Biscuits for Thanksgiving

In years past, we were part of a large communal Thanksgiving celebration that rotated between the houses of several families each year. For these events, I always enjoyed baking one or even two fruit pies. However, time has progressed. Children have grown up and moved away. Careers have changed. We moved from a large house to a cozy apartment. This year’s Thanksgiving was just three people.

For three people, I decided to do something a little simpler: biscuits.

That is, I have been tinkering with baking powder biscuits for more than ten years. However, I had not made any biscuits since 2009. Time to dig the recipe spreadsheet out of the archive and try again. Here is this year’s version:


  • All purpose flour – 3 cups (300g)
  • Quick cooking oats – 3/4 cup (75g)
  • Baking powder – 3 tablespoons (40g)
  • Baking soda – 1/2 teaspoon (3g)
  • Sugar – 3/4 teaspoon (4g)
  • Salt – 3/4 teaspoon (4g)
  • Unsalted butter – 3/8 cup (75g)
  • Crisco vegetable shortening – 3/8 cup (75g)
  • Low fat buttermilk – 1 cup (225ml)
  • Additional cold water – as needed, about 1/4 to 3/4 cup (50-150ml)


  • Cookie sheet – a professional aluminum “half sheet” available from your nearest restaurant supply store works much better than a consumer-grade tin sheet.
  • Mixing bowl – that you can put in the freezer
  • Medium plastic bowl or similar for weighing on the scale
  • Cutting board – that you can put in the freezer
  • Flour sifter
  • Postal scale – I have a nice Japanese one that reads out in grams, much more accurate than U.S. scales that read only in ounces
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Large wooden or plastic spoon for mixing
  • Biscuit cutter 2.5 inch (6cm)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Timer
  • Oven mits
  • Rack for cooling
  • Spatula to move biscuits from hot cookie sheet to rack

Key Points

  1. Use a postal scale to weigh the flour, oats, butter, shortening. The ratio is tricky and using a volume measure for flour is very unreliable. The volume of the flour can vary widely depending on the humidity, whether it has been sifted, and so on.
  2. It is hard to get the amount of liquid just right. How much liquid the dough needs will also vary from day-to-day depending on humidity, temperature, the phase of the moon, and so on.
  3. The goal is similar to that of a pie-crust. We want to make little balls of shortening that are covered in flour and do NOT dissolve into a wet mush. When we put the biscuits in the oven, these should fluff into “flakes” or at least that is the idea.
  4. One method of keeping the little shortening balls intact is to get them very cold just before the final prep of the dough. It also helps to have the working surface really cold. Finally, you want to handle the dough very quickly and briefly. Otherwise, your hands will warm it up, melting these little balls.
  5. For those not used to weighing things on a postal scale, put the plastic bowl on the scale before you turn it on. That way, the scale will calibrate itself to “0” including the weight of the plastic bowl. This technique makes it very easy to measure ingredients and then use the plastic bowl to dump them into the mixing bowl.


Starting two hours before meal time:

1 – Weigh flour into sifter.

2 – Measure baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar into sifter.

3 – Sift together.

4 – Mix the oats into the bowl and stir together.

5 – Put some of the mix back into the plastic bowl, put it back onto the scale, turn the scale off and on again to calibrate.

Picture shows bowl on postal scale with some flour mix and vegetable shortening

Weigh Crisco into Some of the Flour

6 – Scoop the vegetable shortening into this mix using a spoon until you have measured 75 grams.

7 – Dump the mix and vegetable shortening into the bowl.

8 – Calibrate the scale again.

9 – Trim one stick of unsalted butter until it weighs 75 grams.

Shows intact and unwrapped stick of butter sitting in flour mix in bowl

Put Butter and Crisco into Flour Mix and Allow to Soften

10 – Unwrap and drop the stick of butter into the bowl with the vegetable shortening and dry ingredients.

11 – Allow the mix to sit on the counter for about 30 minutes until the butter is fully softened.

Continuing 90 minutes before meal time:

Shows crumbly flour mixture

After Cutting in Shortening, Mix Will Look Like This

12 – Use a knife to cut shortening up into smaller chunks. Then use fork to press these against the sides of the bowl, turning and repeating until the mixture has the texture of cornmeal.

13 – Cover with plastic wrap.

shows bowl and cutting board in freezer

Bowl and Cutting Board Into Freezer

14 – Place cutting board and bowl into freezer.

15 – Turn on oven to “bake” and 450°F (230°C) and allow to preheat.

16 – Allow cutting board and mix to chill for 45 to 60 minutes.

17 – Remove bowl from freezer.

18 – Add buttermilk, 1/3 of a cup at a time. Stir lightly to spread moisture. Do not over-mix.

