31 December 2010

why your body is an Excel spreadsheet

from this guide on how to lose weight:


Mary's BMR is 1400 calories and she burns 900 calories in daily activity with regular exercise, walking around and doing household chores. To maintain her weight, she should be eating 2300 calories but, after keeping a food journal, Mary finds that she's eating 2550 calories every day. By eating 250 more calories than her body needs, Mary will gain one pound every 2 weeks.

that's exactly right, Mary will gain one pound every two weeks. that's 26 pounds a year, 260 pounds in ten years, and by eating this way for 40 years, Mary will have put on over one thousand pounds.

all Mary has to do is eat 500 fewer calories per day, so that in 40 years Mary can weigh around -1000 pounds.

19 December 2010

please be more vague, Ms Palin

i mean, i'm having far too easy a time parsing what you mean by this:

"My number one criticism of President Obama is he promised to and he's trying to fulfill his promise of fundamentally trying to transform America," Palin said. "We don't need a fundamental transformation, we need a renewal and a restoration of what is good about America."


06 December 2010

100% compliance

my casual observation is that, in the mens' room, 40-60% of guys wash their hands after urinating.

i started at a new client 3 weeks ago, a downtown bank, and am shocked to note a full 100% handwashing compliance. further, there are a lot of guys doing a pretty thorough job of it.

somehow, it's strange: maybe Big Brother-like, maybe Stepford Wives-like. a religious handwasher, i now feel as though i'm slacking, by not using enough soap, or water hot enough, or not being thorough enough.

am i seeing the result of a very successful company-led handwashing campaign? i've even entertained the idea that there are cameras in there, and either 1) everyone knows it, or 2) the company hires only those who were observed to wash their hands while their for interviewing (and bad luck to those who didn't need to go!).

what kind of madness is this?

21 November 2010

FDA disclaimer?

i found this photo courtesy of Mark's Daily Apple. it's quite a claim, obviously, but aren't such claims meant to be accompanied by the standard "not verified by the FDA" language?

most likely this manufacturer is in violation. or are these claims blessed by the FDA?

update: I quickly found this page on the FDA site. Seems these claims are definitely not blessed by the FDA.

Carbohydrates raise your blood sugar the most. Cut back on these. For example bread, cereal, rice, and pasta.

13 November 2010

will the Heat have a better record than the '95-'96 bulls?

all the pre-season hype about the Heat had them besting the Bulls 72-10 record that season. i really enjoy pre-season hype, especially that by the Dallas Cowboys and their "first superbowl homegame" predictions.

the Cowboys are at a stunningly delightful 1-7.

the Heat are 5-4, just 6 losses away from *not* getting their 73-9 season.

love it.

31 October 2010

how soon is too soon to make a joke about terrorism?

without getting into the length of time post-incident being related to the damage extent of the act, i will say, "you have to wait until it's common knowledge."

late on Friday, i said this to the IT guy at work:

"hey, those printer cartridges you ordered from Yemen never arrived."

he and a couple other guys gave me a confused look. none of them had read any news for the day.

timing is everything.

you start feeling old when...

... the Rams throwback uniforms worn today vs the Panthers don't look very old at all.

then you research how long ago this was, and these uniforms are from 2000, when they won the Superbowl. Kurt Warner was quarterback, Christina Aguilera was part of the halftime show.

i don't feel so old after all.

i'll go back to thinking about the remake of Valley Girl currently being filmed.

29 October 2010

11" macbook air = want

i visited the apple store yesterday to get some hands-on with the wee macbook air. i have very little actual need for such a machine, but damn is it excellent.

not quite enough for a main machine: there's no firewire port, so it couldn't support recording audio. and the screen may be a little too limiting to be able to run Eclipse/FlashBuilder and actually see enough of a file to code.

but aside from that, what can't it do?

- it seems fast enough for daily use for most tasks
- disk space is short, but it seems we're on the verge of a cloud-based revolution on which i could store the large music and photo libraries currently eating up a lot of space on my mbpro
- it lacks keyboard backlighting, but c'mon that's not a showstopper
- the screen, despite its small size, feels surprisingly roomy for most apps

the thing is hilariously portable. i could definitely see it as a business travel machine for me -- it could probably handle all but the largest Flex projects, I could get exchange email through the web (yuck, but still), and i could run open office if i really needed to edit Office docs. Assuming i could get a mini-display port to VGA cable for presenting, what's not to love?

Apple is pitching this as a laptop/iPad hybrid. I don't quite see that right now -- it seems all laptop and not iPad -- but Apple is dropping hints that Lion will add some iOS-ness to the device.

what I'd like to see hardware-wise, and frankly by now I thought this would be featured in all Apple laptops, is a 3G chip. I think it would make a lot of sense for this 11.6" MBA to be able to grab internet anywhere. maybe the next version?

26 October 2010

costco, item of interest #2

must fruit continually get larger? this does not look appetizing to me, it just makes me feel that the growers 1) concentrate on embiggening fruit without regard to taste or health, and 2) believe size is all that matters to consumers.

i like to think that a piece of a particular kind of fruit has a fixed amount of flavor, and that flavor is distributed throughout the fruit. strawberries larger than golfballs is where i obtained this theory (oh Driscoll, i shall never buy produce from you again).

when will the madness end? and where can i find a watermelon the size of volkswagen?

that was rhetorical. the answer is, of course, Costco.

costco, item of interest #1

three times the heat of *what*, exactly?

i stopped a shopper and pointed at the sign which i thought was so hilariously ambiguous. not understanding that i was pointing out a flaw, she was dually impressed that this item did, apparently, offer three times the heat.

realizing she didn't quite get it, i said, "do you see? it says three times the heat. but three times the heat of what?"

"wow, that's a lot of heat," was her response.


vintage mac

guy on train the other night rocking a 1998-era PowerBook running os9. vintage!

