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Invisus Manus Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "herithoth" journal:

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September 5th, 2010
05:55 pm


I started a part-time teaching position at Lone Star-Cyfair last Monday to teach one section of intro biology and one of nutrition. So technically I'm now underemployed rather than unemployed. The way that the university teaching career track works is rather odd so I'll enlighten you about it. Typically teaching without experience means needing to start teaching at a community college. To prevent paying benefits, colleges only allow you to teach two courses (full load = four) as an adjunct professor. This means that you have to teach for at least two different college systems. So even though Houston has more than ten community colleges, they only have three systems. By the time I started searching most had hired their previous adjuncts to fill their needs, so I'm unlikely to be full-time this semester. Apparently this multiple adjuncting resulted from a rule by the Department of Labor that backfired. The goal was to ensure benefits to professors working full-time, but now colleges just don't hire full-time. So young professors still don't have benefits and are spending more time driving on highways to work in different locations. The branch I'm working at has 17,500 enrolled students so it actually feels like a small college compared to the other locations. I've been told that there is much more support in this college system than HCC. Apparently if you get sick and need a substitute teacher, you have to hire and pay them yourself versus at Lone Star where they set up a substitute for you. As an adjunct you can only miss two classes due to illness without losing pay and you only can take off for major holidays and breaks between semesters. Also, teaching community college they don't withhold social security, they contribute to the teacher's retirement fund. We'll see what other shortcomings are associated with the teaching track.

I'm a little bummed that the students are calling me "Mr" rather than "Dr". So few people actually call me by my title that I was hoping to hear it from my students at least.

I'm hopeful that I may find a postdoc position from among the three individuals considering me. If not, then I'll either apply for full-time teaching next semester or consider biotech, study management, or scientific editing positions.

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March 2nd, 2010
01:06 am


Unicorn wrongness
I'm inflicting this game on you.

The XXI winter games are over, although I've still got about half of it left on the DVR. Funny enough, all the half that I've seen were nearly all the U.S. medals. My favorite quote by Bob Costas in the closing ceremonies "It's the ever popular giant inflatable beaver.."

I've also fallen into the Twitter. Anyone else made the switch? I'm mostly using it to follow my fellow Houston Chowhounds for now. If new people keep following me, I'm going to have several hundred tweets per day. I don't know how I'm going to get work done.

I had an interesting idea come up in meditation yesterday. Sometimes I ask the question not to get the answer, but rather so that others know that there is a question. I'm also starting the 30 day meditation challenge. We're all meditating 20 min/day for the next 30 days.

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February 14th, 2010
09:04 pm


Holiday Tetrafecta
We're in the tetrafecta of holidays - Mardi Gras, Valentine's Day, President's Day, and Chinese New Year - and the Olympics has started. So far, I had an Canadian dinner for the opening ceremonies Friday. I cooked some shrimp burgers, king crab legs, squid salad, broccoli, Unibroue beer, and maple creme cookies. The squid salad was pretty good, changing my mind about the quality of the prepared foods from Central Market. I wanted to make a maple pie, but will have to do it later this week. I've been catching up on holiday baking that I didn't do for Christmas, but the baked goods are piling up so I may need to wait on making sugar cookies and fruit cake. Saturday I drove to Spring to pick up king cakes that one of the Chowhounds brought back from Poupart's in Lafayette. Later than night I went to Galveston Mardi Gras with A. and threw the beads I got in New Orleans last year. I drank a good bit of wine, had some good seafood and saw some sights.

Today we went to Rajun Cajun and had a big spread of food - fried oysters, boudain balls, shrimp remoulade, seafood gumbo, a muffaletta, a Cajun bloody mary and a hurricane. Now we've settled into watching more olympics. I'm off for President's Day so tomorrow night I'll be toasting the Presidents at Anvil with the Chowhounds by drinking period drinks to the Washington and Lincoln presidencies. Tuesday night I'm joining the Chowhounds for a Chinese New Year dinner at Fung's with Martin Yan (of Yan Can Cook on PBS). We'll have seven dishes including roast suckling pig.

