Friday, February 27, 2009

The Chocolate Cake Recipe [Dave Lebovitz] Found on a Men's Room Wall - David Lebovitz

Dave Lebovitz offers yet another awesome dessert that is simple to make: The Chocolate Cake Recipe I Found on a Men's Room Wall - David Lebovitz

Now, he just links to the actual recipe, which is in French. I could have guessed at the ingredients, but who wants to screw up a chocolate cake?

I figured, Google has a translator, and also tried babelfish (the first translator I'd ever tried way back when).

They both had pretty poor translations, I could have guessed better. But, if you look now, the Google translation is pretty good (just mussing up the coffee - it's really an espresso, and not a full cup, just an espresso's worth). The Google translator lets you view the original wording by mousing over, and lets you suggest better translations. And, over time the translation of that page gets better. It certainly improved in the last two weeks.

Somebody in the comments provides a nice translation.

I made the cake last night for Mary's birthday, and (this time) I increased the chocolate to 300g, as David Lebovitz suggests. I think I prefer the original ratio. The first time I baked it up, the cake cooked a little more evenly, and the final texture was pretty light. This one was really chocolaty - the center kind of goey. While delicious, I prefer less chocolate. If I were to do the 300g chocolate version, I'd up the baking time to 17 minutes or so, and perhaps reduce the temperature slightly...

Gee, sounds like I have some experimenting to do.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Simone Learns Subjunctive

Simone said this the other night at dinner:

papa, when you done with soup i be happy to feed you cottage cheese

Wow, Mary and I were both blown away. I don't think I am that sophisticated a speaker.

House Concert: Carolyn Cruso

On Sunday I went to a house concert. Mary noticed a blurb in the Friday entertainer about a hammered dulcimer concert - just across the street from our house. So I went.

I have to say it was a lot of fun. There were maybe 14 people in the house, listening to Carolyn Cruso play her music. The setting was very intimate, and the house has a beautiful view of the huge field in front of the house.

Carolyn's music was very interesting - some of the dulcimer music was Scottish/Celtic, but a lot of the original music was very different - which is a refreshing change from Celtic music. She even talked briefly about how she's been trying to make the dulcimer sound more like a piano. She also played guitar and sang some songs (generally sounding "folk" music) which were very pleasant. I didn't care much for her flute music, which was a little too ... different than what I've heard in the past.

I bought two of her CDs, the hammered dulcimer CD (Boundless) is great - I like that one a lot - especially the song The Magic Shirt which she played in the concert. I hope to listen to the other (As Clear A Hue) tonight.

I'm also really intrigued by the notion of a house concert. How cool would it be to get an artist into your house for a small concert. Mary likes the idea too - we may have to find out more.

FCC Finally Regulates Overheard

Another winning headline at Overheard in New York:

FCC Finally Regulates Overheard

Man walking against traffic: Beep! Beep! Beep!
Older black woman: Beep beep, my behind!

--6 Train

Headline by: yours truly

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I just found out about Kaprekar's operation, and the mysterious number 6174. Check it out.

People are amazing - why did Kaprekar even think about this? Similarly, some humorists boggle my mind - I've no idea where xkcd comes up with ideas like:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Oil Drum: Europe | The energy efficiency of cars

The Oil Drum: Europe | The energy efficiency of cars: "The future of motor vehicles lies in improved efficiency and that is to the left of the gasoline ICE in the chart. That future is electric vehicles powered by high ERoEI renewable electricity."

It's a good introduction to automobile efficiency, well worth the 5 minute read. This graph is a nice summary:

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Random Simone Pics, January 2009

Some random pictures from the past month or so. Hope you enjoy.

Dan's Trail Hike

Yesterday I took a hike up Dan's Trail to the top of Dimple Hill. The link says the hike is only 5 miles, but my guide book says 7 miles (I'm going with that). I ended up hiking a bit more than that. Beautiful day, sunny, with occasional clouds that sit on the peaks.

Here are some shots I took (no great view from the peak b/c of clouds when I got there).

Lower Horse Trail

Saturday, February 07, 2009

What Have You Changed Your Mind About? Why?

Interesting idea here, ask a bunch of smart people interesting questions and post the results. The question for 2008 was this:

The World Question Center 2008:
When thinking changes your mind, that's philosophy.
When God changes your mind, that's faith.
When facts change your mind, that's science.

There are some amazing essays in there, very thought provoking, I won't even try to pick out favorites (I certainly haven't read them all).

So, what would I answer?

I've thought about this off and on for a month or two.

Part of me is real cynical. I see global warming and environmental pollution/destruction in general, and our lack of action to solve any of those problems. Similarly, the U.S.'s role in the world (especially the last 8 years) as this big bully with a heavy handed, militaristic, unilateral relationship with the world. And to top it off, a good half of our citizens support this attitude, almost taking pride in ignorance and blind nationalism.

