January 31, 2006

You're Goin' Down!

Sweet Muffin“You’re goin’ down like a sweet muffin!” - White Goodman

Well, on Karen’s recommendation I used the recipe in this month’s Fine Cooking magazine. The results were quite good! The muffins themselves were not overly-sweet. In fact, a little less sweet than I would have liked. However, I hadn’t applied the glaze yet which likely balances them out.

It’s a great batter. Really good to work with and an excellent texture. I think they would be perfect for an orange/cranberry muffin. A tart muffin with a sweet glaze on top would be excellent.

I’m bringing a few in to work tomorrow. I can’t eat any more tonight to try the glazed version; my tummy is full because Maggie made stew. She taught her first class of the semester today, made stew, and hosted a GSA leaders meeting. I supplied the muffins. Good thing they didn’t suck.

And thanks to Karen for introducing me to an excellent magazine!

(P.S. You’ll note form the picture that I didn’t use paper muffin cups. I’ve been loving the new silicone muffin “tins” I bought from Kohls last weekend. They were on sale. I grease them with AB’s Kustum Kitchen Lube (a mixture of Crisco and flour I keep in the kitchen) for easy muffin removal. They work like a charm.

Once the muffins are out of the oven, I let them cool for 5 minutes or so. That’s not long - they’ll still be hot. I am able to pretty much dump them out of the tins at that point and they cool much faster. Be careful - if they’re full of fruit, the fruit will make the muffins less structurally stable.

Paper muffin cups do help to hold muffins together, but I’ve never liked them. It annoys me how much muffin sticks to them. So I make them without the papers in the silicone tins, use a little kitchen lube (I hear Baker’s Joy is good, too) and the muffins pop right out. Eat the whole thing, no paper!)

Posted by James at 9:40 PM

January 30, 2006

The Taste of Blueberry Failure

It’s been a bad few days for baking in the Burke household.

First, I experimented with a special pound cake recipe that (I believe) had the wrong amount of shortening. This cause the pound cake to kind of fry on the outside. Gah. Eventually I was able to make a decent pound cake, but my confidence was getting low on baked goods.

This weekend I tried Alton Brown’s fudge cake recipe. It was supposed to be similar to a hostess cupcake, so I went with the cupcake variation. My food processor didn’t quite measure up to the task of pulverizing the baker’s chocolate into dust. After plenty of processing there were thousands of little table salt-sized specks of chocolate among the dust. No matter how I processed, the specks remained. There were other problems, but this was the most obvious.

Maggie and Julie tried valiantly to eat them with me. Actually, I had two today and they’re not so bad the next day. They’re just not so good either. And when you put a lot of work into baking something, you really want it to be good.

Tonight I tried my hand at some blueberry muffins. I wanted moist, so I used a sour cream recipe that I found in one of my older books.

I followed the recipe to the letter. The time came to mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients. The instructions said “it will form a moist but lumpy batter.” It formed a moist, lumpy… dough. Big difference. Mixing dough forms gluten, which makes a muffin tough. Aside from that, it was unbakeable in this form. I frantically added milk (which was not one of the ingredients) to thin the mixture out into a thick batter. Then I added the berries and baked it.

It didn’t turn out as muffins. They’re more like blueberry scones. It occurred to me that I should have noticed the low amount of sugar in the recipe… no butter… no vanilla… no milk. In retrospect it sounds like a scone, not a muffin.

Argh.

I want a recipe that turns out muffins something like a Dunkin Donuts muffin (or better). Actually, like a crumb cake without the brown sugar/cinnamon top and with blueberries inside.

So, I’m making an appeal to my readers. Does anyone have a blueberry muffin recipe that they have made and were happy with the results? I’d love to hear about it. Because I don’t give up. But instead of making more scones, I’d like to try a recipe I know has been used successfully.

Posted by James at 10:18 PM | Comments (20)

January 27, 2006

Lucky 13 Chocolate Bock

I have 13 bottles of Chocolate Bock (last year’s batch). 13 is an unlucky number so I am compelled to drink one bottle to get it down to 12. However, having to drink a bottle of Chocolate Bock seems lucky to me. Thus, it is a paradox. Which you can contemplate while… drinking Chocolate Bock.

Which I plan to do tonight while watching Battlestar Galactica.

BTW: willing to “break up the set” if friends are having trouble finding this stuff.

(You can only really see 12 bottles in the picture above, I noticed. One bottle is hidden in the back)

Posted by James at 10:57 AM | Comments (4)

PVI Shotgun

One of the links below explains what “PVI” is.

Thanks to BobMcC, Sara, Patti, and others for the links.

