Wednesday, August 31, 2005
We'll All Float On 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
My better half just forwarded me this bit of news, from the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce:
This is not a good time to break a tooth. Especially if you are a patient of Dr. Jack Horbal of [Chicago]. Dr. Horbal’s voice on the telephone, Marcia, started her calls first thing Monday, canceling all appointments for the next two weeks. Dr. Jack was home packing and trying to hustle up plane tickets to Maryland where he is joining a unit of forensic dentists heading for New Orleans [to assist after Hurricane Katrina]. The less-than-expected fatalities will not get him home any faster because part of his job will be to identify the formerly buried corpses by their dental records.
To quote Pennywise the Clown in Stephen King's "IT," "Oh yes, we all float - and when you're down here with us, you'll float too!" Darn. So our dentist is a certfied forensic dentist. And we were just about to make appointments to get our teeth cleaned.

UPDATE: Terrible, terrible news from the Katrina Zone...New Orleans' mayor reports that there may be thousands of dead in the hurricane's wake, making Katrina America's worst hurricane ever. [1969's Camille took the lives of less than 300]

[P.S.] Not to make light of this dreadful tragedy; but if you're not a regular reader of this blog, be advised that yours truly often employs black humor to deal with horrors like these. It's an East European thing.

Picture Archives: Canadian Arrow Rocket 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
The preferred suborbital conveyance for visiting the University of Chicago. The upside: much faster than the expressway during rush hour, and you can finance your rocket fuel by offering spacedives. The downside: draws quite a crowd wherever you go, and you'll need at least four parking spaces.

White is the New Black White 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
The classic White Tee goes gangstaFrom CBS2-TV Chicago:
(AP) CHICAGO Forget all that talk about gang colors.

Police in Chicago say the plain white T-shirt is the latest in gang-member attire. Sergeant James Fiduccia calls it "urban camouflage" adopted by gang members who want to blend in while they sell their drugs. Fiduccia - who works for Chicago's Gang Intelligence Section - says the white T-shirt is being sported by several different gangs when members are doing business. And he says officers watching a recent picnic of suspected gang members saw 400 to 600 people, all wearing white.
UPDATE: The Chicago Sun-Times expands on the white T-shirt story:
...a University of Illinois at Chicago professor who has spent several years studying Chicago gangs cautioned that a lot of kids wearing the shirts are doing what James Dean did in his white T - rebelling and not much else. And *this particular song, which is quite catchy, adds to the allure of the look, said UIC's John Hagedorn.

"Listen to it once, and you'll get it," Hagedorn said. "If you're a kid and you hear it, you'll want to run out and get a big T."
* "White Tees" by Dem Franchise Boyz

Monday, August 29, 2005
Musings on Hurricane Katrina 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
  1. If hurricanes are 'gendered,' why does this CNN headline read "Katrina unleashes its wrath"?
  2. CNN front page decting Hurricane Katrina
  3. Why are storms given human names? Is it easier for people to deal with natural disasters if they feel the force has some sort of sentience? According to NOAA:
    Using women’s names became the practice during World War II, following the use of a woman’s name for a storm in the 1941 novel "Storm" by George R. Stewart. In 1951 the United States adopted a confusing plan to name storms by a phonetic alphabet (Able, Baker, Charlie), and in 1953 the nation’s weather services returned to using female names. The practice of using female names exclusively ended in 1978 when names from both genders were used to designate storms in the eastern Pacific. A year later, male and female names were included in lists for the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. The name lists, which have been agreed upon at international meetings of the World Meteorological Organization, have a French, Spanish, Dutch, and English flavor because hurricanes affect other nations and are tracked by the public and weather services of many countries.
  4. Pity the folk who are sheltered in the Superdome, a structure estimated to be able to withstand winds of 120 mph - but Katrina is a 135 mph+ hurricane. Remember the 1978 disaster flick The Swarm, where the Superdome was a chilly Super Safe Haven against a killer bee invasion?

Friday, August 26, 2005
The Friday Random Ten: The No Sleep For The Wicked Edition 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
This week's FRT is an odd blend of post-punk, glam, New Wave, classic rock, ambient and funk: genres as divergent and quarrelsome as siblings in a "mixed family," but each sharing some genetic likeness with the others. In some strange way, they're inseparable.
  1. The Stranglers - "Always the Sun"
  2. Oceansize - "Women Who Love Men Who Love Drugs"
  3. Marc Bolan & T. Rex - "Zip Gun Boogie"
  4. Brian Eno - "An Arc of Doves"
  5. The Fixx - "One Thing Leads To Another"
  6. The Meters - "Funkify Your Life"
  7. Kate Bush - "Strange Phenomena"
  8. Clan of Xymox - "A Day (remix)"
  9. The Raveonettes - "Ode to L.A."
  10. Genesis - "Follow You, Follow Me": I never cease to be amazed that this song was once a "classic rock radio staple." By today's standards, it's as mellow and MOR as "rock" gets.
Then again, Queen, REO Speedwagon, Journey, Foreigner, Van Halen and other "hard rock" acts transitioned into the not-so-hard-rock stable over time, both by relative "hardening" of newer songs by newer acts that were played on the radio, and by what I like to call the older bands' *"hardness perception shift." Once a band has a "mellower" hit song, that band's catalog - even their harder songs - become perceived by radio programmers (and by extension, the listening public) as softer. But that's another theory, for another posting.