For a while, when I let myself think about the state of the world, I was very negative.

But I think I've changed my mind about the gloom and doom.

I now see signs of hope in lots of little places: local farmers, alternative energy projects, some of the changes in transparency by Obama are encouraging.

So I think my change my mind about our prospects.

Plus, it's hard not to be positive when I've got such a wonderful wife and joy of a daughter. They're both gone this weekend, and it's odd not having them around. They also give me lots of hope.

Mark Cuban on Internet Video

Mark Cuban wrote an interesting post on his blog: The Great Internet Video Lie

Let me quote briefly:
So what are your options [if you want to stream video to many people] ? You have a single option. You have to use a Content Delivery Network (CDN). CDNs specialize in delivering content that needs to scale to large numbers, and 10k simultaneous users, particularly if its sustained for any period of time, like a cable network would be, is considered a large number.

If you have dreams of competing with traditional TV network viewing numbers using the internet, dream on. You cant afford it. You have been sucker punched by the Great Internet Lie.

I find this very interesting considering the fact that a couple of months ago I talked with some guys who are working on a startup that enables just this, at basically no more cost than streaming a single copy of the video. The technology seemed very feasible - I think it could very well work.

I just found it interesting that Cuban believes this is a great limiter - he's no newbie to technology. At first I thought his post was naive But as I started to write this I realized he's a lot smarter than that. I just wonder what he's got up his sleeve.

I know that the guys I talked to have a good idea and are running with it. But there are others out there, probably smarter, with good ideas of their own. Finding a software solution to the bandwidth problem is just a matter of time - and there's a lot of money at stake.

Ironically, a software solution that enables efficient small-scale video streaming, allowing small players to reach a wide audience at low (no?) cost... it's a threat to the CDN's. It's also a threat to the media companies.

Cost keeps the small guys out of video streaming, and the media companies like it like that.

I'm not pushing a conspiracy theory or anything, I just imagine that a solution to this problem is a threat and the players with money and interests will do a lot to protect their interests. I imagine there'll be legislation (like DMCA, copyright), patent lawsuits, lack of net neutrality.

Of course, a disruptive technology doesn't mean the little guys will have anything worth watching.

Note: I chose not to work with the start-up for a variety of reasons. But the technology does seem solid, and they seemed to be working toward the right connections. I wish them the best.

Candied Orange Peel

I saw a recipe for candied orange peel and thought it'd be fun. It turned out beautifully. Mary and I had trouble figuring out what it reminded us of - those candy orange slices we had growing up.

Here are a couple of pictures:

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

25 Things

I joined Facebook to view a friend's photo album she'd shared with me. Ironically, she's not in my friends list on Facebook. I was just tagged with the latest meme - "25 Things" and I thought I'd play along (my Facebook policy is to ignore everything but friend requests).

  1. I was attacked by a hippopotamus while canoeing on the Zambezi river.
  2. I love to cook, and am most keenly interested in desserts and preserving food - the current projects are candied orange peel, sauerkraut, vinegar, and bacon.
  3. I love to eat even more than I love to cook.
  4. I'd choose local over organic, but try for both.
  5. I picked wild mushrooms for the first time this past fall, and I'm hooked.
  6. I hiked the John Muir trail, and just recently realized that I was probably so sleepy during the hike because I had a daily 3500 calorie deficit (I lost a pound a day).
  7. Emacs is my OS.
  8. I won a weight loss competition last year.
  9. I've since gained back 2/3 of it.
  10. I met my wife on a blind date (a triple date at that).
  11. I'm left eye dominant.
  12. I a master procrastinator.
  13. Being a father is more fun than I could have imagined, and isn't as scary as I thought it might be.
  14. I like doing (sprint) triathlons.
  15. I can ride a unicycle straight, but cannot freemount.
  16. Every day, I become more and more of a grumpy old man.
  17. I miss my first car (her name was "Xena").
  18. I have gallstones.
  19. Yesterday I heard Douglas Adams' puddle analogy, and I fear it's a perfect analogy for the state of the world today. We're past peak oil, the climate is changing, we're blinded by our fears, and we're not doing enough to fix any of it. And even with all that we know, I think it's going to catch us by surprise.
  20. I don't do Facebook (this is an exception).
  21. I can count in octal, can you?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Superbowl Simone

Simone and I watched some of the Superbowl tonight. Good game, I'm still not sure who I wanted to win.

Simone's main comment on the game was, "they both fell down together." Which she repeated pretty much every down. It did make me wonder why professionalls paid so much couldn't stay on their feet.