POLL!

Jul. 30th, 2008 10:45 am
dwivian: (Default)
[Poll #1232217]
dwivian: (I see you)
Mr. Splashy Pants??????
dwivian: (blinded by the obvious)
As I begin working on the introspection I have taken to calling The Book of Dwiv (wherein I write my understandings of my world view, my philosophies, and how many bones I've broken in my wanderings), I have gotten to a point that gives me pause.

And, yes, me pausing is somewhat momentous. Shut up.

So... I would like to see what questions people have, what prompts they provide, that can push me into different areas of interest (or not). I'm using a poll because that way people are able to ask without worry about who else sees. I'm also willing to accept comments, if you like. Your choice.

[Poll #1079373]
dwivian: (Key Lime Pie)
Remember, Google maps or mapquest can find our house at 2596 Alpine Trail, 30062. We start at 3pm, but you can show up at many times after that until about 10:00 or so, after which time we'll probably be starting to wrap up so people can make it to work on Monday.

Additional foods?

HONEY! Lots of it! Blueberry, Orange Blossom, Hawaiian White, Clover, Tupelo, Wildflower, and others depending on time and potential....

So..... let's see who reads this and wants to show up.....
[Poll #1013091]
dwivian: (Default)
I've got a few new people, so I'm going to mention my filters again (opt-in only). The post is here.

If you can't remember what you asked for, you can check your filter settings here. If you make changes, comment on the post to let me know (click on discuss results).
dwivian: (Dwiv Inside)
It's been a busy few days....

Friday, after a longer-than-anticipated full day at work, I snuck [livejournal.com profile] spicada into Fernbank to see some lizards. She made interesting noises every time I pushed one particular button, and she also practiced eating a rat. It was interesting, but I like the whole museum and it was mildly discouraging that most is shut down for the martini event. Even so, good conversation and a small bite to eat afterwards filled my evening. I got home, hoping for a long night of sleep. Da elf had taken everyone to a local small arts festival, and I knew they'd gotten tired out a bit by the activities, so I was fairly certain rest was the order of the day.

Alas, I have kids. Kids that just don't understand that a computer doesn't get any faster or work better if you screech at it. So, I got out of bed and started getting ready for a full day of driving to and from a wedding for [livejournal.com profile] jost. Now, I've been told that you can't be snarky about things on LJ if someone involved might read it, but I think he has a good sense of humor, so....

It is nice to have affirmation that the common thinking about Catholics and their singing abilities still holds. Had the wedding coordinator (on the back row with da elf and I) not joined in with the woman at the organ, it would have been completely quiet for much of the service. The responsive readings were as unresponsive as I've seen in the locked-up-presbyterian churches around here.

And, I found it quite interesting how much focus was made on the "go get your new wife knocked up" part of RCC dogma, despite the (equally incongruous) homily the priest began with a pre-emptive apology for making the bride and groom sound like they were old. Equally confusing were which parts of the liturgy were sung, and which were spoken, and what rules were used to identify them. As a whiskeypalian anglo-catholic, I should be able to handle that sort of thing, but it messed with my head a couple of times.

The reception was nice, in a beautiful facility. And, the wedding band was so stereotypical! Good 50s music for the parents, with light jazz to avoid interrupting the meal (which was rather nice -- I liked the chicken choice!). I was hoping for a little more from Prince in their repitoire, but maybe da elf and I had to leave too early to hear it. And, yes, we left early, so didn't get any cake. And, I've been jonesing for it ever since.

We accidentally drove by [livejournal.com profile] jost's workplace as a result of weird direction miscommunication (my fault as much as anything, I think), but it highlighted just how weird Columbus Georgia is, as it grows from a past rooted in agriculture and river trade into something new. Major buildings like his offices serve as landmarks, since they are so readily identified. On one of our cameras we have the AFLAC building, which is another point used for giving out directions. I shouldn't jest too much, though, as I've actually sent someone down "Peachtree" and forgot to give them clarity about WHICH road that was. Landmarks are rather nice.

We drove back late enough that the RennFaire was closed, but not so late as to avoid some of the traffic. That's okay, as I got more time to talk to da elf like adults. I just wish I could remember what we talked about -- it seemed to be pithy and intellectual at the time.

