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We will never have true civilization until we have learned to recognize the rights of others. — Will Rogers

OKC + 10 2005.04.20.03:45

Today is the 10th anniversary of the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. There are good stories about the various markings and memorials at Excite News and the BBC, among others.

The day it happened was a Wednesday. I was actually a fairly early riser then, which would surpise most of the people who know me here in California. I was on my way to work at about 9 or so (I tended to get into my seat by 9:30) and had just started driving away from my house. I turned the radio from the local alt-rock station to NPR as I did every morning for my commute. They were talking about an explosion. Untold number dead. Descriptions of the vast damage to the building. Then they mentioned Oklahoma City, and the specific building. I nearly went off the road. Even writing about it now gives me a chill. OKC? WTF?

I spent a day or two getting through to family and friends. The odds of anyone I knew being in that building on the 19th were slim. I did have a lot of elderly family in the city, who might have reason to visit the Social Security Administration office in that building, but none of them would have gone that late in the month. None of my friends were even close to the area at the time. One friend was working an opening shift at a restaurant some number of miles away (I'm estimating it was about 5 miles), and he said that the remnants of the shock wave caused their front doors to swing open, then slowly close. The sound they heard could have been anything, but the doors spooked them.

Then the frenzy and finger-pointing began. Mind you, we're talking just hours here. People were sure they'd seen "Arab-looking" men around. (To be fair, downtown OKC is pretty much white and black, with only a smattering of Asian, Latino and others; someone Middle-Eastern would have been pretty conspicuous.) There was a lot of focus on Islamist possibilities, with "experts" already being interviewed on various radio stations.

Then the real shock came. The first sketches from actual eye-witnesses were of a man of decidedly white complexion. Then, to rub it home, they caught Tim McVeigh.

God help us, had we been attacked by someone with a clue. McVeigh was caught because he was speeding northbound on I-35 in a car with expired tags. When the cop came up to the window, there was a gun sitting on the passenger seat beside McVeigh. So he was taken into custody. And at that point, things started to add up and fall into place. Partial receipts were found. People remembered his face. And one person actually rolled over on him. But had he been blessed with the basic common sense that you don't speed in a car with bad tags, with a fucking gun in the front seat beside you, in the immediate aftermath of a highly-visible bombing, he might never have been caught. He might well be marking this anniversary in some modest house in Montana or Idaho, with the rest of his John Birch-quoting far-right militia fanatics. But he fucked up, we caught him, and he sleeps with the fishes. His accomplice will never see the outside of a prison, but at least has his life left with which to write more tracts about how the gub'mint is after our freedom and our guns (but not in that order).

Let me go on record as saying I don't believe for one minute that the plot to blow up the Murrah building had squat to do with the Branch Davidian stand-off in Waco, Texas, two years earlier. They may have chosen the date for that, so they could use it as an excuse. But I just don't believe a person who considers himself a Biblical Christian is going to get that worked up over an incident involving a man who claimed to be Christ Himself. They might have bristled at the government response (and really– if the party in power were the GOP, Pat Robertson would have been all about them stopping a false messiah, as opposed to oppressing the faithful). But someone committing the ultimate blasphemy and armed to the teeth? I don't see anyone in the Michigan Militia being in a great hurry to join the fight. I thing the Waco excuse was exactly that: an excuse. If it hadn't have been that, it would have been the assault weapons ban, or any other slight (real or perceived).

So today, I'm pretty much keeping quiet and just doing my day job. I'll go home and eat, and relax. And I'll be exceedingly thankful that no one I knew was directly affected. My SO at the time had friends who were hurt, and at least one friend who was a responding EMT. But that was as close as I got. There are 168 families that weren't so lucky.

# [/thoughts]

Bachelor Cooking Hazards: The Blender 2005.04.14.06:54

I set out to make the lentil-sweet potato soup again, but let's just say things didn't go by the recipe plan this time around.

First off, I set out lentils three days ago. But the next day I was too busy (and too beat) to make the soup. Only I didn't think about the lentils, and when I looked at them last night, they had sprouted roots. OK, toss those out and start a new bowl soaking for tonight.

Then tonight I'm still home too late, but I don't want to waste another cup of lentils, so I decide to go ahead and make the soup for later eating. Things started out OK, as I timed the chopping of the onions and sweet potato to the heating of the oil. I also put a frozen pizza in the oven for the actual dinner itself.