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November 29th, 2009
10:46 pm


Thanksgiving 2009 recap
Zen_oven's father and stepmom were to visit for Thanksgiving, but he was ill and couldn't travel. Wednesday night we saw the Fantastic Mr. Fox. I enjoyed the stop action animation. There was a similar aesthetic to the director's other movie "The Royal Tanenbaums". Worth seeing though.

Thursday I cooked a turducken and made two pies during the Macy's Day Parade and the National Dog Show. We listened to "Alice's Restaurant" as our usual tradition. We have a ton of food left over so I froze a lot of it for later. Like my mother, I'm eating mincemeat pie for breakfast. I think next time I'm going to reduce the sugar even more for the pumpkin pie and the Sunday sweet potatoes (with pecans, brown sugar, flour, and butter topping). I'm planning to make some turkey mole since it's the traditional meat for mole. Turkey tetrazini might be in the offing as well.Every time I eat a turkey sandwich I'm reminded of traveling to Ireland where a pub served turkey with cranberry under the name of "The American". The sandwich tasted pretty good at the time.

Friday we had planned to visit the zoo (since it was free) but the crowds were so bad that we didn't even try to find a space. We'll see the red panda another day. Instead we bought a pot for the bouganvillea and some plants. The Buchanan's upgrade is very nice and will be more of a one-stop shop for the stuff I like. I bought a new light colored baking pan and a Vinturi wine aerator at Sur La Table and some new metal storage containers for our new apartment. We bought some pirate-themed party supplies at the reopened Arnies for our future apartment warming pirate party. In the evening we had some more of the fall drinks at Anvil and danced at Classic Numbers.

Saturday we made the annual visit to the Texas Renn Faire with several friends and had a good time drinking mead and people-watching. I added some feather bling to my pirate hat and tried on some moccasins. Highway lane narrowing leaving town and some invisible cause on our return was cause for slowdown. Luigi's pizza and calzones at Grayanna and Baalin's house

Sunday was mostly the usual. I spent the afternoon putting up the new blue LED lights I bought last Christmas at Morgan Imports. They are looking good (and costing less). Then I dug up a bunch of my plants and took some to the Zen Center and potted the others for moving. I may still have too many for our new apartment if I can't move more to the Zen Center. I may switch over to the E-version of the newspaper. I'd like to ultimately download a PDF of the paper and read it on a Sony Reader. The paper is all set up to do just that. Every day is one step closer to digital media convergence. One day I hope to have all my books, newspapers, magazines, music, podcasts, radio, television, and photos in digital form and access to the content equivalent of the Library of Congress, free through Google. Then I can have just furniture and art in my apartment.

News item:
If you ever wanted to get even with someone, viruses that download child porn are now available. Here's a news story about it: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/tech/news/6710095.html
So far, proving the porn is downloaded by the virus is related to the number of images downloaded per second and the time of download. If this gets fine-tuned to download only one image while the user is making keystrokes and send an anonymous text to police, it could be very dangerous. I predict it will be used against members of congress any day now. Used against a select few high profile business people, it could cripple Wall St. The real criminals could flood the computers of victims to hide their crimes.

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November 13th, 2009
06:35 pm


Lebowski Bash
There is a festival at Discovery Green dedicated to fans of the Big Lebowski tonight with human bowling, costume contests, and a showing of the movie at 10pm.


Tomorrow I going on a coffee crawl with Houston Chowhounds.

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November 5th, 2009
08:16 am


Crossposting from halloween_fan and food_porn
 Surinam Toad pumpkin and the heap of bugs costume: http://community.livejournal.com/halloween_fan/576222.html

Spider cupcakes: http://community.livejournal.com/halloween_fan/575586.html

Brain cupcakes for zombies: http://community.livejournal.com/food_porn/5598764.html

The tribal woman looks like a gray-haired alter ego of Zen_oven: http://community.livejournal.com/halloween_fan/575148.html

Watchmen costume: http://community.livejournal.com/halloween_fan/574202.html


This journal is very cool for SCA-minded foodies with its description of historical recipes like the latest post on pike galantine.



A cute version of carrot cake for baalin: http://community.livejournal.com/food_porn/5601663.html#cutid1

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November 4th, 2009
11:21 pm


Politics and Energy policy
I watched "Power Paths" on Independent Lens last night.

