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Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. - Cyril Connolly
Monday, April 30, 2007
Doctor, doctor, I need a cure
I have an incurable brain disorder
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:50 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Seared Diver Scallops with Saffron Risotto and Mango Cilantro Foam


Sometimes great dishes come from good inspiration. In this case, I was inspired by the dish I had at 'b' last night with zenchick before we attended the Harry Connick Jr. concert at the Meyerhoff. My dish was pan seared scallops with a saffron beurre blanc sauce and some Isreali Couscous with mango and red pepper. It was del-ish. And decadent. In order to make a decent beurre blanc sauce, you need about 4 sticks of butter, and it breaks down and separates easily like hollandaise sauce if you don't serve it immediately. So, as yummy as it is, it's not something you can readily make for one person, and the fat makes it a 'treat' dish - not a weeknight dinner.

*Side note: Beurre Blanc is a variant of one the Mother Sauces, and you should really learn to make them. They are a routine arsenal in fine cooking. A base upon which many things can be layered and adapted.

I had a bag of Diver Scallops in the freezer that I got at Wegmans a few weeks ago. I had saffron, cilantro, arborio rice, and figured I could get the creaminess and saffron flavor from the risotto, and the mango flavor from an emulsion. Anything can be creamy if you whip enough air into it. Red pepper is a natural with mango, and I used it for garnish and crunch.

There's plenty of risotto and mango foam left over for two more nights, and I only used half of the scallops, so I'll have scallops again tomorrow, and then perhaps a mahi-mahi filet or salmon to finish it up.

If you're also inpsired - here's how you do it.

Mango Cilantro Foam
1 ripe mango
1 tablespoon cilantro leaves
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp ginger paste
1 garlic clove
juice of 1 lime
1.5 tsp of Dijon mustard (just do it)
2 Tb of canola oil

Put all the ingredients except the oil into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the oil with blade running and create a foamy emulsion. This will keep, and is good on fish, or chicken. It's light and flavorful.

Saffron Risotto
This is a classic Risotto Milanese - any classic cookbook has this recipe. Use chicken stock, lots of saffron, finish with 2 Tb of butter to make it shiny and creamy, and take your time. Use a small timbale or custard cup to make the mound.

Scallops
Rinse 5 large scallops and pat dry with a paper. Season with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a pan until hot, but not smoking. Sear scallops for 2-3 minutes per side until well caramelized and opaque all the way through.

Assemble and Enjoy
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:03 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Imagini Visual Profile
My sister sent me this link to a visual DNA profiling project. It's really pretty damn accurate, and a lot of fun.

Here's my visual profile what's yours?
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:22 AM   2 Editorial Opinions
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Brilliant
So, a friend and I went out for a little culture in the middle of the week last evening. We attended the "unofficial" CD launch party for my neighbor (hopefully, soon to be next door neighbor!) and fellow blogger (that many of you know) at An Die Musik.

What a terrific evening! Three of the composers who collaborated on compositions for Brian and whose work he performed were present. Two of them performed with him. A mix of wildly different avant garde contemporary classical compositions, they ranged from a lyrical piano and sax piece based on the short story, Walamai, by Isabele Allende, to a Hip Hop Groove improv session of DJ turntable sounds and sax, to a true blend of what a "conversation" between electronic music generated from stuff in your attic and an instrument might sound like, called "Tourmaline". It was very progressive. I would have loved to have seen some of the sheet music to see how some of the musical contours and "notes" were represented.

Afterwards, everyone headed downstairs to congratulate him, have some wine, buy a CD, and visit with each other. It was just a really cool evening.

Keep an eye on his schedule. He's a busy guy, but if you get a chance to hear him play here in town or in NYC - make sure you check him out. You won't be dissapointed.
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:49 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Yesterday, all during "Administrative Professional Day", NPR was running spots sponsored by Mark Downs Furniture.

Mark Downs was reminding people of the "importance" of the day, and urged people to remember that a new office chair makes a wonderful gift "for the Administrative Professional in your life", and that they conveniently have about a gagillion of the things in stock and ready to go.

Excuse me, but getting your assistant a chair as a gift for Administrative Professional day is right up there with getting the wifey a new vacuum cleaner for her birthday.

Get them a new chair to keep YOUR ass out of a Disability / Worker's Comp case. Give them flowers or a restaurant gift certificate because you actually give a damn and appreciate what they do for you.
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:31 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Chinese Fire Drill
I hate Hallmark. Today is "Professional Assistants Day". Once misogynistically referred to as "Secretaries Day". Good thing I fired one yesterday. Would have been REALLY awkward if the flowers and money had arrived today and I proceeded to fire her at 4:00 PM.

The physicians ordered flowers for all their personal assistants - on my credit card. I should get that back in, oh - three months or so (cough, never, cough).

We also agreed to give them each a small monetary gift out of our Endowment Account, but in order to do so, I have to pay for it and then seek reimbursement from the account directly, since there is no such thing as "petty cash" or a corporate credit card. Since the total amount far exceeds my daily withdrawal limit on my debit card, I needed to go to the bank, and I wanted to get crisp bills anyway.

I had a 7:45 meeting with my boss, and figured afterward, I could slip over to the Credit Union at the Mt. Washington Conference Center, get the cash, and be back by 9:00 AM.

Here's what happened:

1. Arrived Mt. Washington Credit Union at 9:01. The branch opens at 10:00.

2. Proceeded to the Hopkins branch on campus. Arrived 9:25. They also open at 10:00.

3. Decided that the Mt. Washington branch was at least closer to the office, and I was in a tow away zone at Hopkins, so I headed back to Mt. Washington. Arrived 9:47.

4. At 10:00 exactly, a fire drill emptied the building into the street for 25 minutes. At this point, I am NOT a happy camper.

5. 10:25 - enter Credit Union and ask to cash a check. Was told that this branch "doesn't carry cash". WTF??!!! What kind of a Credit Union doesn't have money?? "We just process loan applications, account management and deposits." At this point, I'm ready to go postal, don't feel well, and am REALLY late for work. Call ahead to cancel my 11:00 meeting.

6. Return to Hopkins campus at 11:00, get cash, and FINALLY get to my office at 11:27.

7. Spend another hour and a half writing a personal note in 27 cards, and addressing envelopes.

My day can now finally get under way.......
posted by Broadsheet @ 1:35 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
More Misery
What started out as an otherwise annoying head cold, is quickly kicking my BUTT. Feel like crap, and I have one of those watery death rattle coughs. Home to soup and bed.

To add insult to injury. I had to fire someone today. Turns out she was skimming our cash box of patient co-payments. I spent the last two weeks running a Perry Mason investigation to make SURE I had solid evidence before I accused her of such a thing. When I reviewed it with her - she had no explanation. Didn't even try. Confiscated her badge, escorted her to the door, and notified Security. Done.

But it gets worse - because of all the budget cuts I had to make, I cannot fill the position and I have a clinic with over 60 patients in it tomorrow and will be short staffed for the next two months. Fun times.
posted by Broadsheet @ 4:57 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Spring Cleaning
1. Crime Scene cleaned up - check. And ick.
2. Storm debris picked up. Two BAGS of twigs and branches - check.
3. Yard mowed - check.
4. Leaf vac for clippings and leftover fall / spring debris - check.
5. Scrub out cat boxes with bleach and dry in sun - check.
6. Wash windows - check.
7. 4 Loads of laundry done and folded - check.
8. Fresh sheets on bed - check.
9. Garbage emptied and taken out - check.
10. Recycling packaged for pickup - check.
11. Dishwasher loaded, washed, unloaded, loaded - check.
12. Really, really annoyingly bad head cold and wicked sore throat - check.
13. Filet mignon marinated in Asian marinade, sauteed king oyster mushrooms, and Asian noodles with vegetables - in progress.
posted by Broadsheet @ 6:30 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Vatican decides not to believe in limbo any longer
How convenient!

While they're at it, perhps they can decide to "not believe" in celibacy for priests, a women's right to choose, homosexuality, and elevate the status of women within the church.

I "decided not to believe in" Catholicism a long time ago.
posted by Broadsheet @ 12:06 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Bombings Leave Moroccans Both Worried and Confused
My friend Robert was urgently recalled back to the Algerian Embassy from Baghdad regarding this situation.
The American Consulate in Casablanca has closed amid tightened security at other consulates, hotels and police stations. Security forces patrol the highways, searching cars and slowing traffic.

Skeptics say that the government has an interest in minimizing any local connections with Al Qaeda to avoid scaring away foreign investment and tourism.

Even if the Moroccan bombings were not related to Al Qaeda or the attacks in Algeria, they nonetheless stand out.
Needless to say, I think my travel plans to North Africa are on hold at the moment.....
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:56 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
U.S. Erects Baghdad Wall to Keep Sects Apart
Did we learn nothing from Berlin?

This seems like an act of quiet desperation, acknowledgelement of Civil War, and a resignation of futility.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:58 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Thursday, April 19, 2007
CSI
When I got home from work this evening around 9:00 (I know - I hit 40 hours sometime Wednesday evening. I am SO going to Happy Hour tomorrow, it's been one of the hardest weeks of my career, stress wise. Thanks Zenchick).

Anyway, I opened my back gate and was immediately drawn to the center of my backyard, where all the signs pointed to a fierce and mighty struggle. It looked like a CSI crime scene. There were huge amounts of feathers laying in a depression in the center of the yard about 2 feet in circumference. Down feathers, pin feathers, and entire wing feathers. At the epicenter, were some feet, a few bones, a beak / skull, and that was pretty much the end of an unfortunate pigeon.

The perp was most likely a Peregrine Falcon. Peregrine Falcons are fastidious eaters. They do not like feathers. They pluck their prey completely clean before they eat it. This same scene happened in my yard about 4 years ago, during the big blizzard of 2003. In the height of the storm, a large Peregrine Falcon sat on my garden wall, ripping the feathers out of another pigeon. It was really ghastly, since all the feathers were landing on the white, snowy landscape, and there was a spray of crimson over the snow. I have photos of that - but it was before I got a digital camera, so no online pics.

Baltimore has a number of nesting Peregrine Falcons downtown. There's even a children's book about them.

The other damage was inside my house. Since this crime was committed in broad daylight, my cats were looking out the big picture window into the yard, and the sight of this frenzied feathered activity apparently drove them crazy. They trashed a screen in the window trying in vain to get at the bird massacre happening a few feet away.

So, it looks like Saturday is going to be a yard cleanup day, with a trip to the hardware store to build new screens.....
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:00 PM   4 Editorial Opinions
License Plate Scrabble
Seen in the physician's parking lot on the way in to work this morning:


N2B8U

First one who gets it right receives a $10 Amazon.com gift certificate.
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:16 AM   4 Editorial Opinions
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Icing on the Cake
Just when I thought Monday, and subsequently yesterday, couldn't possibly get any more stressful, I got home from work around 11:00 last night to find my annual Jury Duty summons in the mail. (1) I am number 240, so you know I have to go, and (2), it's scheduled for the day after Memorial Day. The same day I have to present the results of a Strategic Plan that has been 5 month in the making to our Board of Directors and Exec. Leadership at a dinner meeting.

I'll be asking for another jury date.....
posted by Broadsheet @ 5:13 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Perspective
I'm probably gonna get hate mail for this, and I don't want to be insensitive, but hear me out.

We suffered an horrific, tragic, awful, unspeakable loss as a nation yesterday with the VTech Massacre. Grief is overwhelming, loss is huge, every person affected has a story, and all of the dead or injured were unique, talented, gifted people.

