Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Happiness Is.....
When your Friday schedule is absolutely, positively packed with back to back, intense meetings, your budgets are due, your end of month reports are due, a HUGE staffing analysis is due, and you are looking at pulling an all nighter to get it all done. And then by some combination of luck and miracle, three of your Friday morning meetings are canceled or postponed at 3:30, and now I can leave by 6:00 PM, and work on it a little bit this evening!

Everything is still due - but I have all morning to get it done, and the staffing analysis meeting is postponed until next week.
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:29 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Too Close for Comfort
A few days ago, I posted about the recent rash of violent crimes and incidents that have been getting disturbingly close to home lately.

Apparently, last Thursday morning at about 2:30 AM, in a crime that seems particularly vicious even by Baltimore standards, a 15 year old girl was chased by three men, hunted down, and raped on my block. I haven't been able to find anyone who saw or heard anything, but it does explain the three patrol cars parked at the end of my alley, two doors down, when I took out the trash last Thursday. I wondered at the time what had happened, and almost stopped to ask them, but I was already running late for a 7:00 AM surgical conference.

So here's a dilemma. Thanks to one of the scariest databases out there, anyone can pinpoint all the registered sex offenders that live in Maryland, or anywhere else in the country thanks to Megan's Law. In Baltimore, this is a particularly alarming number. Every bit as shocking as our murder rate (hmmm - a connection??).

Thanks to the information in this database, I discovered that some newer neighbors of mine have been renting out their basement apartment to someone who is a registered Child Sex Offender charged with the abuse of minors since January.

What can / do I do with this information? There's no way to really ask them - "Umm, excuse me, are you aware that your boarder is on this list?". For one, I'm pretty sure they know - and how awkward is that? And if they aren't - what then?

The information is published VERY publicly on the Internet. The 21st century version of the Scarlet Letter. Do we tell other neighbors discretely - especially the ones with children?

There are very strict guidelines preventing the use of this information to harass, intimidate or threaten the individuals on the list, and I certainly agree with those strictures. But if the purpose of the list is to inform and warn - do I as a neighbor have an obligation to do so as well?

UPDATE: As a commenter requests - the rape and the database listing are ENTIRELY unrelated. As a single, white female in an urban neighborhood, I was compelled to see if there were any trends after the rape. What I found - was unexpected. The renter in question is (presumably, since his landlords are gay), a fifty something, gay, white male.
posted by Broadsheet @ 5:12 PM   12 Editorial Opinions
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
I've been severely nearsighted my entire life. Started wearing coke bottle lenses when I was only six years old. I've worn contacts since the age of 15.

Until I turned 40. That was the year I got reading glasses to go along with the contact lenses. Happy Birthday! Nothing special, just your $10 pair from Rite Aid at the lowest magnification. At first, I didn't need them for everything, just small maps, dark restaurants, small print on instructions, that sort of thing.

Well, that was then, and this is now. Over the course of the last year, I have become increasingly dependent on the suckers, to the point where they are hanging off the edge of my nose for most of the day. I can't even cook dinner and read the recipe or the back of a box without them. It's annoying.

So I got my eyes checked last week, and today I got fitted for new lenses. I'm trying the notion of "monovision" to get rid of the reading glasses. My dominant eye (in my case, my right eye) is corrected for distance vision. My left eye is "dumbed down" to let my near vision be sharper.

I was leary at first, but a couple of colleagues have tried it, and swear by it. No more reading glasses. They say it takes a few weeks for your brain to adjust to the different strengths at the right times, but eventually, you don't notice the difference.

Well, I'm trying them. The difference isn't as drastic as I expected it to be, but it does take a second to adjust when you're reading, and then look up, and vice versa. I'm thinking that night driving is going to be the real test, and my depth perception is a little off, but I'm willing to give it a try if it means I can avoid wearing glasses again.

Meanwhile, I did get an eyeglass prescription for bifocals when I'm not wearing my contacts.

I REALLY hate getting older.
posted by Broadsheet @ 4:45 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Llama dung mites track Inca fall
Part of me wanted to post this just so I could see how many people Google "llama dung mites" to get here (trust me - you should see what search terms bring people to this site - you're all weirdos).