* Also known as the process of fogeyfication. For you Chicago Northsiders, check out "Morse Avenue Is Great" - a blog by Archie Gait, "dedicated to dispelling the myth that Morse Ave. [in Rogers Park] is some sort of hellhole." [as seen on Gapers Block] Have a wunderbar weekend.

Thursday, August 25, 2005
farkleberries Links du Jour 113: The Glandularly-Themed Edition 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Picture Archives: University of Chicago Secret Police 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
No, it's not Photoshopped™. This lovely Toyota is painted in 'urban camouflage' style - light grey and dark grey flat primer. If the car isn't moving, no one can see it against Midway dried mud, concrete, and cloudy skies. I only saw it parked outside once, and never again. «Sssh.»

Wednesday, August 24, 2005
farkleberries links du Jour 112: In Praise of Geekish Juvenilia 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Picture Archives: Secure Bike Lock? 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Pretzel-shaped lock, no bike. Either these Kryptonite® U-shaped bike locks are a lot less secure than advertised, or there's a Yeti bicycle thief prowling the University of Chicago campus. You decide.

Handy farkleberries Tip #11: Get The Gum Out 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Removing chewing gum from fabrics is a tedious, messy task. Household advice tips usually suggest freezing the gum with an ice cube to harden it, or using peanut butter or a similar oily substance to loosen the mass. The problem is, ice cubes aren't really cold enough to do the trick, and if you use peanut butter or grease on a hard-to-wash surface like car upholstery, you're likely to end up with an even worse mess. What really works on gum is serious, Antarctic-grade freezing. If you don't have a chunk of dry ice or a liquid nitrogen canister handy, there is a product on the market that will quickly freeze objects down to below -60°F without leaving messy residue.

It's called "component cooler." It's marketed for chilling electronic circuits to isolate suspected intermittent thermal faults, but it also works wonders removing chewing gum from fabrics. You can buy a 4.5 ounce spray can for under $8.00 at your local Transistor Hut or other electronic supply store. Today's component cooler is made with pressurized CO2 [carbon dioxide, the same substance found in dry ice] rather than fluorinated gases like Freon™, so it's quite safe to use.

A quick (2-second) blast of cooler from about one to two inches inches away freezes gum to brittle crackliness, which should peel away easily with a little help from a plastic spoon or an old credit card (don't use metal, as it conducts heat very easily). Like any cleaning method, test it on an inconspicuous spot first. Any frozen white spots that appear are simply patches of "dry ice" that will evaporate (or more precisely, sublimate) within a few minutes.

One warning: don't use this method on hair because you might freeze surrounding skin; or nonporous surfaces like shoe treads, vinyl, or leather, which will likely crack from freezing as easily as gum. Also, remember to be very careful not to spray cooler on your fingers or hands (at -60°F, 'got frostbite?') and do clean up the broken gum shards promptly before they soften and become sticky again.

[P.S.] I haven't tried this yet, but I suspect the component cooler method would also work well for removing wax stains from fabrics or upholstery.

Monday, August 22, 2005
RIP: Robert Moog, "Father of Electronic Music" (1934-2005) 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Electronic music innovator Robert Moog, died August 21, 2005 at the age of 71Dr. Robert Moog passed away Sunday at the age of 71, after battling an inoperable brain tumor diagnosed in April.

Suffice it to say that without Robert Moog's inventions, much of the music we take for granted today would never exist. Without the Moog synthesizer and its endless permutations, we would not have, say, Wendy Carlos' Switched on Bach. Or Kraftwerk, Ultravox, Gary Numan, Vangelis, Devo...or Rick Wakeman's grandiloquent noodlings. In fact, we would not have New Wave, techno, dance, trance, house, electronica, ambient, IDM, prog-rock and a host of other musical genres that make up today's sonic landscape. From the BBC:
Born in the New York City suburb of Queens in 1934, Robert Moog - the name rhymes with "vogue" - became fascinated with electronics as a child. Aged just 14, and encouraged by his father, [he] built his first electronic instrument, a theremin. In 1954, Moog - then 19 - and his father, started their own company, RA Moog, selling theremin kits, priced $49.95 by mail order, from their home. Alongside his hobby, Moog was studying hard. From the Bronx High School of Science, he went on to Queens College, before graduating in electrical engineering at Columbia University and earning a doctorate in engineering physics at Cornell.

Although RCA [corporation] had already built a musical synthesiser, it was a vast beast, and never intended for sale. What Moog did, in 1964, was to produce and market a practical instrument, a small keyboard synth which could be used with relative ease. "I didn't know what the hell I was doing," Moog later recalled. "I was doing this thing to have a good time, then all of a sudden someone's saying to me, 'I'll take one of those and two of that.' That's how I got into business."

