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The Google Made Me Do It: Okay, I guess I'll grill that corn.

[Comments] (2) Party Animal Leonard: Hi. Sorry for the inaccessibility (if you experienced any). DNS problems.

I had Steve and Jenny Minutillo and Sumana over for dinner at my new house. Finally gave me incentive to clean all the junk out of the living room. I grilled corn and made salad dressing and was generally LE CHEF.

The having-people-over madness continues next Saturday with my birthday/belated 4th of July/housewarming party. If I know you and you want to come and I haven't already sent you an invitation, then send me email. Either I forgot you or didn't think you would want to come or thought you were too far away to realistically come. There will be games and chocolate ganache cake, among other things.

If you're coming, let me know what time you want to come so that I can maybe reduce the duration of the party to the lowest common denominator.

At my mother's house for the holiday. Crickets are chirping and fireworks going off. Now going into the hot tub.

Opening Lines In Need of Stories:

It was, indeed, your father's Oldsmobile.
The coins said "In God We Trust", but as Dave had learned, the trust did not go both ways.

Anacrusish: I wrote an Anacrusis type ultra-short story, which Brendan deemed to be THE KING, so I guess it's good enough to post publicly. It's called:


Parked, he decides he wants to see what it's like when she drives. He jabs the second button, the one she presses when they get out to stretch their legs and switch seats.

The odometer reading flips from total to per-trip and the radio beeps as it reboots with changed presets. The A/C goes on. The seat whirs and moves in toward the pedals, headrest declining, back straight as an old soldier. But the relative positions of his body and the seat don't change at all.

He adjusts the mirror from its preadjusted position. He's got red hair and red lipstick.

PS: Sumana should write an Anacrusis entry about her friend Ana Cruz.

Retaliation: Brendan wrote a nice story about someone's father's Oldsmobile. One down, one to go.

[Comments] (4) Money, it's a crime: Very interesting postmortem on Microsoft Money. Shows how metrics affect the thing being metricked (usually detrimentally) and how bad (for consumers) market definitions result in bad (for everyone) metrics.

Entrez la Matrice des Sauces: Feeding my 'recipe patterns' obsession, Sumana sent me Matrice des sauces au moment, which shows how 1.3 zillion French sauces are obtained from one procedure, with examples. Also has a great interface for mouseover French/English translations and showing which elements of the matrix make which sauces.

[N]o one ingredient is by itself critical. Each can have another ingredient substituted for it and the sauce will still work (although the name may need to be changed).

I'm just beginning to appreciate the French genius of totally exploring a well-defined culinary combinatoric space and naming everything differently just to intimidate people with 6000 names for sauces or soups.

: I figured out why cell phone rings are so annoying. It's so when the cell phone's owner answers the phone and starts jabbering away, you'll be grateful that the ringing has stopped instead of aggravated re: the jabbering.

[Comments] (2) : Hey, Noodle is #2 on the list of useful but obscure Java projects. Neat! Found at Josh's Hacking Log.

Ladies And Gentlemen: I was putting off mentioning the Checkerboard Nightmare that has a cartoon version of me in it, capping off the Leonard/Kris corporate food CN storyline, until I figured out what the heck kind of ugly Bill Cosby striped sweater Kris had my homunculus wearing. Then I figured out it was actually a T-shirt with the periodic table on it, so that's okay.

I don't really have a T-shirt with the periodic table on it, though I did tell Kris why the periodic table is shaped the way it is, in keeping with my recent role as person who tells his friends why weird-shaped things are shaped the way they are. In return for a similar service, Kevan provided me with the choice bit of information that it's very easy to inadvertently hang the Union Jack upside down.

[Comments] (6) : Party was great, except YOU DIDN'T COME! (Unless you did). Kevin, the bookcase you got me is great but the shelves are defective. Can we take it back?

I got spam from the best spam name ever: "Gay Ponce".

: Man. Just spent way too much time cleaning up the NewsBruiser I18N keys. We've now crossed the I18N Rubicon; all the main code has been I18Ned and now it's just the libraries and the modules. Time to figure out how to handle the libraries.

