No more In-n-Out for a long while :(

I asked In-n-Out to comment regarding the major beef recall from Hallmark/Westland Meat Co. I was sent a word doc in response.

A statement from In-N-Out Burger President Mark Taylor:

â??We ended our relationship with Hallmark/Westland on January 30th. There is no meat from them anywhere in our system.

At In-N-Out burger, we have never purchased any processed patties or ground beef from any supplier. We make every one of our hamburger patties ourselves using only whole chucks from premium, select-type cattle. We pay a premium to purchase high quality beef and we require our suppliers to certify that quality in writing. Our suppliers must all sign our purchase specification agreement which prohibits them from using non-ambulatory or â??downerâ? cattle. They all know we would never accept it.

We individually inspect every single chuck we receive to make sure that it meets our standards. Then our own, in-house and highly skilled butchers remove the bones. We grind the meat ourselves and make it into patties ourselves. We do all of this in our own patty making facility on our property in Baldwin Park, Ca. These steps enable us to completely control the patty-making process and be absolutely certain of the quality, freshness and safety of every patty we make. Weâ??ve always made our hamburger patties this way.

We are confident that every hamburger we serve, and have served in the past, is of the utmost quality and is completely safe and wholesome.�

This is my response:

Thank you for the response. I suggest you band together with other companies and consumer advocates to place inspectors in the facilities of your suppliers. As this incidence demonstrates, you cannot trust suppliers even if they certify they will not provide you with beef from downer/sick cows, and you cannot trust USDA inspectors. Another option would be to buy kosher/halal meat in which observations are made for religious purposes and downer/sick cows would not pass muster.

Although the beef is no longer being served, I’m still concerned about the meat you serve. You are unable to provide guarantees that your other suppliers are not acting similarly to Hallmark/Westland.


We talked about the response from In-n-Out and decided not to eat from its restaurants until it can provide further assurances that downer cows won’t end up in our digestive tracts. Obviously, contractual obligations weren’t enough to stop one supplier from using downer cows. What is to stop other suppliers from behaving similarly? This instance demonstrates that more needs to be done by In-n-Out than relying on its contracts.

We were already concerned about the risk to Mad Cow disease since In-n-Out serves meat that comes from ranchers who might have cows that ate cow. We know this since Mad Cow takes years to incubate and the ban against cows eating meat products barely went into effect a few years ago. As a result, we generally buy from Whole Foods and others who sell Natural Beef (only fed grasses and grains). I sent Whole Foods a similar question but have not heard back from it yet. In-n-Out has been our one detour since it buys cuts of beef it then grinds for itself. That and we trusted In-n-Out. Now we’ve decided it isn’t worth the risk of Mad Cow, in general.

Downer cows in the food supply – ugh!

This past week, the massive beef recall from a Southern California slaughterhouse made headlines. It seems most attention was paid to the inhumane treatment of the cows. I find the use of downer cows to be the most heinous and horrid part of this whole mess.

Lawmakers react to massive recall from SoCal slaughterhouse

Federal lawmakers and watchdog groups had harsh words Monday for the U.S. Department of Agriculture after the agency ordered a recall of 143 million pounds of beef from a Southern California slaughterhouse.Beef products dating to Feb. 1, 2006 that came from the Chino-based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. are subject to the recall, which is the largest such action in U.S. history. The notice came after the Humane Society of the United States filmed undercover video showing crippled and sick animals being shoved with forklifts â?? treatment that has also triggered an animal-abuse investigation.

USDA spokesman Keith Williams said the agency did not have a shortage of inspectors. He said his department has evidence that Westland did not routinely contact its veterinarian when cattle became non-ambulatory after passing inspection, violating health regulations.

Williams said the recall was done primarily to revoke the USDA’s seal of inspection for the meat â?? not because of the risk of illness.

“Everybody’s going, ‘Oh, a recall, that means death, that means sickness.’ That’s a different kind of issue,” Williams said. “This is a lower severity, where there would be a remote probability of sickness.

This official response by the USDA is not acceptable and is bullshit, pun intended. The inability to stand is one of the signs of Mad Cow disease. It is the reason these rules were put in place. The fact that downer cows were put into the food supply means the USDA food inspection process does not work and we are all at risk of getting e coli, salmonella, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the human version of Mad Cow disease, among other diseases. The link between BSE and downer cows is clear. The possibility is low, but it is still there. Not only that, but in the logic of the USDA spokesman, there is no need to have rules against downer cows since there is low risk of illness.

Deporting American citizens?

This is one example of how inept the U.S. immigration service is and how the immigration system is broken. How idiotic can they be not to run the quick and simple checks?

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 01/24/2008 | Immigration officials detaining, deporting American citizens

FLORENCE, Ariz. â?? Thomas Warziniack was born in Minnesota and grew up in Georgia, but immigration authorities pronounced him an illegal immigrant from Russia.Immigration and Customs Enforcement has held Warziniack for weeks in an Arizona detention facility with the aim of deporting him to a country he’s never seen. His jailers shrugged off Warziniack’s claims that he was an American citizen, even though they could have retrieved his Minnesota birth certificate in minutes and even though a Colorado court had concluded that he was a U.S. citizen a year before it shipped him to Arizona.

McCain’s Fast Talk Express

John McCain had better be careful, otherwise his Straight Talk Express will become known as the Fast Talk Express. First, there was the Keating Five scandal in which McCain was found to have acted improperly regarding campaign contributions (read: bribery), a topic that will soon be revisited ad nauseum. Now, there are rumors of an illicit affair, with a lobbyist nonetheless, that will garner comparisons to accusations made against Slick Willy as he battled George Bush I during the campaign of 1992.

For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk – New York Times

WASHINGTON â?? Early in Senator John McCainâ??s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a clientâ??s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself â?? instructing staff members to block the womanâ??s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.

