auros: (Default)
2016-10-16 10:27 pm

Nov 8, 2016 General Election Ballot

President: Hillary Clinton. For all the obvious reasons.

Senator: Kamala Harris. Running against another Dem, Loretta Sanchez. Kamala is more progressive, less predictable, and more charismatic. I can picture her ending up as the equivalent of Nancy Pelosi in the Senate, leading a Democratic majority a decade from now.

U.S. House of Representatives: Jackie Speier. Running against a Republican.

State Senate: Jerry Hill. Running against a Republican.

State Assembly: Kevin Mullin. Running against a Republican.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office Number 7: Sean Dabel. Running unopposed.

Board Members, Sequoia Healthcare District. Kane and Griffin. The other two candidates are running to abolish the healthcare district. They no longer run Sequoia Hospital, having passed that off to the Dignity Health, formerly Catholic Healthcare West. But having read about what the board is working on, I don't believe it should be abolished.

Commissioners, San Mateo County Harbor District, 4-Year Terms: Kiraly, Brennan, Mooney. There are four candidates running, and you can vote for three. The incumbents are Kiraly, Brennan, and Mattusch, and although the SM Daily Journal ended up endorsing them, and honestly none of them seem objectionable, Mattusch seems to have the least to say about any kind of actual goals. Mooney is proposing a couple of significant ideas that seem worth pursuing: First, exploring adding a ferry stop at Werder Pier, which could reduce the traffic nightmare on Hillsdale entering Foster City; instead of heading up 101, FC residents could take a ferry. Some folks that currently commute west across the bridge could ride across and then take a bus to CalTrain or a SamTrans connection at Hillsdale station. It's already right on the path of planned service between SF and RWC, and depending on the seismic situation, you might be able to stick a two or three story parking structure in the vacant lot between Bridgeview Park and the businesses on Beach Park. And second, cutting much of the lower parking lot at Pillar Point Harbor to turn that area into more of a pedestrian oriented public square. I've been to that harbor plenty of times (there's a well-known Ingress Portal on the breakwater), and there's never been a shortage of parking in the upper lots, plus there's room to expand the upper lot back toward Cabrillo Hwy to make up for what's taken out of the lower area. Using more of the actual waterfront for tourism and commerce seems like a good idea. I suspect given the incumbency and the endorsements, Mooney won't win, anyways, but I hope the commissioners will consider what he had to say.

Commissioner, San Mateo County Harbor District, 2-Year Term: Larenas. He seems to have more expertise on water issues, and his opponent Rogers isn't saying anything that seems particularly compelling.

For reference, here are various sources we read over in the course of evaluating the propositions: LA Times, SJ Mercury News, SF Chronicle, SF Bay Guardian, and Pete Stahl's writeup (including following various source links).

Prop 51, School Construction Bonds: NO, although we were torn on this. Usually school bonds would be an easy yes. I'll just excerpt the Merc here:

This started in 1998, when voters approved the first of four statewide bond measures totaling $40 billion for K-12 through community college construction. Those bonds won’t be paid off until 2044. This year, they’ll cost the state $2.7 billion in principal and interest, 2 percent of the general fund.

The rules say that as long as the state has bond money available, local districts can’t require developers to pay more than half the cost of additional classrooms their new homes require. Now that the bond money has all been spent, developers want voters to replenish the kitty with Prop. 51 and keep the old rules in place until 2020. This would save them money but it would add $500 million annually to state debt payments.

Prop. 51 also would continue doling out school bond money primarily on a first-come, first-served basis rather than helping the neediest districts.

The legislature needs to stand up to developers, and send a new bond measure to the ballot ASAP that strips out the ability for housing developers to externalize costs of their projects -- it's not like new housing will become unprofitable under those circumstances, especially in wealthier neighborhoods -- and it needs to institute reforms to ensure that the bond program funds the districts that need the help, rather than having the grant program gamed by wealthier districts that can hire consultants to help them apply for the grants. Even if the legislature needs to call a special election next spring (maybe make it all mail-in ballots?) for a better program, then fine, we can spend a few million to get $9B in bonds spent more appropriately.

