Monday, October 31, 2005

A Brief Update To The Coffeeblogging
Having only recently sucked down the last of my last quaker-laden bag of Dunkin Donuts coffe, I had to follow through on testing the brands I mentioned. And I was surprised to find that my local Safeway carried both Millstone and Eight O'Clock. I expected the Millstone but not the Eight O'Clock. Though the Eight O'Clock I wanted (the red bag) was only available in the humungus two pound bag. What the hey. I know I'll drink it all eventually and there's space in the freezer. I'll try the Millstone tomorrow. More reportage on the caffeine vector to follow....
Is It True?
I've heard a rumor that the Red Sox slogan for the year is "Wait til last year!"
(Posted as a tribute to my Yankees-loving co-blogger Paul.)

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fair Warning: This Post Is Inconsequential
As I was going through the process of changing clocks and watches for today's presto-chango of daylight hours, I worked my way down to my everyday watch. My good old (and I do mean old) reliable Timex Ironman Triathlon has been set at three minutes fast since my memory runneth not to the contrary. I don't even think I set it that way intentionally. It just sort of evolved. But I always knew that it was three minutes fast so when I referred to it for the time, I knocked off those three minutes.
Now, the watch is set to second per my Mac which gets its time set automatically from Apple's time server. Pretty reliable I do believe. So the remaining question is whether I will now keep in mind that my watch is not three minutes fast. I go with "probably."

Friday, October 28, 2005

Physics In A Nutshell

Make your own Einstein image here.
Perfectly Safe Files To Remove From Windows XP

I had a slow afternoon and decided to slim my laptop down to a more manageable size with the help of this site. This fellow allowed me to delete more than 1 gig of Windows XP Operating System files from my PC without crashing it once. Your mileage will vary and this blog will not be held responsible for any damage you do to your own system. Though it sure was fun to read clear explanations regarding junk that is installed on your PC and that you will most likely never use. There was even a certain rush every time I rebooted, because I had to ask myself if I had finally gone too far! Fortunately for me I can send this laptop back to HQ and have it reformatted. The rest of you may not be so lucky or might not possess a reliable backup. Just remember to take it sloooowly.
Today's Toe in the Halloween Pool
Scott Cummin's Oh my! Check out the Einstein pumpkin. This guy has talent.

Seeing his exceptional work does put me in mind of a pumpkin I carved a few years ago. It wasn't elaborate. It was a "Grey Alien" design. The shape of the head was defined by a crescent cut from the left side and then a tiny mouth, a couple of small holes for a nose and big inverted-teardrop shaped eyes. A simple cut, actually. But instead of using a candle to light it, I dropped in a couple of green glowsticks. I think glowsticks are underused in lighting pumkins.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

When Does The World Series Start?
I am so ready to see some exciting, top-level baseball!
The White Sox! You're joking.
OK, if you say so. Wrong color of Sox though.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

This Year's Dent-O-Lantern
Delivered to my dentist this very day. The idea is that a pumpkin this toothy would be a dentist's dream patient.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

RIP Wellington Mara

If you don't know him, he is the man in the 1960's who suggested to his fellow owners of the NFL (National Football League) that it would be "good business" to share the TV revenue. He owned the NY Giants and had the most to make by not sharing. Simply because he loved the game and knew it would make him and everyone else a fortune, he suggested revenue sharing. The rest is history. Football has become "America's Game" and makes plenty of money for owners and players alike.
Slight Change To The Sidebar
The "listens" section now features Christine Collister who has to be heard to be believed. Such a rich, lush voice - gives me shivers. Go to her music page and click the link for the song "Ashlands" from her "Into The Light" CD. Pure magic. If you don't love that voice, please tell me why.
Also, the links, which have accumulated in a rather haphazard way, have been alphabetized. That way I can't accused of playing favorites. Actually "Playing Favorites" is a better name for the section. Hmmm (pondering)....
Today's Halloween Treat
Girl on the Right hosts the Witches Ball. Scary witches! Sexy witches! The remarkably stupid witches of the awful TV show "Charmed" (no link 'cause it sucks)! Lots of links amongst the images. Enjoy.
Autumn With A Vengeance
It's now nearly 10:30 in the am. My weather widgets tell me certain things. It's 44º (UPDATE: now 41º) and there is a big swath of ice storm over central West Virginia. Looking out the window shows me that it's overcast so no sunlight is going to give us a temperature boost anytime soon. (whining)Do I have to turn on the heat? I don't wanna! I don't! I don't! I don't!(/whining)
On the other hand, I can live with the rain.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Bela Is Done!
The next step in Halloween blogging is the pic of Bela, the Mechanical Papercraft Bat. Go here to get the .pdf files necessary to make one yourself.
The learning process leads me to certain conclusions. First, I printed the bat makin's on heavy photo paper. It would better to use heavier stock than that. In fact, I'd say the heaviest paper you can get through your printer is the best bet. It all holds together well with the photo paper but the disks that turn the handles which hold the cam to the bat need to be stiffer than my construction allows. I'll put some kind of brace on mine (it's the wheel inside the "tombstone" that needs to be inflexibly stiff).
Being not the most handy with papercraft, I suggest you try building one with light paper as a trial run and then doing it for real with heavy card stock. I may be a pushover for the spooky holiday but I like this thing.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

