Monday, January 31, 2005

Serious, and not so

First, the serious post: Security expert, Bruce Schneier, is part of the team tasked with implementing Security First. Security First is the program that matches airline passenger's names with those on terrorist watch lists in the U.S. The problem is that Schneier thinks this is a waste of taxpayer's money.

That’s my usual metric when I think about a terrorism security measure: Would it be more effective than taking that money and funding intelligence, investigation, or emergency response -- things that protect us regardless of what the terrorists are planning next. Money spent on security measures that only work against a particular terrorist tactic, forgetting that terrorists are adaptable, is largely wasted.

In the not-so-serious category comes this unbelievable story of a man who saved himself after being buried in an avalanche by drinking copious amounts of beer and urinating.

Quickies and weekend

Not much went on yesterday. After speaking with the scarents on the phone for a couple of hours (and drinking copious amounts of coffee during the conversation), I read the paper, went to the health club, and came home to Shawn who made breakfast for us (nice surprise!). Later, it was a nap, a walk around the hood with Shawn (the hood is building up fast - most of the plots are sold), then watch a little television, read a little, and make dinner. A nice, quiet day.

The web was abuzz with things a happening, of course. For instance, we have a new roadmap for Firefox 2.0, including the latest dates for Firefox 1.1's release.

Speaking of Firefox, here's the Firefox Tweak Guide. For those of you who want an extra burst from their browser.

Juan Cole, always one of the better analysts on the middle east and Iraq, has rounded up some of the best reporting and commentary on the vote yesterday.

Remember Disney's Song of the South? Eisner vows that they'll never release it due to the racist overtones in the picture. I saw it in theaters when I was a kid. I remember the racist elements, but more than that, I remember the songs. A fan page has sprung up to force Disney to release it on DVD. Really, it should be released on DVD. We shouldn't run from our past.

Sunday, January 30, 2005


Whew...yesterday was busy. Shawn and I went out and spent a portion of the Nordstrom's gift cards we received as Xmas gifts from my parents. Shawn got some exercise clothes while I got a couple of pairs of new shoes (casual, but dressy looking...well, sort of...I was looking for comfort).

Next, we stopped by Costco in Lynnwood (near the Nordstrom's that we went to). It reminded Shawn of the Costco's of days gone by. Out in Kirkland and Issaquah, Costco has books, music, DVDs, clothes, furniture and such. In Lynnwood, the Costco has none of that, save for some computer desks. Instead, they have an extensive selection of cooking and restaurant supplies. We picked up a couple of new strainers along with some of our regular food items (to which we've added Wilcox Omega 3 eggs from Costco that we can buy for $2 + change for 18 eggs, saving about half off what the supermarkets charge), including some Seattle Mountain Indonesian Sumatra blend coffee ($9 for 3 pounds) which was surprisingly good and will become a decent daily coffee. We didn't go nuts and made it out of the store for slightly over $100.

We also ran by the new vacuum and sewing shop in Monroe to buy a HEPA filter for our vacuum. They didn't have one in stock, but would get it in by Tuesday and would take back the old one we had bought by mistake ages ago - that's good service.

Next door to the Vacuum shop is All Star Fitness. This is a new facility in Monroe. It's your standard health club with weight and aerobics machines, classes, saunas, steam rooms, whirlpools and such (swimming pool to be added sometime in the next year). I've been talking about joining since they announced that they were coming here. Shawn's been encouraging me to go ahead and sign up - she already has a membership to The Pro Club which Microsoft subsidizes and which is right across the street from her office. My friend, Davo, was chatting me up about it on Friday night as well (he and Shawn were tag teaming me). We decided to spend a little of the holiday gift money on my membership. I'll be hitting the treadmill and maybe the cycling machine this morning when they open at 8AM.

We were home for a couple of hours before running out again for a cat toy. We had seen this right before Xmas and thought that the cats would like it. Sure enough, they do like it. Even Baraka got involved playing with it. Chaiyo was a little intimidated, but I suspect that he'll be fine by the end of today.

After getting the cat toy, we went to dinner at D-Thai in Bothell. It's in the same strip mall center as the pet shop. The service was slow - poor hostess was slammed at the dinner hour - but the decor was nice and the food was very good. The Phad Thai was different from the ones we're used to eating. It seemed to have a tomatoe based sauce and was denser that many. We ordered it with tofu and got some big chunks. There weren't many veggies mixed in, though. We also order the ginger scallops. Lots of veggies in this dish and a ton of ginger. It was very tasty. All of the veggies were cooked very well. Both dishes were relatively cheap, by Seattle standards, and one dish would be enough for 2 people. Too bad that they didn't have spring rolls in stock. We'll go back if we're in the neighborhood again. However, Monroe is growing and we're adding a Thai restaurant, an Indian restaurant, as well as Canyons and Red Robin (the latter 2 I'm not excited about, but it is growth...then again, so is cancer).

OK, that's the weekend thus far locally. Here's a story from this morning's Washington Post (registration required). It's about how the administration, or someone else, hires handlers to follow reporters around during the inaugural balls. What? Is this China?!!? Note to those who think I'm being anti-Bush: The Clinton administration sometimes did the same thing, according to the story - and it's just as bad. Frankly, I don't trust Democrats any more than I trust Republicans (I just find their politics more tolerable). I'm disgusted by the report. Also of note, the handlers did not interfere with any of the reporter's movements or questions or such, but then again, reporters are often free in China - they just don't get invited back again if they step out of line. Ridiculous.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


An Update on eXeem: I previously reported on eXeem as being a BitTorrent-based P2P software that uses no centralized network which makes it more difficult to be tracked by the RIAA and MPAA. While this is true, I cannot recommend the software as it contains spyware. The good news is that eXeem Lite is out without the bloated spyware. Get it while you can as the makers of eXeem are bound to sue...not that this will halt development. It's amusing how the makers of P2P with spyware (like Kazaa) end up suing developers who make spyware free versions of their software for impinging on their copyrights. And the battle continues...

Here's an amusing video to be sent to newbies who make the most common errors on message boards. It's done in an old timey style. Requires audio.

After my posting about XM Radio, I read on Slashdot this morning that XM and Sirius are in talks about a merger. This makes some sense as both companies license much of the same material. It remains to be seen if the FCC will allow the merger.

Finally, and this was worth waiting for, sculptures based on the work of Hiëronymus Bosch.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


Firefox 1.1 release has apparently been pushed back. No date set, but probably later than the originally announced March 2005 date.

