Thursday, February 21, 2008


It appears I am not as my evil twin appears. According to "scientists", I may not have the exact genetic makeup (DNA) as my evil twin. To state it plainly, it all comes down to copying. When the DNA is copied it can sometimes be, well, wrong. If a piece is missing or it gets reordered you get differences, some call them mutations. Whatever you call it in the end, the copy is different than the original. This important fact is being used to detect the genetic location of specific diseases, mathematical optimization problems, and why copying on computers, even across the ISH, are checked for mistakes or underhanded evilness.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Squash Risotto

Also at Eric's request:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 small ACORN squash, peeled, seeded and diced to ~ 1/4 inch
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (Pinot Grigio or similar)
4-5 cups chicken stock, kept at a simmer
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for sprinkling

In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and squash, cooking until the onions have softened and are translucent but not browned 8 to 10 minutes. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until toasted and opaque, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the wine to the toasting rice, and then add a 4 to 6-ounce ladle of stock and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladle at a time, stirring constantly and waiting until the liquid is absorbed before adding more. Cook until the rice is tender and creamy and yet still a little al dente, about 15 minutes. Stir in the butter and cheese until well mixed. Portion risotto into 4 warmed serving plates, serving with extra cheese.

Sweet Corn Risotto

At Eric's request:

2 ears fresh sweet corn
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine (Pinot Grigio or similar)
1/4 cup unsalted butter (in pieces)
6 oz. Asiago cheese, finely grated
1 small tomato, finely chopped (we used grape tomatoes cut in half)
1/4 cup chives, finely chopped

Working in a shallow bowl, cut off corn kernels, then scrape each cob with a knife to extract juice. Place the cobs in a small saucepan with the water and broth. Bring broth, water, and cobs to a simmer and keep at a bare simmer. In a separate 3-quart heavy saucepan, cook onion in oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute, until the grains begin to toast a little. Add the wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until mostly absorbed. Add 1 cup of the simmering broth and cook at a strong simmer, stirring constantly, until the broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth to the rice mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition become absorbed before adding the next, until rice is creamy-looking but still al dente (it should be the consistency of thick soup, and the grains should be firm but not gritty), about 18 minutes total. There may be leftover broth. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the butter cubes and 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Gently fold in tomato, corn, and chives until the butter and cheese are melted, then season to taste with salt. I sometimes also add a few small balls of fresh mozzarella at this point. Thin with leftover broth if desired and serve sprinkled with remaining cheese.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

1906 Earthquake Cows

While putting together my Earthquake lecture, which I just started teaching today, I am reminded of the story of "The Cow" and the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. At the USGS the story is retold. Unfortunately, there are not pictures, but the quick story goes that during the earthquake the ground opened up and swallowed a cow. There are some choice quotes in the retelling. At first it was told that the earth really gobbled up the unsuspecting cow:

"The earth opened for miles, right back of the house it swallowed up a cow — all that could be seen of it was the end of its tail. "

In the process the cow "kicked the bucket", somehow. Reporters came to interview the family who owned the cow which was swallowed up by the earth. After a while, 60 years or so, the truth eventually came out

"Look Pax, the cow had died, and we had to bury her. That night along came the earthquake which opened up a big crack and tipped it in, with the feet sticking out. Then along came those newspaper reporters and when they got the idea that the cow had fallen in we weren't about to spoil a good story. Why spoil it now?"


Saturday, February 09, 2008


For those out of the loop, basically everybody, we put agreed on a price for a house and are entered Escrow. Below are few house pics and a general timeline of how this all happened.

Two Saturdays Ago: Meet with our Real Estate Agent
Last Saturday: Toured Seven (7) different homes
Monday: Put on offer on the House
Wednesday: Counter offers and price Agreement
Thursday: Sign the Contract