Sunday was spent first at church, then at the Inman Park festival. We didn't get to see all the show because we had the whole family in tow, which minimizes the time you can spend NOT GOING TO THE PLAYGROUND WHY AREN'T WE GOING TO THE PLAYGROUND I CAN SEE IT I DON'T WANT TO EAT NOW LET'S GO TO THE SLIDE THERE IS A LAKE ARE YOU DONE EATING YET I DON'T WANT THAT ARE WE GOING YET I WANT TO PLAY WILL YOU CARRY ME I WANT TO HOLD MOMMY'S HAND I CAN'T SEE THE PLAYGROUND ANYMORE ARE WE GOING TO GO NOW I DON'T WANT TO SHOP ANYMORE LET'S GO DADDY.

Even so, we had a nice time, and couldn't imagine what the parade day was like, with merchants saying it was three or four times BUSIER. Wow. I did miss seeing the parade, though. Ah, well. It's not every year a friend gets married!

By the end of the weekend I was too tired to assemble my new stationary bike, so I hope to be doing that tonight if da elf has determined a good place in the exercise room for it. If so, I'll be starting my program of "trying not to pant walking around Denver" tonight or tomorrow. It's a goal, right?

So, any questions?

[Poll #976159]
dwivian: (TMI)
[Poll #969148]
It's very hard to disprove certain kinds of pain.

So, theoretically, if I were to notice that the washing had been left in the washer long enough to smell funny, and ran it quickly on hot with half the normal soap, should I get upset if I find out later that the labels say "hand wash only"? Or, should I just run for the hills?
[Poll #969149]
And, by elgfirl, I mean [livejournal.com profile] elfgirl.
dwivian: (Default)
Er.....

Weird realization....

Does Hermione Granger grow up to be Rachael Ray?
dwivian: (Rapture Drill Time)
Post prompts gleaned from this poll. Feel free to ask something if you haven't.

First, the moose. Somtimes, when there is a moose, you can think to yourself, "Hey, I bet there was a glacier back there! I should go check out the lake and take a picture!" Sometimes, though, all that comes to mind is farming implements. Life is like that.

Life is not like magnets, though. Oh, sure, magnets can come into existance after the right material is stroked against another magnet, but that'd make the fundamentalists a little green. And, you can breathe life into this magic material with the right application of energy, leading to questions about Intelligent Speaker Design (and, boy, does Bose have a nice mid-priced sound system). Even so, more thing stop working when you give them a magnet than when you take it away. No, life is not like a magnet.

It would be kind of cool to stick a life to the fridge, though. Or, use life to hold PICTURES to the fridge. Could be messy.

Are you proud of being alive? Have you ever been a magnet? And, just being sticky doesn't count.

What does it all mean?
my brain, she is busy... )
dwivian: (Dwiv Inside)
Post prompts gleaned from this poll. Feel free to ask something if you haven't.

I don't think I can lead into this post without the prompt question. I say this after several attempts... so, here's what I'm working with:

How can you live with yourself, being so shallow? And, knowing people think you're a creep?

Hm. Well, that's a tough one. But, not for why you may think. I'm not about to deny the impressions of others, but I am concerned about the question itself.
More inside... )
dwivian: (Dwiv Inside)
Post prompts gleaned from this poll. Feel free to ask something if you haven't.

"Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethaw today. Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam within a dweam..."

The institution of marriage, such as it is, has always been about contracts. I have the Tractate Ketubot of the Talmud (along with most of the rest of the Babylonian text) and have enjoyed reading the rules for setting up the foundations of familial connections in Jewish tradition. I have also read many other texts on setting up contracts, defining the combination of properties into a joint trust. I'm no lawyer, but I don't have to be to recognize how marriage is a property issue.

And, like all other property law, the rules have gotten pretty convoluted.

Only after the era of courtly love did people really skip the due diligence that families had been doing for years to set up their own relationships, bypassing the care that had been taken to build strong support networks and good potentials. Of course, this also sidestepped the occasional problem of never actually liking your spouse, but that returned quickly enough as couples fell into overcommitting on passion instead of love, which grows much slower than patience allows.

So, what did people do about love before? History is rife with stories of what we'd call affairs now, but at the time were daliances or full relationships that were not only tolerated, but encouraged, as both parties realized the import of the contract was the property it protected, not the emotions it encouraged. Have a mistress! Dally with the cabana boy! Just don't bring discredit to the family. Oh, and keep it out of the marriage bed (which may only be used for sleeping, but it represents the family bond).

