Sunday, May 20, 2012

Recipes for Cooking up a Good night

My better half has suggested that I write a cook book.  Years ago, I lived by the Men's Health "Man, Can, and a Plan".  Nothing like a can of beans for a meal, except for those hot dogs with cheese infused into them.  Ah yes, that brings back good memories from grad school.  Of course if you want a vegetable, heat up a can of corn.  That mentality was augmented by the Men's Health recipes.  You can probably see why their menu would appeal to me.

Since then, I've gotten a wider repertoire.  I even took a basic French cooking class, so the meals around here are a little tastier and I balk at using a can of anything anymore.  I still go back to my cooking roots in that most times I eat because I don't want to be hungry anymore.  So, I like quick and easy recipes.  That's going to be the focus of my book with some date pleasing entries as well.

So if you've got a particular favorite, please share them with all of us here.  Nothing elaborate unless it's a real date pleaser.  Hopefully, we'll elevate the cooking all those future college kids!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Soccer - World's Game?

I'm not a soccer fan (football, whatever you want to call it).  I've played and coached the sport.  As a coach of 9 year olds, I realized that it's a great sport to wear kids out.  As a player, I had fun, no doubt.  (Fun team, we'd head to the karaoke bar afterwards.  Other teams would wait for our game to get over to make sure they knew where we were going.)  I resist the implication though, that the US is somehow inferior because soccer isn't more widely accepted.

The media and a number of fans push the idea that we have to like the game because it is the World's Game.  Checking the website Most Popular Sports, Soccer does rank number one in the world.  (They try to rank sports by the number of visits to sport websites.)  In the US, Soccer ranks number 5.  I was surprised to see that Hockey ranked above it.  (Cricket is leading the user poll.  Cricket is the sport that I actually think is probably the most popular.)

Today's Wall St. Journal has an interesting article on match-fixing in Turkey.  In addition, 74 people were recently killed in a soccer match in Egypt.  Both of these articles reinforce my desire not to be interested in soccer.  It's my guess that more spectators were killed at this soccer match that were killed in every other sport all over the world for all of last year.  Over and over again fights break out at soccer matches.  With this much violence associated with the sport, how can it be so wonderful?

I know going to an Oakland Raider game as a fan of the opponent is dangerous.  I went to a preseason game between Oakland and New Orleans wearing my Redskins hat and was threatened.  I know that there are times that fights break out.  At a USC vs Notre Dame football game in LA, I saw a couple fights and was also threatened.  Yet, with all this poor behavior, 74 spectators didn't get killed at either NFL or college football games.  Famously, a SF Giants fan was attacked at a Dodger game.

People like to rag on cycling because of the news about doping.  (I wrote a blog on this topic a few days ago.)  With every article on cycling, they mention doping - it doesn't matter what the article is about.  Soccer though, doesn't get the same treatment when really, it should. 

Soccer is a fine sport.  I'm in favor of people supporting the sports that they like.  I don't even mind people liking to talk about sports that they like.  However, implying that non-fans are half-wits for not liking the sport crosses the line.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Gas Prices and Fuel Grades

Gas prices are on the way up again. (Although I don't hear the Pres. Bush haters blaming Pres. Obama for his corporate connections.  I don't suppose that they are hypocritical?  It couldn't possibly have just been political?) 

One of the side effects of increasing gas prices is the decreasing relative price difference between the grades of fuel.  From reviewing historical price data, in November, 1994, regular gas was $1.08, midgrade $1.17, and premium $1.27.  On January 30, 2012, the fuel prices are regular $3.44, midgrade $3.57, and premium $3.72.  So the difference in 1994 between regular and premium was a 17.6% increase.  In 2012, the increase is just 8.1% increase. 

At some point, I started buying midgrade gas instead of regular.  When it was $1.17, the increment for 10 gallons of gas was 90 cents.  However, currently, the increased cost is $1.30.  But since, I would only have been paying around $10 to fill up, another $1 seemed like a significant increase.  Now, I'm paying around $35.70, so the increased $1.30 doesn't seem like such a big deal.  I suppose if I were filling up once a week, that would add up to enough to take notice.

I'm wondering though, if this behavior change occurs more than just in my car.  Now, my car's engine is spec'ed to run just fine with regular octane, so I didn't have to make the change for that reason.  Of course, if I could buy gas without ethanol, I'd take that trade.  Cheaper to start, a gallon of gas would go further, and food costs would be lowered.  Wait, is there a trade off?  Oh yeah, I'd have to hear how environmentalists were complaining, and laugh.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Contador Banned - Cycling Quagmire

So the latest most reported cycling new is that Alberto Contador has been banned from cycling for two years.  This ban is typical of a drug ban.  Worse judgements are possible and individual events are individually responsible for determining how it affects their results.

