Finally, 2010, The Year We Make Contact

Is this the year we make contact? With whom, you might ask. Well, if you ask that then you don’t know what I’m talking about. The year 2010…the movie 2010…this is the year! Will we make contact with aliens? Who knows.

What I do know is what I remember thinking about what will happen in 2010. I thought I’ll turn 39 in 2010, and that sounded old. When I graduated high school my first thought was that my 10 year reunion will be in 2000, and my second thought was that my 20 year reunion will be in 2010. I thought maybe I would be working on space nuclear power by 2010.

Things I didn’t know would happen include the death of both of my parents before 2010. I never thought I would be married let alone on my second marriage by 2010; or have 3 step kids. I didn’t know I would be living in Texas for 15 years in 2010.

It’s easy to say, “I wish I knew then what I know now,” but the truth is “life is like a box of chocolates,” you really don’t know what you’re going to end up with. I wish my mom and dad could have lived forever, but they’re in a better place now than where they were a few years ago. I wish I only married once – to avoid that pain – but I’m glad I met my second wife.

I’ve changed quite a bit in 25 years since the movie came out. In 1984 I turned 13 years old in 6th grade. I wasn’t thinking too much about the future. I was concentrating on making good grades in 6 classes per day in a new school. It wasn’t too long before I would start focusing on what I would do in college and beyond.

In high school I started thinking about space nuclear power, specifically space ships and nuclear powered rockets. It wasn’t until I went to college that I learned we had already made nuclear powered rockets, but we should not expect to use them any time soon. It’s 2010 – about 50 years after the first test of a nuclear rocket – and we still don’t have a nuclear rocket.

2009 A year in the life of Twitter

I think 2009 will go down as the year Twitter became a household name. I know I’ve used Twitter a lot this year, and I’ve written several blog posts about Twitter and the influence of social media. It will be connected with significant events and insignificant Internet chatter. People will say, “I remember reading a tweet about that,” or “I tweeted about that.” When asked about significant events of 2009 – Iran election, Michael Jackson’s death, “balloon boy” – I’ll bet Twitter will be mentioned in the conversation.

Many people have assumed that Twitter is just another social network, some kind of micro-blogging service, or both. It can be these things but primarily Twitter serves as a real-time information network powered by people around the world discovering what’s happening and sharing the news. The Iranian election was the most discussed issue on Twitter in the final year of a decade defined by advancements in information access.

In the new year, Twitter will begin supporting a billion search queries a day. We will be delivering several billion tweets per hour to users around the world. These are figures we did not anticipate when we founded the company in 2007. Source: Why we can never rest: a year in the life of Twitter | Times Online

In much the same way that instant messaging became a household term 12 years ago when AOL Instant Messenger arrived, Twitter, and a true social media network, will spread news (and propaganda) at the speed of light around the globe; perhaps even to the ISS.

One thing I’ve come to realize is that Twitter holds immense power. Just think about it for a minute. If your product was used by more than 1 billion people everyday to talk about anything from “I’m now online” to “I survived the plane crash into the Hudson.” The potential to spread news is endless. But, I still say that a “town crier” ranting on Twitter without corroborating information is dangerous. They can influence millions of people to take action especially if the rest of the world was ignorant of the truth and the ruse continues long enough for it to grow legs and become sustained. I look forward to the time when conspiracy theorists use Twitter to actually persuade us that something happened or didn’t happen.

You can “@ me” on Twitter in 2010.

German Sauerbraten – Patience Is Key To Perfection

Sauerbraten or “sour roast meat” is a dish that is marinated in a vinegar and herb solution for several days to break down the toughness of the meat. After marination, the meat is cooked for several hours like a traditional roast. Traditionally, sauerbraten is served with potato dumplings (Kartoffelklöße or Kartoffelkloesse) and red cabbage (Rotkohl).

I love sauerbraten and I wanted to share it with my new family. Because it takes 3 days to marinate and 3 hours to cook it requires patience, but I think it is worth it.

I started with a recipe from Cooks.com. My technique is to start with a recipe and make it my own by modifying it a little. For my version I chose bottom round of beef and added some uncooked bacon and Merlot wine to the marinade. I also warmed the marinade to a simmer to let all the flavors come out at the start. Then I let it sit in my refrigerator for 3 days. I turned the meat over every night.

When it was time to cook the meat I saved the marinade and brazed the meat until lightly brown on all sides. Then I put the meat into a baking dish and added some of the marinade’s carrots and onions and new water. I roasted the mixture in a 350 degree oven for 2.5 hours.

Meanwhile, I boiled carrots, celery, onions and the remaining vegetables from the marinade with some new water and the juice of the marinade. I also made the red cabbage and potato dumplings. When the meat was finished I made a quick gravy from some of the drippings, flour and water.

