November 03, 2013

Another breakfast

Breakfast 11-03-2013

So, this was breakfast this morning. Pat said it was quite tasty. If you'd like to find out for yourself, it goes like this:

1) Make some toast. If you've got any questions at this point, perhaps you should consider a different endeavour. Cooking may not be for you. I originally wanted to use a bed of quinoa, but that didn't work out the way I was hoping, so I defaulted to toast. Use a whole grain bread for interest, flavour, and texture. This was flax seed and chia, so it's about as trendy a bread as there is right now. I buttered it. You might not, but I like butter. So there.

2) Slice an avocado. Spritz it with lime, you know, as you do. Lay the slices on the toast.

3) Saute some mushrooms in olive oil and crushed garlic until they are slightly crispy. Lay those out on top of the avocado.

4) Slice a tomato. Top the tomato slices with grated Beemster cheese and place under the broiler for a couple of minutes, until the cheese is melted and the tomatoes are softened. Place the cheesy tomato slices on top of the mushrooms, on top of the avocado, on top of the toast. On top of the house that Jack built. OK, maybe not that last bit.

5) Top that stack with a couple of lightly poached eggs. I like runny yolks. You can cook your eggs the way you like them. I won't judge.

6) Sprinkle with sliced green onions that have been brined for a while in rice wine vinegar and red chili flakes. Lightly season with coarse salt. I have a pink Himalayan salt I like. But, then again, I'm not insecure about my sexuality.

7) Eat. We had coffee with it, but I really thought it deserved red wine. Your call.

February 27, 2013

Name an animal that doesn't have the letter 'A' in it. I bet you can't.

Well, actually, no, I don't. It really isn't that hard, if you think about it for eight seconds. No, really. Go ahead. Try it. What's the first animal that comes to mind?

No, 'cat' has an 'A' in it. How about 'dog'? Or 'cow'? Or 'horse'? Or 'rhinoceros'? 'Tiger'? 'Lion'? What about 'Demon Stingerfish'? Or 'Proboscis Monkey', also commonly known as the 'Long Nosed Monkey' - neither of those names have an 'A' in them.

OK, so I'm belabouring the point. Why? Well, if it's so childishly easy to think of an animal without an 'A' in its name, why are there so many Facebook posts claiming you can't do it?

You've all seen it, or one of its myriad variations. You think about it for eight seconds, or maybe even shorter, and realize you CAN think of one. "Me smart," you think to yourself. "Me show them how smart me is." You click on the picture, and type, D-O-G in the comment box, and hit 'enter.' Only then do you scan through the other comments and notice that eight hundred and seventy six other people have already typed 'dog' or 'cow' or 'red-tufted lemur'. And you suddenly realize that you didn't think of it because you're a zoological genius, but because it isn't even remotely difficult to do so.

So now you're thinking that the person who originally posted the 'challenge' is an idiot. But they aren't. In fact, they're the smart ones.

Here's another common one I'm sure you've all seen: There's an interesting looking picture posted. It may even have one of those little arrows in the center of it, denoting that it's a video. There's some superlative comment, like, "Amazing!" And it tells you to 'like' the picture, then type a specific word or number in as a comment and something awesome will happen. You've done it, haven't you? Yes, you. Don't look away. Did anything awesome happen? Did anything happen at all? I didn't think so.

So, if thinking of an animal without an 'A' in its name is child's play, and if absolutely nothing at all happens when you follow the instructions and type the prescribed comment, why do all these posts keep appearing on Facebook?

People are buying your eyes.

Every business or corporation has a Facebook page these days. Those pages are, let's face it, advertising. They are most effective if they are seen by a large number of eyes. Facebook has algorithms that choose what posts and pages you see in your newsfeed, based, in part, on how popular those pages are. They decide how popular those pages are by counting up how many people have liked or commented on status updates on those pages. The more activity a page has, the more likely Facebook is to show that page's status updates to a wider audience. So, new pages starting out want to convince a lot of people to like and comment on a lot of their posts right away. Some more ethical businesses might run contests, or simply generate a lot of interesting and on-topic content for the page. Less scrupulous businesses might look for easier ways to get a lot of clicks quickly. And some, at the extreme lazy end of the spectrum, would be perfectly amenable to buying an existing page that already has an excellent 'visibility' in Facebook's algorithms, and renaming it for their own business.

