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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

calling all alpha geeks

do you get a "charge" out of really neat scientific pictures? are you interested in things most people you know have no clue about? ever wonder what the static charge of 50 trillion watts would look like?
click on the picture for a full sized view. warning, this is a >2Meg picture.

ok, interested in what the hell you just looked at?
go read about the Z accelerator at Sandia National Labs
if you get bored reading and drop out before getting to the juicy part, the accelerator generates 50 trillion watts fed through 30 foot cables "as thick as a horse". the power comes from wall outlet current, to a huge bank of capacitors.

that is your geek update for today.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

so, did you see the total eclipse?

i checked it out. the reports of the eclipse make it sound like a good one. i went outside during the height of the eclipse, and it was freaking dark. the peak of the eclipse was at 1011 GMT.
of course, it was 0211 here in california, but none the less, the eclipse thing worked, because it was dark outside.
ain't astronomy wonderful?
an observation, there was no rioting in vacaville during the peak times of the eclipse.

joking aside, i watched the total eclipse in the early 90's on 11 july (7-11) in hawaii. pretty cool. the local convenience stores got a lot of free advertising with t-shirts printed with the date.

Monday, March 27, 2006

food blog: american paella for 4

i love paella. i order it whenever i can find it on the menu. i've had spanish paellas, i've had peruvian/chilean paellas. i've had inspired ones, and mediocre. and even the worst one i've ever eaten was damned good.
so i decided it was time for me to add paella to my cooking skillset.
so where do you find the stuff to make a killer paella? i had a little help. there is a great spanish food/gadget store in berkeley called the Spanish Table.
i bought my paella pan there, and the paella rice, and the spanish chorizo, the saffron, the cookbook. wait a minute. do you really need all of that to make a really good paella? not really, but it helps.
you can use mexican chorizo, and saffron is available in almost every supermarket in the spice section. the rice, well, i wouldn't use the classic american long grain calrose rice. if you can't get paella rice, rissoto rice (arborio) would work well. it needs to be harder than standard long grain. if you don't use a harder rice, the dish will end up being a paste. no good. the seafood is up to you to find anyway. and while a paella pan is nice to have, any oven proof saute pan large enough to hold all of the ingredients will work fine. as a matter of fact, a cast iron skillet would be an ideal pan for this.

the following is my "modified from the basic paella recipe" recipe from the Spanish Table. the dish takes around an hour to make, from prep through pulling from the oven. time well spent, if you ask me

the list of ingredients is per person serving, unless otherwise noted
  • 1/2 cup paella rice per serving
  • 1 cup liquid per serving. this was a total of 4 cups for this dish, consisting of 1/2 cup white wine for the saffron (and a glass for the cook), 8 oz. clam juice, and the rest chicken stock.
  • 1 clove garlic per serving, minced. who am i kidding. this is a 4 serving dish, and i used 7 cloves. and it was GOOD!
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion. for 4, i just used one whole red onion.
  • 2 or 3 tiger prawns or any large shrimp, shelled and deveined (1/2 pound, about 10 was perfect for 4 servings)
  • 2 or 3 clams
  • 1 chicken thigh. i used boneless, skinless ones, because quite frankly i hate rubbery chicken skin. and this is a sure fire way to get rubbery chicken skin, by simmering for 1/2 an hour
  • 1/2 stick chorizo sliced into thin rounds for the whole dish, about 8 ounces
  • pinch of saffron. the cookbooks all say around 5 strands per serving. i used a couple good sized pinches. see the photo below for what was perfect for 4 servings
  • 1/4 tomato, grated into the pan at the appropriate time, discarding the extra skin left over when you are done using your box grater
  • 2 tbs olive oil. the goal is to completely cover the bottom of your pan with olive oil. the most common mistake folks make when preparing paella is to skimp on the olive oil. this is spanish cooking. the spaniards use olive oil like the italians.
  • 3 or 4 spanish olives, chopped. or do like i did and use kalamata olives, which gave this dish a bit of a different twist. a good different.

  • remember, unless otherwise noted, these proportions are per serving

the following is my modified from the basic paella recipe from the spanish table.