At some point it became the purview of the religious institutions to manage marriage. I think this had to do with the recording of the contracts, as religion and state were terribly intertwined, and both were quite fond of bureaucracy. And, so, we get this concept that marriage is a sacred institution because it is recorded in the books of clerics. Nevermind that the clerics were from wildly differing and divergent tradition! No, obviously God wanted marriage to exist, and it was the job of the church to make sure it was done right.

What is right? Oh, now that is a nasty question.... Common themes are duty, protection, obedience, and proper governance. Love is not necessary, apparently. So, how does the church deal with marriages based in love? By teaching the marriage of tradition, and encouraging proper preparations so that passionate flings between singles do not become enshrined in ceremony. This is a good thing (as fading flings are a prime cause of divorce), but it brings with it a bit of baggage. Namely, the moralist position that arrairs are a problem.

So, it is no surprise that, as people began transitioning from tradition to new ways of thinking and making tea using harbor water, that the role of the church in marriage was lessened and the state became the record keeper. Now we can streamline things! People can get married without a church at all if that is their desire! And, yet, the state kept parts of the tradition alive.

First, they continued to call it marriage, and provided a license. Kinda like getting a trout or deer stamp, but with very strict limits on season, size, and number. And, not surprisingly, without the same expiration.... Believe me, I checked, just in case da elf tried to find a loophole later. But, that's it -- the state only kept records of the license, and not the contract, and thus got a chance to encode puritanical concepts of "love" and all the related relationship issues, along with all the original rules of joint property, in the body of law, spread out all over, all tied to the word "Marriage". Thus, all one has to do to make the system explode is change what a marriage is....

And, thus we get to the current assault on the traditional marriage, which was assaulted in the 1600s honestly.

If we want "sanctity of marriage" to be a real issue, we need to make it a sacred matter only. The best way to solve the problem is to change terms, thus preventing any attempts to modify definitions. I think the state should only register contracts of civil union, and to be honest I don't care the races, genders, or numbers involved. Churches can provide the ceremonies, or not, and can recognize people as married, or not, but the state will just connect people and property, based on rules about who can enter contracts and how. See how that works? You can get married only within the purview of the religious institutions, and they can protect traditional marriage or not. But, you need not get married at all -- just get a civil union license. That's it, and that's what all the law will be written against.

Now, if you are dumb enough to get into a passionate poly fling that you want to license without taking time to develop strength underneath, and all of you get married, you'll have one HELL of a time undoing things if it falls apart, but that's a problem with contract law as much as relationships. And, that's fine. Maybe making things more risky will force people to reconsider jumping into the judge's chambers as fast as they do their beds. Maybe that means I am in favor of gay marriage because everyone should have a right to be legally miserable, but I never said I wasn't a curmudgeon. No, that's not true -- gay marriage is now a religious issue, and my position is meaningless except within my own faith. Gay civil unions, though, are just fine.

Once the state lists things only as civil union, the whole codification of morality falls away. There can be no unreasonable biases, as any attempt to do so impacts the body of contract law, too. This, too, is good.

Alas, I know I'm in a minority. That's okay. I can still hope that the state extricates itself from religious issues, and moves to protect all people equally. And, I'll continue to vote that way, as long as my vote counts.
dwivian: (Venn Diagram)
Post prompts gleaned from this poll. Feel free to ask something if you haven't.

Why, yes. I do wear a kilt. Thank you for noticing.

Now, there are many questions that arise from this garment. First, of course, is "does [livejournal.com profile] elfgirl approve?" And, I can say without a doubt that she really likes my kilts. There is the easy access design, for starters, and then the reduction in laundry because I don't need to wash them every wear, nor do I need to send them out for cleaning. And, apparently, I have scrawny legs so the kilt does something to give me a better appearance. I'm all for that.

Next, and not by much, is "Why wear one?" The answer has a little to do with elfgirl and the easy access bit, a little to do with the maintenance, and a little to do with the total cost savings (I was wearing through the cuffs and hems of one pair of business Docker's pants a month, at $40-$60 per each. My oldest kilt is in good condition and is 4 years old). And, there is that whole "celebrating celtic culture" thing, as my family has distinctly Scots and Irish roots. But, by far, the best reason to wear a kilt is comfort.