Pete Stahl, and both SF papers, came down saying YES, and I found it difficult to decide, but I'm going to hope that the Dems in the legislature, and Governor Brown, will get a new bond measure out fast.

Prop 52, Extend Medi-Cal Hospital Fee: YES. Pete calls the tax in Prop 52 an "accounting gimmick", which seems inappropriate. Prop 52 taxes more expensive / exclusive private hospitals, and routes the money right back into hospitals, but not necessarily the same ones that pay the tax. It's a redistributive scheme that moves money toward Californians who are poor enough to qualify for Medi-Cal. Maybe it's not the most efficient way to fund the program, but it's not ridiculous, and not a gimmick. (There's a gimmicky part where the structure of the tax helps draw in extra dollars of subsidy from the federal Medicaid program, but that doesn't look to me like it's the only function, and even if you call it a gimmick, it seems to be within the rules that Congress has set.) Pete also suggests that as a form of ballot-box budgeting, the Prop 52 rule would constrain where the state could make cuts in the budget, in a crisis. But the options on the table are either to continue the private hospital tax (and continue spending the money on MediCal), or to let the tax expire, in which case that money will not be available for more flexible spending anyways. The papers are unanimous in endorsing the former option. I agree.

Prop 53, Public Vote on Revenue Bonds: NO. This is an effort by an anti-government crank to make it harder to fund infrastructure projects (particularly aimed at the high-speed rail project).

Prop 54, Legislative Transparency: YES. Requires bill texts to be available online for three days before final vote. (Also requires print-outs, which is unfortunate.) The rule can be suspended if the Governor declares a state of emergency and two thirds of the legislature agrees that an issue requires speedy resolution. Although this is another proposition funded by a guy with a bit of reputation as an anti-government crank, it also has the stamp of approval of Common Cause, the NAACP, and the League of Women Voters.

Prop 55, Extend Tax on High Income: YES. Prop 30 (temporarily) created three new tax brackets at very high incomes. You can see the details here. The highest bracket added an additional 3% on income over $1M, bumping the rate from 10.3% to 13.3%. Opponents of the measure in 2012 predicted it would cause wealthy people to flee the state. In case you haven't noticed, that has not happened. Making the more-progressive tax structure permanent is entirely reasonable.

Prop 56, Tobacco Tax: YES. Currently CA's tobacco tax ($0.87 per pack) is lower than those in OR ($1.32), NV ($1.80), or AZ ($2.00). After this hike, it will be higher, at $2.87, but still in a comparable ballpark, and still much lower than states like NY ($4.35) that have serious problems with people bringing in cigs from a nearby lower-tax market. Plus we don't have anything like the situation where NYC is directly adjacent to New Jersey; all of our big metro areas are a LONG drive from neighboring jurisdictions, and we already have customs inspectors on our border because of the ag industry.

Prop 57, Parole and Juvenile Justice Reform: YES. Takes the decision on whether to prosecute juveniles in the juvie system or as adults out of the hands of prosecutors; and allows non-violent felons to start applying for parole on the basis of the time determined under their actual conviction, without observing the "enhancements" that were added on during the tuffoncrime! era. (If they don't get paroled, their full term would include the enhancements.)

Prop 58, Allow Bilingual Education: YES. Back in 1998, during the same era that brought us the anti-immigrant prop 187, CA voters decided to make it much harder to give students a full bilingual education experience, instead pushing them into English immersion (in parallel with taking English classes). These days, plenty of white parents like the idea of sending their kids to bilingual schools -- Mandarin and English, Spanish and English, etc -- where they can work in a mix of English and something else, all day, in every class. Plenty of research suggests this is good for everyone, especially immigrant students who need to keep learning math, civics, etc, while also picking up English. Prop 58 pushes more control and flexibility to local school districts to implement these types of programs where they see fit.

Prop 59, Non-Binding Resolution to Condemn Citizens United: ABSTAIN. This measure exhorts the legislature to do something about Citizens United and corporate personhood more generally. I don't feel like voting against it, because I basically agree with the intention behind it, but I also refuse to vote for it, because it's bullshit. It has no effect whatsoever, and shouldn't be on the ballot. The folks who put it on the ballot are wasting their time, and ours.

