Monday, February 11, 2008

Language Lessons

We'll return to the (apparently mildly controversial) topic of solar energy soon. In the meantime, it's time to discuss something much more important: food.

Regrettably, I won't be sharing an entire recipe this time. I did want to share a bit about what we had for dinner of late, though. Last Saturday, we had a yummy dish. The original recipe comes from the Food & Wine 2007 annual cookbook, for those of you who have that. It's something like "Snapper with Spiced Crab and Lime-Cilantro Broth". I made the lime-cilantro broth according to the original recipe, and the spiced crab was also as suggested (with lots of fennel, cardamom, and coriander), but I substituted Ono for the snapper, as that's what looked good at my local fishmonger.

Here's where the language lessons come in. Ono, in Hawaiian, has two meanings. The first it "delicious". The second meaning is a proper noun for the fish known in English as Wahoo. In the case of this dish, both meanings are entirely accurate - the Wahoo was entirely delicious in this dish. I strongly recommend this particular substitution. If you don't have the recipe, contact me directly and I'd be happy to make it available.

We had a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc with this dish, along with a nice crusty French bread loaf. The wine was, to be specific, a 2005 St. Supéry bottling. Very yummy with the fish and spiced crab - definitely worth the price!

So, that's Saturday. Today's weather was very nearly perfect - for a moment, I thought it was April instead of February. The weather made me opt for an outside dinner...time to fire up the grill! Tonight's dinner was quite "Ono" - salmon marinated in Teriyaki and then grilled, with asparagus (grilled, of course!) and oranges (also grilled, and sprinkled with Hawaiian red salt), a bit of bread, and some rice. We had a bottle of 2003 Rioja with this scrumptious feast. It was really quite tasty, although I had the first case of hiccups I've had in the last decade.

In any case, I hope this fine evening finds anyone reading this in good health and enjoying an equally fine meal.

Bon appétit!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ah, the joy of blogging

I posted yesterday a little note about solar power. I'll post more on that topic soon...I don't have any ground-breaking ideas, just some thoughts of my own on the topic. I don't claim to have any extraordinary insight, but part of the point of blogging is to allow a certain level of navel-gazing.

The real joy of blogging, though, is getting comments from random people. Some folks I know, others I cannot identify. I've got more than a grain of salt for when I read those comments - indeed, I've got a whole salt block for that purpose.

Still, I thought I'd take a moment to respond to a comment from my post from yesterday. I could to that in the comments thread, but where's the fun in that?

"Tom" got on my case for having an upper-middle-class liberal mindset and expecting the government to just fix everything. He also chastised me for not having already solarified my own house.

I'm so pleased that he knowns my entire financial and personal situation. I'll go right out today and purchase some solar panels. I didn't know I could so trivially get a loan and that I had the available money. I'm very pleased to have that notion collected.

For those of you not following along at home, the word for that previous paragraph is "sarcasm". Not everyone can trivially borrow money, and not everyone can just shell out an extra $100 a month. I always enjoy when people make assumptions about others. This was a lovely example. I really enjoyed the key paragraph at the end of his comment:

"This is a perfect illustration of the upper-middle-class liberal mindset. You feel guilty because don't do something that you think is good. Rather than actually DO THE THING, you want to have government make other people do the thing. It is perfect; it assuages your guilt without any meaningful change to your actual life!"

Yeah, dude, you know me. Guilt-laden is how I always think of myself. I would suggest that you wait for the rest of the thread in the future. By the way, Tom, I'm pleased to see that your company has shown some leadership in being "green". Congrats to them - I hope they succeed.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Solar for everyone

One of the reasons I like living in California is simple: the weather is nice. That fact also logically leads to something inexplicable. Given abundant sunlight, why isn't there far more solar power in California?

That's a fine question.

In the interest of full disclosure, I don't have solar panels on my roof. I'd very much like to, but capital requirements exceed my present means. Still, I'd very much like to have at least a small setup sitting up there in the sun. (Even on stormy days, like today, there's significant amounts of sun!)

So, here's a small proposal: all new homes in California should be required to have solar panels pre-installed. Given the cost of housing around here (the median is rather north of half a million), tacking on an extra $15k or so doesn't seem like a high cost. Of course, this would only cover new construction. We'll clearly need to consider some sort of plan to encourage installation on older homes. That's where the government can help out - although it's worth noting that the state government is doing a reasonable job of offering tax incentives and rebates, especially given the current fiscal environment.

Solar's not the answer to everything, of course. There's that whole nighttime and no light problem. I also read somewhere about the carbon cost of producing solar panels, and it's pretty high. That's rather disconcerting. It's certainly possible to reduce that, since all of the energy required to produce them could come from alternative energy sources like, uh, solar. Assuming that the costs of producing solar power devices can be greatly reduced, there's little reason to not get solar going in large fractions of the US. That should certainly help to get the country closer to being energy independent.

There's a lot more to say about this, so I'll return to the general topic of global warming, energy policy, etc., soon.