November 22, 2009

Kitchen Craziness

When John and I ordered food this week eye of round roasts were on sale. I hadn't cooked a roast in awhile so I thought it would make a good weekend meal. Given that I didn't have anything planned for the weekend I knew I'd have time to cook it. When it arrived it was good until Saturday so that forced my hand of when I'd have to make it. Friday night I injected 4 cloves of garlic cut into slivers into the roast and set it to marinate in red wine and herbs. While doing the preparation I remembered just how much food a 3 lb. roast makes so I decided to make it a Gilman Manor dinner party for Saturday.

While a roast and a couple of simple sides would make a fine meal I felt like being a little more adventuresome. Ever since the cooking club I was in disbanded I've not been experimenting as much as I used to. As such I went a little nuts and prepared a mini feast. I planned around cooking the roast using a high temperature roasting method that was new to me. Turns out my oven didn't agree with that method and I ended up having to do another hours of normal roasting at the end to get it up to temperature. That might have been avoided with the use of one of those fancy remote temperature monitors but that feels too gadgety.

Since my oven was tied up for most of the afternoon before putting in the roast I made a batch of cookies as part of dessert. While I have a simple recipe I usually use, I had a box of Cherrybrook Kitchen chocolate chip cookie mix laying around and just used that. They always come out tasting great and recommend them for the allergy conscious. Having no such allergy issues I use real butter, negating the dairy free mix.

For one appetizer I sliced up some Cabot Garlic & Herb Cheddar and an awesome Smoked Rambol served with some Wheat Thins. Not the highest class cracker, but I like the way they taste. The other appetizer was plain rolled salami, rolled salami stuffed with the amazingly tasty Peppadew Sweet Peppers, and pitted kalamata olives.

For a first course I made a white bean and tomato soup with sweet potato tortillas. Neither of these dishes turned out quite right. The soup ended up too salty but was nicely offset by the tortillas. I was modifying a refritos recipe into a soup by thinning with tomato juice, which means that I really should have cut the salt when cooking the base bean recipe. As for the tortillas they ended up more like flat pancakes. I'm not quite sure what went wrong there. Thankfully I have leftover sweet potato mash that I can try making another batch with as soon as I get some more flour.

My lack of flour is a result of using almost 50% more water than called for while making a sun-dried tomato focaccia. Needless to say when the bread machine got to the kneading cycle I had a big mess instead of a nice ball of dough. My attempts to thicken it up with some extra flour didn't amount to much so I had to just dump the lot and try again. Using the right amount of water ended up creating a much better loaf. A little moist on the bottom but super tasty.

While typically a meal onto itself I couldn't resist making a batch of broccoli risotto. It was a recipe I'd used before and was very happy with the results. We had gotten a fresh head of broccoli with our Boston Organics delivery which was just calling out to be used. Alas part way through the recipe, when I needed to add the white wine, I was shocked to realize during my quick glance into the liquor cabinet the previous night I'd mistaken a bottle of Q Tonic for a bottle of white wine. Thankfully my upstair neighbors had a bottle of white wine, albeit slightly suspect. Turns out Hot Sun Tomato and Pepper wine is a much better cooking wine than drinking wine...

The last side dish for the roast was glazed carrots using a recipe from Julia Child. It's a good thing I don't use her recipes too often otherwise (as some friends wish I already did) I'd probably end up gaining weight due to the copious amounts of butter. It does always end up tasting so good though.

The other dessert was a fruit bowl of kiwi, grapes, and mango. Needless to say by the end of the dinner we were all stuffed. The roast cooking issue threw the timing off but that was okay since I goofed the cooking times for a couple of the other dishes. That worked out well as it gave a little reprieve between the onslaught of food. Overall I'm very pleased as were my dinner guests with how the dishes turned out even with the few hiccups and substitutions.

