brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell

8Dec/04Off

Brainwagon Radio: Too Long Since the Last One

Damn, it's been nearly a week since I put out my last one, and this was painful to put out. Hopefully it isn't too painful to listen to.

Items from the show:

  • Shameless plug for my Cinnamon Bear Podcast.
  • I upgraded this weblog to use the latest version of the CG Powerpack.
  • I rambled about the phase vocoder some more. mostly incoherently, plugging papers that I've mentioned before.
  • I extol the virtues of cheese once again. Have you considered that the key ingredients in Welsh Rabbit are in fact all ancient foods? History in one dish.
  • The gents at SawStop have electric saws which detect when fingers get in them and break quickly to keep you from lopping off your finger.
  • An Internet Archive "gem": Superman battles Japoteurs in an interesting (?) look back into wartime propaganda.
  • Need to convert MPEG2's from archive.org to a DVD? I wrote up how to do that once before using command line programs. Works great because it doesn't re-encode the video.
  • Want a Matlab compatible language? Try Octave. Need more Octave libraries? Try octave-forge.
  • Try wearing a Santa hat wherever you go.
  • Closing music: We Wish You a Merry Christmas by T. Stipe
8Dec/04Off

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Tom!Didn't find out about it until late in the day, but I'd like to wish Tom a happy birthday! Best wishes to you and yours, and health, long life, riches, laughter, music, DAT drives that don't jam and laptops that work with Linux right out of the box.

Filed under: General 1 Comment
8Dec/04Off

Chicken and Dumplings, ala Brainwagon

It's cold (or what passes for cold in California) and rainy today, so it's time to cook up something healthy and delicious. Here's my recipe (such as it is) for home-made Chicken and Dumplings, inspired by a similar recipe that I saw on Rachel Ray's 30 minute meals. Nothing about this meal is cast in stone, substitute whatever you like.

  • Begin by putting your largest pot onto the stove and heat it to medium high. Dice a largish onion or two smaller ones, and cook those in a tablespoon of olive oil until they are translucent. Or until you get the rest of the veggies chopped.
  • The rest of the veggies are a couple stalks of celery and two carrots. Dice them up, and add them to the onions. Add a pinch or two of kosher salt. Cook until bored.
  • Chop up some boneless chicken into inch size chunks. Dump into the pot. Stir occasionally. Brown until bored.
  • Open a big can of lowfat/low sodium chicken broth. Add it in, and then turn up the heat until it begins to bubble.
  • Peel and chop two russet potatoes. Dump 'em in.
  • Let cook at a strong simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Take two cups of Bisquick, 3/4 cup of milk, and some chopped sage. Mix into a biscuit batter, which you drop by spoonfuls into the boiling pot of chickeny goodness. Dump some sage into the broth too.
  • Wait 15 or 20 minutes. Serve in big bowls with some fresh ground black pepper.

Each batch I make turns out a bit different. My wife loves this stuff. Guaranteed to make you feel warm inside. Chicken thighs actually make for a better tasting stew, but a little higher in fat. You can also add bayleaf or oregano or thyme or rosemary, whatever you like. This dish goes back to my basic philosophy of food: start with good ingredients, don't screw with 'em too much and you'll make something tasty.

Addendum: Cooking is a great geek hobby, with obvious benefits. Plenty of gadgets and books to buy, a modicum of science and lots of hands on work.

8Dec/04Off

Minor website improvements…

I downloaded the most recent release of ChaitGear Powerpack, a set of WordPress Plugins that you include support for the referer list and an Amazon Wishlist. I ended up having to recompile mod_php4 and install a couple of php modules, but now all seems to work.

I put up the wishlist mainly as a lark, but if in the last twelve months you have

  1. Come into vast sums of money...
  2. Have already bought presents for all your loved ones...
  3. Enjoyed either my weblog or podcasts...

then perhaps you might wish to select one of the items to send my way. It's a sure fire way to get me to plug your website and link it in the next year! 🙂

Filed under: Blogging, News Comments Off
8Dec/04Off

One of those days…

My Biorhythms Give No Hint of the ChaosYesterday was one of those days.

You know the kind I mean. Nothing earth-shatteringly dramatic happened. Nobody had a stroke, or was poisoned or shot. My house didn't burn down. I wasn't fired from my job. But yesterday sucked.

It began innocently enough. I had scheduled the Safelite glass guys to come out and repair the small window in the back of my son's car. The one who just got this big star tatooed on his shoulder (the son, not the car). While we don't know what happened to it, it look like somebody hit it with a pellet gun (the car window, not my son's shoulder). They (Safelite) assigned me a four hour window (8-12) to come out and fix it.

You know how this works, don't you? They of course show up 5 minutes after 12, and they don't have the right window part because (despite my explaining it to them three separate times on the phone) they didn't get it right.

Oh, the only reason I'm home? Because my wife had an appointment that conflicted. Guess what? Her appointment cancelled on her, and had copied her phone number wrong, so they couldn't tell her. Sigh.

I munch down some left over chinese food and head to work.

When I get there, a big meeting is going on. Ed Catmull and John Lasseter are addressing everyone at Pixar, and people look nervous. I imagine the worst: Steve Job's health? Bad news? Well, turned out to be news with long term upside, but given our stock hit today, maybe short short term downside.

The rest of the work day went without incident, although my back hurts alot.

I get home, and the instant I see my wife, I can see she's had some bad news which I won't detail here, but it sucked.

So, we decide to go out and exercise at 24 hour fitness. Worked up a good sweat. Her mood seemed to have improved. We stop at the store to pick up some sodas and food. She misses seeing a post in the dark rain and dings her precious Jeep up. Sigh. Nothing major, but will require somebody to pull the fender out and maybe replace one of the plastic pieces that wrap the bottom of the driver's side door panel.

Yesterday sucked. I've got my fingers crossed for today.

If anyone can recommend a body repair place for reasonable prices in the Oakland-Berkeley-Pinole-Concord area, drop me an email and you will have my thanks. Hell, if you own such a place, do a good job, and I'll even plug your business here where it will undoubtably be read by tens of people. We are talking potential dollars of increased business, folks.

Oh, why the biorhythm chart on the right? When I was probably ten or twelve, I was fascinated by such things. I outgrew it, mostly because of an increasing observation that science was a more reliable way to learn about how the world works. Still, even if I was the most irrational person imaginable, days like yesterday would serve as strong counterexamples to the theory of biorhythms.

Filed under: My Diary Comments Off