[Comments] (4) : The TiVo picked up "Amok Time", the classic original Trek where Kirk and Spock go mano-a-mano with sharp Vulcan sticks as the famous Star Trek fight choreography song goes Dah dah DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH dah dah dah dah, and I got to thinking, wouldn't the new Priceline commercials be a lot better if they took this for their model? "But I'm the VOICE... of Priceline!" [scrash!] "Take that, Bill!" "My SUIT! You've ruined my SUIT!"

PS: Bonus fanboy quiz: IMDB trivia for Enterprise says that T'Pol was originally named T'Pau in tribute to the T'Pau character in "Amok Time". They changed her name so they wouldn't have to pay royalties to Theodore Sturgeon (author of AT) for every episode of Enterprise. To my knowledge this is the second time this (renaming a Trek character so as not to have to pay royalties) has happened. What's the other time?

: Hopefully we are now back for good. I told Kevin to not try to switch us over until his new ISP figures out, as ISPs often do eventually, that they have a customer on the end of the line and that sometimes customers pay them money. Money! They like that, right? Maybe that's the problem; we've all along been trying to motivate them with money but actually they use Mentos or something for currency. "What are these 'electronic transfers' of which you speak? Do they have the great taste and Deutschebank backing of the Freshmaker? We think not! It must be the phone company's problem."

Anyway. Check out this SciAm article on the Voynich manuscript, which argues a mechanism by which Voynich-like text can be created. These disturbing new developments indicate that Voynich is a hoax... perpetrated by Cthulhu!

I think the author of that article gives up in triumph way too early. "The binomial distribution of word lengths can be generated by mixing short, medium-length and long syllables in the table." Sure, but why would that happen? An generation mechanism from which a binomial distribution followed naturally would be a lot more convincing. It's not something that needs to be explained away; it's a clue as to how the text was generated.

Pestoast: Let's say you just made some pesto, but in doing so you used up all your culinary energy for the day. You can't bring yourself to boil water for pasta or make a sauce out of the pesto.

What to do? Slice some bread, spread pesto on it, put it in the broiler, and you've got pestoast! It's like Vegemite toast, but not gross. Also a good way to revive old bread because the olive oil in the pesto revitalizes it.

: Markets Too Efficient, Say Beneficiaries Of High Prices.

[Comments] (2) : Finally got my fancy-schmancy Shun knives (Shun knives? But I need knives!) My kitchen is now complete! Except I'm storing my knives in a drawer and I want to store them in some other way, but I'm not happy with any of the knife-storage methods that currently exist. Are there knife blocks that have a hinge so you can open them and clean them? I've only got 3 knives, so I don't need a whole block, but a hinged case would be really neat.

[Comments] (1) Finally!: Hack bytecode to subclass allegedly "final" Java classes. Combine with Multiple inheritance for Java and really piss off the Java designers. Link found at Deft Code.

[Comments] (2) Attention George Moffitt: I can't email you; something between me and you does not like recipient. The answer to your question is to append ?content=lofi to the URL of the RSS feed. Also, if you're running off a CVS checkout, update plugins/entry/render/syndicate and it'll do exactly what you want instead of a lame approximation.

[Comments] (2) It's Hip To Be A Square Number: I'm a quarter-century old now. I got lots of great stuff for my birthday including a bookcase, a Moleskine notebook like I bought for Sumana in Belgium, and a Lego container ship (okay, I bought that for myself). It turns out I'm much, much better at putting together Lego sets than I was when I was a kid. I know to organize the pieces ahead of time instead of just opening all the bags, dumping them on the table, and getting started.

The container ship's probably the biggest Lego set I've ever put together, and it only took me about 2.5 hours. It was a pretty easy set, though, since 1/3 of the pieces turn into shipping containers. If I had more pieces I'd make hollow double-size shipping containers and have them carry tiny Lego pieces across the Lego ocean to my Lego model of Hong Kong.

I had some extra pieces left over, so I decorated some of the shipping containers with lights, and my ship is now the only container ship to have a plank. Arrrr! Actually I think I know where the plank pieces are supposed to go, but I'd rather have a plank.

