Category: Personal

2010 California Propositions Guide

Back in 2008, the last time we had a general election in California, I posted a simple Guide to 2008 California Ballot Propositions.  For the 2010 election (coming this Tuesday) I have moved this information to a new website,  I also added some features to allow you to share your stances on the propositions via facebook or twitter.  If you find the site useful, please mention the site on facebook or twitter– I’d really appreciate it.

(Please note that is not affiliated with Oracle; views expressed therein are my own).


California Proposition Guide

I grew up in Pennsylvania, a state without voter propositions.  Upon arriving in California some years ago, I found the "prop" system to be complicated and kind of a big pain.  Over the years I’ve taken to making myself a chart of what the various useful (to me) sources are saying about the propositions.  This time I am sharing it here as I hope it will be useful to others.  Any mistakes are probably the result of transcription error on my part.  I’ll be happy to correct them.  In compiling this, I picked my region’s two largest papers, plus the LA Times.  You’ll also find the recommendation of the California League of Women Voters and the "party lines" of the two major parties.  Whatever you do: go out and vote!

Useful Links:

Prop Pro / Con / BallotPedia CA LWV SF Chron SJ Merc LA Times CA Dem Ca GOP
1A High Speed Rail
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
2 Standards for Confining Farm
No Stance No Yes No Yes No
3 Children’s Hospital Bond Act. Grant Program.
Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
4 Abortion Waiting Period/Parental Notification
No No No No No Yes
5 Nonviolent Drug Offenses. Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation.
Yes No No No Yes No
6 Police and Law Enforcement Funding. Criminal Penalties and Laws. (“Runner Initiative”)
No No No No No Yes
7 Renewable Energy Generation
No No No
No No No
8 Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry
No No No No No Yes
9 Criminal Justice System. Victims’ Rights. Parole.
No No No No No Yes
10 Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy. Bonds.
No No No No Neutral No
11 Redistricting Reform: California Voters FIRST Act
Yes Yes Yes Yes No Neutral
12 Veterans’ Bond Act of 2008 ???
No Stance Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Fun with Bread

Following a power outage in our building, the routers are a bit screwy. This gives me a few free minutes to write about a hobby I’ve recently taken up: Bread. I’ve never baked my own bread before a few weeks ago (in fact I have never used yeast before). While there are a lot of great references out there, I decided to follow Julia Child’s french bread recipe in The Way to Cook, at least in part because I trust this book, and in part because Julia advises the cook to use a food processor (which I have) rather than a stand mixer (which I don’t have). After mixing, resting, hand kneading, first rise (40 minutes) and second rise (two hours) I got to shape the dough, and this is the most interesting part. The technique needed to create the long thin baguettes seemed a little complex for my taste, so I elected to divide the dough in half and create two round loaves. The trick here is to create a “gluten cloak”– a tightly pulled web of long gluten strands– on the smooth side of the round (this will ultimately be the top of the round). Then the dough rises again in its shaped form; the last step before baking in a 450° oven on a stone is “slashing” the dough with a razor blade– this allows some of steam to escape and looks nice in the final product. Here’s one loaf from my first batch:

I also made Julia Child’s recipe for hamburger buns, which is a lot of work (sadly, no pictures). The results were very nice, however, and they looked especially great painted with some egg wash and dusted with sesame seeds. A few weeks later I made another batch of french loaves:

Most recently I tried the America’s Test Kitchen sandwich bread recipe. This is a
nice quick recipe: if you are well organized you could execute it start to finish in just over
two hours. The bread includes milk, butter, and honey, which makes for a soft, slightly sweet, slightly yellow bread which I found to be better than anything available at the supermarket:

Once the hot weather breaks I hope to do some more experiments: I think the french
bread could be better– it’s a little dense and the little air pockets in the bread are a
bit too fine and too uniform, I think…

Dinner @ Babbo

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I’m back from break and catching up, so I thought I’d share one of the highlight experiences of my holiday break: Dinner at Babbo in New York. Babbo is Mario Batali’s signature restaurant.

