Saturday, June 19, 2010

Random thoughts

I drive by a place called "Bruce Lee Hair Salon". I think I'd be afraid to have my hair done there. Some mean looking dudes in black might storm into the place then the hair stylists assume the chop-suey position and chop chop kick while I try to hide under the barber chair, heh. And if you don't tip, do they karate-chop your ear off? Not interested in finding out :).

Have you ever noticed that if you see a guy who isn't in his 20's riding a sport bike, invariably this guy is short and pudgy, and probably balding under his helmet? Which reminds me of the typical Hummer driver, now that I'm thinking about it. I got cut off by one of them while driving down the street. I swear that he looked like he was utterly swallowed up by that wallowing mass of steel, dude looked like a fat pudgy accountant or somethin', and of course his wallowing steed had never seen dirt other than from a distance. Testosterone substitute, anybody? And what will pudgy wimps do now that Hummer is gone?

Getting close to having everything unpacked, then I have to furnish the guest room so relatives can come visit. My intent is to furnish it with third-hand free (or almost) stuff off of Craigslist so that visiting relatives feel welcome, but not *too* welcome, if ya know what I mean :). Or else I can just make it the music room, put the patio table and patio chairs in there and pile all my music gear on top of it. Hmm.

The kittehs are back on their diet, and they're not happy about it. Nevermind that their fat bellies wobble back and forth as they jog up and down the central hallway, they're starving to death, starving they say, at the top of their lungs! I held out until 5:45PM, then gave them their daily kibble.

Had chicken pho for supper. I was hungry, but didn't know what for. I went up and down El Camino Real a couple of miles before I went back home... and stopped at the pho shop that's four blocks from my digs. Funny how that works, huh?

Dude next door spent like four hours shirtless, showing off his hairless muscular chest and rippled abs, while washing, waxing, and polishing his vulva today. Whoops, Volvo. My bad. I realize that gay guys sometimes feel like showing off for their boyfriends -- just look at George Reker's rentboy lifting his luggage -- but c'mon. It's a fucking VOLVO. Not even a *NEW* one. Dude. That was the most pathetic display, like, evah. If you're going to be an exhibitionist, at least do it with a car that *deserves* it!

Got a fair amount done today. Put pet-proof screening on the front screen door (yes, TMF had climbed it and ripped gaping holes on it, so I rolled new screening in), then put some pegboard on the one remaining unfinished stretch of wall in the garage and started unpacking tools on the shelves and onto the pegboard and onto the various nails that someone else had pounded into the walls of the garage. Emptied a few more boxes too... though four boxes behind me are making me feel guilty about typing rather than unpacking.

Damn, now I remember why I hate moving. I have just too much crap. Gah!

-- Badtux the Harried Penguin


  1. CHICKEN pho? Tendon, tripe, even meatball pho I can see, because they're all beef. But doesn't the act of chickenizing it make it faux?

    I rode out to the local community college this afternoon for a workshop on "backyard chickens." More cities are making them legal, within limits. Chickens are not rocket surgery, after all. I reckon protein will be the hardest thing to find in the Afterscape, and four chickens (the max allowable inside VanCity Limits) can supply enough eggs for two people's nitrogenous needs. I hope I have enough time to raise my learning curve and get sufficiently self-sufficient before the collapse.

  2. I, too, have just recently acknowledged that I have too much cr**...I mean stuff.

    Funny how moving forces that issue to the forefront of one's consciousness.

  3. All pho is faux here in the Bay Area, but I digress. It's chicken broth and chicken, with all the other ingredients the same as the beef version, just made with chicken. You're correct that it isn't "authentic" -- chickens are too valuable as egg layers in a subsistence culture to put into soups, by the time they quit laying eggs they're so tough and gamey that you have to boil them to pieces in a hearty stew to get something that tastes reasonable. But the chicken soup version of pho, while not "authentic", is still plenty tasty and is a staple of local pho joints for those who can't tolerate beef.