USA Hurray has an article about a guy who wanted to drive Americans out of Arab lands. Unfortunately for him, his collaborators blew up the truck with him still in it. That was not his plan. Buried in the article is the real headline grabbing tidbit:

While he was awaiting his mission, he says, he was told that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of a terrorist network responsible for numerous bombings and beheadings, had been captured by Iraqi police only to be let go after seven hours because they didn't recognize him.

Finally, my brother would like me to note that his employer's IT department did not just block my blog (I didn't think that they targeted me), but rather all blogs. Apparently they believe that blogs are personal spaces only and therefore offer no value to their development teams. So, if you will, please ignore the following examples:

Sun Bloggers - Blogs for Sun employees, including developers
Planet Sun - See above
OraBlog - Blog for the Oracle development community
Channel 9 - MSDN site, which really isn't a blog, but they publish several feeds via RSS just like bloggers do, so you can read it with your favorite aggregator.
ScottGu's Blog - ASP.NET guru
Nikhilk - another ASP.NET guru
SQL Server MSDN Site - Again, not a blog, but an RSS feed
O'Reilly Developer Blogs - postings by writers for the famous developing publishing house.
Scobleizer - Microsoft's Blog guru/marketing/geekenthusiast. Sure, he is sometimes a blow hard, but he often spreads some good info. I browse him daily.
SecurityFocus - It is as advertised. I suppose IT folks would never read it.
Schneier on Security - Similar to above, only with a personal view on topics. Developers and IT folks have probably never read Applied Cryptography by the same guy. - More SQL Experts Blogs
Truncate Table...master sysdatabases - Another SQL blog
VS Data Team's Weblog - The name says it all
SQL Junkies - Yet another SQL blog
Solid Quality Learning - A SQL Guru Blog

These are but a few of the blogs that my aggregator picks up feeds from daily. My point is not that my blog should be open for any business but rather for someone to say that blogs are useful for nothing other than personal space is for that person to show she has her head firmly up her ass...or her boss' ass.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Demand your Chastity Belt

This is such cool activism. Quoting from the site:

If our lawmakers want to make chastity our only option, shouldn't they give us the right accessories? Order your chastity belt from the Pennsylvania State Legislature TODAY!

Friday, January 21, 2005

Devil Doll in the Northwest

Devil Doll are playing the Tractor Tavern on Sunday, January 30th. I'm so there.

MPAA and Torrents

Boing Boing has a good article today on one torrent server who is talkng legal circles around the MPAA in their efforts to bring down the provider. Fight the good fight!

Update: eXeem is a program in it's infancy that combines the properties of BitTorrent with the search capabilities of Kazaa. On top of that, it uses no centralized network for tracking, making it that much harder for the legal groups to find users. The company just released their public Beta for download. Slashdot is where I read about the release.

Anti-Inaugural Edition

I tried, I really-really tried to listen to NPR's coverage of the ceremonies, but I couldn't. Once I heard a commentator, who is supposed to be a reporter, gushing over the Republicans (probably hoping she could get a discount on the interview fees the President charges), I had to turn it off. What did I want or expect from NPR? Well, I expected more than what the networks had; I expected balanced coverage and an airing of the issues to face the next 2 years plus the effects of a lame duck term. Alas, it was not to be.

Of course, I was still in a bit of a snit. My brother wrote me yesterday and, among other items, mentioned to me that this lowly blog has been banned by the IT dopes at his place of employment. Apparently he and some of his colleagues have been looking in from time to time - not commenting, mind you - and the IT people considered this to either be dangerous (I do mention pornography on occassion, but it's usually tame stuff and, heck, I saw a dishwasher full of vibrators on CSI last night) or simply stealing from work. I'd mention the name of the company except that writing blogs about employers is getting some people fired (sue the bastards, folks). The logical progression is to fire people for reading blogs. Someone should start up internal blogging at this company and get everyone in on the act.

I was once disciplined at Corbis for a series of internal emails between myself and another employee of the company. The email exchange was over a new release from the company formerly known as Digital Stock (a royalty free division which has since been assimilated). The release was a CD of a hundred pictures and the theme was "Homosexual".

I was particularly excited about this release. It was an early foray into such marketing and I was happy to see Corbis taking a stance. As the archivist, I was able to view the photos early as they were being submitted to our collection. What I saw were a set of standard marketing photos of which two thirds could hardly be considered queer and the other third one might call "soft queer". For instance, a woman lying in a hammock is not a queer photo (she may be a pretty woman and she may be a lesbian, but how is anyone to know that from looking at the photo?). The "soft queer" photos were represented by such images as two women toasting wine at a restaurant with candle light or by 5 men silhoutted on a dock by the sunset holding their hands up in a "Y" shape (presumably doing "YMCA" by the Village People after a hard day of kayaking).

I wrote my friend at the Digital Stock headquarters, located in Encinitas at the time, and asked him what the fuck was up with this? How could they blow such a moment? They could have shown some insight and some sensitivity to a community and instead they glossed it over so much as to make it void of all meaning, let alone the meaning that buyers were led to believe existed on the CD? This began a long email exchange. As I scanned through the photos, my criticism became more pronounced. One might say that the queer gene clicked on and went into over drive in this bisexual man and I became catty and campy in my commentary. The aforementioned woman in a hammock image became derisively known as the "LL Bean lesbian". Keep in mind, it wasn't the intent of the series that I was upset with, but rather the execution.

After the exchange, my friend went to lunch. While he was away from his desk, his petulant manager decided to find out what he and his friends were laughing about and discussing so animatedly in the processing lab (apparently enjoying my commentary). She found the email threads and mailed them to her own account. She then turned them over to the vice president of the Digital Stock division. He went on to "out" the emails rather publicly by sending copies off to HR, the president of the company, a vice president of the compay (who oversaw my work), my manager, his employee, and myself. WHen I got into work the next morning, I saw his email. I was outraged that somehow my "private" (what I thought were private, but as it turned out, was the real lesson I learned from this episode) exchanges had been exposed and revealed to so many people. Angry, but determined to answer his criticisms, I replied and took him on. It was probably not the smartest thing to do, but I was determined to engage in conversation rather than bow down to this idiot who, among other things, claimed it was difficult to find a gay photographer to work on the project (yes, right, a gay photographer in Southern California must be tough to land), that the photographer who did the shoot had a brother who is gay (um, OK...I have black friends, but that doesn't mean that I understand their realities completely), and that the photos had been approved of by our gay co-president (who, as I pointed out, probably didn't want to be known as the arbitor of all things queer in our company and, while I was at it, there were a lot of gay people who worked for Corbis who would have been happy to offer their input).

