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Date: 2009-09-25 06:36
Subject: Garrrr....
Security: Public
This morning I got a glimpse of what probably makes retirement so great. 

The nightly routine is that I have to get up every 3-4 hours to pee.  At 3AM I got up, and then could not fall asleep again.  I don't think I can blame the baby outright, but she did start up what I like to call the "I must be pregnant with baby snakes" routine.  Unidentified body parts push my stomach out and then start moving around.  It's a little gross to feel and see.  She's also been messing around with my ribs, which is a sensation that is very hard to ignore.

Uhhh yeah, anyway, around 3:30 I became more hungry than tired, so I got up and had some breakfast.  Before I knew it, I was showered and dressed and in my car on my way to work.  Before 5AM.  Somewhere in my sleep deprived brain the idea of getting to work early and leaving shortly after lunch seemed like a great idea.  It seems like a very bad one now.  I'm overtired and very uncomfortable - restless legs, minimally functional brain, crampy back, thirsty, and my stomach isn't feeling so great.  I just want to go lay down.

If I were retired, I could have eaten some breakfast, caught me some Wai Lana and Sit & Be Fit, and then crawled back to bed.

This morning's pick-me-up:

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Date: 2009-09-12 14:16
Subject: Burninating the Pie Eating Contest...
Security: Public

I have to say that the contest was a big time disappointment, and not just because my pie didn't place.  We got no feedback of any kind about our pies, nor any indication of what the criteria was.   I'm not sure they were evaluated for appearance either.  The pies were kept covered up and the judges did not do the slicing.

The only thing I could discern from the "grand prize" winning pies (a double crust apple pie and what I think was a pecan pie) is that a) they should be small and come in a disposable pie tin, and b) you should burn the crap out of your crust.  

Here was my entry:

Then I watched sadly as my pie was whisked away to the baked goods table, sliced up and sold off for $2 a slice.  I had designs on the rest of that pie that involved me a half a gallon of vanilla ice cream...

The only consolation was that my pie sold out in under 10 minutes, and some old ladies had very nice things to say about it.

Here were the pies I made Thursday night/Friday morning:

A very tasty dutch apple concoction (with Granny Smith & Jonamac apples):

and, of course, my Trogdor pie (made exclusively with SweeTango apples in a 12" diameter pie plate):

...complete with a beefy arm, consumate V's, and majestic lines for majesty...
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Date: 2009-09-10 21:36
Subject: I should probably not enter this in the contest...
Security: Public
Today at work we were having a lively discussion about pie preparation, and the subject of our venting patterns came up. 

I decided that Trogdor the Burninator would probably make for a good venting design:

I tried it out on the pie that is burninating at this very moment...pics tomorrow :-)

And just in case you're confused:

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Date: 2009-09-09 21:04
Subject: In over my head?
Security: Public
I'm entering an apple pie in a pie baking contest this weekend at a fair down the road from my house.   I would describe my cooking as average at best, but I feel pretty good about the pies I bake.

That said, I wonder about a few things related to what makes for a winning pie:

1. Should I go with a full lid, or some kind of criss-cross design, (or even a crumbly dutch apple in lieu of a top crust)?
2. Should I bake it the night before, and serve it up sort of set, or should I bake it that morning and serve it warm, at the risk of the innards still being a little runny?
3. Choice of apple(s)?

I'm going to prepare a couple of pies tomorrow night and have my co-workers do some gastronomic analysis for me on Friday. 

As regards apples, I normally use two different species - typically one tart and one sweet, and also one that is firmer and one that is softer, so that there's some variation in the texture - Granny Smith and Golden Delicious seem to work out great for that.