One Of Those Annoyances Of Daily Life
I bought a product at Costco the other day and I'm going to present to you what was written on the back of the box. I'm going to obscure some of the text (highlight the gap to reveal it) so as to not give away what it is. What I'd like is for you to suggest what it is.
Enjoy A Zen Moment Every Day
Look forward to morning again. Bring back the peaceful sigh of being in tune with yourself, those carefree days when all you have to do is enjoy physical and mental harmony. That's a "Zen" moment, where health, mental balance, spiritual fulfillment come together and you can "be" the best you are.
We believe
Optimum Zen™ helps carry the feeling throughout the day, promoting those complete moments of mind, body and spirit. Through Optimum Zen™ we have captured that satisfying essence and inner balance with a blend of organic whole grains, gently sweetened, combined with the subtle warmth of ginger,the tang of dried cranberries and the crunch of blended grains and soy. Optimum Zen™ provides a serenity and calm for your busy world.
Optimum Zen™ is a high fiber cereal with organic whole grains including brown rice. It also contains a unique non-soluble fiber called inulin, a natural prebiotic fiber found in chicory root. Prebiotics are dietary fibers that are a food source for benficial bacteria in the intestinal tract. That's a good thing!
For thousands of years, Asian cultures have accepted the use of ginger for enhanced health. These cultures believed that ginger may have a cleansing effect, help digestion and encourage inner harmony. With a subtle hint of organic ginger,
Optimum Zen™ continues the tradition.
The addition of whole organic cranberries gives
Optimum Zen™ a well rounded source of antioxidants and phytochemicals that may reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. The tangy taste of cranberries complements the ginger flavor and nutty tasting organic whole grains found in this cereal.
And, being organic means no artificial additives and/or preservatives, or genetically engineered ingredients. In addition to the great taste, this
organic cereal is a good source of fiber and soy isoflavones.
A great way to find a healthy balance, inner harmony, peace - Optimum Zen™. Part of a healthy lifestyle.
Got all that? Good. With all the "mental balance" and "spiritual fulfillment," it could almost be some new regimen along the lines of tai chi. Or maybe chai tea. But it's pretty evident that it's a cereal. And it's pretty good. I like the cranberries. I like the ginger - heck, I wish there was more ginger flavor in it. But oh fer overblown, New Agey nonsensical boolshite! The function of my breakfast cereal is to taste good going in and make the "end product" soft and fluffy. On those grounds, I have no complaints. So why does Nature's Path subject to me to this nonsense? Seriously. Does this flapdoodle persuade anyone to buy this?
Obviously, it's not the cereal that leaves me with indigestion. Still and all, I've had a few of the "Optimum" cereals and I like them. They're granola in a hippy way- just not in a specifically granola way. Granola is actually fairly high in fat (oils, actually) which is what makes it acceptable. These cereals don't have granola's fat (if you follow the link, there is extensive nutritional information) and they're not oversweet. Despite my ripping on this silly-ass text, I can recommend the product. So try it. Just don't figure on using the box for reading material.
And my dictionary widget defines "prebiotic" as "existing or occurring before the emergence of life." Somehow I find it difficult to imagine that a dietary fiber, even one good for intestinal fauna, occurred before the emergence of life. Maybe a nice big bowl of Primordial Soup for dinner would go well with this breakfast.
Movie Dog Barks Again
Movie rental dog this time around. I recently rented "Batman Begins" and "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy." Not much to say about the latter. Mos Def as Ford Prefect does a very good job in an undemanding role. Zooey Deschanel as Trillian is just startlingly cute. I did some snooping around and I can't imagine who thought to cast her in the role. She is unexceptional in all the other images I managed to track down. But she adorable as Trillian. I hope she gets more work. Is there anyone in creation who isn't aware of what goes on in "Hitchhiker's?" So there's no need to go into the action. I will say this though, the scenes of planetary creation on the "factory floor" of Magrathea are incredibly gorgeous. All in all, worth renting if you haven't seen it in the teatro.
The Batman movie, on the other hand, is a must-rent. Even if you have seen it on the big screen. I'd like to congratulate the moviemakers for sweeping away the stench and the taste of ashes still lingering in the public's mouth from Joel Shumacher's crapfest "Batman and Robin." Christian Bale is a very pretty man (though Hugh Jackman is still the prettiest man in the world) but he makes a fine Batman. He gives the role the needed gravitas and soul-darkness. You understand in this movie why Bruce Wayne needs to become Batman. And they do a very good job of showing how he becomes Batman. Gary Oldman, who has played some very memorable movie villians, is surprisingly wimpy as Jim Gordon, seemingly the only good cop in Gotham City. But wimpy does not mean poorly played. On the other hand, Katie Holmes (no mention of her as the Bearer of the Seed of Scientology is really necessary, is it?) is the most remarkable waste of screen time since Debbie Reynolds in "Singin' In The Rain." I would have cast Linda Fiorentino though it's possible she might seem too old. Katie Holmes comes across as dandylion fluff - one puff and she's blown away. A district attorney character needs to impart at least some menace and the unbearably gorgeous Ms. Fiorentino can do that, in buckets.
This is, of course, a guy flick in a major way. And the gimcracks, dood-dads and gizmos don't disappoint. The new Batmobile is brilliant. I repeat: "Batman Begins" is a definite rental. It's not worth owning, but dashedly few movies are.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