[Comments] (4) Amazing Abbreviations: In the style of I18N, L10N, etc. I will now refer to "authentication" as A14N and "authorization" as A13N.

[Comments] (1) I finally finished something!: I'm sure you've had one of those time periods. The thing I finally finished automatically exports appropriate entries in my personal notebook to my del.icio.us account. I like my personal notebook because in it I can work on stories, write notes to myself, and ramble on at length about things that aren't links, but I also like the public-brain aspect of del.icio.us. Thanks to doing useful work, I can have both. I spent a little time reformatting old entries so they'd get crossposted, and it's a nice feeling. There's some entity escaping going on that I don't want to go on, though.

The del.icio.us plugin is in NewsBruiser, but I think it's stretching the limits of what should be in NewsBruiser. I can't see that many other people really wanting to echo certain of their weblog entries to their del.icio.us accounts. Am I wrong?

Once I Was The King Of Loathing: Now I eat key lime pie. If you're looking to waste some time, you could do worse than by playing The Kingdom of Loathing, a fun little MMORPG with stick figures and a Da Warren-esque sense of humor. It gave me enjoyment for about a month, until I won all the awards and I drank all the beer, and I reached the end which hasn't been implemented yet. Now I'm stuck in this limbo where I'm not sure if I should go in every day for a couple minutes to bulk up for the as-yet-unimplemented conflict, or just go in every month or so to keep my character from being deleted while I wait for the end to come and then go. Agonizing indecision! Don't let this happen to you! Stay away from the Kingdom of Loathing!

Wait, how did that happen?

[Comments] (1) Future Food Take 3: Seal was a horrible flop, but the third time's the charm, right? I've duplicated in algae and soy the queasy texture and obscure glisten of canned ham, and it's set to take supermarkets by storm. I call it "Sham".

The Matrix Refactored: Sequels are never as exciting as the original, but in this case it was neccessary. The del.icio.us integration was a big fat hack, and it had to be fixed. Now there's a separate annotation plugin that lets you associate a URL with an entry, and the del.iciou.us plugin checks to see if there's a URL in the special URL slot instead of seeing if you typed a URL in the title field.

Sometimes it takes a day or so for me to remember that I wrote a plugin-based system and not just a system where you have to put new features in a directory called "plugins", but eventually I figure it out.

[Comments] (2) : In my most recent orgy of personal-notebook-to-del.icio.us-filing, I re-found this page of raytraced drawings that use mesh diagrams of Star Trek ships and structures the way other raytraced dragins use mesh diagrams of Platonic solids. Ships floating through tropical environments, or surrounded by glass balls, or made out of marble. It's kind of goofy but there is a nice eerie one of Deep Space Nine crashed and sinking into a lake.

Content-type: food/chocolate: Choose your chocolate format.

Public Service Announcement: Sumana is looking for someone to be a backup stage manager for the show she's stage managing. She'll probably post about it tomorrow, but I wanted to get the ball rolling ahead of time. You get free cookies and I don't know what all.

[Comments] (1) Public Bread Announcement: Also, it has come to my attention that I am a bread-making genius. I've been making bread every weekend to exercise my great-uncle's famous sourdough starter, and it just keeps getting better. This week I started experimenting with nuts and cheese, and the resulting bread is a meal in itself.

I wish it didn't take a whole weekend to make sourdough bread or I'd be able to make all my bread. Eventually I'll try my hand at quicker non-sourdough loaves. Susanna sent me a recipe for 'ninety-minute rolls' which looks great.

[Comments] (1) Game Roundup Confession: It's been hard for me to do X Roundup because I had such old libraries on my machine. I couldn't actually play pygame games or most SDL games or do blah or blah. I knew Debian was the answer, but I could never get around to switching until this weekend. But that's over with and now I'm apt-getting and X Rounduping away instead of doing more important things.

It's also been hard for me to do X Roundup because it just plain takes a long time to find and test and review a lot of pieces of software. So I've decided that once I have five Games/Softwares, it's Roundup time. Here we go.