Utilikilts advertises at shows by having hawkers yell out "Come set the boys free!" My first touch of freedom came as a result of learning to blow up everybody in the world (USAF: Nuclear Missile Launch Officer), as our uniform requirements included basic boxers. I'd not worn them before, and the switch was instantly more comfortable. Some men have issues with the legs sliding up though, because of how pants pull on the shorts. And, yes, I was one of those men, so even that freedom came with a price. When I first put on a kilt and there was nothing to pull on the shorts any more, I was even more happy. I have the ability to dress without boxers with my kilts now, but my office has enough brisk corridors and transparent walkways that I make a point of dressing accordingly. Even so, I'm incredibly comfortable.

I don't seek out windy walkways except in summer or if I'm a little warm, but having a little "breeze between the knees" can be quite nice, too.

The last question that comes in fairly quickly is "don't you care what people say about how you look?" To that, I can only think back to how I used to dress, and answer honestly "never have, really. I dress for me, so I am warm. And, apparently me being dressed keeps all of you from needing to wash your eyeballs repeatedly. After that, I should be worried about if my clothes are 'right'? Yah, sure." The only reason I match as well as I do now is da elf has thrown out anything she didn't like in my wardrobe. Doesn't leave much else, but it does go together better.

So, that's the kilt thing. Don't you want to try on one, now?
dwivian: (Wisemen)
Post prompts gleaned from this poll. Feel free to ask something if you haven't.

So. Yeah. I have kids.

I got one for free with my wife and two box tops almost ten years ago. The other two came along later so that the eldest had plenty of chores to do, and so that she could learn patience. She's doing pretty well with one of those two learning opportunities.

In our house, da elf gets to be the nurturing, caring parent. This means that if anything happens, she's the one that the children run to for support, to get their hugs and kisses, etc. And, by anything, I mean the full range of broken bones down to the settling of dust in the upper hallway. I get to be the diciplinarian. That means I get to yell the famous phrase, "DON'T MAKE ME COME UP THERE!" and the elf has learned, "Wait unti your father gets home!"

As a result, I get very little in the way of hugs and affection, unless I happen to have cheese crackers sitting by my chair. Not that the kids are afraid, but I'm just not their first choice. If I call them over, they'll sit, laugh, read my computer or watch TV, steal my crackers, etc. It's cool, but some times I wish I wasn't always the bad cop. Alas, that's the way it fell in our house, so I suffer in silence and the occasional angstly LJ post.

I've discovered, though, that by being the "heavy" I have to get creative. It is no surprise that switches, belts, paddles, time out corners, restrictions, etc, all have the same theme -- "something undesirable". Parents that never spank their children cause just as much emotional and psychological harm with other punishments, because that is exactly what punishments are supposed to do. The trick is trying to balance the punishment with the crime. Otherwise you end up with the negiotiator who determines that she can steal more candy than she's going to lose, and plans accordingly.

I've tried positive punishment, negative reinforcement, and the threat of duct-taping her to the wall, and I still watch the wheels spin as she works out exactly how bad it will be for her if she does what she wants. She knows I won't do anything REALLY bad, but she's willing to rationalize other things like no toys, no friends over, no birthday parties, etc, if she gets her short-term goal. It's a struggle, but she's not old enough yet to leave behind while OTHER people get the good stuff. So, if she has to refrain from a night out, that means a night in for me and da elf.

So, obviously, the best lesson is the one the eldest is learning with us, and that is my best advice of all to any parent: Learn patience. For the next two decades (at least) you'll be called on to sacrifice what you want so that you can help form a better future. Make the most of it, and don't forget to allow for time to get dirty. It's worth the effort.
dwivian: (Get Bored)
There were several queries about my opt-in filters poll.

Check your filter settings here. If you make changes, comment on the post to let me know (click on discuss results).

MoooooooOOOOOOooooose!
dwivian: (bad idea)
I'm clearing out chaff. If you want me to defriend you, you can say so now. If not, pick something else. Just trying to make sense of it all and handle those weird non-reading mutual-friends love fests.

[Poll #905605]
dwivian: (PrimaDonna)
Post prompts gleaned from this poll. Feel free to ask something if you haven't.

I spent quite a while working on my thesis. It started, ostensibly, in 2004. I was taking a class in database theory (something beyond database usage) and I wanted to define a better way of learning the concepts. However, I was busy NOT learning them, myself.

You see, in their wisdom, my school decided that I'd done so much work with databases that the basic class would have bored me.

