Archive for March, 2007

#761

11:55 am, Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

I made some chili yesterday. I really like how it turned out, so I figured I’d make up a recipe for it.

Chili, March '07

1 lb. hamburger
three-quarters of a large white onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
0.5 tsp. kosher salt
~0.5 tsp. pepper
0.5 tsp. paprika
1.5 tbs. chili powder
2 jalapeno peppers, de-seeded and finely diced
a pinch of jalapeno seeds, finely minced
1 tbs. Frank’s Red Hot sauce
1.5 tbs. brown sugar
a pinch of parsely
1 can of diced and peeled tomatoes, drained
1 can of S&W Santa Fe Recipe
1 can of whole-kernel corn, drained
1 can of pinto beans, drained
1 large/family-sized can (27 oz.) of kidney beans, drained
1 tbs. worcestershire sauce
a pinch of ground mustard
5 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Lightly sauté the onion and garlic in a big pot with a little vegetable oil. When they’re nearly done, add the hamburger. Salt and pepper it as it browns. When it’s done, throw in the canned stuff, then everything else. Cook over medium heat (stirring almost constantly) until the whole mess sort of homogenizes and starts to bubble a little. Then reduce heat to low and stir frequently for about half an hour (best to use a stiff spatula; you just want to keep stuff from sticking to the bottom). Now you can eat it, but it’s even better if you wait a couple hours (or better still, wait until tomorrow). Best served with a little extra sharp cheddar grated on top and a slice of white bread with Country Crock spread.

You know it snowed here yesterday morning? And not just a little, either. It all melted an hour later though.

I downloaded nine gigs of This American Life (formerly: Your Radio Playhouse) episodes about a week ago. I’ve been listening to them on car trips and especially while waiting between classes and riding the bus. Really awesome show. My old Creative MuVo only has a 256 MB capacity, but that’s enough for like 6 hours of Ira Glass goodness.

I’ve discovered some pretty neat stuff via TLA. Aliens in America by Sandra Tsing Loh, for example (the audio version is a must as she does amazing impressions of her aristocrat-wannabe (aristophile?) German mother).

#760

10:59 am, Sunday, March 25th, 2007

Aced my MIS exam. 94/100. I really wish I’d loaded up on caffeine before the test though. I stayed up way too late studying (well, mostly putting-off-studying) and only got a few hours of sleep. In class I wasn’t really tired or in danger of falling asleep, but I found it really hard to focus on the questions. Like, the text seemed blurry even though my eyes were okay. Know what I mean?

I’ve been cooking again. I guess it got Brett in the mood too, cuz he made a really good pork/udon stirfry. Some pics:

Homemade Hamburgers    Brett's Pork/Udon Stirfry    Salmon Fettucini with Bell Peppers

From left to right: Hamburgers (made with soft rolls instead of buns), Brett’s stirfry (with peanuts, fried tofu, and veggies), and salmon fettucini with bell peppers. As I’ve mentioned before, our local grocery store frequently has dirt-cheap salmon — I got two big fillets for eight bucks on our last trip; hence the last dish. I did a new kind of white sauce for that one: A béchamel with a roux base (first time I’d used that thickener), minced garlic, bell peppers, heavy cream, nutmeg, pepper, and a little parmesan. It came out really great; I’m definitely making that one again in the future.

I got a couple items from KingSizeDirect earlier this week. I hadn’t been super impressed with their merchandise in the past (mostly pants), but the prices were good, so I gave them a try again. Anyway, I’m extremely pleased with the stuff I got — a zip-front hoodie and a pair of something called “Judo shorts.” The shorts are huge — they’re practically pants. Insanely comfortable. The hoodie endorses a football team, but that’s okay because it’s my favorite shade of orange and Texas is a pretty neat state. The only problem is that a little stitching came undone on one of the pockets. I think I can fix it though.

Some nifty links:

Patricia Piccinini – The Young Family — A really neat art installation. You’ve probably seen some of it on the internet before, but the images are usually incomplete and uncredited. Possibly NSFW for a little fake quasi-human nudity.

The Wisdom of Children — Very short (but hilarious) New Yorker article by Simon Rich. Funniest thing I’ve read all week. I like the short-sketch (micro-play?) presentation. Here’s one of my favorite bits from Part III: How College Kids Imagine the United States Government:

—Did you hear the news, Mr. President? The students at the University of Pittsfield are walking out of their classes, in protest over the war.

—(spits out coffee) Wha— What did you say?

—Apparently, students are standing up in the middle of lectures and walking right out of the building.

—But students love lectures. If they’re willing to give those up, they must really be serious about this peace thing!

Moskau! — Imagine ABBA if they did Russian dances. Wirklich toll.

Scrubs was actually good this week. Surprised me — I was starting to think it’d jumped the shark. None of the episodes since the introduction of “Private Dancer” (the soldier injured in Iraq) had been terribly enjoyable IMO, but somehow they managed to get back on course with “My No Good Reason” (S06E14). I really hope they can keep it up — “My Long Goodbye” airs April 5th.

