Archive for August, 2008

[meme] The Omnivore’s Hundred

The Omnivore’s Hundred is a list of foods the gastronomic Andrew Wheeler thinks everyone should try at least once in their lives.

The rules of the meme:
1) Bold those you have tried
2) Strikethrough those you wouldn’t eat on a bet.
3) Italicize any item you’ll never eat again.
4) Asterisk any items you’d be interested in trying but have not yet.

1. Venison
2. *Nettle tea
3. *Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. *Crocodile (I’ve had alligator, do they taste different?)
6. Black pudding alias blood pudding alias blood sausage
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. *Borscht
10. *Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. *Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. *Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. *Epoisses
17. *Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes – Apple, cherry, and a very small amount of homebrew watermelon wine. (Very small amount because it was a failed attempt…)
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes – pulled some from the garden today!
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese – uncomfortably close to eating braaaains!
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper Possibly in microdoses, on a bet.
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava – one of the few super-sweet things I like!
30. *Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas – oh hells yes
32. *Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl – but not together (yet!)
33. Salted lassi – Tried mango lassi, wasn’t a fan
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar – again, not together. Not a fan of the smoking.
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly alias J*llo(r)(tm)(c) Shots.
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail mmmmm
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects – Salted roasted crickets (bugs swallowed by accident don’t count)
43. Phaal – Sounds too hot for my tastes
44. Goat’s milk – Goat cheese, but no fresh milk
45. Malt whisky
46. *Fugu – I’d try this in sample quantities (Or on my deathbed)
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. *Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. *Umeboshi
53. *Abalone
54. *Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal – I pretty much will only eat this while stranded in an airport terminal. Used to love ’em though.
56. *Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini – Gin, blech
Beer above 8% ABV
Poutine – Totally eh?
60. *Carob chips – I’ve heard they taste horrible, but I’ll try it once.
61. S’mores
62. *Sweetbreads – thymus glands. Ironically ‘sweetmeats’ are confections (not related to meat)
63. Kaolin – According to a couple sources this is clay (maybe a food additive, but not food).
64. *Currywurst
65. Durian – I’d maybe taste it on a bet.
66. Frogs’ legs – Damn good
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis – it tastes a lot better than it sounds
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette – Doesn’t sound good
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. *Louche absinthe
74. *Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill – I think we ate a turtle once after it was hit by our car.
76. *Baijiu – It can’t be any worse than Linie.
77. Hostess Fruit Pie – Blech.
78. Snail – Good in garlic sauce
79. *Lapsang souchong – sounds good
80. *Bellini – I am not ashamed of liking girlie drinks
81. *Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Kobe beef (American; may not count)
85. Hare – they were all over the place around my parents’ house
86. Goulash
87. Flowers
89. *Horse
90. Criollo – ??? (too generic – according to Wikipedia this could refer to cow, horse, sausage, chocolate, a type of grape…)
91. Spam – I wouldn’t recommend it
92. Soft shell crab
93. *Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. *Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster
98. Polenta
99. *Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. *Snake

Eggcorn, or possible computer-spellcheck-gone-wild?

Saw this in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal and it made me snerk:

“In the case, Leegin Creative Leather Products Inc., a maker of womens’ purses and accessories, was sued by Kay’s Kloset, a Dallas retailer, after Leegin cut off shipments to Kay’s. Kay’s had been discounting Leegin’s wears.”


So yeah, that particular work project just keeps getting better. Today I got this in my email from the manufacturer of a critical component, reaffirming my personal “If it’s not in-stock on Digikey, I do not specify it in my design” policy.

[…] The <display> is on
hold. There are no technical reasons but it has been decided that it will be turned
on again if we receive a commitment from a customer. Makes it a bit harder to sell
without a product but that is the path that <vendor> has chosen to take. At 10K the
display would be $### each. Once turned back on, samples would take 10 to 12 weeks.

So, this display turns out to be a rather special type of display, which we’ve gone to considerable expense in researching, testing, and designing a product around. We’d been working with this vendor for the better part of a year and they’re already aware of and (until around today, apparently) cool with our expected volumes (5kU-10kU, contingent on, among other things, their product actually existing), so this is kind of a giant kick in the nuts. Basically, we’re too small-fish and they’ll maybe consider manufacturing the (already-designed) display product if a larger customer wants some. The specific reason we were working with <vendor> to begin with was that they were the only vendor of this type of display that didn’t give us the old “fuck off, come back and speak to us when you have that PO for 50kU in hand *click*” that seems to be the industry standard. Soooo… project is back to square one, $$$ of development money thrown into the trashcan. Not even from e.g. a big government contract, where it’s pretty much unnoticed and understood if some of the development time we’ve spent vaporizes for reasons beyond our control, but the hard-earned cash of a couple entrepeneurs, who are not going to be the least bit happy that their almost-product just went up in vaporware.


WinLIRC stuff

Yes, it means I’m hacking around on a MythTV setup again. LIRC is Linux Infrared Remote Control, a program for receiving keypresses from a remote control (TVs, etc.) on the computer, and/or blasting out simulated remote-control keypresses. WinLIRC is the same thing, for a Windows box*. Its documentation is a bit lacking however, so this is just a post to save the time of people who Google the error messages and wind up here.

