Friday, January 23, 2015

An Exception to the Rule.

Regular (hah!) readers of my blog will notice a lack of activity from November 2012 until nowish (January 2015). Pretty big gap. In that time I switched schools, earned my Masters degree, and became a father. It was pretty busy – but full of bloggable moments. So why the dry spell?

I generally don’t blog about my everyday life. I tried it once, and I couldn’t keep it up. There is something so tedious about rehashing what happened to me during the day that I end up quitting after one or two. I tried to keep a journal in high school – and a week later, threw it away. I can’t do it.

So why have a blog? It’s a kind of safety net, I guess. I like that it’s there. I like knowing that if I ever wanted to blog about something, I could. This is also why I don’t pay for a custom URL – sparsely-updated safety nets don’t deserve having money thrown at them.

Of course not enjoying writing about my everyday life means I have to come up with other things to blog about. Well, when I started this blog way back in September 2013 (mostly because I wanted a new email and hadn’t considered the possibility that deleting my old one rather than just sort of deactivating it would eliminate my access to everything liked to that email account – like my old blog, for example), I promised to “focus more on cooking and projects, and less on stupid posts about my life that no one really cares about anyway.”

Wise words.

So the things I usually feel like blogging about are honestly the types of things I would read about. I often search online for recipes – I hardly use cookbooks anymore since there is so much online. And every so often when I do write something creatively, it usually winds up on here – especially when it was written specifically for this blog (thanks 24HBD). I like to write about things I create, because it’s a break from the usual for me. It’s like, hey – I did a thing, so look at the thing I did!

The focus of this blog has widened a bit, I would say. It’s not all recipes and projects anymore – I started (and then took a 2.5 year break from) posting academic papers from college that I really enjoyed writing/re-reading. The kinds of things I don’t want to just drop in a folder and forget – I like to relive them, and then force my friends and family to live them as well.

Really, looking back through all the posts on this blog I can see that they are all a) recipes, b) building projects, c) creative projects (improv included!), or d) photography stuff. There are a few posts slipped in there about vacations and opinions and whatever, but most of what I post seems to be stuff I make.

Except for this post. Aren’t you glad you read it?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Downfall of the Family Callahan

Here you go, Koscielny. I wrote you a dang sestina. I used a random word generator to choose my six words, which are:

A) suspicion

B) tea

C) burying

D) bottom

E) estate

F) insisting

So here you go. Years late, and generally unintelligible, because sestinas are awkward and horrible. Hope you're happy.

The Downfall of the Family Callahan

Among the family grew a great suspicion.

Sideways glances whilst sipping at their tea.

Seen silhouetted by moonlight, burying

Objects unknown on cliff top from bottom

Was assumed to be among their own estate.

(Though innocence was all they were insisting.)

Interesting to note the insisting

Parties, mostly first to cast suspicion,

Were family leaders of the fine estate.

A family fortune made by selling tea

Greedily squandered from top to bottom

While arguing on who they would be burying.

Quickly, a note on who was burying

Family treasures, they would be insisting

Once great wonders rotting in the bottom

Of pits dug, while avoiding suspicion,

By not the owners of Callahan Tea,

But by ones taking care of the estate.

For all while upkeeping the estate

Despite the family’s attempts at burying

The help from public eye, they grew the tea

And cleaned the land. So through their insisting

Of effort they were giving, suspicion

Landed among the top, not the bottom.

Now the treasure rotting in the bottom

Of pits on cliff-top grounds of the estate,

Needed to be moved without suspicion,

So night found them undoing the burying

Already undertaken while insisting

That fortunes lie in gold, not in tea.

The family in the morning found the tea

untended, and searching the cliff bottom

found the wreckage of the help. Insisting

upon finding the wealth of their estate

They looted the bodies before burying

Finding nothing confirmed their old suspicions.

For all the suspicions of the family of Callahan Tea,

Their wealth still went out to sea, burying itself on the bottom.

