Friday, March 13, 2015

Kung Pao Chicken Recipe



  • Here's my take on Kung Pao Chicken with Spaghetti

  • The Sauce
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken stock or 1 1/2 cup vegetable stock (Low Sodium)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce (Low Sodium)
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons red chili paste with garlic
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • Coating
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • PASTA
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut in 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 3 cups coarsely-chopped scallions, greens and whites

Directions

  • Combine stock and cornstarch in a medium sauce pan, adding corn starch a little at a time and whisking to prevent lumps
  • Add remaining ingredients
  • Bring to a boil and them simmer until thick

  • Combine coating ingredients and place in a large plastic bag (1 gallon.) Do NOT beat them into a froth. We're not making meringue.
  • Set aside

  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rapid boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a large nonstick frying pan over high heat, heat the olive oil for about 1 minute. Add the chicken pieces to the Egg White-Cornstarch Mixture and toss to coat them. Taking care to avoid splattering, add the coated chicken to the pan and cook like a solid pancake until the egg mixture sets; then, using a large spatula, carefully flip the chicken pieces over together and, with a wooden spoon, gently separate the pieces.
  • Gently stir the roasted peanuts into the pan. As soon as they darken in color, after no more than 1 minute, stir in the garlic and scallions. Once the garlic begins to brown, after no more than 30 seconds, add the Kung Pao Sauce and toss and stir to coat the ingredients.
  • When the pasta is ready, drain it well and, in a large mixing or serving bowl, toss it thoroughly with the sauce. Serve family-style or transfer to individual serving bowls, arranging the chicken, vegetables, and peppers.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Being happy



With the recent changes (I've left Cheezburger), I've had to think about what I'm looking for in my next position.  One interesting thing that I've found is that to be happy, what I need in a job is remarkably like what I need in life.


My Life

Here's what makes me happy.
  • Doing good
  • Bringing happiness to others
  • Being Balanced: Grow spiritually, artistically, physically
  • Loving people
I find that if I do those things, I'm happy.

Notice that things like making lots of money, having a big house, etc. aren't on that list. Don't get me wrong, those things are good too, but consider this:


19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19



My Job
When thinking about my next company and position, here's what would make me happy:
  • Bringing happiness to the world
  • Making our customers and our people happy
  • Growing people
  • Growing myself
  • Problem solving
  • Bringing order to chaos
  • Balance

Yeah, there's some overlap there.  Problem solving often brings order to chaos. Growing people makes them happy.  Making our customers happy brings happiness to the world.

Notice how much those align with what makes me happy in this life.  Balance, growth, love, good.

A part of what would make me happy at my next job also includes what I NEED to be happy. I tell this to all of my managers.

I need:
  • To be valued
  • To be supported and own what I own
  • To be taken care of money-wise
  • To be able to respect my superior(s)
  • To be allowed to grow
These NEEDs are also things that I aspire to provide for those that I work with and who work for me.  I make sure they know that I value them, I support and enable them to own what they own, I make sure they're happily compensated, I work hard to make sure they can respect me, and I take a sincere interest in their growth.

It's been a good excercise. 

43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit,44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.Luke 6:43-45



Friday, January 16, 2015

Mantras

Mantras

Not mantas.



I come up with a set of mantras at the start of every year.  They tend to cover both work at home.

The big one for me last year was Simplify.  At work, it meant paring down process, simplifying the architecture of the system, and moving to a more service oriented architecture.

At home, it meant getting rid of stuff.

PCs.
At one point, early in the year, I had a ton of PCs (and a mac)


  • Two media PCs (running XBMC)
  • A backup server running Windows Home Server v1
  • A media server running Windows Server 2008R2
  • A desktop in the office
  • My laptop
  • Robin's laptop
  • Beth's laptop
  • Josh's laptop (though he's now moved out)
  • A mac mini


They all required some form of maintenance, and invariably, there'd be some hardware or software problem that I'd have to deal with.

I got sick of all that and now I have this:


  • 0 media PCs (replaced by ROKUs running Plex to stream media from my server)
  • 0 backup servers (replaced by backing up each PC to the media server, and backing up most of the media server to an external hard disk.  And then backing each of the PCs up to Crashplan.)
  • Kept the media server.
  • Kept the desktop, though it's rarely used.
  • Kept the laptops, which all of us (except Robin) use regularly.
  • Turned off the Mac Mini. Just sucking up power.


It's made my life much simpler.

Stuff
I had three huge drawers full of old cables that I've kept (and added to over the years.)  I had every cable imaginable, all the way back to parallel printer cables.  Over the holiday break, I spent a couple of hours and whittled it down to one half-full drawer.  I felt great about it, until I needed a stupid USB extension cable.

I also went through my tools, tossed or gave away all of the screwdrivers that had been mangled one way or another (I tend to be hard on tools. Broke my large flat head screwdrivers many years back by accidentally shorting positive and negative on a car battery.)  Tossed a lot of things I rarely used, and now the garage is pretty clean.  It's never been pretty clean.

