Sunday, March 30, 2008

Kalmata Vegetable Lasagna

This is a recipe I adopted from a vegetable lasagna recipe I found online. The only changes I made from the original recipe is the substitution of brown rice for mushrooms, the addition of some spinach leaves, the addition of a layer of kalmata olives, and just a little chipotle in the sauce. Oh yeah, and I found some whole-wheat lasagna noodles, too. I made it two nights ago, and it was a great success. I believe the addition of the salty kalmata made the difference in what could have otherwise been a somewhat bland dish.

Kalmata Vegetable Lasagna

* 1 (16 ounce) package lasagna noodles (whole wheat if available)
* 1 cup brown rice
* 3/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
* 3/4 cup chopped onion
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 2 cups spinach leaves
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 2 (26 ounce) jars pasta sauce
* 1 teaspoon dried basil
* 1 (15 ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
* 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
* 2 eggs
* 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* about 3/4 cup kalmata olives


1. Cook the lasagna noodles in a large pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, or until al dente. Rinse with cold water, and drain.
2. Cook the brown rice according to whatever variety you chose
3. In a large saucepan, cook and stir cooked rice, green peppers, onion, and garlic in oil. Stir in spinach leaves until just wilted. Stir in pasta sauce and basil; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Season with a crumbled dried smoked jalepeno (chipotle) if available
4. Mix together ricotta, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, and eggs.
5. Preheat oven to 360 degrees F. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce into the bottom of a greased (use butter) 9x13 inch baking dish. Layer 1/2 each, lasagna noodles, ricotta mix, sauce, and Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering, and top with a layer of halved kalmata olives, then remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese.
6. Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Dolores Meis, Scrabble Champion

Our family played a lot of games when I was a kid. I was middlin' at most, with a pretty good win-loss record on Monopoly, Life, Chess, Checkers, or what have you. However, the one game I failed to ever win a single game at was Scrabble. My mom consistently beat everyone.

Well, this failure to ever win a single game of Scrabble has stuck with me through the years. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered my wife Dee was also quick with the words and that she also beat me year in and year out.

We continued to play the occasional game though. She enjoyed it at least ;-). Then one day this year, seemingly out of the blue, I finally beat my wife in Scrabble. (angelic trumpets sound)

The first thought through my head: If I can beat Dee, I bet I can finally beat Mom, too! Practice makes perfect, right?

Last weekend I had the opportunity to challenge my mom to a game of Scrabble. My mom's mom, Grandma Meis, also sat down to play.

Little did I know that my mom's Scrabble ability was learned at feet of a true master. My grandmother roundly whomped us, twice in a row just to prove luck played no part.

In fact, during one round, I foolishly indicated that I had the perfect play in mind... instead of taking that play away from me she let me have it (a grandmother likes to dote on her grandchildren): C R A Z Y in a triple word and double letter path that netted me 66 points. I figured I had that game sewn up.

But nope. Despite spotting me my grand play, Dolores surged forward and still handily beat me and everyone else at the table, Mom, too.

I have a feeling this is one champion I'll never unseat.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Robert "Bob" Cordell

I returned last night from visiting my grandfather. His health had turned poor during the previous month. When I saw him, I knew it was going to be for the last time, so I said my goodbye and kissed him on the forehead. He wondered if I was still going to send him one of my books. I assured him I would.

My Dad just phoned to tell me his father passed away this morning. I'm sorry I didn't get you that book, grandpa.

My grandfather was as hardworking a man as you could ever hope to meet. He was a farmer, which meant his whole life was effort. But it was also a life filled with the pride and satisfaction of answering to no one but himself while providing for his family by working the land.

My grandfather and grandmother's farm is right next to our old house. I enjoyed the times I was able help him out, like the times I drove tractor when it was time to bale hay, or when I helped herd cattle to new pastures, or even the occasions I collected the eggs laid by the hens.

My grandfather was known for his stories and his jokes. He especially enjoyed one-line come-backs with the perfect ironic twist. Even this last weekend when he was feeling so poorly, he managed several good ones :-).

I will miss him.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Traveling and Word Count

Turns out you can actually get quite a bit of writing done on an airplane with decent sound cancelling headphones and a laptop whose battery is new!