Posted by James at 12:20 AM | Comments (7)

January 25, 2006

Then again, sometimes it is

Posted by James at 11:20 PM | Comments (2)

The Nose Knows Poll

First off: I need to stress that this poll is not about anyone you know receiving a nose hair trimmer as a gift. But I had a discussion about this with someone years ago and I wondered what my readers would think.

The question is simple:

Does a nose hair trimmer make a great gift?
Yes - a nose hair trimmer is the pinnacle of thoughtfulness.
No - when I unwrap a gift, I’m not expecting it’s about nose hair hygine.
  
Free polls from Pollhost.com

Feel free to discuss the reasons behind your answers. When there are enough votes, I’ll weigh in, too.

Posted by James at 8:42 AM | Comments (13)

January 24, 2006

It almost never is

Posted by James at 10:57 PM | Comments (2)

Fighting Terrorists and Porn - Constitutionally Confused

General Michael V. Hayden ran the NSA while Bush was beginning his wiretapping program. You might be interested in the address he gave yesterday.

Someone was good enough to point out highlights to me, so I’ll do the same for you. (To my critics who say I am entirely stealing this post… well, they say steal from the best. Especially with an important message)

Within this address, Gen Hayden insists that what the Bush administration is doing is reasonable. If it’s reasonable, then it is lawful. His basis for this?

GEN. HAYDEN . . . Just to be very clear — and believe me, if there’s any amendment to the Constitution that employees of the National Security Agency are familiar with, it’s the Fourth. And it is a reasonableness standard in the Fourth Amendment. And so what you’ve raised to me — and I’m not a lawyer, and don’t want to become one — what you’ve raised to me is, in terms of quoting the Fourth Amendment, is an issue of the Constitution. The constitutional standard is “reasonable.” And we believe — I am convinced that we are lawful because what it is we’re doing is reasonable.”

But the actual fourth amendment clarifies that probably cause is necessary to overcome the prohibition on searches.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

See here, where somebody tried to correct him. That is, tries to correct they guy who was running this program, and really ought to know what the fourth amendment says:

QUESTION: Jonathan Landay with Knight Ridder. I’d like to stay on the same issue, and that had to do with the standard by which you use to target your wiretaps. I’m no lawyer, but my understanding is that the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifies that you must have probable cause to be able to do a search that does not violate an American’s right against unlawful searches and seizures. Do you use —

GEN. HAYDEN: No, actually — the Fourth Amendment actually protects all of us against unreasonable search and seizure. That’s what it says.

QUESTION: But the measure is probable cause, I believe.

GEN. HAYDEN: The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure.

QUESTION: But does it not say probable —

GEN. HAYDEN: No. The amendment says unreasonable search and seizure… .

Finally, you’re supposed to nod along when he tells you that these unconstitutional warrantless searches are a good thing:

General Hayden: Had this program been in effect prior to 9/11, it is my professional judgment that we would have detected some of the 9/11 al Qaeda operatives in the United States, and we would have identified them as such.

Would have identified them?

An FBI informant was living with 2 of the 9/11 hijackers. Cells were identified. At the time, Ashcroft was too preoccupied trying to come up with ways to save you from internet porn to worry about what terrorists might do.

Now, if the terrorists had been searching for porn on Google…

Posted by James at 10:00 AM | Comments (1)

January 23, 2006

Fortune





Fortune


Originally uploaded by Dr Momentum.

This was my fortune from a cookie at lunch today. Completely appropriate

to the situation I am experiencing.


Coincidence?


Yes.

Posted by James at 6:24 PM | Comments (7)

It's not so bad in the SC

Snowy Swingset Early '05So, we got some snow here in theSC but the temperature is about 34 degrees and it soon turned to rain. Everything is slush. It’s a bit of a mess.

But we haven’t really had winter at all here until now. Not to speak of. A couple of cold days here and there. One time I had to shovel. The picture to the right is what it looked like in my backyard one year ago today.

North of theSC, they’re having a replay of last year’s late January storm. Bob McC took a picture of his front yard. Yow! He tells me Logan is closed.

Looking at this, I don’t think we have much cause for complaints. Well, until it drops below freezing again and the roads turn into skating rinks.

Sara is all upset that she can’t cross-country ski on this slush. But you can’t really ski on 9 inches of snow, either.

It’s not completely insane weather, but it’s close.

Posted by James at 12:03 PM | Comments (2)

I Heart Huckabees?

Anyone else here seen I Heart Huckabees? (imdb)

Maggie and I watched it this weekend and I came away thinking: “Huh?” I believe that reaction is probably at least partly the intention of the film makers.

Jason Schwartzman contracts two existential investigators (Lilly Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman) to explain a coincidence he’s experienced. They toss a bunch of psychobabble mumbo-jumbo at him while spying on him. A whole host of other characters are involved. Jude Law is something of a nemesis in the form of a shallow go-getter. Naomi Watts is Law’s girlfriend, the low self-esteem voice, face and body of Huckabees — a WalMart-like national store chain.