Hollywood soon expressed an interest, but it was Wendy Carlos' 1968 Grammy-winning album, Switched-On Bach, which brought the Moog synthesiser to spectacular prominence. Before long many musicians and groups, including the Doors, the Grateful Dead, the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, were using Moog synthesisers...many musicians, including Brian Eno, Frank Zappa, The Cure and Fat Boy Slim, sought the Moog sound, keeping it alive, even as analogue synthesisers were wiped-out by their digital cousins.
If the Moog never existed, then at least half of my music collection would be whisked away Rapture-style into oblivion, leaving behind some pure classical, jazz, old rock-n-roll, jug band and choral music. Oh, and Blondie's "Rapture" probably would never have been recorded, either.

Sunday, August 21, 2005
Picture Archives: Orange Crush(ed) 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
It is what it is.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
The conundrum of pricing a highly in-demand product at a far below-market price is that sometimes you may actually deter buyers, who may believe the product somehow substandard or defective to be sold so cheaply. Or, in this case, when the publicly perceived value of a product is far greater than its actual value, which is in turn much greater than its asking price, well...you get a seething mob of rabble:
RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- A rush to purchase $50 used laptops turned into a violent stampede Tuesday, with people getting thrown to the pavement, beaten with a folding chair and nearly driven over. One woman went so far to wet herself rather than surrender her place in line.

"This is total, total chaos," said Latoya Jones, 19, who lost one of her flip-flops in the ordeal and later limped around on the sizzling blacktop with one foot bare.

More than 1,000 people turned out at the Richmond International Raceway in hopes of getting their hands on one of the 4-year-old Apple iBooks, which retail for between $999 and $1,299. The Henrico County school system was selling 1,000 of the computers to county residents...[w]hen the gates opened, it became a terrifying mob scene. People threw themselves forward, screaming and pushing each other. A little girl's stroller was crushed in the stampede. Witnesses said an elderly man was thrown to the pavement, and someone in a car tried to drive his way through the crowd.
Blandine Alexander, 33, said one woman standing in front of her was so desperate to retain her place in line that she urinated on herself.
Jesse Sandler said he was one of the people pushing forward, using a folding chair he had brought with him to beat back people who tried to cut in front of him. "I took my chair here and I threw it over my shoulder and I went, 'Bam,"' the 20-year-old said nonchalantly..."They were getting in front of me and I was there a lot earlier than them, so I thought that it was just," he said.
Consider this situation. What would you do if a stranger approached you (or placed a classfied ad in the paper) and said, "I've got a used iBook laptop I'll sell you for $50.00." You'd probably think, "Why only fifty dollars? What's wrong with it?"

I also don't understand what the organizers of the sale were thinking, letting a mob like that into the building - they should have taken a lesson from the Tickle Me Elmo days, and either given numbered tickets to the first thousand people, or held a lottery to determine who gets to buy one for $50.00. Of course, this opens up the field for scalping "winning" tickets for more than $50.00, but Henrico County could have avoided a lot of the problem by simply raising the price. Certainly they would have still sold all 1000 if they asked $100.00, or even $200.00 or more.

This does not bode well for the coming apocalypse days, when commodieties like gasoline (or even worse, drinkable water) will be dispensed in soda-can size helpings. Of course, by that time each soda can of gas or tap water will probably cost you $50.00.

For ---k's sake, people...it's only a four year old laptop...that's like, a century in computer years. Would you want to go down in history as the woman who deliberately wet herself in public just so she could get a junky old laptop?

Monday, August 15, 2005
The Mystery of Helios Flight 522 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
UPDATE: The BBC News and the Associated Press report:
...Monday, police in northern Greece said they had arrested a man who said he had received a telephone text message from a passenger on board the doomed plane, according to AP.

Police said the man was Nektarios-Sotirios Voutas, 32, who had told Greek TV stations Sunday his cousin texted him minutes before the crash saying: "Farewell, cousin, here we're frozen." Authorities said they believed the man was lying, and his cousin's name was not on the Cypriot government's official list of victims.
I thought that was a bit fishy, too...read on:

With speculation that all passengers on board, as well as the crew, froze to death in their seats before the doomed 737 crashed, many strange inconsistencies are appearing in new reports. Several news accounts state that the pair of Greek F-16 fighters scrambled to intercept the unreponsive "renegade" airliner saw that the cockpit was empty. However, news reports in the German Expatica.com say that the fighter pilots did see someone inside the cockpit, although without clarification from the damaged "black box" recorder, we may never know if the unauthorized person(s) were there to help or harm:
The last minutes of the 737 flight appear to have baffled Greek authorities.

Two Greek F-16 fighter planes were ordered to trail the "renegade jet" after it lost contact with the control tower at Athens International Airport once it entered Greek airspace over the Aegean Sea, approximately 23 minutes after take-off.

The fighter pilots reported to Greek authorities that, with the pilots apparently out of action, there may have been a last effort by others on the plane to bring it under control.

They reported seeing two individuals in the cockpit, but it is unclear if they were passengers or crew members.

The F-16 pilots also reported that oxygen masks were hanging down in the cabin, indicating a problem with the oxygen supply onboard. A man whose cousin was a passenger on the plane told Greek television he received a cell-phone text message minutes before the crash.