    Regarding protein, no, protein is easy to come by in subsistence cultures, beans and grains have plenty of proteins. What's hard to come by is *fat*. Your body needs a certain amount of fat to process various necessary nutrients, and your red beans and rice dish feels like it's missing something without some fat in it. One of the staples in subsistence culture is salt pork. Pigs can fatten themselves on the mast in the forest understory -- the acorns and pine nuts and other things that people can't easily eat themselves -- and then slabs of salt-cured fatback will keep in a cool place for a long time. Put a four-ounce chunk of it in your red beans and rice dish, and suddenly your red beans and rice becomes filling, rather than unsatisfying. When I am backpacking, fat is the hardest thing for me to get enough of, because everything I'm hauling is dried or all the fat driven out during the jerking process to keep it from becoming rancid, protein and carbos are easy to haul, fat, on the other hand... well, I carry a bit of olive oil, but vegetable fat just doesn't fill the same need as animal fat. Humans are omnivores, in the end.

    BTW, eggs are high in both fat and protein, and both are reasons why chickens are nice to have after the zombie apocalypse...

    - Badtux the Subsistence Penguin

  4. I occasionally had good pho when we lived in San Francispho, but they've got REAL Vietnamese people up there, so the food bar was set high. Ditto for Vancouverainia here. Hard to find an above-average Thai restaurant, but more excellent Vietnamese places than you can shake a chopstick at.

    Good point about the fat, though. From nutrition class in nursing school, I recall the fact that a gram of fat has 9 calories, vs. 4 calories per gram of protein are carbohydrates. More satisfying to the bodily energy equation! And in terms of the science of cooking, many recipes make mention of the "mouth feel" properties of fat. Things taste too thin without it.

    As I contemplate the zombie apocalypse future which I anticipate, but still cannot fully believe will come, I think about how less-developed cultures got by in the past. Laying birds, as you mention, and pigs are good. Asian cultures expanded their populations for millennia with these. Goats were key in the Middle East -- scrap eaters too, which would produce milk steadily, an advantage over swine. South Americans had guinea pigs they raised for meat. I was about to write something snarky about that, but the more I think about it, the more feasible it sounds. Better than Kentucky Fried Rat.

    I'm trying to get ready for life after a collapse. To some extent, I'm just wanking at being a yuppie survivalist, though. After living my life in Westernized comfort, would I really WANT to scrape by in the Afterscape? I know my wife wouldn't, and she would kill herself when times got too unpleasant. I'd probably soldier on for a few years, because I have a higher tolerance for crap conditions.

    If the worst happens and I do have to adapt to a new way of living, my main reasons to do so would be to offer a living alternative to my daughter (if she's not too wedded to the current way of doing things) and to help people around me keep getting by. As for me, I've had a good life. I've seen enough people dying in hospital to glom that it's not about how you hit your end; it's about the amount of pleasure you have along the road that gets you to the endpoint. The key is to conscious of how good you've got it while you've got it good.

  5. Bukko, the Vietnamese population of San Jose far surpasses that of San Francisco. Indeed, SJ has a couple of Vietnamese city councilpersons, something which San Francisco can't boast of. While Santa Clara is more known for Koreans than Vietnamese, the proprietors of the local pho shops are, indeed, Vietnamese, as are most of their clientele. It's just that they've developed a unique Vietnamese fast food (the local pho) over the long decades of exile, that's all. It's "authentic" in that it's uniquely Vietnamese created by Vietnamese for Vietnamese, but it's not "authentic" in that nobody in Vietnam ever made pho like this.

    Regarding the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse, if I survive, it will only be because I want to wag my finger at people and tell them "I told you so!" heh. I know a lot of "survivalist" stuff because that is where my grandparents came from -- subsistence farmers -- and I talked a lot to that generation about how they lived, but none of them wanted to go back to subsistence farming, and frankly, from their descriptions, I don't blame them. Not that they have any opinion anymore, since they are, well, dead now... but that's just another indicator that I ain't a young penguin anymore, sigh.