This tragedy was carried out by a lonely, angry, unstable person. It was totally random.

The contrast and reality are, that tragedies of this proportion, with many, many more innocent people involved, are indescrimantely murdered daily, in far greater numbers, by suicide terrorist bombers.

They are seeking the "Glory of God" as martyrs, but the carnage, loss, utter futility, senselessness, and randomness of their acts are no less horrific, heartbreaking, or tragic to the people affected. Their motives are "preordained", calculated, and aimed, at producing the most carnage possible, but so was the VTech killer.

My point is, if this event hurts, and it DOES, take a moment to think about this kind of thing happening three or four times a week, at much higher death rates, for many, many years, and you'll have a small idea of what many other areas of the world have to deal with on a daily basis.

This event shocked us to our core. For many other countries, it's just another day.

THAT'S the real tragedy.
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:45 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Monday, April 16, 2007
A Moment of Silence




HT: The Blogfather
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:27 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Bloodbath
We are in the final throes, death rattles really, of finalizing our FY08 budgets, and are struggling mightily to meet the enormous capital needs facing us over the next 3-5 years. I have slashed fat, embargoed vacant positions, and made other cuts to the point where I REALLY have to be good at what I do to live within my budget next year. Serious dieting.

And then at 4:00 this afternoon, I got the call that we were still short of our target as an institution, and now I need to make some very hard, painful, decisions about which staff to lay off. A bloodbath.

And just when I thought my day could not possibly get worse, I came home to a backyard full of debris from the storm, brand new lawn furniture scattered all over the place, a large branch hanging off my tree dangerously close to the roof, another that punched a hole in my deck, and worst, much worse by FAR, of everything that happened today, I came home to the horrors of the VA Tech massacre.

I immediately gained some much needed perspective on my issues.
posted by Broadsheet @ 7:54 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
The Monkey Shakespeare Simulator
Hey, ACW, have I got a statistical probability problem for you!

The question: can a hundred monkeys with a hundred computers eventually produce Shakespeare?

What is absoutely amazing about this, is that someone actually gave them money to do this.
Defending the expenditure, a lecturer said the filmed experiment made very stimulating and fascinating viewing and was cheaper to produce than reality TV, but there was no sign of Shakespeare.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:47 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Broadsheet's Fig, Onion, Prosciutto and Gorgonzola Focaccia
My buddy Bonanza Jellybean wanted to know how to make my favorite comfort food. I stumbled across this by accident, and I keep a package of Focaccia mix in the pantry in case the mood strikes. There are very few flavors that blend as well as the sweetness of figs, or other jammy fruit and a strong cheese. Bleu or gorgonzola are great choices.

Start out with a box of Buitoni Rosemary and Garlic Focaccia Mix. Everybody carries it.

Mix it up according to the package directions, but before you pop it in the oven, spread a very thin layer of fig jam on the dough, add a generous amount caramelized onions, some crumbled or torn strips of good prosciutto, and a generous helping of gorgonzola (it's creamier and melts better than bleu cheese - but I only had bleu cheese on hand last night - it's fine too).

Trader Joe's used to carry a yummy caramelized onion and fig spread, which is what I originally used in this recipe, but I haven't been able to find it lately. If you make a big batch of caramelized onions - they'll keep for a month or more.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:15 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Stormy Weather
LOTS done today!! In addition to the usual dry cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, etc., I got my passport photos taken and sent in my passport for renewal. $31 for photos, $67 for the renewal fee, and another $50 for the Chinese Visa once I get my passport back, and the cost of just getting a ticket into China is already running me $150.

Hmmmm - I thought I was done using the fireplace this season, but with the skies darkening, and the end of the world about to descend upon us, I just lit a fire of cedar logs.

I also made a homemade "pizza" of rosemary and garlic foccacia, caramelized onions, fig spread, prosciutto, and crumbled bleu cheese. That, a glass of red wine, and episodes of The Tudors (yummy, yummy, Jonathan Rhys Myers!) to watch on Tivo, and I am one happy camper.

Bring it on Weather Channel. Bring it on.
posted by Broadsheet @ 6:23 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Biting the hand that feeds you - literally
Did anyone else catch this photo?:



That's OK - you were finished with breakfast - right?

So, this crocodile rips off the arm of the vet that was trying to sedate him in a Taiwanese zoo. But, the story has a happy ending. They were able to sedate the croc, retrieve the poor man's arm - and REATTACHED it. Seriously. He's recovering in the hospital, and doctor's say he'll be fine.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:55 AM   2 Editorial Opinions
Prince William Calls It Off
Boy - I didn't see this one coming, did you?

Prince William has broken up with his long time girlfriend Kate Middleton.

With all the intense media pressure and frenzy, is it any wonder? This poor man has no hope of ever having a normal personal life, and I really pity him, and whoever he falls in love with. It's as if the curse of his mother's legacy won't leave him alone.

I feel sorry for him. And for Kate.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:42 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
More Violence in North Africa
This time, in Casablanca, in a market area featuring a US consulate and US cultural center, and officials are concerned about a large terrorist cell specifically targeting foreign owned ships and tourist resorts.

Suicide bombings are the hallmark of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. First, Algiers and now Morocco.

My plans to visit the region next spring might get postponed if this keeps up.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:34 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Friday, April 13, 2007
What the ???
I logged on to my Site Meter today and my hits were through the roof! We're talking Instalanche kinds of numbers.

When I looked to see where all these people were coming from, it appears that if you Google "Gay Tornado", a very minor blog post I put up back in 2005 , has an image that everyone seems to be looking for today. I don't have any idea what the context of the search for this term or image could possibly be, but welcome to everyone from all over the world. I got hits from more than 60 different countries today.
posted by Broadsheet @ 8:06 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
A New Low
It's tragic enough that an adult was seriously wounded, and three children were shot in the legs at lunchtime outside a school yesterday in East Baltimore.

