Saturday, July 31, 2010

I wonder what Alton would think of this?

So Shun has shocked the world by reinventing the hacksaw. I just got a piece of bacon in my mailbox from Williams-Sonoma indicating that Shun has introduced a new hacksaw called Edo Dual-Density 8 inch utility knife. You can read about it here.

For those of you who do not know, one of Shun's most vocal advocates is none other than Alton Brown. He holds a Shun in his hand and says "Happiness is a sharp knife." He admits to having had a very promiscuous and experimental background history with knives, but says he has settled down in to a monogamous relationship with Shun.

Alton also hates serrated blades of all strips and colors. He derides them as hacksaws. At least two ad-hoc videos show Alton going off, like a bomb, about the hateful, detestable, wretched, foul and malodorous nature of the hacksaw. If you haven't seen these videos, you missing some prime-time entertainment.

Alton speaks loudly, and caries some clout. He has damaged the market for serrated blades. The once popular items are now quite difficult to sell. People sneer at you in line, if you have the bad taste to carry them to the check out counter. It's only safe to order them by mail from or Ronco.

I don't think Cutco has forgiven him, and I doubt they ever will. Even though they are famous for their straight edges, Cutco has a few good hacksaws, and they have a blade-protection scheme that looks similar to the hacksaw. They believe they have the best engineering designs on earth. They are quite pissed the culinary types are unwilling to give it a try. They reserve a large heaping helping of ire for Alton's campaign against the hacksaw.

I, personally, don't have anything against the hacksaw. It has it's purpose, moments, and uses. There is an application for this engineering concept. I don't want to cut bread without one. Beefy St. Louis Ribs have tough membranes that are tough to cut without a good hacksaw.

When I saw this piece of bacon from Williams-Sonoma, I let loose with a big belly laugh. Now doesn't Alton feel might damn betrayed about this, aye?

So I missed by $2 million dollars, so fucking what?

So, the news just broke. Sam Bradford has signed a 6 year $78 million dollar contract with $50 million guaranteed. Throughout the entire 2010 draft cycle I warned it would cost the Rams $80 million over 6 years with $50 million guaranteed.

One desperate shill... er... Ram fan, just as desperate as Devaney, chastised me for throwing around "...completely irresponsible PFA numbers when no contract figures have been discussed." Well, ghee whiz, you are just going to have to pardon my analytical Virgo ass again, I guess.

I was 97.5% accurate on the top figure ($78m vs $80m), and 100% accurate on the bottom line ($50 million guaranteed money). So I missed by $2m bucks? So what? You can miss the bottom line by $2M these days and still be 97.5% accurate. How 'bout 'dem apples?

How did I do it? Its super simple really. You just make a curve plotting all the contract figures for all the #1 pick QBs, and you can see the price has been going up roughly 20% per year. Then you add the fact that Adam Schefter announced that Tom Condon would be seeking a 20% premium over Matt Stafford's contract, and there you have it.

It's so easy a caveman could do it.

Still, the Shills were in denial. They knew that such large figures would be a serious turn off for a lot of Ram fans. They wanted to hush me in the worst possible way. You know, I cannot abide illogical, emotional, irrational thought processes, including those aimed at political manipulation of a situation. Call a spade a spade. Have some balls, you faggots. Admit the facts of the case. Don't shill you pussies.

You won't get more accurate prognostication anywhere folks. I am accuracy incarnated. I have balls. I tell it like it is. Of course, this doesn't mean that Billy Devaney is willing to listen to me regarding anything, now does it?

I hate being right all the time. I am a male version of Cassandra. I know what is going to happen, and I am cursed by the fact that nobody listens or cares. I can never convince anybody of anything for any reason. So why bother?

The NFL Network and ESPN are reporting that the Bradford contract contains playing-time and performance incentives that could drive the maximum value of his contract to $86 million. Now wouldn't it be interesting if it wound up landing right at $80 million.

Now, for this to happen, Sam would have to play all 6 season under his current contract, without renegotiations started by either side, and he would have to hit performance incentive number. Of course, if what I think will happens, happens, that will never happen.

We'll see happens.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Is this the perfect apartment range, or just the perfect range, period?

Allow me to introduce you to the Dacor ER30G. This is a Natural Gas powered free-standing range. It gives you a cooktop, and the oven in one 30 inch package. At the moment, I am quite smitten by this unit. Frankly, I really have no criticism of the unit. There isn't anything I would change. I almost never say such a thing. That is high praise indeed, coming from a hard-ass like me.

This is a logically optimal product. Somebody who really, really, really understood kitchen cooking and possibilities was responsible for this engineering feat. In this life, it is a rare event when you can scour a product for weaknesses, design flaws, or shotcuts, and find none. I think this is one of those rare occasions. I'm pretty happy about that.

So what makes this range great? Ah! I thought you would never ask. So let me give you the rundown

It's 30 inches in width. That fits the compact slot of just about any apartment I have ever seen. It's small compared to some artisan chef models. These can reach 48 and even 60 inches in width. Still, this Dacor lacks nothing, as I will show you.

  1. The stovetop features 4 burners: 18K BTU, 15K BTU, 15K BTU, and 9.5K BTU. This means each and every burner is more powerful than the strongest burner on my current stove, which is only 8K BTU. The backburner on this stove is 118.75% more powerful than the prime mover on my current stove. The big burner is 225% more powerful than the big burner on my current stove.
  2. The big iron grills of the stove top form a continuous surface across the entire stove top. They go almost all the way to the edges in every direction. Little if any surface space is wasted. This gets the most cooking space possible out of your 30 inches of space. The efficiency is much appreciated.
  3. The oven is 4.4 cubic feet, and features 4 modes. Bake, Convection Bake, Broil, Convection Broil.
  4. The basic oven is powered by a set of hidden 30K BTU burners. That is a lot of gas for a stove. My Weber Genesis can blast 42K BTUs, but it is nowhere near as well insulated as the Dacor range. Further, my Genesis has neither a convection fan nor a broiler.
  5. The convection system has been dubbed a three-part convection system. This consists of a fan, and air baffle and a filter. The filter allegedly prevents cross-breeding of flavors. You can allegedly bake a salmon and a strawberry pie in the same box, and the pie won't taste fishy. I find this difficult to believe. The convection is what I am excited about. Convection is crucial. The filtration system? Well... we'll see if it works... maybe... but I have no real interest in this feature, one way or the other.
  6. Now for the absolute slam dunker-ooski? I am talking about the clincher. The Dacor ER30G series features an 18K ceramic infrared broiler. Yep, that's right, I said ceramic infrared, just like my Solaire, the TEC and the Luxor. The key difference is that my Solaire only pumps 14K BTUs. My Solaire is hell-a-strong. An 18K ceramic infrared broiler is hard to conceive. In terms of engineering, the Dacor broiler resembles an upside-down TEC grill than anything else. Tiny gas blow-torches superheat a ceramic plate that begins to drizzle infrared waves down upon your food.
As a relatively new owner of a powerful infrared grill, I have wondered why this superior technology hasn't found its was into our high-end ovens. Evidently, it already has. I just wasn't aware of this fact. Great engineering firms were thinking what I was thinking several years ago. Great minds think alike. I am glad you guys are way ahead of me.

