June 19, 2013

I write like HP Lovecraft, allegedly

Feeding my blog's contents (minus the recipe ingredients lists, and snippets of other people's work) into this tool reveals that I need to read more.

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft
I Write Like. Analyze your writing!
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July 07, 2011

Quite-spicy BBQ chicken

I invented this last weekend for a Latino/Persian/Korean engagement party:

Really Quite Spicy BBQ chicken
Yield: 36 servings as appetizer
Preparation time: negligible
  • 1 small can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (7oz)
  • 5-6 fl oz fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 1/2C tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/2C balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2t ground cumin
  • 1t ground coriander
  • 1/2t white pepper
  • 1T agave nectar
  • 36 chicken pieces, drumstick-sized
Throw all of the above (except the chicken) in a blender, and blend until smooth. Dunk chicken pieces in it, and BBQ them over medium/low heat. Brush with additional sauce when half cooked.
If your spice tolerance requires it, you could cut the sauce with yogurt or have copious beer on hand. Perhaps you should do the latter regardless.

Other enhancements for next time:
  • Hold back 1-2 of the chipotle peppers (but keep the adobo sauce), add a healthy dose of ground sumac

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April 08, 2011

How to coil a cable properly

That is all.

February 22, 2011

A question for your consideration

Consider this hypothetical statement:
I bought the CD of "A Night at the Opera" at Fry's for just $1.
Which of the following is, to you, the most problematic statement? Order them, from most to least troubling.
  1. I was at Fry's.
  2. I was looking in the bargain CD bin at Fry's.
  3. I did not already own copies of any of the tracks on A Night at the Opera (not even Bohemian Rhapsody)
  4. Amazon will happily sell you the same CD for $11.54.
  5. Roughly half the world's population was born since this album was first released.
  6. Most readers of this blog post will not even understand why the album is important.

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December 09, 2010

Another new thing I need to try out: fast infusion of spirits

All we need, apparently, is a ready supply of alcohol, things to throw in it, and a nitrous oxide powered cream whipper.

May 16, 2010

Recipe: really easy ice cream

My dad tipped me off on this. You hate making your own ice cream because of that whole mixing-while-freezing thing, right? And if you forget to stir, it fills up with ice crystals. Ugh. Hate no more.

You will need:
  • 600ml double cream (US readers: 20 oz heavy cream)
  • 2 cans condensed milk (the sweetened kind)
  • 6 tablespoons / 90ml / 3 oz vodka
Whip the cream until it is stiff. Incorporate the other ingredients. Add whatever else you want (vanilla extract, crushed vanilla pod mess, cocoa powder, cracked nougatine, whatever - be creative). Freeze overnight.

For my first batch of this, I used raspberry vodka and added some grated dark chocolate. It comes out smooth and rich, and is easier to scoop than normal ice cream. There isn't all that much alcohol in the result, but it's just enough to stop those annoying ice crystals from forming.

The really interesting thing about this recipe is the opportunity for variations using other spirits. I'd like to try:
  • Mandarin vodka with orange zest
  • Bacardi Limon with mint
  • Gin with lemon zest
  • Gin with unsweetened Morgenthaler's Tonic Concentrate
  • Calvados with crumbled bacon
  • Citrus vodka with saffron (might not work)
  • Cacha├ža / light rum / dark rum / tequila with lime zest
  • Bourbon, chopped cherries and orange zest
  • Ruby port (double the quantity, since it has half the alcohol)
You may notice a theme in some of my suggestions. I think many popular cocktail recipes can be easily adapted here.

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March 20, 2010


Pomplamoose continues to be awesome by covering Lady Gaga.

September 30, 2009

Inner Peace

I am passing this on to you because it definitely worked for me today, and we all could probably use more calm in our lives.

Some doctor on telly this morning said that the way to achieve inner peace is to finish all the things you have started.

So I looked around my house to see things I'd started and hadn't finished and, before leaving the house this morning, I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of shhhardonay, a bodle of Baileys, a butle of vocka, a pockage of Prunglies, tha mainder of bot Prozic and Valum scriptins, the res of the Chesescke an a box a chocolets.

Yu haf no idr who fkin gud I fel.

Peas sen dis orn to dem yu fee ar in ned ov inr pece


(thanks, Josh!)

September 23, 2009

Useful tool: ext3grep

If a badly behaved computer caused you to lose 3 weeks of work by, say, overwriting it with an empty file, ext3grep may get it back for you. (Linux ext3 only of course). The instructions, while lengthy, are thorough.

August 06, 2009

Never again

I can't comment on whether the use of nuclear weapons 64 years ago was right, or if an alternative way could have been found to end the war. The people that can answer that question first-hand grow fewer day by day. I just hope that humanity never uses such destructive weapons ever again.