From the writer of one of the cookbooks i studied while dreaming this concoction up:
Paella is cooked in a pn by adding ingredients progressively and allowing their flavors to merge and mingle and be absorbed into the rice. Ingredients are never removed once they are added. Exception: when using a pan slightly beyond its capacity, i remove the chicken pieces and keep them warm until everything else is in the pan and thin i put them back on top where they can float on the surface, rising slightly above the rim of the pan
not to be a copycat, but ME TOO ME TOO. as you will see i had to remove the chicken for a little while until the rest of the ingredients were aboard.

first of all, assemble the ingredients, and preheat the oven to around 350 deg F NOTE : if your pan is small enough,or your heat source big enough to heat the entire pan bottom, skip all references to the oven. spaniards think the crusty layer on the bottom from applying direct heat the entire time is the best part of the paella. my stove burner wasn't big enough, so after 10 minutes on the stove, into the oven it went. in any case, never stir the paella after the first 10 minutes once boiling starts. that's right, just leave it alone, and try like the dickens to resist the urge to stir.
click images for larger version

and then, pour a glass of the white wine you will be cooking with, and perform a quality assurance test. tonight's selection was a light and fruity pinot grigio from a local winery a couple of miles from my house. check out their offerings at Wooden Valley. it was a good choice, even if i'm not usually a pinot grigio drinker.
wooden valley

pour the oil in the pan, and heat it to almost the smoke point. toss in the chicken, and brown on all sides. you don't need to worry about cooking it through, because it's going to be simmering for a while. when the chicken is browned, add the onion and garlic, and saute until soft and translucent, one or two minutes at most. turn the heat down to around a medium/medium high at this point, otherwise the aromatics will scorch. nasty.

next, add the chorizo, and cook until it starts to render a little

while the chorizo is cooking, add the saffron to a small pot, and warm on low, just until you can smell the saffron.

then add 1/2 cup of wine, and bring to a boil. once the wine boils, turn off the heat and let the saffron steep until needed. beautiful color, saffron.

when the chorizo is ready, toss in the rice, and stir to coat with the oil. let the rice cook like this for a couple of minutes at most. it's really important that the rice is coated with oil, and is given a chance to absorb a little of the juices in the pan. add the liquids, including the saffron, and turn up the heat to high. bring the liquids to a boil. grate the tomato right into the pan, and stir. NOTE: if using a spring loaded pair of tongs, be sure to keep the tongs locked closed. DO NOT forget to do that and then place the tongs in the pan. SPROING means a big cleanup of the kitchen. i'm just saying...
once the liquids are boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer. i found that i needed to pull the chicken out at this point, because the pan was too full. toss in the clams, hinge side down once the liquids are boiling. if they don't open in a few minutes, pull them and toss in the garbage. stir often during the first 5 to 10 minutes.

when the dish has been simmered for about 10 minutes, the rice should have absorbed enough liquid that you can put the chicken back in, and toss the prawns/shrimp on top. bury the prawns a little into the liquid.
getting there

place the pan in the oven for 20 minutes. at the 10 minute point, i turned the prawns over. do not stir the dish after the first 10 minutes.

remove the dish, and cover loosely with foil for about 15 minutes. this is what my paella looked like:

and of course, the whole reason i made it was for the foodgasm my body experienced while eating this dish.

i hope you try this dish. it's pretty easy and very very tasty.

as always, if you try this recipe, or it inspires you to try something different, please let me know how it turned out. i'm always looking for fresh and clever ideas to improve my own cooking skills and recipes.

for a complete list of my online recipes, follow the link here

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Dodged the bullet

one word: benign. all i'm saying about it.

celebrations in order.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

funny looking submarines

there's a lot of talk on the net about the new paint job the brits are trying out.

here's one we had on the old seawolf
we called her the seaskunk, because of the white painted topside and stripe on the sail.
we were painted like that to support DSRV training and qualification trials. we were supposed to be one of the "mother subs" for the dsrv program in the early/mid 70's.

we sure took a lot of crap from the other submarines over that paint scheme. "hey nuke, your skipper pepe le'pew?"

here's an original "scruff the dog" image, imortalizing the eventskunk

i found the pix of my qual card

these are pretty rough, since i scanned them in when i got my very first scanner, a loooong time ago. i'll have to find them and rescan if i can ever get my HP scanner to work with service pack 2. i'm not holding my breath.

anyway, here is my qual card from the SSN-575. i talked about what earning dolphins means in this post. notice the big gap in checkouts. let's see, there was a stint mess cooking at sea, qualifying engineroom lower level, and qualifying engineering lab tech, engineroom upper level, feed station, diesel operator, oh, and let's not forget the 4 months i couldn't get down to the boat after a conflict with a bunch of asphalt my Triumph Bonneville and i had.
card2clickity click for full sized images

and here's my proudest day in the navy

you know, i was 5 years younger then than my youngest son is now. time sure flies.

today's tasteless ethnic joke from sir bill

A Chinese couple gets married and she's a virgin. Truth be told, he is not too experienced either.