But I’m not sure the plot is all that important. All I really got out of it was a lot of amusing scenes of people saying things that sounded as though they thought they made sense. Pretty good comic timing is most of what it had going for it.

But I never really got a strong enough sense of whether they were making fun of the babble. Or whether there was a reason why it was worthy of being made fun of. I guess that means it was a very subtle joke. In the end, it’s a sort of fable, I guess.

I’d like to know if anyone else made any sense of it.

Posted by James at 12:08 AM | Comments (6)

January 21, 2006

It's Da Bomb, Can You Dig It?

A Somerset man with an interest in treasure hunting took his metal detector to the fields of nearby Warren and came home with something a little more dangerous than coins and trinkets.

Following their detector readings, they dug six inches into the soil of the Warren field and unearthed a 4-inch diameter bomblet from a cluster bomb. They judged it to be some sort of a cannonball, but with some pretty strange markings that to me would generally scream out: “don’t touch me if you find me buried 6 inches deep in a strange field.”

These fellows brought it back to Somerset and stored it for a while in one of their basements. Eventually, they posted pictures of the thing on a metal detectors forum, whereupon someone told them not to handle it any further, that there was a good chance that it was still live. It was. The guy’s girlfriend was of the opinion that they ought to handle it long enough to get it out of the house, and so it ended up across the street. (See Map)

Officials came and evacuated 25 houses in the area. The nearby Wilbur Elementary School was not evacuated, and high school students returning home by bus were held there while the bomb squad worked.

They blowed it up, but good.

Nobody was hurt, and the neighbors seemed to have retained their sense of humor about their bumbling local treasure hunter. At least they didn’t try to cook and eat the thing.

Additional Links:

(P.S. Even though I refer to them as “bumbling” for handling this strange object more than they should have, it could have gone a lot worse if they had decided not to contact the authorities at all. In my not-so-humble opinion, they should have notified the authorities when they dug it up and they ought not to have removed the thing from the field it was in. Maybe treasure hunters should get to know what dangerous treasure looks like, or at least adopt a healthy fear of certain kinds of treasure.)

Posted by James at 10:12 AM | Comments (2)

January 20, 2006

Google Doesn't Give it Up

Bush wants private Google data

In an effort to revive an old law that was struck down by the highest court in the land 2 years ago, Bush has demanded that Google turn over a bunch of search data.

The law in question is the Internet Child Protection law, deemed unconstitutional. Bush wants data to bolster his case. Google said “Uh-uh - we’re not giving you our users’ search data.”

Meanwhile, MSN and AOL rolled over and said: “Here you go, Mr. Man! Hope you find something interesting. Notice that Mr. Smith of Springfield Ohio searched for “Blonde on Blonde. He might have been looking for a song by Bob Dylan, but you can’t be too careful. Also, a bunch of people were searching on ‘breast’ and ‘chicken.’ I’m thinking that they ought to be investigated for bestiality!”

I don’t know about you, but I really resent the idea that people’s data should be handed over as if they are criminals. With no prior reason to believe that they are.

Posted by James at 2:50 PM

Poodle Grooming Shotgun

Some people drink Pepsi /
Some people drink Coke /
The wacky morning deejay /
Says democracy’s a joke
  • Comfort Eagle Lyrics (Cake) (music, audio, lyrics)
    • Nothing especially shotgunworthy here, I just love this song and its lyrics. So I thought I’d share. If you haven’t heard Cake’s work before, it’s worth a listen.
  • The Morning News - The Non-Expert: IKEA, by Matthew Baldwin (humor, shopping, writing, wtf)
    • How to survive the treacherous world of IKEA: a player’s guide to the real-life adventure.
  • Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot… stabilized (gif, video, weird, animation, wtf, skeptic, cryptozoology)
    • This is an animated gif version of the infamous Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot folm from 1967. Some creative fellow has processed the frames of the film to completely stabilize them. You get a much more clear view of “bigfoot.” A guy in a suit? You decide.
  • zipdecode | ben fry (utilities, visualization, map, government)
    • Interactively identifies an area by zipcode, as you type the zipcode. Use the zoom feature for best effect. I didn’t know that Zoom’s “02134” zip code was actually in Allston.
  • Sledgeweb’s Lost … Stuff | Season Two (lost, video, tv, reference)
    • Investigations of weird things hidden in episodes of “Lost.” If you cared whether Walt appears on the side of a milk carton or if you want to see all the freeze frames of what Eko saw in the black smoke, this is your place to go.
  • CAT - Calendar for TV. (tv, torrent, bittorrent, reference, calendar, video)
    • Want to keep track of when a new episode of your favorite show is coming out? So do people who download them off BitTorrent. To that end, someone’s put up a helpful calendar that lets you know when a show is airing “fresh” stuff.
Posted by James at 2:45 PM | Comments (2)

January 19, 2006

Black Cherry Vanilla Coke

We were up in Boston for a doctor’s visit at Children’s Hospital (it went well, for those interested) and the CVS inside the hospital was selling Diet (and nondiet) Black Cherry Vanilla Coke.

