Thursday, February 26, 2009

Best Editorial this Year

Most days I read the Wall Street Journal editorials. One editorial in today's newspaper is the best I've seen this year for sure. Concise, focused, and brutal.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Few Links

Purevolume has a great indie band up today called The Honorary Title. Sounds like a Muse + Killers combo. Best band to be featured on purevolume for months.

David Henderson has a good post, albeit slightly nerdy for some folk, on the "Lucy/Charlie Brown/Football effect." The gist is that if an institution says it will do (or did) something just once and never do it again, it's probably lying.

Sowell's article this week is insightful.

That's all. Finals are coming up and I'm still looking for a summer position (for June-Sep.). It'll all work out in the end. And if it doesn't work out... it's not the end, right?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What's My Age Again?

Friday was a little rough for me. I shop at the Food 4 Less in Evanston (eerily similar to the Macey's in Sandy near our old apartment), and someone thought it would be a good idea to change the location of 75% of the items I normally buy. I was able to find every item on my list but one: Craisins. I enjoy Craisins very much. I pack them in Jake's and my lunches every day, usually in lieu of a real dessert. I walked every aisle (including the produce section) at least three times knowing that somehow those beautiful yellow and blue bags would jump out at me. No dice. After getting frustrated, I finally asked an employee if she knew where they were. She said they would be either in aisle 9 or aisle 11. 9 was the frozen foods section, which has not locations in the recent shake-up. Strangely, the Craisins were not in the frozen foods. I checked 11, which seemed reasonable. This held the crackers, cookies, chips, and other snacks. After checking thoroughly, I still found no trace of Craisins, raisins, or other dried fruity goodness. Finally I gave up. I took my items up to the check-out, where the person at the register (who couldn't have been more than 22 herself) said, "You're awfully young to be shopping by yourself." I told her I was 24 and married.

That kind of mix-up hasn't happened for quite some time. I'm sure it would if I frequented 21+ establishments. The last memorable time was a few days before my wedding over a year ago. The woman giving me a pedicure couldn't believe I was old enough. It happened again over a year before that just before Khara's wedding, also while receiving a pedicure. That lady thought I was 15. Everyone says I'll love it when I'm 40, which I'm sure I will, but it's hard to feel really excited about being 40 when nobody takes me seriously now. It's especially difficult when I'm in a new class every day and kids think I'm a student or think that I won't be the strict, angry slave-driver I am.

Speaking of subbing, I apparently made some kind of faux pas the other day. I was sitting in the sub lounge with some other people, all male. We were talking about the difficulty in getting jobs and how much we hated certain interview questions, especially "Where do you see yourself in five years?" They came up with some funny responses. I then said, "I hate that question too. You really can't be honest. My real answer of where I want to be in five years is staying at home with a baby or two." The room got very quiet as a look of shock mingled with embarrassment passed over many of the faces. The subject changed abruptly and I soon left the room. Note to self: don't discuss "career" plans with men.

UPDATE: I went back to the grocery store yesterday and found the Craisins. They were across the aisle from the instant breakfast with other sundry dried fruits. I'm a moron.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Confusing

A number of economic researchers have shown that totalitarian governments are more likely to be more open to trade than democratic governments. It's a little confusing to understand, but a great example was provided yesterday by China.

Another confusing bit of news is the latest popularity of taxing miles driven instead of gasoline. This makes almost no sense economically. A gasoline tax is far more efficient, effective, and Pigovian. I guess you can put lipstick on a Pigovian...

By the way, why do firms interview you, and then at the end of the interview tell you that they are under a hiring freeze? It's been a confusing couple of days.

Here is the latest update on the stimulus from the Onion. :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Squeakety Squeak Squeaken No More

For several months our car (Gary the Subaru) has been making a horrible squealing noise. At first it was just when it was wet. Then when it was wet and cold. Then when it was just cold. Then when we accelerated. Then when we slowed down. And, as of yesterday morning, almost all the time. We figured it was the fan belt, and I had looked under the hood to figure out how to tighten it after getting home from Utah in January but wasn't sure which belt to tighten and how to do it. When we took our tire in for repairs, the friendly Walmart associate said that they did not tighten belts. We let it go for several weeks and then couldn't take it any longer. After much searching on the Interwebs, I was pretty sure I could figure this thing out. I had the tools and the diagram of the alternator and belt in my head. I popped the hood and felt very awesome as I peered into the bowels of my vehicle. As I looked in, I saw the bolts I was to loosen and tighten, but could not for the life of me figure out how they were going to tighten the belt. I did what any sensible young woman would do when her husband is at school: I called my dad. My mom had the car, so he couldn't look at another example of Subaru craftsmanship, but he also pulled up the Interwebs and was able to explain to me how the parts are connected. The lightbulb went on. I got off the phone and applied a little brute force with my ratchet wrench (every girl should know her wrenches) and was able to do the job in just a few minutes.