This is a powerful piece of technology. Powerful enough to cause a man to change his basic religion. Prior to investigating the ER30G, I was pretty close to 100% confident that I would get an Electrolux Infinite Icon induction cooktop, and some minor oven. I was leaning towards the Ikea (Whirlpool) Mumsig S50. I really wanted the induction cooktop. Given the presence of the grill on the balcony, I felt the oven was a much lower-priority.

Well... Dacor has altered my perspective on things. I am pretty excited about the notion baking a few dishes inside that oven. I think Alton's apple pie and Sunny's Mac-N-Cheese will be pretty phenomenal when baked in this unit. Let's not forget the Sullivan Street Bakery No-Knead bread. Pizza should be absolutely fantastic when cooked in an oven like this.

The plot to replace my kitchen stove

So, I've been complaining about the lousy stove-range which came with my appartment for some time now. For several moons, I was unable to duplicate certain recipes shown on the Food Network with success because of this lousy stove.

Any recipe which called for high-heat, or a nice sear was very likely to fail on this stove. Anything calling for medium or low heat would work out fine. I came to discover, through research and testing, that the top burner on my range produces a paltry 8,000 (8K) BTUs. It's supposed to be 9,000 BTU, but you know how life is... Life is a product specification, ruined by an ugly test.

That is extremely weak. That is weaker than the backburners on most professional ranges. Also, my oven purportedly can generate 500 degrees worth of heat. No thermometer I own would confirm that. 474F is the highest figure I ever saw.

Granted, you can cook with such heat. Only certain recipes will fail. However, those recipes that fail are the best recipes. That sucks. In fact it is intollerable.

This is the reason I so-recently placed $1,200 worth of BBQ equipment on the Balcony. The results there have been good to great, and getting better, but lugging propane around is tiresome, and weather won't always be so splendid. Natural gas doesn't work so well with BBQ equipment, so I am still certain I made the correct decision in selecting propane. However, I can visualize a day in rainy November when the wind is blowing, and the rain is coming down, and I really don't want to lug a fresh can of propane up and down those stairs. There will be moments in winter for indoor cooking, even in sunny SoCal.

So just make low and medium temperature dishes on those wet, windy days, right? This was my thinking a week or two ago. However, my thinking has begun to change. Why restrict myself? Why not get rid of the eyesore? Why not fix the problem in my kitchen? Presuming I can get the apartment manager to haul this lousy Tappan POS out of my apartment, what would stop me from buying a great range? Well, there is the little matter of the extraction hood, but we will deal with this issue later.

I recently paid off a 12 month, no-interest loan on some furniture, and this had a nice effect on my credit rating. My thanks to Wells Fargo. Such loans are available through most vendors of kitchen equipment, like Warehouse Discount Center, or Fry's Electronics. I could get an outstanding range, take 12 months, or even 18 months, to pay and not be charged a dime of interest. This should provide me another positive 10 point bounce on my FICO.

Frankly, it is a win, win, win situation. I can see no downside to the transaction. Fuck it, why not?

So my pals at the BBQ and Fireplace shop set me wise to a little company named Dacor in Diamond Bar, yet another suburb of Los Angeles County. My informants tell me that Dacor is the hottest rising star in the kitchen. Viking Range, Electrolux, Thermador and Wolf are a couple of the other major players in this game.

I can't quantify the amounts of disinformation, counter-information, and straight-up shillin' lies I've heard about everyone's equipment. Times are tough. The market for high-end kitchen gear peaked in 2007, and it has been all down-hill from there. New housing construction is way down, energy efficiency demands are way up, house remodling projects are also way-down. We may be on the verge of a double-dip recession. It sucks to be in the kitchen stove business right now. These guys are fighting dirty to stay alive.

With that said, I have whittled the list down to just two finalists: Electrolux and Dacor. Interestingly enough, Dacor is in the lead.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Microsoft needs to redress problems in Microsoft Access

So we fired Microsoft Access here at work. Access was fired for cause, without severance. What do I mean by that? Let me explain.

Most all of our work here revolves around Microsoft SQL Server 2005 & 2008. We use Access only as an export format, or a quarantine cleanup space for extremely dirty data. Some of our clients do like their data transmitted to them in Access format. We're going to stop doing that... almost immediately.

Microsoft has effectively ruined Access. Once upon a time, it the moral equivalent of a very useful Victorinox Swiss Army Knife for data. Now, it's pretty well worthless.

Now why would I say a thing like that? Two expert reasons:
  1. At the moment Microsoft Access has no 64 bit API for database creation and manipulation.
  2. Microsoft has destroyed the application itself with the Trust Center setting.
The first point spells out our primary affliction. We run a collection of websites that provide data to the 7,000-8,000 financial institutions of these United States of America. Some of those institution like their data served up on a platter of Access MDBs. We have supported this in the past, but no more.

Since we made the conversion to 64 bit mode, a conversion we found necessary due to the volume and complexity of our data, we've been experiencing serious issues supporting Access MDBs. We have re-discovered the following tangle of faux-solutions and problems.
  1. The ADOX code we wrote years ago cannot be upped to 64 bit mode. ADOX is an ActiveX library. It is 32 bit. There is no such thing as a 64 bit ADOX library. Our old 32 bit code will run, but it breaks when upped to 64 bit mode. The COM library cannot be found and loaded. That is because a 64 bit ADOX does not exist.
  2. If you are running SQL Server in 64 bit mode, you can forget about exporting Access MDB files. The 64 bit SSIS engine will attempt to lock and load the JET 4.0 engine, which is just a 32 bit COM library. Naturally, this fails. Tough shit.
  3. We attempted to use SSIS packages in SQL Server (32 bit) to export the data in an Access MDB. We found this extremely cumbersome. The SQL machines and our web boxes are different boxes. Getting a SQL machine to deposit an MDB on a web server, or a mutually shared directory is a mater of opening more holes in the firewall, exposing more things to the DMZ, and there are timing issues beyond that. We also dislike the notion of keeping a 32 bit SQL Server in town.
  4. We explored the possibility of writing .ACCDB XML files using XML Literals and compression. We were working on this very complex task when our customers signaled that they were not using Access 2007, and had no plans to go to 2010. The old MDB was demanded, not the new format. This effectively terminated our work.
  5. There is currently no managed code (that is, C# .NET) library for manipulating Microsoft Access schemas in either the old or the new formats. Not even third parties such as the marvelous Syncfusion make such a library available.
  6. Of course, we could continue running our 32 bit app, but this precisely the thing we want to retire.
This left us in a quandary. At the moment, there is no working solution.

COM is evil, and Microsoft is quite correct in killing it off. We don't want to see Microsoft up ADOX to 64 bit mode so our old code can recompile and run with success. That is not what we are after.

It is difficult to reason with clients about Microsoft upgrades. If they don't want to upgrade, we aren't really going to talk them into it.

I think I am going to finish the code that creates new ACCDB export, but I will do so privately. My company isn't interested. Neither are our clients. I do see a future value for this product. It will be worthwhile in the end. That should be the first Open XML OOXML managed code solution for the .NET framework.

As you can see, this leaves us hanging. We want to be comprehensively 64 bit from end to end. We want to flush the COM. We do not want ADOX, as it is both 32 bit and COM. We do not have a managed solution for producing the binary MDB. Neither does anyone else, for that matter. Our clients do not want .ACCDB.

Where do we go from here? The logical solution is to simply state that will not be supporting MDB anymore. We are simply phasing out that service. It has become to problematic.

