Blaise Pascal, eternity, and a free book.

Blaise Pascal was an early 17th century French mathematician and philosopher. He was a Christian, and died pretty young, not even 40 years of age. He was working on a book regarding the defense of the Christian faith, but never finished it.

After his death, his writings were gathered and organized into a book called Pensées, which basically means "Thoughts". Some of his writings are pretty profound, such as this paragraph:

434 The chief arguments of the sceptics--I pass over the lesser ones--are that we have no certainty of the truth of these principles apart from faith and revelation, except in so far as we naturally perceive them in ourselves. Now this natural intuition is not a convincing proof of their truth; since, having no certainty, apart from faith, whether man was created by a good God, or by a wicked demon, or by chance, it is doubtful whether these principles given to us are true, or false, or uncertain, according to our origin. Again, no person is certain, apart from faith, whether he is awake or sleeps, seeing that during sleep we believe that we are awake as firmly as we do when we are awake; we believe that we see space, figure, and motion; we are aware of the passage of time, we measure it; and in fact we act as if we were awake. So that half of our life being passed in sleep, we have on our own admission no idea of truth, whatever we may imagine. As all our intuitions are then illusions, who knows whether the other half of our life, in which we think we are awake, is not another sleep a little different from the former, from which we awake when we suppose ourselves asleep?

Pascal, in working on his defense, basically busts the bubble for the humanist and the atheist. In their blustering insistence on "Science" and "Reason", they have no possible way to know for sure that all they hold so real is not in fact a thin, pale, watered-down version of a much deeper and richer reality which they will taste once they awaken from this present "dream". Either that or they awaken to eternal torment far darker and far more agonizing than anything in this present age.

The whole book is filled with these sorts of thought-provoking illustrations and musings. I'd urge all Christians to add this to their bookshelf, and considering the book is free online, why not?

Pensées is entirely in the public domain; you can get it for free online at Project Gutenberg. They have plain text, Kindle, and more.

All-Natural Caramel Apple

Well, it isn't exactly a carmel apple, but you will never know the difference. I owe this one to my daughter. So anyhow, if you eat a Granny Smith apple along with some dates, it tastes just like a caramel apple. The date texture even chews like caramel. Pretty neat trick. And of course, you can make this as "organic" as you wish, just get appropriately organic apple and dates. Anyhow, be it organic or as processed as Spam, it tastes great.

Getting the most out of Tidy Cats 4 Breeze Litter Pads

If you are using the Tidy Cats Breeze Litter Box System, you probably know by now that the pads are a bit spendy. I have a suggestion that might help you get those pads to last a bit longer, though. For me, this simple trick has enabled us to get about twice as much use out of each pad.

The trick? Rotate your pads. Turns out our kitties, of which we have two, have this thing for only wanting to do their business at the front half of the litter box. Naturally, the front half of the pad gets more saturated than the back half. When cleaning the litter box out, take the tray out, and if it looks like it is getting more use on one end than the other, spin the tray around and put it in so that the wet end goes where the cats don't. Keep doing this, and you might find out that instead of having to replace the pad once a week, you might get 10 days or even two full weeks out of a pad.

An excerpt regarding chicken katsu and butter mochi

"Ended up using a different butter mochi recipe cuz' Rachel said she is allergic to coconut flake. Broke out in bad hives when she worked at Marble Slab and touched some. Recipe I used calls for a can of coconut milk (yeah, I asked 'so hows that different?' too), 3 eggs and a can of evaporated milk. Otherwise was pretty much the same. Came out fine, but I'da liked that coconut flake in it.

The pan worked awesome, it was exactly what I was hoping for. Always liked your pan. There ain't no substitute for a pan with square sides.

The Aloha brand katsu sauce is truly 'da real ting'. Was truly ono. There is a Kikoman tonkatsu sauce as well, but I can tell without having tried it that the Aloha brand would be better. I knew it the moment I saw the Aloha bottle labeled "katsu sauce" and not "tonaktsu sauce". Truly island style.