"The pilot has turned blue," it said. "Cousin, farewell we are freezing." But it was not clear whether the pilot had left the cockpit to enter the passenger cabin or whether the sender of the text message had been in the cockpit.
Think about it - if the pilot and co-pilot were incapacitated [other reports say the pilot was absent from the cockpit, while the co-pilot was seen slumped over in his chair] who on board was still conscious enough to attempt to take control of the plane, and how and why were they still able to move about? Since it does take come calm and presence of mind to initiate, type, and send a text message, the fatalistic tone of the note is a bit odd - if the messager was that lucid, why not try to contact someone using the emergency radio (or the phone) for help? Why only "Cousin, farewell we are freezing"?

Other inconsistencies include the nationalities of the passengers (some reports say all were Cypriot, some say there were *Australian (see update) and Armenian passengers as well), the number of children on board (first reports from the airline said there were 48 children on board out of 121 total occupants, which is a rather high number), later accounts are quite different. From CTV Canada:
Greek deputy Health Minister Giorgos Constantopoulos said Monday that there were 21 children, contradicting without explanation statements the day before that suggested there were 48 children.
MORE: offical press release from the Cyprus News Agency
"Speculation runs high over Helios Disaster" [Cyprus Mail]
CBC: "Cypriot airliner 'black boxes' sent to France; searchers seek 3 more bodies"

*UPDATE: The tragic deaths of all but but the youngest member (a 2-year old boy left in the care of relatives) of the Demos Xiourouppa family, the Australian passengers who died on flight 522.

9/11: Those Who Were There, Speak 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Recently released by a New York State appellate court order, the transcribed interviews of over 500 firefighters and emergency responders are now available for public viewing at the New York Times September 11th Records website. This excerpt appears in the October 23rd, 2001 interview testimony of NYFD Battalion #1 Chief Joseph Pfeifer who was with the crew (seen many times in news accounts) investigating a gas leak near the WTC:
"...I was working the night before in the 1st Battalion, and sometime about 8:15 or so in the morning we got a call to Lispenard and Church for a gas leak in the street. We were there for a while checking on the gas leak, and then we heard the loud roar of the plane come over, and we turned around and we looked and we saw the plane coming down, heading south towards the Trade Center, and made a direct hit on the Trade Center.

Q. You actually saw it hit?

A. I saw it hit. Within about ten seconds after that or so I gave the first report on the radio and transmitted a second alarm for a plane into the Trade Center, and then shortly after that, the units I was with, I told them all to start in to the Trade Center, and shortly after that I found a radio to transmit the third alarm. I told the dispatcher this was a direct attack on the Trade Center and we had the second alarm coming in on the north tower and to stage the third alarm on Vesey and West. I pulled in front of the building. I looked up and I saw no fire coming out, no smoke coming out, which would have been the west side of the building.
What I find interesting - and I may be reading too much into this language - is where Chief Pfeifer says, "I told the dispatcher this was a direct attack on the Trade Center."

Remember, this was the first of the planes to hit, and at that point in time it was believed the airliner crashed into North Tower 1 by accident. It was not until the second plane struck the South Tower 2 that the deliberate nature of the attack was clear. I think one explanation for his terminology might be that by late October, when Chief Pfeifer was interviewed, his recollection may have been he told the dispatcher the Trade Center was "under attack," or perhaps the term "attack" is specialized firefighter jargon that would have applied in this case regardless of implied intention. From page 4 of the 9/11 Commission Report:
The plane [American Airlines flight 11] took off at 7:59. Just before 8:14, it had climbed to 26,000 feet, not quite its initial assigned cruising altitude of 29,000 feet. All communications and flight profile data were normal. About this time the "Fasten Seatbelt" sign would usually have been turned off and the flight attendants would have begun preparing for cabin service.

At that same time, American 11 had its last routine communication with the ground when it acknowledged navigational instructions from the FAA's air traffic control (ATC) center in Boston. Sixteen seconds after that transmission, ATC instructed the aircraft's pilots to climb to 35,000 feet. That message and all subsequent attempts to contact the flight were not acknowledged. From this and other evidence, we believe the hijacking began at 8:14 or shortly thereafter.
MORE: the official 9/11 Commission Report, 585 pp. (PDF) available from http://www.9-11commission.gov/report/911Report.pdf

There is so much to be learned from these wrenching, uncensored accounts: if you've seen the Jules and Gedeon Naudet documentary, 9/11: The Filmmakers Commemorative Edition, you've seen the sad images of Father Mychal Judge, who just succumbed to a fatal heart attack, being carried out of the building by the NYFD. Chief Pfeifer was the firefighter who found him in the debris:
And that was just in the blackness where at that point we didn't even know our way out. Then Father Judge was there and he was lying on the ground and I went over to him, took off his collar, I opened up his shirt, checked for a pulse, and I knew at that point that he didn't have any.

