Friday, September 28, 2007

+1 419-474-9385

Have you been getting calls from +1 419-474-9385? Over the past three weeks or some I have been getting between five and ten calls a day from this number. When I answer the phone the caller immediately hangs up. When I let my machine answer the phone the caller does not leave a message. When I try to ring this number the telephone rings and rings and rings until I get bored. No one ever answers. And this has been going on for weeks. Fortunately whoever is calling only calls during the day, when I am usually not at home, so it has not been nearly as annoying as it could have been.

A Google search reveals that many people are experiencing the same thing, and no one knows what is going on. I am on the US Do Not Call List, so if this is a telemarketer or some other commercial outfit they are breaking the law. If it is a charity then they are not technically breaking the law, but the fact that they are ignoring the do not call list means that I will never donate anything to them. Perhaps it is just a person with a wrong number and absolutely no telephone manners. People like that are, sadly, rather common in the USA. All I could do was report this to the FTC , file a complaint, and hope that the calls would eventually stop.

Then something happened. A few days ago I decided to answer the phone, and there was a human being (sort of) on the other end of the line. "Hello, is Mr or Mrs Squid home?" the person asked. Instead of answering I said that if this person ever called me again I would report then to the police, the FBI, and the FCC. Then I hung up. I have not been called back since. In retrospect I regret not finding out who was calling me before I delivered my toothless ultimatum, but at least the calls have stopped. If anyone knows who is making these calls from this number please let me know.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

RIP Ken Danby 1940-2007

Ken Danby, who painted the iconic goalie shown above, has died.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Whale Eats Squid

The Tenerife News the other day reported a story about a group of people who filmed a pilot whale eating a giant squid. The film is not available yet, but with luck it will show up on the InterNet before too long. The article says that this is the first time that such a feast has been caught on film. However, the good folk over at The Octopus News Magazine Online report that this is not actually the first film. They have a short, but interesting discussion of the film on their Web site.

This may not be the first actual footage of a whale snacking on Architeuthis dux, but they did get a nice picture, and their description is interesting. I hope that they release the film to the public soon. I wish that I had seen this when I was in the Canary Islands about ten years ago.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

NHL 2008 Outdoor Game

The NHL is going to hold an outdoor game in Buffalo on New Years Day 2008. The Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburg Penguins will face off unprotected against the elements, which in Buffalo can be rather brutal in January. The is the second outdoor game that the NHL has held in the modern era. The first was in 2003 in Edmonton, and it is generally regarded as being a great success. The game sold out, tv rating were at an all-time high (at least in Canada), and the players enjoyed playing outdoors. So, it is not surprising that the NHL is doing it again. This time they have picked a safe American market to try and generate a bit of interest south of the border. Buffalo is a good choice because it is a true hockey town. The game sold out in less than half-an-hour, and it is already generating a buzz in the Buffalo media.

The idea of playing an outdoor game, and having it count in the standings, has proven to be a bit controversial. Some, such as the Toronto Star have claimed that an outdoor game is absurd. However, I suspect that this is partly a case of sour grapes because Toronto did not get the game. My opinion is that playing a game outside is a great idea. Yes, it is a gimmick. Yes, depending on the wind one team could be at a distinct disadvantage, and yes, fans may have to sit in sleet and snow to watch the game, but these are the things that make hockey games legendary. Does anyone remember any games from the 1975 Flyers--Sabres series other than the infamous "Fog Game"? How many games do you remember from 2003? I will bet that the outdoor game is one of them.

So, play a game outside. Have it count in the standings. Three points in January will not make a lot of difference. Give the fans in Buffalo something that they will remember for the rest of their lives. But sorry Buffalo, I will be rooting for the Penguins.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Fennel and Sausage Pasta

Last night I decided to try something new for dinner. So, I looked through my recipes for something that I have never made before, or more accurately, something that I could not remember ever making before, and settled on this. It was not that hard to make, and it goes well with a robust red wine.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lb sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 med bulb fennel
  • 1 med onion
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 lb ziti (or penne, or any other bite-sized pasta)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Boil several cups of salted water.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Crumble the sausage meat into the pan and brown it.
  3. Chop the fennel bulb into matchstick sized bits. Do not make the bits too large. Save the fronds and cut them into inch-long sprigs. Chop the onion into small pieces.
  4. When the sausage meat is brown add the red pepper and onions and cook until they are translucent. Add the fennel and cook until it goes a bit soft.
  5. Add 1 1/2 cups of the boiling salted water to the mixture and simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. While the mixture is simmering cook the pasta until it is not quite al dente.
  7. Add the pasta and fennel fronds to the sausage mixture and cook for a few minutes. Add a bit of the pasta water if the mixture starts to dry out.
  8. When the pasta is al dente remove from the heat and add the cheese. Serve immediately.