A debate occured within the company over what to do about this exchange. To his credit, the VP at Digital Stock began to back down and he took this more detailed criticism constructively. The episode was not yet done. Having brought HR into this mess, they felt the need to get involved. They wanted me to sign a letter reprimanding me for my behaviour and place it in my file. My manager went with me to stand up for my rights and told me that if there was anything in it, that I should have it corrected before I sign the letter. None of the Corbis HR staff came to the meeting. Instead, they sent a temp to do their dirty work. After reading the letter, I requested several changes and they were made quickly and then I signed it. One of the items I insisted on changing was a clause that would forbid me for every saying anything derisive about Corbis, it's products, or it's employees ever again. I told the temp that would violate my constitutional rights and had it struck from the letter. It was the right thing for her to do.

Hence, you're able to read this tale today. Corbis was over reaching in it's response to my behaviour. I was foolish to think that my email exchange would necessarily remain private (hey, give me a break - it was the mid 90s and I was still learning). The manager who brought the email to light was moved within the company, but never promoted. The VP who wrote about me was fired before I left the company. In fact, I outlasted all of the other participants save for the co-president and my VP. Disagreement, criticism, disputes are all natural within any organization. They can actually be healthy depending upon how they are handled and resolved. Corbis did a decent job of it, but I'd still give them a "B" for even letting HR get ahold of this. The corporations who are firing employees for posting on their blogs, particularly the satirical blogs, are handling this thing called free speech poorly. As long as the writer is not divulging corporate secrets, their employers should be hands off. And, as long as my brother's company doesn't find their employees reading porn or wasting an inordinate amount of time (more than what they would waste talking with people around the coffee pot) reading blogs and surfing the net, then they should back off. Listen, there's a reason people complain about these jobs. Don't exacerbate the perception and create bad blood with scores of other employees, let alone people who read of their plight, by doing something so stupid as firing the person.

Grow up and get with the technology, rather than fighting it. That is the summary of my email lesson.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

More practical PC apps

A hack for your PC to make it into an open source controller for your dildo(s). Another practical application. By the way, they are looking for volunteers for this open source project.

Iranian Transexuals

This was an interesting report I heard this morning on the BBC world news. The link is to the transcripts.

In Iran, a country with some severe issues with sexuality, transsexuals are considered ill and therefore, it is perfectly natural to want to heal them by providing an operation. Pretty damn enlightened. Of course, the US is not without it's own hypocrisies when it comes to sexuality or it's own repressions.

Quick Hits 200th post version

Wow, it's my 200th post here. I've shot my mental wad 200 times since August. Gonna have to try and think of something to celebrate.

How about this fine article on how the American media is conservative, or at least, cowed by conservatives. Here's a good quote:

You can say what you like in the US media, as long as it helps a Republican president. But slip up once while questioning him, and you will be torn to shreds. Even the most grovelling affirmations of loyalty won't help.

Good stuff. To continue on with a theme, my friend Scott over at ActingUp has a rant posted yesterday regarding Republicans, neo-cons (why are they called "neocons" when we all know that they are full time "cons" who should be "convicts"?), and the state of the military. Before you get your bloomers in an uproar, Scott served in the military so he knows something about it first hand. I've had my perceptions corrected by him once or twice.

Another friend, MessiahBomb, points out that there are mp3s from the Nova Convention of Burroughs, Giorno, Gysin, Anderson, Waldman, and Zappa over here. Nice. As I recall, the original release was 2 cassettes, so I wonder if anything is missing. I've heard some of this material before, but it's on LP - which is currently being shipped to my home from the scarent's house, or will be in the near future. The rest of that site is wonderful, by the way, for those who are into writing and poetry. One day I'll have to compile my tales, such as they were, of meeting some of these folks.

Heh, so I dedicate this 200th post to a couple of the people who inspired me to do this in the first place. It's still an evolving media for me. Hopefully, it will continue to evolve and I'll find my own voice more often, rather than just the quick hits.

Update: Forgot to post the link to the article on how conservative forces shape the American media. It's now there.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Some more quickies

From the Love and Sex department, via

Parents nagging you to settle down, but you're not inclined to do so? Rent a girlfriend, if you're from Chengdu, China. Will this quickly be followed by rent a boyfriend?

In a really gutless act, not only was the bride dumped at the wedding dais in Malayasia, but she was dumped via SMS. It just goes to show that technology does not improve every experience.

Is there such thing as a Buddhist Mormon? One would think so after reading the case of this man who claims that karma required him to be a polygamist.

On a more serious note:

More people die from medical mistakes each year than from highway accidents, breast cancer, or AIDS and yet physicians still resist and the public does not demand even simple reforms.

This via Alex Tabarrok. Also noted on the site is a comparison of intern shifts to fratboy hazing rituals, which is so right on. Why are members of the medical community asking for malpractice reform before cleaning up their own house? Seems like putting the cart before the ox to me.

Quick Hits

Google just released their latest photo editing suite, Picasa 2.0. Among other tools, it makes it easier to publish your photos on Blogger.

The Globe and Mail published a piece on how copyright law is affecting documentary film making. Libraries and historical footage archives have found copyright protection to be a source of income. The results, presented in a timely fashion on MLK, Jr. day in America, are that films such as Eyes on the Prize (a documentary of the USA civil rights struggles of the 60s) can no longer be sold or broadcast anywhere. The filmakers, who struggled to raise the money to produce the project, only purchased the rights to use some of the documentary footage for up to 5 years. That has long ago expired. They cannot raise the money to re-use the footage to produce DVDs to replace those worn VHS copies that have been deteriorating in public schools where they are still widely used. This is a crime, IMO.

As the award-winning filmmaker Katy Chevigny says in the American University report: "The only film you can make for cheap and not have to worry about rights clearance is about your grandma, yourself or your dog."

Sunday, January 16, 2005

But, what about my XM Radio?

