Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Next Iron Chef (10/18/09)

Chef Mullen wins. Chef Frietag comes in a close second.

Chef Farmerie and Chef Crenn were the bottom two. Chef Farmerie was eliminated.

(sorry..wasn't in the mood to live blog..none of them have caught my interest.)

At this point, if I had to bet an an overall winner, I bet on Frietag.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Next Iron Chef (10/11/09)

The first challenge tonight forces the chefs to grab a unique cooking vessel and make a single pot meal served family style. When the challenge starts there is a rugby scrum at the table as they fight over the different cooking vessels, and then another one at the frig as they fight over ingredients.

Turns out the chefs are going to judge each other again. Some hardcore comments. Two of the women were particularly catty with each other. Chef Mehta was the clear winner and Chef Mullen was the clear loser. So Chef Mehta gets the advantage in the main challenge.

For the main challenge there are three cultures: Italian, French, and Greek. The chefs are each assigned a traditional recipe from one of these cultures, and they have to interpret it to make it seem new. They get an hour. Chef Mehta gets to choose his culture and picks Greek.

Chef Trevino had a dish that depended on grape leaves (dolmas) and Chef Mehta screwed him by taking all of the grape leaves. Chef Mehta gave Chef Trevino some of the leaves with less than fifteen minutes to go. Everyone is rushing around like chickens with their heads cut off.

The same three looks like it'll be them all the way through. Chef Mehta may have shot his own foot off by using Chef Trevino's grape leaves, because the two female judges made remarks about their unpleasant smell. Judge Steingarten, as usual, does a good job at pissing off the other judges, especially as they are women. It's looking at the commercial like it's coming down to Chef Mehta and Chef Mullen for last place.

This week, they don't announce the winner first, they announce the other survivors first. So they get down to winner, one loser, and someone at risk. Chef Mullen ended up winning.

Chef Farmerie and Chef Smith were the two at risk. Chef Smith ended up losing. So there are only two women left.

Friday, October 09, 2009

You Have Got To Be Kidding Me!!!!

Pres. Barak Obama, after nine months in office, has just won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples and for giving the world "hope for a better future" with his work for peace and calls to reduce the global stockpile of nuclear weapons.

Excuse me?

This confirms for all time just what a joke the Nobel Peace Prize has become. It has been political for decades, awarded to various popular lefties...but up to now there has been at least a fig leaf for the committee to hide behind.

Not a single nuclear weapon has been destroyed.

Not a single conflict has been ended.

Nominations for this prize ended TWO Weeks after he entered office.

Look, even if you believe that Pres. Obama had actually has done something to deserve the Nobel Peace Prize...had he done it by his second week in office?

Update 3:23 AM: 205 people were nominated this year for the peace prize. Not one of them was more deserving of the prize? Not one? Unfortunately we are going to have to wait 50 years to get an official list of the other nominees. Brian Kilmeade, a Fox News host just had the definitive line about this....Pres. Obama has just become the third person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "Not being George Bush", joining Al Gore and Pres. Carter.

Update 3:52 AM: This award is simply embarassing. It is beyond a joke, it is insulting. It insults all the previous winners over the years, and the thousands of previous nominees. At least Pres. Carter and Al Gore had DONE SOMETHING. All Pres. Obama has done is give a bunch of speeches (many overseas) where he has praised and appeased our enemies, insulted and offeneded our allies and denigrated our country's history. I believe a sound and rational argument can be made that Pres. Obama's actions and speeches have actually lessened the chance for peace in the future and made the world a more dangerous place.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Next Iron Chef (live blog 10/4/09)

Tonight was the first episode of the second season of The Next Iron Chef. Iron Chef America is one of my favorite TV shows. However my least favorite Iron Chef is the chef who won the first competition, Michael Symon.

The first challenge was to cook a "memory" recipe that was then judged by the other competitors. The winner gets an advantage in this week's elimination challenge. It was a good challenge with a huge variety of dishes. You could see the chefs already jockeying for position and making political calls. Chef Garces won this challenge handily, getting half the votes.

The second challenge was to get a mystery ingredient and make a dish out of it, while being"fearless". The only ingredient I would have had a chance with was the duck's tongues..I would have made a meat loaf and a pate. To make things worse, they only got an hour and fifteen minutes. I was totally impressed..I wouldn't have known even where to start with some of those ingredients.

The only judge I like is Jeffrey Steingarten, but he is the only one I know really well, so maybe the other two will grow on me. During the judging of the first set of dishes things went pretty mildly. No big confrontations or outright disgust. But the teaser for the commercial seems to hint that things will heat up with the second set of dishes.