Apparently, the company is phasing out Vanilla Coke and phasing in this new flavor.

While Maggie was giving blood (will bleed for free parking) M and I headed into CVS and I grabbed a bottle of the diet version. The registerfellow told me that if I bought a Diet Coke, I’d get one of the new flavors for free, so I did that.

My impressions: This stuff is really, really, really sweet. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, it may be for you. Sharon asked me if it was as sweet as Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper. I’d put it slightly below that in sweetness. I would prefer it to the Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper, but that isn’t much of an endorsement from me, since i wasn’t a big fan of that Dr. Pepper variation.

I’ve not yet tried the sugar version. Maybe it’s better. But by far my favorite Coke branded product is still Coke Zero.

I still haven’t spotted the rumored Coca-Cola Blak. Anybody seen it?

Posted by James at 3:47 PM | Comments (14)

January 16, 2006

Movie Talk

In which James talks about upcoming/current movies, most of which will he will probably not see in the theater.

King Kong


OK, I get it. This is a long film. But if I don’t see it in the theater, is there going to be any point to seeing it on DVD? Probably not.

Bloodrayne


I have to give Uwe Boll this: he certainly knows how to get people excited about how godawful his movies are. By comparison, the non-Uwe Boll films “Cheaper By The Dozen” got a “7%” on RottenTomatoes.com. “Yours, Mine and Ours” got a 6%. Sadly, “Bloodrayne” is in the same class, at 6%. It would have been more dramatic if I’d been able to say it was at 5%, but it looks like some reviewer out there is an avid Maxim reader. A movie so bad, I may not even rent it. Unless Chuck sees it and tells me it’s at least worth a laugh.

As we know, Chuck is an avid Uwe Boll fan. OK, that’s an exaggeration. OK, it’s a complete fabrication. He thinks Boll is a wanker.

True Fact! There is a sex scene in Bloodrayne. The movie is so bad that thoughtful people on the ‘net have posted the scene to discourage you from feeling you actually have to see the film. I have to agree with the sentiment. Please, don’t encourage Mr. Boll.

Know more about Uwe Boll by reading Wikipedia.

Moving on.

X-Men 3


Coming in May. See?

I can dig Dark Phoenix. Are there going to be Sentinals? I can’t tell. In any case, they make a halfway decent trailer. But I just haven’t loved the X-Men films. I’m goofy enough to keep going, though. So. They’ll get my money.

The Ant Bully


Trailer. It’s about ants who shrink an ant-killing kid down to their size to teach him a lesson. Kids film. If it gets even a marginal showing on the tomatometer, I’ll probably end up taking the kids. Haven’t heard much about this one, though.

V for Vendetta


Trailer. I’ve got the comics around here someplace. Only vaguely remember what it was about and the trailer only gives an inkling. Something about man against the government. A vigilante fighting against oppression. A movie with a terrorist as the protagonist? Edgy. Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving… good cast. I guess we’ll see when March rolls around.

Ultraviolet


Trailer. Dammit - they’re going to keep trying to make these movies until they get it right!

Milla Jovovich is a super-duper powered person infected with a virus that is sweeping the nation, turning humans into a race of uber-vampires.

No, really - you’ve never seen this film before. The trailer is full of sound and fury. But, come on people. How many super-powered vampire franchises do we need?

Underworld Evolution


Trailer. Speaking of which. I’ve mentioned this one before. More vampire stuff. Well, we’ll see.

Pulse

Trailer. Hey, now this at least sounds creepy! Teenagers find a creepy website, one of their number commits suicide and then they start getting emails from beyond the grave! It;s got Kristen Bell from that “Veronica Mars” show and Boone from “Lost.”

It’s a remake of a Japanese movie called Kairu. The Japanese version was written and directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa. Wait, that sounds familiar. [Google…] Oh, no! Kiyoshi Kurosawa directed Kyua. Otherwise known as Cure. That’s the Japanese film that forever has ruined my film-choosing reputation with certain of my friends. It’s done irreperable damage to my cred. I subjected Mike and Julie to it once, and I’m just lucky they seem to have forgiven me.

But I have a feeling they will never trust me again when they hear me say “let’s watch this Japanese movie together.”