25 October 2010

... got a brand new bag

some time ago, i think in the early 90's, i picked up a purple backpack at Uncle Dan's by MEI. at the time, i had no idea who MEI was, what kind of fan base they had, or how they would almost disappear as a company (now they only sell direct).

earlier this year, the good people at MEI were (or is it good person at MEI was?) incredibly kind to repair two broken straps on the bag, completely free of charge. this is a bag i still use every day to/from work.

however, the time had come to upgrade, for two reasons:
1. i'll soon be at a client site, and need a more professional looking bag
2. i need this new bag to be waterproof

after a lot of looking around on the web, especially at messenger bag sites, trying out a few bags at stores, going back and forth between one-strap and two-strap bags, and nearly pulling the trigger on a Chrome Pawn, i finally settled on a two-strap bag from small Philadelphia manufacturer Reload.

it's a bit of a splurge, as every bag is custom-made, but that did allow me to put together some colors that i found professional (enough) but still had a bit of personality. the model i picked is the minipack, and it arrived today, 3 weeks after ordering. (their production times are running slightly longer than that, but CS rep damian kindly moved mine through a little faster, in time for this coming weekend).

i think it looks great, and i love the craftsmanship. it's actually a little smaller than i thought it would be, but no worries as i thought it would be slightly larger than i needed.

i definitely jammed it full for tonight's commute, as i needed to haul not only my normal bag contents (including lunch bag and containers), but a rain jacket and my purple MEI bag. it did so no problem.

my only concern is that, towards the end of commute, the straps were digging into my pecs a little bit. granted, this was under a load larger than i'd normally expect, and under lighter loads the pack felt very comfortable. it rides high, but when strapped tight i don't feel myself straining to carry it.

initial impressions are very positive, and i look forward to the first time i'm caught in a downpour. okay not really, but it wouldn't take long for my MEI to soak through...

24 October 2010

"i would not trust him with my left shoe"

Democrat Alexi Giannoulias, running against Mark Kirk for an Illinois US Senate seat, has an approved vox pop commercial. The people-on-the-street are all saying negative things about Mark Kirk. Pretty typical stuff, "he's out of touch," "how can he vote against middle class tax cuts," and so on.

but the last person says, "i would not trust him with my left shoe."

i'm not sure what she means, and i'm not certain under what circumstances i personally would trust Mr Kirk with my own left shoe. have i removed this shoe for his inspection, such that if he were to abscond with it, i'd be trying to find a way home with only one shoe? is it cold? is there snow? am i driving or taking the el?

serious issues, indeed.

11 October 2010

"half the distance"

i'm tired of "half the distance to the goal line."

a penalty is a penalty. does it put you into your own endzone? too bad. more safeties!

25 September 2010

joke of the day, UK style

Q: what are you eating under there?
A: pants.

23 September 2010

25th percentile

for the 2nd time, i had my doctor order an NMR lipo profile to ensure that my small LDL particles were indeed increasing in size (they are).

the results of the 2nd test, which i received today (and from a different lab than the first), had a summary measure of all the other numbers they measured. this overall rating put me in the 25th percentile on the scale of "insulin sensitive" to "insulin resistant" (where i was closer to sensitive).

i don't know if it's age-adjusted, but regardless, i'm pleased with the position. i'll chalk it up to eating more fat and less sugar, wheat and other grains.

i feel comfortable not getting my cholesterol measured for a long while.

19 September 2010

extra clicks = extra good

i receive a junk email to my inbox in Outlook. the following quick steps are all i need to deal with it:
1. select the email
2. right-click and select Junk email/Add sender to block list
3. observe that a new, unread email is now in my junk drawer
4. select the junk drawer
5. re-select the email
6. right-click and select Mark as Read
7. right-click and select Delete

simple and straightforward. good.

now what about that nightmare known as Apple's Mail?
1. select the email
2. press the Junk button

what? how can that be it? what is this magic? how did it know to automatically add that address to a block list? WHAT IS APPLE TRYING TO PULL HERE?

09 September 2010

Army of Carters

my first exposure to Nell Carter was in 1979, when I saw her in Milos Forman's Hair. i then remember her becoming a household name a few years later, in Gimme A Break. while certainly not the first overweight/obese TV performer, i do recall her weight being a frequent topic, and kind of a big deal.

i'm looking at NHANES weight statistics, that i found here.

now, i don't know Ms. Carter's weight in the early 80's, but after some googling I found reference to her admitting her doctors labeling her obese. at 4'11", which at 150 lbs. would put her BMI just north of 25.

at 200 lbs, she would have a BMI > 40, technically "extreme obesity".

back to the NHANES data (page 5, table 2)...

from the 1976-80 data, to the 2007-2008 data, the increase of extreme obesity is alarming, from 1.4% to 6% of the sampled population. percentage of overweight barely increased, from 32.1% to 33.6%. But look at obesity, more than doubling from 15% to 34.3%.

Sure, my memories of Ms. Carter were that of a large woman, and photos from the era confirm that. But looking around me now, she's actually somewhat modest in comparison to people i see on a daily basis.

i see nothing coming from federal agencies anytime soon that will address this. it's still a litany of eat-less/exercise-more, eat low-fat and prefer soy products and corn oil to meat and butter.

oh, and the giant sugar-filled coffee treats are huge in Chicago. it's almost a rule: the larger the container, the larger the person drinking it.

04 September 2010


why can't escalators in the US haul ass, like they do in Hong Kong? i'd like to save time *and* my knees.

25 August 2010

i'm way low on my protein intake

i was having a lunch with a co-worker yesterday, discussing nutrition. he asserted that most people actually eat less protein than they need. naturally, i asked how much protein i should be eating.

"you should be eating half your body weight."

"really? over what time period?"

he seemed thrown by this question, as the answer was obvious: "every day."

i agreed that, by that measure, i am certainly low on my protein intake. i suggested that may be a bit high, but he insisted this was the case.

i finally brought out some real numbers: "so you're saying that every day i should be eating some 85 pounds of protein."

"what? no! 85 grams".

oh, my mistake.

22 August 2010


some years ago, when i would occasionally buy a dozen eggs from the grocery store, i was completely lost when trying to figure out the difference between eggs labeled "cage free", "free range", "organic" and "omega-3".

i was also unsure how i was supposed to decide among all the providers.

with the recent salmonella outbreak, traced to two large producers in Iowa, i'm seeing that it doesn't really matter whose branding you like best.

Wednesday's recall covers eggs branded as Albertsons, Farm Fresh, James Farms, Glenview, Mountain Dairy, Ralph's, Boomsma, Lund, Kemps and Pacific Coast [...] The earlier recall covered the Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph's, Boomsma, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemps brands

wow, that's a lot of brands from two producers. i wonder if there are additional brands that haven't (yet) been recalled.

the gf and i lucky to have quality egg producers available to us every Saturday. i don't know what i'd be doing otherwise.

08 August 2010

if you're not exercising, you're not doing Atkins

that's paraphrased from the man himself, and it's reason #1 that what i'm doing isn't Atkins.

