December 30, 2005

December 27, 2005

This little fellow was on our fence this morning Posted by Picasa

December 26, 2005

Christmas 2005

Christmas is a great holiday. You get to cook fancy meals, you have an excuse to drink expensive wine, and you get to buy presents. The stores are crowded, and the weather is usually beautiful. At least here in Houston.

But more than that, it is Doreen’s birthday! She had the good fortune to be born on Christmas day, and so the world celebrates with her.

I cooked another goose this year (I am trying to remember exactly how many geese I have cooked. The first one I cooked was back in the winter of 1980 - my first Christmas away from home on my own. My younger brother Matthew came down (I think he was 17 years old at the time) and I had invited a young student from Rice to join us as well. I had never cooked a goose before, but I use Graham Kerr’s recipe and it turned out great. Or at least that was my memory of that goose. That and the memory of the goose leg bone slowly being ground up in my garbage disposal. (Yes, I have always said that the garbage disposal (aka Fruit Grinder) was the most underutilized kitchen appliance. I have pt artichoke leaves (bad idea) corn husks (same) and any number of other organic matter down my garbage disposals in my lifetime. I have pretty much stopped that, as it causes all sorts of harm to the plumbing. Now, if given a choice, I throw kitchen waste into our neighbor’s back yard. But that is another story.)

I like cooking geese. Store bought geese, anyway. I have never cooked a wild goose. I am not sure if there would be a difference or not. The thing about geese is that there is a think layer of subcutaneous fat that you need to take care of is you want the meat to be juicy instead of greasy. In my younger days I did that by starting the goose in a very hot oven, pricking the skin and then turning the heat down to finish the bird at a lower temp. Now, thanks to Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, I have a long and complicated routine I follow. Here is a sample:

For the goose, fill a large stock pot two-thirds of the way with water and bring to a rolling boil. Wearing rubber gloves to protect your hands, lower the goose neck end down into boiling water below. Submerge as much of the goose as possible until 'goose bumps' appear, about 1 minute. Repeat this process, tail end down first. Drain goose and dry thoroughly, inside and out, with paper towels. Set goose, breast side up, on rack in roasting pan and refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 to 48 hours.

And it gets more complicated from there. This year I used an apple/prune stuffing – sometimes I use a couscous/dried fruit (apricot, current) stuffing. The apple/pear is more traditional. The couscous is more interesting.

In addition to the goose and stuffing (the crispy skin of the goose is one of the pleasures of the season, I can assure you of that) we have red cabbage (another Graham Kerr recipe that is modified by Doreen based on her German heritage), Mashed potatoes, cauliflower gratin (to die for – a pound of butter, a pound of cheese, cream, nutmeg and you just can’t eat enough of this), little green peas (for green color to go with the red cabbage) and gravy.

We had a total of six people eating dinner with us this year, and we pretty much did in the goose. In spite of their size (this was a 12 pounder) geese don’t have much meat on them. We ended the meal with one of Trouta’s delicious marble pound cake, a tradition for Doreen’s birthday. We made some fudge sauce and had ice cream as well.

We had visions of sugar plums in out head that

a pale pink Poinsettia Posted by Picasa

Clean! Posted by Picasa

And the sad thing is, we clean as we go! Posted by Picasa

Since food was involved, Blaze was interested. Posted by Picasa

Clean! Posted by Picasa

Carcass and detritus Posted by Picasa

Christmas 2005 Posted by Picasa

From left to right: Ed, Trouta, Doreen, Jeannette, Quinn Posted by Picasa

Christmas Decorations Posted by Picasa

Blaze was less than excited about Christmas Posted by Picasa

Varigated Poinsettia Posted by Picasa

Beautiful Swag Posted by Picasa

Another View Posted by Picasa

Beautiful Greenery Posted by Picasa

Djimmah is less excited about Christmas than we are Posted by Picasa

Sage Posted by Picasa

Stuffing: Ham, Prunes, Apples, Bread, Onions, Sage, Nutmeg, Cloves. Posted by Picasa

I cooked this goose Posted by Picasa

December 8, 2005

The Downside of Caller ID

About the only downside of Caller ID that I am aware of is that people now call back any number that they don’t recognize or that doesn’t leave a message. What a waste of time! I mean, if I dial a wrong number, I now feel compelled to say something like “Oh, sorry. I dialed this number by mistake? Or I will get the inevitable call back that goes like this:

“Hello? Did someone call me?”

“It was a wrong number”

“Oh. Why did you call?”


I mean, what do they think? They won the lottery or something? Why don’t they push this natural curiosity into something useful other than dial up numbers you don’t recognize on your stinking telephone!

Jeez. No wonder I hate people.

December 4, 2005

The House with a bit of fall color in the background Posted by Picasa

December 1, 2005

A Big Scarab Posted by Picasa

Waiting to leave Houston Posted by Picasa

Doreen with Baboon in the British Museum Posted by Picasa

Here we are in the British Museum Posted by Picasa

I don't FEEL that old

Doreen and I were recently in a small French restaurant in a cold climate. Being a cold climate, we had to wear coats. We had a great meal with some good wine, and were leaving the place to go out back out into the cold weather.

As we were leaving, the attractive young coat check girl looked up at me and asked how tall I was. I smiled and said that I was 6’6” or 2 meters tall. I said I was a perfect in metric – 2 meters and 100 kg. (ok, I know that 6’6” isn’t exactly 2 meters. But the story is better that way)

She lookup at me wistfully and sighed – Oh! Do you have a son I might be able to date?

That was a low blow.

November 16, 2005

What do you do, again?

I was interviewed for a radio show tonight. It is a business program that airs Saturday mornings here in Houston call The Business Makers. The host is the husband of a good friend of mine, (he is a good friend as well) and he wanted to get me on to talk about my career and how I ended up where I am.

It was sort of fun to be the center of attention, and have someone ask about your history. I go to a lot of parties these days, usually fund raising type parties for my wife. And all I am there is arm candy. If I don’t raise anyone’s hackles or make a spectacle of myself it is considered a successful event. (I sound fussier about it than I am. Occasionally they have a nice wine, and I meet someone I like. Very occasionally)

But this gave me a chance to talk about all my jobs. They go something like this:

Shoveled snow
Paper boy
Cemetery worker
Student worker in a Iron Mine in Peru
Coop student engineer in an underground coal mine in Illinois
Coop student engineer in a surface coal mine in Wyoming
Addressing letters for an insurance company in Madison. (I did this for my sister Melanie. I think she fired me because my handwriting was so bad.)
Engineer for Exxon Minerals
Engineer for Exxon Synthetics
Customer Support for David P Cook and Associates
Regional VP for Terra-Mar Resource Information Services (Don’t let the title fool you. There were three other people in the company when I joined)
Salesman for Landmark Graphics Corp
Sales Manager for LGC
Customer Support Manager for LGC
Regional Manager of Latin America for LGC
VP and General Manager for LGC
Sales and Marketing VP for Bell Geospace, Inc
Out of work for a couple of years, with miscellanea thrown in for good measure, including VP of Pointcross for three months
Business Unit Manager for Input/Output
President and CEO for OpenSpirit Corp

And my father said I couldn’t hold a job.

You know what I miss about cold weather?


November 14, 2005

Burma and ID

I read today in the New York Times that the Burmese Military Junta has absconded upcountry for reasons unknown.

( )

One of the speculations is that they are moving because their astrologers told them to move – on a specific date at a specific time.

I am not sure why, but this makes me think of Intelligent (sic) Design.

October 30, 2005

This is a photo of my father in 1947. You can tell that I was cleaning up some old photos this weekend. Posted by Picasa