In short: Upon first run, the program expects “Learn” to be the first and only option you ever think about touching (not “OK”, which you, like me, probably thought was the logical choice). And it is expecting a “.cf” file for its config file, not a .cfg or .rc or any of the others suggested in the Config ‘Browse…’ dialog. On first run, type a fresh new (not yet existing) file name (ending in .cf) in the Config box and press Learn, and the resulting steps will create this file. Do not select ‘winlirc.rc’ as the config file, even if this is one of the two logical choices. (You can select ‘’ as the config file, but it probably won’t do anything useful with your remote.)

Also beware that the initial configuration screen defaults to “COM2” as your initial port for some stupid reason. This does not mean that your COM1 or connected device are broken, or that COM1 was in use by another program, etc. It’s just a braindead default (and does not necessarily mean that COM2 is the best choice, or that your machine actually has a COM2 for that matter).

Error message: “WinLIRC failed to initialize. Would you like to change the configuration and try again?”

Solution: This occurs on the first run of the program, since no config file has yet been specified. If you already know you’re going this route, it might be worthwhile to look at the “” file in a text editor to see what’s in there. If you’re just trying it out and want to see if your hardware works, just enter any old filename in the ‘Config’ box and press LEARN. (Again, not ‘OK’.)

Error message: “Could not create dialog boxes.” (In a dialog box…)

Solution: This unclear message means any kind of generic failure to read info about your remote from a config file, probably because the config file doesn’t exist or hasn’t been specified yet. It could also occur if the config file exists, but is in the wrong format, or corrupted, or otherwise does not contain the info WinLIRC is looking for (for example, if you chose ‘winlirc.rc’ as the config file).

*Heresy, I know. The Myth box is a real Linux system, honest. I’m trying the untested IR receiver hardware on my Windows box first since running it there is a double-click rather than dicking around with why the LIRC kernel driver is barfing errors, and that machine actually has a free serial port vs. the uncertainty of whether all this timing-based stuff has any hope of working over a USB-to-serial converter.

IT Groaner

Q: What’s the last thing you do when you know your hard drive’s about to die?
A: Read its last writes…

It’s a mean old bitch and it has stupid name, bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch bitch

So, I got an email back today from a contractee, whereupon I learned:
1) A technology I created, which I envisioned as having significant pro-consumer subversive uses, will instead be used as a carrier for evil (“hey, can it collect usage data to sell to credit-card companies every time they use it? That would be gr-rrreat!”)
2) It’s going to have a really stupid name. The kind of short, vowel-laden nonsense syllable combination used by start-up Web marketing firms and overly cute Web 2.0 niche services for the Myspace generation. But stupider.


Haulin’ Gluteus, and maybe kickin’ some!

So, this weekend was the weekend of much furniture and other Stuff hauling, helping Kr* move into the World’s Tiniest Apartment in Waltham. Here is where our childhood Tetris addictions paid off. Budget Rent-a-moving-truck was supposed to have the 10-footer we reserved, but, whoopsie-doodle, didn’t. So the options were either a smaller van, or a mondo 16-footer that couldn’t be brought around corners or parked anywhere. She went for the van, which was (in my book) good news since neither of us drives a giant windowless pedo-van much / at all.

There are the van contents after we removed some stuff at the back. Insertion and removal of the mattress took multi-person pushing and shoving.

Also, upon driving to the address for the first time, I discovered that it brings my right past a couple of local adversaries, old and new. The first is my ex’s ex, my main source of threatening letters a couple years ago (now an obsolete adversary, but I still remember where the sucka lives)…the second, serendipitously enough, is this SPAMMER who’s been presumably running a dictionary attack* on my company’s mailserver, and whose first SPAM I received just a couple days before driving to Kr*’s place. (Why would a spam company ever put their street address on a piece of spam? To comply with the new US CAN-SPAM law. Basically, the law says that if you don’t forge the headers, have some kind of (however cumbersome) ‘Unsubscribe’ process, and put your company’s street address on the mailings, you Can Spam all you want.

The fact that it’s right on the way, driving right past it once a week or more is just too much of an opportunity to resist! WhaddoIdo, whaddoIdo?

* The spams are coming to a short address I have never actually sent mail from, but is there for the convenience of other employees.
>> 550 No such mailbox
>> 550 No such mailbox
>> 250 OK, ready the firehose

Sure, I could jump through some hoops to ‘Unsubscribe’, but there’s principle involved here, and I think a letterbomb (of malarious mosquitos… fed on a steady diet of C-4… and covered in a mixture of anthrax and flesh eating bacteria… atop a stinky dead fish) would be a lot more fun. What is your proposal for dealing with a local spammer with a known address, probably operating out of a single (rented) studio in an office-park building?

