Going All-Out for the Finals

We’ve applied a lot of science to ritual cannibalism in this house, trust me. It started a few seasons ago when we had roast duck for dinner on the first night of the season when the Sharks hosted the Anaheim Ducks. The duck didn’t turn out as well as it might have, and the Sharks lost. In the ensuing seasons, the duck has been ever-more delicious, and the Sharks have won the season opener against the rival Ducks by ever-more comfortable margins. Last year, after stuffing the duck with orange quarters, we shut them out. Orange county, you see.

The science of ritual cannibalism is, therefore, irrefutable. We eat the duck, we beat the Ducks.

This year, as the home team has progressed through the playoffs, we (and by ‘we’ I mostly mean the Official Sweetie of Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas) have explored the proper dishes required to vanquish ever-more-fearsome foes. For Nashville, whose fans throw catfish onto the ice, we ate catfish.

St. Louis was a little trickier: They are the Blues. How do you eat a musical style? We went with the color, which is slightly less tricky. We started with (yummy) Blueberry Crumble, but of course that didn’t work: we took their crumble, leaving them steadfast. We switched to a (delicious) blue cheese sauce on pork chops and never looked back.

Of course, there’s plenty of other Fan Science at work as well. Official Sweetie’s old-school Sharks t-shirt is banned from the living room at game time. When things aren’t going well, a glass of Canadian Whiskey will reverse our fortunes. The list goes on.

Pittsburgh has proven to be our greatest challenge yet. You don’t just pop down to Costco and grab a family-size tray of frozen penguin. Happily there are gummy penguins, and where there’s a will there’s a sauce.

For game one it was chicken (a flightless bird) with penguin sauce, and while it was most tasty, it was not effective. The Sharks started the game poorly, and though things stabilized after I turned to the whiskey it was too late. A heartbreak goal in the waning minutes sent our boys back to their hotel with heads bowed.

The menu for game two: Game hen with penguin sauce, with black and white rice. Really, really, tasty. Another close game; the whiskey brought the team back but they gave up a goal in overtime and were down in the series 2-0. Either game could have tilted the other direction, and while the Penguins seemed to be in charge much of the time they weren’t scoring very much. It wouldn’t take much to turn things around.

More research was required.

Thank goodness for the Internet. Sidney Crosby, the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins and a darn good hockey player, is a man of ritual. On game day, he always has a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Aha! we had found the chink in his armor.

And speaking of science, pork chops are a proven winner. Forget the symbolism of the flightless birds; go with what works!

For game three tonight, we pulled out all the stops for victory. Pork chops grilled outdoors with a peanut butter and jelly and melted penguin sauce. Do not cringe, my friends, it was absolutely delicious. The char from the barbecue added the perfect bitter note to work with the sweet/salty sauce. Rice and grilled green beans rounded out the meal. I wore the black t-shirt, not the gray one. Canadian Whiskey, as always, stood at the ready.

We found out not long before game time that one of the Sharks’ best young players would not be playing due to injury. Tomaš Hertl had hit the iron frame of the net three times in the game two heartbreak; had any one of those three shouts bounced the other direction the Sharks could well have won. It was going to be up to the pork chops to make up for the critical loss for San Jose.

It was a nail-biter, I have to tell you, but in the end the good guys prevailed, scoring in overtime after steadily looking more confident all game. Joonas Donskoi, or “Donkey” as we call him, slipped a shot past the Pen’s excellent net minder as the home crowd made enough noise to be heard in space.

As we celebrated at home the Official Sweetie said, “I hope we have more pork chops.”


Complete the Analogy:

The 1970’s are to food as ___________ is to ____________.


Exhibit A: a dish made from hot dogs, published by Weight Watchers. Remember, this is the decade during which anything could be put in green jello.

A Good Place to Be

This is a big technical discourse that ends with a restaurant endorsement. Because Agave in San Jose is a good place to be.

Today pretty much sucked. It started last night, when I ran a routine software update on the heroic little computer that brings you these ramblings. It is a Mac Mini tucked away on a shelf in a climate-controlled facility in Henderson, NV; a little machine that just plugs along year after year.