Original Ingredients

1 kg beef
1 onion
4 peppercorns
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
1/4 liter vinegar
3/8 liter water
salt and pepper
sour cream
corn flour and water
Maggi liquid seasoning

All in all it came out alright. There were a few things I could have done better. I think one mistake I made was not covering the meat while it cooked. The meat was a little dry and not as tender as I wanted it. I also started cooking the vegetables too soon; they only need about 20 minutes to cook.

So remember, it takes patience and love to cook sauerbraten. If you take the time you will be rewarded in the end.

German Rouladen – A Warm Dish On A Cold Night

Rouladen unrolled Rouladen or more precisely Rinderrouladen is a German dish made with thin beef, onions, pickles and mustard. There are many variations, but Rinderroulade uses these combination of ingredients.

I was in the mood for something from my German heritage so I settled on rouladen. At first I thought about sauerbraten, but then I thought it takes 3 days and my wife isn’t partial to vinegar.

I started with a recipe from RecipeZaar.com and made some changes. I substituted dill relish for chopped pickles and I added real-bacon bits from a jar to my cooked bacon. Since my wife’s stomach is more English-delicate than my German-hearty, I added the Dijon mustard to sour cream to cut the acidity.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs beef flank steak
4 teaspoons heavy German mustard or Dijon mustard, will do
6 slices bacon, diced
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped dill pickles
1/4 cup flour
1 (13 3/4 ounce) can beef broth

Potato dumplings I started with cooking the bacon and onions on medium heat. I chopped 1/4 white onion into fairly large pieces and mixed it with 6 green onions chopped into medium pieces. While that was cooking I pounded 4 flank steaks to about 1/4 inch thickness. The mistake here was cooking the onions at the same time as the bacon. I should have cooked the bacon to almost done and then added the onions. Another mistake was green onions. I should have only used 1 whole white onion.

After the steak was thinned, I mixed the mustard with about 8 ounces of sour cream. (The sour cream was left over from another great meal I made the night before – .) I spread the mustard mixture over the meat, added the bacon and onions, then topped with relish. Then I rolled it up – starting from the thin side – and tied the roll with string.

I brazed the rolls in the bacon fat and set them in to a 6×9 glass dish. Into the bacon-steak-onion-pickle-mustard-broth flavored pan I added flour and 15 ounces of beef broth. I stirred this mixed until it was fairly creamy and then spooned it over the rolls. I added whole mushrooms just for something extra. (Steak and mushrooms always go good together.)

Rouladen When the rolls were about 30 minutes from done I started the potato dumplings (Kartoffelklöße or Kartoffelkloesse). I bought a box mix of potato balls so it was easy to make. I did put the optional crouton in the center of each ball just to be traditional.

The last thing to make was red cabbage. Actually, I bought a can of it from the store too. It was next to the potato dumplings and it’s so mush easier to make.

From start to finish it took me at about 4 hours to make this dish, but in the end it was worth it. I made a warm dish on a cold winter’s night worthy of any German restaurant.

How Will Social Media Change In 2010

Surfing this morning and found this. I guess it’s not too early – like everything else this year* – to make predictions about next year.

2009 will go down as the year in which the shroud of uncertainty was lifted off of social media and mainstream adoption began at the speed of light. Source: 10 Ways Social Media Will Change in 2010 | ReadWriteWeb.com

I agree. Social media is here to stay and it is affecting our lives in profound ways: news words are being invented, grammar is suffering, newspapers are dying, wild claims and rumors spread like atomic reactions and more people believe what they read online.

* This year Halloween stuff showed up in stores in August, Thanksgiving stuff showed up in September, and Christmas stuff showed up in October. Two months is too early. On the other hand, local politics is crawling out of the news gates. It’s hard to find out who is on the ballot. If I knew now I could take my time researching candidates for the next 12 months – trying to ignore political ads – and find the one I want to vote for.

Second verse same as the first

Back before Thanksgiving I said Texas gubernatorial race is like musical chairs. Well, here’s the second (or third or fourth) verse. It’s the same as the first. On November 23, Houston Mayor, Bill White held a press conference to announce he will announce his decision to run for governor by December 4. As promised he announced yesterday that he will run for governor. After he made that announcement, Hank Gilbert dropped out of the race and endorsed Farouk Shami.

Meanwhile, Governor Rick Perry, the longest serving governor, made his announcement for an unprecedented third term.

Like Paul Burka says, “Perry is now fighting a two-front war.” One with Democrats in the general election and one with the Republicans in the primary. While most people think the primary will be a joke, Perry still has to be careful. The issues Perry raises in the primary wont be the same as the issues in the general election.

If you’re keeping a score card:

Republicans: Rick Perry, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Larry Kilgore, Debra Medina

Democrats: Bill White, Kinky Friedman, Farouk Shami, Felix Alvarado