Prop 60, Condoms in Porn: NO. It looks like this measure would allow random citizens to use nuisance lawsuits alleging lack of condoms in porn videos to get access to the identity of performers. If some random couple -- monogamous, fluid bonded partners -- made some amateur porn, and then that was released (possibly without consent) onto a commercial "tube site", and some acquaintance found it, the acquaintance could use the threat of a $70k fine under the condom law to harass, intimidate, or blackmail the couple. It's just generally a big pile of awful.

Prop 61, Limit Prescription Drug Prices Paid by State: NO. This law would say that state agencies may not offer a higher price for a drug than is paid by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. It doesn't do anything to get CA collaborating with the VA on drug bargaining (and it's not obvious that's a sensible pool -- the VA serves a very different population than that served by CA's public health programs). The best you can say for it is that it somewhat resembles the famous strategy for winning the driving game "chicken" -- unbolt your steering wheel and very visibly toss it out the window. Since pharmacorps would know that CA agencies can't pay more than the VA price, they'd have to consider the CA market in bargaining with the VA, and if they want to sell into the CA market at all they'd just have to accept that price. The thing is, it's not clear to me that the size of the CA health program market is so huge that companies would be afraid to just walk away. Maybe if this were a national thing, with many or all states agreeing to join with the VA to form, effectively, a federal bargaining pool of the kind we OUGHT to have under Medicare Part D (but don't because the Bushies wanted to lavish goodies on their pharma lobbyist buddies). But this law would likely mean a bunch of drugs -- particularly those that are important to populations dis-similar from the VA (read: children, women) -- would simply vanish from CA public clinics and hospitals.

Prop 62, Repeal Death Penalty: YES. Do I really have to discuss this in depth? In a universe where it were possible to determine with true certainty who was responsible for a spectacularly heinous crime, I might be willing to consider a death penalty. We do not live in that universe.

Prop 66, Reduce Barriers to Capital Punishment: NO. Covered out of order because it obviously related to 62. This seems to be an effort of death penalty proponents to say, "Hey, if you object to the death penalty because it costs so much to prosecute capital cases, let's streamline that process." For those of us who object on the grounds that the death penalty is imposed in a discriminatory fashion and sweeps up innocent people, "let's have the state murder people more efficiently!" sounds like a terrible idea.

Prop 63, Gun and Ammunition Sales: YES. Makes limitations on gun rights stick -- for those not allowed to buy new guns due to a domestic violence issue, a felony conviction, a mental health issue, etc, they now would also need to turn licensed firearms over to a trustee (which could simply be a non-banned friend) until the limitation expires. We also get a measure to crack down on straw purchasers. Currently, a straw purchaser will claim that the gun must have been lost or stolen; Prop 63 says that you have a legal obligation to report a missing gun, five days after you reasonably should have noticed its absence. I'm a little leery of the vagueness of this language, but I have trouble imagining prosecutors using it against, say, somebody who keeps their gun in a safe for months at a time, only occasionally taking it out to go to a shooting range, who had their gun stolen and didn't notice for a month. The law is clearly aimed at the straw purchase problem. A prosecutor who went after somebody who was in a gray area on whether they reasonably should've noticed a missing firearm would get crucified by the NRA, and liberal civil rights folks would have no interest in defending them. (The proposition also includes a provision to allow the legislature to make tweaks consistent with the intent of the law using a 55% majority, so the legislature could choose to clarify this measure later.)

Prop 64, Marijuana Legalization: YES. Colorado and Washington both seem to be doing OK.

Prop 65 and Prop 67, Grocery Bags: NO on 65, YES on 67. This pair of propositions is confusing.