I suppose this fits Microsoft's objectives of marginalizing the non-OOXML formats. This serves their end objective of applying upgrade pressure to their clients. I really don't like it. There aught to be a fully managed code solution for MDB construction. The net effect is that Access is going to marginalized by our firm and many others.

The second issue revolves around the utterly obnoxious Trust Center. The mere existence of the Trust Center--in this context--is proof positive that the lawyers are now running the software design process in Redmond. This is why we are seeing so many bad changes lately.

So what is the problem with the Trust Center in Microsoft Access? Aside from the fact that it utterly breaks any Access MDB/ACCDB solution, there is nothing wrong with it. Your app won't run until (under advisement that he/she should not) a user clicks "Enable Dangerous Macros". I say that breaks the application. The application does not work anymore. Further, breaking the app in this manner does nothing to protect the system. The very moment the user clicks "Enable Dangerous Macros", and the user must do this, all protection goes out the window. Microsoft would tell you this is a feature, not a design flaw. Stupid. Very stupid.

More stupid than selecting a QB #1 overall in the NFL Draft. Believe me, that's saying an awful lot.

The trust center effectively kills Access, shutting it down such that it cannot be used. If the application is so dangerous that it must be shipped in a lockdown state, it is too dangerous for public consumption, and should be removed from the market. If it is not that dangerous, the application should not be shipped in a castrated state for the sake of your legal department. Get a clue, Microsoft!

Frankly folks, this thing is utterly baffling. It's existence can only be understood as a stunt foisted upon Redmond software developers by the Microsoft legal department, who insisted on a disclaimer built into the package.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Salt got busted at the box office

Just a quick little note here about Angelina Jolie's Salt. As you all know, I am the self-proclaimed Worlds Worst Angelina Jolie fan. I know this makes me a heretic, an apostate and an antichrist in the world of Hollywood, but I don't give a bloody damn about that.

At the moment I am rejoicing; gloating really. Mr. Nolan's Inception retained it's #1 status at the box office. Frankly, it wasn't all that close. The score was 42.7 to 36. Salt will burn out much faster than Inception. You watch, bitches. Inception will continue to crank out big bucks for at least two more weeks.

So why do I gloat? Several reasons really. I have heard enough about Inception to understand that this is a serious Sci-Fi movie. How fortunate we are to get two excellent sci-fi movies, in close proximity. That makes the summer of 2010 a remarkable one. For the record, the other great Sci-Fi movie was Splice. Without having seen it, my only fear about Inception is that it might be too much of a rip-off of a Japanese Anime called Paprika, a movie I greatly admire.

Anytime a serious Sci-Fi movie squashes a so-called "A-Lister Vehicle" we have reason to hold a formal celebration. Let's get together and hold a party. Second of all, the dastardly Jolie has been formally defeated at the box office. We have another excellent reason to have a formal celebration. Let's get together and party. I am doing the BBQ.

Frankly, it absolutely shocks me that Hollywood continues to make A-Lister Vehicles, at all, in any regard, for anyone. The entire concept of an A-Lister Vehicle is outdated, outmoded and obsolete. It belongs to a bygone era of Hollywood, and has little bearing on the present moment.

Right now, I can imagine an uninformed Hollywood moguel shocked out of his mind, screaming at the top of his lungs "What the fuck are you talking about?"

What am I talking about? What am I talking about? Have you not read the results of the research that you paid for? Do you not keep tabs on the market research your own corporations commission and pay for? Are you ignorant of the facts in this case?

Back in 2003-2004, things were not going well at all for the movie industry. It was a brier patch in the history of the box office. The internet was getting powerful. Hollywood was not prepared to play there. DVD had already peaked, and was now illegally copy-able. Profits were down. A number of unexpected and disconcerting flops had occurred at the box office.

The five major studios had reason to believe were living at an inflexion point in the movie-tastes of the United States and the world. They commissioned a massive study of box office numbers for the entire run of recorded history. All five major studios transmitted their data to Ernst and Young, one of the legendary accounting firms of this world, and asked for a report. They wanted to know what sells tickets and why.

Ernest & Young did a pretty incredible study. They climbed all over that data with sophisticated data mining tools. Experts performed thousands of ANOVA and ANCOVAR studies with this data. They came up with some good generalizations that fit the data well, and make a hell of a lot of sense. The findings were published in early 2005.

Ernst & Young discovered that there were two basic models for selling a lot of tickets:
  1. The classic Hollywood A-List model. In this approach, a casting director attempts to get a bunch of biggest names in Hollywood to sign-on for a movie. The presence of several attractive A-Listers sells massive numbers of tickets. Incidentally, an A-Lister is an individual who has been theoretically proven to draw large numbers of people to the box office. It doesn't mean you are sexy, and it doesn't mean you can act, but you bring people to the box office.
  2. The big visual effects bonanza model. In this approach, producers spend tens of millions of dollars on 3d visual effects, and other animations, to produce a ton of Hollywood movie magic. You create vistas, environments and battles so epic, everyone wants to see. No A-List talent is required. Indeed, you can make such movies with complete unknowns.
Ernst & Young discovered that the classic A-List model had been operational and effective between 1910 and 1977. The A-List model was the most effective strategy for making money during that epoch in film history.

However, things changed in 1977. A little movie called Star Wars came out, and played at the box office for almost 2.5 years before it closed. Star Wars had no A-List talent. With the exception of Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing, and James Earl Jones, no one in the movie was even known by Hollywood. Whilst all three of those actors were very respected, none of them were A-List box office magnets. Still, Star Wars shot the lights out of the score board.

After that moment, the Holywood A-List scheme became increasing unreliable, sketchy, and risky. The big effects movie continued to grow and grow in terms of power and reliability. Ernst & Young concluded that A-Listers ain't worth the millions you pay them. You are better off financially casting nobody-actors, and spending a ton of money on visual effects.

Like the earlier conclusion which stated that most money was made through DVD, not theater ticket sales, this finding touched off a ferocious debate. Producers didn't like the notion that DVD made most of the money. They loved the Silver Screen. Likewise, many in Hollywood hated the finding that effects rule and A-Listers drool. This flies in the face of the glamor and fame culture that utterly dominates Hollywood.

This is an example of artist think. You will have to pardon my Virgo-ass, all of you artistic types, but there is a serious distinction between fact, and value. There is a distinction between what is and what aught to be. What is is factual, what aught to be is subjective opinion. Emotional types are unable to deal in matters of fact. They are only interested in how they feel about a subject.

Ernst & Young made a statement of fact. Effects make the money. Just look at Avatar. Just look at Inception. A-Listers don't necessarily make that sort of money. Just look at Knight and Day. Just look at Benjamin Button. Just look at Salt.

In football, you still see outmoded and unemployed former head coaches decrying the Spread Offense, declaring that it can never be an NFL offense for one reason or another. Maybe it's hash marks this week, and quarterback durability the next. This is inspite of the fact that the Spread is one of the most effective and feared offensive schemes in the NFL right now, and has been for some three years.

You still hear these outdated romantics crying out, "Bring back the days of smash-mouth running, let offensive linemen play again, and let the elephants dominate the game". That is a romantic idea, it has nothing to do with serious military strategy. Whilst they decry the forward pass, it is the forward pass that wins Super Bowls, full stop, period. The run doesn't win it anymore.

A similar thing is happing in Hollywood right now. It involves the outdated and outmoded A-List model of movie making. Big Hollywood types cry and scream and wail over the loss of big Hollywood stars, and say things like "I don't want to play in universe without big Hollywood stars."