(i should be doing some weight training, i admit, but after a 9-10 hour workday, where dinner ends up being somewhere between 9-10pm, i'm not particularly keen to spend an extra hour in the office building)

i haven't read the Atkins books, but from their site, i also find these differences:

1. Atkins de-emphasizes saturated fat, whereas i'm not phobic of it
2. Atkins emphasizes lean meats, whereas i'm perfectly happy with fatty meats, and not trimming the fat
3. Atkins recommends soy at the same level as the lean meats, whereas i will only very occasionally have tofu, and that's a small amount in miso soup
4. Atkins allows vegetable oils for cooking, whereas i prefer butter and lard
5. Atkins seems to have little aversion to fruit, whereas i'll eat seasonal fruit in small amounts
6. Atkins allows some grains, whereas i'll have some only when 1) on vacation, or 2) i'm cheating
7. Atkins recommends at most 40% of calories from fat, whereas i'm trying to find ways to eat more fat and less protein
8. Atkins, through their food products, seems to have no aversion whatsoever to engineered foods, whereas i'm eating more and more food bought directly from farmers
9. Atkins does not emphasize the sourcing of the food, whereas i seek out products of grass-fed ruminates, line-caught fish and foraging chickens
10. Atkins recommends low-fat dairy, whereas lately it's been my main method of increasing my percentage of calories from fat
11. Atkins emphasizes fiber, even from sources as soybeans and grains, whereas my body seems perfectly content with what i get from normal servings of vegetables
12. Atkins emphasizes Courtney Thorne-Smith, whereas i've never even met the woman

so, enough significant differences where i should retract my previous statement where i'd simply say "Atkins" to describe the diet. there are still parts of me that want to say that, in full knowledge of the widespread negative opinions and the earful i'll receive about how it's bad for you. otoh, there are parts of the Atkins diet with which i disagree.

perhaps i should simply respond with, "magic."

06 August 2010

the city of giant shoulders

Chicagoans are large. and getting larger.

since i've gotten down to BMI-category "normal", i've really started looking around me. what i'm seeing, in nearly everyone in this area, are guts, double-chins, bulbous butts, puffy faces, and arms and legs that look like encased meats.

and really massive people, as well. in excess of 300, 400 pounds. several examples there, just in the past 3 days. i'm amazed to see people so heavy, they look like they've been poured into the driver's seat of their oversized SUV. how large do you have to be to dwarf a large SUV?

at the supermarket, i see baskets carts with sugar. much of it is perceived as healthy, as some carts are overflowing with fruit. or fruit accompanied by bread, skim milk (or soy), rice cakes, frozen Weight Watcher dinners, and a regiment of 2-liter diet soda bottles, all lined up and ready to go.

today i saw this:

The number of obese people in the United States has increased by 2.4 million since 2007, according to a CDC special report released Tuesday.

The report also says that 9 states – up from 3 in 2007 – now report obesity levels at 30 percent or higher (in 2000, no states were in that category). Not a single state has reached the 15 percent goal set in the CDC's "Healthy People 2010" initiative.

yikes. i bet Illinois is one of those 9 states with > 30% obesity. that's staggering, especially if that figure doesn't include the "overweight" category (i'm guessing they're using BMI definitions, but the article doesn't say).

i want to walk up to some people, the ones i see doing useless cardio and packing their carts full of even more sugar, grab them by the shoulders and say, "you're doing it wrong!"

but i know it's hopeless. i've come to discover that diet/nutrition is even more divisive than politics. caloric deprivation as a weight-loss strategy is so ingrained in our minds, people can't even imagine that there are alternatives. it's such an alien concept, most can't even begin to question it.

i've discovered that the words "low carb" will elicit an immediate shutdown in others. "Atkins" is spit through clenched teeth like it's an expletive. i try to not lecture, or be That Guy On The New Diet Who Can Talk Of Nothing Else But The Diet, but people do ask about the weight loss, and i try to sum it up succinctly.

"it's Paleo."

"it's a high-fat, low-sugar diet."

"we avoid sugar and grains, and eat grass-fed meat, veggies, and butter."

"just go to Mark's Daily Apple."

"it emphasizes local foods from farmers, and avoids most anything packaged."

Anything like that eventually leads to, "oh it's low carb", or "you're doing Atkins." I think from now on I might just say, "Atkins," knowing that it's not really that and that the conversation will end. But maybe it will change a few minds. or at least let me get on with my day.


btw, clothing labeled "medium" isn't what it was 20 years ago, according to me. i think it's bigger now.

14 June 2010

automotive FAIL

i've seen coupe-types turned into convertibles, but never the reverse. wtf were you thinking, woman?

31 May 2010

wtf is a Downers Grove?

for a 2-day training seminar, I recently found myself in the suburban hell known as Downers Grove, IL. (as the joke at work went, "I can't recall the name, something like Upper's Meadow").

Chicago is one of those cities that, given a feature limiting its expansion (specifically, a giant lake), has grown on a hub and spoke system. this has given rise to a number of communities that sprang up along railroad stops. though it's not exactly my style, downtowns like Arlington Heights have a certain charm to them, especially given a fairly-recent rejuvenation of pedestrian and bike traffic in some suburbs centered around the trainstop. Keeping with my example, one can detrain in Arlington Heights and have quick walking access to a number of new shops, restaurants, and condos, in a semi-dense area with a mixture of new construction, rehab, and new-cum-olde.

this makes it all the more distressing to end up in a Downers Grove. maybe there's a nice downtown i just didn't come across (and let's not pretend that all of Arlington Heights is pedestrian/bicycle friendly), but what I did see is a travesty: networks of high-capacity expressways and thoroughfares, small clusters of mini-skyscrapers adorned with company names (Microsoft, SAP), with all other areas filled in by malls, stripmalls, box stores, parking lots, and only one neighborhood that i happened to stumble into (read as: i got lost).

had i been plopped down into this area without context, i would have had a very difficult time naming it as a Chicago suburb, or even taking an educated guess on which state I was in. my first guess probably would have been southern California.

stuck in traffic on Butterfield Road, headed to meet some co-workers for dinner (in a stripmall, naturally), I surveyed the stores and read off the chains: Chili's, Best Buy, Toys R Us, etc etc. Like catalog shopping that you get to do in person, and all the parking lots are connected. And that's what Butterfield felt like to me, with its 6 lanes, not including the double-turn lanes, and lights designed to funnel traffic in and out of parking lots: just a way of shuttling you between the places where you make the money and where to stop off to spend the money.

certainly, there must be more to DG than what i saw, because the alternative is that the 50,000 some people who live there find comfort in all their box stores.

happily, it's a convenient 1 hour and 20 minutes from where i live (unless there's a Cubs game, then add 40 minutes to my return trip), and kind of in the middle of friggin' nowhere. Even the flown-in trainer had to rent a car, as DG is nowhere near an airport or downtown Chicago, both of which I can reasonably access from my house without a car.

though i understand the reasons how a place like DG came to be, including the homeowner's desire to "get away from the city", the village's desire to attract commerce, and the corporations desire for tax breaks and their logo on their own building, i am stunned that anyone would wake up, take a serious look at what's out their window, and proclaim, "yes, this is what i've always wanted."

i'm really trying to put aside my own biases and imagine myself as someone who would want to live in place like Downers Grove. and i'm failing.