But for the bribes of a rival estate, good fortune would be all they were insisting.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Geology Yeeeaaaaaaah


As promised, I will now regale you (or really, just post for your reading enjoyment) with my EAS 111 (Geology) report on graphite. I am pretty sure this is also an extra credit assignment, because reading through it, there is no way a University would accept this with anything better than a C, and I’m pretty sure I aced this class.

Or maybe it was a real assignment, and I was just counting on my inexhaustible supply of charm and wit to get me through. Yeah. That’s probably it.

Graphite – It’s Not Lead!
But it is, a little bit.
Well, Sort of.
Just Read.

Tim Franklin

Remember in the olden days of elementary school, when you were probably “accidentally” stabbed in the hand (or other extremity) with a (probably sharpened) No. 2 Dixon Ticonderoga pencil? And you worried for days and days that you would get Lead Poisoning? Well, the good news is that piece of pencil lead still imbedded in your palm (or ear) won’t give you lead poisoning. Of course, having a piece of graphite stuck in your hand probably isn’t the best of ideas, either. That’s right. Graphite – it’s not lead, and it probably will never be.

So why call it lead? Why not call it “pencil graphite”? Well, according to, the name comes from the time when people would find clumps of graphite on the roots of trees, and they called it names like “plumbago” and “Blacklead”. I have no idea how they got “Lead” from “plumbago”, though. It is a mystery, it is a mystery.

The “lead” in your pencil isn’t actually a chunk of graphite chiseled into a round shape, however. It is actually a mixture of graphite and clay. The clay is added to make the “lead” harder, stronger, and darker. Basically, the process involves pulverizing the graphite into a powder, and then mixing it with clay and water to make a paste. The paste is then dried and shaped into slim cylinders. These are sandwiched in between two sections of grooved wood, which are glued together, cut into sections, and shaped into pencils, erasers optional. It’s actually a very interesting process. Early pencils were just pieces of graphite wrapped in string. The problem with this was that graphite crumbles easily, so these early writing tools didn’t last long. The holders advanced to wood, and experiments with clay were made, and the modern marvel called a Pencil was formed.

Graphite can be found all over the world. There once was a significant source near Ticonderoga, New York (hence the name of the stabby-pencil of your youth), but it has since shut down. China is currently the leading producer of graphite, and other countries include Sri Lanka, Brazil, and even Canada. An interesting tidbit about this wonder mineral is that it is a form of carbon. Another form of carbon is diamond, which, as we all know, is an extremely hard mineral. It’s a good thing graphite isn’t, because we’d all have to go around burning wood to write with charcoal, and no one wants to burn wood. No one.

Now, the pencil is an integral part of human society. How many times have you ransacked the drawers of your house looking for a pencil? Without pencils, we’d have to fill out a bubble exam sheet with pen, and then the computers wouldn’t be able to read them! Without pencils, we would be very hard pressed to do everything perfectly the first time, because everyone knows you can’t erase pen. (Unless you buy those “erasable pens”, which aren’t erasable, and which suck anyway.) And everyone knows that mistakes are important learning experiences in life, and we must all learn from them. So without pencils, we would never learn.

Graphite is also used as a lubricant in places where liquid lubricants can’t go, like places of extreme heat, etc. Who knew? I didn’t.

Okay, I did. But I might not have, and that makes all the difference.

In this paragraph, I shall try to stall for time and space, as my report on the wonder material known as graphite is lacking in length, and length, being one of the requirements of this paper, is very important. Very important indeed.

Speaking of graphite, it is a very good conductor of electricity, which is sort of odd because it is a non-metal. This probably has something to do with electrons. I could research this further, but I have come under a sudden attack of Last-Semester-itis, and it is seriously hampering my schooling ability.

In conclusion to this very uninformative, yet hopefully amusing paper, it is clear that graphite is a very important mineral to our society. Writing is an integral part of any society, and graphite was an enormous help in that area. Once again, without pencils, all of society could come crashing to a halt. And halts are bad news for people who like good news.