I also did up two mac salads; one with purely mayo and a splash and milk, the other with about 3/4 mayo 1/4 Miracle Whip, and a splash of milk. I think the mayo/Miracle Whip combo is the closest to drive-in plate lunch mac salad. The only thing I'd do different is to seriously overcook the macaroni, as like 20 minutes instead of 10. They need that really squishy texture to capture the real thing. Did need some salt and pepper, I found a light shake of salt really woke it up."

So that was the message snip. Now for the recipe.

Chicken Katsu

  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 package panko bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Salt, pepper
  • Get a gallon ziplock bag and one at a time, place a fully defrosted boneless skinless chicken thigh in the bag and use a flat mallet or whatever to pound that thigh into a fairly thin cutlet, around 1/4 inch thick.
  • Get a 9x13 dish or something decent sized, and put the panko bread crumbs into it. Add 2 teaspoons baking powder, along with as much salt and pepper as you think it needs.
  • Get a big ol' frying pan and add in about half-inch of olive oil or whatever oil you like for frying.
  • Oh yeah, turn your oven on to 200 °f. or "warm". Get a baking dish and put some paper towels into it. Put the dish into the oven, and transfer the cooked katsu pieces into there as you go, to keep everything nice and warm.
  • So, on the stove, get that oil up to frying temp. If your frying pan is big enough to cook three pieces, great. if not, cook two, or, sadly, one if that's all the pan will hold.
  • Yeah, so anyhow, toss a frying pan's worth of the pounded chicken breasts into the panko crumbs and get the crumbs on the pieces good. There isn't any sort of wet batter involved, so the panko will stick on lightly.
  • Get the oil hot in the pan up to whatever frying temp you like to work with, and fry up a batch of chicken for about 4 minutes a side.
  • Transfer the finished pieces to the pan in the oven
  • When the cooking is done, I don't need to tell you this, but turn the burner off and be careful cuz' a pan of hot fry oil is, well, a pan of hot fry oil. Anyhow, get the finished pieces out of the oven, and cut them up into nice katsu-sized bites.
  • Serve with a generous scoop of rice and and if you got island-style mac salad, serve that, too. And if you got Aloha brand Katsu Sauce by all means, put that bottle on the table!
  • After that, if you got room, serve up some butter mochi, too.

My Sister's Butter Mochi

Now if you aint' got an allergy to flaked coconut this is the butter mochi I'd be making every time.

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 box Mochiko
  • 2-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 cups milk
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter; cool. Combine mochiko, sugar, and baking powder. Combine bummer and remaining ingredients. Stir into mochiko mixture; mix well. Pour into a 13" X 9" pan. Bake for 1 hour or until middle is set; cool. Makes 24 pieces.

Butter Mochi 125421

Get the real recipe at

  • 1 box Mochiko
  • 2-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 12-oz can evaporated milk
  • 1 14-oz can coconut milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

Sift the mochiko, sugar, baking powder together in a big bowl. Mix the eggs, milks, vanilla in a separate bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet stuff. Mix it up good, and add in the melted butter. I found it took a bit of stirring to get it fully incorporated. Grease up a 9x13 pan and pour in the mix. Cook at 350°f. for 45-60 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 2 hours.

Char Siu Duck

Duck in the oven
Char Siu Duck in roasting pan
Duck on the plate
Char Siu Duck Dinner. Mmm.

There I was, wandering through New Sagaya when I spied with my eye some frozen geese and ducks in one of those freezer with no lids you see in the grocery store. Which is what New Sagaya is. Okay, so anyhow I really wanted to try a goose, but they were like $45. So a duck it was.

Now to me there is only one way to prepare duck, and that would be Chinese-style. So on that Saturday, the duck came home with me and went into the refrigerator to defrost, because it was as solid as a cinder block.

Now on, um, Monday night, I was shopping at Red Apple where they have a healthy supply of NOH Chinese BBQ Char Siu Seasoning, amongst other things. Char Siu Duck it is!

