by jelyon

COA Water Usage

March 7, 2014 in Austin by jelyon

We recently noticed Austin Energy was reporting a huge spike in our water usage. Lacking any evidence of a leak, we reached out to our utility company, and was told that our only recourse was to take the matter to the city council. So I sent an e-mail to our neighborhood list to see if anyone else had seen Unexplained Monthly Water Billing Discrepancies (UMWBD). Several neighbors have reported suspicious spikes.

March 10, 2014 Update:
I spent some quality time with 13 months of COA bills today, and noticed that for 11 months, the “gallons used” shown under the bar chart on the bills were nice round numbers (3100, or 5500 or 5800), and exactly matched the “total consumption in gallons” in the detailed section to the right of the chart.

But in January, gallons used under the chart was 18,583 and total consumption was 24,100.

And in February, gallons used was 6,508 and consumption was 2,808.

Another neighbor posted the link to a recent KXAN story regarding mistakes by meter readers leading to overbilling:

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Hundreds of Austin Water customers are being charged for water they did not use. A KXAN investigation revealed 550 documented cases of overbilled customers in 2012. The majority of those cases are due to incorrectly read water meter.

If you have an UMWBD, send me a snapshot of the water usage chart, and your general location, like those below, and I’ll post it here.

8XX Block, E. 46th:
8XX E. 46TH

4xxx Block, Avenue G:
Water Usage - 4xxx Block, Avenue G

5xxx Block, Martin Ave:
Water Usage - 5xxx Block, Martin Ave

by jelyon

A little Spanish Facebook

February 8, 2014 in Music, Photos, Video by jelyon

by jelyon

26 Recipes for 2014 7/26

February 2, 2014 in Cooking by jelyon

Chicken and Chickpea Chili?

Yeah. This is about to happen up in this joint.

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 each red, green and yellow bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped (for garnish)
  • 3/4 pound ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 (14 1/ 2-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  1. 1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick Dutch oven or saucepan. Saute the bell peppers and onion until softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken; cook, breaking apart with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 5-7 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle with the flour, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, and cayenne; cook, stirring briskly and constantly, 1 minute.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes and vinegar; bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until thick, 30-40 minutes.
  6. Stir in the chickpeas; simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes.
by jelyon

26 Recipes for 2014 5&6/26

February 2, 2014 in Cooking by jelyon

Last weekend I tried a low fat healthier version of fettuccine alfredo. Turned out pretty good, though the child complained and moaned and griped about the red peppers.

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup fat-free cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup broccoli florets (because I had them, I used peas)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups hot cooked linguine
  1. 1. In a medium nonstick saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Saute the garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk in the flour, then gradually whisk in the milk; cook, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cream cheese and Asiago; cook, stirring, until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, place the broccoli, bell pepper, and carrot in a steamer basket; set in a saucepan over I inch of boiling water. Cover and s team until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the pasta and steamed vegetables. Add the cheese sauce; toss to coat thoroughly. Serve at once.

Yesterday I tried an Epicurious recipe; Quick Coq au Vin.

  • 2 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 2 tablespoons dried Italian parsley divided (though the recipe suggests chopped fresh Italian parsley)
  • 8 ounces large crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, cut in thirds
  • 1/2 onion (instead of the 8 large shallots the recipe called for), peeled, halved through root end
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 3/4 cups dry red wine (I used a Pinot Noir, but the recipe suggests Syrah. Drier would be better, but the Pinot wasn’t bad)
  • 3/4 cups turkey broth divided (the recipe calls for low-salt chicken broth, but turkey broth is what we had available without a trip to the store.)
  • 2(ish) teaspoons all purpose flour
  1. Sauté bacon in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer to bowl.
  2. Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon parsley. Add to drippings in skillet. Sauté until cooked through, about 6 minutes per side; transfer to bowl (reserve skillet). Place in microwave to keep warm.
  3. Add mushrooms and onions to skillet; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté until brown, about 4 minutes. Add garlic; toss 10 seconds. Add wine, 1/2 cups broth, bacon, and 1 tablespoon parsley. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Boil 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place flour in small cup.
  4. Add 1/4 cup broth, stirring until smooth. Add flour mixture to sauce. Cook until sauce thickens, 3 to 4 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Because our chicken breasts were pretty big, I nuked them in the microwave to finish the cooking and ensure they were completely cooked through.
  6. Arrange chicken on platter; stir juices from pie dish into sauce and spoon over chicken. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley.

Margaret gave it a thumbs up, and Emma liked it too, though she complained mightily about the onions.

by jelyon

26 Recipes for 2014 4/26

January 27, 2014 in Cooking by jelyon

Recipe four: Fettuccine with Chicken and Broccoli Rabe.

