stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Phase one of this year's Thanksgiving banquet is underway: a big batch of Brunswick stew. A few modifications proved necessary. I forgot to get any celery; more importantly, the recipe called for two pounds of de-boned BBQ chicken. The closest I could come was a two-pound rotisserie chicken, not de-boned (and hence less than two pounds of meat). I wound up pulling the flesh off the bones with my fingers and setting aside the bones, which still had a little meat on them. I wound up sticking the plate of bones in the microwave for a minute (the chicken was already cooked) and gnawing the meat off. The now-pristine bones went into the garbage pail, to Buster and Gracie's disappointment. (Yes, I know better than to give chicken bones to dogs.)

I'll start making the pecan pie in about six hours. That way it will be done and cooling before the stew is ready. Salad-in-a-bag (with toppings-in-a-bag and dressing-in-a-bottle) will be the third part.

Should be good.


Nov. 21st, 2015 10:39 am
stoutfellow: (Winter)
Today is (effectively) the first day of Thanksgiving break. (Technically, it doesn't begin until Monday.) Saturday is normally my big grocery day, when I buy the fixings for the next week's meals; but not today. There's a strong and cold west wind blowing, and the rain is steady if not very hard. NWS says it'll be that way until late afternoon, when it will start snowing. No accumulation is predicted, and tomorrow is supposed to be - not clear, but un-precip'd.

It's a day for lounging around the house, wearing long johns and fuzzy slippers. Gracie was just demanding to be let outside, but she spent less than a minute before shaking vigorously and asking for readmission.

I'm thinking I'll make Brunswick stew for Thanksgiving week this year. I haven't settled on the side dishes yet; a nice salad, I suppose, and maybe a store-bought cheesecake. Or maybe I'll try my hand at another kind of pie - I'm not in the mood for apple pie, but maybe pumpkin, or even pecan....

Unlabor Day

Sep. 7th, 2015 02:07 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I was going to do quite a number of things this weekend, but little seems to have come of it. In particular, I was going to continue the write-up of my vacation, but haven't had the oomph to gather all my notes and write. In lieu of that, a bit more about the micro-reunion.

1) At one point, some one asked a question requiring thought. I cupped my chin in my right hand to consider my reply; some one laughed and said, "You've been making that gesture since high school"....

2) Towards the end, the topic of high school dates came up - who dated whom, and how many. Some numbers and facts emerged that, to me, were somewhere between startling and sheerly discombobulating. (No, I'm not going to give details here....)

3) JP, who hosted the get-together, is a musician; as we were breaking up, he pulled out a box and handed each of us a couple of his group's CDs. He's the same vigorous extrovert I remember him as being....

4) NM, who in my memory was one of the least athletic of our (not exactly jockish) circle, turns out to have become a competitive ice-skater - when he moved back to SD from the east coast a few years ago, he made a point of making sure there were rinks he could easily access.

There were many other notable bits; I wish I'd written down notes immediately after the event. Too many memories from Spokane intervened, sadly. Still, I do remember it as being a blast.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Saturday the 15th began inauspiciously, as I discovered that my brother had sworn off milk, and so I couldn't have cereal for breakfast. (Not really complaining; it just required a change of routine.) We wound up breakfasting at IHOP. Later in the day, we - Dad's five children, plus O's husband - gathered for dinner at a restaurant called JB's. I had a ravioli bowl, which contained rather more food than I could comfortably eat - not that that stopped me from eating it! I recall pleasant but unmemorable conversation - not much else.

The 16th was the big day. I have to drop back and provide some background. In mid-July, I'd received an e-mail from a former classmate (DG, one of the two I got together with in summer '06) announcing that our high school's 40th reunion would be on August 8. Sadly, I'd already made my travel plans, to be in SD the following week. DG responded by organizing (with JP, the other '06er) a micro-reunion, with as many of our old crowd as they could locate. This was scheduled for the afternoon of the 16th, at JP's house. There were nine or so of us, plus spouses and one child; most of them I had not seen in forty years, and my memories of two of them required a certain amount of jogging. It was a blast, seeing them all and finding out what everybody had done with their lives. (In some cases, this was a somewhat humbling experience....) A lot of reminiscence, a lot of catching-up, and a good bit of other conversation. (They put up with a certain amount of pontification on my part, on my favorite topics - math, history, language. I'm sorry, it's What I Do....) We'll be trying to keep in better touch in future. (If any old Crawfordites are reading these words: Hi! Feel free to leave comments!)