The automobile is a complicated machine. I understand very little of its inner workings. But I'm very excited that I can add "can tighten fan belt" to my list of vehicular maintenance skills (also on the list: check oil, change air filter, add air to tires, change flat tire, replace washer fluid). Even more exciting--our car does not squeal like a stuck pig. Blessed, blessed quiet.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Post Haste

Once upon a time we went to Utah. We had Christmas. It was wonderful. But, we had many great presents that didn't fit in our bags (including a card game in a container shaped like a giant bullet). Bobbe was kind enough to send our surplus gifts in a package from New Harmony to Chicago on January 5. Little did we know that "U.S. Postal Service officials say that Chicago has the worst mail delivery of any major U.S. city."

At this time I would like to provide the definitions of several important terms in the Chicago Postal Service vocabulary.

"Parcel Post" - Sent by donkey.
"6-8 Business Days" - Whenever we feel like it.
"Holiday Season" - Now we actually have an excuse to be slow.
"Fast and Reliable" - See "Holiday Season"
"Legacy of the Pony Express" - We still haven't upgraded our infrastructure.
"Chicago" - The Dead Zone

Our package fit all of the above categories. At 25 days we had all but given up hope. Then, unexpectedly, the Postal Service exceeded our ridiculously low expectations and actually delivered the package that was shipped to us! We received the package 32 days after shipment.

And people wonder why Forbes ranks Chicago as the 3rd most miserable city in America.

"Lousy weather, long commutes, rising unemployment and the highest sales tax rate in the country are to blame for the Windy City being near the top of our list. High rates of corruption by public officials didn't help either."

At least there's the Bears...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Deliciousness of Epic Proportions

I'm not sure this has really been covered, but I love food. I've needed to post a food update for quite some time, so here goes. In both of the shrimp recipes I used pre-cooked frozen shrimp. Enjoy and let me know if you make anything and how it turns out.

Chicken Chilaquiles (from Great Food Fast by Everyday Food)
1 T. olive oil
4 garlic cloves (I never use this much)
1 can (28 oz.) whole peeled tomatoes in puree (I use diced)
2 chipotle chiles in adobo (from a small can), finely chopped (about 1 heaping tablespoon) plus 1 T. adobo sauce from the same can
About 4 c. shredded chicken (boiled chicken breasts or store-bought rotisserie chicken)
1/2 c. lightly packed cilantro leaves, chopped, plus additional sprigs for garnish
4 c. tortilla chips
1/4 c. sour cream (I use reduced fat or fat free)
1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese (Really, it makes the meal)

Combine the oil and garlic in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is fragrant and sizzling, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes with puree (breaking tomatoes up), chipotles and adobo sauce, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil; season with salt. Reduce the heat and simmer rapidly until lightly thickened, 6-8 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until hot, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat; stir in the chopped cilantro. Divide chips among 4 shallow bowls; top with chicken mixture and sauce. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, sour cream, and feta. Serves 4.


Paprika Shrimp and Green Bean Saute (from Delish)
  • 4 cup(s) green beans, trimmed (about 12 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup(s) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup(s) minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoon(s) paprika
  • 1 pound(s) raw shrimp, (21-25 per pound), peeled and deveined
  • 2 cup(s) large butter beans, or cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup(s) sherry vinegar, or red-wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup(s) chopped fresh parsley, divided
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Put green beans in a steamer basket, place in the pan, cover and steam until tender-crisp, 4 to 6 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and paprika and cook, stirring constantly, until just fragrant but not browned, about 20 seconds. Add shrimp and cook until pink and opaque, about 2 minutes per side. Stir in butter beans (or cannellini) and vinegar; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup parsley
  • Divide the green beans among 4 plates. Top with the shrimp mixture. Sprinkle with pepper and the remaining 1/4 cup parsley.


Pizza Sticks (from box of Jiffy pizza crust mix)
1 pkg. Jiffy Pizza Crust Mix
1/4 t. garlic and herb seasoning
1/2 c. hot tap water
1 1/2 pkg. pepperoni slices, chopped (I use turkey pepperoni)
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated

Butter Topping:
2 T. butter, melted
1/4 t. garlic and herb seasoning

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease one baking sheet. Mix pizza crust, seasoning, pepperoni, and mozzarella. Add hot water and mix well. Spread Parmesan onto flat surface; drop doagh onto cheese and knead cheese into dough. Roll to 1/2" thick, cut into 1" bread sticks. Place about 1" apart on baking sheet. Bake 18-20 minutes. Mix together butter topping ingredients. After removing sticks from the oven, brush tops of sticks with butter topping. Dip in pizza sauce. Mmm.


Pave (fantastic Brazilian dessert pronounced pah-veh)

1 can of sweetened condensed milk

1 package of Champagne Biscuits or Lady Fingers (7 oz., you may not need all of them)

1 can of Creme de Leite Nestlé or Crema Media (table cream--or leave it out entirely, if you can't find either). Put it in the freezer for about 1/2 hour before you use it.