Part of me is also fascinated that government monies paid for this, although, to be fair, the study started out studying lake sediments for signs of climate change, before they found all these little beasties.

And part of me is just plain fascinated.
They found a huge increase in the number of fossil mites as the empire expanded from the Cuzco area in the early 1400s. A sudden drop in numbers corresponded with the collapse of the native population after the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors.
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:01 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles top US box office
Pretty much everything wrong in America today can be summed up in that one sentence.

In fact, if you glance at the top 10 list, you're pretty much guaranteed NOT to see any Oscar contenders.
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:48 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
I am so going to hell for this......
But this was hilarious. NOT safe for work! And if you think this is wrong -watch his song about the Special Olympics. Or better yet, Craig Christ. The guy is brilliant.

posted by Broadsheet @ 8:59 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
Who knew that Supreme Court Justices could be funny??

After a League of Women Voters meeting this morning (creating a League statement on same sex marriage in MD, - of course we're for it), I ran off to run errands. I was listening to "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me!" on WYPR, and the weekly segment of Not My Job featured none other than Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. He had to hold his own against Paula Poundstone, Peter Sagal, Luke Burbank, and Mo Rocca. And he was FUNNY!

Being the funniest Supreme Court justice, he said, "is like being one of the shortest tall people."

On why he even agreed to answer questions outside his area of expertise in the humbling, and often embarrassing, "Not My Job" segment: "Well, it was my sister-in-law who wanted me to do it, and I wanted peace in the family."

I sat in the car at the dry cleaners listening to the whole segment. You can click on the link and listen to it there.
posted by Broadsheet @ 6:05 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Happy Baha'i Naw-Ruz
My neighbors are members of the Baha'i Faith, and invited me to celebrate Naw-Ruz at an open house this afternoon.

Basically, Naw-Ruz marks the end of their 19 day fast, celebrates their New Year, and the coming of Spring. The official date was March 21, but since this is the weekend, they held it today. Apparently, for American members of the Baha'i Faith, a potluck dinner, or open house is pretty common.

Anywho, there was lots of interesting Persian and Iranian food, lots of nice people, and I learned something about another culture / religion. They read the "Tablet of Naw Ruz", (which I now understand thanks to Wikipedia, because they recited it in Farsi), sang a song, and we ate.
posted by Broadsheet @ 5:55 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Clive James's Cultural Amnesia
Slate Magazine has been running excerpts from Clive James' Book: Cultural Amnesia.

In addition to being a delight to read, it's an important work of forty year's worth of insight and observation on 110 of the most interesting people that have shaped our shared Culture. Not just America, but worldwide.

At times, novelistic, at others academic, and even others, wholly unpredictable and surprising, the book offers unique insight into towering intellects, audacious egos, and simple savants, who at their core are all very human indeed.

It's as much brain candy, as reference guide. Go get a copy. If not - enjoy the series that Slate is providing on line.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:59 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Ze Frank
"It's the best sustained comedy run in the history of the Web. Too bad it's over. And irreproducible."

I miss my three minutes of daily Ze. I can't wait till they give this guy his own show.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:47 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Frequent Flier
Hah! I have enough frequent flier miles on Southwest to fly RT to Los Angeles for free. From there, I can fly to Beijing for less than $800 RT. Sweet!! And of course, I have no hotel costs for the first half of the trip thanks to my gracious hostess with the mostest in China.

Alternatively, I could save the frequent flier miles and get a direct flight from Dulles for about $1,250, which actually, might be a lot less hassle.

Then again, my friends in LA has been bugging me for a visit. I could tie a couple of days on in LA on the way there or back and see them, or just save the miles for a separate trip later. I'm already planning on being out of the office for 2+ weeks.

And lastly, dear friends of mine are getting married in Holland about the same time I wanted to head to China. Dare I try to get to Holland for their wedding and then proceed to Beijing with an around the world ticket? That would mean a three week trip for sure, but around the world tickets start at only $1,300 and go up from there with limited airports and dates.

I paid about $1,300 to fly to Brisbane, Australia from Philly a little more than a decade ago, which at the time, was a real bargain.

