Feb 08 2014

Home cooking for the savvy bachelor: Chicken corn curry soup with black beans

The nice thing about a crock pot is that you pretty much can’t go wrong with it.

If you’re like me, you often find yourself with lots of little bits of stuff to get rid of, and the crockpot is great for that.  Clean out your fridge in the morning, have nice fresh dinner waiting for you in the evening.

And so it happened I found myself in just such a position last week.  I wasn’t about to go out and buy groceries; we’ve been stuck in a polar vortex this winter, and it was several degrees below zero, with several inches of fresh snow on the ground.  I decided to work from home, rather than running the gauntlet of commuting in such terrible weather.  I took a break in the morning time and threw together this tasty crockpot soup:

A chicken breast.
Half a carrot, chopped up.
A can of corn.
A big handful of dried black beans.
A banged-up stalk of lemongrass.
Enough chicken stock to cover.

Let it cook a long ass time. (~6-12 hours on high) You’ll know when it’s done because the beans will be soft.

Add a dollop of barbeque sauce.
Add in some curry powder. A healthy amount.
Add some chili powder.
Add about a half can of coconut milk, and let that go a while longer.
After that all tastes delicious, finish with a couple of tablespoons of masa to thicken it up, and let it go another 10 min.

This is also what’s known as the “cleaning out the fridge” style of slow-cooking. If it were kung fu, it’d be Vulture Claw style.

Feb 07 2014

Is it Dry February?

Jan 21 2014

Self-portrait, January 2014

Call it ‘photorealistic cubism’.

Jan 16 2014

Don’t make the same mistake I did; back up your databases

Ok, listen, I’m not going to get into the details or whatever, but it was recently brought to my attention that I really, really should be backing up my MySQL databases on a daily basis at least.  So here’s the recipe.  Modify and use it for your own purposes, and don’t be as dumb as I am.

Create a directory to hold your backups.
Create the following shell script in your backup directory.  Substitute your own info for the stuff in brackets.


echo "------------" >> $logfile
echo "Starting MySQL Database backup script" >> $logfile
location=/[PATH-TO-BACKUPS]/backup_"$(date +'%d_%m_%Y_%H_%M_%S')".sql
mysqldump -u root --password='[YOUR-PASSWORD]' --opt [YOUR-DATABASE] > $location
echo "Completed MySQLDump." >> $logfile
gzip $location
echo "GZipped the backup file "$location >> $logfile
echo "Removing backups older than 10 days." >> $logfile
find /[PATH-TO-BACKUPS]/ -maxdepth 1 -type d -mtime +10 -exec rm -rf {} \;
echo "Old backups removed." >> $logfile
echo "Backup script completed on "$(date +'%d_%m_%Y_%H_%M_%S') >> $logfile
echo "------------" >> $logfile
exit 0

Set the permissions to 700, to make sure nobody can see your plaintext MySQL password.

Edit your cron tab to run the shell script once a day (or however often you think is prudent.)

To unzip the backed up SQL file:

gunzip -v [YOUR-BACKUP-FILE].gz

To restore your backed up SQL dump:


Take it from me, kids. Only fools don’t back up their work.


Oct 30 2013

Never mind the “why’s,” Bub.



Sep 12 2013

Bathroom mirror selfie

A self-portrait, 9/12/2013.

Selfies are so self indulgent, don't you think?

Selfies are so narcissistic, don’t you think?

Aug 27 2013

Audio: Negativland – Live at the Empty Bottle, 8/25/2013

Negativland, playing live at the Empty Bottle in Chicago, IL, on 8/25/2013

Negativland, playing live at the Empty Bottle in Chicago, IL, on 8/25/2013

Well, now.

What we have here is a bootleg recording (made with permission of the band) of the very recent, very rare live performance by the ground-breaking audio artists, Negativland.

This performance was recorded on a Zoom H2 recorder, as a 256k stereo MP3 file.

I’ve taken the liberty of doing a little bit of light mastering on it; a touch of EQ-ing, a little compression, that sort of thing, to make the recording a little more listen-able.

I feel like it came out at a fairly reasonable quality, considering how quick and dirty my recording method was.

According to Mark Hosler, there also exists a board recording of the same show, which should be much, much higher quality, but probably won’t contain as much of the room noise and audience sounds as this one does.

Perhaps if we’re lucky, they’ll release that recording eventually as well, and perhaps this one can get mixed with it into a good hybrid live record of the experience.

And what an experience!  The last time (and only other time) I was able to see Negativland play live was back in the year 2000, at a show in Clearwater, Florida, during their True/False tour.

That show was a substantial production, for sure, with lots of film projectors, guest appearances, etc.

This show was far more intimate.  I’d say the total attendance was probably in the range of about 150 people.  On the one hand, a disappointing turn-out from their point of view, I’m sure, but on the other hand, it was an exquisite pleasure to see these guys in such close quarters.

I honestly couldn’t have been more pleased with the entire experience.

Here’s the audio of the entire performance:


Here’s a direct link to the file if you’d prefer to download it.

Please do let me know if you do anything interesting with this recording.

Aug 19 2013

Home cooking for the savvy bachelor: Kraft Dinner edition


Hey, it’s not molecular gastronomy, alright? It’s a cheap-as-dirt weeknight dinner. You know you’d eat it.

Look, let’s not lie to each other. Sometimes humans eat Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. (Kraft Dinner, if you live in a country that cares about the proper status of cheese in culture.)  But come on — it’s like a dollar a package, anyone can make it, and it fills you up.  Sure, there’s nothing even approaching real cheese that’s ever been anywhere near it.  It’s the very epitome of American low-brow cuisine, utterly unpretentious in every way.

You eat it.  You’re not proud of it, but you eat it.

It needn’t be like that; don’t be the fool who just follows the directions on the package.  Do it up right. It can be pretty good eating, if you take the time to customize it.

  • Put some real cheese in there. You know, whatever you’ve got in the fridge, just at the end when you’re mixing in the orange powder. Fresh.
  • Cut up some smoked sausage or chorizo and throw that shit in there.  Fry it first, to get all the edges nice and browned.  That’s where the flavor lives.
  • Use cream instead of milk. What, are you worried about getting fat or something?
  • Why not chop up a tomato and mix that sucker in there? I like the Roma ones, but even a can of diced tomatoes would do in a pinch.
  • Got a little bottle of liquid smoke in the fridge? Drop a few drops in, and prepare to have your mind blown.  Or hell, maybe  dash of smoked paprika and cumin. Mm mm!
  • And this is my new favorite.  Make it according to the package instructions, but then, just before you serve it, spoon in a couple of tablespoons of Mexican crema. I suppose you can use sour cream if you want, but honestly, I don’t know why anyone would buy the regular kind if you can get the Mexican version instead. It imparts an awesome, tangy, smooth creaminess that’s just fantastic.
Jul 30 2013

It’s been a while.

Dang, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything new.

Please forgive me, blog spirits.  I’ll have some new stuff soon.

Apr 03 2013

How’s that Republican “rebranding” going?

So, let’s see what those wacky Republicans have been up to lately.  Surely, they must be fighting for smaller government, personal freedom, and balanced budgets, right?  Let’s take a brief look at what’s happened this week:

Frankly, I don’t think they’re concerned with smaller government, lower taxes, or personal freedom at all.  :(