Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Ah, weekend

Had a really restorative holiday weekend. Kate ended up recovering enough to go camping with grandma and they were both quite happy. Took me about one additional hour to make it to our drop off point because of traffic but over all not too bad. Made it back to town in time to go see our SIFF film which was really great. Pramas wrote up a review that hit the high points and bumpy bits.

Saturday we joined Ray & Christine on their deck for a glorious evening of barbecuing and hanging out with the usual suspects. Bill and Chris left early to catch some SIFF and we caught up with John and Jenny. Heard a little bit about John's experiences at E3 and Jenny's recent trip to Hong Kong (so recent she'd only gotten back that day!) and her upcoming trip to Paris. Our friends have such interesting things going on! Christine grilled up some Copper River salmon and served it up with some sage oil and fried sage leaves that were out of this world. My mouth waters at the memory of it!

Sunday it was Memorial Weekend BBQ, part 2 with Bruce and Tim. Five hours of hanging out and grilling, mmm mmm mmm. Bruce and I picked up some alderwood smoked salt at a foodie event last year and have both settled on using it with grilled meat. It's one of my favorite preparations now, just delicious. I took a page out of Ray and Christine's book and grilled up some pears with blue cheese for dessert. Ate entirely too much and wasn't at all hungry for the rest of the day. Tim loaned me Collapse which I'm looking forward to digging into.

Today was supposed to be more grilling and more movies but I'd actually gotten a really good night's sleep for the first time in weeks, and really felt like being a slug. For weeks I've been sleeping poorly, four or five hours a night and then laying awake, and I was starting to feel the effects of sleep deprivation the likes of which I haven't felt since Kate was a baby. Today was purely rest and relaxation, napping and doing puzzles and watching TiVo. Chris went to see The Gits movie without me, but that's probably for the best. I really needed the rest.


Why am I awake?

Sick child is sleeping in my bed, which means that I am not. I turned out the lights about 12:30 and was awakened by a sad little sick girl about 4:00am. Young miss has a loft bed which is usually all the coolness but when she's feeling unwell it's not so good.

This doesn't explain why I've been up between 5:00am and 6:00am every other day this week, but it does account for now.

Poor kiddo is supposed to be going camping with Grandma this holiday weekend, a tradition they've shared for most of her life. She'll be crushed if she can't go, but I can't send her off into the woods if she's really sick. Unexpectedly having her around and sick over the weekend is going to put a crimp in my plans to go to the Seattle International Film Festival: I have tickets to see Punk: Attitude tonight and The Gits on Monday with Pramas.



Kate is home sick, sore throat again. With stunningly appropriate timing, I just received a bill for another $100 owed to the hospital from the last time I took her in for a sore throat that turned out to be nothing.

The school called me to come get her as I was in the middle of writing up my formal complaint to the Homeowner's association. I tried to complete that today by including some digital photos of my porch and the neglected park, but my anti-technology aura struck again. I can't get my card reader to read any of the media cards; the camera thinks they're "full" but also claims there are no pictures to delete. (This happened with three different cards.)

I brought Kate home and then had to run out to get meds for her, and since I had to reserve the Flexcar unexpectedly I threw together a bunch of other errands to run all at the same time. Developed a "pre" headache behind my right eye that never blossomed into a full-blown killer but kept me from being fully functional all the same.

Prior to tonight I'd been on a bit of a cooking kick again. Successfully pulled off from-scratch raisin bread for Sunday breakfast, a beef and beer crockpot stew on Monday (though I used some organic soup mix stuff and didn't adjust for the lack of salt), and some ginger chicken breasts and coconut rice last night. Even made some Eggs Beatrice for breakfast again yesterday. Hoping to feel better tomorrow as there is much to be done.


Food Television

My TiVo lifestyle has constrained itself around crime dramas (fact or fiction), Nero Wolf, and cooking shows. I've discovered that I'm fairly picky about my TiVo choices, food shows in particular. Here's what's currently getting the Nikchick stamp of approval:

Good Eats: the classic. Alton Brown combines theater with science and comes out with good food. I like the formula he's settled into for his shows now better than the skit-heavy themes of the past. He still has a theme, he still pulls out the costumes, but the cast of characters is kept to brief walk-on parts and the focus is where it belongs: the food and Alton cooking it.

