Monthly Archives: December 2004

National Forests Lose Protection

Two days before Christmas, and the Bush Administration has quietly pushed through the most radical changes to National Forest preservation laws since before President Reagan was in office.

According to the Washington Post, “the new rules give economic activity equal priority with preserving the ecological health of the forests …”

A leading purpose of National Forests was to preserve land and prevent the unmitigated spread of development. Now, it’s open season for any company that sees economic benefit to exploiting National Forest land — land which belongs to the public.

The Bush Administration’s new rules drastically streamline the process for zoning forest land for economic development. For example, according to the Post, environmental impact analyses will no longer be required, and the public will no longer have the opportunity to comment on individual projects.

Timber companies stand to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the new rules, although some employees of the National Forest Service indicate that the new rules will allow them to spend more time addressing issues such as off-road vehicles and forest overgrowth.

The Post reports that President Clinton finalized a set of regulations that emphasized ecosystem health and wildlife protection over commercial exploitation, but that those rules were reversed by President Bush just before Thanksgiving 2002.

The old rules amounted to a lot of bureaucracy that frustrated companies anxious to utilize public lands. But, as a wise friend once told me, one of the most frustrating aspects of the government — bureaucracy — is also a great strength. There are some things that you don’t want to rush. Without government controls, public lands that have been preserved for future generations to enjoy will be developed until they no longer exist. And now, many of those government controls put into place by President Reagan, President George H.W. Bush, and President Clinton have now been repealed, quietly, right before Christmas, and right when other news stories are grabbing headlines.

USA Today gripe

USA Today has this fairly annoying habit of boldly announcing the winner (or who got voted off/fired this week) on the front page of its web site the day after an episode airs. For example, today, you can see a picture of the winner of Survivor with the headline “Chris conquers Vanuatu.”

In these days of TiVo, this is pretty retarded. Because there are three classes of people, and running this as news benefits none of them:

(a) People who like the show so much that they already watched the episode. In which case the winner is not news to them; they saw the show.

(b) People who have set their TiVo (or VCR or ReplayTV or..) to record the show but have not yet had a chance to watch it. In which case they would prefer to watch the show than see USA Today blurt out the winner before they’ve had the chance. (I tend to fit into this category.)

(c) People who have no interest in the show. They could care less. (I tend to fit into this category much of the time, too.)

If USA Today is so intent on providing these reality show updates each week, they should at least hide the news under a headline that doesn’t give away the ending.

And that’s my gripe of the day.

(Hey, two-for-one special today: Is punctuation really that hard? I keep seeing signs around saying “Christmas Tree’s for Sale” or “Christmas Tree’s,” and being an Editor, this probably annoys me more than is healthy.)

I’m an Award Winning Chef

So, I decided to submit an entry in a dessert competition. (Not a world-reknowned competition, mind you, just one held in conjunction with a holiday party.) I’m a good cook, I just choose not to, due to lack of time and lack of ingredients.

For the competition, I decided to make a chocolate mouse cake. It turned out to be a lot more work than I anticipated, taking about 7 total hours of effort and close to $60 in ingredients. First, I made three sauces: a chocolate sauce, a raspberry sauce, and a creme anglais sauce, which was essentially a vanilla sauce with a fancy name. Next, I made eight or nine small chocolate cakes, and then sliced them in half once they cooled. Then I made chocolate and vanilla mouse, and put a combination of the two in between the cake halves. For the final presentation, I dribbled the three sauces around the cake, squirted chocolate sauce over the cake, and added strawberries and a sprig of mint to the top.

It looked beautiful (and tasted quite good too), but I was too tired to take a picture. And I regret that now.

In the dessert competition, I was surprised to find out that (a) people really take it seriously and (b) there were a lot of excellent entries. I was sure I wouldn’t even place in the top three. However, to my surprise, I captured first prize.

So, to my resume I can add “award winning chef.”