Sunday, November 30, 2008

Hell Week

This week is going to be unbelievably nasty. I defend my dissertation proposal on Friday; I need to run one experiment; design another; write the textbook chapter; and finish editing every article and review in the journal, all by Saturday. So I won't be around much. The good news is that things will calm down dramatically in about 9 days. See you on the other side.

In other news, B is into volcanoes right now and I happened upon this awesome picture of Mt. Fuji along with cherry blossoms and a traditional tower of some sort. OK, only a fraction of it shows here. So click on the pic to see the whole thing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Childhood education

Does anyone have any experience with either Montessori or Waldorf schools for early childhood? Any opinions? Pros and cons?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Textbook Outline

Below is my working outline for the intro to language textbook chapter I am supposed to writing. There's no possible way I can even pretend to cover all this. I wonder what I will cut when the time comes?

Talking to Robots: From People to Computers to People again

1. Talking to people using computers
a. omg, u talk diff n txt msgs
i. How the language of chat and messaging differs from other forms of the language
ii. Do YouTube comments reveal the impending destruction of our civilization, or not so much?
b. Using the internet to preserve language, heritage, and culture
i. At last, someone to talk to!
1. Maintaining Polish in Australia
2. Practicing heritage Korean in California
3. Learning Choctaw around the world
ii. Let no one forget
1. Digital archives for the scholar and for the community
c. I have no idea how to speak your language but I want to talk to you anyway using my trusty Speech-o-Matic!
i. History and prospects for machine translation
ii. Why translation isn't just replacing my word with your word
2. Talking to the Robot
a. How do I get a computer to understand me?
i. robot, do you understand the words that are coming outta my mouth?
1. Computer customer support: love it or hate it?
ii. So, is this a reduced relative clause or a matrix verb? Making a computer figure out the difference
iii. I know what you mean
iv. Wait, does a computer know what anything means?
3. Which one is the Robot? Me or C3PO?
a. Language bots
i. What a bot has to know to talk to you
ii. Using bots to learn languages
b. The Turing test and being human
c. Learning how we talk by making a computer talk
d. Or is it making a computer talk by learning how we talk?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Spam Musubi!!

Ello has been requesting a Hawaii recipe. I'm not sure this is exactly what she had in mind, but it doesn't get any more Hawaii local than spam musubi. This is what you buy near the cash register at 7-11 in Hawaii instead of a sausage biscuit or potato log. (Mmmm... potato logs. I can remember the Chevron in Mississippi on the corner of University and Lamar right now...) Musibi are actually one of B's favorite foods, though he does take the nori off, so I decided to attempt making my own. Let's see. You need:

2 cups uncooked rice
water to cook rice
one can delicious spam
a package of nori
soy sauce
oyster sauce
furikake seasonings

First cook the rice and then let it sit to cool. You need it to be cool enough that you can pat it into shapes. There are such things as musubi molds, but if you have one of those, you don't need this recipe. Other recipes have you shape it in the spam can itself, but I just hand-molded, as will be obvious from the pic. My technique is not so hot yet. 2 cups may seem like a lot, and it is, but I used pretty much all of it.

Slice up the spam into thin slices. You usually get 9-10 per can. While the rice is cooking, marinate the spam slices in soy sauce, oyster sauce, and honey (sugar is very common, too). After it's marinated a while, fry up the slices in a skillet, no oil needed, for a couple minutes on each side.

Take a couple sheets of nori and, using a sharp knife, slice them so that a strip will cover about a third of the musubi when made (see pics below).

Sprinkle some furikake seasonings in your rice and stir around. Then wet your hands, grab a clump of rice, and shape it into a rice cake the shape of the spam slice. They should match as closely as possible. You adjust the amount of rice by increasing the thickness. Place the rice cake on a strip of nori. Maybe sprinkle a bit of furikake on top again, maybe a little more soy, and then place a slice of spam on there. Wrap the ends of the nori up and around and press the ends together.

Done. You can wrap them up and freeze them pretty easy. Just this morning I stuck a frozen musubi from this batch in B's backpack for a snack at school.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cooking Decadence

I had some fun cooking tonight again. I just created lemon butter scallops, wine mushrooms with shallots, and fried bananas for dessert.


The wine mushrooms were based upon the recipe I've posted before for gochu jang mushrooms here. I just took out most of the experimental stuff and added shallots. So this time, I sauteed one big old shallot, quartered, in a TB of butter, then added whole mushrooms without stems for a bit more. Like 1/4 - 1/3 a cup of red wine, garlic powder, black pepper, 1 tsp of Thai fish sauce, and a big shake of Italian seasonings. Then let it boil covered for about 15 minutes. N had some this time and wanted more. She's often not too excited about my cooking, so that means something.


The scallops were not quite there, but they were fine. The jumbo sea scallops were on sale, but still $10 a pound, so I only bought 4, which was 0.5 lbs. I have this idea that it's good to eat fish once a week for health, but the whole family only likes salmon and ahi, oh sorry, uh, tuna, which can both be too expensive at times. Anyway, I'm going to give you what I think the recipe should have been, which is not quite what I ate. Preheat oven to 425. For Celsius people, that's a pretty hot, but not scalding oven temp. Take 1 TB of butter, olive oil would perhaps be better, and 1 TB of lemon juice. Melt the two things together in a saucepan. Then I drizzled half the now lemon-butter in the bottom of a ramikin-like dish which could fit 4 scallops and go in the oven. Place the scallops in the ramikin on top of the butter, then pour the rest of the lemon butter on top. Next, take some bread crumbs and stir in spices: garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, and lemon peel (or just use lemon pepper). After mixing the bread crumbs and spices, drizzle in a wee bit of olive oil and stir. Sprinkle the bread crumbs liberally on the scallops. Bake for 10-12 minutes, just until the center of the scallop is opaque when you cut it in half.