On the 17th, D and I got together again with E and her husband, dining at Soup Plantation. Again, it was nice to see them, but I really don't remember what we talked about. E recommended a few movies she'd seen lately, and I promised to keep an eye out. (I rarely see movies in the theater; I generally wait for them to come around on satellite.)

Not much more to say about my San Diego visit; the next day I left for Spokane. More on that later.


Jan. 9th, 2015 02:15 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
There really isn't a whole lot to say about my California trip. There was the big family get-together on the 20th - a feast, the lighting of the Advent wreath, and the drawing of gift cards (I got one for Olive Garden). There were several smaller gatherings: Christmas Eve with E and her husband, an early birthday dinner at C's, a less-early birthday dinner with E and her husband at Islands, and an actual on-the-day birthday meal at IHOP with my brother. D and I went to several movies - "Interstellar" (decently entertaining, and not too much technobabble); "Into the Woods" (modestly interesting until the sharp left turn at the beginning of Act II, which moved it from "interesting" to "powerful"); and "Night at the Museum 3" (amusing, and melancholy in the closing scenes, as "Teddy Roosevelt" - Robin Williams - said goodbye to the museum guard). I did make one trip to B&N, but didn't buy much - two cookbooks (another slow cooker book, and The Ultimate Soup Bible), a book on Spartacus's rebellion, another Patricia Briggs novel, and an anthology of urban fantasy shorts, by, among others, Butcher, Briggs, Beagle, and Crowley.

I raced through a series of books on Kindle, bringing my total for the year to 80, my lowest total in several years. Notable among these last few were Roald Amundsen's account of his expedition to the South Pole (surprisingly entertaining), a set of papers by Alfred Russell Wallace on natural selection, some classics I'd never read (Peter Pan, Treasure Island, The Island of Dr. Moreau), Elizabeth Gaskell's charming Cranford, and Walter Jon Williams' The Praxis - I'll definitely continue reading that series. I also finished the Palliser novels and reread The Stars My Destination.

My research on polygons progressed a little, more in the way of noticing new avenues of exploration than in new results. I do know quite a bit more about hexagons than I did when I left for break.

Oh, and I found out that the ear trouble I've been having wasn't an infection after all; a good professional-level lavage in both ears was all that was necessary. (TMI?) At any rate, I have full hearing in both ears again - a great relief.

And Monday it's back to work....
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Well, finals are over; I posted grades for my classes yesterday morning, and I'll be leaving for California on Friday. It'll be a shorter trip than usual this year, only a little over two weeks, but we'll fit everything needful in.

I think I'm only going to take a couple of physical books with me this time. Both of them are time-eaters. One is volume two of a study of the late Roman Empire; I finished the first volume a week or two ago. This one has the material on trade that I was most interested in. The other is a math text, on "homotopy type theory"; it's not very long, but I know that it's going to take study to understand. Of course, I'll have my Kindle, and I'll probably buy a few books at B&N while I'm there.

Next semester will be a bit of a change for me. I'll be teaching my history of math course, as usual, but my differential geometry course didn't attract enough students and had to be cancelled. My other two courses will be Introduction to Analysis (which I taught last summer, but this time I'll have the full fifteen weeks instead of trying to cram it into eight) and Quantitative Reasoning, a freshman-level course, mainly for people who won't be going into STEM fields; I've never taught it before, and I'm a little uneasy about it. Both courses will require a good deal of prep work, which is one reason I'm coming back a week before classes start.

:yawn: I definitely need this break.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I went to Shop'n'Save today to buy the fixings for next week's feasting. (It's expected to be rainy this weekend, so I acted early.) The slow-cooker book has a recipe for "Mexican Chicken Chili". (The quotes are there to emphasize that I do not commit to the accuracy of the words. But it looks tasty.) I found a recipe for cheesy cornbread in the Moosewood Cookbook, and I've got the makings of a good green salad as well. I haven't decided what to do about dessert. I was considering trying my hand at cheesecake - there are several recipes in Joy of Cooking - but it seems rather finicky, so I'll probably just buy something. I'm not in the mood to make apple pie.