And, this is probably true. I have been working with database systems and structures since 1983. And, yet....

I have always felt that experiential knowledge, while useful, is insufficient to real learning. All my work experience may be good, but if I never had a reason to use **THAT** function, I will have never seen it. What you can experience on your own is colored significantly by other experiences, issues, and opportunities. You can never hope to find the "one path to enlightment" when you are are not aware that you are standing on an infinite plane, and the path you define is only one of many you could have discovered, and even then may not reach the goal you think you are after.

This is not to say that experience should be avoided, as this brings about a kind of learning indistinguishable from faith. Even so, faith properly placed can guide experiences in a constructive way, where every new event adds to the whole. This guidance is critical to learning, and why I require it as part of any attempt to make real headway in a subject. Not that headway is a requirement! Learning can happen independent of any real objective, of course.

Some that are walking a spiral inward seek to define learning as goal oriented, and when they walk around what they believe is their goal they approach it slowly, claiming every step either leads them inward or stands contrary to the path. This is, of course, a faulty vision of the walk, as even though the path along the spiral reaches the goal, so does the path straight inwards, and so does the path outwards. Why? Because enlightment is inevitable, and the goal is in all directions. How long you postpone it is up to you, after a fashion, but even a dedicated attempt to get there may take more time than you expect, as your straight line could be a spiral on the edges of opportunity you do not see.

Learning, then, is the accumulation of enlightment in all forms, those you have discovered and those from others, of finding the opportunities you seek while learning of those you may have failed to see. Trancendence is not a thing to be grasped, but a state in which to live. There is no magic moment of luminescence, but merely differences between yourself and your background. In the dark, a candle shines, but in the day the candle is insufficient. We learn by experiencing not only our own opportunities, but those of others, who learn by sharing them, bringing brightness to the darkness. There is enlightenment in information architecture, in the curve of a flower petal, in the breath of a baby, in the sound of a violin, and infrequently in the preparation for war. And, of course, in many other things as well.

The trick is being open to them, and not claiming one path is better than all others.

In an infinite universe, there are multiple paths that learning can take. Experience can get you places, but may cause you to choose poorly as you are confronted with infinite opportunity and limited wisdom on which to guide your future. Thus, you cannot hope to align yourself with something which has no direction, no vector, no motion. Instead, you must give the universe an appearance motion with your vision, which arises out of your gathered state of awareness. The universe begins within.

And, within myself, at that moment, was an extreme lack of understanding of about 80% of database design.

I spent quite a while learning SQL on my own, studying the concept of Entity-Relation diagrams, correlating data structures and how pieces of them interacted with others. In a sense, then, a database is a universe of enlightenment; it is an accumulation of awareness and understanding that can expand forever, but is only useful when interrelations are encouraged that reveal underlying mechanisms and concepts. There is no RIGHT way to view a database, but failing to view it at all is most decidedly wrong. And, what database one uses can directly impact the results of this observation, providing good or bad guidance.

I got some of the worst guidance possible from MySQL. At the time it didn't have stored procedure support (something I was trying to learn) outside of development versions that implemented inconsistently. JDBC was problematic, though it was officially supported, and much of the metadata requirement was woefully inadequate. I understand this has improved, but at the time it was a problem. Even worse, in default mode MySQL isn't transaction safe, making it possible to update something, try to read it, and get older data. And heaven help you if you try to figure out if NULL is NULL or NOTNULL, as it is implemented in ways that make for a headache or two....

Oracle was much better, but it took quite a while to get access to the Oracle server on campus, and I had a habit of writing code that failed to close connections properly (I neglected the 'finally' instruction in my try/catch blocks). To Oracle, such an act is poison, as version 8i would accumulate these open connections until it crashed. Almost always on a Friday after 6pm. ::sigh::

PostGreSQL was nice, but the server I got to use wouldn't allow remote connectivity, so I had to be on campus or using ssh onto the server so my tests were local. And that meant I had to export all my visualizations to my home computer bit-by-bit instead of using local Java to display the data. Very time-consuming, and ugly. It did reveal a bug in Java, though, and I got to report it! Still a bug, but at least they know about it.