This is a fairly hearty dish and should be eaten with a salad of some kind. It worked out fairly well for me, but the fennel was a bit undercooked. I probably should have cut it into smaller pieces. Also, it needed a bit of black pepper added while I was eating it. Joan said that it also needed a bit of salt, but I was happy without that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Meet the New Joe Camel

Some pictures do not need captions.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Proust and the Squid

It has been a slow week for squid news, so I thought that I would read something that is only tangentially related to cephalopods. The question this week is about reading. Proust and the Squid: the Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf examines the human tendency to read, and comes to some interesting conclusions. The basic argument of the book is that reading is not natural, and thus must be encouraged. With our society turning more and more digital, Wolf argues, reading becomes less and less important. Since reading is not instinctive our brains must rewire themselves to allow us to understand the printed word. It is an interesting book, although it is difficult to read, which struck me as a bit ironic. Personally, I am not worried that people are losing the ability to read. We will always need the printed word to tell us what is on tv.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

First Loss of the Season

The Washington Capitals lost their first game of the new season this afternoon. Admittedly, it was only a preseason game, but it was their first game since last April and if you are superstitious like me the first game played sets the stage for the rest of the year. Washington lost to Carolina 4-3 in overtime. The Caps played well for most of the game, but they fell apart when it counted: in sudden death. This is reminiscent of one of the Caps big problems last season, they lost games due to shoot-outs and sudden death. It was disappointing to see them still having the same problems this year. Still, Sunday's game was just an exhibition game. It counted for nothing, except perhaps karma. Washington was experimenting with their lines, and did not play some of their better players. The Hurricanes, on the other hand, did. So, pulling off a tie at the end of regulation is not a bad accomplishment.

Next up for the Capitals is a match against the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa. This will be a hard game to win if the Senators take the game seriously. The Senators have a strong team, and are quite capable of winning the East this season. The Caps will have their hands full with them. The game is on Thursday, 20 September in Ottawa at 1900 EDT. Sadly, it will not be on tv in the DC area.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The 2007 Booker Prize Short List

Well, it has been a while since I have blogged anything. Life has been busy, work has been hectic, and I have been enjoying the last days of Summer here in Maryland. The Summer weather here is too hot and too humid, but in September things cool down a bit and we generally have a few weeks of truly pleasant temperatures. It was actually nice to walk to work this morning, and it has been nice to spend an evening without the drone of the air conditioner in the background.

As well as bringing cooler weather September brings the short list for the Man Booker prize. Here it is.

  • Darkmans by Nicola Barker
  • The Gathering by Anne Enright
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
  • Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
  • On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
  • Animal's People by Indra Sinha

I have read The Reluctant Fundamentalist and On Chesil Beach, but the local library system does not have any of the other shortlisted books, and I am too cheap to buy them. Perhaps I will break down and buy Animal's People this weekend, if I make it to a bookstore.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist is one of the best books that I have read in quite a while. It is the story of a young Pakistani man in the US before, during, and after the terrorist attacks of 11 Sep 2001. The book tells of how a person who genuinely liked America slowly became radicalized. The story is written from an interesting point of view that could easily have become tedious, but Mohsin Hamid pulls it off well. I highly recommend reading this book. It is short, thought-provoking, and a very strong candidate for winning this year.

On Chesil Beach is Ian McEwan's contribution to literature for 2007, and I was very disappointed with it. The nomination was controversial since the book is less than 200 pages long and thus technically a novella, not a novel. However, I do not think much of this objection. A book should be long enough to tell the story, and no longer. If On Chesil Beach weighs in a few pages short of being a formal novel then I do not think that that should be held against it. My complaint with On Chesil Beach is that the story did not grab me. It felt like a gimmick that had been dragged out far too long. The book should have been a short story. By about fifty pages in I was bored with the characters and their dilemma. It was obvious what was going to happen, and I spent the last three quarters of the book waiting for the punch line. I do not think that this book belongs on the short list.