Cure was so damn boring, we were rooting for the killer. When it wasn’t boring it was annoying. I don’t know what madness prevented me from switching off the TV and suggestign we drag out a board game.

Sorry, Pulse, I am wary. If I see this one, it will definitely be alone.

Date Movie


Trailer. Alyson Hannigan stars in a parody of chick flicks and other recent films. The trailer is crude and goofy. These films are ripe for parody, so there could be plenty of yuks. Trailer takes aim at J.Lo, Napoleon Dynamite, Michael Jackson, and Will Smith’s Hitch.

Caché


Trailer. A disturbing psychological thriller about a family which begins to receive odd parcels. First, it is a videotape of their house… filmed for two hours from across the street. Next, it is strange, vaguely disturbing drawings. These intrusions begin to have an effect on their lives. Where does it lead? I don’t know — the trailer doesn’t reveal much.

This is a French language film by Michael Haneke starring Daniel Aueuil and Juliette Binoche. It’s easily the most intriguing (to me) films I’ve listed here. Is there any chance I’ll see it in the theatre? I probably ought to add it to the almighty Netflix queue.



What films are you folks anticipating? Any of these?
Posted by James at 8:45 PM | Comments (21)

January 13, 2006

Exploding Leg Shotgun

I’m about to read Richard Dawkins’ The Blind Watchmaker. To reach the proper frame of mind, however, I have decided to believe in Intelligent Design and shun evolution.

Turns out, Intelligent Design actually is true! See, I found this simple and compelling proof:

  1. C3P0’s hand is a complex piece of machinery which could not have evolved on its own.
  2. C3P0’s hand actually was designed by humans, proving #1.
  3. The human hand is, coincidentally, as complex as and very similar to C3P0’s hand.
  4. Therefore, the human hand must have been designed by someone.

I don’t know why I never saw it before. Clearly, the human hand was either designed by George Lucas or someone at Industrial Light and Magic.

And now, back to our show.

  • BuzzWhack: The Buzzword Compliant Dictionary (funny, reference, trivia, writing, language)
    • Need the definition of a buzzword? Check the buzzword compliant dictionary!
  • The AOLer Translator (english, entertainment, funny, language, satire)
    • USE THIS WEBFORM 2 TRANSLAET NORMAL 3NGLISH TEXT IN2 TEH TYPE OF GARBAEG TAHT A 12-YEAR-OLD S3LF-STYLAD HAKER WUD WRIET1111!1!! LOL
  • Temporal Anomalies in Popular Time Travel Movies (funny, movies, SciFi)
    • An analysis of the way popular movies handle time travel. It’s funny, but the more Star Trek they made, the more you came to realize that all of Star Trek was really about time travel.
  • SkepticWiki (science, skeptic, thought, wiki, paranormal, reference)
    • SkepticWiki - the Encyclopedia of Science and Critical Thinking. It’s a wiki taking a critical look at poorly supported beliefs.
  • DevilDucky - Yawaraka Tanks (wtf, flash, animation, japanese)
    • Is it a fruit? Is it an animal? Is it a tank? WTF IS IT???? Oh. It’s Japanese. Fun!
  • DevilDucky - Jesus and Christmas (humor, video, SNL)
    • A Rob Smigel cartoon. Jesus searches for the meaning of Christmas.
  • Zu (feat. Okapi) Vs. Dalek (art, music, video, animation)
    • I can't explain this one. Some bizarre animated music video with iconic imagery that will haunt your daydreams.
  • Animated Knots by Grog (howto, knots, lifehacks, animation, tutorial, tips)
    • Learn to tie knots. These instructions are animated!
  • Oxford Necronomicon on Flickr (parody, book, images)
    • Glad they're keeping it up-to-date.
  • Picture sudoku - Dr Momentum version (games, sudoku, logic)
    • Play Sudoku, but with pictures from Flickr. This link gives you my photostream to play with.
  • Revenge of the Tattooed Nerds (art, technology, geek, odd, tattoos)
    • Ever consider an Apple logo tattoo? Or a mathematical equation? Or a circuit diagram? If you have, maybe you’d be interested in nerd tattoos.
  • Is anyone else reading your email ? (security, tips, email)
    • Are you paranoid? It’s not paranoia if it’s justified. Find out if someone is reading your mail. (It’s a little technical)
Posted by James at 4:28 AM | Comments (7)

January 10, 2006

Pandora: Sweet, Sweet Jazz

Chuck is right. Pandora Rules.

This free online music streaming website has helped us turn our office into a sweet, exclusive little jazz club. Playing smooth jazz all day. Not that crappy pre-digested stuff, either. We’re being treated to Coltrane, Monk (the two artists I used to start the channel), Red Garland, Bud Powell, Lennie Tristano, John Scofield, Dexter Gordon and now a really catchy and upbeat number by Art Tatum: “This Can’t Be Love.”

