Archive for September, 2007


9:42 am, Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

You’ve probably heard about that MIT student that got arrested at the airport for wearing a “device” on her sweatshirt. Here’s a picture of the thing:

Star Simpson sweatshirt device

I’m amazed at the number of people (especially on Slashdot) deriding the police for how they responded. I mean, the girl comes to the airport with some obviously-homemade electronics pinned to her chest and, when questioned by airport staff, just walks away… Rudeness aside, how could she think that’s okay? It almost seems like this was something she did intentionally to get attention; maybe she thought this was a good way to point out how ridiculous airport security has become. (BTW, anyone notice the design on her hoodie? It’s a stick-figure person running around on fire. Kinda makes one wonder if there’s a logo for suicide bombers…)

Not the greatest week for my generation… first the “Don’t tase me, bro!” guy, now this.

Anyway, here’s what I made for lunch yesterday: Spaghetti alfredo with steak. (Had to use up those petite sirloin leftovers.)

Steak with spaghetti alfredo

Ordered a couple used books that I’m looking forward to reading: The Dark Side of the Sun, and Permutation City. (For the longest time I couldn’t find a copy of the latter selling for less than $35 and suddenly multiple copies are springing up on Amazon and eBay for $8.50. Wonder what happened?)

Hey, didja see the new VG Cats? Love the Sliders reference! With the classic cast, even (see? Prof. Arturo’s there). Keen.

My mafia game ended yesterday. Turns out we lynched the wrong guy. But in our defense, he was being a major twit (kept threatening to quit and get replaced, which makes discussion nearly impossible) and only role-claimed in response to another player doing the same. Plus Per and somestrangeflea (the mafia members in Newbie 432) really did work some amazing strategy on us. By putting each other to lynch -1 on day 2, they made sure the survivor would look awfully innocent. Very clever.

Hum, what else? Finally got my GeForce 7900 GS in the mail. Installed it with no problems, works great. Took the opportunity to blow all the dust out of my case. Oh, also, downloaded GURPS Spaceships from e23 (just came out yesterday). I’m actually not all that impressed with it; it’s too granular, IMO. Does seem like it’ll make space combat easier though.

Worked out 9/21. Want to see Resident Evil: Extinction sometime soon.


2:13 am, Thursday, September 20th, 2007

I’m about to head over to the gym, but I wanted to blog this evening’s meal first. Tonight we had petite sirloin steaks ($3.99/lb. at IGA), cottage cheese, salad (see the salad, mom?), and garlic bread. I cooked these steaks with Jaden’s “massive salting” technique, which I found through reddit (via popurls).

(Tangent: Un-capitalized proper names annoy me. They’re too easy to “read over” and I worry that someone will see them and think I don’t proofread. Hence the “PopURLs” title in the sidebar.)

The technique really does improve the taste and texture of the meat, but I think it makes it hard to get good color on the exterior. And she’s right about it not working on smaller cuts; I also grilled two smaller sirloins (~3.5-4 oz. maybe) that received this treatment and they didn’t turn out as nicely. But look at the cross section of that larger steak (pic on right)… Yum.

Steak, salad, cottage cheese, garlic bread    Nice, medium-rare steak

Before dinner we had some slices of Golden Delicious apple with cheese curds. They went together surprisingly well.

Great Top Chef episode tonight — Hung won the elimination challenge (I thought Brian deserved it a little more) and they finally kicked Sara off (good riddance). Is it just me, or was she playing up the “I’m Jamaican” angle a whole lot more in this one? I swear her accent got way thicker in this episode. The next two episodes will be the finale. Hung’s the obvious favorite, but I really hope Casey wins. Her ideas and presentation have been consistently awesome since the first week. The only person in the final four that I’d absolutely hate to see win is Dale. Also, yay for Gail coming back. I’m so sick of Padma and Colicchio — Gail Simmons and Ted Allen are the only semi-regular judges whose opinions I trust.

Some quick links before I take off:


3:35 am, Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Bloof. Just got home from the gym. I think these workouts are starting to have some kind of effect; like, I’ve got more energy or something… When I got towards the end of my time on the elliptical (12 min., maintaining a heartrate of 140 bpm) I wasn’t constantly thinking “OMG this is so hard, I just wanna stop, OMG, etc. etc.” like usual.

Something I thought of today: I remember hearing a guest on the Colbert Report (it was the author of Stumbling on Happiness, I think) say that we’re more likely to be happy when our choices are limited. He gave an example of a guy buying some piece of clothing, like a sweater or something. If the guy buys it from a store that doesn’t allow returns, he’ll probably be pretty satisfied with the sweater. But if he buys it from a store that does allow returns, he won’t be as content. In other words, the more options a person has available to them, the more unhappy they’ll be with their current situation.