The legislature passed a ban on plastic grocery bags. The plastic bag industry concocted a scheme to try to kill the ban. Prop 67 puts the legislature's ban up as a referendum -- vote YES to affirm the ban, NO to repeal it. But here's the diabolical part: Prop 65 deals with paper bag surcharges charged in stores. It pulls revenue from those charges and routes the money to environmental programs. I probably like what the money would be spent on, but (a) it's a fairly trivial amount of money, (b) I'm OK with the stores simply passing their cost to buy the paper bags on to the consumer, and (c) most importantly, Prop 65 and 67 are explicitly written to be mutually exclusive. So if both pass, but 65 gets more votes, it will spike 67 and kill the plastic bag ban. And since stores would then be able to charge for plastic bags (and keep the money), but would not be able to keep money they charge for paper bags, they'd actually be incentivized to use more plastic bags.

San Mateo County Measure K, Extend Existing Half-Cent Sales Tax: YES. This tax is currently scheduled to expire in 2023. "What's the rush?" you might ask. The county wants to lock it in through 2043, so that they can issue 30 year bonds with clear backing from that revenue, which will help ensure that we get a better risk rating on the bonds and pay less interest for them. And if we really decide we don't need the money, five or eight years from now, we can always repeal the tax then. Or maybe we find something other than sales taxes, and shift the revenue structure. But for the near term, taking advantage of the rate environment, and getting some new 30-year bonds out ASAP to fund infrastructure repair and expansion, is a very good idea.

City of San Mateo Measure L, Fire Service Consolidation: YES. Removes a mandate in the City Charter that prevents the city from consolidating management of fire services with neighboring cities. San Mateo, Foster City, and Belmont would like to collaborate on fire service. This sounds like a totally reasonable thing to do. It just happens to be illegal, so we're fixing that. Nobody even bothered to file arguments against this measure.

City of San Mateo Measure Q, Rent Control: NO. I find the No on Q campaign kind of icky and borderline dishonest, and I think the folks who submitted Measure Q are well-intentioned, but fundamentally I don't believe "rent control" will make rents in San Mateo more affordable. It will just set up a hostile relationship where landlords will see long-term tenancy as a risk to their income, and will have a strong incentive to defer any maintenance or improvements until tenants paying market-lagging rates move out. The only solution to the Bay Area housing crisis is to build more housing. Introducing rent control will make building rental units a less attractive investment, aggravating existing problems and creating new ones. (And yes, I'm aware this is somewhat in tension with my take on Prop 51. I value multiple things, and sometimes those things are in conflict with each other. Asking developers to pay for the actual costs their development will impose on the city and county is reasonable; asking them to shoulder hard-to-quantify long-term risks to rental income from a rent-control process that will be run by a board that appears to be dubiously accountable seems much less-so.)
auros: (Dem Donkey)
2016-05-19 10:29 pm


President: Hillary. Turns out Martin isn't even on the ballot for CA, he dropped out before it was finalized; I briefly considered writing in Elizabeth Warren, ended up just going with Hillary.

Central Committee:
Fel Amistad
Alexis Lewis
Nancy Yarbrough
Clifford Robbins
Shikha B. Hamilton

One of the incumbents didn't bother to put anything in with VoterEdge, and can't be found by googling. The rest of the incumbents seem fine (have good endorsements, reasonable statements, etc). Fel Amistad seems like the best of the three new challengers (currently serving in a position appointed by the governor, strong resumé, etc).

Senate: Kamala

House: Jackie

State Senate: Jerry

Assembly: Kevin

Prop 50: Yes. This doesn't seem controversial.

AA: Yes. I like the Bay.
auros: (Kittens)
2015-05-20 01:00 pm

anyone want to volunteer to take care of feral cats?

[personal profile] plymouth and I volunteer with a group called The Purrfect Catch, which does fostering and adoption for cats that are OK around people, and trap / fix / manage-in-place for ferals. We go and visit one of our local colonies once a week to feed them and keep an eye out for any developing health issues, or new cats that may need to be fixed / vaccinated / etc.

One of the volunteers who handled two stations along the SF Bay Trail, in South San Francisco and San Bruno, recently dropped out due to health issues, so the management of the group is looking for one or more volunteers who live in that area who could handle visiting a feeding and shelter station on any of Monday, Wednesday, or Friday. Any time during the day is fine, though before full dark is preferable. (The person who's dropped out was retired, and had been able to handle all three.)