Q. Where was he?

A. He was with us in the lobby all the time.

Q. In the lobby?

A. Right. He was saying some prayers and he was very anxious in the lobby. I could watch him. He was very concerned, very different, Father Judge, as I know him. Apparently, what it was, it was a heart attack. We didn't know at the time it was a heart attack. We thought he was hit with debris.
The last glimmers of hope and resignation of building collape's finally are evident in this excerpt closing the Times article:
"I think that probably the biggest impression I got out of this whole thing was this is probably as close to being in an infantry unit that gets overrun," said Joseph Cahill, a paramedic. "We are scattered everywhere. Nobody knew where anybody was. Nobody knew who was in charge. It really felt for a moment that I was in 'Apocalypse Now,' where Martin Sheen goes: 'Where is your C.O.? Ain't that you? No. Uh-oh.' "

The first fatality among firefighters had been Firefighter Suhr, hit by the falling woman. As the paramedics who brought him to the hospital headed back to the trade center, a nun and an emergency room doctor climbed into the ambulance. As they drove, they encountered an emergency medical technician walking toward them out of a cloud of smoke. The buildings were now down and he was holding his helmet.

They asked where his partner was, and the wandering medic responded that he had left him. "I'm looking for my father," he explained. "He was in the World Trade Center."

"We said, 'Why don't you get in the back with us?'" recalled Soraya O'Donnell, an emergency medical technician.

Sunday, August 14, 2005
The Dumpster Gods Have Smiled Again 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Peavey Amp, with JezebelLast night, while discarding several bags of trash and old phone books in the alley, I lifted up the lid of one Dumpster and saw what looked like a small guitar amplifier. It was dusty but relatively clean, and looked intact - no broken power cord, burned parts or fried insulation smell - nor any dried vomit in the speakers, which is always a plus.

[Amp shown here, with Jezebel for size comparison. Just so you know, I'm not too proud to scrounge decent electronic goodies from the rubbish bin: it's my way of minimizing the size of my WEEE Man.]

I took it home, cleaned it off and fired it up: I plugged in my bass, and it worked perfectly. Not quite enough low end for a bass practice amp, but the chorus channel is very nice - it gives a light "faux-fretless" detuning effect to harmonics and higher notes. So, I now own an "apartment size" 10 Watt Peavey Audition Chorus amp as part of my Found Equipment Arsenal. Peavey discontinued this model in the late 80's, but it apparently still has a reputation as a clean-sounding, loud, reliable little amp. Now all I need is the electric guitar to go with it: I'll keep my eyes open, because one might show up in the Dumpster next week.

Why someone would throw out a perfectly good guitar amp is anyone's guess. Maybe they found Salvation and were cleansing their lives of all Instruments of Satan. Maybe the discard-er's boyfriend/girlfriend dumped them and they wanted to get rid of anything left behind by THAT PSYCHO. I don't know.

[Dumpster Diver's Tip #5: an ideal time to search for good stuff is a day or so after loud, public breakups in your building. The day after a neighbor's moving day is another, but people seem to throw out better items post-breakup than post-move.]

I do know that there was a small desktop TV in the Dumpster as well, but I didn't need one of those right now. You're welcome to it, if you like.

Saturday, August 13, 2005
British Soul Food: Beans on Toast 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Heinz Beans, just like the kind Roger Daltrey of the Who bathes inThis week, I cooked up (oops, now I'm using "drug slang") my first batch of honest-to-goodness Beans on Toast. If the turquoise-blue can looks familiar, it's because you've probably seen a gigantic version on the cover of the Who's 1967 album, The Who Sell Out: the one where Pete Townshend sticks a foot-high can of *Odorono in his pit in the left panel, while Roger Daltrey sits in a bean-filled bathtub holding a huge can of Heinz Baked Beans on the right. The tub-full-of-beans image seems to have been imitated a few times by other people: its humorous gunge-fetish esthetic is obvious. But, I'm going off on a tangent...we're talking Beans on Toast, a much tastier and healthier dish than its mid-Century U.S. counterpart, Sh-t on a Shingle [click for an S.O.S. recipe from the Navy Wives Cookbook].

Of course you need the blue can to make real Beans on Toast. American baked beans, while fine for picnics and barbecues, don't work as a substitute. Campers, college students and minimum-wage workers have been eating baked bean sandwiches for ages, but they're nothing like this dish. You'll find stateside beans are smaller and unsatisfyingly mushy, and the tomato sauce too sweet and syrupy for this savory meal. British Heinz Beans can be hard to find, but I recently discovered Patel Brothers grocery (a splendid East Indian market on Devon Avenue in Chicago) carries authentic import beans for only 99 cents per 13.5-ounce can - much cheaper than I've seen in various European import markets.

Traditionally, Beans on Toast is prepared by toasting a piece of sandwich bread and topping it with heated - not boiled, because that "impairs flavor" according to the manufacturer - Heinz Beans, and a fried egg and/or grated cheese if desired. Now, toasted bread and beans by themselves are surprisingly tasty and filling together, and you can find some good recipes and Beans on Toast lore at www.beansontoast.com and the UK Food Standards Agency website, but I decided to create Beans on Toast, Chicago Style:First, you'll need a covered medium non-stick frying pan. Cook your choice of meat (if you're using meat) until nicely browned and some of the fat is released. Remove meat and place on a covered dish to keep warm, and toast the bread slices in the same pan using the retained pan drippings.

[Look, I didn't say this was a diet dish...it says "Chicago Style" in the name!]

Place the toasted bread slices on two plates, two on each, slightly overlapping. If you're feeling fancy, cut the slices diagonally into Toast Points.