Despite inflation, rising gas prices, etc., there is no doubt about it - air fare has gotten a lot cheaper (relatively) over time.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:35 PM   4 Editorial Opinions
Evil Corporate Giant wins
In an update to an earlier story, it appears that the lady who refused to sell her house to a Chinese Developer, is finally being evicted and the house is being torn down.

What's great about this, is that she held out for more than THREE years!

Also, two corrections: (1) I thought the owner was a man, it's not, and (2) they originally reported that the owner wanted $2.5 million for the villa, it's more like $500,000 instead.
posted by Broadsheet @ 4:38 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
3 homicides reported in city shootings
The mean street of Baltimore are getting meaner every day.

And lately, it's affecting people I know. We read about it every day, but often it seems like it's happening to other people, in other cities. Not so, and I'm sick and tired of taking it for granted.

First, Anger Hangover writes about the shootings and other deadly goings on down in her neighborhood, Pig Town.

This followed by my buddy JJT, whose new home was broken into and vandalized.

Last week, my neighbor Jwer's Evil Practical Mobile (EPM), was totaled after it was inadvertently involved in a triple shooting / homicide.

Early Saturday morning - just after midnight, I was awakened from a sound sleep by repeated rounds of shotgun and automatic weapon fire a block (or less) from my house, and called 911.

And today, I read what was perhaps the most chilling and disturbing post of all from our friend Epiphany (who, can I just say, is one of the hardest working, noble kind of guys there are? Really, we all owe him a debt of thanks for trying to make our public schools a better place, and for giving our children a better future), who witnessed the eerie ritual of a Bloods Dance in the middle of a busy intersection, celebrating the shooting of another rival gang victim.

Forty Seven young Americans have lost their lives in Baghdad since the beginning of this year. Baltimore has had 63 homicides in the same period.

Tell me, what city is safer? Baghdad or Baltimore?
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:58 AM   11 Editorial Opinions
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Grand Canyon glass Skywalk opens
Countdown to the first suicide or base jumper in
three, two, one......
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:57 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Google Earth Rocks!
First of all, if you haven't played with Google Earth yet - stop reading this and go look around. For most of you who have, have you played with the "Sightseeing" function under "Places" on the left hand side?

I went in an selected "The Forbidden City", Beijing, and it zooms directly there, and highlights all the monuments, museums, and places of interest with photo tags. It is seriously effing cool.

Even better? The places that have 3D building models!
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:00 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Monday, March 19, 2007
What do they put in a can of pet food?
I'd rather not know, but after years of feeling increasingly guilty for only serving my cats dry kibble with the occasional wet snack of plain old canned tuna as a treat, I'm finally feeling like I did the right thing.

I found my last cat, a stray I named Buddy, a few months after college, so he got only dry kibble, and only what was on sale. Wet food was only when he got sick (rarely), was homemade (tuna, chicken, and rice), or he got "Pounce" as a junk food treat at Christmas.

As he got older and his teeth started to crumble, the vet prescribed wet food, but it wreaked havoc with an old cat's digestive system, and the after effects were bad for both of us.

Despite all the "neglect" and cheap food...he lived to be 19, and finally succumbed rather quickly to kidney failure and old age over a period of less than a month. Pretty good odds for a cat, I'd say.

The two monster stray kittens I took in four years ago as a replacement, also enjoy dry food (and to look at them, lots of it), although I now go out of my way to buy the more upscale vet blend for them. I sometimes supplement it with the junk food morsels and/or a bowl of tuna or canned chicken as a treat, but they are so BIG, active, and feisty, and their coats are so glossy, that wet food still seems an unnecessary extravagance.

With this recent scare, I'm glad I use the dry food.

I know America's food supply has been at risk many times over the last few years (beef, peanut butter, green onions, spinach....), but when the majority of a food source like pet food, comes from a single supplier, it's very scary indeed.

Only 10 pets have reported to have died so far (although I'm sure it's more than that), and yet knowing how much we love our pets in the US, the safety of their food supply, as well as ours (and livestock for that matter), is of paramount importance.
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:04 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Magic Bus
I don't know if it's because it's a new moon tonight, or the vernal equinox tomorrow, or just because it's Monday, but I swear, our patients all took the Magic Bus to get here today. They are all nuts.

