Farewell, John Gibbs

I took John to the airport today.  It was sad to see him go. But I know that God will use him mightily while he is over there. It was also hard to conceive that while his commitment is only for a year, John’s desire is to stay there many years. I’ll miss that guy. He’s so encouraging, and such a great friend and brother in Christ.

I got a chance to pray for him when he had all of his luggage unloaded from my car. My prayer is that God uses his ministry to reach thousands of people, not just Japanese, but Chinese, Koreans, and other Asians while he is over there.

God speed, my friend.  We’ll miss you, but we commission you to God’s calling and pray for His blessing on your ministry.

God Speed, John!

My friend John is leaving for Japan tomorrow. He’s going as a missionary and hopes to share the gospel with the Japanese people via the mobile web. His hope is to partner with churches to build websites that can minister to the Japanese people.

God Speed, John. Though we’ll miss you, we know that God has mighty things in store for you.

Microsoft 1/Juniper 1

Microsoft announced yesterday that Kevin Johnson, President of Platforms and Services, is leaving the company to take the CEO spot at Juniper Networks. In and of itself, the news isn’t that interesting. One company loses a president, another gains a CEO. But I find it interesting because merely 8 months ago Microsoft was able to lure away Stephen Elop, Juniper’s COO, to take the position of President of the Microsoft Business Division. Maybe the papers have bad memories, but in the articles I’ve read, it seems that few ever mention the fact that Elop was taken from Juniper first. It seems that we have some tit for tat going on. I wonder if the two companies, which by the way are in very different industries (hardware vs. software), will continue to swap executives.

As an aside, Scott Kriens, Juniper’s former CEO, will stay on as Chairman of the Board.

Some have speculated that Johnson is leaving the company because Microsoft failed to close the deal on buying Yahoo. I have no idea, but that sounds reasonable to me.

Rebel XS

Somehow this announcement escaped me. Canon had a relatively major product announcement on July 8 (so I’m only 10 days late to the party). But they made an announcement for 2 products:

I’m still trying to figure out the deal with the Rebel XS. As I previously commented on the release of the XSi, the new product name basically sounds like “Rebel Excess,” and I guess I’d have to agree with the name. This new SLR does seem like “Excess.” With the new Rebel XS, Canon’s count of 10.1 megapixel cameras goes to 4. We’ve got the EOS-1D Mark III, EOS 40D, Digital Rebel XTi, and EOS Rebel XS. Of course, I recognize that the Mark III is in an entirely different camera from the Rebel XS; they’re not even in the same league. But to the average consumer, who only compares megapixels, I think Canon’s really shooting themselves in the foot.

Taking a quick look at the specs for both XS and XTi reveals that they are almost identical. The XS even comes in silver and black, just like the XTi. The only two differences I saw were that the XS loses 2 AF points, so it only has 7 instead of the XTi’s 9. But it does get LiveView. I don’t really see either of these as major features.

This seems like quite a wasteful release. In some of the forums I’ve read, others seem to agree. Their question is when will Canon do a refresh of the vernerable 5D. It’s a relatively old DSLR, having been announced in August 2005. And I tend to agree with them. Canon should be putting forth more engineering effort to do a 5D refresh than it should, filling out its lower end DSLR line with one more camera.

Maybe if we’re lucky, Canon will bow to our requests and do a 5D refresh sometime this year.

Bay Area Housing Decline

Looks like the Bay Area isn’t doing much better than the rest of the country when it comes to housing prices. This article on Yahoo! Finance indicates that housing prices have declined 27% in the last year.  I can’t say that I’ve personally noticed a decline of this magnitude, but I have noticed that they are dropping.

One of the houses on our street listed for $699,950 back around January. It’s been on the market since then, and over the course of the months, it’s dropped to 689, then 679, and it finally listed for 659 before they put up a “Sale Pending” sign. I have no idea what the buyers offered, but I can’t imagine that it was above $659,950. That’s only about a 5-6% decrease, but it’s still about $40,000 in absolute terms.

If the market keeps declining, it may bode well for me as a potential buyer in a few years. We’ll see.

Dinner Menu

Charlene and I are making dinner for some friends tomorrow night. Here’s what’s on the menu:

It should be pretty tasty, they’re all things I’ve made before, so it should be a no-brainer. I’m excited.

Oh yeah, I’ll be sure to take pictures as well. I know I’ve been really horrible at posting pictures with my food posts. I think the biggest thing is that I feel like if I take pictures, I need to have my photographer or food stylist hat on. That means taking perfect pictures of each stage of each dish. In other words, it should look like it could be featured on the Food Network. But in the interest of actually getting a picture on the site, and having it speak 1,000 words I think I just need to bite the bullet and take less than perfect pictures.