Shows that dough is still too dry to come together

Not Moist Enough After Adding One Cup of Buttermilk

shows dough now sticky enough to form a ball

Moist Enough After Adding a Total of 1/2 Cup of Additional Water

19 – Assess dough. Is there enough moisture that this dough will stick together? You don’t want a cake batter. You want a level of stickiness that just barely picks up the flour mix.

20 – If necessary, carefully add more cold water, 1/4 cup at a time until the dough is just sticky enough.

shows a ball in the bowl

Form a Ball in the Bowl

21 – Form a ball of dough in the bowl. Don’t over-work it. Just squeeze and pat it together until a ball forms.

Shows crumbly dough patted into a rough square on cutting board

Pat Dough Flat

22 – Remove cutting board from freezer. Sprinkle lightly with flour. Pat dough ball into a square about an inch (2.5cm) thick.

23 – Lightly oil the cooking sheet.

24 – Cut biscuits with the biscuit cutter, twisting slightly to separate each one.

shows 13 biscuits touching each other on cookie sheet

Place Biscuits Touching on Cookie Sheet

25 – Place biscuits touching each other on the cookie sheet. Placing them this way will encourage them to expand upward rather than outward.

26 – Press the scraps of dough together, pat back to a smaller square and continue cutting. Don’t worry if there are small gaps in the dough. These actually make the biscuits more interesting.

27 – Take the last tiny scraps of dough and push them into the biscuit cutter to form one last biscuit.

28 – Using your thumb, press a small dimple into the center of each biscuit. This dimple will prevent the biscuit from crowning (forming a domed top).

Finished Biscuits After 15 Minutes in Oven

Finished Biscuits After 15 Minutes in Oven

29 – Place cookie sheet in oven.

30 – Set timer for 15 minutes.

31 – Bake until golden brown on the top. Remove from oven.

32 – Use spatula to transfer biscuits to rack for cooling.

Finished Biscuit with Butter and Jam

Finished Biscuit with Butter and Jam


The biscuits look and smell great. However, for my taste they are a little dry. I would like them to be a little softer and more like the unspeakably artificial biscuits that you get in a little cardboard tube at the grocery store. I realize that those instant biscuits contain all kinds of frightening chemical ingredients…but I like them. As a next step, I may cut the cooking time slightly. I may also experiment with adding an egg to the dough.


  • Alton Brown “Good Eats” seen on 27 May 2004
  • GQ Magazine August 2004 issue page 66 on 10/9/2005

Asatte Press Book on Sale at Kinokuniya

Asatte Press Book on Sale at Kinokunia Books in San Francisco

Asatte Press Book on Sale at Kinokunia Books in San Francisco

Recently we have had a major win for Asatte Press. This photo shows our new book on sale at Kinokuniya Books in San Francisco. We are thrilled! For the Japanese speaking world, Kinokuniya Books is the equivalent of Barnes and Noble. Even better, they found two other books with very similar topics and similar covers to put ours next to. From a book marketing point of view, it doesn’t get any better than this!

BURUSHITTO! Bullshit! - Front Cover

BURUSHITTO! Bullshit! – Front Cover

The title of the book is “ブルシット! Bullshit!” and is the first book by Tomoko Hetherington. The book covers the rich variety of less-than-polite expressions related to the word “shit” that Tomoko learned from her three bilingual children. The bull on the front of the book is saying something to the effect of: “Totally wrong. This here is HORSEshit.”

BURUSHITTO! Bullshit! - Rear Cover

BURUSHITTO! Bullshit! – Rear Cover

On the rear of the book, we can see the same bull (from the other end) saying: “Nope. No bovine manure here.”

In order to avoid confusing readers of our technical and engineering books, we created a separate imprint “Texas Hirame” (which happens to be Tomoko’s blogging pen name) and are marketing the book under that alias. This kind of thing is done all of the time. Most major publishing companies have dozens of different imprints targeted at specific markets.

Better Get Your Boots On, The Shit is Getting Deep

Better Get Your Boots On, The Shit is Getting Deep

The cover artwork was done by Tomoko herself as were the numerous illustrations in the book. Here we see a helpful illustration for the expression: “Better get your boots on. The shit is getting deep.”

This is Horseshit

This is Horseshit

Shit from several different major animals (bull, horse, chicken, bat, ape) is introduced and the nuances of each type of shit are discussed in some detail.

Up Shit Creek Without a Paddle

Up Shit Creek Without a Paddle

Other expressions that describe various types of difficult situations are clarified as well.

The book is offered in print from It is also available in Kindle and iBooks versions on and iTunes respectively.

The iBooks version also includes a number of convenient embedded audio segments. For example:

Provides Japanese speakers with a convenient audio example that they can practice with and emulate until they can smoothly make sarcastic remarks about dim colleagues discovering the obvious.

