Saturday, December 30, 2006

First Ever Blondie (well, Conga)

I was watching America's Test Kitchen today and they made brownies and blondies.

I'd never really heard of blondies, but it sounded intriguing. Of course they spiced it up by adding coconut, which turns them into Conga bars.

Now that I've made them, I must say, "bravo!"

Too bad there won't be any left by the time most of y'all read this.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Oooh, snap!

An article about NoKA's chocolates lays bare the ridiculous overpricing of their chocolates, and their misleading marketing.

I did find out there are some wonderful chocolatiers in Portland though: Alma Chocolate, DePaula Confections, and Sahagun Chocolates. Mmmm.... chocolate.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


It's a mash-up of wiki and Google map. Pretty slick.

This is Moab.

This is our home.

Seven Months (and two days)

She's growing fast. We think she's finally plumping up. See, she's been growing longer every day, but hasn't put on much weight. But it now looks like she's starting to bulk up like most babies.

She's cuter than ever, and beginning to sit up on her own. We're still waiting for her to roll over.

Christmas was fun, but I'm pretty sure next year will be even better. I figure it'll be more fun when Simone actually knows that Christmas is happening. This year, she slept through some of the opening of gifts. Somewhat surprisingly, she didn't get any clothes for Christmas, just wonderful toys and books.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What an Insult

So, the feud between Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell is making the rounds. Rosie gave The Donald (what a stupid moniker) a hard time for pretending to be a moral compass to the Miss USA (who was caught drinking under-age, partying, and kissing Miss Teen).

The Donald hit back with the quote, "Maybe she wanted to put the crown back on Miss USA's head. I think she's very attracted to Miss USA so she probably wanted to put the crown on her head herself."

What? Rosie is openly gay, so saying that she's attracted to Miss USA is as insulting as telling a straight man "you like Miss USA" Um.... DUH. I mean, she won Miss USA, so that goes without saying. She's beautiful.

The Donald really needs to work on his trash talk, he would get schooled by any second grader out there.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Festivus for the Rest of Us

Simone's latest thing is that she can say, "baa baa baa baa." And she does so very well. She kept herself up two nights ago for hours doing that.

We're gonna have a great Christmas - spending it with my folks this year (we switch off). We plan on having pork pie for dinner the night before, a fresh ham for Christmas. Of course there will be the obligatory cinnamon rolls. And, of course, presents.

My favorite Christmas movie has to be Southpark's starting point The Spirit of Christmas. Note: the movie is not so kid friendly, but is one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

Merry Chistmas to all my loyal viewers, all 2.5 of you.

An apt analysis of Bush's end of the year speech

A good analysis of W's end of the year speech, and how he he thinks his will alone will lead to victory in Iraq.

Another reason to love Oil

The subsidies we pay aren't buying us much. I bet we'd get a lot more bang for the buck investing that money in renewable energy.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Stationery Movies

I'm up to 10/20 so far. How well can you do?

Update: 13/20 now.

The choice is yours...

I just found out about Newcomb's Paradox. Intellectually, I can see where some of the paradox is, but the answer seems very straight forward to me. What would you choose?

I choose the closed box.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Family Portrait

Yup, another rant, I'm on a roll here.

Mary's bank (well, our bank) gave her/us a family portrait at a local studio. So we got all gussied up and went to take pictures. We liked one of them well enough to fall for the sales pitch and get an 8"x10".

Neither Mary nor I ever figured we'd have one of those. We have nothing against family portraits, it just didn't seem like "us." Anyway, we knew we wanted to get a photo of all of us at this time, and all the pictures taken so far either seem to be me and Simone, Mary and Simone, or just Simone. So the stars were aligned.

I picked up the photo the other day - it looked nice, but I noticed something unexpected. They'd signed the corner of it. I've since learned that this is common practice, but I was a bit miffed. I don't really feel like hanging an advertisement in my living room. If I were to do that, I'd expect a nice discount on the photo. The portraits hung in the studio itself certainly don't have their signature (and why not? b/c it looks tacky).

The studio was considerate enough to say they'd reprint the photo for us, and I'm happy to tell you which studio took the photo (click on the link at the top of the page if you care).