Well. Someone was listening to Modest Mouse when he wrote this. And look at all those parentheticals! Man, this is some high-powered writing. And did you see that in-text citation? How totally correctly done was that? What? You can’t just put a URL in a paper and call it a day? The A+++ I got on this paper says otherwise. You can’t tell, but this paper was double spaced, and used Arial 12.5 font. Oh yeah. Gotta sneak that extra .5 in. Don’t you know anything about college?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Geology Whaaaaat

In the spring of 2006, which would have been the second half of my freshman year at Purdue, I took a Geology class (EAS 111), because I needed a lab science. I’m not sure if I was aware of it at the time or not, but it had a 3 hour lab attached to it. A lot of the instructors who ran these labs were aware of how painfully long that is, and usually let out early.

Not my guy.

I think I had the Associate Professor Deanish President-Elect Acting Chancellor in charge of EAS labs, because he never let out early. In fact, he started every lab by reteaching what had been presented in the lecture that week.

But that’s okay, because this guy was awesome at Geology. He knew everything. Probably better than the lecture professor did – and  he was hands on.

Anyway, he gave us an extra credit assignment – a self-guided field trip around Purdue’s campus to find and identify geological wonders. I recently found my submission for this assignment, which I received full points for. Not because I was correct in my identifications (which I am pretty sure I was, for the most part, not), but because my paper was (in his words) “the best thing he’d ever read”. He also told me that I would most certainly get an A in his lab regardless of how correctly I identified everything as long as I kept making him giggle the way my extra credit assignment did.

So now, I present to you, my submission for EAS 111’s self-guided geology field trip.

Wouldn’t It Be Gneiss?
A Geology Field Trip

EAS 111
Tim Franklin
March 8, 2006

clip_image002[5]Rock one seems to be granitic in composition. It is light colored, with small amounts of pink, suggesting the presence of quartz or K feldspar. It has a medium grain size, with the majority of the grains moving in the same direction. I would just call it granite, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it’s some type of gneiss.


clip_image002[7]Rock two was all kinds of weird lookin’, I am not gonna lie. It was dark, with a fairly uniform grain size. There were lighter colored “veins” criss-crossing the entire thing. Unfortunately, I haven’t the slightest idea what it is. The first time I looked at it, I thought it might be a sedimentary rock with large pieces cemented to each other, but after a closer examination, I think it’s some sort of metamorphic rock.


clip_image002[9]clip_image008 Rock number three was like some kind of prehistoric beast, sitting in its ring of trees waiting to jump on some poor kid’s compact car. I noted foliation, and that it was a dark stone, with very small crystals. For some reason, I was under the impression that it was basaltic in nature. I would say it is metamorphic, and an example of a hornfel or an amphibolite.

clip_image002[11] At first, I thought that the steps were stop number four. Then I took a better look at the paper. Ahh, the pillars. They are definitely a limestone (sedimentary), and though I’m leaning towards oolitic, I could be wrong. They have a light, sandy color.



clip_image002[13]As I approached rock number five, I said to myself “That looks like a sandstone.” Of course, I had to go sit and play on it before I was absolutely sure, but it is definitely a sandstone. It has a light, tannish color, and very small particles. I would classify it as an arkose sandstone.


clip_image002[15]I have rock number six marked as “igneous, possible metamorphic”. That seems to be the theme in my observations. It has whitish gray and black particles, and a “salt and pepper” look. The crystals are fairly small. I identify it as diorite.


clip_image002[17]I noticed some distinct foliation on rock number seven, and from basic observations I determined it to be a granitic gneiss. The pinkish color is consistent with K feldspar or quartz, suggesting granite. I also enjoyed the many quotes dotting the landscape around rock number seven. If it isn’t a philosophical rock, it should be.