Bank of America(R) Doesn’t Like your Lifestyle

Via LJ::pervygeekfancy

Geek dating site opens, accepts most comers, including all gay/bi/lez/mixed/poly preferences which are somewhat heavily represented in geekdom. Bank of America(R) signs on as merchant account support. Bank of America(R) isn’t cool with poly. Poly users get their profiles kicked off the dating site with a polite, but unambiguous letter essentially saying, “our sponsor doesn’t accept your type, so out the door you go.

I guess the real crux of it is that they’re anti-swinger and can’t (or won’t) distinguish between polys and swingers, but there ya go. Three jeers to BofA for pushing the policy, and to for bowing to it rather than sign a merchant account elsewhere.

Garden stuff!

So, we’ve been tearing weeds (once in a while) out of this garden for a while now, but few people have actually seen it. So here it is!

[Our Garden]

It’s in a great spot since directly behind our house is a ballfield, which means a) plenty of light (no tall houses behind it blocking the sun) and b) gardening at night / after work! (they keep the field lit ’til 11pm, keeping the yard lit enough to do some stuff).

Not pictured (either not ready, already harvested or too small / weed-covered to see): Snap peas, radishes, onions, spinach, oxheart carrots, green beans, honeydew and heirloom melons, pumpkin. A full list (actually, garden map in 1ft increments (boy are we formal (or just nerds))) is published here.

Also, recipe (apparatus and method) for one

kickass omlette:

4 Eggs
Salt (1/4tbsp)
Pepper (to taste)
Water (“a splash”…about 1-2 full shot glasses worth, or quick run of the faucet…exact amounts not critical)
Bacon (1/4lb)
Other pork (ham or canadian bacon) to taste
1 small yellow squash and/or zucchini, (peppers would probably be good too)
Monterey Jack and/or Mexican-style cheese blend (enough to entirely cover the eggs)
2-3 slices Velveeta / American cheese (the stuff that comes in prepackaged slices and looks like plastic)
1 Scallion
5-8 fresh cherry tomatoes
2-3 large fresh basil leaves
1/2tbsp minced garlic

1 *large* pan, 3 bowls, 1 cutting board.

Warm up the ham on a large pan (it’s already cooked, so no need to go overboard here – just get it toasty warm). Drop it on a cutting board and start the bacon cooking on medium heat. While it cooks make sure the cheese is out so it can warm up, and prepare the remaining ingredients into 2 bowls (one for the squash/vegetables, one for everything else) : Cut the squash into small cubes and drop it into the first bowl. Slice up the remaining non-cheese ingredients (ham, scallions, tomatoes, basil), add the garlic, mix it all together into the 2nd bowl. Now the cutting board is free and the bacon is about done; extract the bacon (leave the drippings in the pan) to the cutting board, drain off most of the drippings into Bowl #3, and swap the contents of Bowl #1 (squashes) into the pan. Salt and pepper them to taste, and stir/flip (depending on your level of coordination) occasionally until they’ve softened up and start to brown. While these cook, slice/crumble the bacon into Bowl #2 and crack the eggs into Bowl #1 (now empty), add the water and 1/4tbsp salt (again, exact amounts not critical) to the eggs and scramble. When the squashes are done, add them to Bowl #2 (remix if necessary), re-add a bit of bacon drippings to the pan if it seems too dry, lower the heat to maybe 30% and pour in the eggs. Let these solidify slowly – if one section is cooking faster than another you can redistribute them, but don’t agitate them too much or it’ll break apart too easily. (Or if you’re the coordinated type who flipped the squash, flip the egg mass over.) Once the top surface of the eggs is nearly cooked (solidifying), sprinkle a healthy layer of cheese directly on top of the eggs and drop the American cheese slices on top of that, and cover. Once the cheese is mostly melted, kill the heat. As soon as the cheese is fully melted, dump the entire contents of Bowl #2 on one side, fold the other side over it and serve.

First New England RepRap User’s Group Meeting at Olin College

Toward the end of July a couple friends and I had the chance to drop in to the first New England RepRap usergroup meeting. RepRap is short for Replicating Rapid Prototyper (a.k.a. 3D printer), the goal being an open-source machine design capable of making most of its own parts. The machine itself consists of a lightweight metal scaffold (made from inexpensive standard aluminum tubing and/or Home-Despot-grade threaded rod), a flat (wood/plastic) table, a printhead, and some stepper motors to move the table up and down (Z) and the printhead in the X and Y directions. The “printhead” (rather, extrusion head) pulls a thin strand of thermoplastic from a reel (kind of like extremely thick fishing line) into the moving head, where it is heated to its melting point and, on command, pooped (extruded) out of a nozzle onto the table starting at surface level. Successive layers of molten plastic are laid down, one on top of the next, to create a finished 3D plastic part.

[RepRap Usergroup Meeting Photos]

Here are some photos and a video of a machine in action. This particular machine is an older design, and didn’t seem to have survived the transport to the meeting very well (and based on the printed parts shown at the meeting, might have still been a work in progress – the RepRap blog shows the machine is capable of some much nicer parts). Still, it was cool to see an emerging disruptive technology such as this one in a state that proves its feasibility.

Only in Medford…