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[Comments] (4) Weird Bathroom Observation #2: Toilets in California are shorter, or nearer the floor, or something.

Hey AbiWord Weekly News people: the referenced post is here.

[Comments] (4) Strategic Imitation Limitation Treaty: There's lots of things I can't do, but one of the things I can do is imitate certain voices. Unfortunately most of the voices I can do really well scare Sumana, who has placed restrictions on when and how I can do them.

I can also do a Steve Ballmer and a Bill Gates, but it honestly doesn't sound like them anymore. It's more fun to do charicatures of their voices that only denote them if you're in on the joke.

What voices can you imitate well?

[Comments] (1) Blackberry Cobbler: Last night I tried my hand at making blackberry cobbler. I just combined a couple recipes off the web (filling and buttermilk biscuit crust (ATK link requires registration)), so I won't give you a whole recipe, just some lessons learned.

I think the cobbler turned out very well for a first attempt. Future cobblers will be more effective in their consistency and tastiness.

: This is an Exclusive You Can Bruise! I asked Joe for his take on this Slate article, about the gala Return of the King opening in Wellington, New Zealand. Since I'm always proud to put up stuff on this site written by other people, here's his response:

The article is actually a pretty good description. The local paper has talked of nothing else since NZ lost the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup three weeks ago. For the first movie it renamed itself the Middle Earth Post but didn't go that far this time.

I do know more than a few people who worked on the films in some part, but the closest I get to actually knowing an actor would be that I used to work with someone who is in a band with the guy who played an elf in the Rivendell scene in the first movie (fans dubbed him Figwit).

The only exaggeration in the Slate article is the decription of Wellington as "a collection of high rises at the foot of green mountains" - mountains my arse. They're hills and it's quite possible to ride a bike up them.

I went down to the celebrations quite late. I missed the parade, but my gf Joanne saw it and thought it quite magical, especially the people dressed as elves and orcs. The makeup is apparently really good even in broad daylight.

It's sort of a shame to see the Rings stuff finished, it was nice to have a common sense of purpose with others in the city. Then again apparently work on King Kong will start soon...

Joe

[Comments] (5) For All Their Faults: I'd never heard of this: the Monty Python sketch "Wacky Queen", which was cut from the first episode of MPFC after it aired, presumably because... the queen... was too wacky... I guess...

Why Programmers Hate Government: Exhibit Two: Le Calendrier Républicain.

"This was an attempt to de-Christianize the calendar, but it was an unpopular move, because now there were 9 work days between each day of rest, whereas the Gregorian Calendar had only 6 work days between each Sunday."

[Comments] (1) When Animals Are Cute!: Tonight: pandas... are cute!

Outside Looking In-Joke: Abiword Weekly News, everyone's favorite gonzo open source status report, renamed to This Program Lets You Write Letters Weekly News in freak renaming non-accident.

This Program Lets You Write Letters is crucial to the use of or coordinates with a number of full blown applications. Ok, I only know of, like, two. Well, there was that screen play thing, but that went straight out the window.

[Comments] (4) : Went to the zoo today with Sumana. Great fun! The rain chased away the wimpy humans and animals, leading to a real bonding experience between those who toughed it out. Highlights: showboating caiman, graceful sting rays, loping lemurs, giant giant anteater.

Why do peacocks have the run of every zoo I've ever been to? Are they good filler birds?

Tivo Gems: KTSF is now broadcasting Project X on Saturday nights at 8. Last week's show covered the brave souls who dared to invent and perfect the LCD. KCSM, which as a channel is a cipher to me, recently broadcast a piece called "Masters of Russian Animation" at 3:00 in the morning. Sumana and I enjoyed MoRA, which had a really funny animal allegory (allegory for what I don't know) called "Journey of the Ant". It also had a whimsical first-contact sci-fi piece with a mimetic alien and Yellow Submarine-style animation. There was also another animal allegory, and a piece that I found unwatchable except on fast-forward but which had won some superlative award like "Best animated short of all time". It's a fix! Give it to the ant!

[Comments] (1) Public Service Announcement: Don't Be Like Leonard: Go see the PDQ Bach concert on Friday. Don't be like me and miss it because you're working for a presidential campaign.