Nigella Bites: the sexiest food show on television. All of you fans of Rachel Ray? You WISH she was as sexy, sensual, decadent when she grows up as Nigella Lawson is already. Nigella doesn't shy from getting her hands dirty and refers to wodges of this, splodges of that. She eyeball's measurements, sticks her hands in to squish and squeeze and stir and sample, and purrs about how gorgeous and wonderful the colors or how pungent and heady the scents. Recently she fortified herself with bloody mary before "a day's casual labor in the kitchen." Ah, a woman after my own heart! Of course, sex appeal isn't enough if the recipes don't make the mouth water, but she's got my number where the food is concerned as well.

America's Test Kitchen: Cooks Illustrated in Live Action! Christopher Kimball is wonderful in his curmudgeonly skeptical role as host, occasionally busting out with a flash of wicked humor. It's always entertaining for me to see him won over by a gadget or technique. The test chefs, Julia and Bridget, know their stuff (as we would expect from anyone associated with Cooks).

That's it. Those three shows above are currently meeting all my food television needs. I've tried to watch 30-Minute Meals, but I fine Rachel Ray too phony, can't stand to listen to her talk. Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis is good, but after four years of marriage to a guy who was raised by a priest I just don't have the fondness for Italian food that I used to. It's not the sort of thing food that inspires me to cook. Bobby Flay's food looks good but he's such an arrogant cock, again, I can't stand to watch him or listen to him talk.


A Pox on Home Owners Associations

Yesterday I received two identical letters from the administrators of my neighborhood's HOA. In concept these lovely organizations are made up of members of the community who agree to and enforce community standards, banding together to protect the community, to maintain the common property and to enhance the value of the houses or apartments in the association. In practice, in my neighborhood at least, they are administrated by companies set up for the sole purpose of collecting a cut of the neighborhood's association fees in return for supposedly taking on the unsavory task of actually determining violations and handing out fines. The administering company for our HOA (CDC) administers for others as well, as I found out when I called to find out WTF was going on in regards to the letter they sent me, and they do it from a suburban headquarters not even near my home.

At the end of February, CDC sent out a generic notice to everyone in the neighborhood, listing off all the various potential infractions that someone in our neighborhood might be guilty of: Christmas lights/decorations still up, rubber matting or artificial grass installed on porch steps, garbage cans visible from front of house, hot tubs/dog houses/storage sheds installed, porches or side yards being used for storage, satellite dishes not in prescribed location, window air conditioner units installed, clotheslines being used, yadda, yadda, yadda. Heaven forbid anyone hang clothes out to dry or park their bicycle on their front porch. Ug.

We received no notice of specific complaint, only a generic mailing that everyone take a look to make sure they were in compliance. In March we moved several large boxes off the porch and into the garage as part of a larger cleaning and reorganizing effort and I was quite pleased with myself for having done so. Then yesterday I get the notice that we're being fined $50 for "Storage Issues"! "As of this letter, we have not received a modification request from you to bring the above item into compliance, nor has it been brought into compliance." Now, not only did I never receive a specific letter addressed to me calling out specifically their complaint against me, but I (of my own accord) corrected the one actual "storage issue" they could have had against me when I moved everything off my front porch in March! The woman I talked to on the phone claimed that they drove around the neighborhood doing "spot checks" in February and again on May 6th and that this letter was the result of that, that we had "items" on our front porch "not for the apparent enjoyment of the front porch." WTF(x2)?!

Adding insult to injury, the property adjoining mine is a community park that has become so overgrown with weeds that the weeds have completely overtaken the shrubs and plants and the weeds from the park constantly encroach onto my property. My grass was completely overrun by clover and other weeds that spread in from the park and I eventually just tore it all out and replaced it with decorative plants and flowers that were more resistent. When they were doing their supposed "spot checks" why did they not notice that the thing they're supposed to be particularly responsible for (maintaining the common areas int he community) was not being attended to?!

I have ten days (now seven) from the date of the letter to pay this bogus fine or appeal in writing to the "Covenants Committee" to request a hearing on the issue. This notice of being fined is considered a "second notice" because the generic "Hey everyone, make sure you're in compliance" note counts as the first notice; a "third" notice bumps the fine up to $75, ten days after that the fine goes to $100, and tacks on an additional $100 every ten days until the "non-compliant item" is corrected, plus $25 of "late fees" each time as well.

I understand the idea, I sympathize with people who want to keep the neighborhood looking nice and who want to preserve the value of their homes, but this so-called enforcement and administration from afar is just downright offensive to me, especially considering the hundreds of thousands of dollars each homeowner pays for the home and the property in the first place.