I just hope the bus returns at 4:00 to take them back.

Speaking of crazy, why don't we just elect Punksatawney Phil as President? He makes a prediction based on false, or at the very least, misleading information (a warmer than normal January, no doubt caused by global warming), leaps to the conclusion based on cloud cover that spring is imminent, and winter starts the next day with one of the coldest Februaries on record, and goes till St. Patrick's Day.

And what happens to Phil? Do we impeach him for leading us astray? Sue him for causing chaos and destruction? Get a new groundhog? Nope - we let him predict the weather again next year. Where's the accountability?

Phil for President! Al Gore could be his running mate.....
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:21 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Sunday, March 18, 2007
U.N.L.V. Runs Wisconsin Out of the Tournament
Easy come, easy go. No surprise to anyone really, and a noble exit for a good season.

So also, went Maryland to the upstart Butler. Now that the underdogs have won, it's hard not to root for them going forward.

Of "my teams", this leaves Pitt and OSU in the Sweet 16 to see if they make it to the next level. I think OSU has the best shot at getting to the Final Four.

In other news, I'm really glad I didn't bet on the brackets. I would be SOOOO not winning right now!
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:15 PM   3 Editorial Opinions
New York artists sue NBC over Heroes concept
Hmmmm, artists who paint the future? You think they might have seen this coming.
The artists said their work focused on an artist who paints the future and who specifically paints the destruction of two landmark buildings in New York City. They alleged this was "strikingly similar" to the character of Isaac Mendez on "Heroes," whose paintings of the future depict an explosion in New York City.
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:26 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Guinness Pot Pies

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!! Instead of indulging in green beer with all the amateurs in the bars of Baltimore today, I was hard at work making a wholesome meal for my neighbors who are both laid up with a case of the flu. They went to Japan for two weeks, had a marvelous time, and succumbed to airline flu on the way home. They sound and feel awful. help them out, and to make something traditional for St. Paddy's Day given the snow and ice, I started looking around for a good recipe for authentic Irish Guinness Stew. Well, as you might imagine, there are about as many versions out there as there are for good chili recipes, but I found about four of them that appealed to me, and stole bits and pieces of all of them to come up with:

Broadsheet's Guinness Pot Pies

2+ lbs of good stewing beef
3 TB Vegetable Oil (I use canola - olive oil has too low a smoking point, and too strong a flavor for this)
1/2 c. flour
1.5 tsp sea / Kosher salt
1.5 tsp. cracked pepper
2 large sweet yellow onions chopped coarsely
4 big carrots, peeled and sliced into thick coins
3 lbs baby red or white fingerling potatoes cut into chunks - I like the skin on
Box of frozen peas (add at the VERY end)
1/2 c. finely chopped prunes (adds sweetness - trust me on this)
1 package of fresh Poultry Herbs (sage, thyme and rosemary)
5 large cloves of garlic
2 large bay leaves
1 T. Worcestershire Sauce
2 T. Tomato Paste
2 tsp. brined green peppercorns - drained, rinsed and chopped
1 c. good red wine
1 lg. can of Guinness Draught (NOT Stout!)
4 c. good beef broth

Heat the veg. oil in a large Dutch oven or stock pot on med/high heat
Mix the flour, salt and pepper together in a large bowl
Toss the beef cubes in the flour mixture to coat thoroughly
Put the beef in the pot and sear the pieces, turning them on all sides until they have a nice crust, but are still quite pink. About 5 minutes. Remove from pot.

Add more veg. oil if necessary and toss in the chopped onions. Be sure to scrape up all the good browned bits on the bottom. Deglaze the pan with the wine to help. Cook for 5-6 minutes.
Add chopped garlic and about 4 glugs of the beer (that's an exact measurement folks). Cook for another 3 minutes or so.

Toss in the carrots, potatoes, prunes, the beef, the rest of the beer, and the beef stock. The prunes will dissolve completely and provide a nice sweetness to the stew with the carrots, and help thicken it.