(Also, some great jazz guitar with Kenny Garrett)

I can feel my blood pressure dropping down to manageable levels!

You can give it a listen by clicking on my link: Sweet, Sweet Jazz.

Posted by James at 1:16 PM | Comments (15)

Necronomicon

Calling CthulhuI just took this picture because I thought it was funny, and I don’t know why, but I thought Brian, B.O.B. and Bull would get a kick out of it.

Someone has reserved a copy of the Necronomicon at Borders.

(Can you spot the spine? If not, just click on the image and see a bigger version on Flickr)

I used to have this very same volume (same edition, the Simon Necronomicon) but a friend (Sean) borrowed it in College and I never saw it again after that. I didn’t mind losing it too much, because it was basically a big goof.

To quote the Wikipedia entry:

The Necronomicon was first mentioned in Lovecraft’s 1923 short story “The Hound”, though hints of it (or similar books) appear as far back as “The Statement of Randolph Carter” (1919). In the stories, the book is dangerous to read because it is often harmful to the health and sanity of its readers. For this reason, libraries keep it under lock and key.

Capitalizing on the notoriety of the fictional tome, real-life publishers have printed many books entitled Necronomicon since Lovecraft’s death.

It was goofy fun when we were teenagers, although my friends have better stories about exploits involving the Necronomicon than I have.

Been a while since I read any Lovecraft.

Posted by James at 11:30 AM | Comments (7)

Clearing The Baffles

Stuff piles up over time and I can tell certain things aren’t going to become their own blog posts. So I’ll clean mental house and toss them all in one post.

I hear it’s bad for search engines if you do this — it’s easier for them to index your site if each post has its own subject. Also, it’s bad for my readers because if you’re not interested in a subject, you have to scroll down. Oh well.

Oranges


Oranges When Sharon returned from California, she returned with oranges (and a couple of lemons). Some of them are blood oranges, which I don’t come across that often.

Blood oranges are originally from Sicily , but are now grown in Texas and California. And: delicious.

Sharon knows that during the winter, I eat a ridiculous amount of citrus fruits. One thing I haven’t seen this year yet: pomelos. Where have all the pomelos gone?

GCP4BM


Last week, a fellow cacher in the area noticed that one of my caches (Tracker Jim’s Pirate Stash - GCP4BM ) had been out of commission for a bunch of months. I had disabled its listing after the second stage of the puzzle went missing. Of course, I was planning to replace the thing, but I worried that the 2nd stage location might have to be rethought to avoid future “muggling.” So I hesitated fixing it. Then the world went insane the week after that (this was late July). Geocaching temporarily went out the window as I didn’t have the time or impetus.

So, this other cacher recommended to geocaching.com that the cache be “archived.” (Translation - removed from the database) If the cache were to return, it would have to be re-approved. Or, another cacher could put another cache in the area instead, ensuring that my cache wouldn’t be re-approved.

So I got my act in gear and replaced the second stage. It’s in the same location, allowing the cache to be active while I consider a new location for stage 2.

Tracker Jim’s Pirate Stash is a good cache. Check it out if you’re in the area.

Gym


Gym is different from when I was a kid. K tells me they’re doing “Spanish” today. We used to run around.

Maybe they run around in Spanish?

Soup


French Onion Soup Made French Onion Soup for the first time. It was a copycat of the Panera recipe.

I was pretty happy with the result. I paid $0.79 for the recipe at Top Secret Recipes. I am planning to make some modifications, though.

When I’m happy with it, I’ll probably post my version here.

BTW - I own about 3 of that Top Secret guy’s books, and they’re pretty good. I got my cinnamon roll recipe from him (again, slightly modified). He knows his stuff.

Trinity


After going there with Bull, I returned to the Trinity Brewpub in Providence with my Dad and Alex. I always get the pulled pork sandwich; they do a good job with it.

They were out of the Brown Ale, so we went wiht the Red. It was quite good. A funny malty finish that was very refreshing. The IPA I followed it with was very fruity. And, for some reason, 2 pints really was enough last night. I must be coming down with something. Actually, I swear I’ve been fighting something off for a while.

New Year’s Eve Singing Gojira


Everyone backed out, mostly because of illnesses, so we spent the night with Godzilla (Final Wars) and Karaoke Revolution Party. As per Bob’s recommendation, I got a second microphone and we tried some true duets.

We have some practicing to do.

Godzilla Final Wars is like a Godzilla film mixed up with a martial arts film. Not a bad combination. Goofy fun.

Thirdmate


We visited Thirdmate and TCR for Thirdmate’s birthday on Saturday. We had to be late because of pressing GSA cooke responsibilities (Yes - it’s that time again.)