If you have the time, please read these articles, or at least look at the pictures:

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May 12, 2009

If your MacBook is slow to resume when you open the lid

Today I finally found an explanation for why MacBooks so often freeze up for long periods when you close or open the lid. In Windows-speak, the system is going into Hibernate mode (so you could take the battery out, swap it, and everything would still be working) rather than Standby (battery removal not advised).

The solution is here: Does Your MacBook Freeze When You Close It's Lid?. Aside from the misplaced apostrophe, a most helpful article.

May 07, 2009

Quick recipe: what-I-had-on-hand BBQ glaze

I needed to cook a small amount of BBQ chicken for kids and wanted to make it more interesting. I couldn't be bothered to look up a recipe, so I grabbed some things that I thought ought to work. I know nothing of what goes into a good BBQ glaze, nor anything about BBQ sauce theory, but I do know that my fussy little eaters were asking for more. Measurements are approximate.

2 parts Dijon Mustard
2 parts Ketchup
3 parts Orange Juice
1 part Maple Syrup

Mix together thoroughly in a jug or bowl. Brush onto chicken or asparagus while it grills. Sprinkle salt to taste.

For the adults I reckon a generous splash of Tapatio sauce will make it quite a bit more interesting.

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April 20, 2009

Sun employees, take note

A few years ago, a friend of mine (name withheld to protect privacy, let's call him Zot The Cunning) was working at a startup (name also withheld, let's call it Shoot The Moon) that was acquired by Siebel (May Their Remains Continue To Be Indigestible Forever).

My advice to Zot, on hearing of the acquisition: "Take the money and run". Of course, there was no money, so I revised this to "just run". My advice was based on what I had seen of Siebel's corporate environment from having worked with their engineers in a project for one of my former employers. The project was called "Death Spiral" or something like that. Oh, my opinion was also based on having been through the receiving end of 3 acquisitions at the same former employer. Anyway, back to Zot's story. Zot, of course, waited things out and after a few years of being sucked down into the virtual Charybdis that was his new employer, managed to escape to a company with the letters "OO" in its name.

What I've seen of Oracle (May They Remain Far From Me) is exactly 11.7 times worse than Siebel. I measured this very carefully. So, if you work at Sun, let me give you one piece of advice:

Take the money and run. Or, there being no money, just run.

While you're still reading: earlier I likened Siebel to Charybdis. I think there's a pretty strong resemblance between Oracle and Charybdis's buddy Scylla. Even if you ignore me and live in misery for the rest of your time there, at least you learned some Greek mythology. Also, the Amazon MP3 store has a free song for you.

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January 28, 2009

Traffic on Market Street, San Francisco

This video was filmed from the front of a cable car in late 1905 or possibly early 1906, right before the great earthquake. The film rolls quite a bit for the first minute - skip that part if it distracts you.

After the quake, the same cameraman repeated the trip.

January 24, 2009

Electronic Road Signs

Do not reprogram electronic road signs to say "ZOMBIES AHEAD" or "KLAATU BARADA NIKTO". That would be immature and dangerous, as well as illegal.

January 22, 2009

Gigapixel image of the inauguration

The Gigapan has produced some amazing images - I look forward to borrowing one some time - but someone had the presence of mind to take one to the Inauguration resulting in a 1,474 megapixel image.

January 19, 2009

Don't try it, it's been on the menu for years

Spotted at the otherwise quite wonderful Taqueria Los Charros in Mountain View.

January 08, 2009

Spotted on a mailing list

Names of sender and dating agency removed for privacy (unless you're interested, ha ha). See how many things you can find wrong with the concept of this email:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Xxxxxx Xxx <xxxxx@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Jan 8, 2009 at 12:50 PM
Subject: [stanford-network] Marriage Minded Female in Bay Area
To: Stanford-Network <stanford-network@lists.stanfordalumni.org>

Dear Stanford Community,

I work with Xyzzy Dating a privately held matchmaking firm in the Bay
Area. We are currently searching for eligible females in the San
Francisco Bay Area who are marriage minded.

More specifically, we have recently been retained by a VIP gentleman
who is passionate about having us help him locate "the one" and we are
on a very fast track to do so.

Our bachelor is in his late 30's, successful (Former Attorney, Harvard
Law educated, now a director of an investment firm), handsome
(physically fit and Chinese American in heritage), family-centric,
outdoorsy, down-to-earth and passionate about international travel.
You will find him to be humble, kind, and truly genuine -- no inflated
ego at all.

Are you eligible or, perhaps, if you are engaged or dating, might you
have a friend who fits this profile below?