So, in short -- Oracle, PostGreSQL good. MySQL bad (for now). Did I enlighten you? Or, at least light a match in the darkness?
dwivian: (Key Lime Pie)
As asked here:

My home town.... well, the second home town I had.... was a railroad town. City hall, such as it was, sat near the station, along with the library, fire station, water office, and the oldest shops. A crossroad ran through the city from one end to the other, connecting us to the neighboring cities in (no kidding) alphabetic order. This street was where new construction had been done, and so on both ends we had car dealerships, furniture stores, banks, and churches.

Our church, where DwivDad led the choir, was just off this crossroad, a distance away from the railroad. We sat behind a bank (that the church has since purchased to use as offices), and alongside a shopping strip with the five-and-dime store, Sears catalog store, and I think there was a grocery for a while, before newer developments further down the crossroad spawned different shopping centers.

On the main road, just a block over from the church, sat the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. This was the old style building, with the cool roof cupolla embellishment. And, they started cooking about 11:30 on Sunday mornings. Just in time for the scent to waft over the parking lots at the Church.

Needless to say, KFC was a frequent presence at our Sunday lunches.

Now, this might have been a time of family togetherness, but instead it caused a great rift -- Original, or Extra Crispy? This spawned the lesser wars of Gravy or No Gravy and the Biscuits or Corn-on-the-Cob. But, the major battle raged over the legs and wings, and how to season them.

I, on the side of the angels, God, and all good people, was a fan of Original recipe. This may be a result of the fact that I tended to eat the wings out of the bucket, and the seasoning made them much more enjoyable. I also, by virtue of spending time with my maternal grandfather many summers, gained a good appreciation of fried chicken livers, which taste better with the Original Recipe battering. The fact that KFC was an RJ Reynolds company didn't bother me, as I had no problem with tobacco for other people. No, I was just after the chicken.

But, then KFC was acquired by PepsiCo, and I reduced my patronage, going to Guthries (and Zaxby's), and occasionally Popeye's. It was no Original Recipe, though, so I went back from time to time but I never got the soda with my meals, unless it was to get Dr. Pepper (an independent company that also owns Seven-Up). Yeah, I was part of the Coca-Cola brand for quite a while (we had a bottler in my home town, and the head of the plant was a friend of the family from our church). When PepsiCo spun off their food brands to Tricon (now Yum! Brands) I was much happier, but I still can't get the right soda with my chicken.

After a point, someone who is more concerned about my weight than I am (see: girlfriends) got me to start paying attention to calories. Now, I look at calories as a statement of how good something probably is, with a higher score being a better rating. But.....

ChickenCaloriesFat GramsSaturated Fat Grams
Original Recipe Wing14092.0
Extra Crispy Wing15071.5


So, my dinner has fewer calories, but a little more of the wrong fats. Ah, well. It still tastes better.

Now.... The new KFC Mashed Potato and Gravy Bowls..... sin in a travel size?

Evil ChickenCaloriesFat GramsSaturated Fat Grams
Mashed Potato Bowl with Gravy720349
dwivian: (Default)
As asked here:

The East refers to cheese as "spoiled milk" and won't eat it. They also eat fermented cabbage, which the West finds quite confusing. Clearly food is a matter of regional taste. I don't know the state of cheese in politics, nor if it has ever been thrown at a family planning clinic. It seems to be non-controversial, at least in the West.

In my region, cheese is a good thing. I have a member of my chosen family that refuses to have anything to do with it, which is odd to me but I understand, and we don't take him to Melting Pot. At least, not yet. Maybe he'll warm up to the other courses. No, for me, cheese is part of my history, and my present.

Growing up I got the experience of both the plastic-wrapped cheese (which I would fold in half, repeatedly, until it was a stack 2n tall), and the government cheese (which may or may not be sliced, and I saw no rhyme nor reason why the boxes varied). And, of course, I got the box mac-n-cheese, with the powdered cheese food substance. Being asked which kind of cheese mostly meant orange or white, with flavors not so distinct. Oh, there was cream cheese occasionally (mostly as spreads for crackers), and traditional swiss, but to a child's palate that means "bitter cheese" so I didn't like it. I just wanted the regular orange stuff, thank you.

Except.....

There was this place just north of our house, in a really short drive, that had Danish Havarti and crisps that taste of cardboard on their own but are perfect as a foundation for the texture and flavor of properly paired cheeses. My mother introduced me to it one day. I don't know if they still carry that cheese particularly (Dofino) but it meant the world to me. It is a memory that I cherish, not only because the store was in the foothills (and thus was nestled in a gorgeous space), but because it meant doing something fantastic, flavorful, and family.