On their wedding night, she gets naked under the sheets as her husband undresses. He climbs in next to her and tries to be reassuring. "My darling," he says, "I know this is your first time and you are very scared. I promise, I give you anything you want, I'll do anything, just anything you want. Whatchou want?" he says, trying to sound experienced, which he hopes will impress his virgin bride. A thoughtful silence follows as he waits patiently (and eagerly) for her request.

She eventually replies shyly and unsure, "I wanna try something I heard about .. number 69".

More thoughtful silence, this time from him.

Eventually, in a puzzled tone he queries... "You want...chicken with broccoli?"

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

times sure have changed

you've all heard the "when i was a kid...." lines.
here's one of my own: when i was a kid, nobody in town (Burns Oregon, pop. 1400)even thought twice about seeing two 11 year olds walking down the street with side by side shotguns or 22s slung over their shoulders. i used to go to old man Wentzl's store, buy a box of #4 shot 20 gauge shotgun shells, and john would buy a box or two of 22 long rifle hollow points (hey, those were the best dammit. we knew that hollow points were the bullet of choice of shooting writers in field and stream, so that's the best, no questions asked!) hell, jackrabbits were just a couple of feet outside city limits. as long as you didn't point the guns back into town, nobody cared. that's what kids were supposed to do!
now compare that to
Police closed off most of the Golden Triangle and blocked highway exits to Downtown while they investigated reports of an armed man atop a building on Wednesday afternoon.

After about two hours of frenzied police activity, officials held a news conference on Penn Avenue and said that they had determined that the man seen by witnesses had only been shooting a pellet gun at pigeons.

read the rest of the article here
hat tip to drudge for the lead

Sunday, March 19, 2006

canadian smokeboat on the surface


victoria evening

..click for other sizes

glacial ice

i wish i had a motorcycle this color.
Tracy Arm, Alaska
click for other sizes

Friday, March 17, 2006

from my buddy kevin

posted without comment

Thursday, March 16, 2006

today's funny from bill


Hung Chow calls into work and says, "Hey, I no come work today, I really sick. Got headache, stomach ache and legs hurt, I no come work."

The boss says, "You know something, Hung Chow, I really need you today. When I feel like this, I go to my wife and tell her to give me sex. That makes everything better and I go to work. You try that."

Two hours later Hung Chow calls again. "I do what you say and I feel great. I be at work soon......... You got nice house."

gee, i don't know what this means!

is my computer trying to tell me something?

actually, i need that button installed on my computer. i lost almost an hour's worth of hacking and slashing because i failed to do 10 minute backups.
bummer. it sure is easy getting lulled into complacency when you usually run MS programs that have an auto backup feature.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

uploaded a few pictures

pop and i took a road trip from seattle to anchorage a couple of summers ago. the pictures have been sitting in my computer, with the only display being the slideshow of my screensaver.
so i opened a flikr account, because it looks like i don't need to do the resizing the way photobucket requires.
here's one of the pictures. when i figure out how to get this open for public viewing, i'll link the slideshow.
click for other sizes

i was really impressed with the flowers growing wild and those cultivated. the long summer days really lets them blossom beautifully

great customer service

i have a 5 station progressive reloading press made by RCBS.

i talk a little about reloading here and there.
anyway, my reloading press gets a workout. i've just about worked the modulus of elasticity out of the springs, so i called RCBS today, to see about ordering a new set.
i was caller 8 in the queue and had to wait, but it didn't take too long.
not only are they just sending the springs no charge, but the nice dude at the other end of the line really helped out regarding powder measures.
i like this company. i've dealt with them before, and they almost seem to want to give their products away.
i once had a de-primer that went south, and they sent me a new one, with inserts, for nothing.
this company rocks.
too bad i can't find other companies out there with this level of customer service. well, that's not true. i've run up against a couple of other great companies with the same level of customer service. but they all tend to be in the shooting sports arena. ruger comes to mind. if there were more like them, they'd have a customer for life.
RCBS does.