So doesn’t this mean we’re all going to become less happy as time goes on? Every decade we’re given more options — more new products, more free time, more personal wealth (on a broad scale), more culturally-acceptable lifestyle choices… The longer you live, the more it feels like you’re “missing out.” (Because you are!) I wonder if the Amish are generally more happy than the rest of the country? Judging by the difference in suicide rates it sure seems like it.

Anyway. Brett and I were in Spokane this weekend from Friday evening to Sunday morning. On Friday, we played Sequence and Ticket to Ride with his parents. Then on Saturday we went to Merlyn’s (a big comic shop), where I got Knights of the Dinner Table #126-130, the first Goon TPB, and the new 4th ed. GURPS Ultra-Tech. (Their graphic novel selection wasn’t that great IMO, but they had a ton of hard-to-find GURPS books.) Then we had lunch at Raw (a sushi place); good salmon, great snapper, decent eel, fantastic rolls (esp. their “Da Bomb” roll).

Around 6:00, we headed over to the Big Easy concert house for the Bright Eyes thing. The opening act was awful — some incredibly whiny solo artist whose name I couldn’t catch because he practically swallowed the microphone. The guy did, like, six songs. The Bright Eyes stuff was better, but still hardly my preferred genre. Brett liked it though.

On the way back to the car, around 10:00, we were approached by a couple — a blonde in her late thirties (think Fran Drescher’s mom from The Nanny, but prettier) and a younger black guy (who looked like he had Apert’s syndrome). We had a brief exchange that went like this:

Guy: (with his arm around the woman) Haha, hey, you guys think my lady looks nice?
Brett: Heh, yes, she’s pretty.
Me: Yeah, very nice.
Guy: Yeah, haha, wouldn’t you want to take her home?
Woman: (smiles, looks embarrassed)
Brett: Haha, no, that’s okay.
Me: Um, heh…
Guy: Haha, you guys! Have a nice evening!

After we’d walked about a half-block, I said to Brett, “Boy, that’s a funny couple, huh?” And he goes, “Haha, yeah, that pimp was pretty polite.” And I was like, “Whaaaat? No way! They were– she was a… Haha, what? Really?” In hindsight it’s pretty obvious, of course. But I was floored for a second — there are some things I just never expect.

We met up with my parents on Sunday morning (they were in Spokane for a polo game). They gave us an air conditioner like Andi’s, a new Magic Bullet (Brett’s broke a few months ago), and some really good huckleberry mini-muffins.

Anyway, that was the weekend. Not a whole lot’s happened since then except we finally lynched someone in my game (and he was mafia, which was critical since we’d entered LyLo) and I got my Louis C.K. DVDs (finally got to see the first part of Shameless — very, very funny). Oh, and tonight I made baked spaghetti for dinner. It has onions, layers of cheddar and parmesan, and a havarti (over crumbled Ritz crackers) topping. Very filling.

Baked Spaghetti

Blarg, this was a long post.


3:15 am, Friday, September 14th, 2007

I bought into the Peggle hype. (If you’re not familiar, it’s kind of like pachinko or Plinko from The Price is Right.) You can download the game for free here. Fun and addictive; it’s the new Bejeweled. Check it out — I managed to totally clear stage 1-4:

Peggle 1-4 totally cleared

You know MSNBC put Peggle in their “Top 5 Adddicting Games” list? They also had Doom, World of Warcraft, Everquest, and Tetris. I think my list would go: World of Warcraft, Armadillo Run, Alpha Centauri, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Lumines.

We made a ton of stew last night. Because we overestimated the amount of meat and veggies necessary, we ended up having to make a second big pot (luckily, I had a quart of vegetable broth in the pantry for the second batch). Both stews came out very thick. Ingredients: Cabbage, corn, tomatoes, barley, stew beef, carrots, green beans, onions, celery, red potatoes, orangetti squash, and various seasonings. We put a lot of the best batch in the big Mason jar I got from my mom so we can take it up to Spokane tomorrow to share with Brett’s parents.

Super thick stew

I have a PowerColor Radeon X800GTO (256MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16) video card in my primary system and I absolutely loathe it. It’s caused me more problems than just about any other component and it’s not even defective (not by the manufacturer’s standards, anyway). I’ve tried tons of different drivers, dozens of settings combinations, reseated the card twice, researched the problem on AnandTech and other such forums, talked to my very video card-savvy IM buddies… and nothing’s worked — I still have display problems with the thing. Sometimes when I start up the system, or anytime I exit (or alt-tab from) a fullscreen game, or under some other conditions, my screen will begin flipping between its normal display and black. Every couple seconds. The only way to fix it is to restart. (And it’s not the monitor — I don’t have this trouble when I connect it to my laptop.)

