Friday, January 28, 2011

Why They Sound Like That

Cassie plays the bassoon, so I have to poke some fun. I've discovered the secret to that unique bassoon sound.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Habañero Death Chili

Okay, so here's one of those recipes I promised. This is my own. I looked up a bunch of chili recipes and decided to make my own out of stuff I like in some recipes with none of what I don't. It's my recipe, I can do what I want! And what do I like? I like spicy. The spicy you can only get with habañeros. What do I don't want? Tomatoes. Tomatoey chilis are good, but I'd rather just have the beans, meat, and peppers. One recipe I found had three different meats, so I started there. Here's my recipe:

Habañero Death Chili:

1/2 lb bacon
1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
1 green bell pepper
1 yellow onion
6 jalapeño peppers
6 habañero peppers
6 anaheim peppers
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp beef bouillon
2 (16oz) cans kidney beans
2 (16oz) cans black beans
2 (16oz) cans pinto beans
1 (12oz) bottle beer
2 cups water

Finely chop onion and peppers (the hotter the pepper, the finer it should be chopped). Fry the bacon until it is crispy; blot the grease and chop fine. Cook the ground beef and pork until half done. Drain grease, add chopped bacon and vegetables, continue cooking until meat is done. Place meat and vegetables in cooking pot. Drain and rinse beans, add to pot with water and spices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let simmer 20 minutes. Add beer, simmer additional 20-30 minutes.

If you have reservations about cooking with alcohol, use a cup of water or broth instead of the beer, or add it earlier to let more of the alcohol cook off. It is a popular ingredient common to many chili recipes. I've made a couple of these, and let the alcohol cook off (most, not all, cooks off, but the remaining amount is not significant), and it adds a good subtle flavor to the chili. At the recommendation of a friend, I used Fat Tire, but almost any non-lite beer will have enough flavor to work well.

If you prefer less heat, use fewer habañeros. Nearly all the heat in this recipe comes from those. The other peppers don't add a noticeable amount of heat, only flavor. Cheese and sour cream also serve to balance the heat a bit.

Orphan meat may be used as a substitute for ground pork, as it has a similar but richer, juicier flavor. It is hard to come by, though, and illegal in some states.

It goes really well with macaroni & cheese!

Or, better yet, a macaroni chili dog. Yes. I made one. Here it is. It was the best thing ever.

Feel free to play around with it and offer suggestions. If you make it, please give me feedback!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Year, New Blog

Well, my blog apparently died again three months ago. But it's back! With a new look! I decided I wanted a new picture, and with some of the new design tools Blogger has implemented, I was able to take a photo of the Eagle nebula, darken and stylize it so it's not unreasonably hard to read text over it, and here we go! I even got to use about the same color scheme as before, which is good.

So what's next?

I've tweaked the layout of the links on the right. As you can see, I only have two links so far under "Good Recipes". This is going to change. I've come up with my own really hot chili recipe, and as soon as I name it, it's going on the list along with other foods I've been playing with lately.

I've split the movie review list into two categories: Good Movies and Bad Movies. I prefer to review good movies, since that's what I'd rather see; but when I see a bad movie, I like to get something positive out of the experience by trying to decide what exactly went wrong. Also, some movies are so bad I need to rant about it, and some movies that are quite popular are actually terrible and it's up to me to let everyone know, of course. Duh. So the Good Movies list will likely stay much longer than the Bad Movies list, expect them both to grow this year. I've seen a bunch that I've been meaning to blog about, but I've been busy being lazy and procrastinating. Priorities first!

Expect more music talk, including hopefully in the not quite so near future some recordings I plan to make. I've been picking up Bach's cello suites on the bass Trombone and would like to get some of them recorded.

There'll be more politics, too. I must admit, I've never been more frustrated by the topic. It's hard to organize my thoughts, but I've got some new stuff to rant about. All are required to read my rants and agree with me.

That's all for now!