    - Badtux the Pho-eatin' Penguin

  6. Changing the subject, my 51-year-old husband is out on his usual 40-60 mile Sunday bike ride, and he's not pudgy, and he's not balding. Meanwhile I'm home struggling to make sense of my thesis data.

    And for another change of subject, what kind of screen do you use that's kitty-resistant? My neighbor's cat has put rents in my screen door begging for food (which I, silly ass that I am, feed him).

  7. Minerva, I assume your husband isn't riding the typical tiny little crotch rocket that the masculinity-deprived seem to relish riding...

    Regarding the cat-resistant screening, I just went to Home Cheapo and asked them where the screen was and they took me to it, it's a heavy black polyester screen. Take a sample of your spline from your current screen (just find the end of it, pull an inch off, and cut it off with scissors), and get one size smaller as well as the roller tool and a carpet knife if you don't have them. It's fairly easy to roll new screen into a frame, just lie the frame flat on the ground (or on the floor of your living room!), pull the spline out, pull the screen out, lay the new screen flat on the top of the frame and use scissors to cut it so that it overlaps the spline gutter by about an inch on all sides, use package tape or duct tape or something to sort of tension it (note that rolling the spline into the seam will finish the job of tensioning it), start at one corner of a long side and start rolling the screen into the gutter, and then the spline into the gutter. Once you're at the top of the corner, re-adjust your tape on the other side to sort of tension it there again (note that you will have pulled the tape loose when you pushed the screen into this gutter), then roll the screen into the gutter at the corner, and use a flat screwdriver to push the spline into the corner of the gutter. Then continue along that short side. Once you do that, take that last corner that doesn't have spline in it and pull it out and reattach its tape, then come down the other long side, around that corner, then back to the original corner you started at. You'll have a nicely tensioned screen at that point, with some screen sticking up out of the gutter on all sides. With regular screen you just take your carpet knife at this point and zip it around the outside of the gutter (pointing out towards the edge of the frame) and the excess screen simply falls off as you tug at it. With this heavy pet-resistant screen the principle is the same, but it is *tough*, and I'm afraid that mine looks a little more ragged at the edges than I'd like because this is some serious tough screen!

    - Badtux the Handy Penguin

  8. Thanks for the lesson on screen-replacement, BT.

    And you're right, my husband rides a fairly expensive road bike sized properly to fit him... and rides it every day to work, too, which puts between 6000 and 7000 miles on it each year.

    I wish I had his comfort level with biking in traffic. I feel like roadkill waiting to happen when I'm on a bike in an urban area.

  9. That bike-fear is also a sad feature of American culture, Minerva. Urban road layout and more importantly, societal attitudes, are more bike-friendly in other countries. Australia had more bike lanes in the streets than the U.S. does, and Canada has about triple what Oz does, even to the point of Vancouver authorities shutting off car lanes in certain downtown streets so bikes can have exclusive use.

    Plus, people in other countries are more respectful of bicyclists. I've been surprised how many times cars defer to me on my Raleigh, and it's not just because Canucks are polite. Other societies are more tolerant of bikes, because of teaching in schools and through the meeja, and also because people there are more likely to have gotten around on bikes at some time more recently than when they were in elementary school.

    I compare that to when I'd ride in the U.S., especially Florida, where I had the choice of risking my life on pavement, or risking my bones on sandy shoulders. So far in Canada nobody's honked, screamed or thrown beer bottles at me, and I only got that reaction once or twice during four years Down Under. America, it was not an uncommon thing.

    It's just a shame that the U.S. has given in to its most overweening, jerkoff attitudes in so many ways. When a population has been beaten down in so many ways, but still gets the message that people should be sneering bullies to prove how superior they are, it plays out in the types of bad behaviour that you see from the corporate boardroom to the local streets. America -- it could have been so much better, if only it tried a little...


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