Monday, December 18, 2006


We've done it, we've switched to Vonage (well, Qwest gets us for another 2-3 weeks until the phone number switches over). Vonage finally got numbers local to Corvallis, so we could keep our number. And now we'll no longer be gouged by Qwest for nearly 3X what Vonage charges.

And, it was super easy to install, just as easy as the Mac mini. I plugged it in (got the phone cord in the wrong port at first - and the phone gladly told me I did it wrong), and I could make calls. Vonage has all the features I'd ever want: voice mail, call waiting, call forwarding, completely configurable. And there are features I didn't know I wanted (but are cool) - ability to listen to voicemail over the net, get email notification of voice mail, and ability to take the phone with us wherever we go (that has high-speed internet).

Actually ordering was a bit of a pain - the web page wouldn't work for some reason, so I called. And they have to run you through the ringer, repeatedly telling you about the ramifications of 911 calling. But I sat through it patiently.

However, I'm coming to really dislike the outsourcing of phone services. The lady I ordered Vonage from was a little difficult to understand. And ... she screwed up both my name and the login id. Thus, the title of this post "bigsaceworm" WTF And they can't change it - it's tied to the account number (poor software design there folks). And they had my name as Mcdonald, not MacDonald. I spelled it out for them, and while 'eff' may sort of sound like 'ess', 'em-ay-see' doesn't sound like 'em-see'. It should have tipped me off when she asked if I was the owner of the fast-food chain (and the banter continued with asking me about the king of pop).

Wonder how most people do

How do you do trying to place states on a map?

I got 80% right, average distance of 51 miles, and took 528 seconds (granted, I was in a meeting while playing it).

I think the test would be better if you didn't get to use the already placed states as guides, b/c the last 1/3 of the challenge is pretty easy because most of the map is already filled in.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

State of Denial

I just finished the book, State of Denial by Bob Woodward. I picked it up from the library (after being 37th on the waiting list) about three weeks ago. I'd have finished it sooner, but Simone is much more fun to play with than it is to read about Bush & Rumsfeld fcsking up Iraq (and in the process, the U.S.).

I knew I'd get angry reading the book, but I was surprised how depressing it is. Only Bush/Rumsfeld/Powell/Rice/Card really know what happened in their meetings, yet, even without Woodward's inside accounts from people who were there, it's obvious we screwed up Iraq. We had no plan for what to do after the invasion, and conditions there (now 3+ years after the initial invasion) are no better than when Saddam was in power (and they're getting worse).

My take on what's reported by Woodward: Bush has the intellectual curiosity of a rock (whether he's smart or not, I don't know, he just doesn't seem to want to learn), Rumsfeld is a power-monger who avoids taking real responsibility. I can't even imagine what possessed them to decide to go into Iraq, nor how they can continue (to this day) to deny the reality of what is happening on the ground.

And, I'm surprisingly frustrated with Powell. A friend at work said he supported going into Iraq - mostly because if Powell said they had WMD, they did. Powell was at the peak of his political power at the beginning of the war, and he did not stand up to Bush/Cheney/whomever was pushing for this war. I expected more from him.

I guess the war is analogous to the guy who "solved" the divide-by-zero problem. They're both just so fundamentally flawed at so many levels that it leaves one at a loss for words.

18.286 seconds

So, the meme on this link is that the Air Force expects its pilots to last 2 minutes in this game. The goal is to keep the red square from touching the blue ones or the black border. And supposedly if you can keep it from being hit for 18 seconds, you're doing awesome.

Well, I made it 18.286 seconds on the 7th or 8th try. It's really not difficult mostly because the movement of the blue squares is deterministic, and you can get to 11 seconds by making three basics moves (down to the bottom, then up the the top left, and then down the left side). Doing that with the appropriate pauses (long time in the top left) and you've got 11 seconds.

Perhaps if the pattern of the blue squares was different each run I could believe this might be used in the Air Force as a little gimmick. But not if it's deterministic. People with those kinds of reflexes would quickly spot the patterns and keep on building on their time - and it'd be incredibly dull.