Recently I read a press release that the University of Minnesota (who brought us the oh-so-tasty Honeycrisp apple), has released Spawn of the Honeycrisp (a.k.a. SweeTango).  What initially caught my eye is that this apple would be initially introduced around Labor Day weekend in three select cities - one of those being Rochester, New York.  Woot!  The second thing is that this new apple is a more tart version of its mother apple, with the same crisp texture and juiciness that made the Honeycrisp such a divine snacking apple.  I've never dared make a pie with that apple - they're pretty expensive for starters, and secondly they're so delicious that there's no reason to do anything but eat them right off the tree.

Anyway - the news about the SweeTango got me thinking that it might be a good apple pie contest candidate...a tart apple makes for a pretty good pie, and given their newness, chances are pretty good that very few entries would feature that apple and my pie might stand out as something new and different.

I think I'm on to something with this latter point...yesterday I couldn't find any information about where exactly to get these apples locally, and after making a few calls it began to appear that trying to track down the handful of local orchards licensed to grow the SweeTango would be a needle in the haystack effort at best.  Today, however, the lead news item on the website of the Batavia Daily News was all about this new apple, and it gave the names of the 5 local orchards who are growing the SweeTango.  Calls to the first 4 orchards made my idea seem silly - the apples generally won't be available for sale until next week.  Orchard #5 however hooked me right up!  It was worth the drive - those apples are every bit as tasty as the Honeycrisp, and definitely tart enough to make me think this pie is going to be pretty special.

Given the difficulty in procuring the apple, it's probable that my pie will be the only one to feature this new apple.  I'm psyched.  :-)

Stay tuned - contest is Saturday at High Noon.
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Date: 2009-08-25 11:18
Subject: The Joys of Harvest Season
Security: Public
I had the very best of intentions when I got myself to bed with lights out at 9PM.  The plan was to get up sometime before 7AM (which has been the norm whether I like it or not) and go to work a little bit earlier today, while still getting the sleep I need.

It worked brilliantly until approximately 3 AM, which evidently is the designated hour to harvest soy beans out of the field next to our house.  For some reason it was also necessary to start in the corner of the field closest to our house at that hour, fully illuminating our backyard and filling the house with the deafening sound of no less than four harvesters.

Yeah that worked out great.
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Date: 2009-08-06 12:45
Subject: Oh Wendy's, thank you!
Security: Public

These are happy gestational times for me:

The baby's moving around alot, but not kicking the crap out of me in a painful way. 

I'm obviously pregnant enough that people know that's what's going on, as opposed to wondering if I've gone back to college full time and am washing down 3 Big Macs with a 12 pack of beer every night.

Sure it's already kind of uncomfortable to tie my own shoes and pick things up off of the floor, but the belly's not really getting in my way too much otherwise.

The best part though is definitely the return of my appetite, and the departure (for the most part) of nausea, heartburn and constipation.  Not only has my appetite returned, but the only other times I've eaten this much this frequently have been at the tail end of 5-game weekend hockey tournaments, and when I was playing hockey in Germany and intensively training 6 days a week.

What am I doing now to jack up my appetite?  3 days a week of gentle, pre-natal yoga, and growing a baby.  Man.  It's tough work I tell you.

Rediscovering my love affair with bacon has been a particular source of joy to me.  I nearly cried today when I got a Jr. Bacon Swiss burger from Wendy's, and discovered that they have upgraded to a thicker, crispier kind of bacon.  I capped it off with a root beer frosty float. 

Ohhhhhh what a time to be alive.  :-)

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Date: 2009-08-03 21:01
Subject: Career, meet toilet. Toilet, meet career.
Security: Public
Mood:baffled & hungrybaffled & hungry

There's no better way to impress prospective employers than by filing a frivolous lawsuit that egregiously flaunts your impatience, ill-gotten sense of entitlement, mediocre credentials, and poor grammar.

Atta girl!

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Date: 2009-07-23 07:36
Subject: Pregnancy is downright comical.
Security: Public
1st ultrasound this morning!  I'll start chugging the requisite water in an hour or so.