My New Movie
I'm working on a treatment about a singer who blows his voice out screaming at his manager. Then, for the rest of the of the movie, he doesn othing but complain, complain, complain. It's called "The Hoarse Whimperer."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Beautiful Wretched Excess
I read "Forbes FYI" magazine. I don't know why. Probably for the same reason that I look at the ads for fractional ownership of jet aircraft. Such shiny, glittering, pretty things! And so wonderfully, wonderfully expensive! But I don't live in Oregon. I didn't even pass through Oregon and buy a PowerBall lottery ticket. So no NetJet. No Bulgari jewelry. The Rolex Oyster encrusted with diamonds will just have to wait.
Then what is it that makes me tear the page out of the magazine and write "blog this" across the top in big block letters? The Sub-Zero PRO 48 refrigerator. Here's what Richard Nalley has to say:
This is "the refrigerator as heartthrob. With its two doors and four sliding drawers it combines the muscular, industrial effectiveness of restaurant cold storage with the asymmetrical, cabinet-of-curiosities appeal of an old apothecary cupboard. We're talking here about 800 pounds of sculptural reference in welded stainless steel."
This, according to the good folks at Sub-Zero, is a paradigm shift. This icebox is for those "who aspire to a professional kitchen lifestyle." The Forbes FYI article wisely grasps the deep and fruity import of that statement, noting that it is "a flight of fancy that would strike people who actually work in professional kitchens as hilarious." Spot on. And let me quote further: "But the point here is the 'aspiring' part; it's all in the approach." It's like looking at NetJet ads. Aspire - aspire like a madman.
Now, for the personal aspect of the PRO 48. I like it. I'd say I love it but I don't. I love stainless steel in the kitchen and the glass door on the refrigerator side is weirdly great. But it is too angular and sharp for my taste. And, ay, here's the rub: $12,000.
Six times the price of a very good commercial brand. This is just stupid money. And there are a lot of people with stupid money. My momma might have raised a fool but it wasn't me. So my interest in this beast becomes a kind of look under the hood of modern culture because this beast is an expression of 2000's America. So the personal aspect poofs into sudden vapor.
As the article begins: "There are refrigerators now with TVs in the door, refrigerators that look like Victorian farmhouse appliances and refrigerators so shy about being refrigerators at all that they melt into your cabinetry." Of course no kitchen needs to have a TV in the fridge and retro styling and 'dissolving' appliances are all well and good. It's part of the rich pageantry of life and I celebrate the opportunities of modern Americans to live precisely the way they want. Be it retro, be it multimedia food storage or be it a kitchen that seems to have no food storage at all.
But I question a $12K fridge (I'm still tempted to call it an "icebox" as a poke in the eye to the good folks at Sub-Zero) which is faux-industrial. It is not just style; it is foolish pretense. "HelLO! I'm Wolfgang Puuh-uuck!" But you're not. You never will be. Your aspiration to gourmetdom will not be aided by a $12,000 food cooler. It is there not to help you with food but to appear industrial. This is kitchen butch for the dilettante. $12,000 proabaly could buy you a real, albeit small, professional refrigerator. But this is, let us recall, "aspiration." I like aspiration. I admire aspiration but this is not really about aspiration. It is about posing.
And that's just kind of sad.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Welcome To Year Of Drew Carey's Wives
OK, not wives really. But a lot of the women who played characters with whom Drew's character came close to marrying (or did marry) have recurring roles on current TV shows. Cynthia Watros, who played Kellie Newmark on the Drew Show, is now Libby on "Lost" (one of the so-called "Tailaways"). Kate Walsh, who played Nicki Fifer on the Drew Show, is now Dr. Addison Shepherd on "Grey's Anatomy." Christa, Kate O'Brien, Miller has been on "Scrubs" as far back as 2001. Diane Farr, who was only three episodes of the Drew Carey Show (as Tracy who made dates with Drew, Lewis and Oswald in her first and quite memorable appearance) is now on "Numb3rs."
On the other hand, Jenica Bergere who played handy-unnhhh-man Sharon Bridges on the Drew Show hasn't pulled a recurring role. Nor has Katy Selverstone who played Lisa Robbins, Drew's first love interest on the show. Maybe had their characters gone so far as to get engaged to him, they'd have television roles in their pockets as well. Or maybe it's just a coincidence.
The High-Tech File
Cyclists have known about and used it for years. It helped Lance to his unprecented winning streak in the Tour de France. Now, Sony has made a laptop out this modern marvel. Carbon fiber of course. I think we will see it used in progressively more places and the world will be a better palce for it. Its strength and its light weight, used properly, will lead to even such benfits as reduced energy consumption in transportation. And that's a good thing.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

