Sunday, August 26, 2007

Intentional, or is it?

Headlines: Saw these at the NYT, (or did I?):

US Open Blog: US Behind, or Has World Caught Up?

A double-perspective: It works fine except what do we have here?

The World: This War Is Not Like the Others — or Is It?

This post: It is finished, or is it?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Vichyssoise and Blanquette de Veau

Vichyssoise! It's supposed to be cold (Holy Batman reference!).

Didn't take a picture of the mise this time but caught the ingredients lounging there all unawares:

It's a nice and simple recipe. If you like onions and potatoes (hash browns anyone?) then you like this soup. It's creamier, it's a bit more work, but it's basically onion and potato soup. Sweat the white part of the leaks, cut the potatoes into cubes, and then dump in with a bunch of chicken stock. Cook until potatoes are mushy, blend, strain, add cream and nutmeg (I forgot the nutmeg), salt to taste, chill. Garnish with some chives and you get:

Nice and easy. Mine came out slightly thick (too many potatoes) but the great thing is you can thin out the soup to the desired texture at the blending stage. Just add more stock! OK, that was easy. On to the Blanquette de Veau.

According to Bourdain, it's all about white. Everything should be white. Well ok, mushrooms won't be white no matter how you cook'em but the sauce should be white so it'll cover parts of the mushrooms. Mise below:

Pearl onions and the button mushrooms will both be covered with water and boiled until the water's gone with a pat (about a tablespoon) of butter. The big onion, celery, carrot, and the bouquet garni (the white cheesecloth package down there) go in to a big pot with all the veal. Shoulder, cut into 2 inch squares. Once the veal is cooked (about 2 hours) and all the scum skimmed off, you'll be left with fragrant veal soup. Yum!

Next step is the sauce: make a roux by blending flour into butter after the butter has been heated and the foam subsided. Don't burn the flour like I did! It'll brown the sauce and then Bourdain will get mad at you and you don't want an obnoxious bastard like him making snarky comments about your roux. He chewed me out RIGHT as my flour hit the butter.

Once the roux is made, mix in a bit of the veal stock slowly to emulsify. Continue mixing and adding in the liquid until it's all blended. Cook until it starts to thicken (not too much!). At that point salt and pepper to taste and add in the pearl onions and mushrooms. Cook for about 5-8 minutes.

When ready to serve, take a bit of the hot sauce and mix an egg yolk and juice from half a lemon into it and then reincorporate back into the sauce. Put some nice white rice on the plate (in a ball if you follow Bourdain's pictures or in whatever fancy schmancy shape you like), some pieces of veal on the plate, and then drizzle with sauce. The pearl onions should melt like a ball of sweet goodness in your mouth and the veal should be fork tender. If you burnt the roux like I did it'll look like this:

Yup. Not quite white. But close. And now I know. Which is half the (culinary) battle. And if also, like me, you made way too many portions for one person, then this is what you'll be eating for the next couple of nights (not that it's a bad thing):

OK, so a bit heavy on the starch. Potato soup, bread, and rice. We've got some protein from the veal and the vegetables? Uhm...onions and mushrooms TOTALLY count. I'll eat more vegetables at other meals anyway.

And yes, two balls of rice look kinda like boobies. You think I didn't notice? Hu hu hu. "Boobies".

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Error Messages

A lot of VBScripting recently has me seeing all sorts of vague error messages and I've got a thought: why can't they be less vague? For one thing, they're kind of stoic: "End Expected at line 148." Descriptive, but not much fun. For another thing, the syntactical error messages don't always tell you what's really wrong. If you name a function "ILikeBigButts(boolean BrotherLies)" and you accidentally invoke it with "ILikeBadonkadonk( true )" you'll get something talking about a type mismatch.

See that word? Mismatch, meaning that there are two things to match. But the truth of the matter is, there's no match to miss. The ILikeBadonkadonk function simply doesn't exist. Yes, I suppose nothing as a type does not match something but such existential queries probably don't need to be illustrated in the bowels of VBScript.