The next day, Tuesday, it was duck time. So after a few hours of lovin' in the oven, it was Char Siu Duck dinner for Justin and I. Justin enjoyed it quite a bit, as did I. Being on a low-carb diet for the short term, I unfortunately had to forgo any rice. The duck, however, certainly stood on it's own, with a nice Char Siu flavor, and not too much oil. Mmm.



  • Get some latex or rubber or synthetic gloves on. It gets messy.
  • Allow duck to completely defrost. Wash off and and wash out body cavity. Remove any organs or gizzards from the inside and fling those nasty things. Even the cats wouldn't eat 'em.
  • Get out a big ol' roasting pan that has one of those folding wire "V" rack contraptions.
  • Preheat the oven to 220°. Yes, this is pretty low.
  • You have the gloves on, right? Get a knife and score the back and the breast of the duck a few times. This is an important step you wouldn't typically do with other poultry. You gotta cut in slits for all that duck fat to cook out through. See the photo above for a general idea.
  • Tear open that Char Siu Seasoning packet, and sprinkle it over the duck, while working it in. Give the duck a really good massage. The Char Siu seasoning is screaming bright magenta, so you will easily see the areas needing more work.
  • Work it in good, real good. Sprinkle any excess into the body cavity.
  • Set the "V" rack up into a, well, "V".
  • Place the duck on the rack, breast side up, and the rack is in the roasting pan, right? If not, now is the time to place it in there. Duck, on the rack, in the roasting pan.
  • Put the pan into the oven.
  • Roast at 220° for about 2 hours.
  • Crank the heat up to 350° and continue roasting for another 40 minutes or until that duck looks good.
  • Take the pan out of the oven, and turn on the broiler on your oven. We're going to flash-crisp that duck!
  • So the pan is out, right? And you turned the broil setting on, right? So it's getting hot. While you are waiting, get some gloves or whatever, and carefully flip the duck over on the "V" rack so the breast side is down. Oh yeah, this is a good time to carefully tip the duck body so the collected liquid fat in the body cavity drains out into the roasting pan.
  • Put the duck back in the oven and carefully watch it. Give that bird a serious blistering suntan for about a minute. You get that skin as crispy as you desire.
  • Remove the pan from the oven, and flip the duck so the breast side is up. Return it to the oven.
  • Repeat the process so you end up with some blistering nice skin. Mmmm.
  • Remove from the oven, and let the duck alone for about five minutes.
  • How you carve that duck is up to you. If you want authentic Chinese style, get a big ol' cleaver and ka-chop that duck with no concern whatsoever about the bones. Anyhow, enjoy that Char Siu Duck!

Salted Caramel Butter Bars - a cautionary tale

Caramel bars
Salted Caramel Bars
caramel pot
Pot of delicious caramel

So last week I saw a box of homemade salted caramel butter bars at a charity fundraiser. They looked gooey, tempting, and tasty. I was unable to obtain them, but my curiosity was piqued. A bit of googling led me quickly to here where I became convinced this could indeed be done by mere mortals. I did go unto the store and acquire the various ingredients sans the caramel cubes.

Why not use caramel cubes? Because I found this.

So now I have a recipe for caramel bars, and for caramel. Got all the parts, nothing left but to do the deed. And on this Thanksgiving Day, in the year of our Lord 2013, the deed was done.

If you look at the recipe, it says it can be doubled, and that is just what I did. The only modification from the recipe itself is that I used five of those little "Mini Moos" half-and-half containers instead of cream. If you look at the "Pot of caramel" photo, that is the result. Let me tell you what, it was the first time I ever made caramel. The directions mentioned it thickens as it cools, and this is exactly the case. The result was a dark concoction of sugary pleasure. It would have been better if I had stopped for the day here, for what comes next was not as pleasant.

So on to the recipe. Now since I have a fabulously gooey homemade caramel, I need not bother with the 50 cubes of caramel and what-not. I proceed to produce the butter bar recipe, and indeed, if you look at the photo of what I did produce, they do make for a nice photo. Except they turned out way underdone, but no amount of additional time ever got the shortbread to set up. In the end, it is the caramel itself which is holding the bar together. The problem? I believe the problem is an excess of butter, because the shortbread alone uses an entire four-stick box of it! Can you imagine anything firming up with four sticks of butter in it spread amongst a thin layer in a 9x13 baking pan? Well, now I don't. Next time, if ever it gets three sticks, not four. Or perhaps another cup of flour.