clip_image002[19]I stood in the Stewart Mural Room for about ten minutes until I realized the rock I was to be looking for was probably the room itself, in other words, the marble walls. It’s very good looking white marble, and is a metamorphic rock coming from limestone. I wish my mural room was made out of marble. I also very dutifully noted the dark granite steps leading up to the doors to the Stewart Center. They were very nice. I even took a picture, but I keep that under my pillow.

clip_image002[21]The rock opposite Stone Hall appears to be igneous, with some quartz present – fairly large crystal size. It is a dark stone, crossed with white and pink “ropes”. It’s also very old, and I’m assuming it hasn’t changed much since 1887. There’s a chance the dark sections are gabbro, but I’m not holding out.


clip_image002[23]Stop number 10 was a little tricky to find, but I was looking in the wrong place. I did find it though, and have it marked as a clastic sedimentary rock with a large (1–4 in.) particle size. The particles are angular, and are held together by a dark cement. From this, it appears to be a breccia, and it also looks like the sediments didn’t get very far before they cemented into place. I wonder how they feel about that.


clip_image002[25]The fountain in Founder’s Park is made of the metamorphic rock marble. It’s just as nice as the marble in the Mural Room, but it’s darker, with more pink, black, and green, although the green may be due to water damage. It reminds me of my kitchen countertops, only more round and taller.


clip_image002[27]Okay, rock number twelve was in the middle of a cluster of thornbushes. I got a chuckle. I mean, if I were designing a field trip / scavenger hunt, I would make it as hard as possible. Anyway, the definite foliation suggests a metamorphic rock, with a fairly small crystal size. The colors range from reddish orange to black. SO I would call it a staurolite-quartz-garnet schist, but that’s just me, and me’s wrong a lot. In other words, I don’t know about this one.


clip_image002[29]Rock thirteen is a metamorphic rock with definite layers that curve around. It looks like there is some quartz present, along with some K feldspar. The crystals range from small to fairly large in size. It could be a granitic gneiss. Or it could be a Quartz-K-feldspar schist. Some scholars maintain that the actual identity of this rock has been lost forever. Who am I to argue with that?


clip_image002[31]Rock fourteen was pinkish, with thick layers of large crystals on layers of smaller ones. It probably contained a lot of K Feldspar and quartz ( I seem to see them everywhere.) The layering suggests to me a metamorphic rock. I would say that this rock is a gneiss, and a guartz-feldspar one at that. It seems to be a common thing to call a rock when you don’t know what it is.

clip_image002[33]Here it is. The last rock on this roller coaster of discovery, joy, frustration, and confusion. At least I did it when it wasn’t raining. This rock is yet another metamorphic rock, ascertained by the definite (definite, mind you, I wrote it down) foliation. I saw “lots of darker minerals” and some pink and white hues. Oh, and there was some green as well. Yet again, I’m going to have to go with some sort of gneiss with this one, but I think this time I might be right about it. And wouldn’t you know it, I’m going to say granitic gneiss due to the fact that, gosh-darned it, it looks so much like a granite that had all the colors separated and smashed into separate layers by extreme pressure and heat. Or something like that.

Well, I enjoyed going on this field trip. Hopefully, you enjoyed reading about it as much as I enjoyed writing it and hitting the “text-wrap” button on the picture toolbar every few minutes. Rock on!


So there you have it. Apparently, I am an idiot. Next time, I’ll share with you the report I did on graphite!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Curse at the Windstorms

Barenaked Ladies has always been one of my favorite bands (if not my absolute favorite). I think the first CD I ever bought was Stunt, and the rest of the collection soon followed. Catchy tunes, thoughtful lyrics, and talented musicians keep them going. Though they are probably best known for being a colorful, oddball, and quirky band, my favorite songs have always been their most poignant. These songs, with lyrics so painful, and upward swells so big and empty it’s hard not to get lost, have stayed with me, and bring me to the brink every time. It kills me that Steven Page has left the band, and I never got to see them all together in concert. I hear they were amazing.