Monday, October 4, 2010

iTunes 10

Everyone is allowed to make mistakes from time to time, so long as they learn from them. Even the best of us make mistakes, and in this case the best of us is Steve Jobs. Yes, I am a long-time fan of Steve Jobs. Pretty much every good thing to ever come out of Apple was his idea. Even better, Jobs is responsible for making Pixar the company it is today, having bought the company from Lucasfilm, then partnering with Disney. This is largely what has made Apple the media powerhouse it is today, which includes iTunes. iTunes is not only the best media player available, but it has the easiest user interface I've ever used. It's easy because it's simple and intuitive, but powerful.

But the new version goes too far. When you have a perfect interface, taking buttons away doesn't make it simpler, it makes it more confusing. Also, the convenient colorful interface made navigation easy, but now iTunes is... gray. Just gray. It's surprising what a difference the color made!

So what now? Switch to something else? No thank you. I've used
WinAmp, RealPlayer, and Windows Media Player, and even at its worst iTunes is far more powerful and easy to use. But I want my color back!

Here's the good news: You can fix it, partly. Not entirely. If you use Windows, I don't know a solution other than to switch to Mac (but I'm sure there is one); but if you are on MacOSX, it's really easy. Download
this file I found and unzip it. Quit iTunes 10 and find it in the Finder, right-click on it, and select "Show Package Contents". Navigate to the "Resources" folder, and move the file named "iTunes.rsrc" to your desktop in case you need it again. There's a new file with the same name in the folder you just downloaded and unzipped; put it in the "Resources" folder where the original file was. Close the windows, and open iTunes back up. It's not a complete fix, but at least the playlist icons are colorful again.

Now I have something else for you guys... What do you think of the new iTunes logo? I hate it. I understand Jobs' reasoning... we're moving beyond CDs, so let's get rid of the CD icon. But the old one was recognizable and iconic. The new one is bland and... Windowsy. Really, the first time I saw it, on a friends laptop, I had no idea it was iTunes. It's not ugly, it's just stupid. So just to rub it in Jobs' face even more, I made my own iTunes logo. What's more obsolete than CDs? 8-tracks, cassette tapes... vinyl! Here is my gift to my readers, my homemade iTunes Vinyl logo:

On a Mac, download the .png and open it in Preview, "Select All" from the "Edit" menu, and "Copy". Find iTunes 10 in the Finder, and "Get Info" from the "File" menu. Click on the lame logo in the upper-left corner of the Info window so it's highlighted, and hit "Command-V" to paste it. The old logo will still be in your dock, but you can drag iTunes out of the dock, then open iTunes, right-click the icon in the dock and select "Keep in Dock".

I think changing icons in Windows is pretty easy, too, but I don't remember the process.

The downside is that you may have to do this again when you update iTunes... but there's hope. One thing I respect about Apple is that the company learns from mistakes. The Windows-looking logo is probably here to stay, but we may get a better interface back. Remember the iPod Shuffle? It's known for being the smallest .mp3 player, but a couple years ago they took it too far. To make it even smaller, they took away the buttons, making it unusable without special headphones. This was a bad move, but Apple learned and the new iPod Shuffle has the old buttons back. So keep hope!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A New Record!

I haven't blogged in almost two months. It's a new record! It makes me think of this, from one of my favorite bloggers, Dan Bergstein:
"[I'm] going to start a blog called "Sorry I Haven't Updated in a While" and it will only feature articles apologizing for not updating more often. Sample: Sorry I haven't updated the blog in a while, but a spider hopped into my mouth, laid eggs, and now I'm pregnant with spiders."
Meanwhile, I've been back at ISU for a month now. This has been/will be a busy semester. I'm focusing on my music minor, which I've just started. That means music theory, which I haven't studied since high school... ten years ago! Music theory. Aural skills (sight singing and dictation, both of which I've been doing on my own for forever so it's easy). Trombone lessons with Dr. Brooks (I'm playing the bass Trombone this semester, and it is so much fun!). Mr. York coerced me to join the marching band by telling me there was a $400 scholarship (there was). So far there are a lot of sentences in this post that end with a statement in parentheses (like this one). In addition to marching band, I'm in the symphonic band, both jazz bands, and a brass ensemble (that's five total ensembles). Busy times! I also have a couple geology projects I'm trying to get done, but time and computer access has been an issue.

