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Archive for February, 2009

pork and sour cherries

February 28th, 2009 at 09:50 pm

For my 999th entry, another crock pot recipe

Pork and Sour Cherries

Pork shoulder (2 - 2.5 lbs)
1 cup dried sour cherries
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
Dried parsley (optional)
Soy sauce (optional)
Water, olive oil

Brown the sides of the pork shoulder in a bit of olive oil. Remove the pork shoulder from pan and put it into the crock pot.

Saute the onions, bay leaves, paprika with more olive oil in the same pan that you did the pork - about 5 minutes. Add garlic - saute for 2 minutes more. Add all to the crock pot.

Deglaze the pan with just enough water to deglaze fully, about 1/4 cup of water. Add the water to the crock pot.

Add dried cherries, tomatoes (with water in can), cinnamon stick, pepper, dried parsley to crock pot. Add 2 dashes of soy sauce to crock pot for color.

Cook in crock pot for 4-5 hours on high, 8-9 hours on low. Pork should be tender (bone should be easy to remove) with a brown, rich, spicy sauce. Correct for salt.

Serve over egg noodles.

CD release party

February 27th, 2009 at 09:41 pm

Thursday
Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $20 drinks

Friday
Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $4 coffee, scone + $8 lunch

I haven't been blogging too much about my work with Global Vortex Radio and DJ friend, probably because I don't do very much with it on a day to day level. But I have been doing some writing for the Internet radio station when DJ friend has a project for me. Mostly its been crafting a message to get a precise tone and effect. For instance, DJ friend needed other DJs to send their remixes and programs in certain way, and he REALLY needed that to happen. I crafted what we lovingly call the "hammer letter". It had to set a polite but firm tone. Please do this, and if insist on not, your show won't go on. It worked very well, with no problems with compliance and no hard feelings. I also wrote a thank you to the DJs that gave the all rights to one of their songs to GVR for the compilation album. It had to thank them for their gift, ease their mind that they weren't being ripped off, and tell them what will happen because of their gift.

I was paid in barter yesterday - I got a free copy of Global Vortex Radio's first CD compiliation (2 CDs) and a thank you in the liner notes! I'm buying another copy to give to my sister. I also got a free invite to the CD launch last night.

Here's a picture to give you a flavor of where I was...too bad my battery gave out right after.


The first half was an event to Seattle's Fashion week - a student fashion show. To tell you the truth, it has been over twenty years since I've last been "clubbing". So long ago, that at the door I proudly held out the top of my palm for the stamp, 80s style. Current style is underside of the wrist. Smile Observing cool kids is a lot of fun for an old fart geek like me. Lots of fake hugging - women & women pat at the base of the back, women & men pat at the top of the back, men & men at the shoulder blades. My only compliant is that "Kitchen" was in the name of the venue: kitchen was closed by 9pm. Its how the fashionistas stay thin, apparently. The bartender was a generous pourer. I'm sure I got 1/3 of a bottle in my wineglass.

Our event started at around 10:30pm - very fun. We got to go up into the DJ private aerie up above the bar (in the picture) and dance floor and I got a chance to meet new people and talk with some friends. Morgan's (our kitty) rescuer was there so I got a chance to catch him up and tell him how she's doing, a couple of former co-workers came by, and the couple of DJs that I met on the 15 bus and we later discovered that we had a connection to DJ friend (that's my boss! DJ friend later told them)- they showed and I had a chance to talk with them.

Today, though, I really felt it. How did I ever do this in college? Thank heaven it was Friday and I could rest up. DJ friend will be resting too.

cookies for all seasons

February 25th, 2009 at 09:00 pm

Yesterday I was at the grocery store watching the green cookies that two weeks ago were pink and it got me to thinking ... you can tell time by grocery store cookies.

Valentine's Day = heart shaped cookies with pink or white icing, with red, pink, or white sprinkles

St. Patrick's Day = shamrocks with kelly green icing

Easter = purple and yellow egg cookies or yellow chick cookies

Mother's Day = generic flower or rose cookie with red icing

Father's Day... nothing, unless those cookies were made of bacon

4th of July - stars or circle shapes in red, white and blue icing.

