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


Return of Design – Individual Color

I'm not color saavy savvy enough to actually design a good color scheme for websites. What I did years ago was come up with a particular blue (#336699) and just chose to use it as the predominant color for my website. I keep thinking that it would be nice to add some different colors, but frankly, I never get around to it.

Today, I discovered that had a cool webpage which you can use to find nearby hues, variations in saturation, and complementary colors. For instance, here is the page for brainwagon blue. Very nifty!


More Food Thoughts…

While I was out touring wine country this last weekend, I began to think a bit more about something that I've only recently become to realize: that many of the foods which are handed down to us over the years are only edible because of the actions of other critters. Beer, bread, and wine all owe their existance to the operations of yeast. Many cheeses owe their flavors to the actions of molds. Yogurt only exists through the action of bacteria. It's amazing actually how many of our classic foodstuffs rely on, rather than try to inhibit the action of these helpful critters. Now our food is increasingly sterile, homogenized and bereft of life.

Hey, this is what you think of while munching a loaf of bread and a hunk of good cheese while surrounded by beautiful vineyards.

If you need to ponder this mystery further, try reading How to Make San Francisco Sourdough Bread and make some loaves of bread.


JuiceBox Hacking

The Mattel Juicebox (mine is red, not green).I can't really stop geeking even when on vacation with my wife. We stopped in at the Target in Napa to pick up some toothbrushes (I always forget to pack 'em) and found that they had the Mattel Juicebox on the clearance aisle. The Juicebox is a tiny little media player intended for kids, but they were expensive, incompatible, and didn't sell too well. But I got one for $12 or so, and another $11 for a compatible SD card reader for it, so I snapped it up. I was hoping to be able to turn it into a simple little video player, but it seems like the video functionality is difficult/impossible to access. Still, it is a cheap little mp3 player, and you can convert it into a photo viewer, so it might be fun to play with. The Wiki has the most information about its internals that I have found so far. Stay tuned for internal photos and further reports.

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My weekend

Yeah, my blog was a little sparse on the nerd front this weekend: Carmen and I were off for a short anniversary getaway in Napa, sampling some of the local food and wine and generally trying to relax. We give a hearty thumbs up to Julia's restaurant in the Copia center in Napa. We began with salads: I ordered a beet salad which was very delicate, Carmen had an assortment of fresh vegetables including peas and beans. Both were perhaps a bit subtle for us, but delicious. I ordered a pork chop, and was pleased when the waiter said that the pork chop was brined and assured me despite its juice texture, it was fully cooked. Bravo! People fear undercooked pork to the extent of ruining perfectly delicious chops by cooking them to 180 or higher. The best pork chops are cooked until they are slightly pink on the first cut, but turn opaque white after a couple of seconds, more like 165 or so. And brining helps. But I digress. The pork chop was excellent quality, large, delicious, flavorful and tender. It came with a tart made from cream, onions, and bacon and a side of purple potato chips. Delicious. Carmen had the rib eye steak, which I sampled and gave it my seal of approval. Also delicious. Dessert for me was a sampler of three cherry desserts, while Carmen went with a sampler of three chocolate pot de creme with small cinnamon churros. Each chocolate was infused with a different aromatic herb. Delicious again, but perhaps a bit too refined for our more rustic tastes. Still, a great meal for our anniversary.

The next morning we decided to ride the Napa Wine Train from NAPA to Calistoga, and sample their gourmet breakfast/luncheon service. I am a huge fan of Eggs Benedict (which I sample very rarely now that I am trying to lose weight, but it was our anniversary), so I went with their variation which substituted beef tenderloin for ham. Carmen had a stuffed French Toast, filled with creme cheese, craberries and grapes. Both were good, but not likely to be classic recipes. The tartness of the cranberries tended to overwhelm all the other qualities of the French Toast, and I don't really think that Eggs Benedict is improved by the expensive beef tenderloin. Give me the classic any day.

For dinner that evening, we went to Tuscany in downtown Napa. I had an interesting pasta dish which had chunks of stewed wild boar. It was a very rustic dish, with hand made pasta served al dente. I suspect that it is a dish which originally would have been made with venison, and I enjoyed it a great deal. Carmen had a roasted half chicken, which while competently done, was nothing very exciting. The ambience of the restaurant was nice though, with an open fireplace and lots of roasting chickens. We had fun.

The following morning: a picnic at the Clos du Val winery consisting of a loaf of bread and two kinds of cheese: one, a rustic Irish cheese and a softer mild cheese. Good stuff, and a beautiful setting.

A fun time. Happy fifth anniversary honey, and I'm looking to the next five, even as I rue the scale this morning (back on weight watchers for the rest of the week).