And the past few Lost episodes have been really great. I do wish they’d get back to the more paranormal puzzles though, like the black smoke, the numbers, etc. And when are we going to see Libby’s story? They built up her psych ward mystery so much and then just killed her off. I remember hearing a rumor some time ago about her getting her getting her own flashback before the end of season three. Wonder how they’ll pull that off.

I made my first torrent yesterday. I’d share it here, but it’s on OINK and you have to be invited to see the listings. It was much easier than I’d expected.

#759

1:31 am, Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

I’m back in Pullman. Going back to the Tri-Cities this weekend though. The weather here has been pretty odd the past couple days… Today was constant bursts of hail. While walking to Biology 201, I got caught in a surprisingly vigorous flurry of stinging pea-sized chunks. Then, in the afternoon, the J-route bus was a half-hour late. Shorts might not have been the best idea.

The 2007 IMBC is officially open for registration. Tim and I are still changing a few things on the site (mostly cosmetic stuff), but the basic information is all there. The rules have undergone a major overhaul, mostly so we can avoid that ridiculous “vote as you go” system of amendment. One major change is that participants no longer have to post an image every other day — that rule never made sense to me anyway; any monkey can google up a picture. All it really did was weed out people that couldn’t (or didn’t know how to) upload images.

I saw Bridge to Terabithia last Friday. It wasn’t bad. It was aimed at a younger audience than I’d expected though. I’m can’t believe Roeper gave it a thumbs up — it was an okay film, but it contained so many of the clichés that he usually vehemently condemns. One thing I thought was weird about the movie was that the ending can be interpreted two ways; ostenisbly, the film makers meant to deliver a message of hope and support. But in another light (and this interpretation doesn’t require a great leap of imagination), it’s easy to believe the main character is edging towards an unhealthy state of delusion, escaping into a fantasy world as a way to cope with his loss. Worse yet, he’s taking someone very impressionable with him. While watching this movie, I kept thinking that it felt like something older, something meant to be smaller-scale. Maybe that’s just because it has a some superficial similarities to Escape to Witch Mountain. But IMDB confirmed my hunch — the movie was originally a television feature that aired in 1985.

I have a major exam tomorrow, so I need to go study some more. I’ll leave you with this really cool Fiona Apple album title (yes, that whole thing’s the title) I stumbled across a couple days ago on some ad-riddled web site:

When the Pawn Hits the Conflicts He Thinks Like a King What He Knows Throws the Blows When He Goes to the Fight and He’ll Win the Whole Thing ‘Fore He Enters the Ring There’s No Body to Batter When Your Mind Is Your Might So When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won’t Matter, Cuz You’ll Know That You’re Right

#758

4:04 am, Thursday, March 15th, 2007

Well, it’s spring break. I’m in the Tri-Cities again, this time working on a major project at the clinic: a new digital X-ray system. Basically, it means I have to build four new systems, network them, do some weird router stuff for selective internet access, and install LCD arm mounts. While researching parts and so on I stumbled across this site that makes these really cool custom wall plates for I/O ports. Don’t they just make you want to build something? I’m getting some 1-gang plates done for the exam rooms and surgery; they’ll have a USB port at the top, a 3.5mm audio port in the middle, and DVI on the bottom.

As it turns out, Halfway Home sucks. It’s not as bad as Dog Bites Man, but watching the pilot episode all the way through wasn’t easy. I’ll give it one more try before I delete its season pass though.

Been reading Fables TPBs and a science fiction anthology lately. I wasn’t super impressed with Jack of Fables spinoff, but it was pretty cool to see Goldilocks again (her unkillable/constant drowning/getting eaten by fish story was awesome). In the scifi anthology (it’s the 23rd Year’s Best collection), I’ve only read one really great story so far — Second Person, Present Tense by Daryl Gregory. It has to do with this girl that overdoses on a drug that eliminates her consciousness (or at least puts it out of sync with her actions). It’s really fantastic, especially if you like thinking about philosophical issues like determinism and zombies (the less awesome, not-undead variety).

Some nifty links:

Crazy Dolphins vs. the Mad Cows — A cute little animation done in crayon that illustrates a weird story being made up by some gradeschoolers. It’s worth watching just for the facial expressions.

The Worst Supervillain Ever — Words fail me. This panel describes it better than I could hope to:

A panel from Doom Patrol #70

Dwight Schrute Music Video — A full-length version of the promo that ran on NBC a while back.

Someone pointed out to me that all the NBC Thursday night lineup shows (Scrubs, The Office, My Name is Earl, 30 Rock) don’t have laugh tracks. That’s pretty cool. I really hope this is the death knell for canned laughter… now that it’s being used less, I find myself acutely aware of its presence in other sitcoms. I didn’t really think about it before, but now when I hear it I look at the actors; they all pause, no matter what they’re saying, to make room for the audience’s reaction. If I imagine the same scene with the laughter muted, their pauses are really bizarre — it’s like they’re having fits of catatonia or something.