When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyistâ??s client, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.

Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.

I Recommend: Open Office

I recommend Open Office, a free (yes FREE) office suite of software. It is distributed by Sun Microsystems, the same company that created the Java programming language.

I use this software at work and at home in place of Microsoft Office. It includes programs for writing, drawing, spreadsheets, and presentations. Yes, you can even open any old Microsoft Office documents such those created in Word (.doc), Excel (.xls), and Powerpoint (.ppt). And if you’re still stuck with WordPerfect and other [very] flawed Corel programs, Open Office is perfect for you as well.

You no longer need to pay Bill Gates and crew at Microsoft your hard earned money for Office. You can now get what you need for free.

If you’re wary of Open Office because it was very buggy in the past, try it again. I tried Open Office a few different times in the past. Once, when it was called Star Office, it crashed Windows and gave blue screens regularly. A few years later, it was just buggy and cranky. But now, it rocks. Go for it.

Digital Television Transition: 365 days to go

A year from tomorrow, February 18, 2009, the traditional, analog broadcast television signals across the U.S.A. will be turned off. (See: Digital Television Transition).

If you’re like me and rely on over-the-air television signals, you will need to invest in a digital-to-analog converter box, or a nifty new television built to receive digital broadcast signals, or subscribe to cable/satellite television.

The estimated price of the digital to analog converter box is $75. The federal government is providing $40 coupons towards your purchase. Request a coupon: According to the coupon request form, TV converter boxes are not expected to be available in retail stores until late February or early March. You should sign up now before they are gone (limited supply); however you will not receive your coupon until after converter boxes are available in stores. The Coupon will expire 90 days after the date it is issued.

The federal department responsible for the program has a web site that provides more information regarding the coupon program, such as rules and the coupon request form.


I took a few minutes here and there over the past week to do some house keeping on this blog.

1) Open ID: This blog now uses Open ID. Since most people have Yahoo! Accounts (Y! Mail, Flickr, Y! Groups, etc.) I set the default to

Open ID is an open standard that lets you use one account to log in across the web. Many web sites are starting to use it and the big guns (Y!, G, MS) have put their weight behind it.

If you choose to use Open ID through your Y! account, then the most important thing for you to do is to set your security image. That way you know you are on the Y! site when you give your password. Make sure it is something unique to you. I use my wife’s beautiful face on one computer and a very cool and unique photo of a flower on another.

Login with your Open ID today. (creates an account on my site)

2) Comments: I didn’t realize you needed an account to leave comments. I have since opened up comments to anyone. All you need to do is give your nickname (such as ‘db’) and an email address. Only your nickname is publicly available. Your email is confidential and available to only the admins for this blog (me and my wife).


3) Random Stuff: I also made some other random updates to the interface and how the page looks, now use tags, and include My Blog Log.

Videos: 80s style

The first time I watched a music video I was nine. Van Halen’s Jump had just been released and I sat down to watch it with other boys from my Cub Scout den while we waited for our mothers. I wasn’t impressed. We ended up watching a few videos including Duran Duran singing about wolves, Michael Jackson starring in one thriller of a music video, and some others I don’t remember. Looking back on those days, I’m amused by the production put into some of the videos. Some actually cared about story.

Tonight, on a whim, I decided to check out what Y! Music has from that time period. Here are some classics:

Pat Benatar – Love is a Battlefield. You gotta love the stiletto heeled boots. Bollywood style dancing as well, although no Busby Berkeley scenes.

Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A. Still a good, patriotic song.

John [Cougar] Mellencamp – Small Town. Don’t know if you saw the news, but apparently John McCain is associating himself with John Mellencamp’s America.

Weird Al – Like a Surgeon. Cool Vans. The best 80â??s video ever! 😉

Beepo and the Tomato

We are frequently asked how we met Beepo. Those who ask know how most people have met Beepo, but they wonder how he came into our lives.

The answer is simple. We saved him from a tomato and quickly fell in love his adorable nature, antics, and wild adventures. He is now part of our growing family.

One day, Beepo snuck up on an unsuspecting tomato.
Beepo on the Prowl

But the tomato turned on him, snarling like a junk yard dog.
Snarling Tomato

Run Beepo! Run!
The Chase is on

You’d be surprised how loud and messy a snarling tomato can be.
Snarling Tomato

Run Beepo! Run! Keep Running!

Watch out, you might be splashed with acidic tomato drool.
Snarling Tomato

He jumped into our arms and safety immediately after this photo was taken. 🙂
Beepo Running

He’s now an inseparable part of our family. Sadly, the tomato escaped capture.

the man in the ten gallon hat

My wife sums up events surrounding my company this way: If you were a small time farmer having a tough time making a living in the 1930’s on a hot Texas prairie and a man in a ten gallon hat offers a big bag of cash for your land that seems too good to be true, close the door on him. You know there’s oil under those dusty fields.

As Y! shareholders, we donâ??t think the board should accept Microsoft’s offer. The deal undervalues the company. Yang and Decker took over mid-2007 and you cannot expect them to make an immediate, direct impact so soon. Hollywood is gone; Silicon Valley is back. Think of Yahoo! as an aircraft carrier trying to make a turn; it will do so slowly. More importantly, the fundamentals are strong, the company is profitable, and most recently met its numbers, even if overshadowed by the company down the road (which missed its numbers last quarter). Tech companies can and do make comebacks. Apple is a prime example. They were not cool until Steve Jobs returned and they started innovating again.

In addition, we do not want Microsoft shares if it is making such a power play for a company that will not fit well within its company. Consider the difference in philosophy regarding open source software.

Note: Before you get out of control, this is only a comment on behalf of our family, not for my employer – I don’t have enough information to ever comment on its behalf. I really do know nothing.