Slag Panic is a Qix clone with the featuritis that comes from games being written in Python and features thereby being easy to add. It's got more interesting enemies than your average Qix, obscure bonuses, and an aggravating between-rounds roulette wheel that decides your fate for the next round.

The record will show that I usually only review Tetris clones with a good twist. Not a random slight-game-mechanics change twist like "everything's colored and you have to match colors", but a real twist that changes the way you look at Tetris. bastet is such a game. It uses heuristics to figure out what piece will be hardest for you to place, and always gives you that piece. You have to change your strategy from planning for completed rows to creating situations where the computer can't help but give you a piece that will complete a row. The traditional 'next piece' window isn't possible (or desirable), so instead it gives you the piece it deems the most useful, just to tease you.

The unfortunately named Kraptor is a decent arial combat game. What was the original game in this genre? I want to say "Xeyes", but obviously that's not right. My biggest complaint about this game is that most of the weapons get mounted on the sides of your aircraft, so it's impossible to hit anything directly in front of you. That's always where I aim when playing these games. So except for the huge end-of-level ship I always use the cheapo unlimited-ammo weapon.

Aklabeth is a clone of the prequel to Ultima. I always thought the Ultima games were an incongrous blend of fun overhead 2D adventure and dull underground 3D maze-mapping. Guess which one came first. Written by the same guy who did The Valley of previous-roundup fame.

Blob Wars: Metal Blob Solid offers the most realistic depiction as yet of blobs at war. You are a blob commando who must repel an alien invasion and rescue quivering blob MIAs. In a nice postmodern twist, the aliens are also blobs--they look just like you except they're green. I had a great time until I got on the wrong side of a lava pit with no way to cross, and then I gave up and wrote this review.

The game's intro movie uses the actual game mechanics, which is to my mind the only way to do intro movies. It's very gory (insofar as a game about blobs can be gory, which is actually a fair amount), but you can turn of the gore. There is a variety of weapons, though I couldn't find any way to switch between them--it looks like you have one weapon at a time, which can be aggravating because there's a puzzle element to the game that sometimes requires you have a specific weapon.

As for the limerick prize: it's hard for me to decide between bastris and Blob Wars, and I'm tired, so I'm going to punt til tomorrow. Suggested limericks are welcome.

Update: Ok, I came up with a poem finally, about Blob Wars. I was not in a poetry-writing mood today because POLLY CALLED ME FAT! I don't know, what causes people who write poetry to not be in the mood?

There once was a blobbish commando
In many exploits had a hando
He rescued his maties
And made time with the ladies
(See also: Calrissian, Lando)

[Comments] (3) Good Move: EFF renaming Share-In to Freedom Fest. Share-In? Who was sharing? With whom? It made no sense. Anyway, I went to the Share-In and it didn't work out.

Wishful Thinking Search Requests: scientists making pokemon reall Surely these scientists are the geniuses of our age!

: If only there were a name to describe this "renaissance of breakin'"! Something that captured the electric thrill of the scene!

: I've just been poking around the trademark registry site, just typing in trademark registration numbers at random, and am finding lots of neat phrases. Since it seems most of the trademarks ever registered have expired or been cancelled, I'm not sure why there aren't more jackals at the carrion heap of this site, profiting off the half-cocked turns of phrase other people thought important enough to trademark. Maybe it's the stigma of previous failure.

I discovered this site a couple months ago while researching the old VR game Dactyl Nightmare, when I became enamored with the idea of creating something out of the wreckage of the "Dactyl Nightmare" trademark (or, as it says on the site, "Disclaimer: NIGHTMARE"). But there are so many other possibilities. For instance, did you know that Dactyl Nightmare is now metallurgically balanced? Part of this complete breakfast! Go on, give yourself a Hydra-lift--you deserve it!