A little more heat from the judges during the second set of dishes, but nothing hair raising.

Now the judges deliberate. Most of the heat was the judges attacking each other.

Decision time.

They talked to each chef individually. Chef Appleman won with his unlaid eggs. They started with the winner, then worked their way down the survivors. They made a big point the whole time about fearlessness, much moreso than taste. The final two chefs had grasshoppers and sea cucumbers as their ingredients. I don't know if I could eat either one, let alone cook with them. The first chef eliminated was Chef Greenspan and his grasshoppers.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


OK..I'm NOT a big Mike Huckabee fan....but......watching him play bass with Alabama tonight was definitely way cooler than Pres. Clinton playing the sax on late night TV.

Pres. Obama and the Olympics

OK, first, yes I confess to a good dose of Schadenfreude over the results in Copenhagen this week. Not so much because it was a personal defeat for Pres. Obama, but because it was such an obvious display of incompetence. There is no way that either he or his wife should have gone unless Chicago getting the Olympics was a sure thing. Pres. Obama put political capital and prestige on the line and lost. I would have hated to be one of those responsible for going on that trip on the flight back. I think it is also another example of this administration's complete incompetence in international relations.

However I am disappointed that the USA lost. I never like to see my country lose. On the other hand, the prospect of an Olympics in Chicago is simply frightening. The corruption and graft that would have accompanied the building of the Olympic venues would have been monumental.

Now, some on the left are attacking those on the right who are celebrating Pres. Obama's failure. This is hypocritical to say the least. The left would have done at least as much if it had been Pres. Bush who failed to win the Olympics. Hell some, including Sen. Burriss, are blaming THIS failure on Pres. Bush.

But even worse, some are saying that if Pres. Obama had not gone to Copenhagen, the right would be blaming him for the loss. My response is why? Why would we expect Pres. Obama to interject himself? No president has before. There might have been some comments made about the president's hometown failing, but no one would have laid it at the president's feet.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Do We Really Want The Government To Run Anything?

I was laid off as a teacher at the end of the last school year due to budget cuts. (Don't cry for me...I have 39 months of rehire rights and the district not only has to hire me as a sub, they have to pay me my last year's per diem to do it. Because I will work more days this year, I will actually make more money this year.)

I filed for unemployment June 18. I was granted unemployment, and filed my first claim the first week of July. My last day of work was June 17, I had to wait a week, and then I filed for the last two weeks of June. When I hadn't heard from the Employment Development Department (EDD) (that's what California calls their unemployment department) by July 22, I sent them an email inquiry per their instructions. On the July 29, a week later, I got a reply saying they needed to conduct a phone interview, and that I would receive the information in the mail. So I waited, and subbed some summer school at $20 an hour.

I had now gone a month with no income. ( I wouldn't get paid my meager sub earnings {less than $500} until Aug. 9) Thankfully, I had paid off all my debts so I only owed my mortgage and my monthly bills. I had also managed to put about $8,000 away in savings last year. (yes..I saw both the economic downturn and my layoff coming) But what if I hadn't? How was I supposed to survive for a month if I had been the typical irresponsible modern consumer? What if I was leasing a new car every other year, maxed out my credit cards, and back in 2007 I had refinanced my house to take out the $250,000 dollars in paper equity? I'd be screwed that is what, and probably pretty hungry.

Well I kept waiting. In the meantime the middle school school year began on July 28, and I began subbing for $120 a day. After 21 days this became $347.70 a day, and was retro. I have since learned that very few of the laid off teachers are taking advantage of their ability to substitute for their per diem...which I simply don't understand.

When I hadn't received my telephone interview or notice by August 15, I sent a second e-mail to the EDD. They responded on August 24, 9 days later, with the same reply they sent me on July 29.

So, just to review, I was now up to two months with potentially no employment, (I didn't have to sub, and as I have stated, many other laid off teachers didn't) and no income.

Finally in the mail, I receive a notice that I am scheduled to have a phone interview to determine my unemployment eligibility on September 22. Not only is this three months after I first filed for unemployment (and was sent a claim form) but it is a week day, which means that I have to spend a work day waiting for a phone call between the hours of 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM. I take the call. We talk for less than 10 minutes. I am informed that I qualify beginning with the second week I intially claimed, and the check would be in the mail.

Yesterday, Sept. 30, I got a check for $295.

The one thing this experience has done is to reinforce my knowledge that you cannot depend on the government for anything, and if you do, you are screwed.

I am eternally grateful to my parents that I was raised to be an ant rather than a grasshopper....but I am damn tired of carrying all the grasshoppers on my back, and pissed off at the government's attempts to turn me into a grasshopper.