There are a lot of intriguing ideas hit upon in this article in The New Atlantis, entitled The Age of Egocasting by Christine Rosen. In it, Rosen traces the concepts control and choice in programming media exerted by the remote control for television to TiVo and the iPod. She writes:

What ties all these technologies together is the stroking of the ego. When cable television channels began to proliferate in the 1980s, a new type of broadcasting, called “narrowcasting,” emerged—with networks like MTV, CNN, and Court TV catering to specific interests. With the advent of TiVo and iPod, however, we have moved beyond narrowcasting into “egocasting”—a world where we exercise an unparalleled degree of control over what we watch and what we hear. We can consciously avoid ideas, sounds, and images that we don’t agree with or don’t enjoy.

And ends with this:

From the remote control to TiVo and iPod, we have crafted technologies that are superbly capable of giving us what we want. Our pleasure at exercising control over what we hear, what we see, and what we read is not intrinsically dangerous. But an unwillingness to recognize the potential excesses of this power—egocasting, fetishization, a vast cultural impatience, and the triumph of individual choice over all critical standards—is perilous indeed.

This is a fascinating essay. We've avoided the TiVo and iPods in our house for a variety of reasons. TiVo bothers me because A) we don't watch that much television in the first place and B) I don't like to contribute to the loss of privacy that TiVo supplies via it's recording of viewing habits and the targeted marketing that stems from it. iPods are a different matter in that they are too expensive for what they offer and their batteries are not easily replaced. As someone who for years has made his own mix tapes/discs and who has had a free form radio show and managed a college station with a free form format, I can certainly understand the appeal of the iPod, though I admit that, as Rosen expresses, seeing the multitudes of people here walking through the city with the white cords hanging from their ears, oblivious to the society around them is a bit unnerving. I feel the same way when I see individuals talking to microphones attached to their cell phones in all sorts of public spaces. My greater awareness of the cell phone issue, however, stems from the fact that we discarded our cell phones a few months back. To our surprise, not only did we live, but we rarely miss them. Neither of us felt as if we were out of touch without them and that probably stems from the fact that we didn't use them a lot in the first place.

We're not completely immune from this "egocasting". Yesterday, I installed into Shawn's truck an XM radio. She purchased it as an Xmas present with money from her father, Jim. The installation went smoothly and was completed in under 10 minutes. We hopped onto the internet to sign up for the broadcast feeds (120+ channels for $10 sign up fee plus $10 per month subscription) and within 30 minutes (it takes some time for the information to propagate through the computer systems and satellites) Shawn was receiving digital broadcasts from the feeds. It worked very well, though not perfect by any means. In our short trip to Renton, the broadcast dropped out twice, but quickly recovered, and it dropped out completely in the garage. Still the array of programming to take with you is awesome. We checked out the following formats: reggae, world dance music, African music, blues, jazz - contemporary and standards, cinema hits, 80s music, folk music, dance music, and a little hip hop. We did stop and listen to a little bit of the Discovery channel as well and we were able to get our local weather and traffic reports (only available in 30 cities at this time). However, we did not check out the other talk radio options.

Our impressions were favorable. I expect that we'll get the home adapter kit relatively soon as we do not receive FM broadcasts since we don't have an antenna on our roof (the only way we'd get such radio). Shawn wanted an XM receiver in part because of the lack of FM reception. Even if we had an antenna, however, there are only 3 stations that we ever listen to in the area and they are all public radio stations. Commercials drive us batty, like the remote control Rosen mentions, XM radio helps eliminate commercials. As with cable, it is narrowcasting in that the channels are broken down into formats that are narrowly defined. However, our saving grace is that A) we're both interested in a wide variety of music and therefore are going to listen to a great many of the stations and B) we are actually getting a greater variety of music and talk through XM than our current AM/FM broadcast market allows. These are both pluses in our book that, while possibly participating in egocasting also offer the opportunity for more.

I'd like to know what Rosen thinks of blogs and message boards communications as well. Readers here will note that I've often described the both experiences as somewhat "mental masturbation", which is another way of saying egocasting. The podcasting phenomenon can also be seen as an extension of egocasting, one that I think will go by the wayside, but it just as easily become the newest form of self publishing. I also wonder how Rosen sees DJ culture and sampling fit into this mix, since what we're seeing with the iPod is, in part, people becoming their personal DJs and taking samples of artist's work in order to combine it into their own "egocasting" format (which, of course, leads me back into thinking about the death of the album, of which I've already written about).

Anyone can be a DJ
Anyone can be a star
24 hours of fame
If only everyone knew how fabulous we are

This all feeds into my nascent notions of the artifice culture we're developing. It's a culture that extends not only into our social and entertainment habits, but also into our computing world. Only a culture focused on artifice would believe that a desktop search engine is a ground breaking product as opposed to something firm and real like food, clothes, and shelter (or even candles, furniture, and clocks). In our world data is considered a product. Marketing companies gather data and sell it as a product to other companies. Yet marketing data is often a bit like walking into someone's home, looking at their book collection, and announcing that you know this person and what she thinks and what she's like as if you really know her. Data is not information. Having more data can help fill in the puzzle, but it doesn't necessarily lead to understanding and therefore is not necessarily informative. We'd like to think it is and sometimes we guess correctly, but we're often wrong.

I've got much more to say, but it's all a jumble at the moment. I'll end my rambling and again, encourage you to read Rosen's essay.

Quick Hits

A couple of amusing items from this morning's surfing:

Is you son a computer hacker? I love several of the "signs" listed here such as "If your son has requested a new "processor" from a company called "AMD", this is genuine cause for alarm" and "There are, unfortunately, many hacking manuals available in bookshops today. A few titles to be on the lookout for are: "Snow Crash" and "Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson; "Neuromancer" by William Gibson; "Programming with Perl" by Timothy O'Reilly..."

Need a cliché? No worries, the net provides: Cliche Finder.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Microsoft Antispyware review

A friend sent me a copy of Mossberg's review from the Wall Street Journal on Microsoft's Antispyware Beta release. It is flawed in that it compares a free product to a rival pay for product (but neglects to note that rumor has it that Microsoft will charge a subscription price for this eventually), it fails to note the obvious: that Microsoft should fix their OS and browser so this product is not needed (or a stripped down version is needed), it's comments about hijacker handling assume the user is an idiot and cannot reset their browser homepage, and it doesn't offer any real testing comparison between the Microsoft product and others along with test methodology, thereby making this the equivalent of hearsay. I will give him credit for noting that it doesn't protect Firefox (which is less vulnerable in the first place, but not perfect) and it doesn't do a thing for cookie handling.