If interested, I can put you in touch with the head of the group.
auros: (Abelian Grape)
2015-02-07 04:53 pm

A not particularly scientific examination of a question of grammar.

I wasn't sure I could generate a poll here and have it cross-post, so I simply created it on LJ. Please vote in my poll! :-)
auros: (Abelian Grape)
2015-01-31 12:28 pm

research recruitment: Queer women's experience with pregnancy and parenting.

This was passed on to me by a friend who knows the researcher:




The Research Group on Disparities in Health within the Department of Health and Behavior Studies at Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York, NY is studying the experiences of lesbian, bisexual, or queer-identified women who have sought the goals of childbirth and/or co-parenting.

  • You are being asked to fill out a confidential survey
  • Participation in this survey is limited to the first 200 participants
  • Participation in the study takes about 35-45 minutes
  • After 200 individuals complete the survey, the computer program will close the survey and send out bar–coded gift certificates ($300, $200 or $100) for use at to three randomly chosen e-mail accounts without in any way linking your identity to the survey results
  • Please go to the link below ( to view the informed consent, learn about your rights as a participant and proceed to the survey.
  • We invite you to e-mail, text, and tweet others you know, asking them to:
    Go to and take the survey for a chance to win a $300, $200, or $100 prize.


NOTE: Participants have a 3 in 200 chance of winning a $300, $200, or $100 bar-coded gift certificate for use on

AMY R. LISS, M.S., Doctoral Candidate, Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Box 114, 525 W. 120th Street, New York, NY 10027;

BARBARA C. WALLACE, Ph.D., Director, Research Group on Disparities in Health, Professor of Health Education, Clinical Psychologist, Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers College, Columbia University, Box 114, 525 W. 120th Street, New York, NY 10027;

Study Contact Number: 267-269-7411

auros: (Milord)
2015-01-07 12:19 pm

PSA for fellow fans of Roman Mars

I took the 99% Invisible Blog's RSS feed and syndicated it on LiveJournal:
auros: (Default)
2014-10-30 10:48 pm

Propositions initial skim...

Thus far, I haven't found any reason to disagree with Pete Stahl, which means voting YES on the whole set of propositions this year, which is, I think, the first time that's happened.

Will append a comment later if further research changes my mind.

ETA: Complete ballot.

The Sequoia Health District race is interesting. Three of the five candidates -- one incumbent and two challengers -- want to dissolve the district. And their suggestion that it should merge with the Peninsula Health District is not crazy! But I don't think we should be shutting it down immediately; the county can plan a vote on the issue of a merger without nuking the administrative architecture that's in place. And the "scandals" of the district having funded (a) a clinic that is technically just over the border outside its funding territory (but has over 750 district residents registered as active patients), and (b) a nursing education program that has had half of its graduates go on to work outside the district (so, we should keep all of them chained to stations here? keeping half here seems like success to me), both seem completely non-scandalous.
auros: (Focal Profile)
2014-08-21 04:07 pm

Shameless Commerce Department

If you're considering noise cancelling headphones for commuting on our ridiculously loud trains around here, I recommend the QuietPoint ATH-ANC70, from Audio-Technica.

I bought a used pair of these portable (battery powered) noise-cancelling headphones recently, to use on the BART, and I really liked them. They deliver performance comparable to the best Bose or Sony stuff, at a significantly lower price point (admittedly still not cheap, but, well, $200 is significantly less than the $300-350 I was seeing for the comparable Sony and Bose models; and I got the used pair for somewhat less than that). Unfortunately, after a couple months of frequent use, something in the electronics died, and they stopped working. I was really bummed because they were not under warranty (and even if they were, I would've needed the original receipt from the guy I got them from). But I got in touch with tech support, and shipped the 'phones in to their service center.

They sent me back a brand new pair, along with a note saying that they concluded there was a manufacturing flaw in the ones I sent in, and they were replacing them free of charge, even though they had survived past the warranty period. They even paid the return shipping.