Then don't play! The facts remain the facts. Effects make the money. A-Listers don't necessarily make the money. It should be pointed out that in 2005, the very year the report was published, the top-5 grossing box office movies were all visual effects bonanzas. Only The War of the Worlds contained an A-Lister. That was Tom Cruise. It finished third in money for that year. Believe me, it would have done as well or better without him.

The idea of making A-Lister vehicle is no better founded than the NFL Draft philosophy that you should take a franchise QB with the #1 overall-pick. That theory is also fallacious, according to the empirical statistics. Still, like fools, we all keep trying.

Now for the thesis point: The notion of creating an vehicle for Angelina Jolie is preposterous. I am sorry the notion ever occurred in your brain. You may make your money back, but this will not be the bonanza that several visual effects movies will be. Salt will soon be forgotten, just like a pile of other A-List vehicles have been forgotten.

If a movie's only claim to fame is that it has a so-called A-Lister, that movie is a waste of money and film. A-Listers do not make a movie worth seeing. You should terminate this approach to film making.

The Assassin has died...

Requiem for Jack Tatum... I knew him, Horatio.

I was never much of a book reader as a youth or an adult. I greatly prefer practical technical manuals which instruct me in the ways of doing things. Novels, Bios, inspirational, self-help: It's a bunch of rubbish from my perspective. I know people read for entertainment. I find that notion extremely strange. That ain't entertainment from my point of view. It just isn't fun.

With that said, I read "They Call me Assassin" when I was a 14 year old youth. This was right around the time it was published. This book was Jack Tatum's first autobiography, written around the time the Raiders traded him to the Oilers. It might have been a year old. I was settling into my course of becoming a nose tackle around that time, and I felt it would be informative to read books written by the great defenders of history. I also read books by Dick Butkus, and Mike Curtis.

He covered a lot of turf in this book, his childhood, his recruitment by the Ohio State Buckeyes (which included a free hooker--whom he did not know was a hooker), his career with the Raiders, and especially the Daryl Stingley incident. Most of the talk today focuses on the Tatum-Stingley incident.

I want to go on the record and say that the first time I saw that hit my first reaction was one of stunned amazement: "That's all...??? That was one of the most unremarkable, non-savage hits Tatum ever dished out." I continue to think the same thing to this day. No number of replays have convinced me of anything else. It was non-remarkable hit. I have seen a hundred hits harder than that in past 2 years.

I want to go on the record and declare that I am a Raider-Hater. Whilst I have a great admiration for Tatum, I hate the Raiders. I have no tribal obligation to make this declaration. I simply believe it is true.

How then did it break Stingley's neck and leave him a quadriplegic? You got me there, buddy. The answer lies in the fluke happen-chance realm of quantum mechanics. God does play dice, contrary to what Einstein said. Tatum just happened to hit Stingley from exactly the right angle, at exactly the right velocity to create the precise impact force necessary to produce the injury.

If you think he calculated that out on a slide-rule and then executed the hit perfectly, you are crazy. I mean certifiably crazy. Tatum swooped in from center field and gave Stingley a light pop to knock him over. By fluke, it was just exactly the precise hit... I don't think for one second that Tatum meant to injury him. He would have hit him drastically harder if he had been up for that mission. Ask Sammy White about that kind of hit. Just watch the footage of Super Bowl XI.

Tatum didn't react much to the Stingley hit because he didn't believe Stingley was injured. Shaken perhaps, injured no. I have to say, without a-posteriori knowledge that Stingley's neck had been broken, I never would have suspected he was injured either. Quite a bit of "They Call me Assassin" deals with Tatum's psychological shock over the fact that this hit produced an injury. Believe me, I understand that. I too, am shocked that that hit produced an injury.

At least one odious blog declares Tatum has finally gone to Hell for that hit. I think that's rubbish. Tatum never intended to harm Stingley with that hit, and I know for a fact that he struggled with the guilt over that hit. A better analysis says something like Tatum killed Stingley and we made him do it. Football is a brutal sport. Just about all ex-players die as a result of it later on. When the alternative is to die because of something else a little later, we accept these consequences, although we frequently have regrets.

Incidentally, everyone has regrets in life. As the great existentialist philosopher Søren Aabye Kierkegaard said: Do this and you will regret it. Don't do this and you will regret it. Do that and you will regret it. Don't do that, and you will regret it.

Flukes happen. This was a fluke. It was a terrible fluke. It was a bad, awful, dreadful fuke, but it was a fluke.

I want to go on the record and declare that Tatum was the absolute hardest hitter in NFL history. Number 2 isn't all that close. No, Ronnie Lott did not hit as hard as Tatum. He was much less savage a hitter. He gave a good pop, but that is all. I would be willing to allow that Lott was a better overall-defender, but he was not a harder hitter.

Only Dick Butkus can rank close to Tatum in terms of hitting ferocity, but because of his slower foot speed, he could not muster the velocity necessary to produce those kinds of violent impacts. Velocity is king. Double the velocity and you quadruple the impact force. I don't doubt that Tatum hit players at twice the speed Butkus did. I don't doubt this produced superior force. Butkus was more massive, and that helps his cause, but the much greater speed of Tatum produced more devastating hits.

Watching a man get hit by Tatum was like watching a human body experience the impact of 1 ounce shotgun slug. The shock went through their bodies, and they dropped dead. Just check out the Earl Campbell hit. That is a legendary moment in NFL history.

Tatum suffered terrible heath problems later in life, which is a study in Football Karma. There are natural cause-and-effect consequences that follow after being the hardest hitter in NFL history. He battled diabetes for years. Portions of both his legs were amputated as a result of circulatory problems stemming from diabetes. I am sure he had plenty of arthritis and orthopedic problems to go with it. Ultimately, a heart attack on Tuesday took his life.

For many of us, death comes as friend. It delivers us from a lot of pain and suffering. It was like this for my grandmother, who died after a painful battle with cancer. I am sure it was like this for Tatum also. I am fairly sure it will be like that for me.

Understand that Jack suffers pain no more. The same is true for Daryl Stingley. I hope the two reconcile somewhere else and at some other time.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pizza and Ice Cream

So I hit my two target goals this weekend:
  1. I did some home-made grill-fired pizza
  2. I did home-made ice-cream for the first time
Yeah! I bet you wish you were there, don't ya!?!? It's just as well that you weren't. I am going to need a little time to debug my shtick. It almost worked perfectly, but not quite.

The Pizza

So the pizza dough was courtesy of Alton Brown, but slightly modified. It consisted of the following:
  1. 16 ounces Tipo "00" pizza flour, which is at least 14.5% gluten protein by weight.
  2. 10 ounces warm water
  3. 1 teaspoon rapid rise (instant) bread machine yeast
  4. A big glob of honey.
  5. A tablespoon of sea salt
I also allowed this dough 12 hours of rise time, and about 2 hours for a second rise. I did not refrigerate during the rise. Alton used All-Purpose flower, instant yeast, barley malt, and kosher salt. The dough was delicious, but it was not a flat cracker crust by any stretch of the imagination. I was aiming for cracker-crust. This was a bread dough, and there was no mistaking that fact. More about this later.

The ingredients were pretty simple. Nearly the same thing I would do for a soffritto. It's funny how many rudimentary building blocks keep resurfacing again and again in every recipe... The ingredients were mushroom, onion, tomato, celery, carrot, panchetta, and prosciutto.