I've got one more lecture to give before the break. After the break, one more week - review in the calculus class, some miscellaneous stuff in geometry - and then finals. After that, I'll be on my way to California. (That's assuming I can find someone to dogsit while I'm away, but that shouldn't be a problem.)

stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
This week's dinners came from a recipe titled "French Pork and Bean Casserole". What it was, was pork and beans. (Well, that, plus a little bacon, half a pound of kielbasa, tomatoes, onions, and for some reason carrots.) I just finished it off. The first helping was... let's say imperfectly integrated. The tastes fought against each other, instead of blending. But by Tuesday they'd come to terms, and the last several servings were delicious.

I'm beginning to think about this year's Thanksgiving dinners. I'm leaning towards chili. I've never made chili before.

What goes with chili? Cornbread, of course. (I've never made cornbread either.) What else?

The Fourth

Jul. 4th, 2014 10:13 am
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Today is US Independence Day.

As is my patriotic duty, I went online this morning and scheduled my Madison County property tax payments for this year.

This afternoon, as per my annual custom, I will watch my DVD of 1776. Inaccurate and anachronistic though it is, it's still entertaining.

Happy Fourth to my USAn friends!


May. 9th, 2014 11:56 am
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
It's been more than twenty years, but I still cringe as Mother's Day approaches, knowing how many e-mail messages referencing that day - one I can no longer celebrate - I will receive.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I was in California for just over three weeks; with the exception of the flu minidemic - a week or so - events went pretty much as planned. I was able to spend time with each of my sisters and their families at least twice; I was staying with my brother D, so I saw plenty enough of him; and, again except for that one week, I saw Dad pretty much every day.

He's... faded. His hearing is mostly gone, and he has trouble with communicating, in both directions. This frustrates him, and so many of the automatic reactions to his stumbling speech are exactly wrong.... He's more emotionally open than he used to be, especially if he doesn't get his afternoon nap. But when he's lucid, which is most of the time AFAICT, I can still see the man I used to know in there. There are still things he enjoys: watching football and golf on TV (with amplifying headphones overcoming his near-deafness), candy (which we give him plenty of; what's it going to do, rot his tooth?), and just being around his family. The staff at the home seems capable (and they've got good cooks, among other things), and the other residents are friendly.

We did get him out of the home once, taking him up to C's place for dinner on the second. C and her husband fixed a meal suited to his unidental condition: flaky salmon, sweet potatoes, and some well-cooked vegetables, all of which were delicious. C also supplied a carrot cake in honor of my birthday (two days in the future, but wotthehell); this she had to cut carefully for Dad, because there were nuts in it. He loved the meal; I don't recall seeing him eat that much at one sitting in a long time.

He's ninety-three, and there's no knowing how much time he has left. I can't get out there very often, but I'm glad I had this opportunity to see him, and I'm looking forward to the next planned get-together in June - a combined celebration of his birthday and Father's Day.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Well, we're all back on our feet again. About half the clan went down at one point or another, and some of us are still dealing with aftereffects. (Me? GI upset and piles are an ugly combination....) But we managed to have another of the annual get-togethers yesterday: E and her husband took D and me to dinner at Outback, and we took Dad a bagged meal of their salmon, potatoes, and cheesecake afterward. (I didn't have too much appetite, but did manage to devour a very good pork chop and a mound of garlic potatoes.)

It'll be quiet the next few days - the other clan members are getting together with various combinations of in-laws. On the second, C will have us up for a combined birthday dinner (hers is the third, mine the fourth), and another is scheduled with E and her husband for the fourth. Somewhere in there, if time, weather, and health get their acts together, I'll make my annual visit to Barnes & Noble. Other than that, I'm relaxing, rereading the Dresden Files (and reading Cold Days, which was my gift-exchange present), and watching the raindrops fall....


Dec. 19th, 2012 04:24 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
The first two days of my California trip were pleasant: the family get-together and gift exchange on Saturday, followed by a long and quiet visit with Dad on Sunday. The days since... have not been so pleasant. The family has been hit by a mini-epidemic of flu; more than a quarter of us have fallen victim. (Fortunately, Dad is not among them; letting this bug loose in an old-folks' home would be, frankly, criminal.)

I was among the first afflicted, awaking at 1AM Monday with severe dual-action GI distress. I'll spare you the messy details, but here are some of Monday's highlights:
- Passing out in the bathroom, and coming to on my back like a beetle, with my legs curled and cramping furiously. (The noise of my fall awakened D, who came running; things got considerably less bad at that point.)
- The sensual pleasure of sitting on a stool in the shower, letting that motherwarm spray cascade over me. (God, that felt good; and it suppressed the GI war as well, at least for a while. This is one of D's nostrums.)
- Slurping down a bowl of chicken broth, hoping to restore calories and electrolytes, only to puke it all back up half an hour later.

