Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

Obviously, not a lot going on these days. I thought the doldrums came in the spring...

Anyway, stay tuned for the HSI voting guide, coming up soon!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Fabulous Fondue

AZ outdid herself at Friday Tea yesterday - not only was there fondue, but she made it clear how utterly magical a good fondue could be.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Cat Blogging - Vicious Kitty Edition

I know that you've all been waiting for this week's edition of "Friday Cat Blogging" - so here you go.

She looks mean enough to scratch someone's face off.


So, it turns out that olives are held to be inedible (because of their bitter taste; they are not poisonous) in their natural state. They must be processed, typically by fermentation, or by soaking in brine or lye.

Reading the Great Wiki further, it seems that both black (ripe) and green (unripe) olives are soaked in sodium hydroxide (Lye, NaOH) and washed, and green ones are then usually allowed to ferment. (Green olives that are not allowed to ferment taste as mild as their black brothers). From the Wiki:

Olives freshly picked from the tree contain phenolic compounds and a unique glycoside, oleuropein, which makes the fruit unpalatable for immediate consumption. There are many ways of processing olives for table use. Traditional methods use the natural microflora on the fruit and procedures which select for those that bring about fermentation of the fruit. This fermentation leads to three important outcomes: the leaching out and breakdown of oleuropein and phenolic compounds; the creation of lactic acid, which is a natural preservative; and a complex of flavoursome fermentation products.

Processing of olive oil, however, is much less involved. In fact, one must just crush them to remove the best stuff. The Great Wiki describes the process this way:

Traditionally, olive oil was produced by beating the trees with sticks to knock the olives off and crushing them in stone or wooden mortars or beam presses. Nowadays, olives are ground to tiny bits, obtaining a paste that is mixed with water and processed by a centrifuge, which extracts the oil from the paste, leaving behind pomace.

Obviously, we need bigger centrifuges.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

3 (three) weeks until EP day

Mine fellows, gird thyselves, for the day of tribulation is almost upon us.

Meditate upon the following from the Psalm of El Phoenix in preparation.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of refried beans, I will fear no evil for my fellow EP'ers are with me; my fork and my spoon they comfort me.

Make straight the way of the Lard!


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Friday Tea

This Friday's Tea will be extra special.

AZ has offered to bring in her fondue set and all the fixins.

We think that perhaps wine would go best with the Fondue - so the committee will endeavor to find a proper vintage.

Another reason this tea will be extra special? HD has promised to attend...

Oh, and welcome back MG, from your month away!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Tea

NR is back from Russia, and she came bearing bearing rare treasures, some of which she'll share with us today.

See you at 4:00.

Friday Cat Blogging - Home Edition

Just what the heck are you doing?

This is Reece-ey, the cat that now inhabits my house. Here she's made herself at home on a pile of clothes on my bureau:

Her owner is 11 years old today.

I don't know how long I'll be lucky enough to have so much company, but for now, the house is full.

Update: She's got a cell-phone! Watch out world!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

4 Weeks until EP Day

Yes, it's that time of year again, when we must gird ourselves for the holidays upcoming.

For you young 'uns out there, by venerable custom we would all head out to the El Phoenix Room in Brighton and enjoy a Number 5 to expand our stomachs so as to more fully enjoy Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season.

Sadly, the El Phoenix is no more, having been replaced by something a bit more frou-frou.

Since last year JL dropped the ball, this year JT is in charge. Watch this space and your email for details!

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Kommissars are, no doubt, well pleased.

I guess this proves that when TB and XN get an assignment, they take it seriously and get it done ASAP.

There's even a theme developed - it's just that good.

Why not drop by and give it a look see?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

CCs Birthday!

Today marked the celebration of CC's birthday. We had two cakes, a circular one and a rectangular one.

Who knew that CC was almost 8000 years old? (7799 to be exact)... She sure does keep herself in great shape!

Must be all those Omega-3 fatty acids!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Bloody 'ell

It's Friday the 13th, everybody.

That might mean that this Halloween will be especially scary.

Repeat Tea

Today's tea will be another leftovers day. Hopefully it will be better attended than last week's, and just as colorful.

One more week until NR rejoins us - by Friday she should be able to catch her breath and partake.

Update: CP (aka "Poppins") will be joining us at 4:00.

Update 2: CP did make it, as did a whole boatload of other playas. I think that this makes for a good preparation for the return of NR. We'll have a quorum of the committee back!


Thursday, October 12, 2006


Late word has it that the KOA (Kommittee on Art), that other, more sinister committee, has been visiting TB and XN.

As a public service, HSI presents these tips on how to deal.

Temporary art. If the Kommittee becomes too agressive, or one wishes a moment's peace, without actually deciding on something one would wish to see for months at a time, this is a great option. Maybe a few drawings from the kids would suffice.

Stall. Pretend that you've ordered something tasteful - and that it's due any day. Keep art.com catalogs around and say you've been thinking about it but can't quite decide on which one.

Co-optation. Call something art that's not really art, but might confuse the Kommisars. For example, call that gash on your wall "The Fall." Maybe put a frame around it.

Put up a postage stamp - there is a lovely variety available. Inexpensive, too!