Now that the non-stick pan is relatively dry - since the toast has absorbed the meat juices - add one teaspoon of olive oil to the pan on medium heat. Crack the four eggs onto the pan, taking care not to break the yolks. Cook in sunny-side-up fashion to desired doneness, using the pan's cover to retain heat for the last few minutes. Divide the eggs into two sets of two, and remove them carefully to the covered plate holding the meat. Finally, empty the can of Heinz® beans into the saucepan, and heat up just to the simmering point.

Assemble your Beans on Toast as follows: divide the browned meat across the two plates of toast slices, then pour half of the heated beans over each serving. Top the beans with the eggs, and sprinkle pepper (and salt if you wish) lightly on top. If you're feeling extravagant, and you've recently received a clean bill of health from your physical, grate some cheese on top and place oven-proof dishes (you did use oven-proof dishes, didn't you?) briefly under a hot broiler until cheese melts.

Consume with a cuppa - or a pint of Guinness ale - in front of the telly while watching Red Dwarf, Monty Python's Flying Circus (or Ab Fab) with a good friend who doesn't mind bubble baths tomorrow. Cheerio!

Friday, August 12, 2005
Friday Random Ten 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
  1. David Bowie - "Red Sails"
  2. Shiv Mahima - "Mai To Shiv Ki Pujaran Banogee"
  3. Harry Nilsson - "Coconut"
  4. 311 - "Misdirected Hostility"
  5. Secret Machines - "It's A Bad Wind That Don't Blow Somebody Some Good"
  6. Sonny Rollins - "This Love of Mine"
  7. The B52's - "Roam"
  8. Kate Bush - "Experiment IV":
    The deadly sound-wraith from Kate Bush's 'Experiment IV' video"We were working secretly For the military. We only know in theory what we are doing: music made for pleasure, music made to thrill. It was music we were making here until they told us all they wanted was a sound that could kill someone from a distance. So we go ahead, and the meters are over in the red. It's a mistake in the making."
    [Also see: Lone Sentry's "The Noise That Kills," on actual WWII lethal sound experiments; and "When Killing Just Won't Do," in Harper's]
  9. Holly Johnson - "Americanos"
  10. Common - "Payback is a Grandmother"

Thursday, August 11, 2005
Picture Archives: 60th Street Arson Dogg 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Over the past year I've been taking snapshots of strange, tought-provoking or memorable sights in my daily travel, so I recently dug up some images mouldering on my little Olympus digital camera/voice recorder. Here's one of a fading street mural painted on the Metra station overpass wall at the University of Chicago, at the east end of the Midway. The central character: a human with a snarling dog's head looking over his shoulder, holding a gasoline can and lit torch. Note the wad of green cash in Dogg's back pocket.

Salad Hygiene 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
The first thing that made me suspicious of these ready-mix greens is the company's assertion that they have "salad facilities located close to [my] store."

How do they know where I'm buying their greens? Has anyone ever seen or visited a "salad facility"?

Then, there's a doozy for Lazy Grammar Watchers in the cheery circled text:
"Thoroughly washed! So you don't have to."
So I don't have to...what? Are they trying to tell us buying pre-washed salad prevents the need for taking showers?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Must Be Them iPods 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
So, yesterday I was walking from the Roosevelt Road Metra station to the Roosevelt Red Line, behind a rural-looking middle-aged man and a skinny girl in pink tank top, tight jeans and pigtails. He's barrel-shaped, bald and bearded, with dark blue flood-length overalls and a blue farmer's shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He's also wearing muddy Caterpillar boots in this 90-degree plus steamy early evening, as the low sun shifts its gaze to deep yellow.

Farmer Pa looks like he's visiting his college-age daughter in the city. There are less savory conclusions that could be drawn, but for the purposes of this particular story we shall ignore them.

At the curb near Wabash and Roosevelt stands a lanky, late teen or twenty-something dude with unruly loooong blond hair - not seen since the heyday of Peter Frampton and Leif Garrett - and a knee-length baggy, baggy plaid shirt and ripped jeans so long his feet are entirely concealed. Suddenly, Leif Frampton begins to stomp and gyrate wildly, seemingly in the throes of a Brazilian fire ant underwear siege. For nearly a minute, "Leif" performs some manic knee-slapping, air-guitar-strumming rain dance while moaning loudly and unintelligibly to unheard rhythms.

A few feet away Farmer Pa and daughter look a bit startled at the sudden burst of activity from the odd-looking young man, but keep walking West up busy Roosevelt Road.

"Must be them i-Pods," Farmer Pa says.

Monday, August 08, 2005
Don't Touch The Tinfoil, Kids: It's For Hats Only 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
Begging to Differ reports that the War on Drugs has reached "a whole new level of stupidity" - Georgia authorities announced the results of a sting arresting store clerks for selling household items that can be used to "cook" methamphetamine, like aluminum foil, coffee filters and cat litter if the seller suspects they may be used illegally. Apparently, part of the problem described here (besides the absurd breadth of what now constitutes 'drug paraphernalia') are language subtleties - but when police start monitoring sales of cat litter and coffee filters, you know we're going a tad too far. From the New York Times:
ROME, Ga., July 29 - When they charged 49 convenience store clerks and owners in rural northwest Georgia with selling materials used to make methamphetamine, federal prosecutors declared that they had conclusive evidence. Hidden microphones and cameras, they said, had caught the workers acknowledging that the products would be used to make the drug.