Full-length episode available here:

This documentary shows how the southwest U.S. has been exploiting the natural resources of Native Americans to power southern California, Utah, and Las Vegas.  They have been depleting Native American aquifers to send coal slurry, mined on Indian land in strip mines, through pipes to dirty coal-burning power plants which threaten national parks, including the Grand Canyon, with smog.  Although Native Americans in these communities themselves have no electricity in their homes, many Indians were involved in the energy industry through their connection to mining. Thus they only need retraining to become effective energy industry employees.

By coincidence, I watched an American Experience episode two nights ago on the Civilian Conservation Core and the stimulus that it provided the economy during the Roosevelt years. I wrote the White House, Nancy  Pelosi, and energy secretary Steven Chu about a proposal to focus on stimulating the economy by creating a high-tech version of the CCC today to take the place of the proposed third stimulus of cash. The idea is to train young workers and retrain older workers for renewable energy industry jobs. I'm basing my idea on Grameen Shakti and Gerhard Sheer's solar stimulus in Germany. Grameen Shakti trains rural Indian women to be solar engineers. The installation of solar power by these women leads to the creation of microbusinesses which reduce childbirth and increase education. The German solar stimulus was the proposal that any solar energy generated by German citizens could be sold to the government for a fixed return for the next ten years. The result was the adoption of 20% solar energy in Germany in two years. My idea is to train Native Americans (and others) as a kind of CCC to install and maintenance solar and wind powered devices, building an industry that replaces their dependence on dirty energy production. Second, tax incentives are given to citizens who install solar panels or wind turbines on their property. The government should use these energy CCC people to "green" all federal buildings and national and state park facilities by installing renewable power in place of coal-powered electricity.  Since the mechanism to motivate the change in solar investment is market-driven, it should have bipartisan support if properly marketed to voters. Most important is to use these incentives to lead energy industry leaders to invest in this new market so the troublemakers become the change agents.

I'm actually surprised that no one has proposed outsourcing in general to Native American Indians rather than east Indians. Between tribal councils and their special relationship to the federal government, equivalent benefits might be able to be derived by developing a Native American workforce versus a non-U.S. based workforce.  The call centers would be a close time zone versus India and the employees, as U.S. citizens, would have a better grasp on handling the problems of other U.S. citizens.  Tech support could even have a cute name based on the Navajo role in WWII - the Code Talkers.

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October 28th, 2009
11:18 pm


 Well, for Halloween I'm going to be a pig with a chef hat like in so many BBQ restaurants. The twist is that I'm serving "long pig" chopped with my bloody ax. I call the costume ... OMGWTFBBQ!

The pic "creeped Zen_oven right the f*ck out" as she says.  I told her that next time that a troll posts an email to her profile that she should offer them a threesome and send a "pigture" of my costume as the third person.

I bought the costume supplies at Frankel's 2801 Polk St. (just a bit north of greyanna and baalin's condo). They have a lot of costume supplies - I see a future pirate party in there post-Halloween. The folks selling make-up are good at giving tips and they have lots of scar/glass/etc for attaching to faces for zombie crawling. http://www.frankelcostume.com/StoreHoursLocations.aspx

At 1:59am Nov 1 will be the Houston Moonlight Ramble. http://www.bikehouston.org/

This Saturday is the 3rd Annual Montrose Halloween crawl. http://www.montrosecrawl.com
Here's some good costumes from 2007 & 2008 crawls:
Frida Kaelo http://www.montrosecrawl.com/photos?func=detail&id=275#joomimg
Lawn gnome & evil queen http://www.montrosecrawl.com/photos?func=detail&id=314#joomimg
Zelda's Link http://www.montrosecrawl.com/photos?func=detail&id=481#joomimg
Mario & princess http://www.montrosecrawl.com/photos?func=detail&id=133
Colonel Sanders http://www.montrosecrawl.com/photos?func=detail&id=162#joomimg
Yip yip http://www.montrosecrawl.com/photos?func=detail&id=171#joomimg
Fortune telling machine http://www.montrosecrawl.com/photos?func=detail&id=166#joomimg
Bender http://www.montrosecrawl.com/photos?func=detail&id=258#joomimg
Fifth element http://www.montrosecrawl.com/photos?func=detail&id=295#joomimg
Jack in the Box http://www.montrosecrawl.com/photos?func=detail&id=262#joomimg
Catwoman http://www.montrosecrawl.com/photos?func=detail&id=259#joomimg
Alien http://www.montrosecrawl.com/photos?func=detail&id=194#joomimg
tetris http://www.montrosecrawl.com/photos?func=detail&id=249#joomimg
yard gnome http://www.montrosecrawl.com/photos?func=detail&id=189#joomimg
Long Island iced tea http://www.montrosecrawl.com/photos?func=detail&id=132