This article does a much better job of comparing the Microsoft product to others on the market. In fact, it's the best I've seen yet. If you want to skip to the nitty gritty of recommendations from the article, then go to this point where you'll see that Microsoft's program is recommended along with others.

In fact, if one takes the time to go through the test data, one will note that no one spyware product will do the job. This is something I agree with and have noted here and elsewhere before. Users need to get several products in order to protect themselves. I've added Microsoft's product to my arsenal. In addition to it, I use Ad-Aware SE (albeit a paid version so I can use Ad-Watch real time monitoring), Spybot Search and Destroy, SpywareBlaster, and SpyGuard. Note that all of these products, with the exception of Ad-Watch, have freeware versions. If Microsoft begins to charge for their product, then I'll have to re-evaluate my position on it (why should I pay for something from them when they should make secure software in the first place?). I run the scanners on my PCs once a week. I also run my antivirus software once a week.

As I read further into The Digital Person, I realize that this isn't simply paranoia that drives me to protect against spyware. There are very real reasons to protect my privacy on the internet. I recommend the book to anyone who is curious about privacy issues, marketing, and more and how the law isn't adequate to meet the concerns of many. Amazon has it through their resellers at decent prices.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

USGS Photos update

The guy who posted all of the USGS pictures from 1897 - 1991 apparently had bandwidth problems. From what I understand, those have now been corrected. However, those of you with a bit torrent client, can now download the photos via that software - all of them - here.

B.D. prefers Torrent Storm for his client.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Windows Updates

You probably heard about this yesterday, but Microsoft has issued it's set of monthly patches for Windows. Two of them are considered critical. If you don't have automatic updates turned on or are not sure if it has run, go to Windows Updates and check.

Cool Photos

Alan Storm has created a website with some pretty cool photos. They were found on a 4 CD-ROM set at his public library and were put out by the U.S. Geological Survey between 1897 and 1991. All of the photos are in the public doman, but they were languishing on this CD-ROM format. Alan extracted them and posted them on his site along with the accompanying text. Psst - they can be downloaded and saved. Nice work. Some of them are lovely.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Quick Hits

Microsoft and other email clients should be building this sort of thing into their product. It's an encryption tool which prevents your email from being read on the internet. I suspect that once people get over their fear of spyware/malware/Trojans, etc, they will turn their attention to this big, ugly gaping hole in security. For the average user, it's a bit of a pain because both the sender and receiver have to be using the same encryption software. Which is one reason why it should be built into the email client.

To add to the outrage of the Abu Ghraib story, the lawyer for chief defendent, Charles Graner, compared the oft seen picture of the prisoners stacked, naked, into a pyramid to cheerleaders. According to Reuters:

"Don't cheerleaders all over America form pyramids six to eight times a year. Is that torture?"

Now, would someone please post a picture of naked cheerleaders in a pyramid so we can do a proper comparison? (That was sarcasm, folks).

Monday, January 10, 2005


It was a lovely weekend here in outer Monrovia. On Friday we had some bad ice on the roads here. The rest of Puget Sound seemed less affected, but it was enough to keep me from wanting to drive into work. Instead, I spent part of the morning attempting to convince Shawn not to go into work (to no avail) and the other part attempting to get Symantec's Systemworks 2005 to install on my PC. I downloaded the software this year, rather than have them send me the disc. I had Systemworks 2004 on my PC and had few, if any, problems installing that over the 2003 edition. So, I thought that this would be an easy task. Heh, famous last words.

For some reason, the new install failed to install some crucial files. Among those files was the one that aids in uninstalling the software. When my live update feature failed, it sent me to Symantec's website which suggested that I uninstall the software. It offered 3 suggestions on how to do this. I tried them in the order of least painful to excruciating. I ended up doing a manual uninstall in Windows Safe mode - the most excruciating. It's not that difficult to do; just time consuming, but why was I doing it in the first place? I don't have a tricked out machine with special configurations. It royally pissed me off. I got Systemworks 2005 running, but I'll be looking elsewhere next year unless there's a compelling reason not to do so. My father has had problems with Norton Anti-Virus and Internet Security upon install 2 years in a row and has spent many hours on the phone with the company to resolve his problem (same problem, 2 years in a row, but you know how the drones are when you call the help lines - they go through a manual of questions by rote and barely listen to the customer, assuming that s/he is a novice - which puts her/him a half step below the person you're speaking with usually).

The rest of Friday went along smoothly. Zone Alarm had no issues updating my license and I've never had an issue running updates on their products. I actually got a nap in on Friday and made a nice, light dinner which was done by 5PM (unusual for our home, unfortunately). Shawn was out that night until after 10, having a nice Indian meal with her classmates at the beginning of their new term.

Saturday, Shawn went off to class. She decided to let me return our tree to IKEA alone. This delighted me as I was able to plan my day without much interruption until she came home. I went to the DOT and got my license renewed (yes, nearly 2 months late) and then off to IKEA where it was a quick in and out (no reference to either the burger chain or Monty Python intended). Shawn came home around 2 that afternoon. We were both clearly tired, apathetic, and she thought that she was coming down with a cold. It was the 10th anniversary of me conning Shawn into moving in with me. We laughed about how, when she was explaining that she was moving in with me to her skelatives and friends, she would explain, "He's letting me have my own room." She still gets teased about that. Sure, I told her she could go there any time she wanted and sleep there of she felt like it, but she hasn't spent a night out of my bed under the same roof since she moved in.

It appeared to me like we were going to make it to dinner out that night, so I had a back up plan just in case. However, Shawn was a trooper and we got ourselves up and went downtown for dinner at the Dragonfish Cafe. It was a Saturday night, "The Lion King" stage show was playing a half block away, and we didn't have reservations - it was packed. Still, we were seated in about 20 mintes right next to the open kitchen. While most people would consider these bad seats, we enjoyed watching the crew work. I drooled over their cool, macho, range. Shawn and I watched how they managed the meals and prepared them. We joked with the cook nearest us and he joked about being hispanic and cooking Asian food. We had a terrific time and the meal was excellent! Upon returning home, we collapsed. Ginger called us shortly after we got home. She was in town and wanted to come by on Sunday and of course we were happy to have her here.