Cookie drought over the summer and fall, until...

Halloween - pumpkin or cat with orange or chocolate icing

Thanksgiving - "harvest-y" gold and orange circles

Christmas - big daddy of cookie holidays. Red, white and green circles, wreathes, bells.

New Year's - Christmas cookies 20% off.

Making me hungry!

pictures of the times

February 25th, 2009 at 08:27 pm

Tuesday
Saving log - $1 tip box
Spending log - $11 groceries

Wednesday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $0

Noticed that I haven't been boring the snot out of you with current pictures. This weekend, while it was sunny, with the semi-downer depression zeitgeist of 2009 I felt in a black and white mood.

Saturday afternoon at the Pike Market - for a tourist trap this was a fairly light traffic day.


Chinese freighter? The name of the prow called out to me for obvious reasons.


This lived-in camper has been parked in front of the zoo for months now.


Somebody ran out of babies to knit for.

the last to know

February 23rd, 2009 at 11:12 pm

Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $2 juice

Double plastic fantastic project.

Project 1: New debit card came in the mail. Spent a few minutes activating the new card online, checking to see if the number is the same (hey, you never know). Then I looked at my recurring charges and changed the one due in about 2 weeks.

Project 2: declined the Cap One card. The automated part was very easy - no one begging you to stay.

Interesting results from the only recurring charge - a yearly one - on the Cap One card. It was Vindigo, a PDA program that I use for movie times, restaurants, services, maps. Turns out that the story from the billing company was that Vindigo folded in September, so the billing isn't going to be billing them. Last to know, I guess, since we haven't gone to many movies and I haven't eaten lunch out in many new places since September. I hadn't really noticed that I wasn't getting timely updates.

For laughs, I hot-synced up my PDA and clicked into Vindigo. Mysteriously, I got new movie times. (cue the theremin music) I wonder who is still out there running the updates?

anybody else do this?

February 22nd, 2009 at 04:58 pm

During the Oscars, alter your Netflix queue...

vampire's kiss

February 20th, 2009 at 08:53 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $8 groceries

Or Mafia kiss, I'm still trying to decide about that. I received a little missive about changes in my Capital One credit card. Many of you have also received it, so you'll know what I got.

24.99% APR.

DH asked me what Capital One was thinking. Its pretty easy - I am a deadbeat, paying my bill monthly. They don't make any money on me anyway, so they might as well hike it up to either clear the decks (get rid of the non-performers like me), or if I keep it, they can lie in wait to pounce when I slip.

Its a little like keeping a fiscal hungry tiger in the backyard. Time to shoot it between the eyes and decline my card. I have until April 17 to do so; by May 15 it will be gone. I have one yearly recurring charge on it that I have to fix and I would rather do that than assume that Cap One will close the account before it gets charged - the odds haven't been on my side.

In other news, sister is in the midst of fixing up the kitchen walls and ceiling at the farmette...now that the floor looks good.

new recycling can to play with

February 19th, 2009 at 09:26 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $0

Last night we got a new little rolling can for food and yard waste. Seattle will start composting food and yard waste starting the end of March. Another change in the routine because I'll need another container in the kitchen to hold the food waste in a fairly sanitary way, then dump that container daily into the can. I get the feeling that summer is going to be a challenge.

Right now I have a large rolling can for newspaper, mixed paper, clean cardboard foil, cans, some plastics; three plastic stackable bins mostly now used for glass; and a mini can for garbage.

A nice payoff in being frugal and not buying a lot means we don't throw away a lot either - the mini can is enough for a couple weeks worth of waste. No pizza buying, no pizza box tossing in the garbage (now) or in the food/yard waste can (end of March).

Crazy day, and I got word that lawyer friend's youngest brother is very, very ill. Hope he makes it.

Finally Ameriprise

February 18th, 2009 at 08:44 pm

Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $10 lunch

I've been putting off doing my taxes. They are going to be complicated enough again this year that I want a little outside help. Last night I FINALLY got my paperwork from Ameriprise this year.

Grandma had her money in Ameriprise when she died, the money got moved from her trust to me, I moved all but $1.96 to my lair in Vanguard in May. Thankfully, they invested in the Reserve Fund, the money market fund that broke the buck in September.