30 May 2010

cellartracker and cor.kz

cellartracker.com seems to be the site to use if you want to track your wine collection. cor.kz seems to be the iphone software to use if you want to integrate with cellartracker.

as the gf and i have been buying more and more wine lately (our collection now stands at a "mighty" 17 bottles), and personally i cannot recall the relevant details needed to re-purchase a bottle we liked, i thought it high time to solve this with software.

cor.kz sells for $3.99 and allows you to create a free cellartracker account right from the app. donation levels at the site allow for extra features, such as access to professional scores and the ability to track larger inventories.

the iphone app has a barcode scanner built in, which found 10 of our 17 bottles. back to my laptop, typing in the UPC code found 2 more, which means I had to enter details of 5 bottles by hand and contribute them back to the database. frankly, I was a little surprised that we'd managed to buy 5 unknown bottles.

syncing is pretty much instantaneous. i gifted a second copy of cor.kz to the gf and set up her copy to point to the same cellartracker instance. i encountered no issues.

the app and site are a little clunky, i'm afraid to say. happily, cellartracker has a site in beta, grapestories.com, which sports a much prettier interface. it's entirely possible that cellartracker is highly functional, i just thought its 1993 web-era look is a bit of an embarrassment. the navigation with cor.kz can be a little confusing at times.

entering new bottles at cellartracker wasn't the most streamlined of processes, but it's functional enough. i'm not sure it's possible with cor.kz, nor if it's gotten better at grapestories. they make it possible to start with a similar bottle and change details, but the one time i tried it, i found one field where it was not possible to enter a new value, causing me to hit my back button about 8 times to hit the "start from scratch" button. clunky.

at the free level, there's no access to professional scores, but there is access to members' scores. each bottle you search for or add will show that average score. some bottles have a lot of scores, but our highest-ranked bottle has a score based on just one person. it seems there should be better management of that (e.g. exclude scores with fewer than n datapoints).

there are some other nice touches, like the ability to track ordering and delivery of your bottles separately, and the location and bin number in your house. of course you can also track the price and from where you purchased, and upload your own photo of the label. and one of my favorite features is the ability to sort by drinking age. i discovered with some horror that some bottles we purchased recently should have, at least according to other members, already been consumed. frankly, i don't know enough about wine to know if that's a big deal or not.

at drink time (in cor.kz, there's a nice button to indicate you drank a bottle), you can make your own tasting notes and have access to others' notes. there's also a kind of social networking built-in, where you can make friends with other members and become fans of them.

despite the clunkiness, it solves my needs and should assist in our buying and drinking processes.

additional thoughts:

it seems the iphone app doesn't cache your collection, and has to retrieve it from the server each time you launch the app. seems un-necessary and, in a pinch, could be problematic.

i think there's tons of opportunity for better data presentation. i'd mentioned the sorting, but everything is always presented as a list, with the same kind of line item renderer. it'd be nice, for example, to provide a view that occurred along a time line, such as when viewing by vintage or recommended drinking. or having views that representing groupings, such as by country or varietal. best would be a way to start with a dish/cuisine, and grab recommendations for wines from your collection that matched. good god, if they don't start implementing some of this, i may just have to write it my damn self. somewhere on the web there must be sites that provide such a service in a way that can be accessed programatically...

23 May 2010

the Pacific

I regard Band of Brothers as some of the finest film-making i've seen. without trying to get up my hopes too much, i eagerly anticipated the airing of The Pacific. i think it helped that there were 9 intervening years.

what didn't help is that: the Pacific isn't very good.

or at least i should say, "when compared to Band of Brothers," as comparisons are inevitable.

the Pacific is certainly watchable (unless you're squeamish), it has some solid and moving performances, and it has moments of well-executed intensity.

it also has long periods of boredom, lacks focus, provides disjointed character and battle arcs, and wasn't as well cast as BoB.

i thought BoB had, among other strengths, two standouts: 1) the decision to follow a single company throughout the war, and 2) casting mostly unknown actors. The Pacific followed the second (with the exception of Jon Seda), but did not follow the first. I think that was to its detriment.

personally, i think i'm also suffering from knowing (much) more about the european theater than the pacific; i suspect the same is true for a number of viewers. i recognize that may have contributed to my lower enjoyment, so perhaps that's unfair. But i also think making the same choice as BoB -- following a single company -- could have provided that missing context and contributed to a better viewing experience.

that said, i'm sure the producers had discussions about formula, and wanted to do something different, such as starting some character arcs prior to enlisting. I think i would have agreed with this choice more had it paid off better. to me, it simply felt different.

it also didn't feel as epic as BoB. the series carried along with more or less the same energy, and all of a sudden, the Japanese had surrendered. it really felt as though the series was just getting started, so this was certainly "an odd turn of events".

it wasn't until the last two episodes where i finally started caring -- but not very much -- about what happened to the characters. at the end of BoB, when the reveal was made of "who was who" (matching characters to their real-life counterparts), that was moving. the Pacific used the same technique, without the same gravity.

11 May 2010

it costs me more to come home than it does to go to work

what's up, CTA, with your silly fare structure?

like the Oyster Card, i do appreciate the simplicity of my Chicago Card Plus. but i thought the advantage of buying into the low-personnel-involvement solution was savings passed on to the rider. perhaps not. looking at the fare structure, it's minimal.

further, it costs me $2.25 to get to work, taking a bus first and then a train. the reverse, with the train first, costs me $2.50. i don't understand why the order matters.

the station near my work is next to a bus depot. if i were so inclined, i could leave work, card into a bus, immediately leave the bus and get on the train. my last transfer would be free, so this would save me 25 cents.

how counter-intuitive is that?

09 May 2010

i remain nitpicky

i think they mean the food is affordable, as i like to think that the prices are free. "How much for a burger and fries?" "I'll tell you for only twenty-nine cents."

08 May 2010

tripit and Flight Update Pro

though i've known about it for some time, today i finally signed up for tripit, a mobile-friendly site that organizes travel info.

the two cool things about it, for me, are:

  1. you can forward email itineraries to them, and they'll parse out the plans

  2. easy integration with the iPhone app Flight Update Pro

For my upcoming trip to England, I forwarded my AA email, and within minutes that info was on my phone in Flight Update Pro. i've not worked with any other iphone travel app, but when comparing I liked the FUP screens: all the info you need most frequently is easily accessible/readable, it'll show you flight progress, and it even has some quick-send emails like "I have arrived at LHR" and "I am picking up my bags at the baggage claim area", with the ability to include the flight status. Nice touch.

tripit does a whole lot more, which i'll probably never take advantage of, but i certainly appreciate the effortless integration of the flight stuff into the phone. Previously, I would dutifully type that stuff into Notes (never wanted to leave it in an email, and risk having it pushed too far down the stack and off the phone, and deleted from the server [yeah I'm still a POP guy]), and this is a much better solution all round.