Links to all of the major stores are available here:

Chevy Volt Key Fob Battery Replacement

So, recently my 2014 Chevy Volt has begun honking at me at random times. Since this is a relatively new phenomenon, my guess is that the key fob battery is getting low. That is, as the radio gets weaker, the car may be having difficulty deciding whether I am inside or outside of the car. In any case, I use my key fob actively (remotely locking and unlocking) almost every day and it is reasonable to expect that the battery would need replacing after a year and a half.

The owner’s manual does provide instructions on how to replace this battery, but they are brief. The owner’s manual does not provide any diagrams and it is not visually obvious looking at the key fob where the battery compartment is. So… I have posted a few photos here in case anyone else is looking for guidance.

picture of a pack of two batteries

Replacement battery is CR 2032

The battery is a CR 2032, available in a pack of two at Walgreens for $7-8. Going forward, I will put this on my annual calendar and replace batteries in both key fobs once per year.

picture shows key fob with blade extended

First, extend the key blade

First, extend the key blade.

picture shows key fob with cover removed.

Flip key fob over and pop off lower half of case

Flip the key fob over so the buttons are facing down. You can pop the lower half of the rear of the case off by pressing up on one side. Once the case is open, remove the old battery and replace it. The manual cautions that you should be careful not to touch the internal circuits with your finger as static electricity from your body could damage the electronics.

Note that some brands of batteries have a paper sticker on one side. If your new battery comes with such a sticker, be sure to remove the sticker before inserting the battery into the key fob.

Once the battery has been replaced, carefully put the cover back on and squeeze it gently with your fingers to snap it back into the closed position.

Valentine’s Day

vase of pink roses with some blue garnish

Pink Roses

Our son Tye has been working part time as a waiter at a restaurant here in Austin for the last few years while he finishes his computer science degree. That restaurant asked Tye to work on Saturday which was Valentine’s Day. We thought “Great! We’ll come in for dinner!” but he warned us off, explaining that the restaurant would be packed, food preparation would be necessarily slow, and that everyone would be pretty stressed.

Given Tye’s input, we decided to do a nice meal at home instead. The start for the day was some nice pink roses from a local grocery store – much cheaper than a formal bouquet from a florist and very pleasant in a laid-back sort of way.

Dinner – Bacon-Wrapped Fillet Steaks

picture shows a dining table, two plates, two glasses of champagne, a lit candle.

Dinner, Bacon-Wrapped Fillet

Tomoko was in charge of dinner, which was as shown:

  1. Petite bacon-wrapped fillet steaks on a bed of fresh greens
  2. Grilled portabello mushrooms in a sort of pureed pepper bisque
  3. A bottle of New Zealand champagne that we had received as a gift

As usual, we had a small candle on the table for atmosphere.

Start with a Toast

Picture shows Tomoko holding two glasses of Champagne

Toasting with New Zealand Champagne

Of course, drinking Champagne calls for a toast.
Strictly speaking, this beverage should be called “New Zealand Champagne-style Sparkling Wine” or something awkward like that. The Europeans are very touchy about their geographical trademarks.
That having been said, I liked this one better than the real French champagne which I generally find too sour for my taste. Likewise, I don’t like the Italian products either because they tend to be too sweet. The German products produced in the Rhine region around and in Mainz are wonderful – sparkling wine made with Riesling grapes. Unfortunately, the production quantities are quite small and they more or less impossible to get in the United States. This New Zealand product was similar to the German ones: not sour; fruity, but not overpoweringly sweet.

After-Dinner Snacks

Picture shows a cutting board with cheese, salumi, crackers, and Spanish Almonts

Cheese and Salumi

I was in charge of the less healthy after-dinner snacks. You really can’t re-cork a bottle of champagne… we would be needing something to help us finish the bottle. The salumi was from the local grocery store, nice, but not expensive. The cheese was my favorite Dutch Leyden caraway cheese. I also found some very nice Spanish almonds at Costco. Spanish almonds are very tasty, but they are also usually outrageously expensive. These were very nice and moderately priced.

Strawberries and Japanese Television

Bowl of strawberries


We finished the evening eating strawberries (Tomoko’s department again) and watching two episodes of a Japanese television mini-series called “Ghostwriter” on Viki TV – an interesting operation that gets television shows from around the world and crowd-sources the creation of subtitles for them. Recently they have been monetizing the site slightly by showing a few commercials before each episode. However, once it starts they don’t interrupt the actual program. This mini-series has one of my favorite Japanese actresses: Nakatani Miki playing an aging star author (think J.K. Rowling) who is suffering from writer’s block and gets into a complicated relationship with an ambitious young female novelist. It was a lot of fun – a nice way to finish the New Zealand champagne and end the evening.