I went through my boxes of books and gave away all of the ones I'll never read again. That hurt a little.

This year

Here are my mantras for this year:

    • Balance
    • Close loops
    • Multipliers
    • Forward thinking
    • Grow

What these mean for me, at least right now, are:

Balance
Balance physical fitness, spiritual fitness and creative fitness. Work out, read more of the bible, Art more.

Close Loops
So many things get lost in the shuffle.  Recurring bills on the credit card for things we don't use, but never turned off.  Getting to finishing the yard lights.

Multipliers
Find ways to make everything more efficient. Simplify things even more so I don't spend garbage time doing unimportant things.

Forward Thinking
Pay more attention to preparing for our future. Robin and I are shortly going to be empty nesters. Let's find a way to do more together.

Grow
Always continue to grow. Stagnation stinks.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 (NIV)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Distractions


As a family, we've been dealing with a major medical issue since Wednesday last week.  Everyone will be fine, but while we wait, it's been an increasing struggle to focus on anything but the next set of visiting hours.

It's pretty amazing how myopic these things make us. It's hard to see anything beyond everything getting back to normal. It's hard to do anything that isn't just killing time.  It's hard to start new things, or do things that I enjoy.  And it's easy to sleep. Alot.

I've realized how much this parallels how I feel when I'm depressed.  But when I'm depressed, I'm focused inward rather than outward. I wonder if there's something to learn about how to deal with my depression in this.

I believe that everything works to God's glory, and I think we've all come to realized that we'll learn and grow from this, both as humans and as Christians. There are numerous lessons to be learned here, if we but align ourselves with God and listen.


"My eyes are ever on the Lord for only he will release my feet from the snare. Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish. Look upon my affliction and my distress and take away all my sins." Psalm 24:15


Sunday, April 13, 2014

I struggle

One of my favorite verses in the entire bible is Philippians 4:6-8:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things."

Another is Matthew 6: 31-34:

"Do not be anxious then, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'With what shall we clothe ourselves?' "For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. "Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I try to take strength from these verses. I truly do, but more often than not, I fall back into worry, anxiety, depression.  I wish there were a magic pill that I could take that would make me be 100% faithful every day and that would wash away my doubt.

If wishes were horses...

I've found myself changing my habits, and it's making a difference.


Friday, February 7, 2014

The Process

Ok, so it's been a while since I've posted. Almost a year.

It's partly because last year was a more than a ltitle rough, and partly because I've been so busy.

But I'm back.

Twisted Sifter
If you don't read Twisted Sifter, you should. And if you don't read the Shirk Report every Friday, you DEFINITELY should.

Last week's shirk report caught my eye.  Yeah, the image links are already pretty good, and they actually manage to show me some images that I haven't already seen.  If you don't know, I work at Cheezburger, and we make it our jobs to find cool, funny images.

However, this video really resonated with me.



The video above talks about how our 'taste' starts out much more mature than our ability, and it can ruin an artist. I certainly suffer from that.  I find it incredibly discouraging that I can't make things turn out how I want them to, and I invariably put down my pencil or brush and wait a few months before I start again.

Remembering to "art"
Back when I was studying art, my teacher, the great Sheldon Borenstein, told me that every artist has 10,000 bad pieces of art in them, and the trick was to get them all out of the way so he can get to the good stuff.

Over the last 10 years or so, I think I've sketched, painted or drawn a couple of thousand pieces, and I only really like a maybe a hundred or so.  Not a good success ratio.

The funny thing is that I also paint miniatures, a very non-traditional kind of art, and have been painting them for 30 years. I'm pretty darn good at those.  Every one I sculpt or paint looks great. But when I look at other mediums, I'm really no where near as good as I expect.

But then, I'm still really far away from finishing my 10,000 pieces of bad art.

I think what I need to do is to use my success in miniature art to fuel my drive in other mediums. I need to remember that I can really create great work, but it just takes time, practice and it's a process. I need to be dedicated to it.

I need to "art" every day.

Only 8000 more drawings to go. If I can do 10 pieces a day, then I'm only a couple of years away.  I'd better get started.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cheezburger

God is good, God is faithful.  Certainly more good and more faithful than I.



As I continued my job search, I found that as quickly as various job options were falling away (out of state, not the right fit, etc.), one option kept rising to the top.  About two weeks ago, I accepted a job offer for Chief Technical Officer at Cheezburger.

Cheezburger Network

Last week was my first week, and so far, it's going swimmingly.  I like the people I work with, they're very professional, likable, and committed to making Cheezburger a great business.

About a month ago, I was talking to a friend, who went through something similar.  While he was out of work, he said he obsessed over finding a new job.  Which is reasonable in the way of the world.

It wasn't until he let go of that obsession.  Let go of that "I" centric view, that "I" could MAKE something happen, that he found the perfect job.

For me, it happened in very much the same way.  It wasn't until I let go and surrendered to His will that this opportunity came along.

He is faithful.  He is Good. He answers prayer.  However, His timing is not our timing, and I learned a lot over these last few months, all for His good, and by extension, my good.