Easy Peasy Rosemary Potatoes

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Today I am testing my ability to write a piece just with voice on my Galaxy Nexus using the WordPress app for Android. This is so much fun not having to type! It even does punctuation. [Post-transposition: It struggled with some words, but overall was above 90% accurate. I converted paragraphs to list format in full WordPress.]

I love Italian seasoned and rosemary potatoes and wanted to recreate them at home. Through trial and error (over the last 3-4 years) I’ve come up with this quick and simple recipe that works every time.

  1. Start out with 1 medium potato and slice it into chunks approximately the size you see in the picture.
  2. Put potatoes in a small container and rinse in cold water twice to get rid of the starch.
  3. Spray on some olive oil spray and toss.
  4. Place in microwave for 4 minutes.
  5. Get out a frying pan and coat with olive oil spray.
  6. Turn burner on 2 medium high heat and place pan on it.
  7. Add the following seasonings to taste: italian seasoning sea salt rosemary and pepper (optional).
  8. When microwave goes off, toss potatoes in frying pan, shaking well to coat with seasoning.
  9. Fry potatoes to desired brownness.
  10. Enjoy!

The Time I Almost Joined the Military

If you’ve seen the the movie Captain America, you can probably visualize the opening scene where a scrawny Steve Rogers walks into a recruiting office and tries to enlist. That would have been me at 18, only a few inches shorter.

By early Spring of 2003 I had grown 6 inches, added 60 pounds, and shed the asthma on my own super soldier formula of Somatropin and Delatestryl (obtained legally via the Mayo Clinic). I had been designing websites for over 5 years. I was burned out – my personal muse was no longer easily accessible. I felt trapped because I wanted to put design behind me before I hated it, but I didn’t see another professional avenue open to me.

I spent the bulk of my evenings and weekends working on projects in the community and for the Minnesota Junior Chamber as their Public Relations Coordinator. I lived to make a difference in the world and I worked to pay my bills. I wanted a career that would allow me to do both.

One of my co-workers had returned from his service in the Air Force where he had been working on top secret projects he couldn’t tell us about, but he did talk about some of the benefit packages he received and the pay scale. It seemed pretty attractive, but I had never considered it in the past because I knew I would be a 4F with asthma.

That March, my parents had flown us (me, 2 of my brothers, and their wives) down to Mexico for a family vacation. It was during the time that the resolution on Iraq was supposed to come up for a vote at the UN and our troops were massed, waiting for insertion. I spent a good deal of time at the beach, partying on a boat (followed by singing loudly from the back of an open air taxi), and parasailing, but every morning and every evening, I was glued to CNN as tensions escalated. I watched leaders on both sides talking about whether the inspectors were doing a good job and right wing pundits insisting that we needed to go in there to stop the WMDs before they hit Israel.

Our family meals were on occasion animated as my father insisted that the Bush administration had completely valid intel on the WMDs and I insisted that the data was suspect, that we should be letting the inspectors do their job, and that President Bush should man up and send the resolution to the floor for a vote as he had emphatically said he would (but didn’t in the end).

At 21 in South Pacific

As we marched closer to war, Senator Kerry and the rest of the Democrats CNN was trotting out for interviews started to back the president as they knew what was about to come and agreed that what was best for the men and women in uniform was a unified front at home. I was inspired by his speech and considered my own grandfather’s sacrifices during WWII. The idea of joining the  US Navy as an officer started to run around in my head.

At about a week or 2 into Operation Iraqi Freedom, the patriotism and thought of being able to get paid to feel like I was making a difference kicked in and I walked into the recruiting office after a number of walk bys. I sat down and the recruiter got me a water and started to discuss my options. I told him that I wanted to be a naval officer (my co-worker had mentioned the pay gap between enlisted and officers and I didn’t want to sign on for a pay cut).

We talked about options and he seemed to think I would be a solid candidate so he started the paperwork. When he came to date of birth, it all fell apart. While I looked like I was in my early 20s, I was in my early 30s and was past the cut off point for officer candidates. We had a brief discussion wherein I let him know that I thought ageism had no place in government service and that I should be judged on character, intellect, and physicality, but he wouldn’t budge. He told me I could enlist, but by that point my temper was up and I walked out of the office with the bottled water in hand. It sat in my car for a number of years as a reminder of roads not traveled.

In our more enlightened age where we have eliminated “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, I would encourage the military to also consider a set of metrics for officer candidates that doesn’t discriminate based on age.

Photo: Collin Harvey via Compfight

What’s in Your Summer Bucket List?

Summer SunI was listening to the radio about a month ago and they were talking about what they planned to do for their summer bucket list. It got me thinking – what could I do this year to get outside of my comfort zone?