How Could I Have Missed This?
I've been owing a Jake blog post for a while now and this isn't the one I'd intended. I check his "gigs" page every now and again which allowed me to see him at the start of the month in nearly my own backyard. And it paid off again today. He's going to be in Alexandria, Virginia on November 18 for "An Evening with Four Fabulous Fiddlers."
The truly great thing is the link for the show has a link to Jake's page for his performances at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage. He's played two shows there and there are Real Player links to both shows! The latest, from late last November is just over an hour of Jake on stage. A lot of really good material. If you've not listened to him yet and wonder why 'I DO go on' about him, this is your chance to see and hear play in streaming video. Egad, I love the interweb thing.
I was talking with the Enigmatic Misanthrope recently about the Old BlogDog Homeplace where we kept bees. I would say that we harvested honey but it was much more a case of our keeping bees than actually getting the honey from them. I have great memories of working with the hives and I retain a fair amount of the vocabulary as well (propolis, supers, queen excluders). I could talk bee-keeping. I could talk the hell outta that. But the reality of extracting honey is that it's one of the stickiest, gooiest, messiest things a human could do.
Supers, the "boxes" of which a hive is constructed contain frames which are designed that the bees, who always build their combs a precise distance apart (clever little goobers!), build their combs into an extractable, well, frame. Bees fill each hexagonal cell with honey and then cap off the cell with wax. When the frame is taken out, the cells must be de-capped which is done on a large scale by a special knife with a heated blade. On a smaller scale, a large-bladed knife which is kept warm can be used. Even with the caps off, the viscosity of honey makes getting it out difficult still. It is possible to just cut the comb out of the frame and heat it to the melting point of the wax. The wax and the honey will separate that way but as a processing step, it does not leave the honey raw.
There is much to be said for raw honey.
To get raw honey, an extractor is used. An extractor is a large drum with a spinning interior piece into which frames are put. With enough spin, the honey is flung out of the cells and onto the interior wall of the extractor whence it drains to a collecting container. Filtering the honey at this point is a very good idea. Thus a container of raw honey is now in the hands of the beekeeper. But there is a plethora of honey-sticky equipment and a mass of wax that needs to be cleaned and recycled. The wax recycled, that is. Beeswax candles. Sheets of beeswax that are pressed with hexagonal cells which are designed to be used in frames. Fresh warm beeswax smells very good - sweet from the honey but with a sort of earthiness. Not as good as raw honey but wonderful in its own way.

I still love honey. There's nothing better for sweetening tea. I can't tell you how many fall and winter nights in my young life were spent around the kitchen table with a pot of tea, honey (even our own a few times) and a pitcher of milk. It's the sort of family time that lives in the golden haze of memories of the best times. My mother liked very strong honey - tupelo was her favorite. I like lighter, floral honey with orange blossom being my absolute favorite. To that end, I recently ordered a bottle from a place in Florida and it wasn't terribly good (thus no link). Really good orange blossom honey is deeply flavored, almost perfumey with the scent of orange blossoms. And its a very pale honey - the best I've ever tasted was watery-clear, transparent just tinted with gold. The most beautiful honey I've seen, much less tasted.
The only way to get honey this good is to get it at the end of the orange blossom season. I believe I will have to prevail on Lycurgus to track some down at the right time.

Honey. It's wonderful thing.
Just Minuscule, Petty Life
I made a trip to a stationery store yesterday. Special trip. Out of my way. Why? I needed refill cartridges for my Namiki "Vanishing Point" fountain pen. It is one of my all-time favorite fountain pens. It has one of the finest nibs I've ever used and thus writes in a very thin line. And, as the name implies, the point is retractable. It is not the most elegant looking fountain pen I have (one day I'll count them) but it is the most useful. Of course, "most useful" means most used as well. Leading to a severe out-of-ink situation.
It's possible that the mega stores like Office Depot and Staples have the cartridges for my specific pen but I knew that the office supply store in my old home town had them as I'd bought them there before. So I drove probably 20 minutes more just to be sure I got what I was after. Yet I didn't just get the cartridges. That would be foolish. I also got a bottle of "Wite-Out" to paint the teeth of the upcoming "Dent-O-Lantern" and a glue stick so I can build Bela, the mechanical papercraft bat. It's not all about Halloween but a lot of it is. (Bela is well underway and should be finished today. Pictues will be posted.)
Gnat Lileks Is A Brilliant Child
Today's little bit o' Halloween is Miss Natalie's reaction to being served a bowl of Frankenberry cereal: "It looks like noses in blood, dad.”
From today's Bleat.

Monday, October 17, 2005

I Think I Should Say
I really need to eat more vegetables.
More Halloween
There had to be a Halloween blog. And there is, of course: Projo Halloween 2005. I've probably shot myself in the foot by posting the blog instead of mining it for a succession of posts here on PoW. But I do think it's better to be honest about it. I'd prefer not to have someone swipe my content without attribution so why should not adhere to my own standards?
Yeah, I've heard all the reasons. They're not good enough. Check out the link. Oooh! A tube full of eyeballs! Creepy! (Yet so easy.)

Sunday, October 16, 2005

There Will Be Halloween Blogging
Installment The First: RavensBlight. There's some fun stuff here. Downloadable games for the PC, papercraft toys you can make. I'm in the process of making Bela the mechanical bat. I need a glue stick at this point. But I should have it done in a day or so. There will be a picture, I promise.

I've been known to stick a knife in a pumpkin or two for the day. In fact, I have a tradition of making a "Dent-O-Lantern" for my dentist. I like my dentist. I like his whole family. I will dig out previous years pictures and post them but I'll lead with this year's which I'll make late in the upcoming week.
Fast Food Adventures
A while back I laid into the crap being purveyed by some of our more famous roadside distractions. Well, I have to hand out close to a rave this time. I got a craving for a chicken pot pie. I know, it's not a good thing to indulge cravings when your salient problem is calorie retention, but I decided to track one down nonetheless. I considered going to the grocery store but I realized that if I went the grocery route, I'd probably buy more than one and eat them in way too short a period (like one evening? -Ed.) For God's sake, shut up Ed!
So I tried the local KFC/Taco Bell location and KFC does indeed offer a chicken pot pie. I usually get a couple of tacos, a taco salad or a chicken wrap when I go there so I suppose I just never noticed the pot pie. Well, friends and neighbors, this is a delicious chicken pot pie. It has crust only on the top so it's not a sodden mass of gluten with a little pocket of chicken and veg in cream sauce. The filling is very tasty though I'd like a little more chicken in my pot pie than they give. Plus, the crust is remarkable for fast food: light, flaky and baked to a great golden golden brown. Dang. Full marks. My only problem is that now I know there is a good chicken pot pie for the having at the drive-through. This is one of those cases where self-restraint is truly an exercise.
I need to exercise more.
Oh, What The Heck
Being the mind-numbed slave of Apple, I went ahead an bought a video from the iTunes Media Store. Fatboy Slim's brilliant "Weapon of Choice" featuring the dancing skills of Christopher "More Cowbell" Walken. $1.99 - worth it. I can't imagine buying another viddy again ever but I had to try it.
NFL or Farm Report?
Calf injury.
Pulled hammie.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

More Coffeeblogging
There was an aspect of the Cook's Illustrated article on "coffeehouse coffee" which I neglected in my earlier post. It's what we in the BlogDog family took to calling "Spanish Coffee" or "Cafe Ole!" What is the effect of milk on the bean bevy? The article author had been drinking Starbucks which, in the tasting, was criticized as tasting burnt. Which is my salient complaint about the Beast That Came From Seattle. The author found it hard to accept that assessment.
The initial testing was done on black cofee so a round of tasting coffee with milk was done. And the results were quite different. The darker roasted coffees won the round of "au lait" sippage. Here's a snip that gives some good old CI kitchen science:
"...the plain coffee champs, ended up in the lower ranks - bland and insipid, according to the tasters. In contrast, Starbucks landed near the top, along with ... two other fairly assertive coffees. The bitter, burnt notes that had menaced tasters in the first round were suddenly 'robust' and 'complex' when tempered by the milk. ... Additional research revealed that the proteins in milk (and cream) bind some of the bitter-tasting phenolic compounds, reducing the bitterness and intensity of the coffee flavor."

Good to know. I'll give Millstone Columbian Supremo (which Millstone considers a medium roast) a try. And, being a good blogger, I'll let you know the results.
I Like Librarians
They are the shock troops of the information revolution. In real life, I've known a few and I have never met a better buch of people (mostly ladies but a few gentlemen are in the mix). I've never met a bellydancing librarian. But I'd like to. (Hat Tip: The Straight White Guy)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Not A Movie Review
I saw Kiera Knightley on Leno's Tonight Show a night or so ago. She was shilling for the new movie "Domino" which seems to be gathering wretched reviews. I haven't seen it. Doubt that I will. But Ms. Knightley's voice is one of the most wonderful to hear that I've ever heard. I have no special affection for the British accent but hers is just so delightful. Maybe I should go to the movie and not watch it, just listen.
What I Forgot
Knocked a few cobwebs out of the noggin and recalled what I meant to post in my "Miscellany" post below: Blogger seems to be running faster lately. Thank goodness for that. I started to post a few times and bagged it after waiting for Blogger to get the "Create" window up and running.
Another thing that I stumbled on today is Mark Cuban's blog where he posts about network television now being available via the iTunes Music Store (better make that the ITunes Media Store from now on). He does a good job of laying out the changes that this tectonic shift in content delivery is likely to make. Now is the autumn and our disc content has been made glorious summer by this son of Apple, to put an ugly gloss on the Bard.
I don't know if there's going to be a lot of yak about the changes we'll be seeing but expect that things will change. If DVD sales can resurrect "The Family Guy" from network oblivion, what will $2 TV shows do for series that are good but broadcast against network juggernauts like "CSI?" It could mean life for good but underappreciated shows. And speaking of good things, Lileks is now podcasting. Life just keeps getting better.
Artificial Arteries, Spare Parts For The Spine
If you are ever tempted to think that the world is going to hell in handbasket (or in my case in ham biscuit), keep in mind that brilliant people are doing brilliant things every day that will make our lives better as we age or for those who are afflicted. Today's case in point is the development of synthetic resilin. Here's a snip from the article to give you an idea of what this means for us:
Chris Elvin, from CSIRO Livestock Industries in Brisbane, spent four years reproducing nature's "near perfect rubber". Dr Elvin said yesterday: "Nature had a couple of hundred million years of evolution do it. All insects have it. It gives them almost frictionless movement.
"Fleas have a pad of it in their legs. They squeeze and compress it, storing energy in it." When they want to jump "they release all that energy in a millisecond".
If humans had such pads they could leap 100-storey buildings.
Here's a link to the article from CSIRO itself.
Speaking as one whose joints are afflicted by age and wear, this is just fantastic news. If you've got bad knees, think how they could restored by pads of resilin where the cartilage has been worn away. Not only would you not have the pain of bone-on-bone but your knees would be even more resilient than they were when they had "mere" cartilage pads.