The girls ran around in the big field next to the house looking for a large sheep named Otis who likes to be patted on the head (according to the birthday guy). I got to meet some of his friends, and enjoy some food and Guinness. It was good fun and good company. I think the kids were especially impressed by TCR’s hospitality when she provided hot chocolate with whipped cream. They settle right in comfortably for that. Thanks for the invitation!

I think this is the first time (in a long time) I’ve met someone face to face after having conversed online. Well, actually, I’ve done that for work-related things, but not recently for personal things.

We have to set up lunch sometime soon. Especially since they’re so close, and I eat lunch all the time.

Trains and Furniture


Newport Train Ride We took a ride on the train in Newport, and the kids got to enjoy balloon animals.

If you have a chance and are in the area, it’s decent fun and lasts about 90 minutes. You follow the coast east of the Sakonnet river (someone correct me if I’m wrong here) north for 45, and then reverse course back to America’s Cup ave where the train has its little station. It’s been a month (well, December anyhow) for weird
field trips. We also visited IKEA (Flickr set here) and that was interesting, although M complained that it gave her a headache.

We marveled at the relatively inexpensive furniture, and the stuffed animals and such. The kids loved some of the kid’s stuff. We were there for a couple of specific pieces. And then I thought I’d lost my cell phone. That was fun, too.

I somehow managed to stay calm and enjoy lunch at UNO. I am not good about losing things. I misplaced the top part of my tripod just after Xmas (It’s somewhere in the house… I know it!) and I still haven’t located the damned thing.

The crowds weren’t too bad at IKEA. The key is to go on a weekday, and go early in the morning when it opens. It’s already busy by the time noon rolls around.


OK - I feel good to dump those out onto the weblog. Remember when you visit to check out my Flickr photostream as well. That’s usually active even when my blog is quiet. I’m averaging something like 2 photos a day over there.



Posted by James at 6:29 AM | Comments (20)

January 9, 2006

Stop Snitchin and Start Warnin'

Warn A BrotherIs this the goofy relative of those “Stop Snitchin’” T-Shirts that are causing a stir in Boston? (See stories about Hub witness intimidation and spike in homicide rates).

So, via T-Shirts not only can you spread witness intimidation, you can encourage a conspiracy against the authorities to let you know when they’re hot on your trail for those shooting deaths. Or, at least, you can wear this shirt to show how much solidarity you feel with the thugs.

It’s nice to know that local retailers can make some dough on these trends. Way to go! If it was store robberies on the rise, rather than something trivial like murder, do you think they’d still sell support this sentiment?

(This was also officially a Thing of Ugly.)

Posted by James at 2:13 AM

SymCog Pix

In case anyone is interested, David Tall has some pix of the goings-on at SymCog (VT 2006) up on his website here.

(P.S. If you don’t know what SymCog is, you probably aren’t interested in the pictures. But some lurkers here might be interested. People who persist and want to know what SymCog is can go here. But that likely won’t change whether you’re interested in the pictures or not.)

Posted by James at 12:38 AM | Comments (1)

January 8, 2006

Chocolates in February

Looking for Sam Adams Chocolate Bock?

Rumor has it that this delightful brew will be on store shelves in February.

Actually, it’s better than rumor. I spoke with Mary Wu, a representative of the Boston Beer Company and she said ot keep our eyes on the shelves in Feb for the beer. It is on its way.

Posted by James at 1:21 AM | Comments (3)

January 7, 2006

Thirdmate's B-Day

Stop over and say “Happy Birthday” to a fellow denizen of “The SC” — neighbor Thirdmate.

Katie Couric and he are commiserating.

Posted by James at 12:31 PM | Comments (2)

January 6, 2006

Updated Firmware Shotgun

Once you are done viewing this shotgun post, you have successfully updated your mental firmware. Congrats.