Superbowl XLIX – Top 5 Commercials

Great game! Amazing finish. Here are my picks for the best (and worst) commercials.

The Top 5 Commercials of Superbowl XLIX

#1 – Acacados from Mexico

This was my favorite! Really fun, original idea, not sponsored by a multi-$10b manufacturing behemoth.

#2 – Fiat Blue Pill

Fiat commercials are always a lot of fun!

#3 – Clash of the Clans Liam Neeson

Liam Neeson satirizing himself!

#4 – Doritos Middle Seat

Not that I (ah-hem) have ever tried to psych out who might sit in the seat next to me…

#5 – Budweiser Lost Dog

Really pretty. This seems to have been Tomoko Hetherington’s pick for number 1.

Buzzkill Commercials

What was new this year was a series of commercials put out by various organizations that just couldn’t tolerate the idea that America might **GASP*** be ENJOYING ITSELF during the Superbowl. These self-appointed guardians of public morality felt the need to bludgeon everyone with extremely heavy-handed buzzkill messages designed to stifle all of that inordinate merriment and shame everyone into reaching for their checkbooks to donate to something or another. Here are three annoyingly heavy-handed commercials that aired during the Superbowl:

#X – Nationwide Dead Children Commercial

What arrogance. Preventable accidents are an important topic, but there is a time and a place for everything and the middle of the national enjoyment festival is neither the time nor the place to browbeat the public with this sort of guilt message.

#Y – Like a Girl Commercial

Attention all men. Line up to be flogged…

NO MORE’s Domestic Violence Advertisement

Any men who did not get flogged for the previous commercial, line up for a flogging for this one. In the early 1990s I had several years of experience as a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician and got to see the domestic violence issue live and in person. It is not nearly as neat and clear-cut as this sort of advocacy group would have you believe. In fact, the most severe domestic violence injuries (and deaths) in the little community I was serving during the time I was there turned out to be those inflicted on men by their furious girlfriends. One guy in particular enjoyed dancing with the wrong woman at a bar and ended up needing to be flown back to Austin for 180+ stitches courtesy of his jealous girlfriend. In any event, domestic violence is a serious issue, but the Superbowl is neither the right time, nor the right place to browbeat America’s men with such a heavy-handed commercial.

New Year’s Eve at the Swissôtel Merchant Court

Youjin Smiling

Youjin Welcomes us to the Bar around 11PM

A year of commuting to Singapore to help a shipyard with the software systems integration of the systems on an offshore oil rig wrapped up with a 28-day visit starting in early December. Since we knew far in advance that this visit would cover Christmas and New Years, we focused our family festivities on Thanksgiving. Tomoko accompanied me to Singapore and our three grown children were on their own.

Dave, Countdown

Dave, Countdown

So…what to do for New Year’s eve?  It rapidly became clear that *THE EVENT* for New Year’s Eve in Singapore is fireworks at Marina Bay.  However, everyone wetalked with described massive crowding and congestion. Also, December is really not the best season to visit Singapore – it is monsoon season, constantly soggy. Finally, I had to work the day of New Year’s eve.  We decided to simply hang around the vicinity of our hotel: the Swissôtel Merchant Court which is conveniently right on the river at Clarke Quay. That proved to be an excellent decision.

Tomoko, Countdown

Tomoko, Countdown

After packing up – we would be departing early on January 1st – we had drinks in the hotel’s club lounge on the 11th floor. Luckily, we caught a break on the weather. It was dry and pleasant. We had a very nice light dinner outside by the river at SQUE behind Central. After that, we returned to the bar at the Merchant Court.

Emily Takes a Picture

Emily Takes a Picture

We arrived at the bar just before 11PM and were pleased to see “Team Korea” on duty. That is, during 2014 I visited the Merchant Court bar quite a few times to have a cup of tea or a glass of wine before bedtime. Of course, the entire staff of the hotel was very nice to me during the year, but four of the bar staff in particular – two from Korea and two from the Philippines – spent a lot of time chatting with me. It was very pleasant and made the place feel quite a bit like home. In any event, Emily and Youjin from Korea were on-duty at the bar for New Year’s Eve.

Tomoko Was Drinking Tea

Tomoko Was Drinking Tea

Tomoko was actually drinking the hotel’s very nice TWG Tea “Moroccan Mint Tea” which I also had on any number of evenings during the year. It was served in a very nice little pot with a cookie on the side – very pleasant.

Team Korea - Emily and Youjin

Team Korea – Emily and Youjin

As midnight approached, there was a lot of activity. The bar manager put a bucket of champagne bottles in ice on the bar. These were purchased quickly by the large number of customers. I was fine drinking a glass of white wine and Tomoko was sticking with the Moroccan Mint Tea.