That's what's up in brief... enjoy this photo of my now eight-month-old beard!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Blue Angels

So, that thing I said I'd post about that was fun instead of political but I needed to go through all the pictures first? Yep. Here it is!

I've blogged before about the excellent air show put on annually in Rexburg, one of the few worthwhile things to see there.

This year they skipped the air show, because the Blue Angels came to Idaho Falls, and no matter how good your show is (Rexburg puts on one of the best), you can't compete with that. So several of the planes that regularly show off in Rexburg were in Idaho Falls, instead. And this time, I had a great camera to capture it all!

I'm going to try doing this a bit differently. Instead of embedding dozens of high-resolution photos in this post, and making the page take forever to load, I'm just embedding a few of my very favorites. The rest I've sorted and posted to my gallery at deviantART, and I recommend you check them out there. You can download the full resolution images to use as desktop backgrounds or whatever. I'm thinking of ordering one or two as prints, and if I'm satisfied with the quality for the price charged by dA, I'll make them available there as prints, too.

Any of you who know me or read my previous air show post know that the best plane ever is the
P-51 Mustang. Also, this is my favorite plane. (That it's the best is a fact; that it's my favorite is just my opinion.) A particularly cool thing at this airshow was a flyby of a Mustang with the more modern F-16 Fighting Falcon, which served a similar role to the Mustang:

There wasn't as much emphasis on the Mustang at this show as there is in Rexburg, but at least it was there, and had its chance to show off. Greg Poe was there to do his aerobatic routine, which is always fun to watch:

A popular act at the air show each year is an aerobatic routine in a Beechcraft Model 18, popularly known as the "Twin Beech". The reason this routine is so unique is that it is a plane not at all suited to aerobatics (it was designed for such uses as cargo carrying and aerial firefighting). Flying this plane like they do at the show is like drift racing an eighteen-wheeler.
Kyle Franklin was there to fly his Twin Beech, and did not disappoint:

And, with a hint of what's to come in this post:

Are you getting excited? No? Look at that picture again. How about now? Good!

Kyle Franklin wasn't done, though. He followed this up with another routine, in which his wife Amanda stands on the wing of his "Mystery Ship", and performs a "pirate" show. This was tons of fun:

I have a new goal in life: Stand on top of an airplane while the pilot performs an aerobatic routine.

There was more, too, but those were the best highlights except for the final, main act: The Blue Angels. Ooooooh, yes. I have wanted to see these guys for forever. You'd think that having expectations set so high for so long can only lead to disappointment, but you'd be thinking of things not as cool as the Blue Angels, 'cause they lived up to the hype and then some. My brother and I managed to get pretty much as close as was possible to the show without being in the special VIP area for friends and family of the performers. We were just a couple hundred feet, if that, from "center point" of all the maneuvers.

These guys are amazing. Angels 1 through 4 perform fly-bys in formation, and while they circle around 5 and 6 play chicken, performing "knife-edge" passes. Except for a couple slow "dirty" passes, all the maneuvers are at 400 to 600 mph, and at that speed they fly at a "minimum separation" of 18 inches apart. That's close enough that if they could open their canopies, they could reach out and grab their wingman's wingtip. And when they fly by a mere couple hundred feet away at 600 mph, the thunder makes every bone in your body shake. It is a truly awesome experience, and if you ever have the opportunity to see them perform, take it.

In fact, I predict that a man can find himself at the final Judgment after he dies and hear these words: "Well, you've lived a perfect life, except for one thing: You had the chance to see the Blue Angels, and you decided to feed homeless people and take a stray sick puppy to the vet instead, and also you ended war forever. What are you, stupid? We can't let you in to Heaven, sorry."

That last picture reminds me about how I forgot to take sunscreen, and I got super, super sunburned, and didn't even care because it was totally worth it.

I took quite a few photos, and these are the best of the best, but the rest of the best are here in my Airplanes folder at my deviantART gallery. Please take a look!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Big Media, Big Government, and Manufactured Crises

Guess what? I have fun stuff to blog; but while I get the photos ready, lets' get the first of two major "See, I told you so"s out of the way first.