The cheeses were many and various. I grabbed some pre-shredded Mexican four-cheese, Pecorino, Romano, 5 year old Gouda, Gruyere, Fontina. I shredded some of each, and made a super-pile out of it.

I should have made my own sauce. I did not. I cheated, and opened a jar. It's just as well. You do not want to waste labor power or the good stuff.

I have to say that the mission was a failure the first time around. It failed for the following reasons:
  1. The dough was far too sticky and wet. The extra protein found in the Balta "00" resulted in massive glutenization. You would be hard pressed to knead the dough better than I did. The automatic mixer was rolling for more than 25 minutes with an S-hook. The dough looked solid when it finished. I think the correct solution is to reduce the water in the recipe. I am surprised at the massive difference between AP and "00" flour. I guess you get what you pay for, and you had better make adjustments accordingly.
  2. It was incredibly difficult to roll this dough out flat. Press down hard with the rolling pin, and it would tear. Press down lightly with the rolling pin, and the dough would automatically contract back down to it's preferred size. Less H2O next time. Also, I intend to activate the pasta rolling machine. I am going to crush that dough next time.
  3. The dough rose ferociously. I felt like was eating a partially risen bread loaf rather than a flat pizza dough. This was essentially the best deep-dish dough I had ever eaten. The only trouble is that I am not a fan of that much bread in my pizza. The bread is only a platform for the content. I don't want it to be the main content.
  4. I removed the grills from my Weber Genesis and placed the 16 inch lid of my Lodge 12 quart Dutch oven on the flavorizor bars, upside down. The upside-down lid was my pizza stone. I reckoned that the iron of the lid would make the perfect platform, and much better than stone. Not so. This was a bad idea on two counts.
  5. You need a very flat 180 degree angle of approach when you drop a pizza from your Peel onto the grid. A downward angle, even a gentile 30 degree slope will cause the loose toppings of your pizza to slide off and hit the stone. Flat, flat, flat runway approach. No angle. Next time, the grills will be on the Genesis
  6. The iron heated by the flavorizor bars created such a ferocious Maillard reaction that the bottom 1/16 of the dough burned black as coal. Remember, just on the other side of Maillard brown goodness you will find blackened burned badness. The master pizza makers chose ceramics and stone for a reason. They probably thought of using iron also. Don't bother... unless you are making Chicago deep dish. This is an entirely different sport, though.
  7. I am going to get some of those unglazed ceramic quarry tiles. Next time they are going top of the grills. Flat-angle and the tiles also.
The results of the first, highly flawed, attempt were still edible and even delicious in a certain way. I ate the product, and even enjoyed it up to a point, but it was certainly not what I had hoped for. However, with lessons learned, there is every reason to expect edition 2.0 to be a hell of a lot better.

The Ice Cream

The ice cream was a slam-dunk, and why not? This is about the easiest thing I ever did. There is a reason why adults used to make the kids do the ice cream. They knew it was deadly simple, and they knew the kids would be motivated to crank that handle. Now we don't even have to crank the handle.

For my first go at ice cream I used the following ingredients:
  1. 2 cups of half & half.
  2. 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  3. 6 ounces of sugar
  4. 2 ounces of strawberry preserves
  5. 1 whole, fresh Madagascar vanilla bean.
  6. 1 teaspoon of sea salt.
  7. A single grind of white pepper
I went off the Brown reservation in several ways here.

Alton recommended staying away from heavy whipping cream because "you'll make butter, not ice cream." Sorry, that's all I had. I didn't make butter either. The ice cream was pretty sensational.

I substituted strawberry preserves for peach. I couldn't find peach, and I like strawberry better anyhow. I wanted to get the Mexican vanilla bean, but nobody seemed to have any notion of what I was talking about. Doesn't vanilla come in a bottle? I found Madagascar beans at Williams-Sonoma, and that was all they had. Doesn't all vanilla come from Madagascar?

This state of affairs just ain't right folks! This is Los Angeles. Everything from Mexico is supposed to be found here. I am astounded nobody in my hood could supply me with a Mexican Vanilla bean. I am horrified they didn't seem to know what I was talking about. I'm pissed. I have now ordered some Mexican beans from Amazon. They should be here tomorrow.

In any case, I split the bean with my Wusthof Santoku, and discovered why I need to buy a utility knife. I have a nice nick on my left index finger right now. Not very deep, but a nuisance. A 4.5 inch utility petty knife, like the Henckels Twin Cermax would be ideal for this application. I have a 150mm Misono UX-10 coming in the mail, but this may be too big for vanilla bean splitting. Don't use a 300mm Wa-Gyuto.

In any case, all that goodness went into a 4.5 quart Le Creuset French Oven pot. I raised the temp of the cream to 175 degrees, dissolved all the other goodness in there, dropped it into a sealed container, and let it chill overnight. In the morning, I dropped the mixture into my new Cuisinart 2 quart ice cream maker, and turned it for about 31 minutes. I tossed those results into a Rubber Made container, and left them in the freezer for about 8 hours.

The results were excellent. The vanilla was very potent, but not quite what I usually expect from vanilla. I think I am used to the Mexican beans, not the Madagascar beans. It was still good. The ice cream tasted more strawberry than vanilla due to the 2 ounces of strawberry preserves. That is not a bad thing, though. Strawberry-vanilla is pretty fucking good ice cream. I would not be ashamed to serve this to E. Stanley Kroenke. I think it would blow your brains out. I am already competing with artisan brands.

Next on the docket was Williams-Sonoma chocolate pre-mixture. I believe they call it "Ice Cream Starter Mix". Whilst it is very fast, just mix and churn, I would not recommend it. The ice cream was delicious in its own way, but it is extremely expensive, and I don't think I achieved anything more than a decent chocolate ice cream on the shelf might give you. I know I can top this with a little artisan chocolate.

Next time I am going to get jiggy with a little Ecuadorian chocolate, some coffee, some English custard, and the normal ingredients. Now that will be an artisan ice cream!

Monday, July 26, 2010

StarCraft II Commeth...

Folks, you have not idea... StarCraft 1.0 was one of the great obsessions of my life. I lost most of 1998 and 1999 playing this game. I did not tune in to see what was happening with the Rams during the first 4 weeks of 1999, partially because I did not believe what was happening, and partially because I was busy playing StarCraft.

It's been 12 long years since the original arrived on the scene. That is enough time for the Koreans to have developed StarCraft as their national sport. The broadcast StarCraft tournament games on TV in South Korea. Champions win lucrative endorsement deals.

That is enough time for me to approach the ripe old age of 44. I was 31 early in 1998 when the original hit. Whilst I am excited about this release, I wonder if I still have the hormones to get jacked up about this game. Times change. My character and biology has changed a lot with it. Both arthritis and my prostate would make it a bit difficult for me to sit, hard-transfixed, for 3 to 4 hours locked in StarCraft combat. This used to be no big deal.

I wonder if I can still get into a video game at all these days. It's been years and years since the last time I finished a game. I finished Quake IV back in 2005. I promptly tossed it aside and forgot about it. It was fun, but I no longer had a passion for games. My sensibilities were changing with the dawn of mid-life.

I am going to purchase a license for StarCraft II. I am going to install it. I am going to try and get into this. I think I will succeed. Still, I wonder if a 44 year old man can get back into gaming again. I hope so.