That recipe basically worked; the burst of flavor just wasn't quite there. But maybe with the slight changes I've made it'll have more burst.

OK, after all this, I made something that was super, super simple and actually just right:


This was really cool. These are the deep fried ones. We took 3 small bananas. (Actually, we used a variety I've only seen in Hawaii called apple bananas, which are slightly different than the mainland ones, but it makes no huge difference.) Sliced each into 4 pieces. Then you make some pancake batter, just from a pancake batter mix like Aunt Jemima or some such. Prepare your frying oil and then when it's hot, drop the battered bananas into the oil. Cook until golden, probably turning once, all of which takes about 3 minutes. Take one batch out and put it on a paper towel to drain and do the next batch.

That's it. Here's what they look like. (Sorry that the color of the photos are a little off.)

Now, one could eat them like that I'm sure, but one can also put them in a bowl

And put Dreyer's cookie dough ice cream on top.

I also guess one could add whip cream, crushed walnuts, and hot fudge.

But we weren't that decadent. Of these recipes, I confess the fried bananas were perhaps the best. One can't eat deep fried fruit all the time, unless one is Elvis, but it seems like something really simple to pull out for a party or T-Giving or something that 75% of the guests will actually enjoy. I am an odd ball in that I've never really liked the mix of textures when you take a cake or brownie and put ice cream on top. I'd much prefer each by themselves thank you. But the bananas and the ice cream worked perfectly together.

Friday, November 14, 2008

How smart do you feel now?

Fascinating video that a friend linked to. Basically, it's a compilation of a financial analyst named Peter Schiff pretty much exactly walking us through the financial collapse of the last few months while the other financial pundits literally laugh at him for being so stupid. How smart do those people feel now?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Onion Videos

I love many of the Onion's videos. Here's a very recent one about whether we should continue dropping money in the National Money Hole. I have a feeling BT will particularly like it.

I'd reveal a couple others I liked, but then I'd have to admit how I just wasted time watching Onion videos.

But >the cosmo one's good as is the Halloween one.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Country Proposal

I just turned my dissertation proposal in to the committee about an hour ago. Now, I have to schedule a defense, probably for the first week of December. Assuming I'll pass, then I'll really be ABD, "all but dissertation". So that's what I've been doing.

To tide us over then, here's another music post. I only own maybe 3 country albums at best, along with about 5 bluegrass (which I don't really consider country). However, I've always had a soft sport for Don Williams. Here he is singing "You're My Best Friend" from the late 70s or something. He's got that super warm baritone that makes you all fuzzy like Bing, except that he doesn't sound a thing like Bing.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Hot women make men feel bad

Hee hee. Misleading title.

I just read a little write-up about some research on the effects of looking at sexy images of women in men's magazines like Maxim, FHM, and Stuff. Here's the link. People have known for a long time that women feel worse about their own bodies when surrounded by air-brushed women in bikinis who work out 3 hours a day. The article presented a series of studies indicating that men too feel worse about their own bodies after viewing these things. The guess, and this is the guess part, not a finding, is that men feel a need to look a certain way to ever be able to get women like those in the magazines.

This makes some sense, and it matches well with the common observation that men looking to actively date often look after themselves physically more at those times. There was some article I saw recently on signs of men who are cheating or hoping to cheat in a marriage where one sign is that he starts working out, dressing up, etc., when he never did before. (In response, I've been getting fat and wearing crappy outfits lately just so N doesn't worry about me. I'm sure she's pleased about this.) This all seems very natural. However, the most interesting finding reported was this:

"Men who looked at sexualized women reported being less likely to ask a woman out on a date or to interact with her."

This then is not quite the same as getting healthy to attract someone. Instead, many men just get depressed that they will never live up to such a standard and drop out of the relationship game instead.

A related study compared the undergrad men looking at women in bikinis with men seeing images of fit guys in great clothes and such. Men didn't get depressed about their own bodies from looking at men who were in a lot better shape than themselves, but again, they did when they checked out the lingerie spreads. This would be a different pattern from women, many of whom do get body-image issues from seeing pictures of women.


Monday, November 03, 2008

One last fact check

If you'd like one last Fact Check, >this AP link is a pretty good summary of the campaigns so far. My favorite part is paragraph 3.

"Altogether, facts took a beating in the campaign. McCain and Obama produced enduring myths that their running mates and supporters amplified and distorted even more. When a non-licensed plumber who owes back taxes and would get a tax cut under Obama is held out by McCain as a stand-in for average working people who should vote Republican, you know truth-telling took a back seat to myth-making."

But it does look at both candidates and their misleads and flat-out lies. And of course, there's always However, you vote, please vote on the reality of each candidate. Neither candidate will destroy civilization. Which isn't to say that one might not make a better Prez than the other.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Worst half ever?

There are a few seconds left in the first half, but at the moment in the Oakland versus Atlanta game, Oakland has a total of...


total net yards.


in an entire half.

Atlanta has 309 net yards. OK, Oakland just got the ball back with 23 seconds, so maybe they will complete a play or two, but I really wonder if 6 net yards might truly be the worst half of professional football ever.

UPDATE: Hah!! They lost yards and finished the entire half with minus 2 yards. That's the best thing ever. - 2 yards total.