[Comments] (3) Blue Cheese Pesto: My customary pre-recipe Googling turned up no actual recipes for this dish; only intimations that it was used in various fancy restaurants, often as a garnish for steak. Well, what's good enough for steak is good enough for pasta, says I. Last night I made pesto with Parrano (one of the all-time great cheeses--it tastes like Parmesan but has a semi-soft texture like Gouda) and blue cheese. I wouldn't make it with only blue cheese, but making it with 1 part blue cheese to 3 or 4 parts other cheese gives the pesto the fighting spirit for which blue cheese is renowned. Obviously walnuts are better in this pesto than pine nuts.

Side note: why is this obvious? I don't know! I can't describe this pairing without resorting to terminology like "meaty" and "woody" that seems very unscientific. But at the same time I think that the statement "walnuts go better with blue cheese than pine nuts" is closer to objective fact than to totally arbitrary opinion or taste. If I knew more about food I could find out what compounds give those two foods their flavor and say that they complement each other, but that doesn't explain why and it can't be made into a useful general rule. This drives me crazy.

Obituary: Sumana told me that Jerry Goldsmith, who composed a lot of themes for Star Trek series and movies, has died. I went to look at his IMDB page and found that that barely scratches the surface of what he accomplished. Even apart from his Trek work, he wrote the scores for many of the best-known sci-fi movies of the past 30 years: Alien (and its sequels), Planet of the Apes (and its sequels), Alien Nation, Gremlins (and its greatly underrated sequel), Total Recall, Logan's Run... Before that he did TV themes. Like the Twilight Zone theme and the Perry Mason theme.

He won an Oscar for The Omen in 1997, and for six years he wrote the yearly Oscar theme song itself, which should qualify him for a meta-Oscar. He's gone now, but he'll be stuck in people's heads for as long as we watch movies.

: Making a favicon.ico file for your website used to be a grueling experience, due to Microsoft's weird mutant-BMP ICO format. But now there's Favicon From Pics (logically equivalent to the pics2favicon metaphor I would use). Just upload a picture and you get back a scaled-down, ICO version of that picture. Save the gruel for dinner.

Curse You, Noun Gender: After way too much nightly drudgework on NewsBruiser at the expense of all the work I wanted to do, basically all its text is now I18Ned or I18Nable. I managed to do this without sacrificing ease of installation, ease of use, or the decentralized nature of the plugin architecture. Jean-Pierre is still working on actually doing the I18N and the French translations, but he's done with everything except the themes (which were the last piece of the puzzle) and most of the plugins. If you've been wanting to translate NewsBruiser into another language, now's a good time to start.

The Semantic Web Strikes Back: Do you need bamboo plants, pots for planting bamboo in, or silk orchids? A good place to go is Grand Products in South San Francisco, located near the gravel companies and trucking companies and biotech startups. It's probably where all the SF Chinatown shops get their bamboo plants and sell at a huge markup. The store is in a warehouse and the people working there are very friendly. I don't think they get many walk-in customers.

However--and this is a big however--despite what certain online yellow pages say, Grand Products is not a Garden Center or Seed Merchant of any kind. You can't buy a shovel there, or mulch, or seeds (not even bamboo seeds). So don't go in there thinking it's a garden supply store, or you will be horribly embarassed.

Lego Trains: For the combination of Nick Moffitt and me that inhabits us all.

: Has anyone else noticed that Project Gutenberg (and ibiblio, and indeed the entire University of North Carolina) is inaccessible? Is there a thunderstorm or backhoe I should be worried about, or is the universe just trying to prevent me from doing my cool project?

Update: looks like a local problem. Dang universe.

: Sumana and Zack and I are going to the garlic festival in Gilroy. Online consensus is that it's like every other smallish-town yearly "X festival", but with garlic. Which is fine with me, because I haven't been to such a festival since the last time I went to the Arvin Wildflower festival. Whenever that was. I'd rather celebrate garlic than wildflowers.

[Comments] (1) : Garlic festival was fun, but not as garlicky as I'd hoped. I don't think I need to go again. Cheap bulk garlic, though, and really great roasted garlic ice cream (I'll have to try making that). Discussion on forums made it sound like the traffic jam coming in and out of the festival is the worst thing in the world, but if you leave SF by 8 you can get there by 10; the traffic jam is no worse than the Bay Bridge traffic jam.