If StarCraft II turns out to be as good as the original. You may not see me for the next two years. This could be another lost-time experience. It does come at an opportune time. This will prevent me from watching the Travesty (with a capital T) in progress in St. Louis.

Oh BOUY! I am sure glad I am not a Ram fan anymore

Damn... Billy Devaney sure is batting 20,000% during this baseball season, isn't he?

First, he takes Sam Bradford #1 overall in the draft. I want to go on the record and declare that bad teams take Quarterbacks #1 overall in the draft. I am talking about really bad teams. I am talking about really bad teams interested in cementing their position in the history books as one of the notoriously bad teams. I am talking about bad teams that have an interest in remaining bad for a long time to come.

It would seem that a franchise QB is an ideal cornerstone for your rebuilding program. Empirically speaking, that notion is a farce. It is hogwash that cannot be validated by any empirical or ration research process. Selecting a QB #1 overall leads to bust-ville more than 70% of the time. Most general managers who execute this move find a new place to dwell: The Heartbreak Hotel. Selecting a QB #1 overall is an act of desperation, executed by desperate teams, and it leads to no where more than 70% of the time.

Only three teams have ever gotten away with this stunt and turned into champs. Only one prospered exactly as they hopped they would. That case was Troy Aikman and the Cowboys, a fellow Devaney is trying to cast Sam Bradford as, right now, as we speak.

With such a low percentage of success, I can honestly say--with scientific merit--that if any team drafts a QB with the #1 overall pick, I am more than 70% confident they have made a mistake. I can say that a-priori, without consideration of any of the other details of the case, and I will be right more than 70% of the time. With such terrible odds, why do you tempt fate?

But this was only Act 1 of the disaster play. Are you ready for act 2?

Then Devaney deletes two starters from a bad offensive line, and only replaces them with a single round-two selection in 2010 draft (Rodger Saffold of Indiana). It doesn't take an MBA in accounting to understand that these transactions don't balance at the bottom line. The Rams are now (at least) two starters short of an offensive line; the right and the left guards to be specific. The Rams need two new guards, period point blank. If you think they don't, you're just absolutely and completely wrong. Sorry bitches, you're 100% wrong with a 100% chance of being 100% wrong and 0% chance of being 1% right. I mean totally wrong. The Rams need two new guards.

Now, are you ready for the cherry on top? I had early warning this weekend that Rams were considering tendering Terrel Owens an offer, and "the offer may come as early as Monday." Well, it is Monday, and we have apparent confirmation that the Rams and the Bengals are both offering Terrel Owens a contract. This is according to USA Today, and you can read it here.

I need to keep reminding myself that I dropped this team like a bad habit. 30 years is enough. I am done. Still the shockwave of horror from this move freezes my soul.

In the run up to the 2010 draft, I published about two dozen articles warning the Rams and Ram fans that selecting Sam Bradford would lead to tragedy. I warned that he would become the next Jim Plunket. I warned that the Rams would kill him just as they did Marc Bulger. I warned everyone that the problem was less the QB than the offensive line and the receiver corp. I warned that the Rams very probably have the worst offensive coordinator in the NFL in the form of Pat Shurmur. I warned everyone that this was a rooty-poot organization that had no intention of fixing its real problems.

I told everyone that the Rams' offensive line was nowhere near ready for a move like selecting Sam Bradford. I told everyone we needed at least one more year of concrete and steel in the basement before we could contemplate making a move for a future franchise QB. I openly worried that this was a Public Relations stunt, a splashy, press-saavy, Hollywood A-List move, straight from NFL HQ on Madison Avenue, just designed to sell some tickets at the box office. I knew we reached for Sam when Ndamukong Suh was the #1 athlete on the draft-board.

So much for Act 1 and 2. Are you ready for the third and final act of the disaster play?

Now we get the grand cherry on top of the mess! The Rams are making an offer to T.O. Let's make it clear: as great as Warren Sapp was--and he should be in the Hall of Fame shortly--he was not the most effect quarterback killer in the league during his time. Terrell Owens was the real quarterback killer.

Now I know full-well that T.O. has matured. I understand that he wasn't quite the high-problem guy he was in the past during the 2009 season. He does seem to have a different attitude these days. He has had to deal with the sobering fact that he is not quite a hot commodity anymore. Retirement is not far away. Mortality issues are just on the other side of that coin. All of these things have a tendency to change hearts and minds. Terrell was still the end of Trent Edwards now wasn't he?

In view of all these things, I think the Rams making T.O. an offer is an exceedingly stupid move. You really are trying kill Sam Bradford, aren't you now? Fortunately, T.O. will sign with the Bengals. What would you do if you were T.O.? Of course you won't sign with the Rams. The Bengals are a contender.

Ergo, we might even suspect that this is a bit of a faky; the 'ole trickerooski. The Rams may not have an intention of signing T.O. Devaney may only want to claim that he tried.

I don't even want to address possible ways in which T.O. might be employed by Pat Shurmur. I don't want to go into ways in which T.O. might distract NFL DCs from young Donnie Avery and Mardy Gilyard. None of this has any importance or significance.

A like-minded fellow professional at Bleacher Reports currently has the top story in the Rams section, and he pretty well summarized exactly what I think on this subject. This is another PR stunt to sell some tickets at the box office. This is not about improving the team. This is not about giving Sam Bradford a fighting chance at success.

Man... I feel really terrible for Sam. You don't know how bad I feel for the kid. I can't imagine drafting a kid to waste his talent. I can't imagine taking a kids life and hopes and dreams in the draft, and then not giving him an ultimate fighting chance to make it big. Especially when the kid has great talent, it is tragic to select him and waste him in the name of PR and ticket sales.

This situation sucks. The methodology Devaney is using in 'rebuilding' the Rams is anything but good scientific football engineering.

I would never even 'take a flier' on kid, even in the 7th round. Surely, there are enough good college stars you saw and liked during the season that you can find one name you would really like to have on your team in the 7th. Surely, there are such kids (like Jevan Snead) around every single year in the 7th round.

Man... I sure hope Kroenke completes his deal on August 25th and then busts some skulls. I have a nice F. Dick meat cleaver I would like to lend you, Stan. It would work great on...

Believe me, this 3.5 pound cleaver will bust some skulls.

Friday, July 23, 2010

A full progress report on the grill

So i just realized that I haven't issued a progress report on my balcony grill. I did publish a report on the Paella episode, but that is it.

Let me begin by saying that neither Bobby Flay nor Consumer Reports gave me the bum-steer. Both delivered critical information that has paid off extremely well so far. I am glad I took their advice.

What advice was that, specifically? Consumer Reports insisted on the Weber Genesis 320 and 310. I wanted the 320 and got the 310. This has worked out extremely well. The Genesis is what it is cracked up to be. It's incredibly well made. Weber has already replaced my warped grill with a new one, so customer service is good. This grill is big enough to take the largest Lodge Skillets and Paellas, as well as the largest (12 quart) Dutch Ovens from Lodge. You gotta love that.

I am going to go purchase a cast-iron griddle grill that fits my Weber today at lunch. I may make bacon, eggs and pancakes on the griddle tomorrow morning for breakfast. I may get a smoker box to go with it. You have to love the availability of high-quality accessories for the Weber Genesis. I intend to accessorize.

I have had good success removing the grills and placing the Dutch Oven directly down on the Flavorizor bars. I just made Penne Pasta, Marinara, and Meat Balls in that 12 quart Lodge last night. The results were fantastic. All heat was furnished by Weber.