Emily and Dave Just After Midnight

Emily and Dave Just After Midnight

There was a large-screen TV in the bar and it counted down the seconds at Marina Bay where a large stage show was in progress. The show alternated performers from each of Singapore’s different ethnic communities. It was very nice!

Tomoko and Dave Just After Midnight

Tomoko and Dave Just After Midnight

After Midnight, everyone cheered and took pictures…

Balloons Everywhere

Balloons Everywhere

The bar staff also unleashed a huge cluster of balloons which more-or-less filled the bar. Customers were running around kicking the balloons and throwing them at each other. Meanwhile, the national stage show was playing music on the large screen TV. It was quite fun and relaxing!

Team Philippines - Mae and Elle

Team Philippines – Mae and Elle

After around 30 minutes, we settled our bill and wandered out side. The first stop was the outdoor bar hut by the river which is also run by the hotel. Team Philippines – Mae and Elle – were on duty. They were really busy, but they stopped for a second so I could take their picture.

Clarke Quay - No Selfie-Stick Zone

Clarke Quay – No Selfie-Stick Zone

Wandering across the bridge into Clarke Quay proper, we encountered this sign. Those selfie-sticks certainly are a menace. The Singapore government had thoughtfully declared Clarke Quay to be a “No Selfie-Stick Zone” for the evening and put up this warning sign.

Singaporeans Celebrate New Years on their Smartphones

Singaporeans Celebrate New Years on their Smartphones while Waiting for a Table

Just around 1AM, things were hoping at Clarke Quay. There was a throbbing crowd. Bands were playing in all the clubs. It was really lively. This group of young Singaporean friends was out on Clarke Quay, waiting for a seat at a restaurant, taking in the ambiance, and furiously tapping on their smartphones.

Asatte Press 4th Annual Shareholders and Directors Meetings

Asatte Press held its fourth annual shareholders and directors meetings Friday 1 August 2014 at BB Rovers in Austin, Texas. That is, given that our first meetings were the formation meetings, we have been in business for three years now.

Fourth Annual Shareholders Meeting

The fourth annual meeting of shareholders of the corporation was held at B. B. Rovers, 12101 Jollyville Road, Austin in the state of Texas, on 1 August 2014, at 8:30PM for the purpose of electing directors of the corporation.

David Hetherington acted as chairperson, and Tomoko Hetherington acted as secretary of the meeting.

Dave and Tomoko drinking beer

Meeting of the Shareholders is Called to Order

The secretary announced that the meeting was called by the chairperson

The secretary announced that the meeting was held pursuant to notice, if and as required under the bylaws of this corporation, or that notice had been waived by all shareholders entitled to receive notice under the bylaws. Copies of any certificates of mailing of notice prepared by the secretary of the corporation and any written waivers signed by shareholders entitled to receive notice of this meeting were attached to these minutes by the secretary.

The chairperson then presented the (written) annual report to the shareholders of Asatte Press, Inc.

Accomplishments for FY 2014

Services Engagement

We were able to secure our first model-based systems engineering (MBSE) contract with Athens Group to perform services on their behalf at a shipyard in Singapore. This engagement is planned to continue through March of 2016.

  1. The structure of the engagement is a 28-sday on/off cycle.
  2. Asatte Press president David Hetherington departs early on a Friday morning for Singapore.
  3. He arrives in Singapore the following Sunday in the early hours of the morning.
  4. Consulting begins the following morning and continues for four weeks or 20 days.
  5. The Saturday after the last day of consulting, he returns home arriving on the same day in the late afternoon.
  6. Athens Group pays all travel expenses and bills the shipyard.
  7. Departure for the next 28-day cycle is on Friday of the 4th week after return or 27 days later.
screen shot of Asatte Press web site

New Website Design

Website Redesign

The Asatte Press website was redesigned completely to deliver a message focused on systems engineering.

The Asatte Press Store was closed as previously planned.




Modeling Conferences

In April 2014, David Hetherington attended “Code Generation 2014” at Cambridge University in England and gave a presentation on using SysML Requirements Traceability to design a training game.

Page from presentation

Presentation from Code Generation 2014

Several more paper submissions were not accepted. However, a paper submission has been accepted for the key IADC Advanced Rig Technology Conference in September 2014. Even better, the IADC has invited an article to accompany the presentation for publication in their Drilling Contractor Magazine.

Management Discussion


Fiscal Year 2014 (hereafter FY 2014) was a year of transition for Asatte Press. As planned, we pivoted from Social Media to Systems Engineering. The contract with Athens has been very important to build both our credibility and depth of practical experience. We are now profitable and positioned well to grow organically. We are not pursuing investors at this point.

