26 July 2007

Bourdain in for Colicchio

    The ability to make a brilliant, creatively-dazzling and delicious plate of food is near worthless if you can’t do it again and again--exactly the same way--at high speed, under the gun, hung over, after a night of fierce Negroni drinking...while listening to Mexican thrash metal.
      Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain is guest blogging for on Tom Colicchio's "Top Chef" blog. There are two posts so far. Classic Bourdain, but you'll probably need to have seen the show for context.

P.S. I have to admit, I didn't know what a Negroni was before I looked it up.

21 July 2007

Impromptu summer sky tour

    The moving moon went up the sky,
    And nowhere did abide:
    Softly she was going up,
    And a star or two beside.
      Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Yesterday evening was absolutely perfect night for observing the sky. It was cool, dry, and, but for a few wisps of cloud, crystal clear. The sun was barely below the horizen when Venus was out, low in the western sky. The moon was higher in the west, half full. Jupiter was high in southern sky.

I got out the telescope and the whole family spent the next hour looking at everything. We started with Venus, now down to a thin crecent. Normally one associates that shape with the moon, and we had to remind my youngest that this was a crescent Venus.

Next we turn to Jupiter. I wasn't sure the bright object was Jupiter until I looked in the eyepiece. There is no mistaking Jupiter. You can see the stripes if the cloud bands, and the four pinpricks of light that are the Galilean moons.

We moved on to our own moon. This brought wows form the children. The moon more than filled the eyepiece, and we scanned the edge of the shadow where the surface features were in strongest relief.

Finally, so as not to limit our sky tour to the solar system, we aimed the telescope at Mizar, the second star from the end in the Big Dipper's handle. Mizar is actually a binary star - through the telescope you can clearly see that is made up of two stars very close to one another. It is probably the easiest binary star to observe.

It's been too long since we had the telescope out. We need to do this more often.

19 July 2007

To catch Bill O'Reilly

    Every once in awhile he becomes transcendent, perfectly merging the creepy with the unintentionally self-revelatory and the utterly hilarious.
      Keith Olbermann

When Bill O'Reilly interviewed Miss New Jersey Amy Polumbo, he really wanted to know what the blackmail photos were like. Joel McHale's The Soup on E! first featured this clip, but here is Keith Olbermann's take (with obligatory shout-out to McHale).

One more Olbermann quote, from his "Worst Person in the World" for July 19:

His stupidity is effervescent. It glows. It fairly undulates and
vibrates. I'll stop now. I'm getting Bill-O exited.

Guess who won.

16 July 2007

Venus making an exit

    If you gotta go, go with a smile.
      The Joker

    This past Friday, my youngest daughter and I sat on the deck watching the stars come out. The first thing we saw, of course, was Venus. The "Evening Star" is shining its brightest right now, with a magnitude of -4.5. My daughter's eyes are better than mine, so she spotted the first actual star - Sirius. The "Dog Star" is the brightest star in the sky, but it couldn't compete with Venus. We looked at Venus through binoculars, and spotted Regulus just above it.

    Venus is about to make a dramatic exit from the evening sky. Tonight it will be close to the moon and Saturn. I hope it's clear. Then each day, as it lowers in the western sky, it will become an upturned crescent. It will leave with a smile.

    P.S. This was a welcome bright spot in an otherwise awful weekend. Here's why....

    12 July 2007

    Eastern Organic - One year later

      Look what's going on inside you
      Ooooh that smell
        Lynyrd Skynyrd

    Over a year ago I began following the story of Eastern Organic Resources' Woodhue facility in Wrightstown. The company seeking regulatory permission a composting facility that recycled organic waste to produce soil and fuel a methane powered generation plan. To me, this sounded like a great idea. How could you not love a company whose business combined recycling and renewable energy?

    If you've read the lead-in quote, you can guess the answer: that smell. Composting smells bad, and Eastern Organic found themselves in constant struggle with the local government and NJ DEP over air quality. Ironically, the project they sought approval for (the methane generation) could have alleviated the air quality. To collect the methane, they needed to enclose the composter, which would have eliminated most of the odor problem. (I covered most of this my first post).

    Unfortunately, they couldn't work things out. Last July I posted that the DEP had begun proceedings to shut down the facility. I didn't hear much after that. Every now and then I'll google Eastern Organic Resources, finding nothing new.

    Looks like I missed this story in June, though. The full article isn't available for free, but the snippet suggests someone may be interested in buying the company. I guess that means they're still operating. They still have a web site, but it's not clear how current it is. I'll have to keep an eye out and see.

