Tuesday, September 16, 2003

How not to make Gumbo

I am burning the last of my vacation days. Smell the smoke?

You probably can. This morning, dad strolled by and mentioned that he had okra ready for gumbo. I had told him I would cook some gumbo for him. Anyway, as he strolled back through my room, he mentioned that I needed to make hot sauce, since we had so many peppers.

So my first vacation day had been planned. I made hot sauce before lunch, and after lunch, I tried gumbo.

I used our smallest cast iron skillet. It's about 10 inches, with so much baked onto the sides that it looks like my face in high school. Bumps everywhere!

After getting all the ingredients together, I prepared to make my roux. "Time to start bouncing on the bed!" I announced. (only Rodney and Donn will get that. And anyone else who has attended the New Orleans Cooking School. If you ever get a chance to visit N'awlins, take the class and say hello to Kevin!)

So I started my roux. As I started stiring the flour and oil, I started wondering why I ever let Rodney make the roux when we make gumbo together. I quickly learned that I make a better gumbo sous chef than a gumbo chef.

As the roux assumed the proper color, all hell broke loose. The pimply outsides of the skillet caught fire!

As I tried to put the outside fire out, I noticed the roux was beginning to burn! Oh! Shit!

With one hand I dumped the veggies into the soup pot, and quickly dumped the rapidly burning roux on top. Then, the inside of the skillet caught on fire. Now the smoke alarm was demanding my attention.

I put the skillet in the sink and splashed water around it, then put the water in it. Congratulating myself for my quick thinking, I stirred my gumbo, and noticed that the brown roux was STILL COOKING itself so I stirred frantically, then, prematurely dumped the stock into the pot, and wisked like my life depended on it.

I spent the next hour scooping out the big black nuggets of charred flour.

Next time gumbo is made in this house, I'm gonna be the sous chef.

Friday, September 12, 2003

I Hate the RIAA

The RIAA just settled one of its lawsuits with a 12 year-old girl they accused of being an egregious file swapper. Her mom paid $2000, apologized and was made to stand in the corner for an hour to have the lawsuit dropped.

The RIAA is a lobbying organization that keeps Congress from looking at the price fixing that the record companies engage in. Now, however, they have become a de facto law enforcement organization. Only this organization is not restrained by the Bill of Rights. But that's okay, if the Patriot Act II is passed, we won't be using that anyway.

The RIAA says that file swappers are causing a slump in record sales. This slump apparently began long before Napster, but has gotten steadly worse over the last few years. They are convinced that if KaZaa and Napster weren't around, you and I would be shelling good money after bad for standardized pop rock the industry has been churning out for years.

Another reason for the decline in record sales in the consolidation of the broadcasting industry under the roof of Clear Channel Communications. Congress, in its infinite wisdom, deregulated the industry a few years ago. Apparently, companies could only own one radio station in any market. Today, Clear Channel can, and often does, own all the radio stations in any market. All of their programming comes from headquarters, no local DJs anymore to play songs popular in the region. Instead, it's the same playlist all across the country for each radio station in any genre.

"Last year, the Future of Music Coalition, or FMC, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group that studies the impact of technology and politics on musicians and popular culture, found that two corporations alone, Clear Channel and Viacom, earn 45 percent of the industry�s revenues and control stations that draw 42 percent of listeners.

"In June, the Federal Communications Commission opened the way for further consolidation, voting to let a media company own up to eight radio stations in a single listening area," says an article on MSNBC News.

Two companies control almost 50% of the market! Teddy Roosevelt must be spinning in his grave.

Since Internet radio was killed by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, Only big companies can create Internet Radio stations.

Combine centralized playlists and bland record company output and you have stagnant sales.

Sure, some people use KaZaa to get free music. But a lot of swappers I know downloaded albumns and listened to them. If they didn't like it they deleted it. If they liked it, they would go and buy the CD. KaZaa and Napster were ways to find out if an album only had one good song. I've got a thousand cassettes with only one good song.

The RIAA doesn't get it. People want to download songs, and they will pay for it. ITunes recently downloaded its ten millionth song at 99 cents a pop! But the RIAA, and the recording industry, doesn't like that business model. They would rather you drop $20 for the latest Britany/Christina/Jessica/J Lo/Madonna CD than let you download what songs you like. How many do they want us to buy? (Now if they could get Britany, Madonna and Christia to do the nasty and put it on a CD, well. . .) It would be okay if the money went to the artist, but it doesn't. The money goes tot he record company. I read somewhere that an artist receives less than buck from every CD sold. That's why they tour. To make money there. The recording industry has never been on the artist's side. If they were, why did so many top selling 50s artist die broke?

So i am boycotting the RIAA and the record companies that support them. I won't use KaZaa either. I'll get my music from the people who need the money: the artists. I'll go to the artists' websites and purchase the CDs directly from them.

Join me. The water's fine! And besides, you'll discover a wider variety of music than is being released by the big guys and played on the radio.

Read Orson Scott Card's take on this whole thing.

Leo LaPorte of Tech TV chimes in.

And here's how NOT to get sued by the RIAA from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Another redesign

I am doing another redesign. I thought I would do this page in the style of the front page. I will be incorporating the photos into the column on the right. Let me know what you think.

I'm not sure how long the redesign will last, since it looks like I'm going to have to hand coded everything on the page. Hmm. I got some thinking to do.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

I did a minor redesign of the page. I have uploaded so many pictures that I was running out of space on my Yahoo! server. So I resized some pictures to fit the column on the left, and deleted the larger pictures. If you want copies of them, just let me know. I also deleted my photo page, and put in some of the photos on the archive page.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

The Virginia Holts

Sean, who is stationed in Norfolk, VA, had Steve and Donn pick him up for a Labor Day visit. Steve wrote me and said that Sean suggested they meet at Hooters, and Steve marvelled at how great minds think alike. I reminded Steve that he was fond of telling stories about Hooters, so Sean probably thought that was the only restaurant Steve was familiar with.

Steve also told me that once Donn found out where they were meeting, Donn asked to come along.

Steve had Brazillian ju jitsu tournament that weekend. Sean got to watch for a while. Click here to see the results. Scroll down the list a bit.

Donn called on Tuesday to tell us they had a good time and to let us know that they were amazed at how well behaved Sean was. He even made a good impression on Rachel, Steve's fiancee. I hate to tell her that he's better behaved than Rodney and me.

Sean and Rachel inspect the work in Donn's new home. Photo by Donn Holt.