Sunday came around and it was snowing outside. I was at the computer for an hour before I noticed. This was the first snow of the year for our region and may be the only one. I woke Shawn at 5:30 to tell her about it and she got up. We sat by the fireplace, watching the snow, reading the paper, drinking tea. It was lovely. I made a breakfast of Amaranth pancakes and fresh blueberry sauce (using our hand picked berries from the freezer). I served ginger peaches on the side (canned by myself last summer). We began picking out seeds for our veggie garden this year. Ginger called and we decided that it wasn't a good time to visit: she wouldn't have the time before she had to catch her bus, Shawn was sick, and the roads were messy. Sad, but Shawn will see her later this month in Oregon when she goes down for a conference for work.

Shawn went off to take a nap. I did some shopping for dinner. SHawn had requested some herbed biscuits for dinner to match my plan for a roasted butternut squash soup. While rummaging through the kitchen I found some beets that we needed to use up, so I decided to roast them as well for the salad. The soup was dead simple: peel and cut the squash into 2 inch chunks, then top them with 4 tablespoons of butter, salt, and pepper and roast in a 350 degree oven for an hour or until tender. In the meantime, slice a couple of large onions and carmelize them slowly on the stove (I took 45 minutes to carmelize them...the slower you work on this, the sweeter the onions). WHile that was going on, I put a quart of veggie stock into a pan along with a bunch of thyme, brought it to a boil, simmered it for 5 minutes, then let it steep for 20 minutes before straining out the thyme. Towards the end of the onions cooking, I tossed in 5 cloves of garlic, sliced, and let them brown a bit, though not as brown as the onions. To pull the soup together place the squash, the onion mixture, and half of the strained stock into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Return it to the pot with the other half of the stock and whisk together. Add a cup of cream and warm through, but do not boil. To serve, add a dollop of the following items, whisked together: 1/2 cup sour cream, juice of a lemon, 1 tablespoon curry powder, 2 teaspoons tumeric. Served with the fresh herbed biscuits, a salad with grated roasted beets, feta, carmelized walnuts and topped with balsamic vinegar, it was a delish dinner.

We watched cartoon network during dinner (something we hadn't done in a while), then went off to bed and read: Shawn her schoolwork and me, The Digital Person, a book on privacy and technology, particularly databases. It may sound like a let down, but I was happy being there, next to my partner for 10 years and enjoying the moment.

Ten years! We've last longer than many couples and many marriages. After all this time, I can say that I love her more today than ever. She's my best friend and my lover. I am a rich man, though my bank account would disagree.

Credit where it is due

Regular readers here will note how much I tend to slag Microsoft for their browser - it's security holes and lack of respect for standards. It's only fair, then, that I give them there props when they deserve it. Thus far, I must say that their anti-spyware software, while not without bugs, is pretty damn slick. People have reported on other blogs about how the interface is so clean. That doesn't matter to me in the least. I'm pretty utilitarian and as long as it has the features that I want and does it's job, then how it looks and "feels" doesn't really matter to me. What matters to me is that despite the fact that I run other software to prevent spyware on a weekly or daily basis, Microsoft's product still found 4 vulnerabilities.

While I'm still skeptical and will only add this to my arsenal until I'm assured that Microsoft's product is actually superior and all encompassing, I must say "Bravo!" for the work thus far (done, of course, by the good folks at Giant before Microsoft bought them last month, but Microsoft should be applauded for having the good sense to find them).

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Frequent Flier economy

Here's an interesting read from The Guardian.

According to a new analysis by The Economist magazine, the global stock is worth more than $700bn (£370bn), more than all the US dollar bills in circulation, and streets ahead of Britain's £42bn of notes and coins.


Sleep patterns

Via Cory @ Boing Boing:

Circadiana is a new blog written by someone who is apparently a researcher in sleep behaviour. This first post is a long, but fascinating read. Here's an excerpt:

It appears that we are slowly waking up to sleep problems (pun intended). More and more companies are allowing naps, and even providing nap-rooms. More and more school districts are moving high-school morning schedules later, as during teenage years, under effects of sex hormones, the circadian clocks are all temporarily "owlish". Adolescents are not crazy and lazy - they physically cannot fall asleep at a normal bed time, and physically cannot awake and feel rested early in the morning (elementary and middle school kids can, as their hormones have not surged yet).

Free or proprietary software

There's a good discussion going on at NewsForge related to a commentary on the use of free versus proprietary software. Should you sacrifice your software rights and beliefs if there is a proprietary software that has more features to use, for instance, in your business? It's an interesting debate. I've got The GIMP and on my PC at home and use them fairly often in place of PhotoShop Elements, but then again, I don't rely on either program for my job.

Though it's a sidebar issue in the larger discussion, I don't think The GIMP's interface is all that bad. A friend of mine has told me that he finds it atrocious and he has gone back to using PhotoShop. I understand why Windows users might feel more comfortable with the proprietary product. On the other paw, I'm pretty utilitarian about my interfaces. As long as I understand and become comfortable with an interface, I'm happy with it and don't see a need to complain unless a competitor's product either offers more functionality or keeps the other users I deal with happier.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Finally, something to post today

It's not much, but it is mildly amusing:

Warning: for those afraid of nipple piercings or those who abhor basketball, this isn't for you.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Quick Hits

For the geeks: An account of using a SQL injection attack to raid an intranet database. The database runs on Microsoft's SQL Server and it shows what can happen when poor practices are followed (which, according to my casual observations from across the web of medium to small and even some large businesses, is all too often).

The final pro audio tape (as in cassette and reel to reel) factory has closed it's doors. It's a sign of the dominance of digital recording tools. I feel nostalgic about this, having sold reel to reel machines during the 80s and played with cassettes and 8 tracks a large part of my life. In fact, I still have a lot of cassettes in a case under my bed. This NPR story, in digital streaming media, explains a bit more than the article above and is where I first heard of this. For instance, the NPR account accurately notes that Bing Crosby was an early investor and user of tape machines brought from Germany. He recorded his 1940s era radio shows and made a killing on the investment. Just another reason to admire Bing.

CNN has reportedly fired Tucker Carlson, which means that Crossfire will soon be off of the air. That's good news for anyone who appreciates discourse and hates day after day shoutfests. Jon Stewart appeared on Crossfire earlier this year and skewered the hosts, pointing out that they do not debate issues, but rather talk over each other. He pleaded with them to stop hurting America. Said CNN's chief executive, Joel Klein yesterday:

I guess I come down more firmly in the Jon
Stewart camp

Good for Klein.

Women's eNews reported yesterday that a new study confirms what women across Europe and in 6 states already know: Access to emergency contraception does not increase risky sexual behavior. Now, will someone tell that to the FDA?

