Derek's Blog Page

Can a libertarian curmudgeon survive in a post 9/11 America? Is it possible to create the perfect meal on a Baby Q grill? Will Elaine finally succumb to her innermost desires? Check out my novels - which I am excerpting to separate blogs as I write them. Just click on my Profile button to access their links.

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Location: Citrus Heights, California


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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I dunno about you all, but I am STUFFED! Yep, Mom and I did the only rational thing this Turkey Day and cooked an 8-pound whole turkey breast. I mean, it's just the two of us and she's had a lap-band procedure. Even though it came out GREAT, we STILL have half the meat left - and we've been gnawing on it since 3PM.

We didn't put stuffing in the bird because, as you can imagine, there's no real 'cavity' to hold it in place when it's just the breast. So we placed it in the pan over a bunch of quartered fruit, one each of lemon, orange, apple and yellow onion. We didn't skin the lemon, orange or apple so that meant all the essential oils in the lemon and orange rind seeped out during roasting. Talk about a great way to scent the meat! Oh yes, we happen to have some fresh sage growing in our yard and we tossed two handfuls of that in the mix. We basted the skin with an herb-butter mix (sage, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper all mixed into softened butter) so that it got nice and crispy brown. Talk about MOIST!

I have a suspicion that if you don't want to brine the bird, cooking the dressing separately helps to keep the meat moist as the stuffing doesn't draw the moisture out during cooking.

We made an apple-and-cranberry stuffing recipe we found on the FoodTV site from Paula Deen's area. Quite good! It uses Hawaiian sweet bread for the breading cubes (yes, you'll have to cube and toast them before use) and when mixed with the fruit and cinnamon it makes for a sweet dressing instead of the herb-savory kind we've usually had. You simply have to try it!

Anyway, there's lots we're thankful for this year and we look forward to next. Hope all of you who celebrate the U.S. Thanksgiving Day had a good one wherever you are.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The ANTI-Gun Nuts are at it again - in film.

If you click on the title of this post, you'll be taken to a web page where 'entertainment industry' types are counseled to take an anti-gun stance in their films and tv shows. You simply MUST read this. Then take steps to write to each and every studio urging them to avoid using any of the ideas contained on the web page.

Obama's *NEW* New Deal.

I was scanning through the paper today and I ran across an article on Obama's goals for the first part of his administration. Most of it came across as the same platitudes and wishing that you'd expect from any incoming President. But one idea was different.

The idea? To sign a piece of legislation, on his inauguration day, January 20th, 2009, which would create a set of new public works programs - a *NEW* New Deal, if you will. I must admit, I have two very specific problems with such a program.

First, as anyone who's studied the Great Depression and Franklin Delano Rooseveldt's terms in office understands, the original New Deal programs were some of the worst-thought-out programs ever hatched, and they may have been the major factor in lengthening the Great Depression and its aftermath. If you take even the most cursory look at the New Deal, you soon come to realize that only World War II and the massive build-up of our wartime economy "solved" it.

Yet this is what President-Elect Obama is urging Congress to enact - a 'jobs' program that will derail much of our current economy in favor of public-dole jobs. Not the best of thinking, in my humble opinion.

Second, this 'program' is supposed to be an 'economic stimulus' package - a 'bailout' if you will. And it is supposed to come hard on the heels of several earlier 'bailouts'. Can anyone remember the bailout program for the home mortgage disaster? You know, the one rushed through Congress by our very own (thankfully leaving) Treasury Secretary Paulson? Heck! Can anyone *forget* the bait-and-switch pulled on the American taxpayers by Paulson? I can't. And he did the same "Rush! Rush! Rush!" scare tactic to get his famous three-line bill passed without question or examination. Didn't turn out too well, did it?

Yet here we have Obama urging the same haste and ill-planning for an even bigger, more sweeping set of stimulus packages.

My question is this: Can we afford to let Congress get swept up in the *NEW* New Deal frenzy? I think not. In fact, I urge you to write to your Congresscritters and warn them that a "Yes" on Obama's NND is a "Yes" on recall initiatives for these same Congresscritters.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I still can't decide between Core i7 and Core 2 Quad.

But I'm also wondering whether it would benefit me to have one of those 'netbooks' which have an Intel Atom processor. Dell, Acer, MSI, IBM and Asus all offer models. Asus offers models with 7", 8.9" and 10" screens, while most of the rest offer either 8.9" or 10" models. I'm kind of thinking a nice Acer Aspire One with an 8.9" display and a 120GB hard drive would be a good match as I could leave it with Windows XP on the internal hard drive but put Macintosh OS-X 10.5.4 on an external USB hard drive. (I've always wanted a Mac, but I could never justify the ridiculous prices.)

So what do you all think? Would you own an uber-lightweight 'netbook' pc? Would you upgrade to a Core 2 Quad desktop pc or wait for a reasonable price on a Core i7 unit? Would you buy an Amazon Kindle, Sony PRS-700BC or Irex Iliad DS1000 or a BeBook ebook reader?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Do I really need a Core 2 Quad computer?

I'm serious. Do I really need a Core 2 Quad computer? Before I get into all my requirements, I just want to toss out the fact that they're now advertising the existence of the Intel Core i7 processor and the X58 motherboards for said processor family. ( I guess the i7 is the 'next generation' beyond the basic Core 2 Quads.) So in my mind is this question whether I should 'burden' myself with Yet Anoter "Last Generation" System, or should I wait a few months and fork out Big Bucks on the "Latest and Greatest" system?