Tie the poultry herbs into a bouquet garni with some string and shove them into the mixture.
Add bay leaves, peppercorns, Worcestershire and Tomato paste and stir well.

Get a nice simmer going, leave the pot uncovered, so the sauce thickens, and go work on your taxes for about an hour and 45 minutes - returning to stir occasionally. Your house will smell amazing!

Remove from heat. Stir in the box of peas. Put a lid on the pot, and set it out on the back porch to cool off for 30 minutes.

Get a couple of nice ramekins or other oven proof dishes, and set your oven temp to 425'.

Once the stew has cooled a bit, fill the ramekins and sprinkle some parsely over them.

Roll out squares of purchased puff pastry dough 1/4" thick, cut it in a large sqaure and drape it over the filled ramekins. Don't be fussy about this - just lay it over the top.

Cut out a shamrock from the left over pastry dough and place it on the top. Wash the top of each dish with an eggwash to make it shiny (one egg + 2 TB water whisked together).

Set them in the fridge to chill the pastry for about 15 minutes.

Bake on a baking sheet in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is puffy and golden.

Serve with plenty of cold Guinness.

Obviously, this stew is just fine on its own without the pastry crust. Just make some champ to go with it, and a nice piece of crusty bread.

posted by Broadsheet @ 3:54 PM   9 Editorial Opinions
Friday, March 16, 2007
Go Big Red!!!
Well, my Badgers are struggling to break .500 in men's hockey this year, but the men's basketball team is ranked #2 in the Midwest, and is taking on Texas A&M Corpus Christi today to see if they can advance to the Sweet Sixteen!!

If they win today, they play UNLV, and THAT would be a great game. And of course, if they and the Maryland Terps can make the Elite 8 - they would face off for the Midwest Championship! Go Badgers!!

UPDATE: Wisconsin over the Aggies ISLANDERS 76 - 63. Bring on the Rebels!!

UPDATE#2: And while we're on the subject, can someone tell me why Pittsburgh is in the WEST Conference, Ohio State is in the SOUTHERN conference, and Maryland is in the MIDWEST?? I mean seriously, I would like to know. It seems awfully arbitrary. And why is there no NORTH conference at all?

Meanwhile, I am happy that all the schools I have attended, worked for, or taught for, are represented so far in the tournament, so GO: Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Ohio State and Maryland!! Does Hopkins have a basketball team? (just kidding Division III).
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:04 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Were there Koalas on Noah's Ark?
An absolutely delightful de-bunking (not that you really needed one) of the Creationist's fable of Noah's Ark

Read it, and then send a creationist some fruit flies.

UPDATED: Link fixed - bad / sorry. Also: Ides of March today. From 83 degrees yesterday to snow flurries now. Gee. Thanks. The gap of daylight between my wall and my incredibly $$$$$$$$$$$$ new windows is being re-calked at no charge, and no delay / denial by the window company tomorrow AM as part of my lifetime guarantee. The new windows are great, but I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to be able to see daylight on the sides of them.
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:58 PM   3 Editorial Opinions
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
3 / 14
Happy Pi Day everyone!!

posted by Broadsheet @ 9:44 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Violence of the Lambs
Props to my brother for sending me this. I don't know if this is legit, but if it's not, someone went to a LOT of trouble.

If you liked "Shaun of the Dead", you're gonna love Black Sheep. Coming soon to a theater near you.
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:49 PM   4 Editorial Opinions
International Incident
I think I just avoided creating a diplomatic stink with Russia. Or at least with a certain Senator of Ekatarinaburg.

I got the following email from Ticketmaster today regarding tickets I purchased over the weekend for the Harry Connick Jr. show in April (go ahead -- mock me - I like him).

"Dear Ticketmaster Customer,

Thank you for your recent purchase at Ticketmaster.

Unfortunately, at this time we are unable to mail the tickets to the international address that you provided."

WTF?? So I log onto Ticketmaster to check my order, and lo and behold, I had inadvertently used the credit card I had linked to my account the last time I bought tickets on line. That card belonged to a Russian politician who was visiting as part of an exchange program I was hosting, and he insisted on going to the Raven's game while he was here. Long time readers will affectionately recall my dealings with Veektor, the hapless Senator from Ekatarinaburg last October.