The 3 chicken breasts, sauteed in 4 tablespoons of olive oil with a teaspoon of salt, teaspoon of dried oregano and 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper was excellent. The spinach/basil pasta with broccoli and onions was fairly decent. The chicken might find its way into some other dinners.

  • 1 bunch broccoli rabe, cleaned and chopped
  • 6 ounces spinach fettuccine
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 (4-ounce) skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 head radicchio, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  1. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the broccoli rabe 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl. In the boiling water, cook the fettuccine according to package directions; drain.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil. Add the chicken, salt, oregano, and red pepper and saute until cooked through, 4-5 minutes on each side. Transfer to plates.
  3. In the skillet, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil; saute the onion and garlic until tender, 3-4 minutes. Stir in the broccoli rabe and radicchio; cook, stirring frequently, until tender, 4-5 minutes. Add the fettuccine, then sprinkle with the cheese and black pepper. Serve topped with the chicken and sprinkled with the basil.
by jelyon

26 Recipes for 2014

January 26, 2014 in Cooking by jelyon

So one of the goals I set for this 2014 was to try a bunch of new recipes. I thought one a week ought to be plenty ambitious. Perhaps a little too ambitious, I thought to myself, once I realized that would be 52 new recipes. So I opted for a minimum to one new recipe every two weeks. That should be plenty of new dishes, and give me a chance to try them again if they show promise, or were particularly enjoyed.

That’s it then. 26 new recipes for 2014. So far, I’ve tried three new recipes:

  1. This Roast Turkey and Wild Rice soup from the Washington Post to take care of leftover turkey from our New Year’s feast with Bill and Linda. I opted to use carrots rather than parsnips. Because we had them, and because, well, parsnips. Yeah, I know. Right? I also cooked the rice separately, because I didn’t trust just dumping it in the soup and letting it cook for an hour or so. I added a little white truffle oil to the soup at the beginning. Just a bit, where I could only just smell it. At the end, I added just a bit more, because it was a little too subtle. Next time I might add just a tad more. This was quite good, and worth making again. Say, next December?
  2. I tried this take on Bucaa di Beppo’s chicken piccatta. Not bad. I think I’ll look around for another chicken piccatta recipe. Say – I bet the Silver Spoon might have something…
  3. And right now, I’ve got this recipe for The Original Pancake House Apple Pancake that Margaret picked out. Question: If in step two I mix the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and remaining cinnamon, shouldn’t I be doing something with some of the cinnamon in step one, which tells me to add flour, milk, vanilla and eggs, and mix well? Observation: This is NOT a healthy recipe.

Well, the timer just went off. Time to go pull the pancake!

by jelyon

Post for Emma, 1: My Top 40 Favorite Music Artists

August 8, 2013 in Family by jelyon

I thought I might could do a series of blog posts on some of my favorite stuff; the kind of thing I wish I knew about my dad. It’ll be here, hanging out, when Emma wants to read it.

My first in this series is a list of favorite music artists, based this on seven years worth of scrobbles at last.fm. It’s pretty accurate, and generally reflective of lifelong preferences.

Beatles

  • It’s true. My all time favorite would have to be the Beatles, for all the usual reasons. My favorite albums are probably “Revolver” and “Rubber Soul.” But “Love” is a really great set of remixes. I first heard the Beatles from a neighbor’s albums. The first two albums I bought with my own money were “Abbey Road” and “The Beatles Live at the Hollywood Bowl.” I still have those records.

Solas

  • They play Irish music. I really like their sound, so they are a go-to group when I want something pleasant and somewhat up tempo. I don’t know that I have a favorite album.

Pat Metheny

  • You know Pat Metheny! For the longest time, I really only had “Still Life (Talking),” and “First Circle.” But after I went on a Pat Metheny buying binge, I found “Letter from Home,” and “Secret Stories” becoming favorites as well. Oh, and I cant forget “As Falls Wichita, so falls Wichita Falls.”

Neko Case

  • I love Neko Case’ voice. I think I described her once as the dark avenging angel of alt-country. “Blacklisted” is a favorite album. We were at her Austin City Limits taping, and I saw her once more at Stubbs. Great records. No so great live.

John Prine

  • Ah, Mr. Prine. Old Parrot Heads don’t die. They just become John Prine fans. He’s a great songwriter, with a sly sense of humor. His backing band of David Jacques and Jason Wilbur are fantastic. “John Prine,” “Bruised Orange” and “Sweet Revenge” have gotten a lot of play. But there are gems on all of his records. I’ve seen him in concert seven times.