Eggs Beatrice from The Joy of Cooking

5 Tablespoons butter, divided
4 large tomato slices, 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick
4 english muffin halves, toasted
4 eggs
salt and pepper
1 Tablespoon minced shallots or scallions
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons chipped mixed fresh herbs (parsley, tarragon, chives, etc)

Heat 2 Tbsp butter (I used olive oil) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add tomato slices and cook until heated through. Remove tomatoes from skillet and place 1 slice on each english muffin half. Give the pan a quick wipe with a paper towel and add 1 Tbsp butter. When the butter is foaming break the eggs into the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the whites are completely set and the yolks are just barely beginning to thicken around the edges, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove eggs from pan and place atop the tomatoes. Increase the heat to high and add to the skillet 2 Tbsp butter (I did stick with butter for this step), shallots or scallions, and vinegar. Boil the mixture until slightly reduced, stir in herbs. Pour sauce over eggs and serve immediately.

Makes 4.

Kate watched me make this for myself before she left for school this morning and kept saying "That smells SO good!" She had a taste before running out the door and gave it a thumbs up for tastiness. Maybe there's hope for her yet!



Sometimes you've just gotta take out your frustrations. Thanks RJT for pointing me in this direction!



The Lindroos Clan Diminshes

Over the weekend I got a message my dad left for me nearly ten days earlier. I don't know exactly how I missed it, but the bottom line is my aunt (his sister) had died rather suddenly. Though the Lindroos side of the family is fairly robust in general, my aunt had suffered with MS and leukemia among other things and there was even a point a few years ago where they thought she might be need a bone marrow donation that my dad was prepared to give. In the end they didn't need it after all. I'm not sure what exactly happened to bring about her death, just that it was sudden and, despite her illnesses, unexpected.

My aunt and her mother were like oil and water. My grandmother was a small woman with big personality. She was stern, sometimes even harsh. She was strict and not particularly sympathetic. She lived tough life, spent time in an orphanage separated from her siblings when she was young. She was not the sort of person I could envision putting up with too much high-spirited hijinx.

My aunt was 8 years older than my dad, with my uncle Jack falling somewhere in between them. JoAnn was lively and hilarious, a carouser. When I was having a particularly bad time after moving in with my father as a teen, I was sent out to Arizona to have a visit with JoAnn. She told me stories of her wild behavior, of being locked in her room by her parents only to climb out the window to get away. The notion of defying my grandparents so, my grandmother in particular but also of being so bad as to raise the ire of my generally patient and mild grandfather, I could barely conceive it.

Once JoAnn went to a party and got staggeringly drunk. Sneaking back into the house, she fell on her face and made herself a bloody mess. Limping into her room, still thinking she could hide it somehow, she leaned onto the bed only to have her arm collapse accordion-like, also broken in the fall. I was horrified, titillated, and intensely curious for more. She told me of another drunken teenage party, this time with my uncle, who made it home but passed out in the front yard, and how she and my dad (all of 8 or 9 years old) grabbed him and dragged him through the house and dumped him in his bed. The next morning found Grandma ranting about the black scuffmarks left on her floor. As my dad sarcastically chipped in, "Oh yeah, who could have left those marks that lead directly from the door to Jack's room?" She told stories of living abroad with her husband, who I don't even remember; living in Saudi Arabia where they would have booze parties with smuggled liquor and how she recklessly threw the bottles away in the trash until her husband, horrified, found out and began taking the bottles out into the dessert to be broken and buried in the sand.

My aunt so chafed at living in my grandmother's house, she eloped as girl just to get away. When she was married and returned to the house to announce it, she says my grandmother went into a fit and started screaming, "You're pregnant, you're pregnant aren't you," to which my aunt screamed back, "No, I did it to get away from YOU." Ouch.

I last saw my aunt two years ago when I made a trip to Arizona with Kate to visit shortly before my grandmother died. "It's a sign," JoAnn said at the time. One by one, in a short span of time, we'd all come out for a visit. "It's the family's last visit." Grandma did die shortly after. JoAnn admitted that she just couldn't be too broken up over it, since she'd "never gotten along with that woman."

A post-it note, faded and at least five years old, sticks my computer monitor reminding me of JoAnn's address. I think the last time I used it was to send her a wedding invitation (knowing full well her health would prohibit her from coming, but wanting her to know she was thought of and welcome). Even though our clan is scattered and contact is irregular, we're still quite diminished with her passing.