Description of Business

Asatte Press is transitioning to be a mixed product and services company. Our planned product and services mix is as follows:


We will continue to offer our existing lifestyle books as eBooks and on a print-on-demand basis. We will not put significant further effort into promoting them. Our new products will be in the following areas:

  1. Technical Books – During FY 2015 we plan to produce one or more narrowly focused technical books, most likely on using SysML tools to handle requirements traceability and other elementary systems engineering tasks. The primary target for these books will be eBook format. However, we also should be able to offer paper editions priced to be profitable on a unit-by-unit, print-on-demand basis.
  2. 3D Visualization Software – With the addition of Tye Hetherington to the team, we are now positioning to pursue software development for the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. During FY 2015, we expect to explore the potential of this market.


Our current services offering revolves around using SysML and other Model-Based Systems Engineering techniques to assist customers in designing ocean drilling equipment.

Financial Outlook

Asatte Press is now paying salaries to the founders and is operating at a profit. We do not expect to need further funding from the founders or from other investors during FY 2015.


Fourth Annual Directors Meeting

Wings and Rings

Meeting of the Directors is Called to Order

The fourth annual meeting of the board of directors of the corporation was held at B. B. Rovers, 12101 Jollyville Road, Austin in the state of Texas, on 1 August 2014, at 7:00PM for the purpose of reviewing the prior year’s business, discussing corporate operations for the upcoming year, and for the transaction of any other business that may properly come before the meeting.

David Hetherington acted as chairperson, and Tomoko Hetherington acted as secretary of the meeting

The Meeting of the Board of Directors is Called to Order

The chairperson called the meeting to order.

The secretary announced that the meeting was called by the chairperson

The secretary announced that the meeting was held pursuant to notice, if and as required under the bylaws of this corporation, or that notice had been waived by all directors entitled to receive notice under the bylaws. Copies of any certificates of mailing of notice prepared by the secretary of the corporation and any written waivers signed by directors entitled to receive notice of this meeting were attached to these minutes by the secretary.

The secretary announced that the following directors were present at the meeting:

Name of Director
David Hetherington
Tomoko Hetherington

The above directors, having been elected to serve on the board for a one-year term by the shareholders at the fourth annual meeting of shareholders held on 1 August 2014, accepted their positions on the board. The secretary then announced that the presence of these directors at the meeting represented a quorum of the board of directors as defined in the bylaws of this corporation.

The chairperson presented the near-term cash-flow plan for the corporation. The directors approved the cash-flow and spending plan.

The chairperson announced that the next item of business was the appointment of the officers and of standing committee members of the corporation to an initial one-year term of office. After discussion, the following persons were appointed to serve in the following capacities as officers, committee members or in other roles in the service of the corporation for the upcoming year:

Name Title
David Hetherington President
David Hetherington Treasurer
Tomoko Hetherington Secretary

The next item of business was the determination of compensation or fringe benefits to be paid or awarded for services rendered the corporation by employees and staff. After discussion, it was determined that no compensation could be planned at this time.
There were no further resolutions at the meeting.

There being no further business to come before the meeting, it was adjourned on motion duly made and carried.

iPhone 3 Retires as an Alarm Clock

shows iPhone 3 on bedside table next to conventional alarm clock

iPhone 3 Retires as an Alarm Clock

Earlier this year, I upgraded from an iPhone 3 to an iPhone 5s. The previous iPhone 3 had served me well and had withstood an amazing amount of physical abuse. However, after four years of service, its battery was starting to fail and the rear of the case was cracked. So, I went to the Apple Store and purchased an unlocked iPhone 5 which I am now using with T-Mobile’s “Simple Choice” plan that allows global data roaming (an excellent concept that they are gradually working out the kinks in).

So what to do with the previous iPhone 3? When we looked online, amazingly it still seemed to have a market value of more than $100. However, given the cracked case and obvious imminent total battery failure, I simply would not have been comfortable selling it to someone else. Throw it away? I hate throwing away machines that are still usable. The answer? Alarm Clock. While the iPhone 3 would could no longer perform adequately as a mobile phone, it was still more than capable of performing as an excellent alarm clock, much more functional than any stand-alone alarm clock.

  1. First I got a longer cable. I wanted to be able to freely pickup and handle the phone without constantly having to fiddle with the cable. A two-meter cable was more than enough. By the way, for this purpose, a cheapo after-market cable was fine. All we needed was power.
  2. The phone still needed a SIM card. Even after transferring my service to the iPhone 5, I still needed a SIM card to make the iPhone 3 boot. I ordered a basic prepaid SIM card from Amazon for $1.50.
  3. That was basically it. Plug in the SIM card, plug in the power. Ready to go.
  4. The only additional thing I did was connect to our household wireless LAN so that the phone would be able to keep its clock up to date.
  5. I still keep the conventional clock so that I can see the display in the middle of the night without fumbling around to find the iPhone.

Reduce. Recycle. Reuse.