As a primer before I dive into that part of my hardship, let me take a moment to describe the UNIX world. UNIX is a computer operating system that has been copied and recopied into different kinds of Linux and BSD, as well as Apple’s Darwin, but philosophically the different flavors have much in common and share a lot of little programs. In fact, it’s all about the little programs. Each little app is designed to solve one problem perfectly, and larger applications use these underlying facilities. A graphics program could depend on dozens of underlying libraries.

So when you install one of these programs, how can you be sure all the parts it depends on exist on your system? It’s a huge chore, made much simpler by package managers. Package managers are special programs that maintain a database of who-needs-what so when you install SuperGameMachine it will automatically install CleverGraphicsLibrary, and that in turn will require StupidGraphicsLibrary, and that will require something called gl (actually the names of all these things are criminally terse, so you can never deduce the purpose from the name — CleverGraphicsLibrary would be named cgl).

Anyway, a major upgrade of ncurses just came out, and it gave me a hellish few hours. That database of who depends on what? Well, it turns out is wasn’t so complete, in the MacPorts world. ncurses had been so stable for so long that many program maintainers didn’t even realize they depended on it. The update came along and those programs were still looking for the old version. One of those programs was bash. bash is part of mac OS, but there was a massive (MASSIVE!) security hole in bash and I went to MacPorts to get the new version faster.

When you watch hackers on TV, when they’re typing cryptic symbols into their black screens, mostly they’re giving instructions to bash. Bash is a shell, which is a name for a program that takes stuff you type and does stuff as a result. For veracity, hackers in movies might compare the merits of bash and zch or tsch, but at this time bash is boss.

So when you open up a window to type those cryptic commands, it will launch your chosen shell. If you set your preferred shell to be bash, and then bash is broken, you are screwed. You are especially screwed if you don’t have physical access to the box. You try to log in, bash fails, and you sit at your terminal in helpless frustration, shouting to the uncaring gods of the night. Even if the package manager eventually sorts out the problem, you can’t get in to run the repair.

OK, this is getting long. I got through that, but there wasn’t a lot of sleeping involved. (Two bug tickets at MacPorts now closed.)

Then, today, after a rather frustrating meeting at work, I was betrayed by my bar. By my BAR! By my quiet haven in this noisy world. We had a contract — I paid a chunk in advance and got a discount on my first frosty mug of happiness on each visit for the rest of my life. I am not dead yet, but new(ish) ownership of Rookies Sports Lodge says it will no longer honor the deal. Should I shout? Threaten? Walk away?

It’s going to take some doing to make today come out right.

So here I am at Agave, the neighborhood cantina, and things are starting to feel better. I am working up the vocabulary to make sure that the official Muddled Sweetie gets her chicken burrito smothered with lots of good stuff. None of the English-speaking staff seems to be on tonight.

But make no mistake, these guys here make good food, for a good price. The menu now has many prices lined out and raised with a ball-point pen, but those big-ass burritos still hold the price line. And even the new ball-point prices are a steal. There aren’t many places in this town where my internal cheap bastard and my internal gourmand can party together, but this is one.

Waiting for the food, sippig Negra Modelo, listening to music with bright trumpets and tight vocal harmony, things are starting to feel better. I’m gonna be all right.


It’s a Tough Life

I mentioned to the light of my life that I was craving burgers to replenish my strength after my last (for a while) visit to the colon doctor.

For most people, the response would be, “where do you want to get them?” Not so my sweetie. Her response: “I’ve been wanting to make burger buns!”

And so she did.



Note to Pillsbury:

It’s time to revive Space Food Sticks.


A Fine Meal

There are few things better than fresh tomatoes straight from the garden. One of those better things is several different kinds of fresh tomatoes gracing your summertime entrée, all fresh-picked from within thirty feet of where your dinner plate is.

I didn’t count how many different kinds of tomato we had tonight; there are ten different varieties growing out in the back 40, but they’ve never all had ripe tomatoes at the same time. But tonight there were definitely several types represented, and they were all delicious.

When I was a kid I didn’t even know there were ten different kinds of tomato. The growing interest in pre-industrial versions of the food we eat is definitely a happy thing. And healthy, too.


Who DOESN’T Like Big Bundts?

Yep, it’s Bundt Cake Day! Hooray!

Check out this site all this month for all the latest bundt news.

Tonight I’ll be breaking out the camera to immortalize my own sweetie’s bundt masterpiece. Then I’ll be breaking out the fork. Yum!