This ban was, I believe, the end result of what became known as Operation Puerto (OP).  Interestingly enough, OP implicated athletes in just about all major sports, including athletes competing in the soccer World Cup.  What's that?  You haven't heard about any soccer players testing positive for drugs.  How about Baseball?

It seems like you can't pick up an article about cycling without the article mentioning doping in some context.  However, they never seem to mention it with baseball.  In contrast, remember the big regular season home run derby between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire?  Both of these players were later determined to have been doping.  Jose Conseco?  Yup, he even testified before Congress about how much juice he took.

What's the difference between these sports and cycling?  Cycling has the most rigorous anti-doping policy in sports.  They've started a fingerprinting type of system to track cyclists to determine if any changes are "unusual".  When people violate doping rules, cycling isn't bashful about making it public.

Other sports either don't have a policy or don't implement any detection policies (i.e. don't care).  Mr. Canseco, Mr. Sosa, Mr. McGwire, and many others didn't violate US drug laws neither did the violate baseball rules.  Baseball didn't have any rules.  They still don't have much.  They implemented a token policy and a token detection policy. 

Does this make cycling look bad?  Yes, mostly to the uninformed.  I can't tell you how disappointed I was that Floyd Landis doped.  We were huge fans.  I'm not a Contador fan, but I sure hope he can make a reasonable defense.  Unfortunately, if he's cleared you won't hear much about it.  Good new just isn't as interesting to report.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Pres. Obama reverses on Super PAC - duh!

Wow!  Can you believe that anyone believed that a politician running for President would eschew the potential of a Super PAC?  Me neither.  But apparently, some did.  Looking at the amount of press that Pres. Obama received regarding his "reversal" on Super PACs, you would think that he did something unexpected.

Don't forget that his campaign has said that they plan on raising $1 Billion (that's nine zeros).  Also, remember how his last campaign went, with lots of other "unrelated" organizations raising lots of money and doing the heavy lifting for his campaign.

My only comment to those who believe that he was really against these organizations is "really," very sarcastically of course.  Naturally, my first reaction when I heard that he had reversed his "decision" (statement really) was "duh."

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ahh the doughnut!

So my better half and I have changed our eating habits.  It isn't correct to say that we've been on a diet, because we have simply changed the way we eat.  Overall, I've lost 30 pounds and gained around 5 back.  So I'm pretty happy with the results, I'd prefer to lose the 5 I've gained plus another 10, but that's just gravy.   Mmmmm, gravy....

Anyway, a couple months ago, we decided to get back into the gym.  I'm hassled by knee problems (which is why I gained the weight back), so that keeps me out of the gym for a time.  If only I'd give up basketball, ....  During this initial time back into the gym, and protein shakes for breakfast, I realized that I was hungry before I got of my car after leaving the gym.  I had learned previously that if I kept from getting hungry I actually kept to my diet and lost more weight.  So I decided to start picking up more breakfast after the gym.

Now, a non-fat latte is a pretty good snack.  It combines a little dairy with coffee and so I get my coffee and a little more fullness.  But this didn't quite do it for my morning.  That's when I realized that I could get a doughnut with my coffee.  That really put a completeness to my morning.  I was just fine until lunch.

Because of the activity and the rest of my diet, it was easy enough to burn these calories during the day.  But it was really satisfying to have that little piece of gluttony.  I wasn't losing any more weight, but I wasn't gaining either.  Of course, I've now dropped that part of my morning in order to restart the weight loss, but I have a wandering eye some days in the coffee shop.

I think that little pleasures like this are important in daily life.  That doughnut (and last weekend's wine) provide a little extra happiness.  It's like getting a little surprise present every day.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Susan G. Komen's Problems just Starting

The Susan G. Komen's (SGK) decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood (PP) because they are under federal investigation was consistent according to their funding rules.  Organizations are required by donors to maintain standards and Planned Parenthood fails under those standards.  Unfortunately, they have reversed that decision.  But they didn't only reverse it, they reversed it quick and succumbed to intense pressure from this one group.

So what does this mean?  Frankly, expect to see SGK put under more pressure by PP and other liberal organizations to increase their funding of liberal causes.  Because they folded so quick, they have shown that they are easily swayed and have little backbone to pressure or attempted "bad" publicity.

Frankly, I'm no fan of SGK.  I think that they have taken the breast cancer awareness to such a level that they have supplanted awareness of breast cancer to awareness of their organization.  They are kind of a bully in the breast cancer arena.  My mother is currently recovering from her latest surgery for breast cancer (second mastectomy).  So over the last 17 years, I've been personally sensitive to breast cancer.