I figure when a company exceeds my expectations by that much, they deserve some recognition.
auros: (SF Opera)
2014-05-17 03:37 pm

opera tickets: Madame Butterfly and La Traviata

Madame Butterfly Sunday 6/15/2014 2pm (CraigsList ad)

La Traviata Sunday 6/29/2014 2pm (CraigsList ad)

[ETA: Both sold.]

The seats are H20 and H22 in Orchestra Ring, on the outer aisle. The viewing angle is a bit steep, but the seats are far enough back not to be too bad on that count, while still being significantly closer than my old Dress Circle seats, and there's more legroom at a slightly lower price.

If you're interested in one of these, but the date doesn't work for you, I can arrange to exchange to a different date. Also, if you'd like to add more tickets, I can purchase additional individual tickets at the subscriber price, which is a 20-40% discount relative to what's listed on the website, depending on the specific date and seats you're looking at.

Each pair of tickets is $200 even. (Face value for each ticket is $98, or $196 for a pair, but there was also some tax and S&H.)
auros: (Default)
2014-05-07 02:58 pm

I made a dreamwidth account.

And hopefully it should be fully cross-posted (entries and comments) with LJ? I guess we'll see.

I still want to get some kind of offline backup tool so I can keep a local copy of my journal.

BTW, I'd had Groups for both access and reading purposes on LJ. Apparently those are two separate data structures on DW, and the Import tool copied groups over as Access filters. Anybody know a way to copy an existing access filter to be a reading filter?
auros: (Abelian Grape)
2014-04-26 12:33 pm

Journal backup?

I have been using ljmigrate to periodically backup my journal, for years. But it seems like at some point, LJ changed something about how you access comments, such that the tool stopped finding them. (And it's long since been abandoned by its creator.) I didn't realize until today, because it's not throwing errors, but the last entry in the archive that has comments on it is from 8/14/12. The next time I backed up, none of the new entries got their comments attached. :-/

Anybody know a tool for this that's up-to-date? Or know enough about LJ's architecture to easily write a patch for
auros: (Abelian Grape)
2014-03-13 02:25 pm

A link for friends who like puzzles, word-games, trivia, and Schadenfreude.

The Ask Me Another episode I was on (along with Farhad Manjoo, Danny Pudi, and Adam Savage) is live: Puzzlin' On The Dock Of The Bay. Hear me lose! :-)

I blame Neil deGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan for my loss. I had Cosmos top-of-mind, when I got the question that I messed up, because I'd re-watched the preview for the new series within a day or two before the taping, and I'd been searching for it on my TiVo to get the recording set up. I knew even as I was saying it that it wasn't the correct answer. (I almost said, "Cosmos-- no, Nova!" but my understanding of the rules, which they went over for us before the show, was that you don't get that kind of second chance. So I stifled the second answer, on the off chance that the rest of the competition wouldn't know it. I mean, I knew that wasn't going to happen, but, no need to just give the correct answer away... Anyways, I would've won if I hadn't shot myself in the foot; there was an item that's trimmed out of the recording that the rest of the contestants all didn't know.) Anyways, I loved the first ep of the new Cosmos enough that I've already forgiven Neil for everything. I've been looking forward to the series for a year or more, and thus far it hasn't disappointed me.

There are a couple of extras from the show in the AMA podcast feed. (The full show was about ~120 min, but only ~45 of that makes it to the radio. The extras are the best of what got cut.) You should subscribe. :-)

It was a lot of fun, and I got to talk to JoCo for a bit during the intermission. (We discussed [ profile] catachthonian, experiences with acapella singing, TMBG, and the fact that "Ikea" was on the wedding playlist for [ profile] plymouth and me.)

Also: You should watch the new Cosmos. And the old one, if you can get your hands on it. National Geographic Channel aired a marathon of it, leading into the new series, so I have the whole thing recorded, and plan to watch one episode of original before watching each ep of the new one. The first ep made me remember why I loved Carl Sagan so much. It's so sad that he left us when he was still relatively young.
auros: (Cooking)
2013-08-18 12:09 pm

Another thing I have to give away...

I use Zyliss' classic rotary grater all the time for hard cheeses. It may be my single favorite kitchen gadget.