I suggest we update the error messages to be more colorful. Instead of "Type Mismatch," why not "That Shit Ain't Nowhere, Foo!" Or for "End Expected" we could have "Waiting for Armageddon" (Waiting for Armagodot...). For that matter, every other interface has the concept of "styles" down now, we should be able to customize development environments with error message styles. Personally, I'd go for "Dangerous Ganster Rapper Running from the Law". That'll really put the urgency into those messages.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Adverb Spelling Disease

I saw an insult on the Yahoo Finance boards today and I lawled. You would too if somebody insulted you like this. Imagine somebody getting all up in your face. He's serious and aggressive and he's about to call you some names, you can just feel it. The rage he exudes is palpable and he's going to berate you verbally somethin' fierce. His massive chest heaves up in a great intake of air and he calls you a
"..miserably systic [sic] fibrosis!"
What do you do? What can you do when faced with perfect, beautiful nonsense? In three words we've got an adverb used as an adjective, misspelling, and the misappropriation of a disease as an insult. That sounds like a pretty good idea for an insult formula actually. Let me have a go!

I think you should shut up you...
  • Pathetically Pulmonairy Embolism!
  • Stupidly Renul Failure!
  • Moronically Subdurel Hematoma!
  • Quickly Hemerajic Fever!
  • Vicariously Sikul Sell Anemia!
Just more proof for John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Futures Made of Virtual Insanity

I've been just obsessed with this today. I don't know why but I get on to these indefinite loops. The Russian National Anthem was one. And the latest involves Jamiroquai's Virtual Insanity and, to some extent, Jay Kay. He's a pretty unique performer and Virtual Insanity is a great piece of work. The video is great as well and is a nice visual puzzle for those who like these kinds of things. I'm going to get all multimedia on you guys:

There's a making of video on youtube that explains the movements.

The other thing is I think I have a man-crush on Jay Kay. He's so cute! He's got that hat habit which is much more a geek than a fashion statement. Some of them are pretty ugly but rarely are they boring. He also did an adorable interview on Top Gear a while back that stole my heart for a few reasons: he acts like a happy kid, he set one of the top times for the first generation of Stars in a Reasonably Priced Car, and he's a car man himself. He sounds fantastic live, he's got real musical talent, and he's got these distinct dance moves.

It strikes me that Maroon 5 sounds a little like him sometimes. Compare "Sunday Morning" to Virtual Insanity. But as catchy as Maroon 5 is sometimes, Jay Kay seems like a more distinct and interesting artist. OK, sorry for the false alarm on the gaydar, but his image is cute!

Which is why I wonder why he has to keep punching photographers. Chill man! Ignore them and go back home then take a drive in your RS4, or RS6, or DB5, or F355, or the mesmerizing Miura, or the flying F40 AND the F50, or the freaking Flying Spur, or the dangerous Diablo, or the possible Pope Mobile, or the epic Enzo. My point is that I like your cars. Can I come for a ride? Better yet you keep punching photographers and I'll drive your cars. That way everyone's happy.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


My sleep schedule is all messed up. So after a night of weird neurological (possibly?) ticks and vague insomnia, I get a call from the company for tech support. I miss the call itself but caught it on voicemail. It's a bit of an emergency and I'm not sleeping anyway so why not! Drag myself out of bed and start debugging. Nothing like looking at Single Sign On code at 5:30 in the mornin'.

But anyway, my main point is this: I've been hearing birds yapping away intermittently outside my window. I don't know what they're doing but they make some gahdwaful noises at 6AM!

And now I don't know what to do. Stay up? Get to sleep? Eat dinner? Take a nap?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

IP Address conversion

This took me way too long to figure out. Converts IP addresses from decimal notation to quad dotted form. In ASP.