Jimmy Buffett

  • Oh, Mr. Buffett. Everything was better before “Riddles in the Sand.” I listened to Jimmy a lot when I was in the Navy, and for a few years after I got out. Even saw him in concert six times or so.  I dunno. Maybe “Changies in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.” But you won’t go wrong with the live album “You Had To Be There.”

Bruce Springsteen

  • Bruce Springsteen is a quintessentially American rocker; I don’t know that any other society would have produced someone with quite his focus on automobiles and freedom. I very much appreciate his focus on social justice, too.

Carrie Newcomer 

  • Carrie Newcomer will always be the sound of the Midwest, and Bloomington, where your mom and I met. I once read her voice described as “the sound of Godiva chocolate.” Mmmmm. Chocolate. But I also appreciate her focus on the everyday moments on which our lives our built. I’ve seen her in concert eight times or so.

Lyle Lovett

  • Lyle offers me hope that even though I’m not from Texas, Texas wants me anyway. I really like his voice, his sometimes quirky lyrics, and western swing sound. He also pays homage to other great Texas songwriters; indeed, “Step Inside This House” may be my favorite Lyle Lovett album. It’s all covers. I’ve seen Lyle five times or so.

Pink Floyd

  • Perhaps the original psychedelic rock band? I dunno, but I really enjoy their music. “Dark Side of the Moon” is their biggest album, but I really love “Animals.”

AC/DC

  • Hard rock. They were big when I was in high school. They’re my go-to band when I need something loud. “Back in Black.” Got to see them in concert once. They were entertaining. AND LOUD.

Richard Shindell

  • One of my all-time favorite singer/songwriters. I first saw him open for Carrie Newcomer in Bloomington. I bought “Blue Divide” at that show, and it’s still one of my favorite CDs. “Fishing” and “Arrowhead” are amazing tracks.

Van Halen

  • Hard rock. Van Halen was only Van Halen when David Lee Roth was the lead singer. Though Sammy Hagar wasn’t bad. They were huge when I was in high school, but it took me a while to get more of their albums. They’re just a lot of fun.

Steve Earle

  • Steve Earle is an interesting blend of rock and country, with a side of social justice. I got his first CD in 1985 or 86 when it came out, and immediately like it. I think he’s done nothing but get better as he’s gotten older. “The Revolution Starts Now” is a favorite.

U2

  • Irish superband. Their first albums came out while I was in high school, but I didn’t really discover them until I was in the Navy. I still really like “Boy.”

Led Zeppelin

  • Hard Rock. “Led Zeppelin 4″ was one of my first albums, and I played it a lot during my HS years. 

Rolling Stones

  •  Another huge band from England. The Beatles and the Stones were somewhat rivals, but I like them both. Without a doubt my favorite album is “Exile on Main Street.”

Police

  • New Wave with a side of reggae. Big when I was in high school. I discovered them somewhat later in life. “Synchronicity” is probably my favorite album.

Emmylou Harris

  • Country. She sings like an angel. We got to see her in concert once. Did I mention she sings like an angel? I don’t have a lot of her records, but “Wrecking Ball” might be the favorite. It features a wonderful version of Gillian Welch’s “Orphan Girl.”

Alan Parsons Project

  • Another progressive rock band. They’ve got a great sound. I particularly enjoy “The Turn of a Friendly Card.”

John Mellencamp

  • Heartland Rock, from Seymor Indiana. Used to pass his house outside Bloomington going to a friend’s house. He’s done nothing but get better. His big hit when I was in high school was “Jack and Diane,” but my favorite song is probably “Jackie Brown.”

Rush

  • Another high school band. Interesting mix of hard and progressive rock. “Signals” was big, and is probably my favorite album of theirs.

Miles Davis

  • May be the most important jazz musician ever. Certainly one of the top five. He started played be-bop, cool (“Birthof the Cool”), modal (“Kind of Blue”), third steam (“Sketches of Spain”), rock-jazz fusion (“Bitches Brew”) and hip-hop-jazz fusion (“Doo-Bop”). I love, as anyone should, “Kind of Blue,” as well as “Sketches of Spain.”

Diana Krall

  • Great jazz chanteuse. I started getting her albums because she’s well regarded, and her albums are really well recorded. I wanted to hear her on the new hi-fi. I was not disappointed.

Charlie Hunter

  • Jazz guitarist. He’s pretty amazing, and might be my second or first favorite living Jazz musician, depending on the day.

William Ackerman

  • New age guitarist. For the longest time, I really enjoyed listening to “Conferring with the Moon.” Though I like his first album, “In Search of the Turtle’s Navel” too.