But weeks of court motions have produced many questions. Forty-four of the defendants are Indian immigrants - 32, mostly unrelated, are named Patel - and many spoke little more than the kind of transactional English mocked in sitcoms. So when a government informant told store clerks that he needed the cold medicine, matches and camping fuel to "finish up a cook," some of them said they figured he must have meant something about barbecue.

The case of Operation Meth Merchant illustrates another difficulty for law enforcement officials fighting methamphetamine, a highly addictive drug that can be made with ordinary grocery store items.

Many states, including Georgia, have recently enacted laws restricting the sale of common cold medicines like Sudafed, and nationwide, the police are telling merchants to be suspicious of sales of charcoal, coffee filters, aluminum foil and Kitty Litter. Walgreens agreed this week to pay $1.3 million for failing to monitor the sale of over-the-counter cold medicine that was bought by a methamphetamine dealer in Texas.
In some cases, the language barriers seem obvious - one videotape shows cold medicine stacked next to a sign saying, "Cheek your change befor you leave a counter." Investigators footnoted court papers to explain that the clue the informants dropped most often - that they were doing "a cook" - is a "common term" meth makers use. Lawyers argue that if the courts could not be expected to understand what this meant, neither could immigrants with a limited grasp of English.

"This is not even slang language like 'gonna,' 'wanna,' " said Malvika Patel, who spent three days in jail before being cleared this month. " 'Cook' is very clear; it means food." And in this context, she said, some of the items the government wants stores to monitor would not set off any alarms. "When I do barbecue, I have four families. I never have enough aluminum foil."
Maybe some of the clerks are being disingenuous, but c'mon...summertime in Georgia is synonymous with "barbecue." I'd like to see how comfortable the neighborhood remains for stores who refuse to sell foil and coffee filters to anyone who looka' like a cooka'. What's next? Coffee filters by prescription only?

Anyhow, having police informants "mention" (using ambiguous slang:
"Gotcha! Simon says, 'cook'!") that the products being purchased are intended for drug preparation seems like the stupidest possible form of entrapment. By the way, those of you that really are meth cooks...if you feel a burning [ha, ha] need to tell convenience store clerks what the cold medicine and camping fuel you're buying are really for...you deserve whatever you get.

News like this makes me long for the days of "Why, sure, Officer...I'm buying this 'decorative water pipe' for tobacco smoking purposes only."

Friday, August 05, 2005
farkleberries Links du Jour 111 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Thursday, August 04, 2005
farkleberries links du Jour 110 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 

Wednesday, August 03, 2005
You Look Like a Terrorist 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
It took some time, but the gloves are coming off and a spade is finally being called a spade: when it comes to Homeland Security, it's about the Arabs. You know who they are: just look around.

At least that's the viewpoint coming out of some New York State politicians' mouths - that the police are wasting their time searching for terrorists using random checks of select subway passengers, and should instead use overt ethnic profiling to prevent terror attacks in their city. From the Associated Press, as seen on CBS 2 Chicago:
(AP) NEW YORK Arabs should be targeted for searches on city subways, two elected officials said, contending that the police department has been wasting time with random checks in its effort to prevent terrorism in the transit system.

...[O]ver the weekend, state Assemblyman Dov Hikind said police should be focusing on those who fit the "terrorist profile." "They all look a certain way," said Hikind, a Democrat from Brooklyn. "It's all very nice to be politically correct here, but we're talking about terrorism."
"The reality is that there is a group of people who want to kill us and destroy our way of life," he said. "Young Arab fundamentalists are the individuals undertaking these acts of terror, and we should keep those facts prominently in our minds and eyes as we attempt to secure our populace." Oddo commended Hikind for "rushing headlong against the strong undertow of political correctness." [read full article]
First of all, this approach of visually profiling high-risk individuals is fraught with problems, not the least of which is stereotype inaccuracies. Not all who look "Arab" are Middle Easterners, or Muslims for that matter - much less members of the specific subset of that group that includes radical fundamentalists, who are only one specific threat group.

Even the history of terrorism belies the proposed effectiveness of ethnic profiling: it would never have picked Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh out of a New York subway crowd, not in a million years.

Politicians who espouse searching for "suspicious-looking Arabs" are gambling on the idea that people can't (or won't) change their physical appearance to "pass" and avoid suspicion, and many people of Islamic background will not opt to dress in a manner that belies the tenets of their faith. Of course, many Muslims - okay, let's call a spade a spade, Muslim men - do not wear traditional clothing like the kufi cap, the thobe, the shalwar khameez or the galabiyya, nor do they always have beards, nor do they always speak Arabic. But, if New York decides to proceed with this proposed ethno-religious profiling, any of the above characteristics could label you as a suspected terrorist, with the government's imprimatur.

