Today, I played with Manga Studio’s free props and rag dolls. I wish there were more — I’d have a blast goofing off with these. It’s a shame that my options are so limited; otherwise, I could run a web comic on freebies alone. Yes, yes, I know I have to use my own art. But that doesn’t stop me from having some fun.
I’ve finished the first major pass-through and I’ve sent the manuscript off to my betas. These are all folks who have expressed an interest in seeing the manuscript, so if I’ve overlooked you, let me know. It’s a bit big, 138K words. Sadly, I was not able to pare it down. I cut out at least three or four thousand words, but added back another three or four thousand.
The edit took
a month less than a month. I’m pretty jazzed about that, considering I finished The Brakan Correspondent in — what? 2004 or 2005? — and have yet to finish editing past the fourth chapter.
They like me. They really like me.
Here at California’s biggest and best HMO, physicians put in three years before they make partner. Partnership means a little more money and a lot more job security. Job security is, of course, worth far more than that little bit of extra money.
Some (like Karen) would say that there was never any doubt that I’d make partner, particularly since they keep showering me with leadership roles. I’m chief of my department, and as of June 1 looks like they’re gonna make me the Physician In Charge for our building. They jumped over a lot of docs with far more seniority than me for the latter job, which either means (A) the boss sees remarkable leadership qualities in me, or (B) I’m still naive enough to say ‘yes’ to an offer like that. It would have been odd (understatement) to make me chief and PIC, only to then dump me from the organization. But it’s the partners who vote people on or off the island, not the big boss, and it wouldn’t be inconceivable for a difference of opinion to exist.
As it was, the boss told me they had to delay the decision on me because the partners were slow to vote. But I think that has more to do with the I-never-read-my-damn-emails problem than with any reluctance to jump me in to the gang.
What can I do differently, now that I’ve made partner?
* Buy a saltwater aquarium. No one wants to buy a saltwater aquarium if he thinks he’s gonna have to find a new job and MOVE.
* Hang my partnership plaque up on the wall.
* Deduct things on my income taxes, apparently, and oh . . .
* Start paying income taxes quarterly, yay! because the organization will no longer take automatic deductions.
* Breathe a little easier. Except, this area of the country has the worst particulate smog of anywhere, so strike that last thought.
I think we’ll go to Santa Barbara next weekend to celebrate . . . it’s been about 20 years since we last went to the Palace Cafe.
Mee krob is one of those pain in the ass Thai dishes that even the Thai restaurants rarely make. Back in Crescent City, we had a lovely restaurateur/chef who would make it for us if we begged prettily. Aside from her* mee krob, most others have been overly greasy, or have used too much sauce such that the rice stick becomes soggy.
Every so often I get it into my head to try to make this stuff, and oh boy does it make a mess. Conceptually, it’s similar to Pad Thai, but the additional step of deep frying seems to raise the difficulty by an order of magnitude. Oh, well. Consider it part of the Thanksgiving feast, a few days late.
Here is, roughly, what Mee krob ought to look like:
The basic idea is that you have fried rice stick (Chinese is mai fun) dressed with a sticky, peppery sweet/sour sauce, then tossed with sauteed green onions and red peppers, scrambled eggs, and a variety of other things, including garlic, tofu, fresh cilantro, freshly chopped green onions, and meat if you like. I used some leftover chicken breast and a few shrimp. You dress the thing with the cilantro, chopped green onions, some un-sauteed red pepper slices, and bean sprouts.
Here’s the basic recipe I used, but I had to adapt it. I knew the sauce would be all wrong — way too salty for starters.
If you can find whole tamarind, you can probably find tamarind paste. It’s at most Asian markets. I used two tablespoons of paste with two of water. But here’s my sauce — you can compare to the original if you like, but trust me, this is the real deal:
4 tablespoons tamarind juice (see above)
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Vietnamese fish sauce
1 teaspoons lime zest
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon Chinese red pepper sauce
Combine the ingredients and simmer until it begins to thicken. Set aside. Ideal consistency is a bit thicker than room temperature pancake syrup. Too thick and it won’t incorporate into your fried rice stick easily, and too thin and it might soften your rice stick.
The sauce can be made ahead. The next step is to prepare your various vegies: separate the white and green parts of the green onion; chop your cilantro and your red pepper — I used red jalapenos; wash your bean sprouts. Dice your tofu and dry it on paper towels. Dice four cloves of garlic.