Tags: food gilmanmanor

November 17, 2008

Tripping on NeoPhi

As most regular readers of this blog know my housemates and I are having the house de-leaded. This unfortunately means temporarily vacating part of the house while it is worked on. Thankfully despite the age of Gilman Manor it had very little lead. One area that did have lead was near where NeoPhi lives. This of course necessitated moving NeoPhi. That went smoothly and should have only been seen as a short network blip and NeoPhi's and its UPS moved smoothly into another room. Alas the short blip turned into a two hour nightmare for me as once in its new home while trying to get something I forgot I was going to need I knocked NeoPhi's power cord out from the UPS.

Needless to say it wasn't happy. The fsck during reboot was taking an extremely long time and I thought that it had died on me. When I was about to give it it started beeping horribly. A sound I'd never heard before and hope to not hear again. In a panic I killed the power again, the beeping stopped. I turned it back on and during the RAID firmware startup the beeping started again. After another quick reboot I went into the RAID BIOS. It was in the middle of a rebuild and the alarm was the indication that bad stuff was going on. No problem. While I could have let the system startup and run in a degraded mode while rebuilding I figured it was best under the circumstances to finish the rebuild in the BIOS.

That looked like it was going to take about an hour to do. Fine I finished moving stuff around, read my email, and worked on other stuff to pass the hour. Upon returning it was stuck at 90.1% complete on the rebuild. I waited, still at 90.1%. I waited some more. Finally after 10 minutes is ticked up to 90.2%. I'm like this can't be good. I went into the the event log and it was slowing filling up with Read Error on Channel 4. Great. Thankfully since I'm running RAID 6 I wasn't too concerned about lost data. Maybe just some corrupt data due to the power loss.

Looking around the BIOS some more though I couldn't find anything about my hot spare drive. Instead I found 2 RAID sets one which was incomplete and the other had only 4 disks (one of which was my hot spare). Guess this is why they highly recommend buying the battery backup for your RAID controller. Given how long the read failure for drive 4 were taking I took an unorthodox step and just yanked its cable from the controller. The event log quickly reported that the device had been detached and in a couple of minutes the last 10% of the rebuild finished.

At this point I was able to boot up in single user mode and ran a manual fsck on all the partitions. I got some really nasty errors from fsck that I've never seen before. A little research said there wasn't much hope of really fixing them so I just said Yes and let fsck do its thing. Once all disks passed fsck cleanly I rebooted again. I deleted the single drive that was part of the incomplete RAID set (which was really one of the primary drives of the original RAID set), added it as a hot spare and rebooted again.

NeoPhi is now back up and running. While I type this the RAID is doing another rebuild in the background and I have the one drive that was getting read errors sitting next to me soon to be replaced with a new drive from Newegg. Unfortunately along the way I again learned how limited RAID control support is for OpenBSD as I couldn't even use the alarm silence function of bioctl to shut the damn thing up. I must say though that the Areca support under OpenBSD at least exists, unlike my previous 3Ware card. Now I can at least get the status of the rebuild even if some of the other features like seeing the event log don't seem possible.

I'll probably do a reboot when the new drive comes in since I don't think hot plugging an internal drive is the best thing to do, even if I did unplug one that way. The thing that gets me the most about this little incident is a friend of mine had serious problems with his VPS at Dreamhost. Seems like no matter what you do eventually hardware or software failures will catch up with you.

Update: Seems the network port and or cable that I plugged NeoPhi into last night degraded over the night or possibly something got fried when the house lost power for 20 minutes this morning. In either case, slightly before the construction crew got fully setup I swapped out the cable and that seems to have made the network happier.

Tags: gilmanmanor neophi

July 30, 2008

Busy Weekend

Its been a busy weekend.

The Tour de France wrapped up this weekend with an everything on the line time trial on Saturday and another fabulous sprint finish on the Champs Elysee on Sunday. Congratulations to Carlos Sastre, this year's winner. My DVR can rest for awhile now that I don't have 4-5 hours of live coverage to zoom through each night. Versus' prime time coverage just can't compare to Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen.

Saturday also included an outing to Midwest Grill followed by games in celebration of Craig's birthday. Way too much yummy food and gaming but a great way to spend the rest of the day.

