Happy Halloween

flappy halloween!Happy Halloween! I've just baked some mini-pumpkin cookies to take to a party this evening. Once they've cooled I'm going to frost them, hopefully with more skill than the last batch of sugar cookies I made (penguins that were tasty but ugly as sin.)

I've been thinking about Halloween costumes today, trying to recall my favorite from childhood, but nothing special comes to mind except the sushi costumes some friends and I wore to a party two years ago. We were supposed to be different types of maki (except our friend Kip who was tamago, he wore a white t-shirt, spray painted a giant piece of foam yellow, placed it on his back and cinched a black trashbag around his waist to imitate the seaweed, it was something!), but it didn't quite work as I'd planned. Still, I think it's my favorite costume, and certainly my favorite costume attempt. Perhaps next year I'll try it again. This year I'm recycling a different old costume: my spider hat that I made in 1997. I'll try to post a picture this afternoon.

Whole-wheat rigatoni with butternut squash and beet greens


1 16 oz. package whole-wheat rigatoni or penne or some pasta
2 T. unsalted butter
1 onion, cut into slivers
1 1 1/2 to 2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
5 or 6 shitake mushrooms, stems removed, sliced 1/4-inch thick
handful of white button mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick†
1/4 c. dry sherry
3 c. homemade stock‡
3 oz. beet greens, from one bunch of beets (or Swiss chard), tough stems removed, cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 t. coarse salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
2 oz. goat cheese, crumbled#

Continue reading “Whole-wheat rigatoni with butternut squash and beet greens”

On peer-to-peer journalism

Oops, not sure how so much time passed between updates, guess I've been busy with other things, like going to Berkeley for my "Journalism's New Life Forms" panel on Saturday. Rusty's got a great write-up over at Kuro5hin which you should check out. The panel was fun and interesting, but too short. Only an hour! Rusty and I could have talked for three hours at least about that stuff, but it was better than nothing.

I've got a lot of thoughts about how panels should work, now that I've participated in quite a few, and I was pleased that this one went off fairly well. I'll try to summarize in the next day or so.

Meanwhile, on the peer-to-peer/amateur journalism vibe: Matt Haughey's observed an increase in traffic accidents at the intersection near his house. This is the start of an interesting, and potentially important, local news story. With a little research, this could turn into a "real" article. Now either Matt could take it to the next level by making some phone calls and digging up some stats about accidents at the Masonic/Fell intersection, or a local reporter (who reads weblogs to keep up on what's happening, to get a sense of what's afoot in his/her community) could pick this up. A phone call to Matt, a few more well-placed calls, and this could (and should) be in the Chronicle. Why has the City apparently abandoned the street light upgrade? Has there really been an increase in accidents? Is the traffic signal less visible than it used to be? Is the City at fault? Are they potentially liable? If you take a look at the pictures Matt posted, you'll see this is a pretty serious issue. One car ended up on its side after the most recent crash.

This is a great example of how peer-to-peer journalism can work. Matt's observed something and he's alerting people to it, and alerting a wider audience than he would if he just made a phone call to City Hall. With more people having knowledge of the issue, the problem is more likely to be addressed. It's a lot harder for someone to sweep this under the rug. (I just love the political implications of P2PJ, don't you?) It's also a great example of how traditional journalists can use weblogs for research and story ideas. I think I'm going to use this as an example during my talk next week in DC (at the O'Reilly conference).

The German esszet

So that strange ß is called an "esszet" in German, and apparently there's much more too it than I realized. First of all, you can't just go willy-nilly substituting it for any old "ss" you find. It is only appropriate after a long vowel, after a short vowel you just use "ss". For a more detailed explanation, check out this use of esszet in German page. Apparently there was a spelling reform in Germany that attempted to do away with the esszet in 1998 but it hasn't met with much success. And did you know Swiss Germans don't use the esszet? (Hence the reform, to get everyone spelling the same.) More info here.

Where did these crazy characters come from anyway? Origin of the umlaut and eszett. [Note: everywhere I look, people are spelling esszet differently.] I like all the accents and funny characters, I wish English used them. That was one of my favorite things when I started learning foreign languages back in 5th grade: getting to use accents, and upside-down exclamation points. ¡Olé!

Several people kindly wrote in listing other words which contained "ss". One was even so thoughtful to remind me that "ass" has two. I'm certain it wasn't directed at me personally. Thank you dear readers. Thank you.

A new pizza experiment

I concocted a new pizza last night but the recipe isn't quite ready for distribution yet. The carmalized onion topping was a little too sweet. I don't think the cooking section is going to see as many updates as I'd anticipated.

Fun with German

One of the funnest things about Berlin was trying to speak German. German is cool, especially because instead of writing two s's they write one ß (what's this thing called?). So you'll see things like straße rather than strasse (which means street). From now on here at megnut, I may employ the "B" s. Except that there's not as much opportunity to use it in English, since we don't have as many back-to-back s's. Heck. I can't even think of one right now that doesn't include an apostrophe. Oh! Accessible. From now on, I shall write it acceßible. Ja. Gut.

I need to get a wireless PC card for my laptop. Any recommendations? Horror stories and must-avoids out there? I'm looking for something under $100. As far under as possible. Thanks in advance.

Oh! Embarraßing is another.