I understand that the reality of policing is often about statistics, stereotypes, and intuitive hunches that run counter to what we call "civil liberties," but as a practical measure "Arab profiling" would do little or nothing to make our cities safer. But - terrorism is simply an intermittent-payoff "shell game." Once the knowledge that police are surveilling for "Arabs" becomes public knowledge, terrorists will simply change their approach and their appearance. It's all about game theory, and shifting police resources to target the outwardly recognized symbolism of previous terrorist acts doesn't really address the nature of the real risk: the fluid menace of terrorism continually shifts once an attack has taken place. That's partly why we haven't seen a repeat of the September 11 airliner attacks...yet.

Contrary to Councilman Oddo's contention, reluctance to name and target a specific ethnic group in the name of national security isn't about "political correctness." It's about fundamental civil liberties; about people in America having the freedom to live their lives and use public accommodation like mass transit without the specter of religious and ethnic profiling by authorities. Have we forgotten the hardships thousands of innocent Japanese-Americans endured for similar reasons after the attack on Pearl Harbor?

And, Councilman Oddo, I'd wager that there are more than a few "skinny, balding Italian-Americans from Staten Island" that might visually trip a New York cop's Arab-o-meter, if you get my drift. Since we're comfortable dispensing with political correctness.

You say I'd change my tune if Chicago were attacked? With police formally on the lookout for people that appear "Arab," in all honesty, I wouldn't feel 'safer.' On the contrary, I would feel much more afraid, for the simple reasons that once this sort of profiling precedent is set, any other group could be selected as the next target for selective enforcement and searches, and because authorities are focusing their attention on the obvious.

Let's be honest. Living in fear of being searched and detained by authorities solely because of your appearance is a form of terror in itself.

More: NY 1, City Councilman Backs Hikind's Call For Ethnic Profiling:
A Staten Island Republican is joining Brooklyn State Assemblyman Dov Hikind in urging local authorities to use racial profiling when deciding who they search on subways and buses. Hikind has been calling for the New York City Police Department to focus on searching people that fit a "terrorist profile," but his statements have drawn criticism both from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD. On Tuesday, however, Staten Island Councilman James Oddo said that he agrees with Hikind. In a letter sent to Hikind on Tuesday, Oddo said he is offering Hikind his support.

"Plain and simply, young Arab fundamentalists are the individuals undertaking these acts of terror," Oddo said in the letter. When Oddo was asked about the comment Tuesday night on the NY1 program "The Call," he clarified that he meant to say Islamic fundamentalists, since several of the London bombers were not Arab.

"I thought about it late last night and early this morning and I realized that I wasn't (being said) out of emotion, it was out of common sense," Oddo told host John Schiumo. "I do think that the facts are Â? and history shows that Â? there is a particular entity, a particular group of people who are engaging in these terrorist activities. And they're not skinny, balding Italian-Americans from Staten Island." Oddo says he will introduce a resolution in the city council, supporting Hikind's pending legislation in Albany.
Related, on BoingBoing yesterday: "Starting this week, three US border crossings will begin to tag visitors to America with wireless RFID-cards, which contain visitors' personally identifying information and can be read from 12 yards away. The only exempted visitors are Canadians who are not on a US business visa or engaged to an American."

Tuesday, August 02, 2005
To Wit, The 'Wit'? 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
If this 3-Space Humor Test is to be believed, I am unrepentantly dark, irredeemably unspontaneous, and mildly vulgar. Pishposh.

Frankly, I think the vulgarity scale reads harshly on the low side, but I suspect this comes from my answer on one question that asked whether I found my own flatulence funny. I answered "no," because I don't find my own funny - but other peoples' petomanie is a different matter altogether, and often results in hilarity of the most juvenile sort.

As Daniel Webster might have said, wording is everything.

UPDATE: I recently found a tattered copy of The Most of S. J. Perelman in the Powell's books freebie bin on 57th street. Wow - I'd never read any Perelman before, but what a discovery! Brilliant, brilliant stuff...
"With only two hours in Chicago I would be unable to see the city, and the thought drew me into a state of composure. I noted with pleasure that a fresh coat of grime had been given to the Dearborn Street station, though I was hardly vain enough to believe that it had anything to do with my visit. There was the usual ten-minute wait while the porters withdrew with my portable typewriter to a side room and flailed it with hammers, and at last I was aboard the "Sachem," crack train of the B.B.D.& 0. lines..."

--- Strictly from Hunger
the Wit
(65% dark, 26% spontaneous, 33% vulgar)
your humor style:

You like things edgy, subtle, and smart. I guess that means you're probably an intellectual, but don't take that to mean you're pretentious. You realize 'dumb' can be witty--after all isn't that the Simpsons' philosophy?--but rudeness for its own sake, 'gross-out' humor and most other things found in a fraternity leave you totally flat. I guess you just have a more cerebral approach than most. You have the perfect mindset for a joke writer or staff writer. Your sense of humor takes the most effort to appreciate, but it's also the best, in my opinion. Also, you probably loved the Office. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check it out here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/theoffice/.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Jon Stewart - Woody Allen - Ricky Gervais
My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on dark
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on spontaneous
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 31% on vulgar
Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on Ok Cupid

Monday, August 01, 2005
farkleberries Links du Jour 109 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink]