Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Back to the USA

Tomorrow I had back to the US--- this time to visit family in addition to work. I had two last minute meetings pop up, resulting in a crazy travel schedule. Tomorrow I fly to Minneapolis, as originally planned. I then have a Friday meeting in Atlanta, so Friday I fly out at 5:30am, and am back in Minneapolis later that evening. I spend the weekend with my parents. Monday I fly to San Francisco. Thursday evening I head up to Vancouver, B.C. Friday I head back to Minneapolis. Saturday I return to Norway.

I discovered that it is impossible to buy flights online for domestic routes. NWA, American, and United would not accept my foreign credit cards. I cannot book through KLM for anything that does not originate in Norway. Oddly, I had no trouble booking through Yahoo travel. I am not happy about this. I never noticed this before about NWA, since I have always booked international flights. I have had all sorts of problems for other types of services--- US companies freak out on foreign credit cards. The dollar is practically worth nothing these days. You would expect they would have all sorts of foreign business.

Speaking of the value of the dollar, I have been asked to buy all sorts of toys for my coworkers. When word leaked out, more people came with requests. I can see that this can become very old, very fast. I will have to start charging a handling fee if this continues.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

World's Best Pizza Recipe

Revised on January 2, 2008.

It has been something of an obsession to perfect the perfect pizza. I rarely cook. I almost cannot cook. But if I do something, I have to be the best at it. I am willing to share my secret recipe for pizza with the world. It is a bit unorthodox, but that is half the point.


2 cups of flour (heaping, this isn't rocket science)
6 oz cold water
25 g active yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Olive oil

The crust should be started a day before you wish to eat, so that might be a deal killer right there. I use 25g of fresh yeast. Around here, it comes in a cube. I drop it in about 6 ounces of water. Mash up the yeast so it is mixed into the water. Add a tsp of salt and sugar. In a grand mixer with a dough hook, add a bit more than 2 cups of flour. Coat the hook in olive oil. Add a tsp of olive oil to the water mixture (optional). Fire of the mixer on its slowest speed. This is where the chemistry comes in. As it mixes, it is important that the dough clears the sides of the mixing bowl. It will most likely end up as a big lump of dough. The key is to periodically check the dough (with the mixer off, if you value your fingers) to see if it is elastic. If it is just tacky, but not elastic, add a bit of cold water. If too much of the dough is sticking to the bowl, you probably need to add a bit more flour. The key is to keep it in one, cohesive, elastic mass. As it starts to come together, turn up the speed to medium. It could easily take 5 to 10 minutes to mix it all up.

Once you are satisfied that it is elastic, but not too wet or dry--- and it comes easily off the hook, it is time to transplant it into another bowl. Sprinkle a bit of flour into the bottom of a bowl, place the ball of dough into the bowl, sprinkle a bit of flour on top of the dough, cover in plastic, and place in the refrigerator. It will rise, even in the fridge, so make sure the bowl allows for a bit of growth. Let it sit overnight.

2 fresh vine-on tomatoes
2 sun-dried tomatoes
1 clove garlic
2 tsp plain pesto
2 tsp tapenade

Two hours before you plan to actually eat, remove the bowl of dough from the fridge. Dice two tomatoes-- and choose tomatoes with flavor-- not the watery cheap ones. Cut up two sun dried tomatoes into tiny pieces. Press the clove of garlic. Place into a bowl. Add the pesto and tapenade with a bit of salt and pepper. Mix well with a spoon. Place in refrigerator for the remainder of the two hours.

Prosciutto (sliced-- enough to cover pizza
Ruccula (cut up)
Parmesan cheese
Mozarella cheese

The toppings are not an exact science, but this is my favorite. Preheat the oven for almost as hot as possible. A hot oven will yield a better crust. While you preheat the oven, work and stretch the crust on a clean counter top sprinkled with flour. If it is sticking to your hands excessively, you used too much water. Use a light coating of olive oil on your pizza pan, and sprinkle lightly with flour to avoid sticking. Place crust in pan. Spread sauce on crust and grate a little parmesan cheese. Evenly spread Prosciutto. Apply ruccula. Top with mozarella, taking care not to drown the pizza cheese. Place pizza in oven, on one of the lower racks. Bake for 7 minutes. After seven minutes, check the pizza. Take care not to overcook the crust. When it is finished, remove from the oven and let it set up for two minutes before cutting. Eat.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

Cold Out There

This morning it was nearly freezing outside. I left for work a bit early, and had my first dark ride-- as in completely dark. Winter will soon be here. I will have to tune up the mountain bike. Some lunatics are already running studded tires-- whether on cars or bikes. I haven't seen a hint of a snowflake.

On a different note, I am heading home in two weeks. I will take a weekend layover to visit my parents on my way to San Francisco. I rather suddenly decided to take the detour. I am traveling apart from my colleague, so this is more practical. It has been a little over a year since I have been home, although I was just in the US a few weeks ago. I don't even know where I am anymore.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Whitewater Rafting

I just returned from a whitewater rafting trip in the mountains for a work retreat. I really take for granted how beautiful it is around here. We had to do a “swim test” before we were let out in the raft. Jumping in icy cold mountain water was not my idea of fun. We had wet suits, but they are just exactly that---- very wet. They sort of kept us warm. The temps were a few degrees above freezing. It was the last day of rafting for the season. I probably would have thought it was too cold two months ago. It was OK. It isn’t something I would normally drive three hours out of my way to do. Half of my coworkers “chicken out”- so there were only a dozen of us crazy enough to risk life and limb in freezing water. I was a little concerned about missing some safety instructions due to language issues, but everyone working there was from the UK.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Better Video

This is more like it--- taken from my phone when I was out playing with Julian. He is turning into a little boy already. He is the funnest, funniest, happiest person I know.

That time of year again

Apologies for the lazy posting of random youtube videos. Things have been heating up at work again. I am heading back to the US in a few weeks, and might end up in Brazil. Much preparation needs to be done. I have been biking to work almost daily, and it is finally cold again, and growing dark much earlier. We had a heavy frost the other day.

In other news, Norway has published everyone's earnings for 2006. It bothers me that the government does this. The media goes nuts over who is the richest in the nation, the states, the cities-- like it is some sort of contest. I learned that one of twenty in Norway is a millionaire. That does not include real estate as an asset. I guess in our neighborhood it is more like one in ten. We should be in that category soon enough-- but when gasoline is heading to $150 per tank (in US dollars), a cheap new car is $40k, and a bag of groceries with almost nothing in it is $50, does it matter? We are preparing Julian's bedroom, and buying a little paint and a few brushes cost more than $300US. I believe the six pack of beer that I purchased cost $25-30 US. You can see there is nothing wrong with being in the merchant class. But back to the original point: it is nobody's business how much I earn or what my assets are. Then again, there are plenty of public employees who are in the same boat.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

New Shoes

I had a bad run on clothing last US trip. I purchased a pair of Adidas training pants--- the most comfortable workout pants I have ever purchased. I was working in our attic the first day I wore them, and I snagged them on a nail, ripping them. I was thoroughly annoyed.

My other purchase, the same day from the same store, was some very cool Nike shoes. Tuesday I decided to take them to work. Since I commute, I keep shoes in my locker--- shoes that never see the outdoors. It was a perfect plan for keeping the new shoes looking new for eternity. They would be my new work shoes.

So the first day that I wore them, we had a fire drill at work--- the first fire drill in the two years I have worked there. We obediently evacuate the building. The drill lasted forever. It was a beautiful day outside, and as we waited for the drill to end, I took a step backwards and slipped in something: a huge pile of cow shit. Only in Norway would you find a massive heap of cow dung on the sidewalk behind a technology park building. I had quite a clean-up job on my hands. This is what I get for being up-tight about my new shoes.