Anyway, this vexation will cease very soon. I’ve finally purchased a new video card! It’s been surprisingly hard to find one that benchmarks better than my current card for around $100 (even though this X800GTO is more than a year old). But the PNY GeForce 7900GS meets my (apparently narrow) criteria. Goodbye, crappy ATI Catalyst control center!

Unbelievably tasty discovery of the week: The Häagen-Dazs Pomegranate & Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Bar. They’re kind of expensive at $5.19 for a box of three, but they’re incredible. The ice cream is tart, but not too tart — matches the chocolate perfectly.

Okay, off to bed. Worked out tonight (Thurs. 9/13).


4:05 am, Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

Steve Jackson Games products sure attract a weird bunch of people. I’d compare the fanbase to MetaFilter’s, but with more Europeans and less vitriol. Some of them are damn funny too. Take this reply I got from Hitekwaiter on UltraCorps, for example:

> Excellent, then it’s settled: We won’t attack each other until the vile Senitron and filthy Jbnimble are dead. (Also, I won’t take Madiis and you won’t take Oktober.)

> Long live the Volkspider-Hitekwaiter Non-Aggression Pact.




Maybe it’s just my peculiar sense of humor, but that made me roffle. I love the all-caps explanatory note at the end. It’s strange how negotiation has emerged as one of the more enjoyable aspects of UltraCorps.

Boy, autumn sure has dropped on Pullman like a ton of bricks. It’s supposed to reach 80 °F today and 38 °F tonight. Doesn’t that seem like an unusually wide temperature range?

BTW, there were like six people at the gym tonight. At 12:40 AM! Where were they last week? Could be that SNAP Fitness’s membership is just growing very quickly. They did start their “official grand opening” promotions this week, after all. (Free iced coffees and balloons; not that big a deal.)

Urban Dead’s been fun lately. Today me and a dozen other zombies managed to take out the barricades at a police station. Much feeding ensued. Check out all these chumps I infected:

Police station zombie feast in Urban Dead

Okay, time for bed.

Edit: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention: I added that FEEDJIT live traffic map to the sidebar. It looks kinda cool, but I probably won’t keep it. (Google Analytics does the same thing anyway.) Just wanted to try it out for a little while.


12:05 am, Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

When my parents came on Saturday they brought appliances; an air conditioner for my sister’s place upstairs and my birthday present: A portable, island-style dishwasher! It’s a Maytag. Very easy to use, too — just roll it near the sink, plug it in, and connect the hose socket to the faucet. Here’s a pic of where the cable and hose store away on the back of the unit:

Portable dishwasher hookups

So while she was here my mom instigated a cleaning frenzy the likes of which this apartment hadn’t seen in many a month. She and dad were only here for, like, five hours, so it wasn’t quite enough time to hit everything, but between myself, her, and Brett (before he left for work), we got the toilet scrubbed, the patio swept, wisteria trimmed (and lots of leaves and twigs bagged), lots of dishes done, and a lot of garbage taken out (esp. pizza boxes). Today, six loads of dishes later, I finally finished totally cleaning up the kitchen. Behold:

Cleaned kitchen

Also, while my dad was at the hardware store getting stuff to install Andi’s air conditioner he picked up some hooks for the pegboard next to my stove. Dunno why I never thought of that… Anyway, I think it looks really cool with all the kitchen equipment hanging up. Makes the utensils and so on a lot more accessible.

Kitchen pegboard

My mom also brought some super thick ribeyes from the Yolk’s back in Pasco. You just can’t get meat of this quality in Pullman. Anyway, I grilled them the night before last. Served ‘em with some mashed potatoes and pasta. Huge steaks. End-product:

Thick ribeye steak with mashed potatoes and pasta

I think that’s about it. Not a whole lot else going on… I bought a two-year subscription to Wired because some slick business major was selling them door to door and I’m weak. Still going to the gym regularly. I’m going again tonight (as soon as I finish this post, in fact)… this’ll be visit #4 since we got the membership last Wednesday. My intent is to go every other day (3.5 times a week) for the first month, 4x/wk. the second, and 5x/wk. the third. To keep myself accountable, I’ll be logging my visits here. (Just something simple at the end of posts, like “Worked out 9/9, 9/11.” I wonder if there’s a WP plugin I can use for that…)

Okay, I’m off.