Clash

  • Punk rock. They were big just before I started high school, but didn’t discover them until the turn of the new millenium. I wish I’d have discovered them back then, but I was listening to mostly country, and learning more about rock music. I’d cheat and recommend “The Essential Clash.”

Van Morrison

  • Irish Blue Eyed Soul singer. Most famous for “Brown Eyed Girl.” I probably really started listening to him because his album “Astral Weeks” was on the Rolling Stone magazine’s list of top 500 Albums of the Rock Era. It is still one of my favorites. “If I ventured in the slipstream, between the viaducts of your dream…” Love that record.

Battlefield Band

  • A Scottish band. They play the music of our people. I just really like it. Yes, sweet pea. Even the bagpipes. Maybe especially the bagpipes.

George Winston

  • New Age pianist. Nice peaceful music. I might choose “Autumn,” but his album “December” is probably the one I’ve listened to most. (You know…Christmas.)

Mannheim Steamroller

  • New Age. They’re probably here based on the number of times I’ve listened to their three Christmas albums. They have other albums too. I play them from time to time.

Uncle Tupelo

  • Americana. I just really love their sound. “No Depression” might be my favorite, but I like “Anodyne” and “March 16-20, 1992″ as well.

Equation

  • Folk rock group from the UK. I don’t know how I ended up with the first album, but I bought the next one too. Another band whose sound I really love, and I don’t know why. “Hazy Daze.”

Genesis

  • Big when I was in high school. Phil Collins was the lead singer then, replacing Peter Gabriel. I like both iterations of the band. “Nursury Cryme” for the Gabriel years. And, oh, I dunno, “Abacab” for the Collins years? “Genesis” maybe? “Three Sides Live”?

Ray Charles

  • The Genius. Ray Charles was amazing. I bought “Genius and Soul” at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. But I do love “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.” I hope you will too.

Alejandro Escovedo

  • I heard one of his songs on the radio, and ended up buying his album “Real Animal” off iTunes at three in the morning. It is a great record. “Always a Friend” is a fantastic track. Austin claims him.

Stevie Ray Vaughan

  • Another musician Austin claims. I discovered him after he’d died in a plane crash. I wish I’d seen him play live. An amazing, amazing blues/rock guitarist. I don’t know that I could choose a favorite album of his, but “Live Alive” is the one I’ve owned the longest. It’s pretty good.

Spyro Gyra

  • Jazz/Pop Fusion. I listened to them a lot before I learned about, uh, real jazz. I still like to listen from time to time. “Morning Dance” might be my favorite.

Jimmy Cliff

  • Reggae musician. His album “Rebirth” came out in 2012, and I listened to it a lot that summer. I mean a lot. Like a lot. I love it.

Bob Dylan

  •  Folk Rock legend. He has many amazing albums, and probably as many so so albums. “Love & Theft” is one of my favorites. I listened to it a lot when it came out. Also, “Highway 61 Revisited.” And “Blood on the Tracks.”

And five runner ups:

Duke Ellington

  • a Jazz genius. “Ellington at Newport,” particularly “Dimuendo in Blue” and “Crescendo in Blue.”

Sting

  • One of your mom’s favorites. I like Sting, she may like him better. But if I had to pick a favorite album, I’d pick “Ten Summoner’s Tales.”

Dire Straits

  • A great band. I probably like them more than their placement here indicates. They’re another go to band when I just want to have some music on the hi-fi. I really like their first album, “Dire Straits.”

Michael Hedges

  • A new age guitarist. He had a very original sound. “Breakfast in the Field” is the record I’ve had the longest. Oops, CD.

Eagles

  • Country/Rock. They were big when I was in high school. I have “Greatest Hits 1971 – 1975″ on vinyl, and it may be one of my most listened to albums.
by jelyon

McKayla is unimpressed with your ACL Lineup

May 22, 2013 in Music by jelyon

McKayla is Not Impressed With Your Lineup

by jelyon

Music Listening Habits (Jan – Apr 2013) as a Word Cloud

May 10, 2013 in Music by jelyon

Word cloud of my 2013 listens, through April.

Word cloud of my 2013 listens, through April.

by jelyon

Richard Shindell Lyrics Word Cloud

May 5, 2013 in Music by jelyon

title=”Wordle: Words from Songs Recorded by Richard Shindell”> alt=”Wordle: Words from Songs Recorded by Richard Shindell”
style=”padding:4px;border:1px solid #ddd”/>

by jelyon

My Music Collection as a Word Cloud

May 5, 2013 in Music by jelyon

John's Music - White - Vertical