Have you ever seen a post from 'Joe's Meats and Auto Repairs' - or whatever - and thought, "that's funny, I don't remember ever 'liking' that page before"? Well, Joe just bought that page with an existing fan base of tens of thousands of geniuses who figured out that 'cow' doesn't have an 'A' in it, and renamed it.

And you thought you were the smart one.

February 14, 2013

Six years ago on AWV

This entry was originally posted on Friday, February 9, 2007.

   It's weekend assignment time again.

Weekend Assignment #151: Is Valentine's Day a genuinely romantic day? Or just a big commercial money pit into which romantic people fall? Go on, share how you really feel about the day -- whether you enjoy it, or feel like it's forced on you by greeting card companies, or fall somewhere in between those two poles.

Extra credit: Suggest a nice romantic movie.

   In order to address this weekend's assignment, I did some some research on St. Valentine, and Valentine's Day.

   I was amused.

   Traditionally called St. Valentine's Day, February 14th hasn't actually been the Catholic feast day of St. Valentine for almost thirty-eight years. Today, February 14th is the liturgical feast day only of St. Cyril and St. Methodius. Why is Valentine's Day no longer St. Valentine's Day? Well, it seems that the current opinion of the church is that the most popular figures referred to as being the origin of the holy day are 'legendary' saints. That means they did not, in actuality, ever really exist.
   In addition, it seems that the association of Valentine's Day with love and romance is almost entirely the work of Geoffrey Chaucer, in the fourteenth century. In his Parlement of Foules, he relates the tale (couched as if it were, indeed, an old tradition) that St. Valentine's Day was the day that birds met and chose their mates. There are no earlier references to St. Valentine's Day being connected with romantic love known. But why, you ask, would birds be mating in the middle of February, in Englande of Olde?
   Well, I don't know if you really asked that, or not, but two points to you if you did. Them's some pretty good critical thinking skills at work. It seems that Chaucer wrote that poem to commemorate the first anniversary of the engagement of Richard II to Anne of Bohemia, which event occurred on May 2, 1381. And May 2nd, as it happens, is the Catholic liturgical feast day of another saint named Valentine, of Genoa, from the early fourth century.
  So all those hearts and chocolates being thrown around every February 14th are, in fact, being received on completely the wrong day. Those who read Chaucer's poem at the time naturally assumed he was talking about the St. Valentine they were most familiar with. You know, the one who never really existed. Christians are funny that way.
   There you are gentlemen, from me to you: an excuse you can try out the next time you forget Valentine's Day. "But honey, I was saving your gift for the real St. Valentine's Day." I don't really expect that would work, and I certainly would never try to pull it off myself, but you, when you're desperate, you'll try anything. Just remember to get her something on May 2nd, or your ass is grass, man.

   So. Valentine's Day. Day of romance, or commercial blackmail? Well, both, really. I mean, when the tradition of St. Valentine's day was brought over to North America in the nineteenth century during the huge wave of British immigration that happened at that time, it took little or no time for it to catch on with enterprising merchants as a "let's make a quick buck at the expense of those poor schmucks being ruled by their testicles" opportunity. And, in fact, Hallmark Cards admits that they sell more product for Valentine's Day than any other holiday other than Christmas (you know, the liturgical feast day of another one of Catholicism's legendary figures). There is no question that the day has become little more than an occasion for retailers to hold a hammer over the heads of us poor, hormone controlled fellows. Buy flowers or sleep on the couch!

   Still, as they, "might as well roll with with it." Being that it is impossible to avoid, why not embrace it? You know your wife/girlfriend/illicit adulterous mistress is expecting something romantic. So go with it. Give it a little thought. Get her something that'll really set a sparkle in her eyes.
   Forget about the chocolate, the flowers, the stuffed bears holding little stuffed hearts. For the love of Woden, forget about the slutty little piece of barely there lingerie you had your eye on. Think about it, damn it! Because, you know, at the end of it all, that's all they really want: to know that you're thinking about them.
   Remember, life's what you make it.

Life's what you make it - Talk Talk

Baby, life's what you make it

Can't escape it

Baby, yesterday's favorite

Don't you hate it

Baby, life's what you make it

Don't backdate it

Baby, don't try to shake it

Beauty is naked

Baby, life's what you make it

Celebrate it

Anticipate it

Yesterday's faded

Nothing can change it

Baby, life's what you make it

Everything's all right

Extra Credit:  "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return." -- Moulin Rouge.

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