I just hope I cancelled the order and removed Victor's VISA number from my account before he noticed the charge!

In other news, I have two awesome seats to the Harry Connick Jr. Concert.
posted by Broadsheet @ 4:38 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Just Say No
A friend paid me a compliment today by expressing amazement at my energy level and the number of things I was involved with / doing.

I thanked her, and cautioned her not to confuse a high level of energy with a pathological inability to say "No" to a request or invitation.

Thus, I find myself booked for not one, not two, but three different engagements this evening. With a little luck and some planning, I should be able to make an appearance at all three. Sometimes I feel like I'm speed dating life.
posted by Broadsheet @ 2:57 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Monday, March 12, 2007
This man is an island
Talk about strong arm tactics! This man refused to sell his villa in China's Chonquing city to a developer who refused to meet the man's demands of $2.5 million.

The developer simply dug a 30 foot pit all around the house to force him out.

Will he move? Is the property so "devalued" by the pit, that he is forced to sell at a lower price? I wonder what will happen next.
posted by Broadsheet @ 4:41 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Tivo just got better
Better sound the death knell once and for all for Netflix and Blockbuster.

Tivo has teamed up with to deliver movies directly to your Tivo box. Talk about On-Demand!

I have Comcast on Demand , and while it's true that they have a decent list of movies available, it's not very comprehensive, doesn't have the foreign film selection I want, and you can't go back and get copies of your favorite cable series unless you subscribe to one of the premium cable channels.

I'm a little wary of the download times. They say that with a broadband connection of 5Mbps or greater, that a movie will take an hour to download, and a one hour TV show will take about 30 minutes. That's about how long it takes me to download TV episodes from iTunes now, and if you're willing to schedule it for later in the evening, or before you go to bed, it's not a problem.

We shall see.

Movies by mail - those days are numbered. Soon, going to the "video store" will have the same, quaint conotation that the local soda fountain did in the fifties.
posted by Broadsheet @ 4:18 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Career Killer
Looks like Isreal needs a new ambassador to El Salvador.

Money quote:
Israel has recalled its ambassador to El Salvador after he was found drunk and naked apart from bondage gear.

Reports say he was able to identify himself to police only after a rubber ball had been removed from his mouth.
There's really not a whole lot I can add to this one.
posted by Broadsheet @ 1:41 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Arts Scene
Heads up! Couple of goings on around town you do not want to miss!

First off, we have my friend and neighbor, Rita Natarova, highlighted as one of five outstanding MICA alums in an exhibit going on now until June 3 at the Evergreen House: Building a Legacy: Evergreen Scholars at MICA (third event down). I'll let you know just how awesome this show is after I attend the opening reception tomorrow evening courtesy of the artist and her mom.

Also, I stopped in at the BMA yesterday to catch the Pissarro Exhibit. What are you sitting there for? GO!!! It was wonderful. Buy your tickets in advance - everyone wants to go. Now that it's getting all spring like outside, there's nothing better than a good dose of old fashioned impressionism to chase winter out for good.
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:09 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Girly Girl
After gloriously sleeping in till 8:00 this morning, and working on the computer (reconfiguring some software, cleaning up stuff) while enjoying Greek Yoghurt and coffee, I had a lovely, totally social, shopping / lunch date with my boss, followed by a hair appointment.

From there - it was off to the bookstore to pick up some travel guides and books on China, including the controversial "Mao: The Unknown Story". It's been banned in China, so a certain ex-pat who is now living in Beijing, whom I plan on visiting, and who is known to peruse this blog from time to time, might also like to know that it is on its way to her. I thought I would tell you here, rather than risking an email or phone call interception, since the packages I have sent you thus far seem to have been opened during transit by the cultural police. If it does not arrive - we'll know that it too, was "intercepted". Oh, and let me know offline if I need to send any additional supplies. We won't mention the book.

So.....after the book store, it was the usual stop by the wine shop to try and find more of the Pinot Noir that I enjoyed during the week, and to pick up some basic groceries.