Stupid Ameriprise. If I had been a little less anal - the checklist in my little green tax collection paperwork folder - and a little more in a hurry, I'd have to fill out an amended X return.

Grr.

sly, WaMu

February 17th, 2009 at 08:10 pm

Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $6 box of salad

Took my tip box squeezings for the month over to WaMu to put into savings. $44 this month, and I put it in a week earlier than my normal schedule. I had a bit of time, and I thought I would do it while I could.

Today in the bank lobby a sign caught my eye - I wanted to take a picture but it seemed unseemely in the bank lobby.

Changing jobs?, it read, then...
Move your 401K into a WaMu whatever...

The sign was enough to make me snicker. Sly writing, because you know darn well that there isn't too much regular "changing" going on. More like, got laid off from your job, well then, move it out of the company account and put it into WaMu. I wonder how it works if you were "changed" out of a WaMu job. Big Grin

I do have to hand it to them ... its a classic case of lemonade production.

Death in the afternoon

February 15th, 2009 at 10:52 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.30 bagel, coffee + $.63 apple + $10 lunch

Well, not quite. I walked up Queen Anne Hill, this time with my heart rate monitor - my high was 151 bpm, which was much better than I feared. Call it a near death in the afternoon.

DH and I had our little Valentines Day at a new neighborhood French style bar. I had a combo of champagne and absinthe, called Death in the Afternoon, along with a round of escargot. So decadent, so cheap.

T+1 Valentine's Day

February 14th, 2009 at 08:35 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $12 breakfast + $110 groceries

Stocked up on groceries and minor Valentine's Day treats. This weekend is a three day one for me - President's Day is also a holiday for me.

DH and I decided to go out the next day, Sunday the 15th. V-day itself is going to be a-stay-at-home for us. Frankly, the V-day festivities aren't really a bowl of cherries for many of the coupled folks I know of either. For the average ordinary, it used to be a card and chocolates and maybe a rose or two (in the 80's, before Columbia got into the rose business, roses were very, very dear). Then the romance became ramped-upped into expensive dinner, drinks, etc, all to re-create the "most special event" ever, every year. I might just be a curmudgeon, but all holidays seem to be turning into their own Christmas. The themes change, but the orgy-like spending continues. Stop it.

Anyway, also up for this weekend, I also plan on repotting a fern into two pots, get a little exercise, and pay off this month's spendy credit card bill. It caused me great sadness to move a bit of savings out to help pay for it.

From Feb 6, looks like the paranormal (aka ghost) investigation of our offices is scheduled for a Saturday in March. 7pm - 11pm, with maybe extra innings up until 2am. I'm in on the fun. Oh I caint hardly wait! Big Grin

all I got to say

February 13th, 2009 at 09:11 pm

Saving log - $40 Drp + $100 Drp
Spending log - $0

179.
Yeah.

Two months ago, the weight goal of 170 seemed like a BHAG - big hairy audacious goal. I'm halfway there.

OT: pranking the creationists

February 12th, 2009 at 08:25 pm

Saving log - $0
Spending log - $0

You have to wonder whether astrology actually worked on Feb 12, 1809 - both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born today 200 years ago within a couple of hours of each other. Most of us in the United States think that Lincoln's birthday was the bigger deal, Darwin's less so. Not me - as a former scientist, Darwin is definitely the bigger deal.

Not to mention that I could celebrate Darwin's birthday in a unique Seattle way: The Discovery Institute (creationist think tank) is across the street from our offices.

Figure 1. Matter of fact it shares a wall with the back of my gym at left. So to the left, inside people pursue fitness to prevent natural selection, enhance female choice, perhaps allow for a little forced DNA repair in the tanning bed; to the right, none of that.


Figure 2. The prank itself. Not terribly elaborate or destructive, and perfectly legal. It felt very good, despite being part of their video surveillence tape. Happy 200th, Chuck!