I got this larger rotary grater for the wider drum with holes sized for semi-hard cheeses like cheddar, gruyere, jarlsberg, etc. The thing is, the handle's a little flimsy. I broke my first within a few months. But then they sent me a replacement under warranty. Then I broke it again, after having been careful with it for several years (four or five, I guess?) and wrote to ask them if I could buy just a new drum... They sent me a whole new grater, for free. Which means I now have an extra body, and an extra fine-hole drum. So if anyone wants it, let me know... It's a bit flimsy, but hey, it's free, and if you're careful with it, it should last a while. :-)

ETA: Claimed.
auros: (SF Opera)
2013-08-17 11:01 pm

2 tix for Barber of Seville, Sun 11/17 2pm

Craigslist post here.

Feel free to share with friends who might be interested...
auros: (Not Left-Handed)
2013-04-27 07:48 pm

the measure of a life

I finally got around to listening to Rush's Clockwork Angels all the way through. I could really kick myself for not having found out about it until after the tour had passed through San Jose already.

The whole trio has clearly always been fascinated with the philosophical problems of Compatibilism -- how to make sense of free will, and notions of meaning and purpose, when our bodies are simply agglomerations of matter, subject to physical laws. You can hear it in "Free Will" (written by Neil Peart), and in "The Angel's Share" from Geddy Lee's solo album My Favourite Headache. Clockwork Angels is basically a rock-opera exposition of a steampunk society that believes in G*d as the Divine Watchmaker, with all events in life being predetermined and deserved. Except the protagonist gets subjected to a series of trials (much like Voltaire's Candide; there's even an "all is for the best" Leibnizian Optimism reference early in the album). Eventually he loses his faith, but finds something different, leading to the final track, "The Garden" (which is of course referencing Eden, but also drawing a contrast to the mechanized dystopia that's been left behind):

The arrow flies while you breathe,
The hours tick away,
The cells tick away,

The Watchmaker has time up his sleeve,
The hours tick away, they tick away

The measure of a life is a measure of love and respect,
So hard to earn so easily burned

In the fullness of time,
A garden to nurture and protect
It's a measure of a life

The treasure of a life is a measure of love and respect,
The way you live, the gifts that you give

In the fullness of time,
It's the only return that you expect

Yes, that. I could see this being adapted for an actual dramatized stage performance, though to work with the theme you might need some pretty expensive mechanical equipment. Possibly a movie / extended music video (with some good graphics for the airships, clockwork city, etc) would be easier... In any case, it kind of reminds me of the works artists in an earlier age created to honor religion -- Handel's Messiah, Bach's "Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben", Mozart's Requiem, etc. It's a musical monument to faith -- in the sense of a grand work that commemorates something in the past, or someone who's died.

auros: (Cooking)
2013-04-14 04:15 pm


Since I've mentioned making these in recent FB posts, I thought I'd post the recipe.

For reference, this is the waffle iron I use. I turn it up to the max setting, and its indicator lights work pretty well, with the Bisquick version of this. If you swap the Bisquick for the substitute mixture, you get a denser waffle -- each one has more heft, and is chewier / less fluffy -- and you need to wait maybe 45-75 seconds past when the indicator light says it's done, to get something properly cooked through and browned. OTOH, maybe you like a lighter waffle, in which case the light will be fine...

Bisquick substitution: Bisquick contains hydrogenated oils, so some folks like to avoid it; I am told by folks who've experimented (including my dad and my older brother) that there doesn't seem to be anything else on the market that makes as-fluffy waffles; the industrial sifters and mixers can coat the flour granules with oil in a way that ensures they don't bind up and form a dense, gluten-y batter. However, the first time I made this, I used the substitute, and they were still, IMHO, pretty darn tasty. So, the substitution: One cup of Bisquick is more or less equivalent to a mix of one cup of flour, 1½ teaspoons of baking powder, ½ teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of oil. Mix up your not-Bisquick before the step where you combine it with the nut butter.