Finally, if you're wondering what Microsoft's new anti-spyware program (obtained by purchasing Giant last month) is going to look like, wait no more. This is the beta software and the link is to the direct download.

Have fun!

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Birth control

From the Washington Post (registration required) via Feministing, adult women are increasingly forgoing birth control:

Buried in the government's latest in-depth analysis of contraceptive use was the finding that the number of women who had sex in the previous three months but did not use birth control rose from 5.2 percent in 1995 to 7.4 percent in 2002. That means that as many as 11 percent of all women are at risk of unintended pregnancy at some point during their childbearing years (ages 15 to 44).

Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics took pains to point out that the "increase is statistically significant" and that the "apparent change merits further study." Other analysts called the spike a troubling development that translates into at least 4.6 million sexually active women at risk of conceiving a child they had not planned on.

I find this terribly disturbing. On the other paw, I found out this past weekend that my partner's health insurance changed (a yearly event) and she will now be required to copay for her birth control pills. The price of such a change? Nearly $35 per month and that's with insurance. Without insurance, the cost would be even higher.

Two things outrage me about this: First, it appears that women are, once again, getting ripped off by retailers. The pill has been around for several decades and is taken by millions of women. How can the cost of it be so high? I suspect someone is cheating women here and that the industry is doing this collaboratively. Given the length of time on the market, the popularity of the drug, competition and generics, birth control should not cost more than aspirin.

Secondly, my partner works for a large firm that you might have heard of: Microsoft. She isn't one of the millionaires you've no doubt heard of. She's not a programmer. She's a librarian in their archives. As such, she earns more than your average public librarian, but her status and salary in the company is more comparable to the receptionist than say, an X-Box technician. In other words, she's not living large at the company, but in all fairness, she does receive a number of perks and the job is fairly comfortable, for a large company. Still, $35/month is a hit in her budget. All for birth control pills. For the size and wealth that Microsoft generates, you'd think that this would be one area of their health care plan that they wouldn't touch. Alas, it isn't so. Like most companies in the US, they are pushing away health benefits that in the past they have normally covered. In the long run, this will reach a crisis level and there will be a public outcry to "fix the system". This will probably result in some sort of asinine national health care plan (hey, I believe in a national health care plan, but I suspect the politicians will fuck it up by trying some public/private partnership again a la Bill Clinton). It will also relieve large corporations from the "burden" of providing health care to their employees and shift the costs (read: "burden") onto the average tax payer (aka, said "employees").

Fuck Microsoft for doing this. They aren't the company to work for that they once were. As soon as Shawn finishes grad school, she's likely to move on and who can blame her with this sort of treatment. In the meantime, we'll work something out where I co-pay her co-pay, as it is only fair.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Quick Hits

Curious views on the web today:

via Mousewords

Why am I reading an Online Zine called Republican Society Magazine? With articles about troops presenting Donald Rumsfeld with the Xmas gift of a mechanical ass-wiper or the Bush girls having two different fathers, why aren't you reading it?

According to a report from New York, a woman was arrested for selling sex out of a hot dog truck. Post your favorite foot long jokes in the comments area. I relish reading them all.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

New Year's Day

Why is it that the old U2 song bounces around in my head this year when I hear the words "New Year's Day"? It does so much more than it has in well over a decade. Let's see, the wealthy continue to amass wealth while the middle class scramble for fewer jobs, seeing many of their jobs going overseas. The poor are just happy to survive. The militarist actions of my nation have contributed mightily to unrest in the world. Our government is now spurned by citizens of other nations as arrogant, rogue police enforcers with a sense of moral indignity that is unevenly applied. Hm, sounds like the 80s more than the 70s or 90s. In fact, these days, even the music sounds more like the 80s, including U2. Of course, a major difference is the person who is president, but only in that this one seems more hellbent on growing government faster (to profit the private sector, of course), running higher deficits, pushing the dollar lower faster on the international markets, and generally ruining the strides we made under his father's term in office all in the name of hating the person he followed into office. Oh, and Congress is less active in it's diligence in these matters, because they are toadies from the same party. They actually share a greater burden in the crimes because the president is only as strong, constitutionally, as the congress permits. If you don't like what's happening right now, make a concerted effort to vote out the jackass that is your representative in 2006. Congress represents the will of the people and is the host of real change, politically, in the U.S.

But that wasn't the real reason I am writing. My mind is not entirely occupied by politics these days. Many of my friends seem pre-occupied with politics. They have the luxury of being if not well off, then comfortable, educated, liberals who have the time to waste in their days arguing matters of state while other people who don't care about hobbies like politics are just trying to live or survive. Sometimes I worry about my friends who obsess on such things. Life is so much more than politics. It's a bit like watching children who are addicted to playing video games, or the guy down the road who spends his every off hour perfecting/upgrading his prized classic car, or like the drug addict whose life revolves around the next score, indiscriminate of what provides the high as long as the high is there.

There is so much more to life. One shouldn't be so focused as to put blinders on the other aspects of living or even to be dismissive of those other aspects. Our society allows degrees of such obsessions. If it's extreme, we call the person a savant. If it contains those elements of dismissiveness, then we say the person if focused and, if that person accomplishes something grand, then we elevate her/him to hero status in our folklore. To my mind, both are rather sad cases. One should be open to interruption. One should allow curiosity to distract and lead you to discovery. One should make the space to play in many different ways.

Making the space to play was on our agenda yesterday. It wasn't what we planned on doing. Originally, we planned on cleaning the house, packing up the Christmas ornaments and taking the tree outside, possibly seeing a movie. Instead, we found ourselves with what seemed to be tiny goals with lots of space to put these other chores into, but we got distracted and found a different space to play in and that, dear reader, led us to a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing day.

The day after New Year's Eve found us waking a little later than normal. This was to be expected as we had stayed up to toast the new year in with a little champagne and kisses. When Shawn got up, I had read the paper, done the dishes, and was beginning to make tea and coffee. We sat and chatted about how to spend our day. We laid out goals for the weekend, a framework in order to guide ourselves and give us some measure by which we could say we felt satisfied with the way we spent our time. The goals were small, but significant. Once we had expressed them, Shawn set about the first task towards completing those goals, which is to say that she began to make breakfast.