Take a listen. Embrace your melancholy. These are songs for sad.

“War on Drugs” from Everything to Everyone
Favorite Lyric: “Won’t it be dull when we rid ourselves of all these demons haunting us, to keep us company? Won’t it be odd to be happy like we always thought we’re supposed to feel, but never seem to be?”
”When the very fear that makes you want to die is just the same as what keeps you alive, it’s way more trouble than some suicide is worth.”


“Wrap Your Arms Around Me” from Gordon
Favorite Lyric: “I regret every time I raised my voice, and it wouldn’t be that bright of me to say I had no choice. I can kiss your eyes, your hair, your neck, until we forget.”

“When I Fall” from Born On A Pirate Ship
Favorite Lyric: “Look straight in the mirror – watch it come clearer. I look like a painter, behind all the grease. But painting’s creating, and I’m just erasing. A crystal-clear canvas is my masterpiece.”

“Break Your Heart” from Born On A Pirate Ship
Favorite Lyric: “What’d you think that I was gonna do, try to make you love me as much as I love you? How could you be so low?”

“Call and Answer” from Stunt
Favorite Lyric: “You think I only think about you when we’re both in the same room. I’m only here to witness the remains of love exhumed.”

“Am I The Only One” from Maybe You Should Drive
Favorite Lyric: “And who do you think I am? Who do you think I’ll be without you?”

“You Run Away” from All In Good Time
Favorite Lyric: “I tried, but you tried harder. I lied, but you lied smarter. You made me guess, who was it? I did my best, but it wasn’t enough.”


I could keep going. BNL has so many good songs, it’s hard to stop. But I will. Right now.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chili Where My Mouth Is

I am kind of a braggart when it comes to my chili. I think it’s the best chili. Whenever I eat anyone else’s chili, I am always all like “This chili is not as good as the chili I would have made.” Especially if there is macaroni in it. Or other pasta. Don’t do that. Cincinnati is wrong.

Anyway, on Friday (October 19), for the first time in my life, I decided to put my chili where my mouth is – I entered into a chili cook-off hosted by LaLa Gallery, an art gallery in downtown Lafayette. It was a little nerve-wracking because in addition to normal people like me, there were businesses which had chilis entered into the competition. The Black Sparrow and D.T. Kirby’s had chilis entered, and I am pretty sure that the School House of Chili also did, but I am not sure on that one. The Sparrow and Kirby’s are both bar/restaurants in Lafayette that have great food, so I was pretty nervous about my chances.

Anyway, on Thursday I made my chili. Same as always. Nothing special about it – just added a little more spice to amp it up a little bit. I have a container full of assorted dried chili peppers from the garden we used to have in Clayton. They will soon run out, and I don’t know what I will do. For now, though, I grind them up with a coffee grinder and add them to things. Super good.

Powdered pain. Crucial.

On Friday, I took my chili to LaLa around 5:15. The competition started at 6, so I hung out with Mary and Mike for a while at Kirby’s to kill some time. Also to scope out the competition and size up Don Kirby. Get some inside info. Things like that. You know. Don said his chili only got over there around 6:30, so he had some ground to make up. We headed back to LaLa around 6:50 or so – easy, since Kirby’s is right next door. Upon entering, I quickly found out two things. The first was that people were enjoying my chili – the first thing I heard was someone saying “Number 5 was my favorite, put that down”. Number 5 turned out to be mine, so that felt pretty good. The second thing I found out was that my crock pot was acting up, so my chili was barely warm. So, not the best of starts.

Sampling the 9 chilis available, I decided the 4 at my table were my favorites. They included mine, the two chilis from Kirby’s and the Sparrow, and a pulled pork chili which had a nice barbecue flavor, but was pretty greasy.

The chili from Kirby’s (which I only found out was Kirby’s because someone said it was the one that got there late) was good. It was thick, which I like. It had an interesting base, with not as much tomato flavor as mine. It was similar to the chili he puts on his hot dogs, which I love.