Now police believe that one of the victims, a 10 year old, was the cousin of a witness in a murder investigation.

That's cold.

Shootings in Baltimore City stood at 161 as of March 31st. A 32% increase from last year. In the area where this shooting occurred? They are up 79%.
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:03 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
The Weather Channel's 100 Biggest Weather Moments
Or....yes, I am a total Geek, because I will defintely be watching this!

I'm sorry - but this sounds totally cool! Running this Sunday through Thursday at 8:00 PM ET on the Weather Channel (what - you were expecting HBO?), and hosted by none other than Harry Connick Jr., it features guests ranging from Itzhak Perlman (cold air, spruce woods, and the tonal quality of his Stradivarius), to Al Sharpton and Mary Hart (bad hair days).
The show loves small, deep trivia and tribal factoids. It makes a compelling meal from the variety meats of history's buffet.

The dork appeal is limitless.
LOVE. It.
posted by Broadsheet @ 12:13 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Al Qaeda in Algeria
I can't tell you how upsetting today's news out of Algeria was. As many of you know, my good friend Bob is the US Ambassador to Algeria, and although ironically, he was sent back to Iraq last week on a three week mission to "break in" and orient the new US Ambassador there, we were all vastly relieved and proud when he and his wife, A., finally left Baghdad to take up their posts in Algiers last fall.

All of their emails and letters since arriving in North Africa have been filled with the peace, beauty, openness, and happiness of the Algerian society and its people. They are in direct contrast to their first post there in the eighties when the violence was all too real and omnipresent.

A.'s missives from her post to re-establish the US Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, have been equally optimistic and happy, although she has also been "redeployed" to Karachi, Pakistan for now. They are both committed to strengthening US relations in Algeria and the entire North Africa region over the next three years, and until today, it looked as if it was going to be a rewarding and fulfilling adventure. A personal and career dream come true: a place and time where they could really have a personal impact on a country and its people, instead of trying to piece together a hopeless puzzle like Iraq, so thoroughly broken that Humpty Dumpty's army couldn't repair it - much less an occupying force - no matter their good intentions and obvious talents.

After today's attacks, the first real violence in years in an otherwise peaceful country, the snake of terrorism rears its ugly head again. I'm waiting to hear if Bob was urgently recalled from Iraq.

I am still hoping to visit Bob and A. in Algiers at the Embassy next year. Their reports of the peace and utter beauty of a country and its people in a part of the world that for so long has been off limits to most Americans is enticing to say the least. A's last email about the Roman ruins in Tripoli, a city lost to most Americans for decades, and therefor unknown to most, is just one of the proverbial carrots at the end of the stick for me.

I would love to see the region through their experienced eyes. Libya, Algeria and Morocco.

Even Morocco thwarted a reputed Al Qaeda suicide bombing today. After today, I worry that I may be part of yet one more generation that will miss the cultural and geographic beauty of Algeria and Libya, and sadly, one of the first to also miss Morocco.

UPDATE: Whew!!!I'm attaching this late breaking email and updating the time. They always sound non chalant - even when mortar fire is attacking their compound - but here's the latest from A.:

Broadsheet, Good morning from Karachi, where I’m well protected (our Consulate is so much better fortified since I was here in the late ‘90’s) and really enjoying this assignment as head of the administrative section and the only other senior officer here besides the Consul General. It’s the kind of role I’d envisioned when I took the job.

I copy below the routine message that went out from our embassy in to all American citizens after yesterday’s bombs. It’s a message that embassies around the world get out as soon as possible after any event which causes us to reassess our security posture. The bombs were approximately two and seven miles from the embassy. Some of the car alarms at the embassy did go off; I remember in the bad old days that we would feel the ground shake when there was a big car bomb downtown. Robert is still in Baghdad, and is not changing his travel plans. His second in command in Algiers is doing a great job.

Just wanted to let you know that we’re safe and to say hello.

WARDEN MESSAGE
11 April 2007 Embassy of the United States of America


American citizens in or traveling to Algeria are also urged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S.Embassy in Algiers. Americans can register in person at the Consular Section or online at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/
posted by Broadsheet @ 12:02 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Hybrid Smackdown
Background: My Dad is an architect and a pioneer in energy efficient design. He is one of the original fathers of solar engineering. My brother specializes in energy efficiency as it relates to heating and cooling technology for a living, proudly and ideologically drives a Prius, and is an avid cyclist.

So, when the following "editorial" appeared in our hometown rag, my brother wasted no time responding to it publicly.

Long Post - worth it. If you want to avoid the obvious smackdown details and skip directly to the the last paragraph at the end - it's a great stake in the heart.

Hidden cost of driving a Prius 4/4/07

Totaling all the energy expended, from design to junkyard, a Hummer may be a better bargain.
By James L. Martin

When it comes to protecting the environment, senior citizens should concentrate more on the total energy consumed in building and operating a car than its fuel efficiency - no matter how impressive the statistics appear on the window sticker at the showroom. A prime example is Toyota's Prius, a compact hybrid that's beloved by ardent environmentalists and that fetches premium prices because it gets nearly 50 miles-per gallon in combined highway/city driving.

Yet, new data have emerged that show the Prius may not be quite as eco-friendly as first assumed - if you pencil in the environmental negatives of producing it in the first place. Like most hybrids, the Prius relies on two engines - one, conventional 76-horsepower gasoline power plant, and a second, battery-powered, that kicks in 67 more horses. Most of the gas is consumed as the car goes from 0 to 30, according to alarmed Canadian environmentalists, who say Toyota's touting of the car's green appeal leaves out a few pertinent and disturbing facts.

The nickel for the battery, for instance, is mined in Sudbury, Ontario, and smelted at nearby Nickel Centre, just north of the province's massive Georgian Bay.

Toyota buys about 1,000 tons of nickel from the facility each year, ships the nickel to Wales for refining, then to China, where it's manufactured into nickel foam, and then onto Toyota's battery plant in Japan.

That alone creates a globe-trotting trail of carbon emissions that ought to seriously concern everyone involved in the fight against global warming. All told, the start-to finish journey travels more than 10,000 miles - mostly by container ship, but also by diesel locomotive.

But it's not just the clouds of greenhouse gases generated by all that smelting, refining, manufacturing and transporting that worries green activists. The 1,250-foot-tall smokestack that spews huge puffs of sulphur dioxide at the Sudbury mine and smelter operation has left a large swath of the surrounding area looking like a surrealistic scene from the depths of hell.

On the perimeter of the area, skeletons of trees and bushes stand like ghostly sentinels guarding a sprawling wasteland. Astronauts in training for NASA actually have practiced driving moon buggies on the suburban Sudbury tract because it's considered a duplicate of the Moon's landscape.

"The acid rain around Sudbury was so bad it destroyed all the plants, and the soil slid down off the hillside," David Martin, Greenpeace's energy coordinator in Canada, told the London Daily Mail.

"The solution they came up with was the Superstack. The idea was to dilute pollution, but all it did was spread the fallout across northern Ontario," Martin told the British newspaper, adding that Sudbury remains "a major environmental and health problem. The environmental cost of producing that car battery is pretty high."

A "Dust to Dust" study by CNW Marketing Research of Bandon, Ore., shows the overall eco-costs of automotive hybrids may be even higher.

Released last December, the study tabulated all data on the energy necessary to plan, build, sell, drive and dispose of a vehicle from drawing board to junkyard, including such items as plant-to-dealer fuel costs, distances driven, electricity usage per pound of material in each vehicle, and hundreds of other variables.

To put the data into understandable terms for consumers, CNW translated it into a "dollars per lifetime mile" figure, or the energy cost per mile driven. When looked at from that perspective, the Prius and other hybrids quickly morphed from fuel-sippers into energy-guzzlers.

The Prius registered an energy-cost average of $3.25 per mile driven over its expected life span of 100,000 miles. Ironically, a Hummer, the brooding giant that has become the bête noir of the green movement, did much better, with an energy-cost average of $1.95 over its expected life span of 300,000 miles. And its crash protection makes it far safer than the tiny Prius.

Such information should be of major concern to senior citizens - especially those on a fixed budget. If seniors need a small gas-sipping car for city travel, however, the undisputed champion is Toyota's own gasoline-powered subcompact, the Scion xB, whose energy cost averaged a negligible 48 cents for each mile traveled over its lifetime.

Fully armed with all the facts, seniors may want to zip down to their nearest Toyota dealer and trade in their Priuses for Scion xBs. That would be the equivalent of reducing their energy footprint from a size 24D to about a size 5A. In the case of global warming, one small step for man may turn out to be a giant leap for mankind.

James L. Martin (JMartin@60plus.org) is president of the 60 Plus Association, a national nonpartisan senior citizen organization based in Arlington, Va.



Prius' carbon 'print' small 4/11/07

After reading James Martin's column on the environmental impacts of the Toyota Prius in the April 4 edition of the "hometown rag", I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

In his column, Martin makes an absurd conclusion that a Hummer does less damage to the environment than a Prius in terms of life-cycle consumption of energy and materials.

How could the Hometown Rag print such blatantly misleading information?

The majority of Martin's argument focuses on the pollution created by a large nickel mining and smelting facility in Sudbury, Ontario. He then loosely ties the responsibility for the pollution to Toyota, and specifically the Ni-MH battery in the Prius.

He fails to mention that Toyota purchases fewer than 1 percent of the total annual nickel yield of the mine. He also fails to mention that the environmental damage near the mine occurred decades ago and has since been rehabilitated.

This should be evident to readers when he mentions the testing of NASA moon buggies on a denuded landscape.

We all use nickel in the form of coins, stainless steel, camera batteries, etc., so let's not start casting stones.

Production of a Prius does, in fact, produce more pollution than a conventional car of similar size, but when fuel economy is factored in, the difference is counteracted in the first 12,000 miles, and in a 62,000-mile comparison, the Prius reduces life-cycle carbon dioxide emissions by 35 percent.

This is public information that can be found on Toyota's Web site.

Martin then refers to a widely disputed report titled the "Dust to Dust" report, by CNW Marketing Research, which concludes that the life-cycle cost of driving a Prius is higher than that of a Hummer. It is assumed in the report that a Hummer will last three times as long as a Prius, despite the fact that Consumer Reports' reliability ratings rank the Prius as one of the most reliable cars and the H2 as one of the worst.

The CNW report also implies that the environmental impact of a 100-pound Ni-MH battery outweighs the environmental impact of producing the extra 5,700 lbs of materials that go into an H2.

Give me a break!

I have read the report. It is filled with "results" on almost every model of car made, but it does not discuss the analysis methods used to obtain the results. For what it lacks in technical content, it tries to compensate with letters, editorial articles, cartoons, poems, etc.

The report makes no reference to the National Life Cycle Inventory (LCI) Database Project, which was initiated six years ago by Ford, DaimlerChrysler and General Motors as a peer-reviewed resource for this kind of data. The report has not been acknowledged by any of the major automakers or the International Society of Automotive Engineers.

I know the Hometown Rag doesn't have the resources to check the sources and credentials of every columnist, but a little common sense and skepticism wouldn't hurt.

Printing a column that suggests senior citizens should avoid buying the most fuel-efficient car made is just downright irresponsible journalism.