[Comments] (7) Thanksgiving Leftover Cookies: I had a big bag of dried cranberries from the "I didn't get enough Thanksgiving food" post-Thanksgiving food preparation mania, which I think was a big failure which is why I haven't shared my recipes with you. Anyway, a few of these cranberries had gone into a stuffing (which would have been great if I knew how to make stuffing), but I had an enormous number of them left and was at a loss as to how to dispose of them. Then it occured to me to use them instead of raisins in chocolate chip cookies. And they are great; much better, I would say, than raisins. You'll never eat chocolate chip cookies the same way again!

Update: The Crummy.com Test Kitchen You Can Bruise informs me that you eat these cookies the same way you ate cookies previously; they just taste different. My testers also add that you can alter the taste even more by partially rehydrating the cranberries in rum or other medicinal spirits.

[Comments] (3) The Merriment Appropriations Bill: The Arkansas state capitol, right near the campaign office, is very stately and resembles the US Capitol building. Except they don't drape Christmas lights all over the US Capitol building. I'd probably be more receptive to the idea if they didn't do it with these tacky pinstripes of lights.

Useless fact: the Arkansas state capitol was used to represent the Capitol building in a made-for-TV movie written by Bob Woodward.

[Comments] (2) lost+found: I found my electric razor at the bottom of my suitcase, so my original reason for having the beard is now moot. However now the inertia reason has kicked in--why not go with the beard and see where it leads? I'm already finding it invaluable for forming psychological defense mechanisms that make my endless Perl-filled days more bearable. So long as I have the beard, I can pretend that this is not my real life; it's just fan fiction about me. Once the campaign is over I'll shave my beard and wake up like Rip Van Winkle. "Whew! It was all noncanonical!"

Anyway. I was thinking that it would be nice if real life had a lost+found directory for everyone, where you could find socks and other things you thought you had lost, possibly scrambled. Someone should work on this.

NewsBruiser Nepotism #2: My cousin Kristen Smith, Alyson's sister, now has a weblog on crummy.com. Man, this is turning into Livejournal! In a good way.

Collect Them All: Yesterday I got spam that said 2003's Greatest j. Today I got spam that said 2003's Greatest i. I'm really excited to see what 2003's greatest h will look like. My guess: it will look like h.

[Comments] (2) Recipes I Just Made Up: I made up a recipe for a college student (Rachel) to eat without having to leave her house. Unfortunately it did not work because yes, she has no bananas, but she did like the recipe. "you should be a CHEF with your own cooking show", says she. Well, I am a CHEF of sorts, but unfortunately my proposal for a cooking show was rejected by ESPN.

I call this "Bisected Banana". Take a banana, peel it, and split it lengthwise. Spread creamy peanut butter on one of the banana halves and use it to glue the banana back together. Sprinkle the banana with a little sugar. The end.

[Comments] (2) 404: Building Not Found: One of UCLA's monikers is "Under Construction Like Always". No sooner do they finish spending donor and taxpayer money on a new neurobiology building than the gym leaks, or the Orphan Studies building needs to be torn down to make way for another parking structure. This time the Engineering I building is getting the wrecking ball, which means that the maddest of UCLA's mad scientists are going to be on the streets for the next four years. Seriously; these guys build nanobots and nuclear reactors. The most havoc the computer science department ever wreaked was to create Scour (OK, and the Internet).

From fellow alum Jason Robbins, whose favorite detail of the story is the smog production lab on the roof ("Was there not enough smog already?").

Tiny Restaurant Reviews: I've complained enough about the food in Little Rock. Time for an overview of some of the good dining to be had.

The pizza crust in Little Rock is still no good (still haven't tried Dammegoode Pies), but there's a restaurant called Bosco's (Oh, Bosco's!) that has good pizza on a really thin, but at least not crunchy crust. Good soup, too, though a little salty. We went right before they closed and they were out of a lot of stuff, which meant a lot of free food given in exchange for the food we'd ordered.

Caper's is a fancy restaurant, too fancy for the likes of us, but they left price-fixe coupons in the campaign lunchroom so we figured they had to let us in. We dined well in an old house with fireplaces and everything, taking great care not to accidentally order the $150 bottle of wine. My only complaint: the "portobello potstickers" I ordered were not potstickers at all; they were turnovers. It was a little weird.

The Purple Cow is a diner with great milkshakes and a funny menu. One of the few places I've been to where you can get a bleu cheeseburger; excellent if you want people to flee at your approach.