So, how did it taste? It was an unfortunate waste of really good caramel on what was to me, an unappealingly undercooked shortbread-ish doughy blob. While it did taste fine, it could have been, should have been, so much more. I think I'll learn how to make a proper shortbread, and then apply the caramel on it.

There was one great discovery in all of this; how to produce a crumble topping. The recipe in short is: bake a shortbread base, pour caramel, sprinkle chilled dough on top as a crumble top. Well, that dough just did not want to crumble at all, which I in part believe is because it had too much butter in it. Well, I was using a cooling rack to cool the pan after baking the bottom, and this cooling rack has about a 1/4" spacing to it, basically making for a fantastic 1/4" grate. I used that cooling rack as a grate and grated the cold dough through it, producing a fine crumble over the caramel. So that bit of cooking worked out well. Shame the entire cookie didn't.

I did try re-baking the cookie for another 30 minutes, but this just produced an oily over-buttered blob. Not good. So indeed, this is a cautionary tale. The lesson learned? Learn how to make shortbread first.

A bitter lesson.

I should be happy. I successfully traded the VIX against the government shutdown in both directions. Calls placed prior to the shutdown paid off, and so did puts placed in anticipation of the eventual agreement.

So why am I so unsatisfied? In both cases, I closed out my positions too early, and missed out on what would have been possibly triple of my actual gains.

I also just this morning closed out my position in AAMRQ at 5.75, only to see it leap up to 6. In a day.

Here is where the painful part comes in: In all cases, I initially had limit orders placed which, if left alone or only sightly adjusted, would have returned those sought-after big gains. I got nervous and drastically readjusted the order to reflect a "Take it now and don't wait" approach. And I got what I asked for. A fraction of what would possibly have been returned.

Hindsight is not only 20/20, it is also haunting. You really do reap what you sow. People, take note. If money is such a painfully cruel teacher, how much more will Eternity be? Jesus, open my eyes to Your truth and let me not miss out on a single thing You have for me. I don't want to hear about how much I could have had if only...

Kal-Bi 7-Bone Roast


This is really two stories in one; a tale of the smokiest Kal Bi ever, and the tale of a roast. First off, the Kal Bi ribs. I picked up two packs of Noh Kal Bi mix from Red Apple, and found a 2-pound package of boneless short ribs, the Kal Bi style. I have never seen Kal Bi ribs trimmed boneless, and oddly enough, they were only $4.99/lb while the regular with-bone kind were $5.99/lb. Go figure. So the boneless Kal Bi ribs came home with me.

So at home, I mixed up the two packs of Noh Kal Bi marinade, and added in green onion, sherry, some Splenda, and sesame oil to extend the amount of marinade. I took all those ribs and the marinade and vacuum sealed it up in a Foodsaver bag for a day of marinating.

Now for the smoke. I have a large cast iron indoor grill pan, and cooked up all that Kal Bi. Now the thing is, our stove, unfortunately, has a small smoke hood over it, and the hood only provides limited coverage over the back burners and zero coverage over the front burners. And of course the big burners are on the front. I cooked up all that Kal Bi, and yes the smoke alarm went off. And yes the entire house had a dense fog of Kal Bi smoke permeating it. Had to open the windows and prop up a fan to blow the smoke outside. It was easily the most I have ever smoked up the house.

The ribs came out great; we enjoyed some fine Kal Bi and as a plus, my wife really liked them without those little bones in there. I had bought a 7-bone roast from Fred Meyer, and had an idea. I had saved all the Kal Bi marinade, and after dinner, sealed up that roast along with the remaining Kal Bi marinade. After spending two days in the fridge, we now proceed to part two of this story.