Eden East, Three Little Pigs, East End Wines

With things going well recently, we decided to celebrate a little in advance of my next longer overseas trip. Last year during Art Night East, we had visited Eden East at Springdale Farm and were intrigued. The restaurant is only open two days per week, serves a fixed menu in communal seating, and sources all of its food locally. The food and drink samples during the Art Night tour had been excellent – we definitely wanted to give the full dinner a try.
As I went to make reservations, I determined that this restaurant is really popular. The only available seating was for 9PM. I also noted that Eden East is a bring-your-own-bottle restaurant and that they recommended East End Wines as a good place to get said bottle.
That sounded good to me. We are very familiar with East End Wines, a wonderful wine store built into a Victorian home in East Austin.

The plan became:

  1. Buy Wine at East End Wines
  2. Appetizers at Three Little Pigs Trailer
  3. Dinner at Eden East

East End Wines

Wine Tasting at East End Wines

Wine Tasting at East End Wines

First stop: East End Wines. We were lucky that they were having a wine tasting that evening. East End Wines has frequent wine tastings and I am on their mailing list. Friday’s tasting was Italian wines. They were uniformly excellent. We selected a nice Nero d’Avola for our dinner wine and a white Argentine wine for appetizers.

Three Little Pigs

Tomoko at Three Little Pigs

Tomoko at Three Little Pigs

The Three Little Pigs trailer is located conveniently in the parking lot of East End Wines. These two businesses cooperate: there are picnic tables for seating and East End Wines will happily provide loaner glasses. This arrangement makes for a very easy light meal. Wine and glasses from East End Wines, food from Three Little Pigs.

Asian Fried Chicken at Three Little Pigs

Asian Fried Chicken at Three Little Pigs



We ordered two appetizers. The first was Asian Fried Chicken. This dish is their take on Japanese Karaage. It is authentic in a contemporary sense. That is, all over Asia, this dish has recently been interpreted as having a sort of powdery dry batter, enhanced perhaps with mayonnaise. Being an ancient dinosaur myself, I prefer the more traditional version which had thinner breading and a more moist surface. This difference is similar to the difference between Southern Fried Chicken (Church’s) and traditional recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken. I prefer the traditional Kentucky version.

Korean Style BBQ at Three Little Pigs

Korean Style BBQ at Three Little Pigs

The other dish was an interpretation of Korean barbecue with some nice Kimichi and rice. By the way, both dishes had excellent vegetables. We did not actually eat all of these two dishes. Rather we just nibbled a bit, picked up to-go boxes from the trailer, and took them home to our son who finished them off.

Dave at Three Little Pigs

Dave at Three Little Pigs









Eden East at Springdale Farm

Menu for Our Eden East Dinner

Menu for Our Eden East Dinner

We arrived at Eden East at 9PM as scheduled and were seated at a communal table. Seating is outside under some really large, beautiful trees. The temperature was perfect. The tables were lit with gas lamps. Eden East warns you that this is “slow food” – expect to stay for a few hours. If you need to get in and out in a hurry, you will be better served at MacDonalds.

The restaurant is directly attached to the Springdale farm which grows organic produce. Much of what is served is directly from Springdale farms. The rest (both meats and vegetables) is from other nearby Texas producers.

After a few minutes, our enthusiastic young server arrived and introduced herself as “Taylor” She promptly opened our bottle of wine and gave us an overview of the evening. Things would simply arrive at 15-20 minute interviews. If we felt like taking a stroll around the farm, she could slow the pace down for us.

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche

The first item served was not on the internet menu, although if you look carefully it was on the printed menu on the table. This was an “Amuse Bouche” a layer of slices of different kinds of local heirloom tomatoes, with basil and local Texas olive oil. It was really tasty!

Tomoko Approves

Tomoko Approves


The appetizer met with Tomoko’s approval.

The Kitchen

The Kitchen


The kitchen was actually in a trailer next to the seating area. This was an interesting variation on the open kitchens one often finds in fancier restaurants.

Sorrel and Red Carrot Salad

Sorrel and Red Carrot Salad


Next up, a salad of sorrel and red carrots – very tasty!

Perspective of Our Table Mates

Perspective of Our Table Mates


By this team we were getting acquainted with our table mates, a couple who owned a home not far from our former home and their friends two interior designers. One of the interior designers took this photo.

Grilled Beef Hearts

Grilled Beef Hearts


The grilled beef heats were excellent. I am used to thinking of beef heart as tough, but these thin slices were delicate like a slice of fine fillet. Note that heart is an internal organ, but it is a muscle. It does not have the intestinal taste of kidney, or well… intestines.

Rabbit Ravioli

Rabbit Ravioli


Rabbit Ravioli was also excellent. Neither Tomoko nor I are big fans of rabbit which is usually tough and very gamey. However, this ravioli was tasty and delicate. the pomadoro from local tomatoes was also very tasty.