3 eggs, separated

3 cups of milk

A few drops of vanilla

1 Tbsp of NestléQuik or Hershey Cocoa or a mixture of both

4 Tbsp of sugar

First layer: In a heavy saucepan, mix condensed milk, 3 egg yolks, 2 cups of milk and a few drops of vanilla (to taste). Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until it simmers. Make sure it's thick enough to hold up without going all over the place. Pour into 8 in. serving dish and let cool completely.

Second layer: Dip each biscuit into a mixture of 1 cups of milk and the chocolate. Put them on top of the cream. Use a double layer if desired.

Third layer: Beat the eggs whites until they form peaks. Add the sugar by heaping spoonfuls and continue to beat until you have a shiny meringue. Add the cream and mix well. Put this mixture on top of the biscuits. Sprinkle chocolate on top, or use chocolate shavings to decorate it. If you can't find the cream where you live, then just leave it out entirely. Put the meringue on top of the biscuits and decorate the top. Refrigerate for several hours before serving. Serves 4-6.

Shrimp Enchiladas (from Delish) I thought this was more work than it was really worth, but Jake LOVED it.
  • 4 tablespoon(s) cooking oil
  • 1 pound(s) medium shrimp, shelled
  • 1/4 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon(s) fresh-ground black pepper
  • 8 6-inch flour tortillas
  • 1 can(s) (15-ounce) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 pound(s) Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 1 jar(s) (16-ounce) chunky tomato salsa
  • 1/2 cup(s) sour cream
  • 2 teaspoon(s) chopped fresh chives or scallion tops
  • 1. Heat the oven to 250°F. Cover a baking sheet with paper towels. In a large heavy frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat. Sprinkle the shrimp with the salt and pepper. Put the shrimp in the pan and cook, stirring, until just done, about 4 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the pan.
  • 2. Lay the tortillas on a work surface. Cover half of each with the beans. Top with the cheese and then the shrimp. Fold the tortillas in half.
  • 3. In the frying pan, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons oil over moderately high heat. Add four enchiladas and brown, about 30 seconds per side. Put on the baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining enchiladas.
  • 4. Drain the oil from the frying pan and then return four of the enchiladas to the pan. Put the rest in a second frying pan. Over moderate heat, add half the salsa to each pan and cook until the tortillas are slightly softened, turning once, about 2 minutes in all. Serve the enchiladas topped with dollops of sour cream and the chives.

Berries and Cream
1 pint raspberries
1 pint blackberries
Half and half

Put half of each pint in a bowl. Pour half and half over berries and eat. I found berries on sale this week. These were perhaps the best raspberries I've eaten in the last few months. Also the only raspberries I've eaten in the last few months.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Quotables

Here are some great lines out of recent news. Ponder and enjoy.

Hubris: "In addition to restarting bank lending, my scheme would resolve the moral-hazard issue for years to come." - George Soros

Candor: "You know, attacking Iran is a shovel-ready project. But I wouldn't recommend it." - Robert J. Barro

Insight: "Jobs at unsubsidized companies could be orders of magnitude more lucrative than those at distressed ones, attracting the best talent to the former and compounding the latter's distress. That's not necessarily a bad thing, inasmuch as it means well-run companies prosper while poorly run ones perish--part of the dynamic nature of capitalism." - James Taranto

Taranto's comment is interesting. I believe he's saying that the president's newest policies concerning companies that received government aid will now be driven into the ground... and that's a good thing because they should have failed anyway. Basically, the president's new policies are a terrible idea that bankrupt companies, and that's a good thing.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bad Omens

This Thursday I will be interviewing with an employer. We'll call them the "Video Display Terminal Group." This morning I received this email from them:

Dear Jacob,

Thank you for your interest in [Video Display Terminal Group]. While your credentials are impressive, unfortunately, we do not see a suitable match between your background and our current needs.


I confirmed today that I am still interviewing with them this Thursday (I didn't tell them about the email). Why would a company issue a rejection BEFORE an interview? Was it a mistake? A method to unsettle me? A way to lower my expectations?

What was my reaction? I think it's hilarious! Hey, now I have nothing to lose! Go for broke! For a sneak peek of the interview, go here.

PS If you work for "Video Display Terminal Group," I am not laughing at you. I am laughing with you... except you are laughing more on the inside. ... ... Please hire me.

On the Music Front

Unfortunately, Mutemath will not be releasing their CD until August or September.

However, there are some big releases (big as in high projected sales, not necessarily a list of my favorite bands) today in the alternative genre...

The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
The Fray

and a weird release schedule of one song every month from Mae.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Which of the Seven Dwarves Am I?

Jake just finished home teaching a family with one daughter in Primary. She thought that Jake and his home teaching partner were missionaries and was therefore confused when Jake mentioned something about his wife.

"Missionaries can't have wives!" she exclaimed, thinking that Jake was trying to be funny.

"I'm not a missionary," Jake said. "And my wife is actually in Primary."

"Which one is she?" the girl asked.

"Sister Miller," Jake replied.

"You mean the grumpy one?"

Jake called to tell me he was proud of me. I'm not sure 'grumpy' was what I was going for. I may need to rethink my strategy.