September 26, 2006

A True Pizza Recipe

Filed under: Food — marcstober @ 10:40 am

A guy has figured out and posted a pizza recipe to rival those of the great pizzerias.
I’m not actually going to duplicate it; it’s far too complicated for a home cook (e.g., hacking your oven to cook at 800 degrees). But it’s credible because it’s probably the easiest way to make pizza in a restaurant where you have the right mixers, ovens, daily rhythm of prep work for later service. A lot of the work is in letting the dough sit at certain points and learning how to let the mixer do the kneading work.

Not surprisingly the guy is also the founder of a software company!

September 18, 2006

Gabrieli for Governor

Filed under: Politics — marcstober @ 10:57 am

As a detail-oriented guy I find it annoying to show up to vote and find there’s a race for constable or clerk of this-and-that between two people I’ve never heard of. There ought to be somewhere on the web I can check on this in advance. Well—at least in Massachusetts—there is: go to

The primary for a candidate for governor has, of course, been well-publicized and in this race I’ve chosen to endorse Christopher Gabrieli. His early success was as an executive at a medical software company. Building software is about solving complicated problems on a daily basis, and solving problems in areas like energy, transportation, and economic development is the work of our government. Gabrieli is someone who already has experience with Massachusetts issues where both the private and public sectors have turned to him for leadership.

I also support his ideas for implementing a tax cut. I disagree with Deval Patrick’s position against an already voter-approved tax cut because it misses a bigger point: we want better government services and tax cuts, too. A governor in office might not accomplish both; but I think in the November election most voters will want a candidate who’s willing to try.

For Lieutenant Governor I am inclined to support Andrea Silbert, largely for distinguishing herself as a champion of working families (i.e., women), and in general for her giving importance to economic growth as well as social issues which is the sort of stance I expect when I register as a Democrat. I can’t expect Deb Goldberg to understand these issues having made her fortunes in a family business; besides which, though not necessarily any fault of hers, based my recent experience as a Brookline resident her elected experience has been with a particularly dysfunctional local government. I am somewhat inclined to support Timothy Murray because I do think central and western-Massachusetts voter should be better represented high offices but find Silbert’s positions slightly more compelling

September 14, 2006

A Kosher Conscience?

Filed under: Judaism — marcstober @ 6:18 pm

The Jewish Advocate Blog speculates about why people are afraid of unknowingly eating non-Kosher meat. Apparently, a butcher in Monsey, NY (home to many ultra-religious Jews) has been falsely selling blatantly trief (non-Kosher) meat as kosher.

But why, exactly, would you be “afraid it can happen to you”? Of course, I’d like to think that kosher meat–if for no other reason than that it’s more expensive–is higher quality. But I recognize the general meat supply in the US is pretty safe; it’s not like being falsely sold a food a was allergic to.

Keeping kosher is, after all, between you and God, and I would think that as long as you had no reason to suspect your meat was trief, your conscience should be clear.

(Disclaimer: I don’t really keep kosher right now; and while I wasn’t raised keeping kosher at all, I do buy only kosher meat to use in my own kitchen, and I have tried keeping kosher more fully at some points in my life.)

But I recognize that it does bother people, I think especially those who have always kept kosher (no pig has ever passed these lips…well except when those !@#$% lied and said it was a kosher beef hot dog), and I’m curious why? Are you somehow halachically liable, even if you did your due diligence about the hechsher? Or is there more of an emotional attachment to the law; which, after all, has to be there to bind people to religious law in a free society?

September 11, 2006

New England Mobile Book Fair

Filed under: Business, Newton, Software Blog — marcstober @ 4:04 pm

We finally stopped into New England Mobile Book fair this past weekend. (Perhaps motivated by a comment I made about independent bookstores recently on another blog). I can’t believe I’ve never been in there before! (Admittedly, we just moved to the neighborhood.) It’s a typical old Boston sort of place: one part erudite, one part improvised, making you feel like you’re in college regardless of your age. Just stacks and stacks of unfinished wood shelves in which some sense of order had evolved, but not from any sort of master plan-o-gram.

I bought Jeff Nathan’s Family Suppers cookbook. I’m especially excited to try his recipe for cooking kielbasa and sauerkraut; hopefully it will be a good kosher way to keep alive the Polish-Catholic part of my heritage. I was also looking for Beyond Fear by Bruce Schneier, but couldn’t find it—they have a lot of books but not necessarily easy to find just one.

(You know what? I’m not going to link the above titles to pages or anywhere else. I gave you the author and title. That used to be enough—you can look it up yourself! Maybe even at the library.)

Anyways I wonder if these independent bookstores are doing themselves in. Most books here are 20% off. How do they handle that? By scanning the books and having the discount price display automatically? By have a “20% off” button on the register? No…the cashier has to look up the price for each book on a tiny little card that translates list prices to discount prices.

I still wonder if the store has anything to do with those mobile book fairs that would come to the school cafeteria a couple times a year when I was a kid.

Uncertainty, certainty, and 9/11

Filed under: Politics — marcstober @ 1:57 pm

I’m annoyed with all the “Monday-morning quarterbacks” who have sprouted up ascribing blame for 9/11 to Clinton, or Bush; or to the people who built the towers or were charged with planning for emergencies in them.

This kind of misses the point, which is that 9/11 was the sort of day you can’t actually plan for; you only can react to how it turns out. In fact, if I’m critical of anything it’s of some specific stories about how emergencies in the towers were too well-planned; responses to kitchen grease or wastebasket fires were so typical they didn’t plan for an actual unexpected emergency. Nevertheless, these were plans made on reasonable guesses of the risks. Someone else might have guessed differently—and in our free-market democracy it’s important for people to try out-guessing each other, so long as your remember you’re all just guessing in the face of uncertainty.

After all, this is how we deal with more mundane matters—do I bring an umbrella today? Which request do I handle first at work? So it’s a bit much to expect someone is going to have all the answers to the big problems of global politics.

Today we’ve changed some plans but I’m still not sure that as a country we’re any better prepared for next thing that’s really unexpected. Even the New York Times has gotten into thinking that there is just some set of simple rules by which we’ll all be safe.

Of course, one can be reasonably certain in hindsight, such as that the real blame lies with the terrorists.

September 7, 2006

We’re Celebrities!

Filed under: House Blog, Newton — marcstober @ 11:18 am

Our picture is in a Boston Globe article published today about assessed home values!

I spoke to the reporter on the phone for a while and the only quote they had from me was three words, “a good deal.” But if we go with the rule “a picture is worth a thousand words” (which doesn’t even seem like a cliche in this situation) we come out pretty good.