • District Court Position 7 – Mitchell

(ignoring the unopposed races)

Happy voting and make sure you get them in the mail ASAP. Don’t wait until November 2nd!!!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Chemicals, Iraq, and WikiLeaks

Interestingly, the largest ever unauthorized disclosure of military documents has yielded this:

And rebutting the last paragraph in that article about these chemicals not being used against US troops, we have this: and this:

And of course, going back to this report from 2006 about post-invasion chemical finds in Iraq:,2933,200499,00.html

And as a little red meat, here’s an interesting American Thinker piece that asks some thought provoking questions about why Saddam played this game of high stakes WMD poker:

Something nifty this way comes…

I knew something important was coming up soon…hmm…what was it?

Oh yeah, that’s right -- none of these!

Rock Band 3 releases on October 26th! I’ve had this on pre-order for a long time and I’m looking forward to getting some keytar goodness.

In addition to all the cool features of Rock Band 3 like the seven player support, harmonies, great support for party play, and improved set list management, it also has a new character creator and an awesome set list.

rb3charI know what you are really waiting for is my list of the first five songs I’ll be playing on Tuesday, so without further ado…

  1. New Order “Blue Monday” (Gamestop pre-order bonus)
  2. B-52s “Rock Lobster”
  3. Big Country “Big Country”
  4. INXS “Need You Tonight”
  5. Whitesnake “Here I Go Again”

…and a bonus #6 – Talking Heads “Burning Down The House”.

And I’m not forgetting our anniversary – we’re going to Daniel’s on Monday night (my better half is going to a conference out of town later in the week).

Enjoy your Tuesday!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Paging Mr. Masala, Mr. Garam Masala

wwmagMy lovely wife is a gangsta disciple of WeightWatchers, so she gets their little magazine thing at the meetings. It often has a really interesting recipe in the back.

In last week’s issue, they featured “Spice-Roasted Butternut Squash and Onions” which looked pretty tasty. So I thought we’d whip that up for dinner. I ran off to my local grocery to find the ingredients – especially this Indian spice called “garam masala”. Unfortunately, they never heard of ‘im.
Not to be denied my crazy food choices, I whipped out my trusty Windows Mobile phone and Bing Mobiled my way to the recipe for garam masala while standing right there in the spice aisle. As you might expect, this is a concoction like curry powder or chili powder – that is, not a single spice, but a mixture of various other spices. As I learned from that recipe page:

This is the most aromatic and fragrant of all Indian spice blends. Used throughout North India in all types of dishes — from appetizers and soups to yogurt salad and main courses — this blend is indispensable to Moghul and North Indian cooking.

The ingredients for this version are (full hat tip to my source):

2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 (3-inch) stick cinnamon, broken up
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon saffron (optional) <<< I skipped this

Put the cumin, coriander, cardamom, peppercorns, cinnamon, and cloves in a dry heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the spices, stirring occasionally, until they turn several shades darker and give off a sweet smoky aroma, about 10 minutes. Do not raise the heat to quicken the process, or the spices will brown prematurely, leaving the insides undercooked. Cool completely.
Working in batches if necessary, transfer the mixture to a spice mill or coffee grinder and grind to a powder. Stir in the nutmeg and saffron. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

making The smell of the toasting spices was amazingly good and this all went pretty well, except that we didn’t have a spice or coffee grinder and neither did the supermarket I went to. We have several nice kitchen stores in North Bend, but I didn’t want to bother with that. Instead I opted for a little mini-chopper/food processer thing that my mom got somewhere and gave to us. As it turned out, this thing was really not up to the task of dealing with the cinnamon stick pieces and the coriander seeds. To deal with this, finishedI just had to run it through in many batches and ultimately started using a sieve to separate out the fine, finished mix and leave the chunks to go back for another trip in the chopper.   Until I ended up with something that smelled very good indeed and looked like a real spice you’d buy in a store.

This stage took about an hour.
Now it was time to make the rest of the dish…

At great risk to myself of the WeightWatchers sending their ill-fitting brown shirt thugs after me, here’s the recipe that drove all this insanity.

2 1/4 lbs fresh butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garam masala   < yup, all that to get a single teaspoon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
3 tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a large non-stick baking sheet with cooking spray.
Place squash and onion on prepared baking sheet; drizzle with oil and toss to coat.
cooking Sprinkle with garam masala, salt and pepper; toss to coat.
Roast, tossing about halfway through cooking, until squash and onions are tender and slightly browned, about 25 minutes.



Transfer vegetables to a serving platter or bowl and sprinkle with cilantro; toss to coat.

And this is what you get in the end. We served it with a tasty rice pilaf (from a box) and some naan from the store, reheated in the oven. Very tasty – although a little peppery. The pepper kind of overwhelmed some of the more subtle flavors. So I’d cut back on the pepper in the recipe and if I every lose my mind and make the garam masala again, I’d use less pepper. The roasted red onions end up adding a very nice sweetness to the dish.

serving This recipe makes enough for a Moghul army, so our idea for the leftovers is to mix them with some chicken stock (and maybe a little skim or low-fat milk) and then grind up the chunks with “boat motor” and we should end up with a nicely seasoned squash bisque.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sleep peacefully…

Just read a story about a 24 year old Green Beret, Robert Miller, who is being posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for saving the lives of 7 of his SF team and 15 Afghan soldiers in an ambush in 2008.


The article says that Miller was motivated to serve because of 9-11. I’ve often said that I think there is an older generation in our country that gravely underestimates the impact of 9-11 as a transformative event on those who saw it as children. I can’t think of a better illustration of that than stories like this. And while we are sad for the loss of men like this, we have to be thankful that we are still a country that can produce them.

One of the comments on this story used a quote that I haven't thought about for years. It is certainly appropriate.

"People sleep peacefully in their beds at night, only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf."  -- George Orwell 

Miller's TeamRough men ready to do violence on your behalf

Thanks to all who serve!

(more pictures of Robert Miller)

Monday, October 4, 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to the...

Well, despite my previous post saying I would be going away for my Warrior Transition Course training on October 4, there has been another last minute change and now I'll be leaving on November 1st-ish.
The Army is good at destroying things, but they don't make a very good travel agency.
So, now I'm back to work for a couple weeks, then some vacation and then off to training.
I'll miss Thanksgiving at home with the family and my college student kids, which sucks, but I'll see them at Christmas. In fact, one will already be at home for her Christmas break before I get back.