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Eat an Animal for PeTa day

zounds. i almost forgot my favorite holiday. today is international eat an animal for peta day. you can read all about it over at yourish.
if you have any questions about what to do to celebrate this most wonderful of all holidays, i have a few suggestions from last year that may help inspire you.
this year, i did two animals. for lunch, we took a little trip to the local Thai place and i ordered garlic pork and basil chicken.
mmmmmmmm goood.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

humor from denver, via napa

so two arabs immigrate to the united states. after making it through customs, they are ready to part, heading off to new homes in the land of opportunity. abdul looks at mo, and says "you know, we are both going to become good americans. we will both succeed, but i will bet you $10,000.00 american that i will be more american than you in one year's time. i propose we meet in new york one year from today, and compare." mo agrees, and they part ways.

one year to the day later, mo and abdul meet in a trendy bistro in manhattan to compare their americanization.

abdul says "i am most certainly more american than you, mo. i married a big breasted blonde woman with an 8 year old son. the son is a champion soccer player, and i coach his team. he was voted little league most valuable player this year, and i helped get him ready to play this season. i bought a big black SUV, a half million dollar home, got elected president of the local rotary club, and am the main fundraiser for my son's PTA. i started a business, and have done so well, that i've opened 7 franchises, all of which were profitable from the first day of business. and you, mo, how can you say anything that would make you more american than me?"

mo uttered two words.

"fucking raghead"

Friday, March 10, 2006

same planet, different world

the following was lifted from here
ABUJA (Reuters) - The Nigerian government, anxious to avoid a repeat of riots that marked a solar eclipse in 2001, warned citizens they may suffer "psychological discomfort" during a new eclipse this month but urged them not to panic.

Information Minister Frank Nweke said an eclipse five years ago caused riots in northern Borno state because people did not know why it happened.

"Some people even felt some evil people in their communities were responsible for the eclipse," he said in a statement on Thursday aimed at reassuring Nigerians that the eclipse is expected to darken parts of the country on March 29.

"The eclipse is not expected to have any real damaging effect, only social and psychological discomforts are envisaged," Nweke said.

He did not explain what the discomforts might be.

me, i'm going to go into sacramento and try to start a riot or something when the evil people there cause the sun to go away. or at least throw a burger wrapper in the street to show my distress.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

it's only natural to go bigger and faster!

first, i found
and talked about it here.
then, if found
and talked about it here
well, now that we've proven that a go-cart, and a mother-in-law's wheel chair can be made to go really, really fast, what's next?

how about
a street legal VW Bug?

what's next? i vote for a 1958 dodge half ton pickup truck.

the river rat of tomorrow

skippy-san posted an image of the new navy BDU uniform. good stuff. the comments are even better.

see, i'm an environmentalist

from the king of gun bloggers Mr. Completely via knowledge is power, i present my new favorite phrase. and i'm waiting for the bumper sticker to come out. it will look good on the back of my trusty kommute kiddykar:

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

what the heck do those "Dolphins" mean?

i was bouncing over at the Musings of an Old Man blog (listed in the bubblehead bloggers list) and he posted a copy of his qual card. 1963. he was so proud of that distinction that he kept the qualification checkout card for 43 years. think about that.
a couple of years ago, there was big flap in the submariner community about awarding silver dolphins to midshipmen. it was a recruiting tool used by the navy as a means to hook young pups into the submarine and nuke pipeline. the issuing of silver dolphins fired us up like few issues, and it was resolved after enough of us raised a big enough ruckus to get noticed. but during that time, i posted a rant on the now defunct seawolf website i was running, and a buddy of mine Master Chief Sid, who is also linked, but in the news section, snagged it, posted it, and saved it long after my original was sent off to the ether.
here is a big chunk of that rant, from here. i killed the dolphin issue, and saved the pertinent stuff about earning dolphins. when you read it, you may come to understand why they are so important to those of us that earned them. you can read the whole thing at the link
bo's Quals
I reported to the USS SEAWOLF (SSN-575) at the end of August, 1974. I'd been in the Navy for just over two years. Boot camp and Machinist Mate 'A' School in Great Lakes, Nuclear Power School at Mare Island (Class 7304), Mechanical Operator and Engineering Laboratory training at the A1W reactor plant prototype at NPTU Idaho Falls, all of that time and all of those schools were behind me. It was time to really put everything that I learned to the test.
I mess cooked for the first couple of months on the boat, time spent underway. Mess cooking, for the uninitiated, is the submarine service's answer to KP....up at 0400, set up the crews mess for breakfast, get the cook whatever he needs, play waiter to a bunch of sleepy (read grumpy) squids, wash dishes, tables, and decks...well you get the picture. I started on my qual card a month after coming aboard. During the time I worked on my qualifications for Ship's Quals, I also worked on my Engineering Quals.
Every system on the card was traced, drawn, technical manuals and ships information books referred to and studied, and finally a check out from a qual petty officer or chief. Eventually, the checkouts were walkthroughs with officers, culminating in a final walkthrough with the Qualification Officer that lasted about 17 hours over a three day period. In this instance, his name was Lt. Budzik, and he was one hard case, hard nosed SOB, mainly because he didn't want his name on the card of some dirtbag that didn't deserve dolphins. The boat later instituted qual boards for the final signature. I thought that they made a huge mistake by doing so. I really don't think there is any way you can adequately test a person's knowledge in an hour, no matter how in depth the questions. The skipper signed my card on the 6th of November, 1975, 14 months and change after I reported onboard.
I worked hard for my dolphins. But during the entire time I worked on my Ship's Quals, I also "participated" in field day, qualified Engineering Laboratory Technician, Engine Room Lower Level, Engine Room Upper Level, Feed Station, Diesel Operator (the nuc's owned the diesels on Seawolf, both operations and maintenance), Basic Engineering Qualification (the nuc's version of ship's quals as related to the engineering plant), and i had most of the signatures required for my Engineering Room Supervisor qualifications. I even spent a big piece of time laid up in OakKnoll Naval Hospital after wrecking my motorcycle. Hard to get into a submarine with a full leg cast that took 4 months to get rid of.
I served for 8 1/2 years, 6 1/2 of them onboard the Seawolf. I busted my ass, as did every other crewman onboard, to earn my dolphins. I sweated blood getting the diesel fired up during a reactor scram, I cleaned oil out of the Lube Oil bay bilges, I delivered uncounted breakfasts, lunches, and dinners while mess cooking.
I did all of those things while working on my qualifications. And so did every other qualified submariner. Our dolphins didn't mean that we studied systems enough to bull our way through a checkout. Our dolphins meant that we went through our apprenticeship, that we stuck with it through everything that living on and operating a submarine had to offer.