Last night we went to an excellent Mexican restaurant called Señor Tequila's. They had sopapillas on the menu but I did not subject them to the real-sopapilla test. There were so many of us there that it took forever for the meal to end without me messing everything up by ordering dessert. This is in accordance with Leonard's Immutable Law of Restaurants: "Dinner for n takes O(n2) time." For more details, see my upcoming paper, "The Mythical Man-Meal".

PS: A couple of times, such as today, we've had volunteers bring in big platters and tubs of home cooking. As always, that's the best stuff.

At Last!: 2004 could be "The Year of Linux"

[Comments] (7) More Dang Restaurant Reviews: Fried Okra Edition: I love fried okra. Says the South, "You came to the right place!" Here they deep-fry it instead of sauteeing it in butter like my father did, but it's still good. Anyway, the theme of today's restaurant reviews is places with fried okra.

Cotham's in the City: A restaurant near the capitol where, I suppose, all the politicians and staffers eat lunch. The whole restaurant is decorated with signs from political campaigns, and they have a rotating "stereotypical dish of the day": chicken and dumplings on Tuesday, fried chicken on Wednesday, etc. It basically involves either chicken or frying or both. They also have a dessert called "Mississippi Mud" (not the same as a Mississippi mud pie), which sounded really good but which I found disappointing. I may try my hand at improving it.

Dixie Cafe: This restaurant's entrees are nothing to write home about, but they have good sides (like fried okra) and a good fruit cobbler for dessert (they were the inspiration for my attempt at blackberry cobbler). They also have this whole little sub-restaurant inside the restaurant called "Polar Freeze" or something. It's an ice-cream parlor for kids. It's lit up all blue and it's a little scary, since we go there at night and there's never anyone there. It's like the Milkshake Research Laboratories or something.

Popeye's Chicken: This is a nationwide chain, but I just wanted to give it a dishonorable mention because it used to have fried okra and now it doesn't. Boo!

DSR False Alarms: For some reason, these both involve Martha Stewart.

martha stewart living flan recipe april 2002

Living flan?!?! Wait, never mind.

martha stewart monkey cake

Fortunately, monkey cake (aka monkey bread; caution: midi) containeth no monkey.

[Comments] (1) Dude, Just Let Me Get My Stuff: On the Lam, Saddam Lived Life of Stoner

It Doesn't Work That Way: Spam to blog@clark04.com: Blog, Meet h0rny swingers in your area! FVR7yVZAD1IY

[Comments] (2) The Film Goes Ever On And On: Saw Return of the King today. Great stuff! (Despite the lack of all of my favorite scenes.) I felt sorry for the mumakil, though. They were only trying to have fun! Stomping on people.

PS: Hey, Past Leonard, you saw The Two Towers with your family and Return of the King with the rest of the technical team from the presidential campaign where you work.

Past Leonard: Yeah, right. Stop calling me here!

Anyway, I see that Saruman has not been idle since the War of the Ring: his love of perverting all that is good and natural is surely the driving force behind Perlthon. Look at the author's name! "Manura"? An obvious anagram.

Future Leonard: Hey, Present Leonard, you will watch the extended DVD version of LOTR to pass the time on your colony ship's voyage to Sirius.

Stop wasting my time!

: The poster for the movie Elf has the tagline "This holiday, discover your inner elf." They put a generic tagline on a Christmas movie, so that everyone could go see it! It's so special! At long last, I think I now understand the true meaning of Holiday.

[Comments] (1) Still Coasting On My Trip To The Theater: Before ROTK I saw a preview for a time-travel movie, and I started thinking about the common time-travel trope that attempting to change the past will invariably make the present worse. Isn't this effectively the view that we inhabit the best of all possible worlds? And what does this say about our ability to make choices in the present? Why is it that the decision we make with no foreknowledge is always better than the alternatives? Answer: because we're trapped in a patronizing cultural artifact! This is probably the best nontrivial test I've thought of for being trapped in a cultural artifact.

Sure, Why Not: Spam: Homeopathic HGH

[Comments] (2) Why Programmers Hate Government: Exhibit 3: It's a Christmas miracle! In this episode, programmers and government put aside their differences and enjoy a cool comma-delimited file containing ZIP code information. What are those mysterious last two numbers after the latitude and longitude?

[Comments] (1) Worrywart Hypothetical Spam:

What if Santa left a real star under the tree?