Earlier in the week, my mom had sent me a recipe, "Best Roast Beef Ever", which I present to you here:



  • Roast Beef - any size rump roast, chuck, etc. at room temp.
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Garlic Slices
  • Rack & Drip Pan


Preheat oven to 375 Deg. F. Salt & Pepper the roast all over. Slit 4 slits in fatty side and insert garlic slices. Place the roast fatty side up on rack of drip pan. Roast for 1 hour. Do not open the door after roast is in. After 1 hr. turn off the oven. Do not open the door. Leave roast in for 3 hrs. If reheating is necessary, heat at 300 deg. F. for 15. Min. If roast is frozen, roast for 15-20 min. more

That was the recipe. I ended up doing a slight spin on it, so it was like this...

Kal Bi 7-Bone Roast


  • one 7-bone roast, which has been marinating in Noh Kal Bi marinade for a couple of days
  • a handful of small potatoes, peeled. Or maybe about 2 cups of roughly diced larger peeled potatoes
  • Four carrots, peeled, and chopped into thirds
  • Five stalks of celery, chopped into thirds
  • One onion, quartered and separated


Get out a dutch oven or roasting pan. Drain off the marinade and place the roast in the bottom. Pile on the vegetables, and apply a generous amount of salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 375°f.Close the lid on dutch oven or roasting pan and roast for one hour. Do not open the door after the roast is in (this part follows the original recipe). Do not open the oven door. After the one hour is up, turn off the oven, but leave the roast in there for an additional three hours. Near the last 20 minutes, turn the oven back on to 375°f. again, just to put some final heat on it.

Our experience was, in spite of expectations, the vegetables did not turn out as soggy lumps. They were actually quite tasty. The roast itself was fork tender perfect, and was not at all overpowered by Kal Bi marinade. If anything, it could have used a bit more "Oomph" in the Kal Bi department. Perhaps a careful sprinkling of pure Kal Bi powder on it would kick it up. Overall, it was a very enjoyable roast, and Mom's recipe is exactly how to cook a roast. We will be making this again. Well, maybe not the part with the cast iron grill and smoking the house out, that is.

Samsung Galaxy S3 and SanDisk 32gb MicroSDHC

Equals a waste of money. For reasons unknown, I have read folks on Amazon lamenting how the SanDisk 32gb MicroSDHC car doesn't work worth a darn in the Samsung Galaxy line of phones.

I can personally attest to the accuracy of that assessment. After a few months of trying, I am giving up. Here is what happens: The card works fine, then files start disappearing. File folders mysteriously get renamed, "music" turns into "µusic". And generally, Stuff Just Dies.

I have just plucked that 32gb card out and swapped in a 16gb to see how it goes. But the SanDisk 32gb? Forget it if you got a Samsung Galaxy S3, S4, or S-anything.

An open letter to Huy Fong Foods

For now, lay aside any consideration to the collapse of our nation, and turn to more important issue. Sriracha chips.


I am sending the following message to Huy Fong Foods

I saw recently that the Lay's Do Us a Flavor promotion did not produce a winner for Sriracha flavored chips. I found this beyond belief, as their Sriracha chips were sublime.
Being a longtime Sriracha and Sambal Olelek fan, I can only hope that the good people of Huy Fong Foods will see a golden opportunity to step in where Lay's has failed. Please produce some sort of Sriracha-flavored potato chip snack, and go beyond. Create a Sambal Olelek flavor as well! I am certain that Sriracha fans worldwide would make any such snack an instant hit. Oh, and place the rooster on the package. You folks gave birth to Sriracha, please be the ones to take it to the next level. Thank you.

And, I got a reply!

Dear Kitty, Thank you for your interest in our products! We strive to make the best sauces using quality ingredients in every bottle. We are glad to hear you are enjoying our sauce and we hope you continue to do for many more years to come. In regards to you inquiry, we are not pursuing that at the moment. Again, thank you for your inquiry. If you have any further questions or comments, please do not hesitate to email us. Sincerely, Customer Service HUY FONG FOODS, INC. 5001 EARLE AVE. ROSEMEAD, CA 91770

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