Collage of Heirloom Tomatoes

Collage of Heirloom Tomatoes


At this point, I was ready for a stroll. Inside their farmhouse (which also happened to contain the restroom) they had this interesting collage of fresh heirloom tomatoes.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes


Heirloom tomatoes are varieties that survived the enormous pressure in the agriculture megabusiness to genetically engineer bland, tasteless, perfectly round things. Heirlooms are varieties that were passed from generation to generation within families. In recent years, operations like Springdale Farm have gone out and scoured the small, rural towms looking for these. They are NOT perfectly round, They DO have blemishes. And…they also have interesting, rich, subtle tastes and textures.

Overall Dining Area

Overall Dining Area


Here we see the dining area as I came back from my stroll.

Roasted Lamb Chops

Roasted Lamb Chops


The final meat course was local Texas lamb chops. Again, these were excellent.

Raw Chocolate Tea Cake and Zabajone

Raw Chocolate Tea Cake and Zabajone


I don’t actually know what “Zabajone” is. I take it to be the white cream sauce with the dessert. They were out of the local blackberries by the time we were served and provided blueberries instead.

All in all, it was a very pleasant evening.

Three Years In – How is it Going?!

Dinner at Harry's by the River in Singapore

Dinner at Harry’s by the River in Singapore

It’s been three years since I strapped on my parachute, gave notice at IBM, and “stepped off the cliff” – So how is it going?

Well, in the interim, there was a lot of stress. We blew through almost all of our retirement savings. We sold our house. We downsized. We made business mistakes. That is, we made MAJOR business mistakes. We had our life views and assumptions on all sorts of things turned on their head and re-scrambled.

That having been said, I am sitting here writing this blog post at the bar of the Park Regis hotel in Singapore. I am working 28-days-on/28-days-off in Singapore helping a major shipyard with the complex software systems integration involved in putting together a state-of-the-art, highly-automated, jackup oil rig destined for the North Sea. The work is cutting edge. I am using SysML to make a model of the system-of-systems in question. The shipyard staff is young and enthusiastic.

I have basically solved all the problems that were driving me nuts at IBM.

  1. I have my own company.
  2. I am doing cutting edge development of real products with a future.
  3. I am flying business class again.
  4. I am doing business in Asia. That is, I am doing useful business in Asia and having fun doing it.
  5. I am starting to build a personal brand. I will be speaking at Codegeneration 2014 at Cambridge University in April
  6. The road in front of me is blossoming with opportunity.
  7. I am controlling my own destiny.

The personal side is great too:

  1. We sold our house. That was traumatic. I felt absolutely miserable last year as my lovely wife Tomoko spent Mother’s Day scrubbing and cleaning the house so we could hand it over to the buyer. However, the move forced us to dump huge amounts of physical baggage and we are now reveling in the new lightweight, apartment lifestyle.
  2. On the bright side, sharing the business with Tomoko has been wonderful – a real shared adventure. It keeps us both sharp.
  3. The evening before I departed on the current trip, I took delivery on a brand-new Chevy Volt. We rent a little single-car garage in our apartment complex and it has an electrical outlet. It will charge slowly since we will have it on the most conservative 110 volt charging mode, but the outlook is that I will rarely need to buy gas for the vehicle. So now, I get to explore the amazing amount of electronic control built into the thing. The best feature is that you can remote-start it from your iPhone so that it is all cooled down by the time you get to it in the parking lot. HIn blazing hot Texas, I expect that one feature to be worth the money to buy the car.
  4. For Christmas, we bought ourselves a large, state-of-the-art Samsung Smart TV. It connects directly to the internet and we are now watching all kinds of silly Japanese comedy and crime dramas on

Has it been worth it? Absolutely!

What I would say is that anyone who:

  • finds themselves working for an employer that pours a constant stream of negative messaging on them
  • anyone who is a little older but still feels like they have value to contribute – even though their employer is giving them a constant stream of feedback about being a useless, over-the-hill, overhead expense
  • anyone who is flying 27 hour flights crammed into economy class so some fat cat executives can show off to Wall Street
  • anyone who finds themselves working for a set of executives that have lost the will to develop good products
  • anyone who finds themselves dragging themselves to an office with the atmosphere of a morgue
  • anyone who finds themselves being stampeded into a quota sales position because the fat cats would rather milk numbers than develop competitive valuable products
  • anyone who finds themselves working for the pale shadow of what was once a great company

To those people I would say: “Don’t sit there riding the conveyor belt to your grave, waiting for the inevitable layoff notice”
Take some risk. Branch out. Give it your best. Be terrified. Be frustrated. Be exhilarated. Live life rather than watching it flow by.

Step off the Cliff.