Apparently the editorial in the April 4th edition of the Hometown Rag concerning hybrid cars was not only inaccurate, it was also plagiarized. The original article was written by Chris Demorro on 3/7/07 for the Central Connecticut State University student newspaper, The Recorder Online. Mr Demorro is a muscle car enthusiast that stated on numerous occasions that his opinion piece was whipped together in half an hour with no background research. You can find Demorro's editorial at http://clubs.ccsu.edu/recorder/editorial/print_item.asp?NewsID=188
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:28 PM   3 Editorial Opinions
Fore!!!
Happy Birthday to me.

And, as a B-day gift to me, love from me, I just signed up for a series of six introductory golf lessons at the UMD Golf Course in College Park. Every Friday night in May and the first part of June from 6:00 - 7:30 PM, I will be learning to take out my frustrations on a little white ball.

Look out Annika Sorenstam......
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:24 AM   8 Editorial Opinions
Mystery Rupees
I stopped to buy a couple of stamps this morning and decided to unload some loose change from the bowels of my purse. After digging out a handful of quarters, I slid them across the counter.

She glanced at one and slid it back - "That's NOT a quarter". I was tempted to argue with her because it was exactly the size, thickness, and color of a quarter, and thought perhaps it was one of the new State Quarters that she simply didn't recognize.

That was before I looked closely and saw the wheat stalks and the word "One Rupee", and "State of India", staring back at me. I'll bet you any money (rim shot), that I picked it up at the Asian market as errant change over the weekend. Too bad one rupee is worth a whopping $.023 cents - not $.25.
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:16 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
More Coolness from Google Earth
As of today, in cooperation with the US Holocaust Museum, Google Earth is now mapping world atrocities to bring more attention to them and provide a forum for education. They are starting with Darfur.

More than 1,600 damaged and destroyed villages will be visible, as will the remnants of more than 100,000 homes, schools, mosques and other structures destroyed by the Janjaweed militia and Sudanese forces.

The Holocaust museum also has compiled a collection of photos, data and eyewitness testimony from its archives and number of sources, including the U.S. State Department, nongovernmental organizations, the United Nations and individual photographers. That material also will be available when Google Earth users visit the Darfur site.

There are 200 million registered users of Google Earth. This has to be one of the most powerful, useful tools ever developed. Well done Google. Well done.
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:39 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
Finally
China urges Sudan to accept U.N. troops in Darfur

Well it's about damn time! China has long resisted putting pressure on the Sudanese goernment for the mess in Darfur because they are the Sudanese largest trading partner.
"Our position toward Darfur is clear. We have exercised all possible efforts, political, economic and others and advised our Sudanese brothers to accept Annan's plan," Zhai said after meeting with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
That may be the most hopeful statement I've read regarding Darfur lately.
posted by Broadsheet @ 1:50 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
What are the worst jobs for a Doctor?
Over at Freakonomics, they posit about what the worst jobs would be for a physician from a recent article in the BMJ.
“[T]hese are jobs that seriously compromise ethical and moral standards, are difficult to justify to your children, and are likely to be a source of regret on your deathbed.”
Interesting list - but they forgot a couple.

#6. Being Anna Nicole Smith's psychiatrist.

#7 Being Michael Jackson's plastic surgeon.
posted by Broadsheet @ 1:36 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Baltimore is a "drug gold mine"

Nice. Pennsylvania Avenue is only 4 blocks away, but it might as well be the other side of the world. My Post Office (which I only go to in broad daylight when I have no other choice to get a package) is there.

"Pennsylvania Avenue is a freaking gold mine," he said to police, according to court papers. He boasted that he made $180,000 selling drugs there one night.

"This is the heroin capital of America, ain't no more dope sold nowhere than right there on Pennsylvania Avenue. It's the largest open air drug market in the world for heroin," he said.

So said a 35 year old out of town hit man for the California gang the "Bloods", currently locked up for suspected murder. He denies that he bound, tortured, burned and suffocated a 19 yr. old gang member, in a West Baltimore house a year ago this month.

UPDATE: He was found guilty of second degree murder today.
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:29 AM   1 Editorial Opinions
Monday, April 09, 2007
Leftovers
After I put out the garbage and recycling this morning, fed the cat monsters, and located my cell phone, I called upstairs to my still slumbering sibling as I was leaving for work and reminded her to check the house thoroughly for all of her belongings before she left.

She has a tendency to spread her stuff throughout my house like fog spilling into a valley when she visits. It's quite amazing really. Shoes, coats, clothing, books, food, etc., all spread generously like a layer of peanut butter on toast - every nook and cranny gets filled in 24 hours or less.

I just called her to find our where she was on her trip back home, and she's got about 2 hours yet to go. I ran through a quick list of about 5 things I reminded her to take with her, and she forgot 3 of them. I can't wait to get home and find what else she neglected to take with her.

Thanks to her forgetfullness, I can add sautee'd oyster mushrooms to the steak dinner I was planning this evening with rosemary roasted potatoes and rapini. Sadly, she remembered to take the tenderloin with her.
posted by Broadsheet @ 3:43 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
H Mart
Easter weekend was pretty much non stop indulgence. From dinner at the Spice Company on Friday night, to a lovely Easter dinner of roast lamb with the neighbors - including those who had returned just hours earlier from almost a month in Ethiopia - it was wine, food, and more food.

The Spice Company was very good. A little too stuffy (when you occupy the old space occupied by the Polo Club at the Collonade - what can you expect?), a little too expensive, but the food was very good, and our waiter, Nabil, entertained us with stories about making couscous in Morrocco.

National Sleep in Late Day was a roaring success. We left the house at 1:15 PM to introduce my sister to the vast Asian wonders at H mart on Rolling Road. The day before Easter, it was a madhouse of people collecting vast amounts of greens and vegetables for their dinner. It's always like walking into a busy market in Southeast Asia there. We heard no less than 4 different languages over the loudspeaker at any given time, and the buzz of various languages and dialects just walking around was indecipherable. Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai.....you name it, we heard it. The live turtles and frogs usually available were not on display because the seafood area was being remodeled, but the tubs of fresh fish, butchered chickens with the head and feet still attached, and big planks of dried squid, octopus and bream, more than made up for it. Hint - if you want to save BIG on fresh veggies, meat, and fish (really FRESH fish) - this is the place to go. We got an entire beef tenderloin for $35. The same thing costs >$90 in any "western" grocery store.

