Feeding the Active Writer

I do a lot of different variations on meatloaf.  Previously, I did an “italian meatloaf” that was pretty good.  I’ve just developed a new recipe that falls under the “ridiculously easy” category.

My wife likes to have spaghetti and meat sauce from time to time.  I can’t eat the spaghetti, of course, but she suggested I could have the sauce with something else.  So, reading labels in the Italian foods aisle I discovered a brand (local or national, I don’t know) “Rao’s” that was quite low in sugars and net carbs.

I was planning a meat loaf to portion out and take as my lunches to work the last time my wife asked me to do the spaghetti thing and I had a thought.  I bought a second jar of the spaghetti sauce to use in place of the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, etc., I previously used in my “Italian meatloaf.”

So, Italian Meatloaf II (or, as I like to call it, “Spaghetti and Meat Loaf”).


3 lb lean ground beef.
4 eggs
1 28 oz jar Rao’s (or other low sugar/carb) pasta sauce
2 cups flax meal (optional, use whole flax seed for a somewhat different texture).
Optional, 1 cup shredded mozzarella and Romano cheeses.

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  It really is easiest to just get in with your hands (gloves save a mess of washing up here).
Put the mixed ingredients into a 4-5 quart slow cooker.  Cook on low 8-10 hours.
If using the cheeses, spread them over the top while the meatloaf is still hot and let them melt.

Since I do this for lunches, I let it cool thoroughly before removing from the slow cooker.  It’s easier to handle cool than still hot.  Divide into eight portions, place each portion in a freezer container and freeze.



Are you ready for a zombie apocalypse?  How about a zombie apocalypse in space?

If the idea intrigues you, you might like Plague Station:

Feeding the Active Writer

Some time in the past I had a recipe for Chicken Molé that I loved.  But the commercial molé sauce that it used has a lot of sugar in it.  I have done some searching and have found a recipe which I adapted to my own requirements.

4 lb chicken (boneless, skinless)
1 tbsp xanthum gum
1 1/2 cups chopped onion2 tbsp minced garlic
3 tbsp sugar equivalent sweetener (I use store brand Sucralose–the name brand is Splenda)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbsp chipotle chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp salt
2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes
3 4 oz cans diced green chilis

Place the chicken in a 5-6 quart slow cooker.
Sprinkle with the xanthum gum.
Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
Pour over the chicken.
Cook on low 6-8 hours.
Mix before serving.

The Chicken Molé as done above is just a bit spicy, about where I like it.  You can adjust the amounts of chili powder and cumin to suit your own preferences.

Amazing phone story

Last week I went on a trip for business (related to my ‘day job”).

Well, I got out of the car in “economy parking” at the airport, took my phone off the car charger, stuck it in the pocket on the computer bag (more on this later) and headed into the airport.

Get inside, check in and check one bag (small enough for a “carry on” but with toiletries and stuff that can’t go through security). Open the computer bag pocket to get my phone for reading matter while waiting or the plane.  No phone.

Panicked, I went back to the car looking to see if I left it behind. Didn’t find it. Person at the counter was able to have my checked bag sent back up and I checked that.. No phone. Well, I was out of time so rechecked the bag and off to the trip.

Fast forward to my return. Got my checked bag and returned to the car.  What should I find but phone, lying on the pavement in the parking lot next to my car. How did it get there, you ask? Well, remember I said I put it in a pocket on my computer bag? Behind that pocket there’s a “sleeve” that goes straight through (stupid feature on that laptop bag–too lazy to sew up the bottom end and make an open-topped pocket.?) I think, instead of putting the phone in the pocket I accidentally put it in the sleeve. It slid down and hit the ground ending up underneath the car parked next to me (consistent with where I found it).

There was no visible damage to the phone–some scuffing in the corner which could have been from where it hit the pavement. It wouldn’t start, of course, but that’s no surprise considering it’s been five days, lying on the ground in the weather. (I found out we had two significant rainstorms here while I was gone.

Went home. Put it on the charging cable, not really expecting anything but there was nothing to lose at that point, you know.

It. started. charging.

A few minutes later I turned it on and it worked fine.  I’ve been using it ever since.

