February 04, 2006

Religious Conversion

... or Conversations?

Over the past while, I've been doing some research on world relgions in general, and Christian denominations specifically. One of the most hilarious (yeah, that's irreverant... don't worry, this isn't going to turn blasphemous) things that I read was this:
"Those who reject the label Baptist prefer to be labeled as Christians who attend Baptist churches. Also, a recent trend is to eliminate the name "Baptist" from the church name, as it is perceived to be a "barrier" to reaching persons of no church background who have negative views of Baptists."

This TOTALLY reminded me of a conversation with a former co-worker... read on!

I was quietly enjoying my lunch one day at work when the new woman, MLW, started preaching at me! I actually don't mind discussing religion with people, so I didn't mind.

Her ideas were fundamentalist and fairly intolerant. She was very definitely trying to convert me.
At this point, I sweetly asked: "What denomination are you?"
MLW: I'm a Christian!
Me: A Baptlst Christian?
MLW: I'm a Christian! I believe in Christ Our Lord!
Me: Do you attend a church?
MLW: Yes.
Me: What denomination is the church?
MLW: Well, Baptist but...

Heh, it continued from there. I didn't know at the time that this was part of a greater phenomenon, I just thought she was hiding her fundamentalist tendencies. In fairness, Protestants in general and Baptists specifically have aspects of religion that I like (congregationalism, for example). But fundamentalism isn't one of them.

Jeez, holy self-loathing, Batman! (Ok, that may be slightly blasphemous.)

Posted by JAY at 11:00 PM | Comments (2)

February 05, 2006

Roofed and Other Notes

It was horrid out today. There was a lot of snow but it was really warm, resulting in a layer of snow over mud. The construction site was empty due to the weather - but I ended up sinking ankle deep in mud. Had fun anyway.

The roof is done (well, not shingled) and some ductwork inside has been completed. I went checking out some of the houses that are closer to completion and there's good news: I'm getting copper pipes, not PVCC plastic. I'm also getting vinyl-clad windows throughout, which is good, because the purchase agreement only specified them for the front elevation. I know from experience that wood window frames are a pain to upkeep.

So really, I got everything I wanted: concrete block demising wall, solid wood floor joists*, copper pipes, heck, even the interior garage door rough in. So, yay!

*Though Renato and Dom tell me the engineered floor joists are better now... oh well!

Posted by JAY at 11:39 PM | Comments (0)

Recipe: Osso Bucco

Made this today with a bread roll for dipping. It was really really good, but kind of a pain to make. Plus its main ingredients, veal shanks and white wine, aren't something I ofen have on hand. I used Yellow Tail chardonnay, an Australian dry white that's nice and cheap. My shanks were a bit on the thin side (they were discount meat), so after browning them, they took a while to soften up in the braising liquid. I did have a nice homemade chicken stock on hand - which is good, because it would've been overly salty with commercial broth. Omit all salt if you're using commercial broth.

I also didn't bother with the bouquet garni - I just threw in the herbs. Didn't bother twining the shanks either.

Unfortunately, I lost the link to the recipe...

1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 dry bay leaf
2 whole cloves
Kitchen twine, for bouquet garni and tying the veal shanks
3 whole veal shanks (about 1 pound per shank), trimmed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All purpose flour, for dredging
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 small carrot, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
1 stalk celery, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon zestPlace the rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and cloves into cheesecloth and secure with twine. This will be your bouquet garni.

For the veal shanks, pat dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Veal shanks will brown better when they are dry. Secure the meat to the bone with the kitchen twine. Season each shank with salt and freshly ground pepper. Dredge the shanks in flour, shaking off excess.

In a large Dutch oven pot, heat vegetable oil until smoking. Add tied veal shanks to the hot pan and brown all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove browned shanks and reserve.

In the same pot, add the onion, carrot and celery. Season with salt at this point to help draw out the moisture from the vegetables. Saute until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Return browned shanks to the pan and add the white wine and reduce liquid by half, about 5 minutes. Add the bouquet garni and 2 cups of the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone. Check every 15 minutes, turning shanks and adding more chicken stock as necessary. The level of cooking liquid should always be about 3/4 the way up the shank.

Carefully remove the cooked shanks from the pot and place in decorative serving platter. Cut off the kitchen twine and discard.
Remove and discard bouquet garni from the pot.

Pour all the juices and sauce from the pot over the shanks. Garnish with chopped parsley and lemon zest.

Posted by JAY at 11:41 PM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2006

On Error Resume Next

It's never a good sign when your team lead asks you for comments on his script and every other line reads On Error Resume Next <-- only slighty exaggerated.

It's even worse when you're told that those lines "make it work".


Posted by JAY at 06:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2006

Bricking It Up

They're just going gangbusters on the house. I missed last week, when they had just started the shingling of the roof and had the windows in. Now, they've started the exterior briickwork. The final stairs are in the house, temporarily nailed into place and the copper plumbing pipes are more or less done. Woo!

I met the neighbors as well - and promptly forgot their names. They actually bought their house THREE YEARS AGO and it's far behind mine - it was the fire break and couldn't be built until the houses next to it had brick on their side walls. Heck, if I had 3 years to save, I almost wouldn't need a mortgage! It must've been quite a wait.

Posted by JAY at 08:28 PM | Comments (2)

February 26, 2006

Making Backups

Nothing can get you down like a hard drive crash. Except for maybe a hard drive crash on your server. Sigh. I went to save something to my personal drive and couldn't find it.

I reboot the server and it didn't come up. Unfortunately, it's also my router, so I had no internet either. Well. I guess it was time to test the backups! Years ago, I put a second HDD in the machine and set it to back up the main HDD every night. Praying, I swapped it with the primary and boot it up. Hallelujah! So now I'm running on borrowed time until I get a second HDD. Yuck - I'm supposed to be saving for my downpayment!

Also, I had a HDD crash on my main computer a while ago and, again, my mirrored drive saved my butt. I've never replaced that mirror, either! In fact, I can't even remember what my HD configuration IS anymore. Borrowed time...

Posted by JAY at 10:28 PM | Comments (1)