I have to continually laugh at myself at the genuine surprise I experience when I notice changes taking place in my body.  It's not that I didn't know these things were going to happen - it's that I can't help but feel something along the lines of but I didn't think it would really happen to me.  Of course we knew that my abdomen was going to start growing at some point - but why is it that Tim & I both marvel at it on a daily basis as though it's coming as a complete surprise!?

Similarly I've been in denial for several weeks about the fact that sleeping is just plain uncomfortable.  I'm a side sleeper anyway - that's not the problem.  The problem is that I've been propping myself up with an extra pillow to alleviate the fairly severe heartburn I experience otherwise, and this has led to some mild lower back ache by morning.  Lately I've added a pillow between my knees, but within the past week sleeping discomfort has escalated at a rate to great to ignore.

It came to a head last night.  My hip would hurt after laying for an hour or so on one side.  Rolling over was very painful - I'm not sure whether it was gas, or that the way that I was laying over-stretched the muscles between my hip and ribcage, but rolling over hurt enough to wake me up.  My lower back was screaming this morning.

So it's obviously time to go out and get a few things.  I've been meaning to get a nice cushy pillow-top mattress pad for some time.  My parents have one.  After napping on it once, my own bed feel suddenly felt like a bed of nails by comparison.

I started looking into support pillows specifically designed for pregnancy, and had to stop at the sight of the first picture I found for fear of wetting my pants:

Even better is that it's called a "Snoogle".

I couldn't help but think that it looks suspiciously like a Pernicious Knid.

What made me laugh even harder is the mental image of myself running down to Target, with a wad full of cash in hand, pleading with them to sell me one after several more nights of aches, pain and repeated waking.

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Date: 2009-07-19 21:49
Subject: Me and My Big Mouth
Security: Public
I was just commenting to Tim yesterday about hey, isn't it great that we live in such an innocuous part of the country, and that if the shit ever hit the fan globally, there are so many remote places to flee to, but who would really bother to target Western New York anyway?

Well.  It turns out we're sitting on half of the world's radium supply.  And apparently it may be leaking into the ground water.  Super!

Open mouth.  Insert radioactive foot.

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Date: 2009-07-14 11:03
Subject: Daily Eye-Rolling Exercises
Security: Public
Why oh why do I read the 'news'?  OK well I suppose we're not very busy at the Day Job right now, and it helps pass some of the time.  It's probably time to start learning another programming language or something.

I'm continually disgusted and irked by the trend toward only thinking 1/2 a layer deep on any particular subject.  I know that this is by-product from the infestation of 24-hour news networks that adhere to the following model:

* Briefly state a 'news item talking point'
* Spend the balance of the time until the next commercial break inundating the viewer with the personal opinions of the 'journalists' on the matter.

My parents think that Fox News is a news service.  My mom will ask me what I think about a particular news story, and then regurgitate the opinions she was told by whatever Plastic Cronkite was speaking at the time that she heard the story discussed.   I pointed it out to her after she got done railing about how she thought President Obama should have been more W-like in his response toward Iran's crack-down after the elections.  Her opinion was almost verbatim the opinion offered up by nearly every talking head who had been on for the previous 2-3 days (and those opinions are nearly the same word-for-word regardless of who is speaking).

Similarly today I have to just sigh heavily when I see reports of abortion protesters making hay during the Sotomayor confirmation hearings.  Not that I think that people are being told that Sotomayor wants abortion to be made available at every corner convenience store, but rather it's this pervasive inability or unwillingness (apparently because it's easier to be told what to think than to try it out for yourself) to apply any critical thought whatsoever before casting a judgement. 

"Oh my god, a woman on the Supreme Court!  She obviously wants abortions for all!  We better protest that and encourage a filibuster of her nomination!"

The bottom line is this: if she was a man, with exactly the same judicial record and life story, this selection would be lauded as a nail in the coffin for Roe v. Wade based on the fact that she's Catholic.

Maybe I'll go spend some time engineering something or writing some code.  It will provide me with the temporary illusion that we're not all collectively stupider than we were yesterday.
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my journal
September 2009