After stocking up on nam pla, kejip manis, lemon grass, thai chilis, green tea, mung beans, spices, and even some frozen pheasant, we headed next door to Be-Se-To for a plate of bulgoki (marinated, grilled beef) and Saengseon-gui (spicy grilled mackerel) with Doenjang-jjigae (spicy bean paste stew). It may be served on a plastic tray, and you eat at formica tables on plastic chairs - but it is some of the best food you can get - for less than $18 for two people. Put the Spice Company to shame in that respect.

From there, a trip north to Hunt Valley for shoe shopping and a quick pass through Wegman's for essentials. We were too full from our Korean lunch to even contemplate dinner, so we hit the antipasto bar for cheese, olives, and pate' for grazing later.

Sunday was culture day. A trip to the BMA for the Pissarro exhibit (a must see), and don't miss the tiny, but absoutely exquisite exhibit of Japanese textiles tucked away in the corner on the second floor. Unbelievably beautiful stuff.

A late brunch at Gertrude's with killer Bloody Mary's followed by a nap and a late dinner of roasted lamb and vegetables with the neighbors.

That's the way to spend a weekend.
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:14 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Friday, April 06, 2007
National Sleep in Late Day
Tomorrow morning. Everyone participate.

It's Saturday, it's a Holiday weekend (for some / most), it's supposed to SNOW for heaven's sake.

Snuggle in, hunker down and sleep in. Have endless cups of coffee, read the paper, read a book, go work out if that's what relaxes you. If you get dressed before noon - you lose.
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:22 PM   7 Editorial Opinions
Yeah - what he said
Geek Speak for the real explanation to my recent router woes. Now you know why I called in an expert. I didn't "forget" to reset the router authentication (but thanks for the pass JJT), I have no effing clue what router authentication is.

And yes - you are much hipper and far more charming than Nick Burns. At least you didn't say "was THAT so hard??"
posted by Broadsheet @ 2:14 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Amazing Grace
I just got an email a few moments ago that I have been dreading. A very close, lifelong friend of my family succumbed to a futile struggle with an aggressive brain tumor that was diagnosed at Thanksgiving. Less than five, short months later, and she's gone.

This woman, her husband, and her family, have been part of my family since forever. She, her husband, and my parents, are all the same age and have been close friends since high school, and they are my brother's Godparents. Growing up, we spent countless times together as families, and I even wear the souvenir of a very bad scar on my arm to this day from an ill fated fall and a badly broken arm from a hay mound in their apple orchard as a kid.

As we got older, we all drifted apart, but they were still "family". Christmas cards, and family get togethers over the years, we all watched each other grow up. As adults, we saw them less frequently, but my parents still saw them routinely.

It wasn't until this illness hit, that I (or anyone) could have appreciated the grace, strength, and eloquence that her husband and their children were able to exhibit in this trying period. We all hope that faced with a terminal illness, with little time to spend, that we would all have the grace, strength, compassion and sheer love that they have exhibited - but reading his emails - he just raises that bar by about a million.

If ever there were an example of true love - this is it - and we should all hope to experience this kind of love in our life. They were married for more than 45 years.

This is an excerpt of the email I received at the end of January - just 8 weeks ago, and only 8 weeks after her tumor was first diagnosed and she had surgery:
The brain is the essence of who we are. It controls our thoughts, emotions, communications, movements, and organ functions. A cancerous brain tumor is a horrible affliction on a person. It is terminal with no cure available at this time. People live for "their allotted period of time given from God". The doctors looking for directions toward a cure offer many experimental trials, today they all lead to an end of life after a period of time.
This was the last email I received from him - just one week ago to the day.
Thank you for your kind words and thoughts on the situation. We all know that the time will come when we have to face death, for ourselves or our loved ones. I personally had hoped that it would be much later in life, as very old people. However, I wonder if it would be any easier than today.

At least today I have the energy and strength to care for Nancy. I can lift her, wash her body, brush her teeth, comb her hair, and making sure her vital needs are met. If I was older would this be possible?

At this time in our life I'm given the opportunity to show her all my love and devotion by touching her in a caring way. I can make her comfortable. Proving that the words we spoke at our marriage feast will be met in their entirety.
The last time my parents visited - last Thursday - they weren't sure she recognized them, and she could no longer speak sentences, but she kept repeating the words to "Amazing Grace".

I can't imagine a more fitting memory.
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:32 PM   4 Editorial Opinions
Actually, my router rules
No really, it doesn't, but someone has sure made it look that way, and as a result, I am now blogging this post from the comfort of my living room recliner, on my now truly SECURE wireless network, while watching Lost.

Thanks to the never ending, bottomless generosity, and all out friendliness of the Baltimore blogging society, none other than Baltimoremick took time out of his personal schedule and stopped by this evening with laptop and rapid fire commentary in tow, to help this digital damsel in distress. I warned him that I would be praising and embarrassing him thusly for his very good and selfless deeds.

Seriously - in an hour and a half (most of which was consumed by chatter between us), he fixed my router problems (something to do with Verizon's account names and other settings interfering with the router), cleaned up my desktop and toolbar, and generally made my computer life simpler. The fix was not nearly as straightforward as I would have imagined, and I cannot blame the tech on the phone who tried in vain to help me last night. It really required someone with programming chops to log in locally and test everything.

I'll be the first to admit I can competently handle the bare basics of desktop administration. I can clean things up, compress files, clear cache, defrag disk space, reconfig IP settings, set up ISP protocols, ...the basics. But it takes a real network analyst to dig in and reprogram settings at a command level that the general public (or a help line analyst in India) can't find.