Lightly fry the tofu, then place in the oven to keep warm (I used a 300 F oven).
Saute the white part of the green onion with some of the red pepper, and once the onion is nearly done, add the garlic. VERY lightly saute the garlic (you don’t want to make it bitter!) Keep the sauteed vegies warm in the oven.
Saute your shrimp if you’re using it. I added a tablespoon of the sauce while sauteing to add flavor. Put the shrimp in the oven to keep warm.
Fry up your rice stick. Here are some tips: unless you have a huge deep fryer and want to use a ton of oil, pre-cut the rice stick using kitchen shears. Rice stick will fly everywhere, so put the “bale” of rice stick into a gallon bag, then cut it with shears. You are trying to create flatter “bales” so that they will submerge in less oil.
Set your rice stick aside on paper towels.
Once you’ve made the rice stick, the clock really starts ticking, since this stuff goes stale FAST. The only thing left is the egg. The linked recipe recommends dripping egg into the hot oil. I did this in batches, and the way I did it was to put two scrambled eggs into a sandwich baggie, seal it, then snip a little hole at one corner. Swirl the egg into the hot oil.
Everyone should do this at least once just because it’s fun. BUT. This is easily the greasiest part of the dish, so in the future I will forgo the scrambled eggs in oil bit and do it the Pad Thai way (make an omelet and cut it into strips).
Toss together your sauteed vegies, sauce, and rice stick. Use a big bowl or else this will be damn near impossible. You can put your other warm ingredients on top or on the side. Finish with garnishes of bean sprouts, cilantro, green onion, and red pepper.
It’s beautiful and the flavor is decadent. It’s the closest thing that a main course ever comes to being dessert — probably because of all the greasy stuff and the sweetness of the sauce. You may note that I cut down on the brown sugar by 1 tablespoon, but it’s still fairly sweet . . . as it should be.
This isn’t something you’ll do once a week, or even once a month. But for an occasional treat, and probably for company (provided EVERYTHING else can be made in advance and kept warm), it would be a show-stopper.
*Her name is Koon and her restaurant is Sea West, a true gem. Indeed, the two best restaurants in that town are Asian. Thai House (a Vietnamese restaurant — don’t ask) is the other gem.
. . . is for the science.
Depending upon which way you lean, Daily Kos may be one of the few bastions of liberal thought on the internet, or a hotbed of Commie pinko activism. The reality is, it’s a battlefield wherein Obama cheerleaders, self-proclaimed “pragmatists,” and progressive purists regularly get into screaming fits. The only thing uniting this crowd is that we all despise the Republican agenda.
But, back to the science. Pop over to Daily Kos right this instant and you’ll find a book review of How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown, the astronomer whose work on the solar system’s outermost reaches led to Pluto-the-planet’s demise, and the author is participating in the discussion in the comments. How cool is that?
Right below that, author Mark Sumner reports on mega-meteorites striking the Earth in Death From Above, and leads with the provocative question,
Fill in the blank. The Earth suffers an impact from an asteroid or comet generating more energy than the explosion of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima every __ year(s).
You’ll have to pop over there to find out the answer. Sumner provides lots of great information about the science of impacts, the Tunguska event, the Teller Scale of Intolerably Large Disasters, and the Torino Impact Hazard Scale.
It’s an extremophile bacterium that can be coaxed into substiting [sic] arsenic for phosphorus in some of its basic biochemistry. It’s perfectly reasonable and interesting work in its own right, but it’s not radical, it’s not particularly surprising, and it’s especially not extraterrestrial.
. . . and a link to a report regarding SpaceX’s efforts regarding the commercialization of space travel.
See? Not just politics!
But with regard to politics, I found the cute image below in one of the comment threads. One of my bumper stickers reads “Cthulhu 2008: Why Vote For the Lesser Evil?” This would be a good companion sticker.
Now that’s change you can die for!
I haven’t ranted political lately because it would all be “head butts wall, head butts wall, head butts desk (for variety).” Count me as one of the liberals so fed up with Obama that I’d like to see a successful primary challenge in 2010. But no ranting. NO. RANTING.
Instead, we’ll turn a sphere inside out.
Hey Obama! Ever read Langston Hughes’s poem Harlem?
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
My favorite comment from that sphere viddy: I WANNAH TRY THIS TA MAH LEFT TESTICLE
There’s a part two, you know.