Now things start going badly.

First of all is the unfortunate blender incident. I'm trying to pureé the lentils with some water, but the lentils are sticking to the side. I get a wooden spoon to try and nudge them downward. I swear I've seen this done before. But clearly I lack the practice and/or general coordination to do this. I hit the spinning blades, and you can just imagine what happened.

Red lentils freakin' everywhere. In the sink. On the countertop. On the floor. On my shirt. I wouldn't be surprised if they were in my hair. It's like a lentil-bomb exploded in my kitchen. Walking to the computer, I looked down and found one on my sock.

But I had enough to go ahead and go forward with the soup. The onions were nicely browned, and the sweet potato lightly so. So I mixed in the rest of the water and added it all to the pot.

It's important to note that that my burner (electric) was on TWO, on a scale of TEN. It had seemed fine when I was browning the onions. I was checking on the soup every so often. But when I checked on it again, it was ruined. In the period between checking, it had all burnt on the bottom of the pot. It was at a raging boil, the soup. At a setting of "two", I really thought it would be simmering, as intended. There's gotta be something wrong with my stove, I guess.

Good thing I had the pizza.

# [/food]

Salmon With Indian Spices 2005.04.10.01:42

This is an extremely simple recipe. I was amazed at how quickly and painlessly it went the first time I made it. I recently made it for friends, and they loved it.

I got this recipe from the show, "Everyday Food" on the Food Network channel. Since I don't know if it is published in a cookbook anywhere, I don't know if I am treading on a copyright. If I learn that I am, I'll take the post away.


  • ¼ cup plain yogurt (lo-fat is fine)
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 salmon filets, 6-7oz. on average

Combine the yogurt and all the spices. Mix by hand thoroughly until completely blended and smooth.

Place salmon filets on a broiler pan or sheet that has been greased with olive oil or cooking spray. If filets have skin, put the skin side down on the pan. Spread the yogurt/spice mixture over the filets, top only (not on the sides). Spread it thickly, covering the top of each filet as completely as possible.

Put under a broiler for 12-14 minutes, or until filets are cooked through. Remove from oven and serve. The mixture should form a sort of "shell" on the top of the fish.

# [/food/recipes]

The Word of the Day is "Kancho" 2005.04.09.22:14

Via LiveJournal, I found my way to the editorials of an American teaching in Japan. Specifically, he teaches the equivalent of 7th through 9th grades. Apparently, according to this entry, Japanese school kids learn to be preverts at an early age:

You know what's kind of funny though? Some kids can't say "Good morning", but damn near all of them can ask if I have a big dick. Or, "bigu dikku" in Engrish.

On the days I'm avoiding them asking me that, I'm avoiding them actually trying to grab it. I shit you not, I have to play Dodgedick with Japanese Jr. High kids on a weekly basis. Boys and girls! Age, gender, doesn't matter, they all want a stab at it. The boys are actually more persistant though. I had one boy grab for it, and when I said "No!" he put his hands together and, in English, said "Please!" Oh hell no.

I wish I could say it stops there, but actually, it gets worse. Let me introduce you to a game Japanese kids like to play called "Kancho."

Actually, it's not so much a "game" as it is kids clasping their hands together, sticking out their first fingers, and shoving them up your butt. I'm really not joking.

You know, before we come to Japan, they tell us a lot of ultimately useless stuff. What kind of computer to bring, if our DVD's will work, clothing sizes, that kind of nonsense. Nowhere, and I mean nowhere, in the 3-4 months of orientations did anyone ever mention that at some point, a Japanese kid may try to stick their fingers up our butt. That's something I would have liked to know, personally.
# [/funny]

A Linguistic Butt-Whooping 2005.04.04.01:12

I listen to NPR a lot when I'm in my car. Today, while running errands, I heard the first half or so of a quiz-show they have, called "Says You!. I don't usually listen to this one much (I prefer "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!"), but they had an interesting round in today's show.

The subject was heteronyms, words that have different pronunciations and different meanings, but the same spelling. So I followed along on each of the six questions. They gave the two definitions, and you had to get the word(s). And I just sucked pond water. For someone so comfortable in his command of the language, I could not figure out even one of them. Oy.

# [/entertainment/radio]

Who Am I:
Randy J. Ray
Software Engineer


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