02 May 2010

i don't know how to walk

image from here.

i suffer from chronic lower-back pain, though weekly massages and adjustments keep that at bay. i also suffer from chronic knee pain, which flares up after i've been doing a lot of walking, like i've been doing over the past month or so.

climbing stairs is the worst, which i can make bearable by applying a slight downward pressure at the top of my kneecap while pushing off.

both my massage therapist and chiropractor are telling me my leg muscles are too tight, and i should be stretching more. that seems to help, marginally. but i'm wondering if i'm causing the issues by wearing shoes with too much padding / arch support, and that i'm just flat out walking incorrectly.

the gf bought a pair of Vibram 5-Fingers today, which is making me jealous as I can't locate any in my size (even Vibram themselves are out). I like the idea of the "shoes", and have been walking barefoot in the house lately. What I've found is that I make a great clomping sound by coming down heel first; barefoot, that feels un-natural and un-coordinated. i then switch to ball-first (or ball-only), and that feels better but seems un-sustainable. in response, i actually googled "how to walk barefoot" and came across the posted image.

i'm hoping to re-learn how to walk, and further hoping that the effort will have a positive effect on my knees, lower-back, hips, etc.

i've spent the last year re-learning how to eat, but i'm afraid the walking may actually pose more of a challenge.

update: this Masai Barefoot Technology looks interesting, as well.

busting mythbusters

i get a little frustrated with Mythbusters sometimes (often?).

i recently watched a show where they were testing the idea that Hungarian horsemen, firing arrows into people, could generate twice as much power as they would if stationary.

part of what frustrates me is the sloppiness with terms. "Power" is a specific term that can be measured, but at no point did they go about defining what they meant or how they were going to measure it. rather, it quickly became about measuring the penetration of arrows shot into a foam target.

in the end, using a crossbow mounted to a moving jeep, they "busted" the "myth" because the crossbows shot from the jeep penetrated @ some 9", versus some 7" when stationary.

obviously, that's not twice as much "power".

they did not discuss the relationship between said depth of penetration and power, nor did they do any experiments on the substance under target to determine if that relationship is linear. all that was simply assumed, which I suppose is kind of irrelevant as the original claim suddenly transformed from "measurement" of "power" to what kind of killing effect the arrows had on their opponents.

i'm assuming they have all kinds of advisers behind the scenes, telling them how sloppy they're being, and then being overruled by producers concerned with "making good TV" and "not losing the audience."

this could be a good, informative show. I have to think this isn't at cross-purposes with being popular.

good god, backup really is that complicated

at least if one wants to duplicate the convenience of apple's Time Capsule.

i've been combing over posts @ readynas.com, which is an excellent resource for Netgear NAS products. though it seems easier than ever to run Time Machine software with non-Apple devices, there are still a lot of issues. upgrading osx versions, running multiple Time Machine users, and running Parallels caused issues for a number of users.

those anecdotes are also peppered with cries of "NAS isn't a backup solution!" Which is a shame, given that's exactly what i wanted to use it for. so then i was pricing out 2 TB external drives to back up the NAS.

Time Machine tracks revisions to files, such that one restore their computer to the exact state from a date in the past (chewing up a lot of extra disk space in the process). That's a neat use case, but one I don't really need. I version my own files when it's important to me, what I need from a backup system is something for that rainy day if my laptop is stolen or the drive dies.

iow, I need the latest snapshot, that's it.

seems I already have everything I need for that: external firewire drives and Super Duper. I contacted the author and he confirmed for me that NAS solutions, while having some nice features, doesn't allow Super Duper to make a bootable backup the way it does with a dedicated device.

so I suppose I'll stick with my 3-prong approach, using Mobile Me Sync, Backup of some files to the apple servers, and Super Duper for the entire image.

30 April 2010

that's how they get you

many of the crosswalks in Chicago have timers, conveniently letting you know how much time you have until the yellow light.

only it's not so convenient, as the countdown isn't, in fact, expressed in seconds. It's insidious, somewhere around 7-8 tenths of a second.

i know this, but can't get used to it. it's so ingrained for me to think of that "14" to mean 14 seconds.

it does not.

who do they hire to make these decisions? no one walking to work, i'll assume.

24 April 2010

good god, is backup really this complicated?

today I learned about NAS: network attached storage.

now that i've moved into the 21st century with the purchase of a new mac laptop running Snow Leopard (previously was running Tiger, skipping Leopard entirely), AND designating my laptop as my new "main machine", i thought it high-time to modernize my backup procedures. And to get the gf's machine running regular backups, as well.

naturally, i first investigated Apple's solution, Time Machine and Time Capsule. it didn't take me long to find the accounts of the multitudes with failed Time Capsules, seemingly due to a bad thermal design. That, and there's no built-in RAID, so Time Capsule is off the list. Would still like to use the Time Machine s/w, though. after some googling, I found that what I was looking for was an NAS device.

anyone been to Linksys' site lately? it's now streamlined and fantastically worthless. what is Valet? haven't a clue, other than beautiful people can use it easily.

the Iomega Ix2-200 looked promising, but some devastating reviews @ amazon has put me off. the Netgear Stora stuff also looks interesting, but it seems it also has its fair share of issues. That, and I'm not *at all* convinced that I want the same device storing my backups to also be serving files and media to devices outside my home.

after more research, including finding the (netgear) readynas site and its osx section, the leading contender is a diskless Netgear ReadyNAS duo, which i'll fill with a pair of 2-terabyte Western Digital drives.

i'm still doing research, and need to verify that i can RAID those for a total of 2-terabytes of backup. even with full-bandwidth audio files to back up, and 2 users, that should be enough space for the foreseeable future. And it looks like Time Machine setup is relatively painless.

i think it'll work completely wirelessly, so i can chuck it in a closet and not have to worry about running an ethernet cable between it and my (aged) Linksys router.

hey, makers of automated voice systems

how about starting off like this:

our offices are now closed, but we offer a number of automated options you can access now. to hear our hours, press 1. for automated access, press 2.

i'd like that better than spending 5 minutes navigating your system, hearing all kinds of automated payment information, and then being told your offices are closed when i'm finally presented with an option to speak to someone.

end rant.

17 April 2010

updated MB Pro benchmarks

i visited the apple store again and re-ran XBench for the 13" 2.66 GHz mb pro, providing results that i think are closer to reality (correcting that out-of-whack UI Interface value).