A special citation to the fellow conspirator, eg the picture taker (clearly not me). We've gotta keep an eye on these guys.

keeping on

February 11th, 2009 at 08:58 pm

Tuesday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $8 lunch + $12 groceries

Wednesday
Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $0

Helped to replenish the freezer by buying a bag each of frozen peas and frozen corn. That and some salad - needed green in my diet. Bailed out on my brought lunch for a bought lunch with lawyer friend, lawyer friend's partner, and screenwriter friend.

DH used his Christmas gift and got the haircut, the manicure, the pedicure, and the straight razor shave. Looks like a million bucks, and hopefully it has cheered him up some.

Worked out a bit Tuesday at the very last minute - work got the better of me, so I did my homework: ran for 15 minutes on the treadmill, did the 45 squats, a few wall angels and 10 chest presses. 30 minutes was better than no minutes. Did manage to get back down to 180 again.

All told, not much fiscal happened today. I guess I'm like most everyone else these days - quiet, spending only a little on want, and mostly on need. Payday on the 13th.

its the freezer's fault

February 9th, 2009 at 09:36 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $0

Woke up this morning to a very sad Post-it on refrigerator from DH:

We must eat what we can
Freezer and refrigerator were OFF last night.

Bummer. He called this afternoon. We'll try saving a pot roast that hadn't been in the freezer that long, and we'll save the butter in the freezer, along with the bottle of good gin. Everything else he tossed. As far as the refrigerator was concerned, anything that hadn't been put in the night before gets tossed.

Sad, but it would be even sadder to risk food poisoning for several $1.49 bags of frozen vegetables. I think, well, hope, that we only lost about $50 worth of food. Its why I have to remember to treat food as food to be eaten, and not as heirlooms.

DH traced the refeer culprit to an odd design - you can control the cold inside on the middle of the top shelf - and lately the top shelf was quite packed. A few things knocked the control, a careless hand brushed the dial down, and there you are. No cold? Refeer can do that. At least it wasn't that the power cord was chewed on or it got unplugged accidentally.

Time to restock the refrig over the next few days.

Speaking of entities that chew cords and dangly things, a breakthrough of sorts. I said, "Morgan", she looked up from her scratching post. I said "Morgan" again and she came. Without bribery even.

Another bit of good news - DJ friend showed me the cover of the new, first compilation CD for Global Vortex. Vol 1: Electronic and House. Its a beautiful cover. I'm a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I have bought CDs on the cover alone. And if it was in the CD stacks I definitely would have touched it and thought about buying it.

spendy weekend

February 8th, 2009 at 09:05 pm

Saturday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $12 breakfast + $108 earbuds + $12 groceries

Sunday
Saving log - $0
Spending log - $3.34 bagel, coffee + $13 conveyor belt sushi

Spending mostly on Saturday. DH bought a bit of stuff for kitty at Target including a large toy mouse ($2.50) which Morgan destroyed in two hours of pleasure. My very decent earbuds mostly gave up the ghost this week after Morgan clawed and bit 'em - the left ear cuts in and out and most songs crossfaded (separate tracks for the left and right ear mixed), it means that everything sounds even worse than 50%. The decent ear buds cost 100$, which seems atrocious, until you spend 20$ to 40$ a pop for cheap mistakes.

Last night I finally had to change my username online. Chase has been in the process of digesting WaMu - now only small WaMu logos are left, next to the big Chase logos. To the victor go the branding spoils.

Checked up on my 403B. You might remember that pre-October that my old money was invested conservatively (40% stock/60% cash & bond). In October I changed my new contributions to 90% stock and 10% bond. So far, I've made up my losses from last quarter.

living off the fat of the fridge

February 6th, 2009 at 08:40 pm

Thursday
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $0

Friday
Saving log - $2 tip box
Spending log - $10 groceries (whole wheat bagette, olives, parmesan/pesto dip spread)

For the last couple of days I've stared at several towers of Ziploc boxes in the home refrigerator, so I've expanded out my lunch experiences and have grazed out of a couple of boxes for dinner. I discovered that: in a pinch a tablespoon of parmesan/pesto dip over microwaved pasta doubles as an alfredo sauce; a cup of fresh salsa is great without chips; pot roast and mango pickle is a wickedly good combination in a lunch box; and that using chopped onions in a salt brine as a quick condiment isn't bad.