Last month, in a post about the BP-Obama Oil Spill, I shared the following important quote by Rahm Emanuel, mastermind behind the deceptive but brilliant tactics that put Nancy Pelosi in place as Speaker of the House in 2006, and current Chief of Staff to President Barack Hussein Obama (the first racist president in my lifetime, and the first I know of to have declared open war on the United States):
"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that, it's an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before." - Rahm Emanuel
This quote came before the BP-Obama Oil Spill, but was validated as the central tenet of liberal political tactics as Obama's response to the spill consisted of refusing cleanup help offered graciously by foreign countries, forbidding Bobby Jindal from building sand berms, refusing to utilize cleanup boats from other parts of the country because "they might be needed where they are", and delaying BP from testing and using the cap that finally stopped the leak as long as possible. Meanwhile reporters were denied access to "oil-soaked" beaches, while Obama made an appearance between golf trips to a Gulf Coast beach to pick up tar balls (there are always tar balls on those beaches; they are a natural occurrence, due to natural seepage of oil that has nothing to do with drilling, and the recent oil spill consisted of light crude unlikely to form these balls!).

This "crisis", however, shows that the liberal philosophy goes far beyond simply capitalizing on a crisis. Rahm may as well have said "If there's not a crisis, but an opportunity to manufacture a fake one, don't let the opportunity to fool those stupid plebes that voted for us go to waste!" This was the perfect opportunity to use a net of lies to continue Barack Hussein Obama's war against America's private sector, and fire a volley of unconstitutional decrees aimed at destroying the economy of the Gulf Coast.

The BP-Obama Oil Spill was universally throughout the mainstream media and Big Government billed as the greatest environmental catastrophe in the history of the United States. The Obama Regime felt secure in making such outrageous claims because Big Media is always on the side of Big Government. In fact, Rush Limbaugh has coined a term far more descriptive of Big Media: Partisan Political Operatives.

There were several voices, either completely ignored by Partisan Political Operatives or dismissed as "anti-environment" or "crazy" or "invested in Big Oil", etc., who insisted that this "environmental crises" was anything but. I summarized it last month, a couple weeks before the leak was stopped:

"The Ixtoc I oil spill, about the same size as the BP-Obama spill and also in the Gulf of Mexico, occurred in 1979, and almost no-one remembers it today. This spill is bad, but it will be little more than a sentence or two in our children's history books. Even with the higher estimates of about 130 million gallons of leaked oil, the Mississippi River pours that much new water into the Gulf every 38 seconds. The Gulf is huge. Even without drilling, millions of gallons of oil naturally seep into the ocean daily, and the seawater destroys it. This is far more concentrated, but even with no action whatsoever on our part, in a couple decades it would be cleaned up naturally. The surface of the Gulf is 615,000 square miles, and the volume is 660,000,000,000,000,000 gallons. That's 660 quadrillion gallons, more than any mind can conceive. This spill is tiny, and the Earth isn't even noticing it."

The current evidence from the Gulf of Mexico seems to show that even that was an understatement! Just days after the leak was finally stopped (by BP, not the government!), there are already very few signs that anything ever happened out there. It's such a drastic contrast that even the Partisan Political Operatives who pretend to report news can't ignore it. All over Big Media, they're all scratching their heads, saying "Where is the oil?", and are desperate to find any evidence they can of environmental harm, but it's just not there! The current media template is that "the oil seems to have rapidly evaporated and been broken down by bacteria, but there has to be some sort of long-term damage, and we need to wait to resume drilling until we figure out what it is." If the media had been doing the job they claim to do, reporting news rather than pushing the political agenda of the Obama Regime, they would have been saying all along that "once this is capped, nature will take care of it far better than we can, and in a few months all will be back to normal". Instead, it's a shock and a surprise!

Here it is from the New York Times, "On the Surface, Gulf Oil Spill Is Vanishing Fast; Concerns Stay":

"The oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be dissolving far more rapidly than anyone expected, a piece of good news that raises tricky new questions about how fast the government should scale back its response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster."