Verizon check - \

#757

2:17 am, Saturday, March 10th, 2007

I’ve been pretty obsessed with this awesome Flash game lately — Desktop Tower Defense. It’s a lot like the custom “TD” maps in WarCraft III, but the interface is way better. Really addictive.

Let’s see, what else… this gas temperature map is pretty nifty, not having a dishwasher sucks, spring break has begun, and the Sarah Silverman Program aired its last episode of the season. Comedy Central seems to be getting better lately… SSP is awesome, The Naked Trucker & T-Bones Show is pretty funny (loved the “My Daddy is an Astronaut” song on the last episode), and Halfway Home looks like could be good (hopefully it won’t be as lame as Dog Bites Man).

Neat YouTube videos: Close But No Cigar (possibly the best animated music video ever; by Kricfalusi and Weird Al), a great IKEA ad, making music entirely via video editing, and Everybody Loves Raymond – Jungle Love (one of my favorite sitcom intros).

BLDGBLOG posted this on MetaFilter a while back in response to the “illegal border crossing” simulation in El Alberto, Mexico:

The next thing they should do is simulate a chainsaw massacre: you and some friends are given an old van that will break down at some point in the next 10 hours – but you don’t know exactly when or where. You are then sent out on backroads into the mountains of western Texas, with no cell phones, and no other form of contact with the outside world.

What’s happening is you have paid a company to hunt you down with chainsaws.

When your van breaks down, however, you get a little freaked out – worried that the game will be too real, or that maybe they won’t know where to find you. After all, one of your friends asks: was the company for real? Or was it just some lunatic? Did you read the fine-print?

And is that man over there looking at all of you, with a chainsaw in his hand, part of the simulation or not…?

You then descend into the hermeneutic abyss of the simulation industry…

I know it’s just parody, but I think it’d really make an awesome horror movie (might have to tone down the Texas Chainsaw Massacre references though, maybe set it somewhere else). I dunno, maybe it’d be too much like The Game.

I finally started the Shangri-La diet after buying the audiobook so many months ago (heard about it while listening to the Freakonomics audiobook). This is my third day. For those not familiar with it, the diet’s about disassociating flavor from calories to lower your body’s “set point” (the weight equilibrium your hunger tries to regulate towards). You do this by ingesting flavorless calories (in the form of oil or sugar water) at least an hour away from anything you can taste (even toothpaste and chapstick). I’ve been using extra light olive oil (the recommended oil — other people use rapeseed, safflower, grapeseed, refined hemp, etc.), specifically the Carapelli brand. The first couple days I was drinking it straight, but that was pretty gross so I tried to find some alternative methods. This thread by LowerBoy on the site’s forums was just what I was looking for — it works really well.

I can’t believe how little appetite I have now. I’m about to go to bed and the only things I ate today were a cheeseburger, large fries, and a cookie. That might not sound very strange for most people, but it is for me. If I can just maintain this level of consumption, I’ll be happy.

#756

10:20 pm, Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

I brought Looker home. She seems very happy to have free run of the indoors again. Brett’s mom wanted to know what she looked like, so I took this picture for him to email:

Brett and Looker - March 07

While I was in Pasco this past weekend, I saw Reno 911!: Miami with Jones. After seeing it, I realized I’d been expecting something worse. But I found it fairly enjoyable. It’s pretty much the same as the TV show, just stretched out a bit and heavier on the blue material. Patton Oswalt was underused for most of the film, but they gave him a couple great lines towards the end. “There’s no immunity to bullets!”

Someone posted a link to this 50 States in 10 Minutes game on AnandTech. I thought “Oh, that’ll be easy,” but I’m ashamed to say I could only remember 45. If you try it, post your score and the states you missed in the comments. Here’re the ones I missed (hidden with Krunk’s special spoiler-hider; click the + to show): [+]

Kinda weird since they’re all pretty memorable except for the first one.

My mom made this awesome dinner on Saturday night — thick ribeye steaks and twice-baked potatoes. I meant to pick up some frozen hamburger and pork while I was over there, but I forgot. Guess it’ll be pastas and soup till I go back for spring break.

Today was supposed to be my first Bio 201 class, but when I arrived at the Heald Hall auditorium there was a sign on the door that said the start date had been postponed to March 20th. It’s just a 1 credit course, but that’s all I need to satisfy my science requirements (well, I really needed 1.4 credits, but luckily they rounded down).

I’ve participated in a few more SketchUp 3D Challenges since I last mentioned it in post #750. Here’s my model of the mansion from Drawn Together, some pool stairs (it was a weird challenge), and my latest submission: A raft in a bottle.

SketchUp: Drawn Together House    SketchUp: Pool Stairs    SketchUp: Raft in a Bottle

Still working on the new, ultra-detailed IMBC 2007 rules. The site will be live (and registration will begin) by March 15th.