I'm quite sure that there are a huge number of bio-mechanical applications for this that I can't even imagine. It gives me great hope for the future. Scientists, even those yobbos down in Oz, are learning how nature has given its tiniest creatures the capabilities to do amazing things. And it will benefit all mankind.
I look forward to the day I can report a breakthrough of this nature for those who suffer from Interstitial Cystitis.
On the other hand, it's not like this hasn't been thought of back in the 60s....
Sweet, Sweet Death by Calories
Bill Nicholson's Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding with Butter Rum Sauce. And for just the briefest moment I had the fantasy of making this. Then I realized that to burn off the calories, I'd have to vibrate for several weeks at such a frequency that only dogs could hear me. On the other hand, consuming this would probably make doing so fairly easy.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A speaker set for the iPod Nano. Very cool.
The new iMac on a second look: Dang! You can get a 20 inch G5 iMac (albeit without a phone modem but, as I said before, so what?) for, let me be honest, easily $500 less than I paid for mine less than a year ago. Not only that, the new one has a faster processor, a built-in camera and a larger hard drive. Oh fer ... what's not to like?
Kitchen blogging: This is a very cool egg timer. (via Gizmodo)
Someone has done a very smart thing: Akihabara news online. Akihabara (meaning "field of autumn leaves" if I recall correctly - love that name) is tech central in Tokyo. Modern Japan writ in an explosion of colorful pastic and "Hello Kitty" high tech. Man! do I hate typing the phrase "'Hello Kitty' high tech!"
There was something else I had in mind to post but I'm going Oldtimers diseased on it. So I suppose I'll have to pin it up here later.

Avoiding Too Many Updates
Below I have updates on my music post wherein I mention that I have Roger Daltrey's solo album "Ride a Rock Horse" on 8-track. I was wrong. I have Daltrey's first solo album (called, can you guess?, "Daltrey") on 8-track. And here's the proof.

UPDATE: Will this update madness never stop? Doesn't Roger look angelic in that artwork? He ain't nearly that pretty now - the skin is showing the ravages of time but I have no reason to attack him. He at least still lives. Sorry Moonie. Sorry Ox. What's notable about this recording (ha! it's an 8-track so I can't call it an album or disc now can I?) is that the feature song is Leo Sayer's "One Man Band." It's sad that Sayer got to be known for "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" when he'd written much better songs. I need to get out the 8-track player (Yes, I still have one) and listen to it again. This has some good stuff on it.
I am not as addicted to the sweet bean, bearer of caffeine, as I used to be but I still drink it regularly. Pretty muchevery day but not necessarily so. I gave up my 'subscription' to Gevalia a few months ago and have subsisted on Dunkin' Donuts coffee since. I used to like the DD coffee a lot, even to the point of preferring it to other, more expensive (cough Starbucks cough) coffees.
However, the latest "Cook's Illustrated" has an article on "supermarket" whole bean coffee. Included therein was the DD original blend. As usual for one of their articles, there was not just subjective tasting but technical testing as well. Coffee is tested by its Agtron reading which measures the darkness of the roast by testing how much light the beans reflect. A high Agtron number means the bean reflects more light and thus is lighter roasted. Dunkin' Donuts coffee tested at an Agtron of 59.9 which was the highest of the eight coffees tested. I'm not a fan of really dark roasts so this was just fine with me.
It was the other test which threw me. Coffees are tested for "quakers" which the article defines as "coffee-industry jargon for an under-developed coffee bean that fails to get sorted out before the roasting stage." The writier of the article then went about sorting out enough quakers to make a pot. It wasn't good:
"The smell was putrid enough, but the first taste dispelled any suspicions that quaker count was merely some academic exercise. The experiment isolated a taste I've always associated with bad gas-station coffee but conflated (incorrectly) with the burnt taste that comes from leaving the pot on the burner too long."
Yikes. Guess which coffee had the highest quaker count? Yep - Dunkin' Donuts with 9 in a pound. One of the dark roasts (Seattle's Best Blend) had a zero quaker count. This leaves me feeling very conflicted about my coffee. Should I go back to Gevalia's "Coffee of the Month Club?" Or should I track down one of the others in the test? I still like the DD coffee but I can't keep the idea that the reason it's inexpensive is that there are shortcuts in the roasting process out of my mind. I believe that I will try to track down Eight O'Clock Coffee. It has an Agtron about 8 points less than DD. It tested to only 6 quakers and it got good marks from the tasters. It's also at a very good price point ($5 for 13 ounces).
Eight O'Clock Coffee. Oh for the memories. When I was but a lad my mother shopped at the A&P. Said store has gone the way of the dodo but it was a good grocery store all those years ago. And mom bought Eight O'Clock Coffee there. In fact, I thought it was the house coffee of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company. My formative memories of coffee are smelling the whole beans being ground at the store. Now it's commonplace to have a grinder on the coffee aisle but then, it was decidedly out of the ordinary. And the smell of the fresh ground coffee was ... how to explain ... ambrosial. It smelled better than the coffee tasted, better than the coffee smelled brewing. I knew even back then that I would be a coffee drinker when the time came.
So now it seems I've reached the fullest point of the circle. I see that Food Lion (slogan: If we say it's food, we're lyin') carries Eight O'Clock. I'll see if it is for me what madelines were for Proust.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