While she was preparing Dutch Apple Pancakes, my mind began to wander and I thought it best to look up a recipe for coconut ice cream. See, it was sort of in my mind that I wanted to try out our new ice cream maker. I had gotten cream, milk, and rock salt for the task the day before. Doing this was on my agenda, but not necessarily on Shawn's and therefore, not on "our" agenda that we had spent the morning, in part, discussing. I went to the PC and did some searching online for a recipe I'd like to try. I settled on one from FoodTV network. By the time I got done surfing, breakfast was done and Shawn was ready to eat. It was very good.

Over breakfast, I told Shawn of my plan. "Are you going to make bread?" she asked. Yes, I am planning on making bread (we had discussed it the night before), but I wondered what sort of bread she was thinking of making (again, from the night before). She hadn't decided, but she really wanted me to make the oatmeal-molasses sandwich bread that I had found a recipe for in Crescent Dragonwagon's book. It was certainly an easier recipe than the one I'm used to making, so I was amenable to the idea. Plus, I thought, we could get to other goals on our list, since it was so easy. This was not to be.

Shawn began thinking about what would go well with the coconut ice cream. We had vaguely discussed making Phad Thai for dinner the night before. Now, this seemed inevitable for a theme seemed to be upon us. After breakfast, while I tidied up the kitchen, Shawn began searching through our books for what would go well with dessert. There was a vague thought in her head that something like a ginger bread would compliment the ice cream well. Thirty, maybe forty five minutes passed before she put forward the idea of a ginger spice cookie from her, The Baker's Dozen, cookbook. Actually, Shawn had made up her mind that this was what she wanted. Years of experience have taught me that in such cases it's best to go along. In this case, I thought that it was a perfect compliment to my dessert and so I was happy as long as Shawn made the cookies.

We made a quick list of what we'd need for our day of baking. Already, our goals had changed and distraction was the rule. I took a quick shower and began to get dressed. When I came out of the bathroom, Shawn was sitting up in bed, naked, with the sheets down to her hips, wriggling her eyebrows at me. More distraction, but distraction in one of it's loveliest forms.

While I went to the store, Shawn announced that she was going to take a long bath. I put some appropriate music on for her, then went made a quick run to Safeway for ice, eggs, lemons, and coconut milk. Eventually, I got involved in making the ice cream. I began pouring a couple of cups each of milk, heavy cream, and coconut milk into a pot along with a cup of toasted coconut and bringing it to a slight simmer, then letting it rest for 10 minutes. While the liquid rested, I separated the yolks from 8 eggs and beat them with a cup and a half of sugar a pinch of salt. I tempered the eggs with some of the liquid from the milks, then added the eggs into the milks and put them on low on the stove top. I stirred until it began to thicken, about 10 minutes. Once done, I placed the mixture into a small bowl and placed that bowl into another one filled with ice in my fridge.

The custard had to chill thoroughly before I could make the ice cream. This gave me a chance to step back out of the kitchen while Shawn prepared her ginger-spice cookies. They are a basic log style cookie that uses fresh ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, molasses, and a little coffee in the dough. After Shawn prepared the mixture and rolled it up into a log the dough had to chill for four and a half hours. So, after high fiving each other, playing tag team kitchen bakers, I took over.

The oatmeal-molasses bread that I made is a simple mix. It uses very little fat and lots of oats. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over 1 cup of oats and 1.5 tablespoons of butter and let sit for 30 minutes. While that is resting, clean the dishes Shawn has dirtied while making her cookies. Heat a half cup of water in the microwave, then let it come down to lukewarm temperature. Put a tablespoon of activated dry yeast into the lukewarm water and let it dissolve for 5 - 10 minutes. Add the yeast mixture, 1/2 cup of molasses, and 2 teaspoons of salt to the oatmeal mix and stir. Mix in 4.5 - 5 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour a cup at a time until a kneadable dough forms. Put dough onto lightly floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes, adding flour as required if the dough is too moist and sticks to your surface (I added at least another cup of flour, probably more, and took 10 minutes to knead the dough). Put a clean cloth over the dough, place it in a warm spot, and let it rise until it doubles in size, about 1.5 hours.

While the dough was rising, in fact, while I was making the dough, Shawn began calling her skelatives, wishing them a happy new year and touching base with them. She spoke to her mom, her grandmothers, and her uncle Michael. In the meantime, I continued to play DJ, mixing in some older albums that don't get played often that featured mostly mellow electronic music (O Yuki Conjugate, Sweet Exorcist, Mo Boma, etc.). I also set about finishing up the ice cream. It was a simple procedure that took about a bag of ice, 4 cups of rock salt, and 25 minutes of time. The ice cream was very soft and we scraped a bit off of the paddles before I whisked the container away to our freezer to let it harden. Yum, the toasted coconut in it makes all of the difference.

Once Shawn was off of the phone, she set her attention towards making the Phad Thai. She had done some of the veggie chopping while she was chatting, so all she needed to really do was to pull out the wok and start cooking. By this point, the bread had been punched down, formed into loaves, put into pans, and risen a second time (yea, Shawn was on the phone for a while - *smile*). I through it into the oven at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Just as Shawn wrapped up cooking the Phad Thai, the bread was ready to come out of the oven. The timing wasn't on planned, but it was fortuitous. We sliced off a couple of pieces of the hot bread, buttered it up, and put it on our plates. Sure, it didn't go well with the theme, but the smell was a wonderful distraction that created a craving that was easily and quickly fulfilled. The molasses was sweet, but not overly so and the texture was springy and not dense. It was/is very, very good. I don't know if it will last a week. The Phad Thai was excellent as well. We cheat and use a bottled sauce that neither of us can exactly recall where we got it. The veggies were tender crisp. Shawn had done a fine job of cooking up the egg in the wok. The baked Thai tofu went very well with it.

After dinner, we sliced the ginger-spice cookies from the log and baked them for 14 minutes in a 350 degree oven. They came out really well. They are the type of cookie that is firm and flat. The edges are crisp while the middle is slightly chewy. The cookies complimented the ice cream VERY well. By the time we had cleaned up a bit, it was after 9 PM. Our day, planned out with goals set, had not turned out to be anything like what we thought it would be. Instead, we let distraction and curiosity guide us to a different space. It was a space filled with love, good conversation, sharing work together, wonderful, rich aromas, family, invention, creativity, and open hearts. It was so much more than what we had strived for and equally that much more satisfying.

Here's hoping your new year finds equal satisfaction from distraction, that you find the space to let go of your habits and let curiosity guide you to joys you've not yet imagined.