That doesn’t mean I’ll take horrible pictures, just that I’ll post what I can shoot and not be so concerned about having a perfect exposure and perfect composition. And all this so that you, my lovely reader, can really see what I’m writing about.

Meat Pictures

I had previously promised that I would post pictures of my prime ribeye steaks. So here they are:

Here they are in the lovely blue packaging (most meat comes in red or pink styrofoam containers) You can clearly see the label that marks it as USDA Prime Beef.

And here’s a lovely view of all three steaks.

A nice closeup of the Prime label as well as the weight, pack date, sell by date, unit price, and total cost.

My first steak out of the packaging and on the plate. Look at all that fat! As Paula Dean says “Fat is flavor.”

Again, you can clearly see the amazing marbling on this piece of meat. All those white flecks are fat, which will help the steak to be moist and tender.

Liberally seasoned with Rib Roundup

Overall shot of the amazing thing of beauty.

And that, my friends, is USDA Prime grade beef.

I was quite remiss in not taking a picture of the final product, but it was a mouthwatering sight indeed. As a side note, I did keep all the fat on during cooking to help retain moisture and ensure a moist, tender steak. But before eating, I dutifully removed all that artery clogging fat from the meat as best as I could. But the steak was delicious. It was perfectly seasoned, and tender, moist, and juicy just like I expected. Mmm…can’t wait to eat the other two.

Summer Smoothie

I discovered this amazing culinary creation at Trader Joes. You know how they always have that little counter in the back with samples? Well, that’s where I discovered this. It’s so tasty, easy, and inexpensive, I couldn’t pass it up. It’s perfect for these hot summer days we’ve been having up here in the Bay Area, and it’s an easy smoothie to make when entertaining.

I bought the 16 oz bag of Del Sol Pineapple Tidbits, the 24 oz bag of Mango Chunks, and the 64 oz bottle of Papaya Nectar at Trader Joes. The beauty of the recipe is in it’s simplicity. There are only three ingredients, and because the pineapple and the mango come frozen, there’s no need to add ice. The other great thing is the smooth, creamy texture of the final product. I’m pretty sure this comes from the mango. But regardless, it’s refreshing to have a that great texture without adding any cream or fat.

This recipe makes about 5 cups.

8 oz (1/2 a bag) of pineapple
12 oz (1/2 a bag) of mango
3-4 C Papaya Nectar

  1. Add pineapple, mango, and papaya nectar to a blender.
  2. Pulse the blender to get it started, and then blend until smooth, 1-2 minutes.
  3. If it’s too thick, add more nectar. If it’s too thin, add more pineapple and mango.
  4. Pour into chilled glasses, and serve.

Optionally, you could add a slice of strawberry as a garnish. One person suggested adding an umbrella, but someone countered that you can’t do that unless it’s alcoholic. Feel free to customize to your liking.

Grilled Butterflied Chicken

I decided two things today.  1) That I found the best grilled chicken recipe ever. And 2) That a picture is, indeed, worth a thousand words. This recipe results in tender, moist chicken–even the white meat.

1 chicken (4-6 lbs)
Freshly ground pepper

  1. Create a hot charcoal fire in your grill. Once the coals are lit and ashy, separate them into a double banked fire, with half of the coals on each side of the grill. Thus creating two hot zones with cooler zone along the middle of the grill.
  2. Prepare the chicken by opening it from it’s bag and pulling out the entrails, neck, etc.
  3. Butterfly the chicken by placing it on a cutting board breast-side down.  Cut out the backbone with kitchen shears. They have to be sharp, or they won’t be able to cut through all the ribs. If you don’t have kitchen shears, put the chicken on it’s back, and use your sharpest chef’s knife to make cuts on either side of the backbone.
  4. Pull the chicken open, and place the inside of the ribcage down towards the cutting board.
  5. Cover the chicken with plastic wrap, and pound a few times with a meat tenderizer/hammer. If you don’t have one, a heavy pan such as a cast iron skillet works just as well. The idea isn’t to pound the chicken as you would a breast for chicken marsala, but to get the chicken to a more uniform thickness for more even cooking.
  6. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides (what used to be the inside and outside of the chicken.)
  7. Place on the grill skin side down, cover the grill and cook for 30-60 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 165 in the thigh.
  8. Remove the chicken from the grill, let it rest for 10-15 minutes, carve and serve.

And now you know why a picture is worth a thousand words. If only I had taken pictures of my beloved chicken, you’d be able to see how tantalizingly good it looks.