Function MyHex(ByVal Number)
Dim Sign
Const HexChars = "0123456789ABCDEF"
Sign = Sgn(Number)
Number = Fix(Abs(CDbl(number)))
If Number = 0 Then
MyHex = "0"
Exit Function
End If
While Number > 0
MyHex = Mid(HexChars, 1 + (Number - 16 * Fix(Number / 16)), 1) & MyHex
Number = Fix(Number/16)
If Sign = -1 Then MyHex = "-" & MyHex
End Function

Function decToQuad(Byval dec)

HexVal = MyHex(dec)
ip = ""

for i = 0 to 3
temp = Left(HexVal,2)
ip = ip & Eval("&H" & temp) & "."
Hexval = Right(Hexval, Len(Hexval) - 2)
decToQuad = Left(ip, Len(ip) - 1)
end function

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I don't like some people...

I was just thinking how much I dislike Bill O'Reilly (after seeing yet another video of his being a dick). I thought to my self, "Lord, I really hate Bill O'Reilly." That wasn't a cry out to any kind of deity, by the way.

But actually, I'm really behind the times because this made me Laugh Out Loud:

Wow! A site whose domain name is precisely what I was thinking! Now if only there were a "".

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Simple Snack and Some Soba

I've had around 2 shots worth of Ketel One in my freezer for a while now. My Ketel One martini phase, which for me was basically Ketel One from the freezer shaken with a little bit of ice and poured into a martini glass, apparently ended just before I finished the bottle. I had an urge to have some today so decided to roll it into a little pre-dinner snack. Here's what it looked like:
Couple toast points, some caviar, and some chilled vodka in a chilled cordial. After I wolfed this down I took the rest of my bread and made some Melba toast (with bacon grease! >) ) and spread some pate on to it, leading to the post before the last.

With the nicer looking/snootier portion of my meal done I got to making myself a main course:
It looks huge but it didn't take very long to ingest. This would be soba cooked and drained. Meanwhile, julienne some kielbasa (for which I've got a bit of a thing) and fry it up a little in just a teensy bit oil. When caramelization starts, toss in the peas, throw on the lid for a bit for a quick steam, and then white pepper to taste. Dump in the soba, stir to mix, and then add in a little soy sauce. Just enough to splash all the noodles. Continue "stir frying" until the soy sauce forms a light glaze and then plate.

The baby bok choy on top of all that noodle is my favorite kind. Heat up some oil (I like bacon grease) until it's very very hot. You can't use butter here unless it's clarified, but even then the taste is too creamy. Vegetable oil works very well. As the oil is heating up (or before), cut off the end of the bok choy so that you have separate leaves. Wash well but don't over dry. Leave it damp.

In one motion, dump all the bok choy into your wok so that it muffles any oil splatter. You should hear some loud sizzles though. Stir quickly, reduce heat to medium high, and put a lid on. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring the bok choy occasionally and putting the lid back on. As soon as you see the bok choy start to take on a deep green color, remove the lid and salt to taste. Stir for about 30 more seconds and remove from wok immediately. It should be crispy, slightly salty, and very very fresh tasting.

Eggs and Tomatoes

OK, here's a classic Chinese home cooking dish. Easy as heck! First, you scramble some eggs. The way I do it is to beat about 4 eggs (salt a bit first) very well. Dice some scallions and throw them in as well.

In a wok or a relatively big pan, heat up some oil until it's very hot (almost smoking). I'd say about a tablespoon for every 2 eggs, or 3 if you have a non-stick pan. Once the oil is very hot, dump in the beaten eggs quickly. Use a chopstick or other untensil to gently push around the mixture, exposing the un-set egg to hot oil as quickly as possible. After about 30 seconds, stir vigorously to break the egg s roughly into big chunks. Pepper to taste if you like.Then take some tomatoes (I use about 3-4 vine ripes on sale!) and cut into about 3/4" cubes. You're not making coulis or anything so don't make it too small. Size doesn't matter so much. Heat up some hot oil (a teaspoon) and dump the tomatoes in. Cook until juices are all out and have reduced by about a quarter to a third. A bit of sugar here works well too.
Dump the eggs back in and use a spatula to do double duty: cut up the egg into small chunks and fold the tomatoes and egg together. Keep the heat on high and cook for about 2 minutes.
Plate and serve. Easy stuff and you can feel free to vary the ratio of eggs to tomatoes, scallions to eggs, size of tomatoes, etc. The savory eggs (boosted a lot by the scallions) is a distinct counterpoint to the sweet/sour tomato. And just in case that's not enough calories:
Heat up some pound cake, plop on a whole bunch of chocolate ice cream, and cut up some strawberries. It's like the supermarket special of desserts. But sometimes, you just feel like something obvious, without finesse, and straight forward.

