Patio Furniture FTW

kids on new patio furniture
There was at least one of these three ensconced here for the remainder of the afternoon

Bought some new patio furniture on a lark today, now I just need to finish preparing the patio.

We stuck it on the deck in the meantime, where it attracted some squatters almost immediately.  I think they like it.  They should, as the human children gave me puppy-dog eyes until I caved and agreed to buy it.  (Butter had nothing to do with the purchase, but she spent the most time of anyone on it today.)

Beta Goes Rock Climbing

Way back at Christmas, Meghan came up with a most appropriate gift for Beta: time at the local rock climbing gym.

We didn’t use it right away because we were out of the country, and then something always seemed to come up or we just weren’t thinking about it, until this past week.  I remembered about the rock gym, Meghan arranged a time, and this morning (Mother’s Day to boot) we showed up for the first of five sessions.

A rock climbing gym, in case you’ve never been, is a series of walls with a random assortment of hand-holds embedded into the surface.  It’s meant to simulate rock climbing enough to help you build strength and skill.

rock wall climbing
Beta nearing the top of a difficult ascent

You wear a harness and clip onto a rope.  Some faces have auto-belays, some have ropes slung and wrapped over a bar above the face (pulley-style) so a partner eases you down.  The ‘cave’ wall has no ropes, as the entire face is inverted.  It has a very thick pad to land on instead.

We booked two hours, and Beta made it through impressive one and a half hours of it.  By the end she had “spaghetti arms,” but she was talking about going back before we were even back in the car.  Score one for mom!

Egg Roll in a Bowl

eggroll in a bowl

Ingredients

You’ll need a pretty big pan with high sides for this recipe.  A 14″ cast iron pan is good.

It’s a pretty low maintenance dish, so you can easily cook it alongside other things.  Bagged slaw saves a ton of time.

This makes a pretty good meal by itself, or goes great as a side dish.

  • Sesame oil
  • 1 pound of ground Chicken or Pork
  • 1 small or 1/2 medium white onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger
  • 1 bag (14 oz) dry slaw mix
  • Soy sauce (reduced sodium is fine)
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sesame seeds (optional)

Steps

  1. Heat a tablespoon of sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add in the meat and onions.
  2. When the meat is nearly done and onion is soft and translucent, stir in garlic and ginger.  Cook for a few more minutes, stirring on occasion.
  3. Dump in soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and slaw.  Stir frequently until everything is well-mixed, the soy sauce and rice wine vinegar reduce,and the slaw softens up.

Season with salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Adapted from http://theskinnyfork.com/blog/chicken-egg-roll-bowl

Meteors!

The Girl Scout troop was going to do some late night thing for a badge – go somewhere people work late, go to Panera for dinner, watch a movie, blah. I have to say, I thought Girl Scouts would be more like the Boy Scouts (Hiking badge YEAH!). But no. Girls apparently don’t do the cool stuff.  I mean, hosting an “extreme nighttime party” as a badge requirement?!

Yesterday, we figured out that the Lyrid meteor shower peaked tonight, April 21. Faced with the choice of seeing Stop and Shop getting restocked, and heading out with blankets, 3 layers of hoodies, and some Dunkin’ hot chocolate, the choice was clear.

Screw Stop and Shop.

We went to a recreation area in Tewksbury, the closest we could find to a good, dark, publicly accessible field. After setting up a blanket under us, and another on top, we cuddled together and started watching the skies. We saw multiple meteors, two normal satellites, and one Iridium flare. Every one of those satellites was spotted by Beta, the Champion of Satellite Detection. She pointed out the Iridium satellite before it had a chance to flare, so we all got to see it.

We hung out in the field for about 45 minutes before it got too cold, and we were tired.

And of course, on the ride home, Beta saw one last  meteor. Awesome end to the night.

Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect

The Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect is, simply put,

I believe everything the media tells me except for anything for which I have direct personal knowledge, which they always get wrong.  source

Formulated by Michael Crichton, is named after Murray Gell-Mann, an astrophysicist.  (said Mr. Crichton, “I refer to it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.”)

Mr. Crichton explained it further in a 2002 speech, “Why Speculate?

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward – reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I’d point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all. But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn’t. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.

RIP, Mr. Crichton.