[Comments] (2) Wedded Bliss: Pete Peterson II and Garrett LeSage have gotten married! But not to each other.

: After months of stalling I'm starting with the easy "things I learned working for a campaign" entries and working my way up. First: all politicians who are trying or have tried or have succeeded in being elected President of the United States say the name of the office "Prezdanistase". This is because you end up saying that phrase about once for every person who ends up voting for you, and around the twenty millionth repitition it ceases to have any meaning.

I thought this was universal among American politicians until I heard on the radio Al Gore properly enunciate the phrase in his speech at the DNC yesterday. Admittedly, he was saying "Vice-President of the United States", and also he's Al Gore.

Oh, I've found that it's easier for me to talk about things if I'm responding to questions, so if you have any questions about the profession of politics or my experience in particular, leave a comment.

explodingspamdog: Spamusement turns spam subject lines into cartoons. Very good.

NewsBruiser Nepotism #3: My cousin Joseph Walch joins the cavalcade of my family members with crummy.com weblogs. Joe is Alyson and Kristen's brother. If you're related to me, the offer remains open.

[Comments] (3) : The "realm" field of HTTP basic auth is a really bad place to put helpful status messages like "Your account has been locked." In fact, it's a really bad place to put anything except the name of the realm (or some other string that never changes). If you try to be clever and put other strings into it depending on state, browsers will think it's two or more totally different types of authentication and in some cases can go into an infinite loop.

: Losers Fall in Line Behind Party's Choice. In Soviet Russia, all newspaper articles have that headline!

[Comments] (3) Calendar Overstock: Your ritzier used bookstores love to sell calendars. The price you can get for a calendar plummets as the year inches towards the inevitable phoenixlike conflagration that destroys it each Dec. 31. I haven't checked, but I bet that in Q4 of a year a calendar for that year would be so cheap at a used bookstore that it would be worth buying even if you just wanted to rip out one of the pictures to use as a poster.

But why is this? Why do they print so many calendars, so many that most of them (I can only assume) don't get sold and get shipped off to used bookstores? Are calendar manufacturers in a constant state of self-delusion that surely this year the teddy bear calendar will sell 50% more copies than it has sold every year for the past five years? Are the calendars we see in used bookstores merely the unpopular ones? Does selling old calendars to used bookstores actually form a secondary, but still profitable market? I wants to know!

Politics in a Nutshell: Heard on KQED today: "When you strip away all the spin, what's the buzz?"

[Comments] (2) My mother is OK: I got a call from my mother last night. She's out of the hospital and back home.

[Comments] (2) Herbivore: This concludes my trilogy of reviews of the three famous vegetarian restaurants in San Francisco. (See Milennium, Greens.) Herbivore is much better than Milennium but much not-as-good-as Greens. However of the three it's the cheapest and the most accessible from BART; it's equidistant between the 16th and 24th street Mission stations.

I had ravioli with pesto, because I'm all pesto mania this week (tune in later for the exciting conclusion, to take place tonight). The ravioli was great and the pesto was just OK. There was some cheese substitute they put in the pesto. They should have just left the cheese out. And I should have ordered the lentil loaf instead; it looked pretty good even though it was a vegan copy of a dish that is itself pretty weird.

Sumana had some big french fries and some tacos. I tasted the guacamole on her tacos and it was great.

I got German chocolate cake for dessert. It was really good and I got full before I could finish the slice, which means that I'm being satisfied by smaller portions of sweets, which is good.

We ate dinner with Sumana's old friend John Morearty, and his wife. We recommended movies at each other; one Lone Star for one Spirited Away. Universal touchstone of I've-been-meaning-to-watch-that: The Man in the White Suit.

[Comments] (2) It's Alive!: It rained, and my garden is alive!

Pesto Fondue!: It's madness, but it works. Make fondue and then add some pesto to it at the last minute. I made it last night and it was more of a cheesy pesto dip because I lost control of the cornstarch, but it tasted great. Also good on toast.

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