Waffles! )

One of the nice things about these is that you can make a ton of them -- we've been doing them in double batches, which gets even the big 6qt KitchenAid bowl alarmingly full -- and freeze what you don't eat that day; they're fine in the freezer for at least two weeks. Probably longer, but we always eat them all by then. :-)

To reheat, put them on a baking pan, covered with foil, and stick in a 375F oven for about 15 minutes, then pull the foil off, stick back in for a maybe 2.5 minutes, flip over, stick back in for another 2 - 2.5 minutes, then serve. This process of getting them warm in a way that keeps them moist (steamy, even), and then crisping them up on both sides, will bring them back to almost exactly the state they were in when they were fresh off the iron.
auros: (Apricot)
2013-03-21 01:19 am

Tapioca / mango / palmyra pudding

In a small pot, combine:
One small (5.5 oz) can of coconut milk.
A similar amount of milk.
1/2 cup of tapioca pearls.
1/4 cup of crystallized coconut palm sap, or other form of palm sugar; or you could use a bit less of regular sugar, or even some maple syrup. (And honestly, given how sweet the dish came out, you could probably cut the sugar by 10-15% relative to this, as long as you're using palmyras in syrup, not packed in just water or some kind of juice.)
a pinch of salt (maybe 1/4 tsp?)

Simmer for five minutes. Add one mango, diced, and maybe half a cup of palm seeds. (We found them jarred, in syrup, at our local Asian grocer. I generally expect stuff in glass jars to taste fresher than stuff in cans, but it probably doesn't make a huge difference.)

Simmer for another five minutes. Test the a pearl to see if it's cooked through.

Cooking time may need adjustment depending on exactly what size / type of pearls you use.

Xta remarks that she should've taken a photo; it's not particularly pretty, but it is quite tasty. I was attempting to replicate a dessert I had once, a number of years ago, at a South-Chinese place in Mountain View. I think I came reasonably close, actually, on the first try.
auros: (Wine)
2013-03-15 09:49 am

Maybe I need a drink. :-P

I've been stuck at the allergy clinic this morning longer than usual because I had a weird blood pressure spike. 150/95, when I've never seen it over about 130/85 before, and it's usually a little below 120/80. Probably nothing to worry about -- just over-caffeinated on top of my regular stress-load, and I was kind of running in a little late, so I may've been elevated because of that. Plus I was talking somewhat animatedly to the nurse when she started taking the pressure. But they want me to chill out in the waiting room and check it again in a bit, to make sure it's nothing to do with the shot.

I wonder if it's occurred to them that being stuck here when I have stuff to do may, itself, be a stressor. :-P

I'm at least logged onto work email through the waiting room's free wifi, trying to get something done. Unfortunately, the things I really need to do require my PC, which is on my desk at home. :-/

ETA: I was still somewhat elevated when I left -- in the 130/85 type of range -- but that was normal enough they decided to let me go, so I went and got our Rachel Maddow tickets and then came home. My stupid persistent cough left over from cold a couple weeks ago acted up for a while, just after I got home, which is weird, usually it's worst at night, after about 10pm. Still feel... just weird. Not bad exactly, and I don't feel any kind of tightness in the throat (it's a little sore from the cough, but basically the same as the last few days) or other anaphylaxis stuff... I dunno. I guess I'll try to self-monitor for any more serious respiratory syptoms, and either try to drive myself to the nearest hospital (I guess the county-run medical center, near Hillsdale Shopping Center?), or call 911, if things actually become noticably worse. Blah. Medical stuff is expensive. (Woo, another thing to stress about, to keep the blood pressure up! Keep it up, brain, you can achieve an aneurysm if you really put your mind to it!) Also, would miss my dental appt at 3pm and have to re-schedule.

Dear body,
    Quit it. :-P

ETA: Well, I went to my dental appt, and I'm home now... I still feel just a smidge odd? A bit hyper, or lightheaded? I'd almost say it still feels like a caffeine thing, except it seems implausible that much of this morning's coffee is still in my system. I have a pretty high tolerance. My somatic sense of it, though, is strikingly similar to the experience of drinking 4-6 shots of espresso over the course of just a couple hours. (What? It was Johns Hopkins. That's how we got through writing final papers and studying for exams.)