Revenge. They want art? You'll give 'em art... Set up a table in the corner and litter it with Star-Trek figurines.

Performance Art. Invite Laurie Anderson, or Kim Jong-Il, over.

Rap/hip hop. This one is tricky, because after all, hip-hop is a lifestyle, and nobody likes Rap. See revenge, above. The neighbors would have to be more tolerant than the Kommittee.

Hopefully these tips will come in useful, and restore the comity of the office.

Alles Klar?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Goths - A Black Paper

"Gothic" subculture is all the rage these days, what with the black clothing and white makeup - one might think that Kiss had gone underground and founded it's own subculture:

The Goths (Gothic: gutans were an East Germanic tribe who according to their own traditions left Scandinavia, settled close to the Vistula mouth (in present day Poland), and from the 2nd century settled Scythia, Dacia and Pannonia. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, they harried the Byzantine Empire and later adopted Arianism. In the 5th and 6th centuries, dividing into the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, they established powerful follower-states of the Roman Empire in Iberia and Italy.

Oh, wait. Not that kind of Goth - This kind of Goth.

The goth subculture is a contemporary subculture prevalent in many countries. It began in the United Kingdom during the late 1970s to early 1980s in the gothic rock scene, an offshoot of the post-punk genre. The goth subculture has survived much longer than others of the same era. Its imagery and cultural proclivities indicate influences from nineteenth century Gothic literature, mainly through horror movies.

From Goth.Net comes this explanation:

Goth in its simplest form, is a subculture. A group of people who feel comfortable within each others company. There is no specific thing that defines what you need to do or be to fit into the goth scene (except of course the implied black clothing). People in the goth scene all have different musical tastes, follow different religions, have different occupations, hobbies, and fashion sense.

Goths tend to be upbeat, positive people:

"...being Goth, for me, is seeing beauty, and its coming destruction, at the same time. For me...It's the last dance as the walls are crumbling around you..." Beatgrrl

"[Goth] is the ability to find the art where art seems to be lacking; to find the light in the darkness and embrace it for all it's worth..." Jennifer Mason

There are even Christian Goths - there is no contradiction.

Goths are a worldwide phenomenon - below is a woman in Bangor, N. Ireland, out for a little fun:

And they are definitely a part of Japanese culture, as well:

Of course, non-asian toys are also available:

Goth culture has been of tremendous value to the greater society (though not without its supposed blemishes) - below is a screen shot of Visicalc, one of the first spreadsheets, produced by Dan Bricklin, a well-known latter-day Visigoth:


Friday, October 06, 2006

Moon Day

Today is Moon Day.

To celebrate, XN brought in some moon cakes. Smashed had one, and it was purple inside - probably yummy taro - though the rest of them seemed to be much less festive.

ED had one and he said that they were very good.

P.S. The Earth Calendar only lists this day as Mid Autumn Festival (China) and Mid-autumn Moon Festival (Taiwan), which I think are much less festive than Moon Day.

P.P.S. Again according to Earth Calendar, today is also "German-American" day. AZ must have proud parents!



It seems that we've accumulated a fair stash in our freezer - so today's tea will be leftover's day.


Cape Codders
Rums and Coke

Others as it occurs to us - but the mint is probably too far gone to attempt any mojitos.

The cheese plate, as always, will be fresh.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

4-Pi day.

We've celebrated Pi day, and 2-Pi day, and some other miscellaneous holidays, but Smashed never expected to celebrate 4-Pi day.

But that's just what we did yesterday, by celebrating MS's 379th birthday. Way to go!

And since we're on the topic, CNN reports that today:

TOKYO, Japan (AP) -- A Japanese mental health counselor recited pi to 100,000 decimal places from memory on Wednesday, setting what he claims to be a new world record.

Akira Haraguchi, 60, needed more than 16 hours to recite the number to 100,000 decimal places, breaking his personal best of 83,431 digits set in 1995, his office said Wednesday. He made the attempt at a public hall in Kisarazu, just east of Tokyo.

Congratulations MS! Congratulations Akira!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

van de wal in de sloot

This is going to be a miscellanea post. There is a lot going on, but nothing earth-shattering.

Yesterday marked Yom Kippur, so it was quieter than usual around here. We'll be back to nearly full strength today.

Yesterday MG lost his Gamma box - leaving him with one. Soon there'll be another, yes?

Yesterday we learned a Dutch saying, "van de wal in de sloot," which translates roughly as "from the bank into the ditch." Maybe rather than throwing somebody under the bus, we can throw them into "de sloot" from now on.

And finally, today marks another entry into our sidebar, "Earth Calendar" (as "Celebrate!"), from which we learn that today is World Temperance Day. We could celebrate that in any number of ways, but the best way, no doubt, would be to raise a glass to toast the occasion.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Back in the USSR

NR is off again, to the East, and to other parts of the East.

Two weeks in lovely St. Petersburg and a small town in the Urals. Too bad it's not purely a pleasure trip.

I'm sure she'll be able to slip away for a while to do something fun. Maybe we'll get more pictures of The Hermitage. I just hope she stays away from any wildlife.