Easy Canape

I've always loved having a little bit of the sourness of a cornichon after a mouthful of liver. So much so, in fact, that I've come to really like the sourness of a cornichon during a mouthful of liver. So, since everyone likes it, why not put some pate on toast points and then sprinkle with julienned cornichons? Just an idea. I'm thinking about this since I just went all Nellie Melba and had some pate on Melba toast...

Objet d'Lust

The Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione.
The $200K question: Will somebody get me one?

Big Bomb

What if a nuclear bomb the size of a 747 crashed into England? I didn't ask the question (saw it on Yahoo Answers). This is so going to get me tagged by homeland security. But here goes:

Let's assume the most powerful kind (fission-fusion-fission) available to date. Biggest detonated ever Tsar Bomba had a theoretical yield of about 100 megatons (though actually detonated at 50 megatons) at 8 meters long and two meters diameter. A 747 is about 70 meters long so let's say roughly 10 times the available material. At that scale the resulting bomb would be, using Tsar Bomba as our unit, 270 tons.

Assuming a linear relation between amount of explosive material (fission/fusionable) and output, that would put our bomb at about 1000 megatons. Approximating the relationship between fireball size and power megaton as a square relationship, we would estimate a fireball diameter of around 10 miles. Doubling it for fun we get a 20 mile radius fireball. Total area of fireball coverage would be about 314 square miles.

England is 80,823 square miles, so about 80K square miles. 300/80000 = ~0.4%.

So even if the bomb were WILDLY successful, it would still blow up far less than 1% of Great Britain.

Problem 1: I'm not sure that a fission-fusion-fission design could scale up that far. Perhaps a multi-stage fission - fusion - multi stage fission...

FYI 2: For the brief moment the bomb would be busy exploding, the power generated would rival a significant percentage of the Sun's power output. I'd say less than 5% but I have no idea how to calculate that. Tsar Bomba got to about 1%.

Anybody have a better estimate?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Jim Cramer: Chode on TV!

Jim Cramer of "Mad Money" fame is a bit heavy on the "mad" for me. I don't see why Cramer is so popular sometimes. Is it like how O'Reilly is getting such high ratings by being a dick most of the time? It's not that Cramer gives generally bad advice or recommendations (though sometimes his track record is a bit questionable) but that he does it in such a simian manner, making loud noises here and throwing fecal matter there. What, you don't believe in the shit-throwing? Check out this little fit:

Is he trying to up his ratings? Is he a passionate guy with no sense of place and propriety? Is he making a public cry out to his doctors for more meds? I'd like to know what is going on there because I am fascinated by how somebody can willingly go on TV and make a chode of himself.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Vomit Comet for 10 Easy Payments!

The Vomit Comet is now available for mass consumption, offered by The Sharper Image, no less. You get 15 parabolic maneuvers, which means 15 chances to empty your stomach and try to enjoy the weightlessness before you're crushed into the airplane floor by the ascent portion of the trajectory. This fancy schmancy high-atmosphere version of the joys of the Spanish Inquisition is available for less than $4k now.

Don't misunderstand, I think weightlessness is fascinating and the Vomit Comet always seemed like a really cool thing to go on. And even Hawking had a great time on one recently. But what a long way we've come from scientific research to recreational puking.