I occasionally ask for those crackers, still, and my Mom will make a special trip to get them for me. I don't think I'm out, but just in case, I think I'll have to ask again soon. I did learn that American is *NOT* a good pairing, by the way. ::shudder::

In High School a specialty store opened in our little town (under 2000 people). It was so good at being nestled out of the way that it closed for lack of business. It carried lumps of stuff they called cheese, but it wasn't anything like I'd seen before. Since they were going out of business, I bought lots of it, which got warm on the bike ride back to the house. No matter... it was good. And gouda. And havarti, and colby, and muenster, and gruyere, and....

...and.... they were closed and I couldn't get any more. The best I could get was the holiday sampler from Hickory Farms, and only at Christmas. Blast! I kept the labels for a while so I could remember what I liked.

It was college before I has better access to different cheeses (by way of a well stocked grocery) and thus started paying attention to what varieties of cheese there were, and why cheddar melts funny (unless you coat it in flour, something I learned much later), and the main differences between hard and soft cheese, old and young cheese, mold strains and why bleu cheese is so good melted on red meats....

But, I was a college student. Cheese like I wanted was a bit out of my price range. And so it remained a special thing, added to some dishes, cut and set aside on its own other days. I learned to stretch it between meals, creating cheese sauces from leftover blocks to use on noodles. Even now I know a pathway from cheese party to fondue to cheese spread to cheese dough to spicy baked cheese sticks.

When I moved away from my full-time college days, and took on a job, I started having money enough to keep cheese on hand. Alas, my profession kept me out of my kitchen enough that I owned lots of moldy cheese but none that were meant to be that way. I stopped buying the stuff because it seemed dumb to have a just-less-than-one-pound block of mold to throw away over and over.

Then I found out where my local farmer's market was, and it had a cheese shop like the one of my youth... and they sold cuts as small as I might ever want. And so....

I began cooking things I would see on Public TV weekends, with all the cooking shows and people using things I suddenly could afford to have. I bought good kitchen gear, excellent ingredients, and, of course, fine cheese.

My fondue went from being glop cheddar to a blend of asiago veccio and gruyere, with fine ground mustard and white pepper thrown in for flavor (and it still makes a great cheese stick if it gets that far, and if not, amazing mac-n-cheese). My omlettes are less southwest and much more french, with fine flavors and spice. I have learned to make parmisano reggiano crisps on a silpat, and have enjoyed them on more than one occasion. I haven't shunned cheddar, but I make it work for me. And I have intentionally spoiled milk to make fresh cheese (and it takes quite a bit of nerve to throw vinegar into warm milk to watch it curdle, after having had several gallon jugs spontaneously go bad while I was away on travel). I have tried buffalo cheese, beer cheese, baked brie (a favorite), and hundreds of others.

Dofino (well, to be fair, any young danish havarti) is still the best, but the memories are what makes it so.

And, to this day, I still harbor a fantasy of buying a wheel of cheese and a big knife, and throwing a "cut off your own chunk" party. When the house is clean, the budget is sane, and I have a few hundred dollars to spare..... want an invite?
dwivian: (Dwiv Inside)
I have had grand ideas, sweeping opinions, and designs on writing vast statements about the state of the world.

Most of it ended up as comments around LJ, as I couldn't focus on things outside my thesis. Some were meant to direct new thought, and some were my own opinions. And, yes, I know it can be hard for others to tell if my statement about a topic is my own idea or something repeated from seasonal rhetoric merely to be a devil's advocate. My own thoughts were going to be here, once I got finished writing, and rewriting, hell on paper.

Well, that's done, but the politic season is pretty much over. Sure, occasional things come along, but it'll take a while to work up a head of steam like I had before. So....

I'd like to provide substantive answers to questions YOU have about me. No topic is off limits, but my answers will be honest and true to my position and if I'm internally vague... well, you get what you pay for. You can ask my position on abortion, race relations, environmentalism, religion, relationships, constructivist teaching methods for advanced database system subjects, etc. You can ask in a comment (but each one gets a post, so answers will be elsewhere), or you can put in a question in the poll. I won't go about identifying anyone when I answer, so feel free to be anonymous or not. I'm just going to post answers.

[Poll #900479]
dwivian: (You People)
[Poll #876078]

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