"The dissolution of the slick should reduce the risk of oil killing more animals or hitting shorelines. But it does not end the many problems and scientific uncertainties associated with the spill, and federal leaders emphasized this week that they had no intention of walking away from those problems any time soon. The effect on sea life of the large amounts of oil that dissolved below the surface is still a mystery."

"[...] understanding the effects of the spill on the shorelines that were hit, including Louisiana’s coastal marshes, is expected to occupy scientists for years."

"The gulf has an immense natural capacity to break down oil, which leaks into it at a steady rate from thousands of natural seeps. Though none of the seeps is anywhere near the size of the Deepwater Horizon leak, they do mean that the gulf is swarming with bacteria that can eat oil."

You get the idea. This was known before the BP-Obama Oil Spill, so why were those voicing these opinions treated as fringe kooks? Because that opinion wouldn't hurt Big Oil the way the Obama Regime and his Partisan Political Operatives wanted. Now, the truth is inescapable, so suddenly these people have a voice, but "don't be too hasty saying this is done, 'cause there has to be a problem and we're going to investigate until we find one or make one up!"

From the Washington Post, "Majority of spilled oil in Gulf of Mexico unaccounted for in government data":

That would leave slightly less than 4 million barrels missing.

The best-case scenario is that much of this amount has been eaten by the gulf's natural stock of oil-munching microbes. Several scientists have said they are concerned that these microbes could cause their own problems, depleting the oxygen that gulf creatures need in the water.

But Wednesday, NOAA's Lubchenco said oxygen-free dead zones have not been detected so far. And Ed Overton, a professor at LSU, said he believed the microbial process, supercharged by summer heat, was helping. "We have made a gigantic biological treatment pond in the gulf," Overton said. Because of its work, he said, "we're well, well over the hump. I would say that the acute damage -- we've seen it, it's [already] been done. And that the environment is in the recovery stage."

Notice how they set the tone right from the beginning, suggesting that this is a mystery, and not obvious. The oil is "missing", "unaccounted for", not broken down by bacteria and taken care of by nature, even though the quotes shared say that's what happened. Don't let facts and evidence get in the way of the message!

Another Washington Post article, "Oil in gulf is degrading, becoming harder to find, NOAA head says", says this:

"The light crude oil is biodegrading quickly," NOAA director Jane Lubchenco said during the response team daily briefing. "We know that a significant amount of the oil has dispersed and been biodegraded by naturally occurring bacteria."

Lubchenco said, however, that both the near- and long-term environmental effects of the release of several million barrels of oil remain serious and to some extent unpredictable.

"The sheer volume of oil that's out there has to mean there are some pretty significant impacts," she said. "What we have yet to determine is the full impact the oil will have not just on the shoreline, not just on wildlife, but beneath the surface."

But much of the oil appears to have been broken down into tiny, microscopic particles that are being consumed by bacteria. Little or none of the oil is on seafloor, she said, but is instead floating in the gulf waters.

The head of the NOAA is herself a Partisan Political Operative (that's how you get that job), and so of course is a good source for Big Media, saying here "yeah, looks like the seawater is taking care of it, but... there has to be significant impact, and we're going to look 'till we find it!"

It's not a surprise. Those of us with perspective of history and previous similar events and a dose of common sense knew this was a tiny blip in the big picture, and nothing remotely resembling an environmental crisis. The real crisis is the war being waged on American prosperity by the very man whose responsibility it is to represent the country he despises. Barack Hussein Obama, you and your big ears may have won this battle, but the war will be decided November 2010, and the Last Battle for America will be fought November 2012 (I'm starting to think the Mayans were right, and the world will end in 2012, but it won't be with tidal waves and solar flares, but with the last free country conquered by socialist dictators!).

Meanwhile, here's something ironic: It seems ethanol production isn't so good for the environment, but since ethanol is supported by the Regime and the Partisan Political Operatives, stories like this are rare: From the San Francisco Chronicle, "Dead zone in gulf linked to ethanol production".

(I thought of a clever t-shirt/bumper sticker: "Ethanol: Goes in your mouth, not in your car!")