I currently have a Pentium D system which is maxed out at 4GB of RAM and has both a 320GB and an 80GB internal hard drive (I recently "upgraded" to two external 250GB hard drives for all the images and ebooks I've got stored. I still can't believe the speed increase I got just off-loading the internal drives!) I currently shoot 10.1 megapixel images and I use Photoshop CS3 for post-processing. As anyone who's worked with Photoshop knows, it's all about layers. Some of my 'base' image files may have as many as 40 layers and can run to 400-600MB in size. At the very least, I need to upgrade to a system that supports 8GB of RAM simply to speed the photo editing process.

Then there's the fact that I routinely have two or three browser windows open, along with one or two IRC channels running. Add in the ebook conversion scripts and apps that I run as I prepare HTML, RTF and TXT files for my ebook readers (I prefer Mobi format) and I'm finding my two year old Pentium D system just isn't cutting the mustard any longer.

And then there's my desire to dual-OS my new system (actually it's more like triple-OS as I want to run Mac OS-X, Linux and Windows) so I can have a development system for Open Inkpot work as well as to be able to explore the Macintosh environment.

Obviously, I could just take one step up the processor ladder and get a Core 2 Duo system, but that seems a waste of time as the ones out there with 8GB RAM support all seem to be close in price to Core 2 Quad systems. (Clearly, I'm talking about buying new - or used - via eBay rather than shelling out even more bucks for a store-bought system.)

But then they come out with the i7. So what do you think?

Friday, November 14, 2008

So here I am wondering whether anyone else has a gun?

Because we just bought a shotgun. That's right. We are a gun-totin' fambly now. Well, not quite. We've got to wait until the waiting period passes and then we get to go pick it up. But it's been such a long time since we've had any kind of gun in the home. And, of course, this is California, which means we must store the shotgun in one room - with the gun-lock in place - and the ammo in another room. Okay, even though we don't have any children running around and children don't, by and large, come into the house, that kinda makes sense.

What doesn't make sense is that when we come and pick up the gun, (and we could do this before or after that day) if we choose to buy ammo that day, we must make the ammo purchase separate from picking up the gun. We are not allowed, under the law, to stop by the cash register on our way out with the gun, buy the ammo and put it in the bag/cart with the gun. So just to make this clear, we can go to the store, pick up the gun, carry it out to the car, turn around, go back inside, buy the ammo and take it out to the car, but we can't just carry both items out at the same time.

Does ANYONE understand why that's the case? Because it makes NO sense to me. I mean, I could understand if they said we couldn't LOAD the shotgun before leaving the store, (and unless you're hunting or you really, Really, REALLY need to defend yourself, you don't need it loaded) but if this is somehow supposed to 'prevent' someone from using a weapon to immediately commit a crime, well... the parking lot isn't that large and the doors of the store are freaking GLASS. I mean, if a hardened criminal wants to use a gun to rob a store, the extra couple of minutes to go back to the car to get the ammo ain't gonna make that much difference.

But maybe I'm missing something? Of course, not having majored in criminal behavior, I presume this is the case.

Anyway, do your part to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America. Go, register and buy a gun!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thoughts on "Change"

We recently elected Barack Obama to the Presidency. One of the reasons he managed to win was that he championed "change".

I cannot stress this enough, "change" does not automatically equate to goodness, sweetness, light and happiness! To put a fine point to this, change is JUST as likely to be bad, to result in failure, despair, bitterness and even - yes - evil. When Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq, much change occurred. And as we can all discover for ourselves, most of that "change" was harmful to the citizens of that nation.

While our current war over there was started to bring about positive things, even working towards that noble goal, much "change" has occurred in Iraq that is negative, bad, even harmful to the Iraqi people. I believe that in the long run the change we have wrought there will be good for the Iraqis, but we must be honest that we also have brought about harmful and bad change to Iraq.

On the domestic front, we are undergoing a major change in our economy, and only a fool would deny that much of the current "change" is good for the average citizen. I have friends and family who have lost as much as 60% of their retirement investments - and we're talking company-mandated mutual funds and 401(K) plans here - due to the recent upheaval. (Upheaval is yet another word for "change".) Others have found themselves buried under massive debt from frightening devaluation of their homes.

Yet we have elected a President who's all about change. Make no mistake, President-Elect Obama wants to bring about POSITIVE change, but wanting, and even acting, to do so does not guarantee success.

Yes, we must do our best to see that positive change accomplished, but we must not delude ourselves into thinking that we have "won" this "good" change simply by electing Barack Obama.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Getting a Netronix ebook reader repaired.

Okay, I've finally gotten through to Netronix and I've got the shipping information so I can get my EB-100 e-ink ebook reader repaired! Hooray! It seems *my* email to them was getting through but their return email to me was being blocked.

All well and good. However, for those of you who did NOT purchase a re-branded EB-100, but bought one direct from Netronix, here's the address for returning it if you need it repaired. Be forewarned that if it's not considered a "warranty" repair, there will be a fee.

9F, No. 92, Baojhong Road, Shindian City
Taipei, Taiwan, 23144 R.O.C.
Tel:886-2-29120211 ext:34

And you'll probably want to notify support at Netronix before you ship. Their email is I'm shipping my poor, broken EB-100 out this weekend. :)

Monday, November 03, 2008

NO on Prop 8, California!

I know. There are a lot of people out there telling the whole world that Prop 8 is "not" bigoted and driven by the fear and hatred of gays and lesbians. Well, they're full if it! If you really need reasons to vote No on Prop 8, click on this post's title for the link.

If you're one of those who're pushing "Yes on 8", you should be ashamed of yourself.

I know, this is going up the day before the election, but c'mon people, don't let the haters scare you into marginalizing people over their sexual orientation!

'Nuf said.