Neither Bobby Flay nor Consumer Reports were particularly bullish on the subject of Infrared. They both seemed more than a little distant about the subject. Many seemed to regard the little Solaire Portable Infrared as the best deal and the best of the breed. I am very glad I paid attention.

I baptized my Solaire portable infrared grill on the 13th of July. My buddy Colin came over, and we grilled a pair of inexpensive $5 T-Bones from Albertson's. The results were pretty sensational.

The pep was pretty simple. Bobby Flay teaches that we should avoid marinades and prefer rubs. Marinades are over-rated, and they leave the meat too moist to caramelize well. You want that brown crust brought to you by the Maillard reaction. Marinades will interfer with with that crucial reaction.

Bobby Flay recommended a very simple rub: Fresh-ground pepper, Kosher Salt, and garlic powder. I am not usually a fan of Koshur salt, I prefer seasalt, but I understand why it is used in this application. The big jagged chunks of coarse salt stick in the flesh of the meat well. Also, it is gunpowder for the process. People don't seem to know this, but kosher salt crystals will explode and burn under high-heat. This helps form that good brown crust. Apply it liberally. You will not be eating it all. Most of it will explode and burn off.

Several authorities, including Flay, recommend putting a few drops of oil on that steak to help hold-fast the rub you have prepared. I took that advice. I used peanut oil because of it's high smoke-point.

The cooking was so easy it was trivial. I fired up the Solaire and let it heat for 5 minutes. I fired up the Weber, and began heating at full blast.

I dropped the first steak on the Solaire, and gave it 90 seconds before rotating it 90 degrees. You have to rotate 90 degrees if you want to get those perfect diamond shaped grill marks. I gave it 90 more seconds and then flipped the steak. I gave it 90 seconds, and rotated 90 degrees. I gave that 90 seconds, and then moved the steak to the Weber to finish.

Total cook time on the Solaire was about 6.5 minutes. The Temperature of the Weber was just about 400 degrees. I threw the second T-bone on the Solaire and repeated the process. When the second was ready to move to the Weber, I removed the first steak and gave it to Colin.

Colin said his steak was medium-well done as he began to cut it pieces (with a Kyocera Revolution 4 inch utility knife). It had a thin band of pink in the middle. The rest was medium to well. The steak had very nice diamond shaped grill marks on it. It was very juicy.

Total cook time was just about 12 minutes. Alton Brown would chastize us for not allowing the meat to rest for at least 3 minutes, but it was damn good anyway.

My steak was just about the same. I let it cook for a minute or two more, because I like mine pretty well done. I have to say, that was one of the most satisfying steaks I have ever eatten in my life. It was very, very good. It was bone-chewing, bone-sucking good.

I had a couple of false starts with the propane tanks. Sunday was a failure, and Monday was only a partial success. However, Tuesday was a complete slam-dunk. It was a victory at the home-run derby. The Solaire actually out-performed my expectations. The little Solaire actually out-performed the big Luxor I test drove at the Eninco shop. I expected similar results to the Luxor. It did a better job in creating more flavorful meat than the Luxor did. I can recommend this little Solaire without any qualifications. Buy it. Use it. Prosper with it.

So what have we learned?
  1. Rubs are better than marinades
  2. Kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, granulated garlic powder, peanut oil.
  3. Kosher salt is the gun powder, apply it liberally.
  4. Infrared is great for searing
  5. High, high heat produces the Maillard reaction
  6. Finish in the Weber at a lower temperature with the lid closed.
  7. The Genesis is great because of it's extreme versatility. You can use skillets, Dutch ovens, griddles and grills with it. You have many options, and a lot of room.
At this point I have to dish out some props to Bobby Flay and Consumer Reports. I doubted both of you several times. Ultimately, I decided to roll with your advice, and it paid big dividends. I am a pretty happy camper right now. The outdoor kitchen on the balcony is now fully-functional. I love it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The End of the Deep-Off?

So, it has been the deep-off season for football in recent weeks. Contrary to the NFL Networks proclamations, absolutely nothing worth talking about has happened in weeks. Nothing is happening with Favre. Nothing is happening with Terrel Owens. Nothing is happening with Brian Westbrook. Jimmie Johnson on Survivor is not news.

I don't have the slightest idea why anybody even comments on JaMarcus Russell anymore. That guy's NFL career is already officially over. I mean full-time permanently over. If you are not a fool you know that by now. He is the last guy any sports program should ever talk about.

This is one of the key reasons why I have not said much of anything about football lately. Nothing is happening. When nothing is happening, you shouldn't bother to have a news program.

However, training camps will begin in about 4 days. I find that fact shocking. Here we are. Here we go again. It seems like the Deep-Off didn't last long at all this year. It's a stone's throw from camp to the Hall of Fame Game. Then we have rookies to look at, and 1st quarter evaluations to make.

So what do you expect this year, Dave? Absolutely nothing. Neither should you. This game is totally unpredictable, so empty your mind like a bucket, and make space for the new season. I picked up on the Saints early in the pre-season because they were dynamic, and I had no preconceived notions about who was what. You should act accordingly.

What are you excited about this season, Dave? Absolutely nothing. Nothing?!?!? I am not excited about anything, nor should I be. Arguably, I have less to be excited about this season than ever before. However, this is not a bad thing. This is a good thing. Having nothing to care about, in particular, helps me to empty that mind like a bucket, and make space available for the new season.

We'll see. I hope I can be more objective and more analytical this season than last. I hope I can be more realistic this season than last. I hope I can form a better case this season than last. That's about it.

I hope to duplicate my accuracy of prognostication from last season, but we shall have to see. It's hard to do so well every year.

The Radio-Active Divorce

So, there is a particular female in my environment who was not-so-recently divorced. I think the ink on her divorce papers is about a year or so old now. She dresses very provocatively. Every guy looks. She has let it be known that she is on the market, and she is entertaining all offers. She is very pretty. She is under 30... I think.

Yet she lacks company. She has not been able to get herself into anything resembling a stable relationship. She has spread some interesting rumors about herself. We all wonder how much of this true. However, all of us are certain about one thing: She is radioactive. She's been engaged in plenty of self-destructive behavior since the divorce, and we all know about it.

So why does she lack company? Because she is radio-active. Despite the stiff-upper lip and the fake smile, we all know the divorce was very, very, very messy. It left tons of damage in its wake. This is almost always the case. Seldom will you see any other kind of divorce. If you do find something else, it begs the question: Were they ever truly married in the first place? Is this more a case of annulment or divorce?

This girl doesn't want to tell us anything about that damage, but she is showing us everything. The younger guys in my group are all interested in taking a ride on that pony. Many of them have scored a few runs. None of them are interested in obtaining "home field advantage", though. These are simple flings. Why? Her reactor has been damaged, and its leaking nuclear material. She's radio active.

I am not involved in any of this. The dudes all marvel that I, an unmarried and unencumbered guy, would not be first in line. What they don't get is that I don't want to be in line at all. If the girl has an on-deck circle, you won't find me in the batting rotation. I am not playing that game.

My dad is in the midst of his second divorce. His health program requires that he seek a bit of counseling in this regard. The information he has obtained from this program is remarkable. The current state-of-the-art psyche doctrine stipulates that it takes 5-7 years for the typical ex to heal-up from the divorce.