More Apple Madness
I've been casting my googly eye over Apple's new offerings and I'm left pole-axed again. First - the video-capable iPod. Ummm. Ok. Things I like: smaller form factor (sleeker than previous models), same luscious Apple design (yes, more of the same but it's such a gorgeous sameness), 30 & 60 gig sizes at $300 and $400 per - excellent price points. Things I don't care about: video capability. It's a great idea and I'm sure many people have been salivating for it but I just don't need to watch video on a li'l bitty screen. On the other hand, the iTunes Music Store (with an update to iTunes 6) now sells television show episodes. $1.99 for an episode of "Lost" for example. I love the idea but am I going to buy an episode? Let's see what the Magic 8 Ball has to say - "Outlook Not So Good." Dang. It's right again!
Now, there's a new iMac as well. Nice features set: built-in iSight camera (and a new fun app "Photo Booth"), sleeker design - that seems to be a given in Apple's design skunkworks these days, and interestingly it comes with a wireless card built in but now a modem for dial-up is optional. Sure makes sense to me. I'd love to have one of the new ones but that would be one of those "if I won the lottery" purchases.
All in all, the new Apple cool junk is a step forward. An incremental step, no new dents in the universe, but real progress in anyone's estimation.
This Month's Discs
As you can see, the "longings" section has been updated. "The Who By Numbers" and "The Best of Emerson, Lake & Palmer." Return to roots. I, despite the fact that I seem to have become Mr. Folk of late, am a slobbering fan boy for The Who. No one ever wrote music like Townshend. No one sang quite Like Daltrey (I even have his solo "Under A Raging Moon" CD and somewhere I have his "Ride a Rock Horse" on 8-track tape I think - eeesh I'm old), The Ox was much more a of a musician than his bass playing ever let on and no one ever, ever drummed like Keith Moon. Too bad he wanted desperately to be a singer because he was a lousy singer. But listen to "Quadrophenia" just for the elaborate runs and fills Moonie played. Oh my ever-loving God. Fabulous. Perfect.
But the reason for getting "...By Numbers" is not just the superb musicianship but the songs, natch. "Squeeze Box" is the "big hit" from the disc and it's sad, really, that such a weak and puerile song could take precedence over such great songs as "Slip Kid," "However Much I Booze," "Imagine A Man" and "Blue, Red and Grey." The last is, in my estimation, a vastly over looked gem in The Who's body of work. It is a small song from a band that invented the rock opera. Queen was as operatic as The Who (witness "Bohemian Rhapsody") but Pete and the lads pounded it out with much more ferocity, more concentrated fury (witness "The Real Me" on "Quadrophenia"). "Blue, Red and Grey" is involving, personal, even intimate. But in a good way because, let's face it, Pete Townshend can go TMI intimate without hardly trying ("Pictures of Lily" anyone?) That being as it may, "By Numbers" came out in my sophomore year of college and I've regretted not owning a copy ever since. One less regret to lug around.
As for EL&P, well, "From The Beginning," "Jerusalem," "Still You Turn Me On" are sufficient reason to have the disc. I like the group but I'm not such a ravening ELPhile that I'm going to own all the original discs. So the best of is a good selection and will probably handle any desire to hear classically-influenced prog-rock from England (having long ago got the best of the Moody Blues, doncha know) I can muster up. Damn good stuff it all is.
Though "Tarkus" does make me want to track down "One Toke Over The Line" from Brewer & Shipley's "Tarkio Road" album....
UPDATE: Thank you LimeWire. It looks as though the song was on a "One Hit Wonders" disc. Too bad. Brewer & Shipley were better than that.
UPDATE THE SECOND: I did a quick Google of "Tarkio Road" and checked out the Amazon page. Holy moly. There are four copies of this on vinyl (I'm pretty sure it's vinyl they're selling) from $40 to $45. Yow. I'm pretty sure that one of my sibs had this disc. But it's probably gone the way of most vinyl - down the Rue Ful Action. Alas, memory fails yet again. The album was "Tarkio" while the song was "Tarkio Road."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Return To Posting?
Let's hope.
I have been so uninspired. But somethings make me feel like a natural blogger. I found something that might let me integrate some sound and motion to the PoW party mix. A little something called Castpost. Hmmm. Intriguing....