Gained 1/2 pound this week. Considering that I had no time to do the mega weekend walk/jog last weekend, I ate and drank liquor without care (?) during Super Bowl afternoon, and I worked out only Monday this week ... I felt I dodged a bullet.

Two more recession observations - the grocery store clerks seem to be so much nicer than they have been for months. Disguising their Valentine's Day hard sell perhaps, but its better than being surly. Tonight I noticed more cars driving on the road with one headlight.

I've heard about a weird project at work. In the 1850's our little non-profit was either next to or was the Little White Church Cemetery. The cemetery was moved at the turn of the century, but apparently not everyone left - tens of people (staff, volunteers, children of volunteers) have reported a tall man in a black coat walking around. So a group of non-profit ghost busters is going to come in at night and roam around.

question from the peanut gallery

February 4th, 2009 at 09:03 pm

Tuesday
Saving log - $5 tip box
Spending log - $3.50 fresh juice

Wednesday
Saving log - $4 tip box
Spending log - $10 lunch

Its busy at work but I'm making great progress so I bought a treat yesterday and had lunch with the gang today.

Lawyer friend had read my blog and had a question for me: Why don't I count the farmette in my net worth? Let me see...

1. Don't know what the farmette's worth, and really, until I'm bought out or it goes up for sale, not worth it to me to appraise it.

2. And it would 1/2 of an estimate anyway.

3. Treating the farmette like an expense, which it is if I pay half-sies on expenses and taxes and I visit it once every couple of years.

4. Would prefer that my net worth be an underestimate.

After lunch, as we were walking back to work, screenwriter friend found a $10 bill under a parked car. Score for him.

Apologies that I haven't been posting daily - I have an excuse, now I have to look around for the screen and type one handed...

creative and explicit

February 2nd, 2009 at 08:59 pm

Saving log - $3 tip box
Spending log - $0

Still enjoying the mostly clean house. I'm just a tad disappointed to miss the 10 seconds of porn during the Super Bowl. Just my luck that I wasn't watching cable in Tuscon.

There were still a couple of Healthy Choice lunches that I snagged for our work refrigerator. I ate one Friday and ate one today, leaving one more just in case. Our floor is so quiet that no one steals anything (knock on wood!).

Really hadn't gone out exploring today, but the one thing that is hard not to notice on the walks nowadays is just the number of sales going on. *Every* non-food retail store in downtown Seattle is running a sale, anything between 20% and 75%. Here's one of the more creative window treatments - its hard to be both creative and explicit.


But food in the restaurant rarely seems to go on sale. Maybe the special become a bit less special, but that's it. It makes walking along a bit like Duck-Duck-Goose. Duck (Sale), Duck (Sale), Goose (food & coffee). Well see - I suspect the Geese will turn into Ducks somehow.

And its hard to watch it all if you are susceptible to the sway of media, arguing that one should "spend, spend" because if you don't, you help make the recession just a little deeper. In case you are wavering and thinking of buying something you can't really afford, remember that if you, the individual, spent without a care to your own personal finances, its a bit like thinking that you can stop a plane crash if you just flapped your arms sitting in business class. No my dears, its time to read the safety card, assume the crash position, take the mask when it is offered, and know your exits.

Super Bowl 09

February 1st, 2009 at 09:16 pm

Saturday
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $12 breakfast + $8 produce

Sunday, Super
Saving log - $0 tip box
Spending log - $12 liquor and sweets

Ate way too much at our Super Bowl soiree, but we saved a bit - we provided the chips, the homemade salsa, a bit of liquor, and a tiramisu cake. Our guests brought several cheeses and crackers, sweet potato chips, dried fruit. We were going to order pizza, but we already had enough food.

Nothing particularly fiscal happened this weekend, only that the game and the ads didn't particularly make us "forget" our troubled times. And that cash4gold ad? Hmmm. Sign of the times.

The threat of guests this weekend did what it normally does - forces us to clean the house. Ah, blessed clean house.

Morgan behaved herself this afternoon - first time she's seen our friends. Didn't run away, but didn't really relax in front of our guests.