What we are looking for:

Age: 25-34 years old

Education: Top Tier University (e.g. Stanford, Berkeley, Yale)

Personality: An exceptional woman by all measures. Outdoorsy,
family-centric, socially liberal, warm-hearted, intellectually
curious, great sense of humor, and passionate about life!

Interests: Wants to keep adding stamps to the passport, enjoys all
types of adventures, and family. An interest in volunteer work is the
icing on the cake!

Physically: Being fit and leading a healthy lifestyle is very
important. Any ethnicity is welcome and, importantly, someone who has
a natural beauty to her is the most attractive.

If you fit this profile or know anyone who does, please contact the
founder and CEO, Yyyy Yyyyyyy, at yyyy@example.com .

***NOTE: We are holding a Casting Call event for prospective
candidates on January 22nd during the day in Palo Alto. We are
currently in the process of vetting many candidates and scheduling
mini-appointments that day. The Casting Call is a great opportunity
to come meet the Xyzzy team while we get a good sense as to whether you
might be a superb fit for our bachelor. You don't need to be a client
of Xyzzy Dating to meet our bachelor, so we really encourage all
applicants to respond to this unique opportunity.

Thank you for reading!

Warm regards,

Xxxxxx Xxx

P.S. Please help us by forwarding this email to anyone who you feel
might be a good fit for our bachelor. Thank you again, and we look
forward to hearing from you!

On the inefficiency of beauty contests

On the inefficiency of beauty contests, & a suggestion for their modernization
Read it - preferably all the way to the table of equivalents.

January 05, 2009

Apostrophe abuse: Car Zone

Perhaps they meant one of:
  • Car Zone: Where the fun begin is.
  • Where the fun begin owns Car Zone, and don't you forget it.

They also get bonus points for using ugly fonts, a garish color scheme that is almost invisible to people with red-green color vision problems, and mismatching screws.

December 30, 2008

Really Interesting Documentary about Photography

Got 6 hours to burn? Watch this BBC documentary about the history of photography. It's even been chopped into handy 10-minute segments for you.

September 12, 2008

Large Hadron Collider Webcam

The Large Hadron Collider started up this week, and unsurprisingly the Earth was not sucked into a black hole. See for yourself, they've got a live webcam.

July 23, 2008

Chocolate Cake In 5 Minutes!

Since just about everyone else on the internet has already tried this (or been too disgusted to bother) I thought I would too. I happened to have all of the right ingredients and followed the Chocolate Cake recipe to the letter.
Surprisingly, it tasted OK. If you were utterly desperate for chocolate cake, you could do worse. The 5-minute timing gives it a distinct advantage over many other recipes.

Notable points:
  • It doesn't taste very chocolaty. I used Ghirardelli cocoa, which apparently included ground chocolate rather than being pure cocoa. Next time, something better?
  • It tastes a bit oily (I used rice bran oil, which doesn't taste of much). Melted butter ought to be a good substitute. Cake must have butter in it!
  • It could do with a bit of salt. Just a pinch.
  • The texture is surprisingly good. Steam leavening, apparently.
  • It could do with frosting... Nutella, perhaps?
  • This cake is for times of cake starvation, not for weddings or similarly special occasions.

July 22, 2008

This must be LEGO week

Gizmodo takes you Inside the Lego Factory. The whole thing is run by 3 people and 10,000,000 robots. Approximately.

July 18, 2008

James Blunt on Sesame Street

Words escape me.

July 13, 2008

Buy n Large : they're here

If you haven't watched WALL·E then this will make no sense.
For those that have, you'll be pleased to know that Disney bothered not only to register the domain, but they put content there too.

July 03, 2008

Lustro - Mac address book exporter

Lustro is open source and lets you export to CSV or Gmail. I haven't tried it yet but it looks good.

June 30, 2008

Short addictive game of the week

Hedgehog Launch - you have to launch a hedgehog into space in as few days as you can.

June 21, 2008

Journal of Misheard Lyrics: Joe Cocker

I always had trouble understanding what Joe was singing. Now, thankfully, we have subtitles.

June 18, 2008

Dreamworks Laziness

As Phil Plait recently pointed out, Dreamworks has a giant continuity glitch in most (all?) of their movies that feature the boy fishing from the moon. We all know that he can't be sitting on the crescent like that, and that he'd have trouble casting a fishing line that far*. There's something more subtle that you might not have noticed: The moon and clouds reflected in the water are the same as the ones above - but they didn't bother to do the required vertical flip. Observe these two frame grabs, a few seconds apart:

Unfortunately, I'll probably never be able to watch one of their movies again without this bugging me.

* To get the line from the moon to the earth, the boy would have to launch it at 2.28 km/s (over 5000 miles per hour); and it would probably burn up in the atmosphere; oh wait it's a movie, never mind.