Home, and a one hour gabfest with my friend in RI, before lighting a fire, pouring the wine, and making a nice dinner of pistachio crusted cod on spinach and mushroom risotto.

And now it's off to watch "Marie Antoinette" - with Kirsten Dunst.

Shopping, hair, wine, books, food, and a chick flick - girly girl day. With a little international intrigue on the side.
posted by Broadsheet @ 7:30 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Friday, March 09, 2007
This is For you Dad.......

Well, actually spine Xrays cost a lot more than $350. Hope you're feeling better soon!!
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:43 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Most walkable city in the US?
Madison, WI

Well, gee, I could have told you that.

It's also the most liveable, most bikeable, the most friendly, and perhaps one of the most beautiful.

But then again, after spending my college years there, I'm probably a little biased.

To this day, I'm amazed at the twist of fate and circumstance that lead a kid from a small, parochial town in Western PA to pick a large, midwestern, liberal, state university, 700 miles from home. But I have to tell you, if someone asks me what was the best decision I ever made? Next to buying a house in Bolton Hill, it was to attend the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Hands down.

Don't worry Baltimore, I love you too, but Madison was my first love, and you always remember your first....
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:03 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Planet Earth
Set your Tivos, change your schedule, stop what you're doing, and plan on watching The Planet Earth.

Premiering Sunday, March 25th at 8:00 PM on the Discovery Channel, and for the next 11 Sunday nights, it's an epic mini series that deserves your valuable time. If you have kids, this is must watch TV. If you're an adult - it's eye candy. The photography will blow you away. It might actually be worth getting HDTV just for this series - it's that good.

This series has been five years in the making, AND Sigourney Weaver is the narrator.

You're welcome.
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:14 PM   4 Editorial Opinions
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
  1. Dad went home from the hospital today. Long recuperation ahead, but all is well.
  2. Work is hell with deadlines right now, and I am Powerpoint's bitch and Excel's whore in the meantime.
  3. Leftover homemade Indian food is da bomb! Lamb with Kashmiri spices (cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, coriander, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, tumeric......), and yogurt.
  4. I am having dinner with an old mentor / dear friend of mine on Thursday night. She gave me my first hospital admin. job over 16 years ago, moved to the west coast to get her Ph.D. at UCLA and never came back. She's got meetings at Hopkins this week, and it presents a long overdue opportunity to have dinner and get caught up with each other's lives.
  5. I started seriously investigating options for the trip to China in Sept. over the weekend and came up with a very general, very tentative itinerary which includes Beijing, X'ian, and Guilin, with a cruise up the Li River Valley. Lots of details to fill in, subject to change and compromise, and I'm waiting to hear from my UW Badger buddy John in Shen Jen to see if he can hook up with us while I'm over there.
  6. Heroes is the best new TV series - period. But I still miss Buffy.
  7. Whoever brought the bottle of Mark West Central Coast Pinot Noir to my party last weekend? THANK YOU. It has rocked my world two nights in a row.
  8. Back to American Idol and more Powerpoint slides for tomorrow's meeting.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:32 PM   4 Editorial Opinions
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Darwin’s God
Sorry - I seem to be blogging my way through the Sunday paper this morning, but there's another good article in the Sunday Magazine section of the NYT, regarding a debate within scientific circles of the true source of religion in human beings.

Neo-atheistic hard liners like Richard Dawkins, promote the idea that religion is a byproduct of a useless (he would argue dangerous) "evolutionary accident". I recently finished his latest book, "The God Delusion", and while he gets his points across, he often does so with an almost evangelical sneer of anger towards anyone who could possibly believe in anything other than hard science that I found a little too arrogant at times.

Anthropologist Scott Atran (a Baltimore native!), on the other hand, takes a truly Darwinian approach that I find compelling.
"...he tries to explain behavior by how it might once have solved problems of survival and reproduction for our early ancestors. But it was not clear to him what evolutionary problems might have been solved by religious belief. Religion seemed to use up physical and mental resources without an obvious benefit for survival. Why, he wondered, was religion so pervasive, when it was something that seemed so costly from an evolutionary point of view?"