So - THANK YOU JJT!!! We spoke about many career and job related issues, and if there is ANYTHING I can do to assist in that regard - you know who to call as a reference /lead. I owe you.

I love you guys.
posted by Broadsheet @ 10:21 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
So Easy a Cave Man Could Do It
Smuggling geckos in your socks.

Weird, but it seems to be a trend lately. There was the woman caught recently smuggling parrots under her coat.

Although I think the winner in this contest has to be the man who strapped live aligators under his coat. I've heard of an alligator belt - but that's a bit ridiculous.

Apparently however, strapping live alligators to yourself is not as uncommon as you might think. Guards noted that the woman looked "strangely fat".

UPDATE: And then there's THIS idiot caught smuggling 175 chameleons in Thailand. Money quote: "The man who sold them said they changed colour to make themselves invisible against any background, but it did not work."
posted by Broadsheet @ 4:15 PM   3 Editorial Opinions
mmmmm Calamari anyone?
Giant squid have been showing up in hordes off the Northern Coast of California for the last three years now. No one knows why exactly. Suspects include global warming, increased competition for food, declining food resources, take your pick, but fishermen are facing their own competition for fish with the ferocious hunters.

Take the article with a grain of salt (or tartar sauce - your choice) however. It's a bit overly dramatic and full of Jules Verne worthy hyperbole. I don't think anyone is in any danger of being eaten by one of these beasties anytime soon.
posted by Broadsheet @ 9:35 AM   0 Editorial Opinions
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
You have a lousy router
UGGGHGH - I could have told you that!

I just spent THREE hours on the phone with "Josh" the tech support guy from Linksys. I'm sure his real name was undoubtedly Jayadeep, and although he was VERY patient and kind - he was basically useless.

I'm beat. The thing is now completely and utterly farked and I'm frustrated beyond words. I'll explain tomorrow.

UPDATE: So I bought a Linksys router for $40 at Best Buy back in October. Brought it home, plugged it in, and voila! Worked just fine. I could get my non job work done (neighborhood stuff, League of Women Voters, personal finances and investments) in the evening on my laptop, blog, and still watch some Tivoed TV or a movie. That is, I could do it on an unsecured wireless connection, which I put up with until a few weekends ago. As soon as I tried to secure the network - BAM - my laptop would say it was connected, but I couldn't get to the Internet.

I tried EVERYTHING they recommended. Resetting the IP addresses, resetting the encryption from 11 bits to 6, downloading and updating the firmware, disabling the firewall, etc... I exhausted every on line help resource. So last night I finally called them. The first guy tried to take me through everything I had already tried and then said, "well, I guess you've tried everything I can handle", and transferred me up the technical food chain.

After three hours of more programming, rebooting, rerouting, and general frustration - even he gave up. When I tried to UNsecure the network back to all the defaults so I could continue using it - it's now completely useless. Both computers recognize and connect to the router, I just can't get to the Internet from that point.

Anyone else have any idea what I should try? I'm not wasting any more time on this - I'm getting a new one this weekend.
posted by Broadsheet @ 11:15 PM   2 Editorial Opinions
Monday, April 02, 2007
Told Ya
The number one search term that brought people to this site today?

Clive James Cultural Amnesia. But that's not important. It's been number one with a bullet for a week. Nope - it's all about second place. Because, in second place, we have......

Llama dung mites!!

Rounding out the top 10:

Flying Cholitas (an oldie but goodie)
JibJab Hollywood Squares
Recipe Conimex Bami Goreng (I'm not the only one addicted to its charms)
Panko Crusted Scallops (ditto)
Letter Dear Fallas in Valencia (??)
Earthquake in Taiwan CNN
2007 Baltimore Homicides

And last, but not least

Buy Hostess Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pies

Weirdos - every last one of ya.
posted by Broadsheet @ 4:29 PM   0 Editorial Opinions
You were warned....
Yes, you, back in early March I told you all about the upcoming mini series on the Discovery Channel that is Planet Earth.

Why don't you people listen to me?

If you had - you'd know that this is one of the most original, exciting, jaw dropping, neck tingling, awe inspiring pieces of naturalist film making - EVER.

During last night's episodes, we kept saying to ourselves "I can't believe we don't have to pay to see this!"

But all is not lost. The Discovery Channel knows it has a HUGE hit on its hands, and is replaying the first five episodes around the clock, so check your local listings and get caught up.

You will NOT regret it. And yes, it is so good that you should seriously get cable JUST for this show.
posted by Broadsheet @ 12:58 PM   7 Editorial Opinions
Sunday, April 01, 2007
April Showers
Greetings from Western Pennsyltucky. I snuck home for the weekend thanks to the new $39 flights Southwest Air began offering to Pittsburgh out of BWI a couple of weeks ago.

Essentially, it was break even from a cost / benefit perspective. It takes me 5 hours to drive the 275 miles home without bad weather or bad traffic, and takes about 2 tanks of gas RT for about $80 at this week's prices. The flying home trip took 4 hours door to door since my folks live about an hour and 20 minutes north of the airport, and the extra $18 of the $98 RT ticket was the price for the hour it saved me. Left the office at 3:15 PM on Friday, but the downside is that my flight home tomorrow morning is at 7:15 AM, which means leaving here by 5:00 AM. UGGHGH.

I had hoped to surprise my parents - but my brother has a big mouth, and my Mother can't act her way out of a paper bag. Her feigned "surprise" was a little weak.

Still, it was nice to get home and check on Dad post surgery and hang out with the family over a few good meals, some shopping, and some movies.

I may feel differently when the alarm goes off at 4:00 AM tomorrow morning.....
posted by Broadsheet @ 1:02 PM   1 Editorial Opinions
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