  • FARK.com: What animated characters would look like if they were real people (fark, photoshop, funny)
    • Some pretty funny entries.
  • Lost - the Game (game, tv, flash)
    • It’s an online flash game where you try to survive as you wander the island.
  • Tiverton Man Sues TSA For Alleged Theft Of Diamond Wedding Ring (news, wtf)
    • Why would they make him take off a gold ring? They’ve never had me take off my wedding ring. Gold is not ferromagnetic. I somehow doubt they asked him to remove it. It seems like the TSA workers, who are there and identifiable, would be the least likely to steal something so obvious. Story is fishy.
  • ExtraTasty Get Your Booze On! (food, drink, recipes, reference, search)
    • ExtraTasty hosts the Drink of the Day. Search for drinks, or just go for today’s special. “Big’s Special” sounds pretty good - gin, tonic and pinapple!
  • Writely - The Web Word Processor (blogging, tools, technology, software, writing, free)
    • Remember when people said that you would edit your word processing documents online and wouldn’t need a word processor on you own machine? I don’t know if that time is here, but it looks like Writely thinks so. Check it out — it posts to your blog, too!
  • outofthegutter.net (comedy, improv, theater, fun, humor)
    • It's a local (Fall River, MA) improv group!
  • Quahog.org: The definitive Rhode Island road trip (local, fun, reference, travel)
    • Why travel far away when you haven't discovered what's right in your backyard? Discovercool stuff in nearby (to me) Rhode Island.
  • Check Interactions - DrugDigest (reference, health, medicine)
    • Check on the interactions of various drugs, and also how food and alcohol may have an effect.
  • AmericanGreetings.com - Humps (animation, flash, funny, holidays, parody, wtf)
    • Not sure what to make of 3 lipsticked camels with treasure on their humps.
  • IMDb Bottom 100 (video, movies)
    • Worst 100 films according to the raters at IMDB.
  • William Shatner DVD Club (DVD, movies, video, wtf)
    • Join the club and Bill Shatner will send you a new DVD of his choice every month. No, really.
Posted by James at 9:52 AM | Comments (12)

January 5, 2006

Not Giving Up Fresca Any Time Soon

Worried that diet soft drinks might give you cancer?

Evidence shows diet soda actually lowering your risk of certain cancers.

You can thank me later when you don’t have esophageal cancer. Just don’t get carried away. I don’t want to be blamed for you bloating up on CO2.

Sharon, Fresca is on sale again at Stop & Shop. Race you there.

Posted by James at 9:56 PM | Comments (5)

The Ringer

Bull and I went to see “The Ringer.” It’s a movie directed by Barry W. Blaustein, but produced in part by the Farrelly brothers, and their influence shows.

Johnny Knoxville stars as Steve Barker - mild mannered regular good guy who is backed into a financial corner by his desire to be a nice guy. In order to get out of a hole, and help out a friend, he lets his uncle talk him into pretending he is mentally challenged and competing in the Special Olympics. Uncomfortable with the idea, he half-heartedly goes along with it until he sees the other competitors.

In the face of what he is about to do, his heart erodes away his nerve and he nearly backs out. But when he trips in front of Special Olympics volunteer Lynn (played endearingly by Katherine Heigl) he’s entranced and knocked into the character of “Jeffy.” “Hi, I’m Jeffy and I like apples!”

The Special Olympians are fully fleshed out characters, given at least as much respect as the main character. Just as the song “Respect” appears at one point in the movie, I think a healthy respect for the competitors is seen throughout.

The amazing thing this movie does is take what is, on the face of it, a despicable act and turn it into not (only) crude comedy, but sympathetic comedy. There are laughs at the expense of everyone in this film.

There’s not a whole lot of complexity to the plot. It pretty much is what you think it is, and it’s a frame for a ton of situational jokes. Not only must “Jeffy” compete in the events, he has to live with some of his opponents. Under that close scrutiny, it’s a challenge to pull off this ruse. These folks are challenged, but they’re not stupid. And they’re talented as well. Early on, Steve realizes that he may not find it so easy to beat “Jimmy” - the reigning champion. Not without some help.

I found the jokes to be pretty funny, and Bull and I were laughing quite a bit. And while laughing at differences is easy, I think people will find that there’s more to this film than the obvious jokes.

Posted by James at 6:38 AM | Comments (10)

January 2, 2006

Hit With A Dull Stick

Sorry, folks. Over the last few days I’ve felt like I’ve been hit on the head with a dull stick. It’s a good thing I took time off from work, because if I were there, I would likely be staring at the screen of my computer, wondering what all those funny symbols mean.

Duhhhhh.

Likewise, I’ve stayed away from my blog because blank space on the blog is marginally better than “Duhhhhhh. I likes chockomunk ice cream!”

OK, so I did build a robot. I followed some instructions, and it is just the trainer robot for the Star Wars version of MindStorms. But it has a brain at least. It can respond to light! (see marginally viewable video here). He’s only got one motor and one sensor, and he’s using one of his built-in programs. I’ll have to start working with the other set Maggie got me before I can start doing neat stuff like downloading Java programs to a robot. I dunno what type of robot I ought to build.

BTW: Happy New Year and all. I’m not one to believe that it’s possible to tempt fate, but I remember thinking that 2004 was bad (I think it was the election, mainly) and being glad to see it in the past. Well, 2005 turned out to have some really ugly surprises in store.

But I guess ugly surprises are part of growing up. So, my wishes for 2006 are going to be simple. Health, and appreciating what we have that’s good. To keep it interesting, I hope we can through in a good laugh more often than not.

Cheers, all.

Posted by James at 7:40 PM | Comments (8)