MB Pro 2.53GHz C2D (Nov 2009) 13" MB Pro 2.66GHz C2D (Apr 2010) 15" MB Pro 2.53GHz i5 15" MB Pro 2.66GHz i7
RAM, gig 4 4 4 4
Overall Score 128.33 139.19 166.23 174.52
CPU 181.45 190.23 201.96 221.38
Thread 309.72 280.11 491.01 539.79
Memory 190.57 196.82 314.76 330.08
Quartz Graphics 197.14 164.88 209.01 233.53
OpenGL Graphics 90.44 168.13 198.13 204.90
User Interface 278.42 199.38 324.52 353.68
Disk, Overall 47.99 51.67 52.55 53.42
Disk, Sequential 95.06 100.12 107.92 116.04
Disk, Random 32.09 34.82 34.73 34.69

15 April 2010

XBench figures for April 2010 MacBook Pro lineup

i last did this back in November, but with this week's release of the new laptops, I thought it was time for new benchmarks.

So tonight I stopped by the AppleStore tonight and grabbed some figures, with the same version of XBench (1.3). Again, usual caveats apply wrt variances from test to test, most notably with the User Interface score for the new 13" MB Pro. Sadly, I did only one run. More sadly, they didn't have all versions of the machines, so I grabbed what I could.

For comparison, I included the MB Pro 2.53 GHz Core 2 Duo from last fall. Interesting how it and the new 13" 2.66 are not much different, performance-wise, despite the doubled RAM and "improved" graphics card. The move up to the 15" i5 seems a clear step up, though I'm thoroughly unconvinced I need or want a 15" form factor.

MB Pro 2.53GHz C2D (Nov 2009) 13" MB Pro 2.66GHz C2D (Apr 2010) 15" MB Pro 2.53GHz i5 15" MB Pro 2.66GHz i7
RAM, gig 4 4 4 4
Overall Score 128.33 71.97 166.23 174.52
CPU 181.45 190.54 201.96 221.38
Thread 309.72 214.07 491.01 539.79
Memory 190.57 198.92 314.76 330.08
Quartz Graphics 197.14 157.52 209.01 233.53
OpenGL Graphics 90.44 170.67 198.13 204.90
User Interface 278.42 20.29 324.52 353.68
Disk, Overall 47.99 48.02 52.55 53.42
Disk, Sequential 95.06 89.78 107.92 116.04
Disk, Random 32.09 32.77 34.73 34.69

05 April 2010

not a Lotus!

from down the street, i had misidentified this Tesla as the chrome orange Lotus Elise i would love to have. good looking car!

28 March 2010

a little sore

not unsurprisingly, my walking tends to decrease during the winter months in Chicago. i really try, year round, to avoid driving/being-in-a-car on weekends, much preferring to run errands by walking, shopping locally, etc.

yesterday i had to be in Uptown and decided to walk. combined with the rest of the walking i did yesterday, i logged about 5 1/2 miles. sadly, much higher than i'd been doing since last fall. and i did the bulk of that on a smallish breakfast of bacon and eggs.

my energy was really good, no fatigue at all. my only complaint, near the end, was the inevitable lower back pains i get when doing that much walking. by this morning, that has pretty much cleared up, and i'm left with some soreness in my thighs and a niggly little pain in my left foot.

but overall i'm really pleased and hope to log many more miles until the next winter.

20 March 2010

a little back patting

i'm about one month away from my first year of Eating Better. labels are always a bit tough here, as the Food Plan doesn't really fall neatly into any already-named category, but loosely what started as something like South Beach has become something like Primal.

i can't argue with any of the results, the standouts being weight and some other lab-measured values.

as a side note, Google docs to the rescue when i needed to convert some spreadsheet data into a chart. after struggling for longer than i care to admit with an ancient copy of Excel (nice chart, but it wouldn't let me scale the y-axis) and AppleWorks (nice min/max on the y-axis, but it kept running the dates along that axis), i spent about 5 minutes in google docs uploading the file and generating a satisfactory chart. huzzah.

update: i uploaded a new chart with all my historical weight data, but due to 1) lack of early data points, 2) a consistent weight for two consecutive days counting as one data point, and 3) not finding any way to tell the chart-generator that the x-axis is time and it should examine the dates and draw the chart accordingly, it's still a bit skewed. maybe the 22nd century will have better software...

finally, i left off the first data point (april 8 2009) as it was a whole month until my next data point, and that may 8 one was an actual weigh-in (the april was a guesstimate).

07 March 2010

you can't get there from here

youtube has a nice warning system in place, letting me know recently that my version of Firefox would soon no longer be supported by their site. And they made some recommendations, including FF 3.5.

so i went to see what version of FF i was running on my (vintage 2004) ibook: FF

okay, that's a little old, let me go to "Help / Check for Updates..." and see what I can get. Mozilla makes it easy to upgrade FF versions, downloading/installing in one step and even restoring your open windows. nice touch.

it updated me to 3.0.15. Not even close to the 3.5 I would need to keep using youtube. At this point, I began to get a little worried that my hardware, and OS (Tiger), are a little too outdated to run the latest of FF.

So back to "Help / Check for Updates" and BAM it installed 3.0.18 for me. Try again: BAM now I have 3.6. Try again: I'm at the latest.

I assume there's a good technical reason that i couldn't go straight from to 3.6, but I'd love to know what it is.

Now when is that damn Macbook Pro refresh coming?

21 February 2010

is it possible to draw real-world conclusions from playing GT5?

i recently picked up Gran Turismo 5 Prologue for PS3, which is a great bit of fun. lovely graphics, good gameplay, boatloads of depth and addictive -- what's not to like? you race, you get money, you buy new cars for your garage. and then race those (complete car list here).

you can pit your mini cooper against other hot hatches, like the Ford Focus ST, or you can be a dick and race your Ferrari against them.

i like that the cars are pretty distinct, though given my lack of real-world experience, i can't say how close of an analogue they are.

still, i'm happy to pretend that these are valid impressions and will state some.

Biggest disappointment: the 4WD Audi TT Coupe. it's just too underpowered. That's followed closely by the Alfa Romeo Brera 4WD. Really sluggish in the low gears for a 6 cylinder.

Biggest surprise: the Fords! i'm not at all surprised that the Ford ST does well (i get better times in it than i do in the Mini Cooper S). The Mustang doesn't suck! My times in it are similar to those I get with the 2005 Subaru Impreza WRX STI. And I must say I like the Ford GT a lot. It's ridiculously over-powered, and I initially thought it didn't corner well. Then I realized I was taking those corners > 100 mph, much faster than I had tried previously.

The GT compares favorably to the Ferrari F430. Not in every way, but the Ferrari is a good bit twitchier. Also, the Audi R8 makes up for the TT, my times in it are nearly as fast as the GT and F430.

Other nice surprises are the Renault Clio Sport V6 and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX. I get consistently better times in the Lancer vs the Impreza, the latter feeling a little too heavy and weak in the low gears.

other impressions: the BMW M3 is heavy but handles well for its weight. The Lotus Elise 111R is one of my favorites -- tough but rewarding. The Honda Integra is fast and undramatic. And the 2001 VW GTI is slow, predictable and boring.

regarding my original question, after playing this game, is it fair to say i'm no longer interested in the Audi TT?

16 February 2010

more n-3/n-6 ratio data

i *finally* found that chart i'd recalled seeing but couldn't recall where. it was part of this Whole Health Source post. here's the chart and some accompanying verbiage:

The ideal ratio is probably very roughly 2:1 omega-6:omega-3. Leaf lard is 6.8, beef tallow is 2.4, good quality butter is 1.4, corn oil is 45, cottonseed oil is 260. It's clear that a large qualitative change in our fat consumption occurred over the course of the 20th century.

13 February 2010

National Automatic Garage Door Awareness Week

I'm declaring it such after spending a week opening/closing the damn thing myself. having a working automatic garage door is a minor thing in the overall scheme of things, but damn is it a nice daily convenience.

props to the gf for calling around for estimates ($300-400 to replace an opener?!?) until she got someone on the phone who not only correctly diagnosed the issue over the phone, but charged a fraction of the other estimates to do the repair (worn gears, plus they replaced bushings, lubed everything, and did a bunch of other stuff i can't recall).

Here's hoping my 14 year-old opener goes another 14 years. and kudos to Liftmaster for making an easily-repairable product with a long MTBF, even if that failure was during the middle of winter.

24 January 2010

even more cooking fat data

i created a new table with the data from the last two cooking fat posts, plus, per pyker's suggestion, data indicating the total mg amounts of n3 and n6 fatty acids in a sample (here, 100g). This does reveal more than the simple ratio.

i've added a PUFA% column and color-coded it against the "not to exceed 12%" standard. i've not bothered color-coding the mg/100 g column. i have color-coded the fat names themselves, which at this point is just my personal opinion of the fat, taking into account the other columns.

n3:n6 ratio mg n3/100g mg n6/100g PUFA tot%
butter 1:6.9* / 1:1.6** 802 1244 4
lard 1:10.2* 1000 10199 10
coconut n/a 0 1800 3
olive 1:11.7 761 9763 10
flaxseed 1:0.2 53304 12701 73
canola 1:2.2 9138 18645 32
soybean 1:7.5 6789 50422 62
palm 1:45.5 200 9100 10
corn 1:46.1 1161 53510 58
sesame 1:137.7 300 41304 no data
sunflower 1:18.8 192 3606 72
cottonseed 1:258 200 51503 54
grapeseed 1:696 100 69591 no data

* for butter and lard, i suspect these ratios are actually a little more favorable in my household, since we source these from pasture-fed animals.

** the second calc'ed ratio is from the two non-colored columns, which was different enough from the other value for me to include both. the first ratio is from the Corbain data, the second is calc'ed from the data i retrieved from nutritiondata.com. I believe the source of the data is the same (that USDA database), but I reckon we used two different butter entries.

more cooking fat data

i pulled this image from a pdf i found online (linked to from the comments section of this Mark's Daily Apple post on cooking oils).

for better or worse, this datasheet was put together by Monsanto. funnily enough, it's meant to extol the virtues of Canola oil. if we look at this data as suggested by the original commenter, we should avoid the fats where the red and green percentages add up to anything > 12%. So the canola oil is OUT.

good ol' butter, lard, coconut oil and EVOO are IN.

food, inc.

i watched this film today. there's lots to love here: some amazing characters, lovingly shot (even the horrific images), expertly assembled and edited, plus i agree with a lot of the viewpoints of the filmmakers.


there are some missteps. Given the message and those bringing it to us, i guess i shouldn't be surprised the filmmakers' viewpoints are so obvious. i think they overdid it, and an example occurred near the end, in the segment called "the veil." Did they really have to put up the word "evil" first, then re-arrange the letters? So late in the film, i think even the most jaded of viewers will either be disgusted or have convinced themselves the filmmakers are grossly exaggerating. In either case, I don't think it serves any constructive purpose.

my other main complaint was, though they alluded to the health dangers to the public, they never really went after it. The best they did was make the case that, because it's cheaper to eat fast food than buy fresh produce and prepare your own meals, that's unhealthy. But what about establishing a link between consumers' health and the processes used by factory farms, such as GMO, contamination, lack of variety, and nutrient content?

I don't understand the inclusion of the poor Latino family who spends more on diabetes medicine than they do on food, apparently stopping at Burger King twice a day to feed the family. Sad? yes. Sympathetic? certainly. Supporting a point? Not so sure here. This family claims they eat this way because of the low cost of the fast food, but wouldn't it be more compelling to profile a middle-class family that has a choice, and still chooses to eat fast food? I think so.

And again, all that was illustrated here is that cheap fast food is: cheap. Big deal. I say make an effort to tie the factory farming practices to an epidemic of ill health, and you'll make a much bigger, and much more necessary, point.

20 January 2010

n-3:n-6 ratios of cooking fats

damn, this info is kind of hard to come by. I had found a chart somewhere online that included pasture butter, lard and others, but for the life of me I can't find it. I did see this page today, which is from Cordain's site. they link back to the USDA site for where they got their data, which is a horribly organized site with a terrible search engine. so i'm grateful for Cordain's summary data, which i've re-represented here for convenience.

if anyone has similar data for butter, lard, bacon fat, red palm oil, or the like, i'd be happy to update the table to include them. until then:

I went to the USDA site and, based on the Cordain methodolgy, calc'ed values for butter, lard, and "Meat drippings (lard, beef tallow, mutton tallow)". These values aren't exactly in line with what I'd seen before, which makes the USDA values a bit suspect. Then again, their butter values are probably for corn-fed cows, not pastured ones, etc etc.

n-3:n-6 ratio
flaxseed 1:0.2
canola 1:2.2
mustard 1:2.6
Meat drippings (lard, beef tallow, mutton tallow) 1:4.8
walnut 1:5.1
butter 1:6.9
soybean 1:7.5
wheat germ 1:7.9
lard 1:10.2
olive 1:11.7
avocado 1:13.1
rice bran 1:20.9
oat 1:21.8
palm 1:45.5
corn 1:46.1
sesame 1:137.7
cottonseed 1:258
grapeseed 1:696

in the household here, we shoot for cooking fats no worse than 1:4 n-3:n-6 ratio. i've used a fairly obvious green/yellow/red color scheme to indicate what i think of the desirability of the ratios, though that's not to say that we're using canola oil just because it's "in the green." And we do use olive oil, but pretty much for salads exclusively and not for cooking.

Mark's Daily Apple did a piece today on oils, though it didn't include all the info i would have liked. Still, it's a decent reference.

One final note: hazelnut, peanut, safflower, sunflower, almond and coconut oil all rated zero n-3 fatty acids, so i left them off the chart.

12 January 2010

not watching TV = immortality?

some fantastic reporting in this CNN article called "Too much TV may mean earlier death":

Compared to those who watched less than two hours of TV per day, people who watched four hours or more were 80 percent more likely to die from heart disease and 46 percent more likely to die from any cause. [...]
Each additional hour spent in front of the TV increased the risk of dying from heart disease by 18 percent and the overall risk of death by 11 percent, according to the study,

got that? Too much TV watching and your risk of death from anything goes from 100% to... 100%. An increase of either 46% or 11%, depending on how you're looking at the data.

So if I watch fewer than 2 hours TV / day, does that mean my risk of dying from any cause is less than 100%? Say, 90%? Would that give me a 10% chance of immortality?

I shall assume this error originated with the author of the article, and the study text wasn't so badly worried. Or so I hope.

10 January 2010

CBS technology fail = my gain

at some point during the Ravens / Patriots game (i think just before half), the software package that "draws" first downs and play counts on the field failed.

and i love it.

i *like* having to be more aware of the down. and i like having to look to the sideline to see the first down marker, just like the players do.

i reckon i won't get to enjoy this again, unless i watch games from "the old timey days".

oh yeah: go Ravens!

update: damn, they got it fixed. oh well, i'm happy the Patriots lost. and in a bad way.

09 January 2010


i should probably just ignore loud-mouth NFL receivers, but the Bengals receiver (I can't even bear to type his now-legal name) just irks me. It is his stupid name change, I will confess; I didn't have much of a problem with the player named Chad Johnson.

in last week's typical pre-game smack talk, before the Jets annihilated the Bengals in a fashion unseen since the Bears pasting of the Patriots in the Superbowl, #85 promised to change his legal name back to Chad Johnson if the Jets were able to shut him down.

boy, did they. zero receptions, which isn't surprising since Palmer completed only 1 pass and ended up with a 1.7 rating.

And did #85 change his name? of course not. before today's rematch, the announcers had a bit of fun with it and let us know that #85 said that last week's game "didn't count", and blamed a "bad field".

I don't know how today's game will turn out, but Mr Chad Johnson, that shit is weak.

go Jets.

03 January 2010

the absurdity of cold-weather dressing

it's dipped to single digits in Chicago and, along with my much-lower fat profile, I finally admitted that my $50 Sears Carharrt coat, purchased some 13 winters ago, was no longer up to the task.

so i bought a new coat, a Cloudveil Down Patrol, that I'll describe not only as the warmest coat i've bought, but probably the only warm coat i've ever owned.

i still layer! With a mid-day temp of 8 yesterday, here's what I wore: the new coat (hood up), atop a hoodie (also hood up), atop a thin thermal top, atop a cotton t-shirt. Also, a thinsulate knit hat, thinsulate gloves, jeans, wool socks, cotton underwear and Ecco boots.

for my torso, that's 4 layers, including a 650 down layer, and for my legs, a thin layer of jeans.

it is true that my legs and face were the most cold. further, despite all my other efforts at staying warm, i neglected to put on some long underwear.

this is absurd. clearly the legs aren't as "important" as the torso, but the disparity of my treatment of them is absurd. as was the dress of others on the street around me: the same jeans-only bottom, it seems. men without hats or gloves. one guy with a thin Bears jacket riding a bike. it's friggin' cold here! why is everyone dressing like a high school boy who's too tough to admit he's cold?

02 January 2010

a hummus-style disaster

i made hummus last night, first time in a long time. this was to go with the lamb patties and taziki (sp?) sauce the gf made.

mistake #1 was dumping two cans of chickpeas into the food processor, without taking into account that not only was there not enough tahini for those two cans, but i was meant to leave some spare for the taziki sauce.

mistake #2 was dumping a good portion of that tahini sauce on the floor while trying to open the stupid thing (must containers really be so challenging? i mean, if i must struggle with it while using a pair of pliers -- COME ON!)

i will confess i was somewhat distressed, but the gf came to the rescue by suggesting i use some of the greek yoghurt.

along with white pepper, greek yoghurt may become secret ingredient #2 for my hummus.

suddenly, it all started coming together. with the addition of EV olive oil, lemon juice, hot paprika and sea salt, it ended up possibly being the best batch i've made.

i'm enjoying some now w/ a little extra EV olive oil (the really good stuff we brought back from Spain) and some "normal" paprika.

how hard is it to program a microwave oven?

i don't mean as an end-user, i mean as a developer.

What I want, as an end-user, is that if i program it for 2 minutes @ power level 5, for it to run at half-power for 2 minutes. No microwave oven I know of does that, so I suspect there may be an issue with running at less than full power. Let's take that as a given.

Thinking as a developer, I now have the task of running the oven for 2 minutes, but applying full power for 1 minute. I'm probably also looking at a minimum time of "engagement", i.e. the hardware guys tell me that the MTBF plummets if the engagement time is anything less than, say, 15 seconds.

Okay, now I have my parameters. Engage for 15 seconds, disengage for 15 seconds for 2 minutes. But I quickly -- and by quickly I'm comparing 5 minutes vs 30 years -- realize that for those last 15 seconds, the oven will not be engaged. Just spinning uselessly with the light on, but no heating taking place.

I then think to myself, "hey, as a developer, I could probably write a simple algorithm whereby the oven is always engaged when the timer starts, and when the timer ends."

And that may be a thought that has never occurred to any programmer of microwave ovens, ever, at any point.

so what gives? are there no "real" programmers programming these devices? is it all forestry majors and electrical engineers? (sorry, i think traditional-discipline engineers make crap programmers). Perhaps there are, ultimately, just one or two manufacturers of microwave oven control chips, and all the logic is built into there?

what gives? why is this so hard?

01 January 2010

bowl games!

currently on: Penn State (10-2) v LSU (9-3) in the Capital One Bowl. Gator Bowl features West Virginia (9-3) v Florida State (6-6).

What? 6 and 6 gets you a bowl bid these days?

Granted, I don't really follow college ball, nor am I familiar with the agreements in place for determining who will play in which bowl. Heck, maybe Fl State did so well in their division with 6-6 that they got an automatic bid. I didn't even check.

or maybe they got a bid because their coach, Bobby Bowden, is retiring. Hey, I'm just some guy, but if a team got an undeserved bid because of off-field factors, meaning a more deserving team is at home watching TV today, i think that stinks.