I was amazed and thrilled by the original decision by SGK.  It was the first thing that I've heard from them that made me think that they are actually concerned about issues.  (Don't forget the medically proven link between abortions and breast cancer.)  But with the reversal, I'm truly disappointed (again) in this organization.  However, my feelings aside, I've seen over many years that aggressive groups prey upon weaker ones, and SGK just proved how weak they are.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Facebook Follies - Dropping friends

With the upcoming IPO of Facebook, I've been thinking more about this particular tool.  When I decided to run for political office, I decided to open start a separate Facebook page for that part of my life.  Some of my friends get a little confused because they see things from "me" from both accounts.  However, I think it's better overall because those that don't want to see items regarding my political views can just not friend me or exclude that persona from their news stream.

I can't tell you how many of my friends that I wish would do the same thing.  Seems like I have a number of governmentalists (my term for statists - but harder to say) like to proselytize for liberalism.  One friend in particular seems to post constantly, and monitor everyone else's posting too (I got flamed by her once ... if only she would read first), to the point that I wonder how she can get her work done.

Fortunately, I've found the part of Facebook to allow me to exclude them from my news feed.  Before I found that I was seriously considering having to 'drop' these friends.  But the question still remains, at what point do you 'drop' (unfriend) a friend. 

Unlike many people, or even my political account, I restrict everything to only my friends.  Not friends of friends, so I feel mostly comfortable that information is protected.  However, again, what would it take to unfriend. 

I think that the most egregious act would be to be overly aggressive to others in joined conversations.  While I appreciate passionate people, the electronic environment is context insensitive.  What I may write, may not be what others "hear".  Having taught in the online forum, I've seen a lot of passionate discussions.  I've also had numerous discussions with people on how they interpreted what was written.

Further, by allowing one friend to be abused by another in your "home" (basically, your Facebook page), you show a lack of appreciation for the abused friend.  Anyone can have a bad day, so caution is recommended, but in the end, if something happens on your page that you wouldn't do yourself, you have to take a remedy.  Sometimes, the right answer is unfriending.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Liberal Lite vs Diet Pepsi

It seems that most people that I know are drinking diet drinks these days.  This feeling isn't born out by the latest (2010) market share analysis, as diet drinks fall behind their non-diet equivalents (see Beverage-Digest).  This fact makes my metaphor even better.  In full disclosure, I don't like diet colas. 

The Republicans repeat a couple of mistakes.  First, unlike the Democratic party, the Republican party tends to select a presidential nominee according to "who's turn" it is.  Call it the old-boys-network or whatever that you want to call it, but it never works.  Sen. Dole, Pres. Ford, and Sen. McCain are all recent examples of this phenomena.  It was their turn, I guess, to lose.  The Democrats on the other hand, don't really seem to have that particular issue.  One could argue that Sens Kerry and Gore were both examples of this, and yes, it apparently was their turn to lose too.

The second, and related possibly, mistake that Republicans make is to run a Liberal-Lite.  A Liberal-Lite candidate is a big government Republican who is socially "progressive" and eschews conservatism.  These mistakes may be related in some way as each of the above listed Republican presidential candidates were all Liberal-Lite too.  When Republicans run these against the Democratic Full-bore Liberal, they lose every time.  Just like Coke beats Diet Coke; Pepsi beats Diet Pepsi; Liberal beats Liberal Lite. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Hampshire Primary Result : Conservatives Win!

The most published (not popular or biggest) story of the 2012 New Hampshire primary is the Mitt Romney win.  Yawn.  An alternative proposal for the biggest story was that President Obama only received 80%; not so much (Pres. Bush only received 80% in 2004).  The real story of the New Hampshire primary was that conservatives did better than 2008.

Here are the 2008 Republican primary results:
  • McCain (37%)
  • Romney (31%)
  • Huckabee (11%)
  • Giuliani (9%)
  • Paul (8%)
  • Thompson (1%)
  • Hunter (1%)
  • Others (2%)
 In the 2012 primary, the results are:
  • Romney (39%)
  • Paul (23%)
  • Huntsman (17%)
  • Gingrich (9%)
  • Santorum (9%)
  • Perry (1%)
  • Bachmann (0%)
  • Others (2%)
In 2008, the first four vote getters are all liberal Republicans gathering 88% of the vote.  Frankly, given the views of McCain and Romney, I'm surprised that Romney only received 39% of the vote in 2012.  Had the demographic and situation been the same, one would expect Romney to get all the same votes, plus the McCain votes.  Huntsman appears to roughly get the votes of Huckabee and Giuliani.

So what is the most striking difference in 2012?  Ron Paul's increase from 8% to 23% has to be the most striking.  However, there was still another 20% of the vote going to conservative voters.  You could thus argue that approximately 43% of the vote went to conservatives in 2012 over the meager 10% from 2008. 

Let's face it, New Hampshire is not a bastion of conservatism.  In 2000, Senator McCain received 49% and President Bush 30%.  The 2012 election is reminiscent of 1996 election where conservatives led by Buchanan and Forbes.  So for conservatives to received that much of the vote, makes for the biggest story of the 2012 New Hampshire primary.