Tuesday was... better. My appetite for solids was nil, and I had a sore throat (presumably from Monday's violence), but vomiting had ceased and I was able to keep down a couple of slices of dry bread and eat most of a bowl of cream of mushroom soup (a longstanding comfort food). Most of my sustenance came in liquid form - milk and OJ mostly. Today has been better still, though I still am well short of being healthy. Unfortunately, now D has succumbed....

This wasn't exactly what I had planned.

San Diego

Dec. 15th, 2012 03:15 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
I arrived safely last night, after an unusually long flight and an equally long layover at LAX. The 21-minute hop from LA to San Diego was kind of anticlimactic after that.... It was raining lightly then, heavily when I woke up (about 3AM Pacific time, 5AM to my unreset internal timer); it's sunny but a little chilly now.

D and I went to see Dad this morning. He seems reasonably well, all things considered; a bit less *there*, perhaps. His caretakers and fellows seem like a nice bunch; we joined them for lunch - a tomato bisque, bread, and crackers with a couple of different spreads, all quite tasty.

The family gift exchange is this afternoon; we'll be leaving for that in about half an hour. It'll be different without Dad, but C thinks he'd have trouble dealing with the crowd and the noise. I... trust her judgment on this.

It's going to be an odd Christmas, I think.
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I got the Algebraic Structures finals graded and the grades posted yesterday. I'm about a third of the way through the Engineering Math finals; it'll probably take me two or three more hours at work today to finish them. Unfortunately, I'm also on the Search Committee for one of the two positions we have open, and that committee will be meeting to begin weeding through the applications today. The committee chair reserved two hours in the conference room for us; hopefully it won't take anywhere near that long.

Then I come home and start scrambling. Do the laundry, find my brother's cell phone, stock up on dog food and treats, pay off a last few bills, pick out some books to read en route, and pack. It's going to be a longish trip - I won't be back for three weeks - and man, I need the break. (There are also a couple of matters concerning students that aren't likely to resolve before I leave, and I'll probably be working on them via e-mail, but that won't be too onerous. I hope.) The family gift exchange is Saturday, and there will be other get-togethers as well; as soon as I get to San Diego, I'll have to wrap the gift I bought. I'll probably go see Dad on Saturday, before the gift exchange, and as often as possible for the rest of the trip.

One Day More....
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Well, that went reasonably well. The boeuf bourgignon... I think I should have cut the beef into smaller pieces; it's a little tough. Still, it tastes good. The carrots Algerian style are - let's say, flavorful. Not something I'll make again, but interesting, and I will finish the batch. I took a labor-saving shortcut on the apple pie which left it not quite as good as last time; live and learn. Overall, it all could be better, but it's not bad atall, atall.

Thankfulness? I am, and have always been, one of the lucky ones. There's been, and still is, some bad in my life, but the vast majority of it is my own fault, while a very necessary majority of the good has come through no action of my own. That, in my eyes, is luck. I have a job that I love (for the most part), dogs that I love likewise (for the most part...), and by my standards I am wealthy - I have enough for all of my needs and most of my wants, and that's the only definition of "wealthy" that ever made much sense to me. For all of this, I am thankful.

Though there is cause for gloom in the world, there is also cause for delight. Seekers of knowledge questing further out and further in, and passing on what they find, from exoplanets to genomes; the world's knowledge, art and music, and who knows what else, all at our fingertips; violent crime in decline; goods becoming available to the world's poorest that a generation ago were unknown even to the wealthy... For all this, I am thankful.

From the large to the small: for family, friends, and colleagues, past and present, living and dead - for all of these, I am thankful.

Tho' much is taken, much abides....
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
I'm continuing to wrestle with the revamp of my financial software. I've scrapped everything and gone back to the beginning twice now, as my attempts to implement my ideas failed in multiple remarkable ways. I've finally managed to get a handle on some simple aspects of VBA coding, which... prompts me to restart yet again, but with serious hopes of avoiding the pitfalls I've been hitting. (No doubt I will find new ones....)