It seemed as though the blue squares sped up all of a sudden at 18 seconds, but I'm not going to play any longer b/c it's gotten dull for me. I'd never make 20 seconds, but I'm pretty sure I could hit 18 seconds on a regular basis.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Grrr... not as easy as it should be

The reasons we bought a Mac were three-fold:

1) Mary first learned computers on a Mac and really likes them

2) Macs are easy to use and configure

3) Macs are supposed to be wonderful for creative arts - such as drawing/photoshoping/editing movies/etc.

Well, I beg to differ with #3. For one simple reason - the Mac doesn't natively grok MPEG2 format. Huh??? That just happens to be the encoding of all video on DVDs - and it's been a standard since 1994. Oh, and when you go to Apple's web site asking for information on how to deal with video in that format, they just say that iMovie can only edit video and audio streams when they are in different streams (i.e. not interlaced, as is done in mpeg2).

Fine... Great... Just give me the option to import it. But no... you have to find some 2nd party utility to do the job. It turns out, the software they sort of recommend also requires a $20 plugin for Quicktime. Fine, an extra $20, not a big deal, but you're still have to convert the movies outside of iMove and then import them.

Come on, what a crok. Maybe they don't support the mpeg2 b/c of licencing issues or they're afraid of the MPAA. But that doesn't make sense because you can buy the plugin that plays mpeg2... So why? And why not have a very simple guide as to how to do the conversion.

Anyway, the Mac is pissing me off right now.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Power Out

We had a little power outage last night. The northwest had a wonderful storm with winds up to 70mph. So, Simone got to fall asleep to candle-light and the sounds of our voices singing to her (or humming when we couldn't remember the words).

Given that we didn't know how long the power was going to be out, I quickly devoured the peppermint patties.

Regardless, the power is back up, and we weathered it just fine. Simone got to experience her first power outage (and first hail).

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Six and a half months

So, Simone is getting longer and longer, 27.5" right now, and weighing in at 14.5 pounds. She's just a happy little baby.

She just found her feet yesterday, and loves to play with them. She's also splashing lots when taking baths, and she went swimming with Mary just a few days ago.

While she's not rolling over yet, she's sitting up real straight, and loves to gum a drinking cup while sitting in her high chair.


What would Jesus play?

I've a feeling he wouldn't be playing this game. It's got a very loving theme, along the lines of "convert or die."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Brings back nightmares

So, there's this nob at the University of Reading who says he's solved the divide by zero problem (well, one video talks about how he solves 0^0, but the full feature discusses dividing by zero).

First of all, if you're going to say you've come up with some newfangled math thing, at least pretend to work at a relevant school, perhaps the "University of Arithmetic" or "College of Numbers" - no, he's going for Reading.

Secondly, he's showing it off at some grade school? I would think that something (seemingly) on par with coming up with imaginary numbers would be earth-shattering and discussed at institutes of higher learning around the world. But no, he's "enlightening" grade school kids. Evidently, they're the only ones not educated enough to tell him he's full of it.

Lastly, at least pass your "theory" by a couple of people before blabbing to the local media. Apparently, the BBC has about as much scientific credibility as USA Today does - none.

The responses to the feature are pretty funny, just scroll down the page to see them.

This all reminds me of a class I took in college, which I briefly discussed here.

If this were April 1st, I could understand, but it's not. I'm baffled how people can be so cluelessly wrong.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

So Exciting

We really need to get some video of Simone being excited. All sorts of things get her going - most recently it's the top of your head (hair) and my Cal hat. She gets all quivery. Here are some pictures that try to capture the excitement.

Here she's just being cute.

More of a vanity pose here:


Simone and I have had a couple of really nice walks recently. It snowed about a week ago, check out the field across the street:

I think she grooved on the brightness of all the snow, though her nose got quite cold.

This past weekend, Mary had a conference in Portland. To pass the time, Simone and I walked in Forest Park for a little bit. I got many compliments on the beautiful baby (which she is). Here are some self-portraits:

Saturday night, Simone and I walked around my old neighborhood. One problem with having Simone facing out in the sling is that I cannot tell when she's asleep. So I try to take pictures to see if her eyes are closed:

Kind of tough when it's dark out, eh? She had finally fallen asleep.