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08:48 am


Halloween is drawing near...
I just joined Halloween Fan featured in Spotlight http://community.livejournal.com/halloween_fan/

Check out these pumpkins. http://community.livejournal.com/halloween_fan/553767.html

I'm still deciding what to be for Halloween. Zen_oven thinks I should be one of those BBQ pigs consuming itself with a chef's coat and a bloody cleaver.  She is going as a droog and suggested we could go as a couple.  I'm thinking it might be too warm in Austin for wearing insulated underwear. I also considered going as the Nobel prize or a steampunk or zombie version of Dr. Livingston.  I have a science costume in mind for our departmental party that is a pun on a particular method.  Anyone have any other suggestions?


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October 25th, 2009
11:18 pm


Sunday Oct 25
 I've been reading the autumn_and_fall list on LJ. Here's a post that amused me.

I told Zen_oven that the correct pronuciation of Pho is (Fuh).  Therefore a good name for a Vietnamese restaurant might be What The Pho?

Saturday was pretty good. I'm taking pics of all my favorite interesting things around Houston. I will make an album and show you all soon. I also found paper Mexican carnations for our Dia de Las Muertos offrenda (altar), a shirt with the lotteria (Tarot cards) on it, and some miniature food bowls. The owners of Casa Ramirez are very nice and even gave me some pan de muertos since I would be in Austin on Sunday. I finally went to a Fiesta (24th St in the Heights) and found all kinds of interesting Mexican pastries, carribean, and Indian food. It's got the local rep of being the cheapest food in town so I tend to steer clear, but I thought it was fun to shop there yesterday. I also finally got to eat mafungo and bacalao at the Puerto Rican restaurant Tex Chick near our house (always is closed whenever I drive by) and it was pretty tasty. I even liked the malt soda (tasted like molasses).

Sunday was initially good with the meditation session, but then got into an arguement with the leader of my garden. I haven't been doing enough service work in the garden and my bed isn't getting as much attention as others would like. I've necessarily prioritized grant-writing instead. I recognize that I don't have as much time as the retirees do to give to the garden, but I'm giving up a lot of the benefits of being in our old house to make my living space better for zen_oven. The living space decision makes sense, but the garden has a particular meaning for me even though I don't get to go there often. It is one of the places that neither my wife or my boss has sway over. I enjoy being able to put plants in the ground and watch them grow. I have a hard time reconciling that I often only have a little time to give to a lot of activities and when other people get involved, they often demand more than I can give. At the same time, I'm unwilling to stop doing them entirely. I have to find homes for many of my plants when we move out of our current house because the other tenants won't take care of them. If I can't stay in the garden, I'm not sure where they will be able to go. My neighbors just redid their driveway and the workers destroyed one of my plants. It has been damaged two times by other work crews and was starting to recover right before this happened. I'm not sure how many more times it can recover and I feel bad about this happening.  I'm wondering if I need to start tagging my plants in Spanish so that this doesn't keep happening.

I had planned to go on the taco truck crawl II with the Houston Chowhounds today. I got started late after my encounter at the garden and missed the group at the first location (they were running an hour ahead of schedule) and had to eat by myself. I did have an interesting corn, lemon juice, and salt drink at one restaurant. Apparently it's a regional specialty. I thought it was refreshing and not as strange or salty as the ingredients would seem. I finally caught the group at the third location for ten minutes. After we went to the final location, all the people I knew were mysteriously someplace else.  I had hoped to spend time with some of the oldtimers in the group today and now it's getting so big that it's not as fun.  Hopefully the upcoming oyster throwdown will go better although the throwdowns went from 50 last year to >250 this year so far.

I need to upgrade the RAM on my computer but it keeps getting updates, which slows it down further, making it hard to use the internet to buy more RAM.

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