You should not get involved with anyone for a period of at least 3 years after a divorce. During this period, your reactor is damaged and you are leaking radio active materials. The chances of getting caught off the rebound are extremely great. The odds are greater still that you will unconsciously pick a mate just like your last one, and re-run the last divorce in the future. It will take you 3 years to digest why your last round of choices didn't work and why you should do things differently this next time.

Jumping back in the game quickly, and trying to get married again--quickly--is the leading reason why there are now so many women who have been married 5 times. This used to be a scandal fit only for Elizabeth Taylor. It's not particularly uncommon these days, among those who still bother to get married...

Many men don't want to get married again after getting divorced. They know they need time to lick their wounds. Some are all done after the first one. Phil Jackson is such a man. He was all done being married after his one and only divorce. My dad claims he is all done. He said that after his first divorce also, but he was considerably younger in those days. He allowed 9 years to go by before he got married again.

For some reason, this is not true of women. They want to get married again... quickly.

Yes my friends, Miss B is radioactive. She's making a lot of bad moves due to the fact that she is badly damaged from her divorce. She's nowhere near mentally healthy or fit to make big life-choices, like who her next husband will be. Most of the guys don't care about that. I know better.

In my case, chicks have never been willing to fling. If they are interested in me, they are invariably interested in getting settled. Perhaps this is because I am a fat guy. Perhaps this is because I show no signals or signs of being a player. Perhaps this is because I make a decent middle-class living, and have a nice place. In any case, flings are not part of my playbook, nor should they be. I don't have the arm for that passing-scheme.

A guy in my position has to be careful of radioactive females. Nothing will mess up your life better than getting sexually involved with someone who is either mentally unstable or an asshole. Recently divorced and damaged women can generally fall into both categories.

In any case, I am steering well clear. No matter how appetizing the picture on the package looks, the food inside is frozen, and contains both contaminants and spoilage.

Alton's Pilaf methodology works extremely well

So, I checked out an old episode of Good Eats, dating all the way back to Season 1, I believe. It was titled Pilaf to the People. You can see the condensed presentation right here.

So, I thought I knew a hell of a lot about rice, and I thought I had made Pilaf about a hundred thousand times. It turns out that I was not quite correct. Close, but no cigar. First the summary.

Pilaf is not a recipe. Pilaf is not a list of ingredients. It is a cooking methodology. Even though the word literally means "rice dish", it should mean, cooking method for rice. You can do a lot of different ingredients. Add a few, throw a few away, change these, bring in some others. This doesn't determine whether you have a Pilaf. The approach to heating defines Pilaf.

According to Alton, the cooking process runs through Seven simple stages.
  1. Sweat your vegetable soffritto in butter.
  2. Add the rice and sauté until you have a strong nutty aroma.
  3. Add the liquid--substantially less than normal for rice--stir it up, and discard your stirring spoon or utensil.
  4. Cover with a lid. Bolster the seal with a wet dish rag, which forms a gasket.
  5. Place in an oven at 350F degrees for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  7. Pour the rice out on a serving dish. Flatter is better. Taller is worse.
Notice that this approach only presumes you have some aromatic vegetables, rice, butter and fluid. What those ingredients are is open to your own creative imagination. We are talking about approach to cooking, not a list of ingredients, per se. The absolute key is that you sauté first, use less water, and then finish in the oven. That is the definition of the Pilaf method: Sauté first, use less water, finish in the oven.

This doesn't mean everybody follows the rules or even knows what they are. Certainly, I was not aware of the rules as I broke them 300,000 times. I thought you simply sauté first, then cover and boil. I also used too much water.

Alton's approach was fascinating for several reasons.
  1. It seems to be the perfect case for a Lodge 5 quart cast iron Dutch oven.
  2. I have never seen anyone stick a dish rag in the oven.
  3. I recently had an experience with rice in a pressure cooker that suggested some cooking methods require less water.
  4. I have recently had many experiences with Paella which indicate that more water is necessary for this cooking method.
  5. The list of ingredients Alton used, including fruits and nuts was quite intriguing. This is a very interesting counter-point to Paella, which never includes any fruits or nuts.
  6. Another important difference between Paella and Pilaf is that Paella includes various types of meats. Pilaf does not include any meat. Pilaf is a side dish for meat.
So I chose the following list of ingredients.

  1. Carrot
  2. Celery
  3. Shallots
  4. Yellow bell pepper
  5. Red Bell pepper
  6. Garlic
  7. Ginger coins.
  1. 3 cups of Sona Massouri rice from India
  2. 18 oz of Chicken broth
  3. 12 oz of hot water
  1. 1 table spoon of Kosher salt
  2. 1 teaspoon of Turmeric
  3. couple of grinds of fresh cracked white pepper corns
  4. 1 ounce of California extra virgin olive oil
  5. 1 tablespoon butter.
  6. Way too damn much Spanish Saffron
The cooking approach was interesting.
  1. Place the dutch oven on the stove top and cranked up to high. This is only 8,000 btu on my stove, so don't be impressed by the heat.
  2. Drop my 1 teaspoon of turmeric on the dry iron and heat it up. This is what all the Indians do. You wake the turmeric by heating it on dry iron.
  3. Drop the butter on top of the turmeric and melt it. This forms a type of rue.
  4. Dropped the soffritto on into the rue of turmeric and butter.
  5. Sweat the vegetables.
  6. Drop in the rice, and stir. Continue until the rice begins to brown a bit, and you get a strong nutty aroma.
  7. I poured about 4 ounces of hot water into a ramekin, I tried to pull out a few threads and place them in the ramekin. A tumble weed of saffron fell in the ramekin. Lesson learned: extract your saffron with a pair of tweezers. Do it over a very dry surface. Let the saffron diffuse and turn the water golden yellow.
  8. Drop the Saffron water in the pot first. Rinse out the ramekin with the remaining water and chicken broth, as you pour them on the rice. Don't loose any saffron goodness.
  9. Stir it up, and discard your stirring utensil
  10. Wet down a dish rag.
  11. Place the rag over the mouth of the Dutch oven.
  12. Seal with the lid. Rotate the lid about 5 or 10 degrees to make sure you have a tight gasket.
  13. Place in the oven for 15 minutes.
  14. Remove and let it sit for 15 minutes.
  15. Dump it on a large serving tray, and spread it out.
  16. I added dried black currants (from my Spotted Dick episode) and Golden Raisins (Sultanas--also from the Spotted Dick episode). I mixed those in thoroughly.
  17. I drizzled with California Extra Virgin olive oil
  18. I sprinkled with a little Kosher Salt
  19. I cracked a little more white pepper over the top.
I was pissed off over the fact that I used too much saffron and forgot the bay leaves, and the pistachios, but the rest of the process was surprisingly golden for a first run. The results were not only edible, not only delicious, but damn near perfect. My guests were left wondering why I didn't consider this a perfect run. I have to say, I wondered to myself how bay leaf would improve the situation. I believe Pistachios would help. Nuts are great.

I have to say that the Sona Massouri rice was perfectly cooked. It was not to dry, not too wet, not sticky, not too soft, not too hard. It was perfectly done. Whilst I can tinker with the list of ingredients, the methodology is essentially perfect. No adjustments in the cooking process are necessary or beneficial.

I tinkered with the notion of sweating the vegetables in the oil, removing them, then sauté the rice in butter, put them back together and go. This would allow me to brown the rice a bit more. Still, I am not sure this would be a better approach. I am uncertain whether this would yield a better product.

It's hard to improve on Alton's method here. I highly recommend it.