I had called ahead about a week in
advance, and discovered that there were no available reservations. So, hoping for the best, we
arrived at the restaurant at a few minutes after 5pm on a cold friday night, just as the
bar was opening. There was already a line, but we managed to get ourselves on the list,
and were seated at a little after 5:30. While we waited I enjoyed a green apple bellini
at the bar which was quite tasty.

Isabel and I ordered the Pasta Tasting Menu and were rewarded with five courses of interesting pasta:

Black Tagliatelle with Parsnips and Pancetta
This was perfectly cooked and very black tagliatelle
with extremely thin slices of parsnip which I think had been deep fried. Small pieces of pancetta were also mixed in, and the whole was served in a tasty but unobtrusive sauce. The flavor and texture was varied throughout, and each mouthful was a little different. A great dish.
Baccala “Mezzalune” with Black Olive Butter
These half-moon shaped ravioli were stuffed primarily with salt cod, which was pretty assertive; the bits of black olive on scattered on top were really necessary to balance out the flavor.
Garganelli with “Funghi Trifolati”
This dish was a knockout. Garganelli are tubular pasta
from northern italy made by rolling up little pasta squares. Mostly, this was a dish about execution: plain pasta, excellent mushrooms, perfect flat-leaf parsely and a very light sauce were the only ingredients. At the table, our server grated a small amount of aged goat cheese over the dish.
Fernando’s Pyramids with Passato di Pomodoro
These braised-beef filled pyramids of pasta were tasty, but the standout was the excellent tomato sauce in which they were dressed.
Pappardelle Bolognese
This was a very large and luxurious tasting portion of beautifully prepared Pappardelle pasta with a rich meat sauce. The pasta was piled up on the plate in such a way that cutting through it with a fork yielded eight or ten layers of pasta all in one bite, which I found really great. It was a bit like a lasagna in a way. The only significant service hiccup of the night happened in this course; our server brought the food, and then instructed us to wait while she fetched the appropriate cheese to top it. She never returned, and we felt a bit foolish to have food getting cold on our plates while we waited for the cheese. Eventually we dug in. Following this course, what was left on our plates remained, cold, for a really long time.
Panna Cotta al Vincotto di Lampone
On to dessert! This panna cotta (which is a silky egg custard) was served in a tiny cup, and was topped
with just a splash of a rich wine reduction, which helped to balance the fat in the custard. The Panna Cotta had an intense vanilla flavor, and we were happily surprised to discover that hundreds of little vanilla beans had settled to the bottom of the cup.
Tortina al Cioccolato con Meringa
After finishing the panna cotta, and this dish didn’t dissapoint; it was a tiny chocolate torte topped by a tiny meringue puff, roughly in the shape of a Hershey’s Kiss. What was really clever was that meringue was browned on top, but still soft and foamy.
Zucchini Spice Cake with Olive Oil Gelato / Pumpkin Cheesecake
We were a little food-fatigued by this point in the meal, and I think we both felt that these two desserts (Isabel got one, and I the other) were not as exciting as the rest.

We also shared a really nice bottle of wine; as best I can recall it was a 1989 Refosco dal pedunculo rosso di Cialla from the far north of italy, and it was a great selection thanks to the somelier.

All in all, a great meal. The meal was a christmas present from my father– so, Thanks Dad!

The Year of the Rooster

I’ve been in Singapore for nearly a week, since leaving Tokyo. Sadly, I’ve spent much of the time sick, with
a moderate cold. I had thought I was on the mend, but today I mostly lost my voice, just in time for my
training presentations! Sigh…

Singapore is a pretty amazing mix of cultures. Before I got sick, I managed to get to the Lunar New
Year’s celebration (as you can see, it’s the year of the rooster). There are
some more pictures here.

Rooster Float