    11 July 2007


      Me: They're not. No way
      Friend: Way. Way way.

    A friend sent a link to this:

    There is a "Will it Blend" website with many more videos, including one with a can of EZ Cheese. The site was created by Blendtec to show off their blender. Now that's advertising!

    10 July 2007

    More lies

      Your tongue should be embarrassed, you're a threat to mankind.
        L.L. Cool J
        "That's A Lie"

    Six days after receiving a report that FBI agents obtained personal information they were not entitled to have, Alberto Gonzales assured the Senate intelligence committee that the FBI had not abused its Patriot act powers. It wasn't the first report either - it was one of maybe half a dozen such he received in the three months preceding his testimony. I predict neither shock nor outrage at this revelation because no one will be the least bit surprised.

    Check out the full story.

    07 July 2007

    Net radio in danger

      Lights out guerilla Radio
      Turn that shit up
      It has to start somewhere
      It has to start sometime
      What better place than here
      What better time than now
        Rage Against the Machine

    I've started listenning to YRock on XPN at work. Whenever you first launch the stream, you get a message encouraging you to visit SaveNetRadio.org. Here's the deal: the Copyright Royalty Board (CRB), which oversees sound recording royalties paid by Internet radio services, increased Internet radio's royalty burden by 300 to 1200. Most Internet radio stations won't be able to afford this and will either go offline, or be forced into deals with record companies giving them control of programming content. Particularly unfair is that Internet radio royalties are already twice that of sattelite radio.

    I have to admit, I was totally oblivious to this issue until now. I even missed the day of silence when all Internet radio stations went intentionally dark. *Rob did put up a post about this issue as it pertains to podsafe music. Check it out.

    Also, check out SaveNetRadio to learn more.

    06 July 2007


      We enveloped our President in 2001. And those who did not believe he should have been elected—indeed those who did not believe he had been elected—willingly lowered their voices and assented to the sacred oath of non-partisanship.

      And George W. Bush took our assent, and re-configured it, and honed it, and shaped it to a razor-sharp point and stabbed this nation in the back with it.
        Keith Olbermann

    Sharon and Rob both posted this. Still, I wanted to highlight this quote that so accurately and succinctly illustrates what this administration has done to the American people.

    Meat Cake!

      Kick ass!
        Eric Cartman

    Sharon's Food Blog posted a link to the Television Without Pity recaps of Top Chef.* Yesterday I was there reading the recap of Season 3 Episode 3. Meatloaf played an important role in the episode, and Keckler included a most wonderful link in her recap. What link?

    Two words: MEAT CAKE. Check it out.

    * BTW, I take credit (or responsibility) for sending her there.

    03 July 2007

    Advair has some competition

      We know that Symbicort delivers improved control as soon as the first day of use. And it has a fairly rapid onset of action, within 15 minutes. We believe that will be a point of differentiation for us.
        Tony Zook, president and chief executive of AstraZeneca

    It's been over a year since I've wrote this post about Advair and a sensationalist article about it in Forbes magazine, and I am still getting comments. It's possibly my most visited post ever. Most comments are from people like me, who found Advair to be almost life-changing, our Asthma under control for the first time ever. Some comments focused on issues with the Serevent component of Advair, and there are some good points to consider there. Read the post and comments for the details.

    Anyway, I decided today to see what came up in Google News about Advair, and it looks like AstraZeneca's bringing in some competition. They are about to release Symbicort which, like Advair, contains corticosteroid and a long-acting beta agonist. It will be tough to compete with Advair, though, especially since Symbicort is only approved for adults with asthma, while Advair is also approved for children with asthma and adults with CPOD.

    Judging by the quote I've included at top, AstraZeneca may try to highlight the speed with which their beta agonist takes effect. This is a concern, since neither Advair nor Symbicort is meant for acute asthma attacks. That's what rescue inhalers like albuterol are for. This type of marketing could lead to a lot of confusion and health risks.

    Anyway, we'll see how it goes. Here's the WSJ article about Symbicort. Happy breathing.

    Do you have what it takes to become a citizen?

      Hey, do you know about the U.S.A.?
      Do you know about the government?
      Can you tell me about the Constitution?
      Hey, learn about the U.S.A.
        Schoolhouse Rock

    MSNBC has a July 4th Special Quiz with selected questions from the civics test given to prospective citizens. The quiz is supposed to have some of the more difficult questions, but the multiple choice format makes it easier, especially given some of the incorrect choices they offer.

    See how you do. I scored 95%, as I didn't know the INS form is used to apply for citizenship.