i still have my card. maybe i'll post the picture when i dig it out of the dusty hole it's hiding in.

edit: posted my card here

man, i love geek stuff

this video is cool. one of great puzzles in quantum physics is the duality of matter. is it a particle or a wave?
toned down for younger audiences, it's still fascinating.

hat tip to knowledge is power for the lead.

another bubblehead blogger, uh, bloggers

these guys are out there lurking, lurking, lurking. occasionally surfacing to comment on a post somewhere. that's when i find 'em. this guy is an electrician nuke, living in the land of cold and funny hats with folks that say ay a lot. no, not canada.
anyway, wander over to see jeff at da fox hole. he's a self professed talker, so let's see if we can get him to fire up a couple of sea stories.
edit some time later!
whoot. here's another one. here's a submarine doc, off of the SSN-687 over at www.ssn687.net blog.
hiya doc. hey doc, i got a problem! "what's that nook?" doc, everything i eat, it turns to crap! "nook, shut the f**k up". (actual conversation. one every doc in the submarine force had, no doubt.)

and another edit:
looks like my bud Jason (another bubblehaid) has fired up his new blog over at redneck nerd boy. this dude is funnier than hell.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

remember your first day on the boat?

i sit back and think of the first 24 hours i spent onboard my boat, and shake my head. talk about going through some changes. while climbing down the ladder into the boat for the first time, i saw a bunch of sailors in poopie suits. they were all playing with yoyos, and giving the LCDR ( i could tell he was on officer because he was wearing a brown belt, brown shoes, gold dolphins, and had gold oakleafs on his collar) twirling a duncan butterfly yoyo) crap. "hey eng...when the hell are you getting off of your fat butt and signing my qual card, you lazy bastid." "hey eng, you really pissed me off during the last drill set. kiss my ass, you fat pig" and more along those lines.
this is not the navy i was expecting. having spent the last two years of my life working through the nuke pipeline, i'd never seen anything like this. i WAS NOT PREPARED for the culture change.
of course, it was all a show put on for the two new guys, with the role of Engineer played by one of my new division mates. took a couple of days to figure it out though, because the eng and greg both went on leave as soon as liberty was set.
so here are a couple of posts by a submariner OLDER than me. he was both a DBFer and a nuke.
check out WELCOME TO SUBMARINES, and then read the second installment HOT BUNKING.
i may have been on the 575, which was a nuke boat, but his stories about life on a diesel boat sure ring familiar.
oh, the blog is Musings of an Old Man. hiya Ted

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

wish i had IKEA stock

there's a new IKEA opening in West Sacramento, with the grand opening today.
i drove past the place at 0600 this morning, and the parking lot is almost full already.
CALTRANS has had light signs on I-80 for over a week now, warning of traffic delays for 3/1 thru 3/6. know why? because the last several IKEA stores to go open in california have snarled the traffic for the first week.

yup, wish i had stock in IKEA.

funny stuff on the radio: do you know what IKEA means in swedish? Particle board.