No Work

Last night we hooked up with R&C and watched Kung Fu Hustle. Good fun! Stayed out far too late.

For breakfast I had biscuits from a can. Finally, my craving has been sated.

I'm leaving to go downtown to the Cheese Festival in about an hour. Christine and Bill are meeting me there and after we're done revelling in cheese, we're going to have some cocktails and then hit Bill's nephew's performance in his high school play.

I'm going to be with friends. I'm going to talk about food, drinks, politics, high school drama performances, Geoffrey's graduation party, the weather, the health of friends' cats and the quality of Seattle-area veterinarians, our next cooking club meet-up, perhaps even the ongoing successes (or failures) of Netdix. I'm not going to talk or think about gaming, gamers, game design, game industry associations, game distributors, game retailers, cocksucking fulfillment houses, or the market for games.


The God of Biscuits Hates Me

Dennis, why do you forsake me? All I want is a warm, fluffy biscuit, tender inside with a golden brown crust, dripping with buttery goodness. Is that so much to ask?

My baking failures include bread, biscuits, dumplings, even cornbread from a mix (where all you add is eggs and milk). I suck at making breads. I've tried making bread by hand, in a bread machine, from a mix. I can make a loaf from frozen dough; everything else refuses to rise, comes out doughy and uncooked, or strangely misshapen. Like my anti-technology aura, my anti-baking aura is not easily explained, but has been witnessed by others (so it's not just all in my head).

Today I really wanted some buttermilk biscuits for breakfast. I followed Christopher Kimball's Yellow Farmhouse Cookbook recipe: I measured accurately, I pulsed the cold butter exactly 7 times for exactly 1 second each time, I used cold vegetable shortening, I used actual buttermilk... I stirred only enough to bring the ingredients together, and "gently rolled" the dough, cut each biscuit (without twisting). I ended up with 1/2-inch thick crackers.

Folks, if you're ever eating at my place and biscuits are on the menu, ask if they're from Pillsbury.


Lack of Focus

I'm having a hard time deciding what I want to do with my online journal these days. Many things that I want to talk about, and get feedback on, I feel I can't offer up to the great wide world at large. Who knows who is reading this thing sometimes, I certainly don't. I don't want my personal journal to end up linked to Gaming Report as a "news item". I want to talk about projects I'm working on, but feel I can't in good conscience reveal details to, for example, certain of my competitors who have proven themselves to be adversarial, back-stabbing, predatory fucking assholes without a shred of common decency... you know, just for example. It's hard for me to talk about a guy who screwed us over and put not only his own project at risk but the larger plans for our entire company through the cascading effects of his actions when that guy reads my journal and, even without naming names, mentioning the incident is going to exacerbate an already tense situation. No, there's no joy for the journal there.

My daily life is bland and unnoteworthy; writing about my daily chores, what I'm eating, watching, reading, or doing ("Yes, folks, I vacuumed the bedroom, yay me!") is barely worth the trouble for me to record and seems even less likely to make compelling reading. And yet, I like to read the weblogs of my friends who write about their mundane lives, and I wouldn't want them to stop. I like learning about Zoey's first steps, or JD's search for a pastoral life and would be sorry to see them go away.

I'm no less pissed off about the state of politics and the current rule of the country. Florida, in particular, leaves me shaking my fist in impotent rage on a regular basis. We're marching toward a country ruled by single party theocracy, where far too many people think it's ok to make loyalty to a political party and their platform the criteria for keeping your job, membership in your church, or even access to your elected officials (linking to commondreams.org because the Denver Post original article isn't easily accessible). But I am, as the Onion so rightly called it during the election, suffering from outrage fatigue. I'm so disgusted I can't even summon the energy for a good rant about it, and besides, there are plenty of bloggers out there who are more plugged in and who do it better. Who needs to hear my cries in the wilderness at this point?

I'm still mulling over where I want to apply my focus with this thing. I'm no Dooce, no LJC, no Tastingmenu, no TalkingPointsMemo. I'm no Grubbstreet, or BruceCordell. Hell, I'm not even WWDN for the geeky gamer girl set. Meanwhile, while I mull over why the hell I'm here, maybe each of you could indulge me and tell me why the hell you're here. What is Nikchick.com (or its LJ twin) to you?