The chili from the owner of the Sparrow was kind of strange. He was there, and I commented on it. He said he just kind of made it up as he went. It had a very strong cumin/thyme flavor, which turned some people off, but made me go back for more. It didn’t seem to have any tomato in it. It was mainly beans, chickpeas, and diced chicken. Pretty tasty, but not a traditional chili.

My chili was probably the spiciest in the room. I’ll link to the recipe at the bottom of this post.

The other chilis in the room varied in their type and flavor. There was a white chicken chili, but it was too cheesy – more like a cheese soup. Tasted good though. There was also a vegan pumpkin chili, which wasn’t to my particular tastes, but I give it points for originality. Overall, we were there for about an hour. I had a really good time. I definitely want to do it again.

The pulled pork chili ended up winning. It did taste very good – but it was too greasy for me. Angela, the owner of LaLa, told me I earned the second-most number of votes. Go second place! No prize for it though. I feel good about it – my chili is pretty classic as far as chili goes. Tomatoes, meat, beans, and chili pepper. Recipe and lots of talking about it after the break.


Yes. This.

Okay, so my chili is the best. Let me tell you about it. (I already have, probably.) That link is to a recipe that is slightly out of date, but is for the most part the same as what I’m about to tell you. Redundancy go!

I start with a really hot cast iron pot. Get it hot. Throw some olive oil in there. Yeah. Smells good.

Now toss in a diced onion and a diced green pepper. Also some diced jalapeƱos. Because spice. Let that cook for about ten minutes. Mix it around. Let it get translucent.

Make a hole in the middle of all that goodness in there. Drop in your meat – I like to use about two pounds of lean white turkey – no fat to drain that way. Mix it around, and cover. Leave it covered for a while. Check it every once in a while, keep mixing it up, until all the meat is cooked. White turkey turns white when it’s cooked. it’s weird. You’ll have to get used to it.

(Throughout this whole process, keep adding some spices and things. Mix it in with the meat and stuff. Salt and pepper and whatever else you like. Yannow.)

Once the meat is cooked, add diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and a very small amount of tomato paste. It comes in a small can – one of those is fine. Mix that up, add some spices (chili powder, ground chilis, oregano, thyme, etc.), and let it cook for a bit.

Once that’s been going for like 10 or 15 minutes, add in your beans if you like that kind of thing. I use chili beans, kidney beans, black beans, and large butter beans. I love butter beans. so good.

Let that cook for like half an hour at least. On low. Simmer it away. Stir every so often so it doesn’t burn. Add your spices to taste. Add a little bit (JUST A LITTLE BIT) of cinnamon. Let it sit. Let it mix. Let it cook in.

There you go. Serve with whatever you want – I like a little sour cream, corn bread, and cheese. But honestly, it’s good by itself.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cast Down

There is one rule, and we do not break it. The sky is clear. Thin. About to pop.

Looking up invites blindness. The sky is clear. Entire worlds move underground. The surface is pitted, scorched. Purified in white-hot light.

“Do not ascend",” they tell us. “You must not rise.” It is ingrained. It is forbidden. It is… impossible. How could we? Where would it happen? Locks on all the gates. What is a ladder?

A child is born. Already blind. The next step. Cave dwelling has its consequences.

Skin pale. Translucent. Blind? Or without capacity for sight? No difference, maybe, to him. A childhood in darkness. A life in darkness. Is that any different, they ask, than anyone else.

Staring, one day. In the center of town. Town? A pit. A huddle. A collection of souls. A town.

Staring up. Gazing at nothing. For weeks. And then? Vanished. Forgotten. A momentary curiosity.

But not completely gone. Climbing. What is a ladder? Gates unlocked after all. The sky is clear.

Staring up. Gazing at nothing. Gazing at everything. Clean cremation. Purified in white-hot light.


And below? “Do not ascend,” they tell us.

“You must not rise.”


A latent legend. Inspired by a song.