Five days on the pavement in an airport parking lot. Rained on twice.  Had to have been run over at least once. And. it. still. works.

Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.

Their motto could be “built Samsung tough.”

Feeding the Active Writer

I’ve been a bit remiss in doing these.  So here’s a new one.

Rosemary and Garlic Chicken.

This is another where I’ll use the cheap “bagged” chicken.  You can certainly use better chicken if you wish but the cheap stuff works well if you’re on a tight budget.

2 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp dried rosemary, crushed between your fingers
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, pierced 12 times and cut in half
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
4 Tbsp water
4-5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken.

In a small mixing bowl combine all the ingredients except the chicken and mix well.

If using the bagged frozen chicken, thaw and drain.

Place the chicken in the slow cooker.  Pour the mixture over top of the chicken.  Toss to ensure the chicken is thoroughly coated.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.


Stop. Just…stop.

I recently saw a blog post over on IO9 about 10 scientific ideas that scientists wish people wouls top using (incorrectly).  They missed my personal pet peeve–the use of quantum theory, badly understood or not understood at all, to supposedly explain new-agey magic (of the wizard and witch kind rather than the stage type) or psychic phenomena.

In quantum mechanics observation changes the thing observed, but that doesn’t mean you can use that to cast spells that do whatever folk claim to do with magic.  Here’s how it works:

Imagine you’re in a dark room.  There are objects in that room.  You have a big pile of baseballs and want to know where the objects are in the room.  You can throw the baseballs in various directions.  In certain directions the baseballs bounce back.  When they do, you know they hit some object.  You can then use things like the speed and direction in which you threw the ball and how long it took to bounce back to tell you in what direction and how far the object is.  Throw enough balls and you can get some idea of the size and shape of the objects.

Now, all the objects in the room are on casters.  When you hit them with a thrown ball, they move.  If they’re big and heavy they don’t move much.  If they’re small and light they move a lot.  Observing them, by throwing these balls at them, is going to affect them.

Consider the balls themselves.  The size of the balls limits what you can “see” with them.  Anything smaller than the ball itself you might see that it’s there, but you won’t be able to tell it’s size and shape.  And when you hit it with that ball it’s more likely to go sailing across the room and you only know where it was, not where it is now (after it got hit).  If you want to see smaller objects, you need smaller balls.  Now, this is the tricky part.  There’s a rule.  The smaller the “ball” the heavier it has to be.  That’s backwards from what we usually think of things, but to describe quantum effects you need that rule.

So you can see smaller objects by using smaller “balls”, but the result is that you’re going to hit the objects harder with those heavier balls and knock them just that much farther and faster away.

This, right here, is “observation changes the thing observed.”  The balls are whatever we use to look at something, whether sound waves, quanta (discrete packets) of light, electrons in an electron microscope, or anything else.  We “shine” the light or whatever on the object we wish to see (throw balls at it) and look at either what’s reflected or what passes through it to “see” the object.

At a basic level, when it comes to light the size of the “balls” (the wavelength of the light) is given by the following formula:

Eλ = hc

E = energy
λ = the wavelength (size of the “balls”)
h = Planck’s Constant a really, really, really small number. (Okay, it’s
6.62606957 × 10−34 joule∙second, but at this level what you need to know is that it’s really small.)
c = the speed of light.

For “particles” like electrons that have mass, the equation is a bit different:

λp = h

Here p = momentum.

In both cases, to get a small wavelength (small “balls” to look at small stuff) you need to have either a high energy (light) or high momentum (particles with mass).  Heavier balls that you throw harder.  And, when you throw heavier balls harder at the thing you’re observing, you knock it around more.

That’s “observation affects the thing observed.” It’s not magic.  It’s the simple fact that to observe something you essentially throw balls at it.  They’re just really, really tiny balls (see that Planck’s Constant).  And the effect is only important on really, really small things, things like electrons, sometimes atoms themselves.  To affect larger things that way, you need a bunchaton of energy.

This analogy only scratches the surface.  There’s a lot more I could do. (Quantum tunneling:  the balls are “squishy” and can sometimes get through holes that are nominally too small for them.) But that will be enough for now, I think.

And if you liked this, you may like my novel Survival Test: