Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night

I've been told that some folks have been wondering why I haven't posted anything here for a while. Part of the truth is that my laptop, on which I'm writing this, has a virus that has been causing it to crash regularly. Another part of the truth is that I've been immersed in a couple of pretty good novels. And the final part of the truth is that I've started several blog entries that haven't worked.

So, I'd be working on a frustrating blog entry and the laptop would crash. And when the laptop crashed I would use it as an excuse to pick up one of the novels. Then when I returned to the laptop after it restarted, I would find myself facing the still unsatisfactory blog entry. So I would try a new start for it, or a new middle, or a new end, and then the laptop would crash again. And I would go off to one of the novels again.

The two novels were Fleet of Worlds by Larry Niven, which I finished a couple of days ago and Playing for Pizza by John Grisham, which I finished an hour or so ago. Both were excellent, but now they're done. I plan to loan Playing for Pizza to Sam and Jas because it's about football, Italians and food; but Fleet of Worlds will go up on the shelf with the other science fiction since nobody around here likes science fiction.

We had a great Christmas Eve gathering here earlier even though we missed Al R and Angela. Al's down in Florida crowing about the warm temperatures every time we talk to him on Saturday mornings. Angie's out in San Diego waiting on a back operation that's now scheduled for New Year's Eve day, of all the days. Hopefully they'll get to cutting on her back before they get to partying.

Thankfully Catherine and Liana came over to help with the food preparation. Linda and I couldn't have done it without them. There is a tempo necessary to preparing the various fried foods.

Incidentally, the laptop crapped out after the line above and restarted itself. I went out and had a cigarette and read the beginning of The Godfather Returns by some schlemiel named Mark Weingardner. How can it be that the best writer they could hire to continue the godfather saga can't write one tenth as well as Mario Puzo? Well, at least this novel is set in the time of the original novel and uses some of the original characters.

Anyway, we had a great Christmas Eve gathering of the tribe. Marianne and Dave managed to find the old pogo stick I wrote about a few days ago and gave that to me as a Christmas present. I was encouraged to try it out; but I'm not that stupid. Nor was I that drunk. I'm told that Samuel managed to do ten jumps on it when the younger and more foolish folks took it out to the driveway, so the darn thing still works fifty three years after I first got it as a gift. Meanwhile it's now propped out there by the front door, so I'm stuck with it again.

Rebecca brought very serviceable red baccala stew, although it wasn't a hundred percent Aunt Mary style, and Rebecca fessed up to messing with the recipe. Caramelize some tomato paste indeed! Mom would have said "quan de gatsa de mossa." But I think Mom would have approved of the flavor. Also, Rebecca gave Sam a Marche' cookbook which looked interesting. It had what looked like some of the traditional recipes in there. I have to borrow it from Sam and read it.

The fried foods were as delicious as they were unhealthful. And, as usual, the folks ate an unbelievable amount of garlic and oil spaghetti. Some of them corrupted it with a topping of the quite good tomato gravy that Deb brought, but all seemed to enjoy it. There is a segment of the family that refuses to recognize that garlic and oil spaghetti is too good to mess up with tomato sauce.

I'm always amazed when they compliment that spaghetti on Christmas Eve. Just for the record there's nothing magical about why it tasted the way it did. The secret is in the garlic, the fresh instead of dried parsley and the egg noodle spaghetti instead of water based pasta. It's an everything to excess recipe.

One bulb of garlic for each 14 ounce package of egg pasta even though your hands get cramped from chopping so much garlic. Buy a chopper if you don't want your hands to get cramped. Don't cut down on the amount of garlic. And one supermarket bunch of chopped fresh parsley for four packages of pasta, which is how much we went through tonight. Also, a couple of tablespoons of salt at least in the pasta cooking water and a tablespoon or so of salt in the couple of cups of olive oil in which the garlic is cooked until some of it is browning. Forget all that stuff you were told about not overcooking garlic. Some of the garlic has to be overcooked.

Truth to tell, in my own opinion, I could have browned the garlic a bit more than I did tonight. I was a bit too quick to put in the water and parsley. But things were a bit hectic over there what with the four packages of pasta being a bit too much for the size of the cauldron that Kathy loaned us. Also, I was getting a bit tired of cooking by that point, and I had forgotten the garlic and oil for a bit and they were on high. So I panicked a little when I saw the first brown bits and put the water and parsley in maybe a couple of minutes too soon.


Anonymous said...

Well, it would seem that you had a wonderful time at your gathering. I would have enjoyed looking out the window to see a bunch of tipsy adults trying to use a pogo stick.

Am I correct in assuming that you meant parsley instead of celery when discussing your pasta recipe?

As for your laptop "crashing" it freezing up or is it rebooting automatically? Do you have antivirus/antispyware programs running in the background at all times? Do you run Adaware and Spybot on a weekly basis (please note that you can't run them at the same time you run some other antivirus programs because of conflicts.

If you are running Windows, then you need to make sure you have all the updates for your operating system. Windows puts out fixes for security on a regular basis.

It is possible that your machine is suffering from nothing more than a software conflict; but if you haven't changed/added/deleted any programs lately, that probably isn't the issue.

At any rate, I would recommend that you not use that machine to send e-mails and refrain from exchanging jpegs until such time as you can clear out the malware. There's also the possibility that your machine is being used to generate spam. I don't know if you've read about these little programmed "bots" that are taking over machines. The FBI has something called "Operation Botroast". You can read about it here:

There's a number of other things you can do to make your computer less vulnerable to attacks. If you want to know what they are, let me know and I'll post them as well.


Sully said...

Thanks for the heads up. I've fixed the parsley mistake.

Thanks for the offer but I can't fix the laptop because it's a company machine and I don't have administrator access to it (which is probably a good thing). I need to bring it in to the office and have the IT guys purge it and reinstall all the company access stuff plus new anti-virus and such. The thing has needed that for a while; but only recently has it gotten so annoying that I'm getting motivated to do it.