Just saying.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Green Belt

Tonight I tested for my green belt in jujutsu, and received it. Yay!

Thanks John, and all the students, too, at Leading Edge :-)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

One for the History Books

My mailbox has been flooded the last couple of days with people telling me I've got to see the speech Obama just gave. Well, I admit I didn't immediately drop everything to listen--I figured it wouldn't change my opinion about the guy. I'm already a delegate for him!

But I just took the time to take it in. It turns out his speech is a piece of stunning oratory you don't often see in the modern era.

Give it a listen!

You can watch or read the whole speech here:

If you're busy, here's a highlight from the speech:
"We have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle, as we did in the OJ trial, or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina, or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright's sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words.

"We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she's playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

"We can do that.

"But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

"That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, "Not this time."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke

Charles Stross is the bearer of sad news: Arthur C. Clarke has died.

2001, both movie and book, as well as Rendezvous with Rama and the Fountains of Paradise are all books I recall quite fondly. I also particularly enjoyed 2010 (book and movie, too).

Friday, March 14, 2008

Hulk 2008

WARNING: this trailer gives away a big plot point. I usually try to avoid watching trailers for movies that go on too long--too much risk of me figuring out things I'd rather see revealed during the film.

But I did see it. Now, to avoid watching all future trailers so my mind is as pristine as possible for the actual full viewing.

Anyway, if you're not a freak like me, you might enjoy the following:

Incredible Hulk 2008 Trailer. With Edward Norton as Bruce Banner. I'll probably catch this. Just a feeling.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

You'd Think With A New Computer...

... that I'd spend a little more time on it, perhaps even to blog!

But my new computer sits sad and alone in my office, most of the time. That's because I've made the transition to my work computer, an iMac which I've decided I quite like. It's also because time is fleeting.

Despite my desire to start a foundation that seeks to humanely limit human population on this planet (you heard it here first, folks), I also hold the somewhat opposing desire to see a breakthrough in longevity achieved. Then maybe time wouldn't seem so fleeting.

Actually, I don't really sit around thinking about my mortality when I feel under time pressure. So longevity isn't really the ticket.

Really what I need is a chip in my brain that will allow true human cognitive multi-tasking. Oh yeah, here comes the singularity baby!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Gygax Tribute Video

Wizards posted a video tribute to Gary Gygax. In it, I say a few words... remarkably, very similar to what I wrote in this blog. Those words were fresh in my mind, and when the little red light on the camera turned on, that's what came out.

Speaking of great tributes to Gary, I really loved this one from Penny Arcade.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Banning Email

Multitasking is hard, and harder without structure.

When you're trying to get several things done in one day, interruptions are death. A while ago, I changed my external email preferences so I was only informed once per hour of any new emails, as opposed to being notified they minute they came in.

Then, about three or so months ago I turned that off entirely, so that I would only know if I had new external email by actually logging into my client and checking.

I think the time has finally come that I need to do the same thing with internal work email. For whatever reason (because I am working on so many disparate projects I suppose), I'm getting something like 2 or 3 emails per hour asking me to perform some task or answer some questions about this art order, that spelling, or say what book trumps which for FR reference, and so on.

For the 2nd half of today, I just ignored all those work emails. Wonder of wonder, I actually got some words written on my current projects!

From now on, work email is for morning. After that, no more reading it until the next day. Or if I read it, I'll try not to feel beholden to act on it immediately.

I can't do anything about people showing up out of the blue behind me with a vexing question or three, but email, you're history!

At least until the current load of tasks diminishes somewhat, because I do wonder... has someone sent me an email recently? Excuse me while I go check...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Gary Gygax

I've just heard the news that Gary Gygax, co-founder of D&D, has passed away. (Wizards memorial)

Simple words, but for me, what a great ocean of meaning lies beneath.

Though I only met him a few times, I don't think I can really estimate how great his influence has been on my life, other than to say BIG. For starters, I wouldn't have the friends or career I now enjoy if it hadn't been for Gary Gygax. As a kid used to create D&D modules with the same "trade dress" of 1st edition modules, going so far as to write 'By Gary Gygax' on each one to make it official.

A tempest besets the ocean, and I am sad.