The obvious one was something I had been mulling over for a number of years but had always never prioritized or chickened out on at the last moment. Learn to ride a motorcycle. I’ve known two people who have died on motorcycles and have 2 brothers who injured themselves pretty seriously when they were learning to ride so it’s always been a scary prospect for me, but something I’ve wanted to confront.

So I downloaded the study manual and was all of an hour away from signing up for the motorcycle driver’s ed course when I spotted a section of the manual talking about the need to monitor around you and not rely on your mirrors. I realized that with my glasses, I would be twisting and turning my head all of the time because of my lack of peripheral vision (contacts tend to have a high frequency of irritating my eyes so I can’t rely upon them day in and day out).

That was it, I knew what I needed to prioritize – something even scarier. Motorcycles will have to wait until 2013; I’m getting Lasik this year.

I’ve always been a visual person. Music is great, but for me it’s about putting me in an emotional mood, it’s not something I can’t live without like movies and the next bleeding edge video game. I was a designer for a number of years and in my current job I spend a lot of time making things look visually stunning to capture attention. Losing my eyesight would be devastating to who I am.

In about an hour and a half though, I’m confronting that fear. I’m not a gambler – I’ve never driven drunk, I didn’t gamble in Vegas, and I don’t even participate in office pools. But I’m putting one of the things that I value most on the line for the chance to not be beholden to glasses or contacts.

Time to get ready to cross this off my bucket list. I’m not nervous yet but I suspect that it’s not that far off. *fingers crossed*

Special Note of Thanks: Thank you to my wonderful co-workers, Michele and Shannon, for pushing me to set up the pre-screening appointment and convincing me that I will be fine.

Creative Commons License JR F via Compfight

Geek History and the Defense of Marriage

Geek TattoosI came across an article this week that sheds new light on the battle within our culture on marriage equality. For years, religious organizations have insisted that they originated the practice of marriage and so they should be able to veto changes, as if they’ve licensed it to the government like Microsoft Windows.

The problem is that religious institutions did not invent the monogamous human relationship – geeks did. According to researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, alpha males once ruled (think bighorn sheep butting heads for mating rights) and set the tone with multiple partners. Beta males (read: proto-geeks) had to invent a new paradigm if they wanted to get nookie and found inspiration in the “mate for life” species (science FTW!). A 2009 British survey bears out that geeks are still tops in the single partner game.

Because of our efforts, childhood survival rates increased and the modern family evolved. So if we’re entering an era of marriage 1.1, move over religious institutions and let geeks decide. If religious institutions insist they have truly shepherded the institution all these years, they’ve done a crap job of it – it’s failure rate is probably worse than the virus infection rate of a bit torrent site. On the other hand, I think you will find that most geeks aren’t threatened by two people of any gender combination wanting to express their love for one another in a state-sanctioned ceremony. We also probably wouldn’t let government hand out so many marriage certificates to adolenscents who may not have reached the abstract reasoning phase of their development or even people who might be too intoxicated or filled with passion to make an informed decision.

To be honest,  religion handed off the word “marriage” to government long ago. I firmly believe that via the freedom of religion, churches have every right to determine who is married in the eyes of their congregation. Coupling that with freedom of association, they can also decide whether or not to hang out with them. The mandate that is missing which they cling to blindly is the determination of who is married in the eyes of the government. The government must determine whether a separate and unequal system is constitutional. Another step towards rendering it unconstitutional was taken in Boston this week.

Let me note before people try to discount me as a blathering iconoclast that I don’t have a problem with religious institutions or their adherents – I have a problem with some of the actions they take. I was incensed in high school physics when I heard what the Catholic church did to Galileo. That disgust for the wrong-minded actions of people lacking objectivity grew more entrenched when I learned the history of Martin Luther at Luther College.  To me, the epitome of Christian values are forgiveness and doing unto others as we would have done unto us. Were I inclined to pledge my love to someone of the same sex, I would want the same rights as any other person under the law, so by the golden rule I cannot stand in the way of someone’s happiness who feels that way and wants those rights.

Close-minded zealots have long denied what are now logical human rights in the past and have had to apologize later. Slavery was allowed in The Bible. Interracial marriages were somehow against God. I truly believe that we’re going to see the same thing happening in the future with this decision.

Still disagree with me? Then use the rights the Constitution did grant you and pick a new word. The government has been given irrevocable authority over the word “marriage” – let it go. Re-create your version of marriage under a new banner (coadunation actually fits a heterogeneous union) and use the freedom of religion and association clauses to maintain its sacredness. Think of it as akin to the dichotomy of graduation and baccalaureate – one is an affair of the state and the other is of the church.

Creative Commons License Francis Storr via Compfight