Friday, October 07, 2005

House Cleaning
I am afflicted with thet typical guy's gadgetphilia. Even unto such things as vacuum cleaners. Basically, if you make a gadget that promises to make cleaning my house easier, I'm going to give it serious consideration if not just buy the darn thing outright. So what have I done when faced with taking the wallpaper (two layers) off the kitchen wall where the range/microwave hood project seems to be the on-going project for the rest of the month? I bought a Scunci steamer.
It is, after all, steam that is used by those devices that are dedicated to wallpaper removal. But I'm not going into the business and I didn't want to rent one since I wanted to do this at my own glacial pace. Besides, once the wallpaper is removed, I'll still have a steam cleaner that I can use to (you see this coming, don't you) clean.
Short story: the steamer works very well for wallpaper removal. It doesn't have a huge capacity so I wouldn't want to use it to clear an entire room of wallpaper in short order. But for working a section at a time, and the fairly small wall space between counter and cabinet, it works rather well. And I gave my fridge front a quick steam down and wipe with a dishcloth. Yeesh. More dirt was on there I realized.
I got my steamer at good old Bed, Bath & Beyond with one of their 20% off coupons. I can recommed it both for cleaning and the price, provided you use a coupon.
And In The Parody Song Category
A "Lost" parody of the famous "Llama Song." If you're not familiar, hit the llama link first. Then understand that I have no explanation for the song. Then hit the "Lost" version. Then come back here ands explain it to me. But it makes me laugh and sometimes that's enough.
On the Internet...
There are Blog dogs everywhere. Heh.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I've seen a few of the season's new shows and have come to the conclusion that Fox's "Arrested Development" is without question the funniest show being broadcast today. I almost fell over when Jason Bateman's Michael Bluth says of Scott Baio's character lawyer Bob Loblaw. "Let's not talk nonsense to Bob Loblaw." Say that out loud: "Let's not talk nonsense to blablabla." Believe me: it really, really works. It's unusual in that most shows the audience has to have someone to like, someone who's not a total crapweasel. In "AD's" case that would be the Michael Bluth character but he's been written to be just over the edge stupid and just over the edge crapweasel-wise that you can't ever see him as the hero of the show. So the viewer has no real rooting interest. Yet the writing is so incredibly funny that you can't help but love the show.
Case in point is the alleged profession of the "Tobias Funke" character. He has multiple degrees so he's both an analyst and a therapist. So he combines the two on his business card. Yep: "Analrapist" pronounced "ah-nal-rah-pist." Rude but damnably funny.

There is, however, a very unfortunate trend in this year's new shows: The return of the supernatural. I haven't watched the show that actually uses that name on the WB but it looks OK. The worst of it is CBS's "Ghost Whisperer." I know many people are hot for Jennifer Loves Hertits but she's remarkably talentless. A talented torso. Only. And the show is brought to a gullible public by the execrable James Van Praagh. He talks to the dead like I'm having a torrid love affair with Jennifer Lobes Hewitt (her name does lend itself, dunnit?). And the title could not be any more stupid if they set out to make it so.
Of course we have to suffer through this mess because NBC continues to plague us with the hideous Patricia Arquette in "Medium" (no link because I hatehatehate it). If only American toob viewers would just STOP WATCHING THIS CRAP (ahem, sorry I shouldn't shout).

"Lost" continues to kick ass on ABC. Are you not watching it? Shame on you. Rent the first season divid and start now. I'll not hear any carping on this. You must watch "Lost." It may be responsible for the new scary, weird shows: "Threshold" (still good but not quite as good as I thought on watching the pilot) on CBS, "Invasion" (can't bring myself to watch it - it looks too weak to care about) on ABC and "Surface" (I've watched it a bit and it lacks interest - poor CGI work so far) on NBC. I'll just wait for the viewing public (Didn't you just rip them up? -Ed.) to shake this out.

I guess that's about all for now. Don't forget to follow your shows at Snark Central: Television Without Pity.
More Posting Later
Just a snip to keep you amused while I gin up some more original content. The best ad I've seen in ... about forever. (Hat tip to the invaluable Lileks.)

Saturday, October 01, 2005

New Month - Sorta New Music
This being the first of October, I should be yakking about the new "longings" but this will be, instead, my latest song of praise for Emm Gryner. Yes, I now have my very own copy of "The Great Lakes" and, as has happened so far with every single Emm disc I've gotten, I love it. I find that some of the recordings seem to be overstressed - as if the microphone was pushed beyond its limits. I'm not a sound engineer but I feel like my speakers are being over-driven even though the volume is not high enoguh to cause that. Then a song like "Saturday Night in Nowhere" comes on and it's lapidary and perfect. Then "Ex-boy" follows that and it's recorded so perfectly that I wonder about the songs that are 'stressed.' Emm knows what she's doing so I have to accept that the songs which catch in my ear are they way she wants them. So I'll just say I don't understand it, accept it and move on.
On the cover of the jewel box insert is the phrase "Limited Edition Homemade Album" which is explained inside thus:
"This album was written, recorded, mixed, printed, hand-stamped, stapled, embossed, cut, burned and packaged especially for you by me. Each copy is individually numbered. This copy belongs to: (my name here) D.I.Y or die, With love and thanks (signed) Emm Gryner."
My copy is #238. The disc istelf is stamped with a leaf pattern in green that is, well, delightful. I am so enthralled to have a copy of a disc where the artist is so incredibly intimately involved with the production of the entire work. My emotions about such an endeavor are mixed, though, as I think so highly of Emm's work that I can't understand why she's not a major, major star. She has the talent, she has the ability and she's beautiful. That's a complete package. How can someone so good, have the time to produce such personal output? I should just count my lucky stars and move along. But I'd still really like to see Emm hit it so big that she no longer has the time to do things like this.
Except for those fanatic fans who've made it a point to get everything Emm we could, right? Eh? We love you Emm. Don't forget us when you're playing stadium venues. OK?

I have to say, after this internet-enabled butt-smooch of the estimable Ms. Gryner, that I have the same feeling about Mike Cross. How someone of his talent never became a major, nation-wide star is beyond me.
UPDATE and APOLOGY: I was dead wrong in what I wrote above about the recording in "The Great Lakes." What I was hearing was the limitation of the (good but not great) speakers on my iMac. I played the album through my Bose Wave radio and it did not suffer the clipping I originally head. The recording is perfectly good. The mistake was mine.