So, similar to what happened in evolutionary science with the origin of species, is an interesting split within scientific and anthropologic circles as to the true origins of religion and religious beliefs. What had once been quite separate fields - the oil and water of belief systems - science versus religion, now has religion itself integrated as a scientific field of study. God is now the subject of legitimate, serious, scientific inquiry.
These scholars tend to agree on one point: that religious belief is an outgrowth of brain architecture that evolved during early human history. What they disagree about is why a tendency to believe evolved, whether it was because belief itself was adaptive or because it was just an evolutionary byproduct, a mere consequence of some other adaptation in the evolution of the human brain.

Which is the better biological explanation for a belief in God — evolutionary adaptation or neurological accident? Is there something about the cognitive functioning of humans that makes us receptive to belief in a supernatural deity? And if scientists are able to explain God, what then? Is explaining religion the same thing as explaining it away? Are the nonbelievers right, and is religion at its core an empty undertaking, a misdirection, a vestigial artifact of a primitive mind? Or are the believers right, and does the fact that we have the mental capacities for discerning God suggest that it was God who put them there?

In short, are we hard-wired to believe in God? And if we are, how and why did that happen?

Since a belief in the supernatural, prayer, deities, and an afterlife are pervasive in virtually all cultures since the dawn of man, it's certainly a scientific question worth answering - don't you think? Regardless of your own belief system, unraveling the mysteries of religion shouldn't be seen as a threat, but as an opportunity for answers. Yet, no matter how much science can explain, the tragedy of human evolution may be that we are hard wired to value spiritualism more than rationalism.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:59 AM   3 Editorial Opinions
Five Indian Restaurants in London
This morning's Travel section in the NYT, highlights Five of the bestIndian Restaurants in London. Included in the list is Zaika, a magnificent place in Kensington, where I had the tasting menu described in the article for Thanksgiving dinner in 2005. It was memorable to say the least.

The descriptions of all the incredible food will get your mouth watering - especially on a cold Sunday morning in Baltimore. I bought a gorgeous cookbook of Indian cuisine at Williams Sonoma just before I left for CA, and haven't had a chance to make anything out of it. After three days of Mexican party leftovers from the freezer, I think I'll leave the rest of them in there for a while, and create a nice meal out of the Indian cookbook instead.

Stay tuned.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:26 AM   3 Editorial Opinions
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Don't spit into the wind....
Don't pull the mask off the 'ol Lone Ranger, and don't mess around with the KGB.

An expert, and previous director of security for the Senate Intelligience Committee, on the recent Russian poisoning scandal speaks out on "Dateline", and then gets gunned down outside his suburban MD home, and the local police think it's random?

After another 54 yr. old journalist speaks out on the same program and drops dead of a heart attack at home a few nights later?

Oh. Can't fool you guys - can we?

I bet the media buries this story so far under Anna Nicole Smith, we'll never know.
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:12 AM   2 Editorial Opinions
Thursday, March 01, 2007
...into the Fire
Well, I returned rejuvinated, relaxed, exfoliated, defoliated, soft, shiny, and smelling good.

Yeah - that lasted less than 1/2 hour this morning with two employee meltdowns, having to fire someone (don't ask, but I managed to get her to resign in lieu of firing her), and a budget presentation to my VP that was met with about the same warmth that Simon Cowell gives to the American Idol contestants. Ouch. All before lunch.

I have until Monday to get the budget right and resubmit it. Needless to say, blogging will be lite in the meantime, and there goes the weekend.

All of this was compounded by the fact that my Dad had major surgery (planned) today and I was a little preoccupied. Thankfully, he came out of it just fine, and although he's got a long recovery ahead of him, he'll be a lot stronger in the long run.

Ironically, I discovered only yesterday that I have him to thank for the gorgeous spa at Nemacolin's resort. By far the most gorgeous, and lushest I have ever been in. Turns out his firm was responsible for the architecture and interiors. I should have known better, because the entire time I was there, all I could think was how much he would have appreciated the strong Japanese influence and all the amenities and attention to detail.

At least I still smell good...
posted by Broadsheet @ 4:44 PM   3 Editorial Opinions

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