Sunday consisted of helping Erin and Pete move into an apartment down the street, but was mostly taken up by painting my entryway. Stephanie has been helping me pick out colors and look for deals on paint. A couple of months ago she came across this great peach color which fit with the overall scheme. Problem is, now that I've got one room done, I'm itching to do the rest.

Tags: gilmanmanor life photos

September 26, 2007

BBQ Ribs

I took advantage of the last week's long weekend to fire up the smoker and BBQ some ribs. I also did some chicken but the focus was the ribs. Using the recipe from the Virtual Webber Bullet website I cooked up a lovely batch.

Towards the end I got a little impatient (and hungry) and took them off before they were perfect. The meat wasn't falling off the bone as recommended. From start to finish the ribs took about 7 hours. Since this was the first time I used the smoker, I took some pictures of the process.

Tags: food gilmanmanor

September 28, 2006

Urban Tribes

It isn't often that I read a book that I find truly speaks to me. Some books are engaging in that I find the material of interest while other books are written well and I find myself wanting to see what happens next. For a book to really speak to me it has to be something different. After reading an article in a magazine I went to buy Urban Tribes by Ethan Watters. At the same time I ended up picking up What should I do with my life? by Po Bronson, since it was mentioned on the back of Watter's book. I hoped Bronson's book would speak to me. It didn't.

Urban Tribes ended up sitting on my bookshelf for months with other books I had hoped to read or thought I was going to read. While packing for my drive to Virginia to attend Dave Fried's wedding I was trying to decide what I should bring along to read. I picked up Urban Tribes as it seemed about the right length and attending yet another wedding this year made it seem that much more relevant. Turns out it was and it really spoke to me.

The idea of the urban tribe, and let me say right now I'm badly paraphrasing most of the rest of this, is a group of never-married friends, having a high clustering coefficient, that are experiencing and sharing life together. My generation (and I use that term loosely since I don't have a better one) has chosen to delay marriage long past the point that our parents did. While politicians bemoan this breakdown of traditional family values, my generation has chosen to create their own values one of which is to question the traditional trajectory of marriage.

Courtship is all but dead. Parents may still try to set us up, but the role that they play in helping us find our marriage partner has all but gone away. My generation also looks at our parents and sees the coin-flip chances that a marriage will last and wonders is there a way to improve our chances. The book argues that the urban tribe has changed the middle years between leaving our parent's house and starting married life, for the better.

The urban tribe provides a support structure like a traditional family, friends to help you when you are feeling down, friends to help you celebrate the good times, friends to lend a hand with projects, and friends just to hang out with. The difference between a standard group of friends and an urban tribe is that high clustering coefficient, everyone in the tribe is friends with everyone else in the core cluster. Some of the friendships maybe deeper than other, but it is almost always a fully connected cluster.

Since the tribe is so close, it offers an arena of safety to help one grow and become a better person. You can do stupid stuff and the tribe will be there to help fix things. You can use them as a sounding board for ideas and the tribe will tell you when you are being silly, stupid, or dumb. The tribe knows what you are capable of and will help steer you towards that better self. Instead of experiencing that discovery within the contexts of traditional relationships, which carry much more emotional turmoil, the tribe helps you improve in a more relaxed setting.

Not all is golden with urban tribes though. Since the group is a central part of your life it is hard to break free. The urban tribe doesn't want its members to leave and as such the group can almost sabotage those that try to. What is important to keep in mind is that the nature of the relationship must change at some point. Just like moving our of your parent's house, you need to move out of your tribe to take the next step in your life which in this context is usually marriage.

I've feel I've done a poor job of summarizing what the book tried to express. Unlike many books I read, I didn't jot down notes while reading this one so I'm relying more on my memory than quotes from the book. In any case I highly recommend this book to my fellow never-marrieds that find themselves living life with the same core group of people. Yes there are other people like that out there and yes it is going to be okay.

What I haven't mentioned is why this book spoke to me. I feel for the past few years I've been living in such an urban tribe (primarily with the people that read this blog). Not one that fits all of the themes I mentioned above, but our own home brewed combination that like most social concepts has many variations. Coworkers would look at me funny when I talked about having regular sit down dinners with my roommates (the closest members of my urban tribe) or the fact that we had a regular schedule for grocery shopping together. I wondered what the difference was, why it worked for us, and if we were the only ones.

Going to my high school reunion last year really brought home the stark difference my life had taken from many friends I had during high school. Most were married, all but married, or already having kids. There I was the same age and general background, but not even close to tyeing the knot. Yes I'd been in a serious relationship and dated a bunch, but obviously didn't end up married. A recent question from a friend about what I wanted my wedding to be like left me stumped having never really thought about it. I was still experiencing life, finding myself, enjoying my friends company, and lost in random hobbies.

I'm not against getting married. It has just been a combination of not finding my soul mate and still trying to define myself that has defined my personal marriage time line. I'm sure that vibe of not completely knowing myself has showed through in many a situation that otherwise might have been the start of something serious. As such I agree with the author that "Single people tend to see themselves as a failure in the marriage game until they found themselves in a relationship headed for the alter. They perceived little gray area in their love lives - things were either going great or badly." I find hope in the fact that there are others out there like me and that our time for love will come.

Tags: books gilmanmanor life

September 28, 2006


I think I've caught up on a bunch of pictures that had been sitting on my camera. For your viewing pleasure: David and Karen's Wedding, Gilman Manor's Roof, Saying Goodbye to Matt, Bubbles, and Elissa's Apartment.

My camera acted up a bit so I didn't get a picture of Matt driving off or of Craig during the wedding. Yeah, I should get a new camera, but gosh darn it if my current one just mostly works... Also Elissa's room was just too messy to subject her to having a picture of it on the web.

Tags: gilmanmanor links photos

June 30, 2006


The Gilman Manor liquor closets are reasonably well stocked. I have tended to go on kicks of certain alcohol types. Last year it was sake. This year it has been gin. Tonight I decided to do a little blind taste testing of the gins that I had. I usually drink gin with tonic but tonight it was all straight gin. I had John randomize the six gins we have into shot glasses from which I sampled. I scored two out six in matching the gins. For the other four I swapped them, in what I consider similar categories of gin. I'm not a super taster by any means but I was happy enough to detect differences in them to make educated guesses. The six gins I tasted were:

  • Bombay Sapphire
  • Tanqueray
  • Van Gogh
  • Seagram's Distiller's Reserve
  • Hendrick's
  • Miller's Reformed

I swapped Bombay with Tanqueray, Van Gogh with Segram's, and got the last two correct. Overall I'm fairly far gone and I still like gin :)

Tags: gilmanmanor gin

June 30, 2006

Return of the Rain

It rained again today. Enough rain to get more water in our basement. This is getting, no this is already old. Time to figure out what can be done to prevent this from being an issue in the future...

Tags: gilmanmanor life rain

June 30, 2006

BBQ Wedding

Went to a BBQ themed wedding today. It was wonderful. A short and loving ceremony followed by BBQ and lots of playing in the sun. Thank you New England for not raining today. You may now resume your normal wet ways. I should have pictures later this week. Too tired to say much else now.

Tags: gilmanmanor life

June 30, 2006


I tried grilling some salmon with a cedar plank for dinner tonight. I didn't have things quite right since the plank really never started smoking. I'm not sure if it was the heat, how long I soaked it or what have you. In any case the salmon still turned out great. The good part is that I just need to try this again another week which just means more yummy grilled fish.

Tags: gilmanmanor grill salmon

May 31, 2006

Still Grilling

The rain was kind enough to stop long enough for Gilman Manor to get another Friday night grill session in. This made us all happy since the rain that has been coming down all week is getting very old. A little grilling made it seem like it wasn't all bad. Yummy fresh swordfish steaks.

Tags: gilmanmanor life

May 31, 2006


Today the rain reached critical mass. It rained long enough and hard enough that the basement of Gilman Manor started to seep water. It was kind of cool to watch the little air bubbles pop as they came through the water that had already seeped through. All in all it wasn't that bad of a situation versus a friend who has been completely flooded out of his apartment. All we had to do was mop up the water and the problem has mostly not returned. We'll have to see what happens if the rain get really bad again.

Tags: gilmanmanor life rain

May 31, 2006

New England Smokehouses

I picked up vast quantities of meat from Blood Farm for a BBQ we had at Gilman Manor today. It was all very good. For other New England Smokehouses, check out Yankee's List.

Tags: bbq gilmanmanor life smokehouse

May 31, 2006


How optimistic my words from last night seem now. The rain did come back, with a vengeance I might add. I woke up this morning to a basement that had about three times as much water as there was yesterday. Since the sump pump we picked up yesterday wasn't doing the trick (we later learned it really needs to be in four inches of water to prevent overheating) we got a wet/dry vac. It helped but given that you can only suck so much water out before needing to drain it after a half dozen trips out to the street we started looking for better options. I tried to rig up something to the drain on the wet/dry vac drum, but we quickly realized it needed a sealed container to get the suction going. In retrospect it makes sense but I can't say I've been thinking clearly the entire time.

After the three of us contemplated various ideas, I suggested using a hole we already had in the ground. We have this hole in the basement that used to be the foundation for an old school style ceramic furnace. It had since been filled in by the time we bought the house. I took a shovel and started digging. There was enough room to create a flat surface a few inches below the rest of the basement floor. I threw in a flat slab on concrete that had come lose from another part of the floor. This was deep enough for the sump pump to operate. Once on we shoveled the remaining water towards the hole and quickly got the water out. Some hand cleanup using the wet/dry vac got things mostly back to normal. Been a "fun" weekend.

Tags: gilmanmanor life rain

May 31, 2006


Today the backyard of Gilman Manor was attacked by three motivated people. We managed to till the plot of land that has previously been used for a garden and replanted it as our own garden. Hopefully in a couple of months we'll have some corn, green beens, tomatoes, and other yummy stuff. A large portion of the backyard was also raked to make room for what hopefully will be a new lawn. I'm trying the old school lawn by seeding method. I'm not that hopeful given how rocky our backyard is and I don't know if I got the soil turned deep enough to really have the new grass take. In any case it was a great way to spend an afternoon in the sun. We also got the windows fixed on the front porch which meant bye-bye to the plastic wrap. This all makes me very happy.

Tags: garden gilmanmanor life

April 30, 2006

Skunks Take II

Today the guys from BatGuys came by to install some fencing and a one-way door around the area our skunk is living. Hopefully this will do the trick and we won't have to worry about the skunk coming back around anytime soon.

Tags: gilmanmanor skunks

April 30, 2006

Wonderful Night

Tonight was Christmas for Gilman Manor. Well kind of. Matt gave us tickets to see Spamalot for Christmas and the tickets were for tonight's show.

Before the show we ate at Via Matta. While it was a little rushed since we had to get to the show, the meal was an at least an order of magnitude better than our last planned dinner experience. Very very yummy food. It would have been even better if we would have been able to stay for dessert, but I'm not sure if I could have eaten anything else at that point.

The show was wonderful. It started off fairly predictable but then branched out into new material and incorporated many other Monty Python elements. While I've not watched that much Python, even for the non die-hard fan, it is a funny show.

Tags: food gilmanmanor life

April 30, 2006

Life is Good

Life is good right now. At work this week we managed to get enough plumbing put together to have a first front-to-back communication of the application. It's always nice to have something that is starting to hang together even if some pieces of it are stubbed out. After work today Gilman Manor had the third consecutive week of grilling. Yummy chicken this time. I also attempted some grilled potatoes, but my foil wasn't quite heavy duty enough so a few of the potatoes got a little burned. I also made a batch of corn bread that was good. Not 100%, but this was my first attempt at corn bread from scratch and it turned out much better than the potatoes (which was my second attempt). At least this time the potatoes were somewhat edible, unlike my first attempt. My grill is a little too hot sometimes. Gilman Manor residents also played a bunch of poker tonight which was cool. Lastly, I've got more Tour of Duty to watch :)

Tags: bbq food gilmanmanor life programming