Yeah, let's try to watch out for that contigency. Geez, don't we trust Santa not to be incredibly stupid? What if Santa distributed Class III narcotics to little kids? What if Santa bypassed safety inspections before the sleigh launch and died in a harness accident 10,000 feet above Canada? Santa knows his stuff; he's not going to destroy the earth by twisting Mu Cassiopeiae into a black hole so's it'll fit into a gift box.

[Comments] (2) : You can pay your San Francisco parking tickets online. This makes sense, as the general philosophy of the city of San Francisco is to make it easy for you to deal with the arbitrary aggravations they inflict upon you.

"My car died 30 miles from destiny.": Another year, another Action Line Classics (origin story here). This year's column includes bonus disturbing 100 Years of Solitude-esque entry.

[Comments] (1) Sounds like one for the Department of Dream Studies: My dreams have voiceovers and cuts, like a movie--at least that's how I interpret the sudden scene changes and voices out of nowhere I experience in dreams. Did the dreams of pre-movie man have these? From what I've read of old recounts of dreams, I would say so: "Then I saw... I heard a voice..." So what were the ancient metaphors for dreams? Just weird stuff happening for no reason?

[Comments] (1) The Tennessee Compromise: Consider the Reagan Legacy Project, a group which will not rest until everything on earth is named after Ronald Reagan (Ronald Reagan himself to be renamed "Ronald 'R.R.' Ronaldreagan"). Their highest goal: putting Reagan on the ten-dollar bill and banishing Alexander Hamilton to currency oblivion. I'd rather Alexander Hamilton not be banished to currency oblivion, so let me propose a compromise: put Reagan on the twenty-dollar bill. That way we can get rid of Jackson. Now, how to deal with that pesky Coolidge Legacy Project?

From: Kyung Pizzano: Sumana loves the made-up cross-cultural names of people from Alpha Centauri that show up in the From: subject lines of spam. Well, now there's a random name generator with an "obscurity factor" that you can crank up to 75 or so to get cool spam-like names. Soon, spam will be entirely obsolete! Wait, did I just say that?

Post-Last-Minute Shopping: Do you need to buy a Christmas present for Christopher Kimball? Well, why is that, pray tell? You probably don't know him! So show off your superficial conceptions of what he might want by buying him a bow tie from Beau Ties Ltd. of Vermont. This discovery has me looking over my shoulder for the cliche mail-order ambassadors from the other 49 states.

New Cooking Technology for the Third World: And everyone else. Instead of offering recipes in this entry I'm going to tell you about cooking techniques. Today: walnut candying and salad dressing manufacture, both Freeciv-esque prerequisites for my "I Can't Believe You Managed To Make Salad Unhealthy" salad, which I'll post later after I try a New Year's Eve variant tonight.

Candied walnuts are great in salad, and they also are good for snacks. It takes no special ability to candy a walnut. Just put equal amounts sugar and water into a skillet and set it to boiling. Put walnuts on a cookie sheet and bake them for about 10 minutes, then dump them into the skillet and stir constantly until there's no liquid left. Butter the cookie sheet, dump the walnuts onto it, and spread them around. After they cool you have candied walnuts.

Salad dressing is sold in stores by the bottle, and this very fact left my craven self intimidated and afraid to make my own. But there's seriously no reason not to. It's so easy! And you can do it with stuff you already have, thus saving space in the refrigerator. There are two steps: the everything else step and the olive oil step. In the everything else step, you put everything you want in the dressing that's not olive oil in a bowl. In the olive oil step, you whack the salad dressing with a whisk while slowly pouring in olive oil. That's it, except that the "everything else" has to include an emulsifier like mustard or raw egg, else your dressing will be a failure! Bitter failure! But otherwise you can't lose.

Addendum To Previous Entry: That's probably my favorite spam. I love the steampunk nanotech idea of stuffing a plastic extrusion plant into a shipping container, raw materials fed in through a pipe connected to a nebulous "International Trade System". The only problem is that it appears not to exist except in spam.

But I'll tell you what does exist is solar cookers, a real New Cooking Technology for the Third World. They are trivial to build, and you can use them to cook and to purify water. In the ultimate mockery of Mother Nature, there is even a solar refrigerator. Am I the only one who thinks there's a vast untapped market for science fiction about this kind of thing? Is this what's in all those Bruce Sterling books I've never read?

: Lousy old year! Out with it, I say!

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