I've also ordered a programmer's guide to Access VBA 2010. I really dislike the online help that Microsoft Office supplies; I need something solid I can flip through. (An e-book would be acceptable if I had an e-reader, but being confined to the links and whatnot dictated by MS just drives me bats.)

I'm still optimistic, if guardedly so, that I can get a barebones version of the software up and running before I leave for the holidays.

:looks troubled for a moment before remembering:

Oh, yeah! Happy Thanksgiving to my USAn friends!


Nov. 16th, 2012 07:00 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
And Thanksgiving break week begins. (Well, technically, it's next week, but this is the weekend before, so....) I had to go onto campus today to meet with a student, but that went quickly, and I headed home after less than an hour. A grocery stop, and home; and to my delight there were three boxes on my doorstep, containing the various items I ordered from Amazon last Saturday. I've already plunged into Captain Vorpatril's Alliance. I'm still in the chapters Lois read at RenoVation, but I'm already noticing goodnesses I don't recall from the reading.

One oddity: my copy of CVA arrived without a dust jacket - just an unadorned, dark-blue-bound, hardcover book. I wonder if this is in any way tied to the SNAFU that had Amazon suspend sales of the book earlier in the week? Oh, well - I didn't buy it for the cover art (although I did think that was included in the price).

Looks like I'll have things to do over the break, besides the things I'd already planned....
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
Yesterday - the day, that is; the night was a different matter - was a sluggish one for me; I achieved very little, though I did hold the ritual viewing of 1776. The night... I anticipated the far-away fireworks of the early evening. I did not anticipate the much closer and (therefore) much louder and brighter fireworks show put on by one of my nearby neighbors, which began around 10 PM. This was so situated that every flash was visible through the blinds of my bedroom window. Needless to say, Gracie was very much upset by all of this, and given her propensities, when Gracie's upset, the whole household is upset. They finally shut down around 11 or 11:30. I was still awake at 1 AM.

Despite this, and despite the continuing heat (EHW in place until Saturday at 10 PM), I planned to go onto campus today to meet with a student. However, he was having computer difficulties, and his e-mail cancelling reached me about half an hour before I would have had to leave. I gratefully decided to stay home.

Today was even less productive than yesterday. Tomorrow, I will probably have to pay a visit to Kohl's, to replenish my diminished stock of pants. I hope I'll get a decent night's sleep....


Jun. 5th, 2012 08:10 pm
stoutfellow: Joker (Joker)
1. I discovered the other day that, when applying peanut butter to a celery stalk, a fork works better than a knife. It seems easier to shape the PB without slopover.

2. Today, I took Buster to the groomer. His fur had gotten rather badly matted, and they had to cut pretty close - even his ruff. At least he still has his poufy tail. Gracie's turn is next week.

3. On my way back from dropping Buster off, I stopped at Books-a-Million. My overall impression is that they aren't very organized, even by comparison with Borders. (I'm talking about the organization of the books, not of their business details, about which I neither know nor care.) I restricted myself to F/SF, almost entirely with old familiar authors: Weber's Mission of Honor (continuing a series), Hobb's Dragon Keeper (starting a trilogy), Hamilton's The Evolutionary Void (completing a trilogy), Briggs' River Marked (fifth of the Mercy Thompson series), another of the Malazan books, a couple of volumes of the collected Polesotechnic League/Human Empire stories by Anderson, and a collection of Harry Dresden short stories.

4. I also picked up a couple of CDs: Springsteen's Wrecking Ball (I saw, and was impressed by, the video of "We Take Care of Our Own"), and the White Album. I now have all but three of the albums the Beatles issued before the breakup: only For the Beatles, Yellow Submarine, and Let It Be remain. I was actually looking for earlier Springsteen, but they only had one of those, and I went with the new one instead.

5. Tomorrow I'll trot over to the DMV to get my state ID renewed. It expired on my birthday, but I haven't needed it until now; I'm flying out to California next weekend for the annual family get-together (combination Father's Day and my father's birthday). Thursday I'll be meeting with a couple of my students; there's enough time between the appointments that I may start trying to slap together a paper based on my current research. (I've got three papers out - one of them for almost a year now, but no word yet on any of them.) Things are starting to gell, and I think I see how to organize the first-order results.

6. I still have to find out what the texts are for the courses I'll be teaching in fall. I really do need to do some serious prep work before the semester starts.


stoutfellow: Joker (Default)

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