Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Subtlety in Hollywood?

I wasn't aware that All Bran could help you "drop a ton of bricks". I can't help but think there's something subliminal about that dump truck at the end... ;)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Risotto al Nero di Seppia

Earlier I mentioned my favorite Sardinian desert and reminiscing about that gastronomic delight had me thinking about all the other amazing things you can get there that you can't seem to find here (outside of poor imitations in only the biggest cities.)

One of my all time favs has to be Risotto with Cuttlefish ink. Sounds strange, to be honest it smells strange, stains your teeth, and yet has the most amazing soft and delicate flavor. A link to the recipe will explain the work involved.

Here's a short video of what happens to you after you eat it, LOL:

Lucky bastard...

Calvin & Hobbes

A few years back I found and purchased (as a birthday gift for a friend) a beautifully bound 3 volume set of ALL the Calvin & Hobbes comics ever released by Bill Watterson and it was on sale at Costco for ~$80 iirc; however, I was too stupid to get myself a copy at the time and needless to say they vanished from Costco like a fart in the wind. I was disconsolate, and luckily the same friend I gifted the set to suggested an alternative form of appeasement until I should again find Costco graced by the presence of Watterson's magnum opus. The TRANSMOGRIFIER! :) God bless the guy who put this up.

Basically, you can search the topical metadata associated with particular Calvin & Hobbes strips, for example, I love the snowman scenes Calvin would decorate the yard with every year as well as the Spaceman Spiff strips. All I had to do was search on "spiff" or "snowmen" and bliss was at hand.

I hope this page brings you as much joy as it has me. Luckily I received a set of the 3 volumes this past Christmas and I've been enjoying them ever since.

You can get the set at a reasonable price from Amazon (but still not as good as finding it at Costco.)

A fond food memory from Sardegna...

...I was lucky enough as a child/teenager to spend several years living on the island of Sardegna (Sardinia) and one of my favorite things to eat there was a dessert called 'seadas' (in some villages 'sebadas'.) I tried to find a recipe for them a few years ago and failed miserably; however, it is a relatively simple dish but the nuances are important. Today there appear to be several recipes (all very similar) for them so I'd like to provide one below which matches my best recollection of the dish. Essentially it is a little calzone of slightly sweetened dough filled with cheese, fried, then drizzled with bitter honey and lemon. Simple and yet exquisite, truly.

(Here's where I lived by the way: 6 Monte Altura, Palau, Sardegna

The recipe below serves 5, and you'll need:

500 gr of white flour
400 gr fresh cheese (some villages used a mild pecorina, some use a ricotta, and others some alternative fromaggio dolce)
50 gr lard
Some wheat flour
A half a lemon
Bitter honey (the best is usually from the blossoms of the strawberry tree)
Frying oil

Place the cheese in a saucepan, add 250 gr water, a tablespoon of wheat flour and grated rind of half a lemon; place the container on heat and mixing continuously leave it there until it is uniform and dense.

Remove from heat, extract a small amount of cheese , dampen your hands and form a little squashed circle of about half cm high, then dry it on a dishcloth.
Carry on like this until the cheese is finished.

While it all dries, pour the flour on a rolling board and work it with the lard, salting and joining as much lukewarm water as is necessary to have a dough of the right consistency (this will require experimentation - mmmmm...)

Spread it thinly with the rolling pin obtaining a wide, thin pastry strip; place the squashed cheese onto the strips and use the remaining strips to cover them; squash the ends together so that no air gets in and then use a toothed form of about 11cm to obtain bun shapes.

Fry in boiling oil, drain and bathe with bitter honey and drizzle with more lemon.

Apparently you can now also get frozen seadas ready to fry at the market, as I found in this GooTube video:

Aaaah, Nippon, land of the rising sun and Human Tetris!

Look what Cleanshoes found!

I am astonished that, at times, Japan looks at the US and sees nothing but a country of uncultured barbarity. Perhaps they figured we'd never see their gameshows. These probably wouldn't be of much help to them in our trade agreements.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Weekends results...

Liverpool beat Sunderland soundly 2-0, and Manchester United, yet again, received favorable treatment at Old Twatford. Two penalites, one stonewall on Vidic, and the other a penalty but very difficult for the referee to call and I'd rather they didn't call them unless they really saw them. Manchester United 1-0 over Tottenham Hotspur. Hopefully Martin Jol's board will realize how well they played and avoid doing something so disastrously stupid as handing him his P45.

I must say that the quality of the refereeing this early in the season has certainly been at least 'questionable.' Some of the calls, like Styles' from last week, have been downright ridiculous. Too bad FIFA has the FA by the b******* about using video technology. We'll see.

Liverpool highlights:

Friday, August 24, 2007

Simultaneously talented and untalented...?

Daft Punk - Not sure what to make of them. They seem to make their way trading on the samples of others... But they sure do make funky cool videos, covers, and music.

As simplistic and stupidly repetitive as it is, this one I keep finding myself playing every once in a while...

Something hypnotic about the music, something kitsch (sp?) about the electronica, something vaguely suggestive about the guitarist's outfit (nice helmet by the way.) There are many of their videos on GooTube if you're interested in them. They're behind several songs that you probably found yourself drawn to but never knew who did them.

Coding Standards

We've recently been lucky enough at our company to find several promising software engineers, some junior, some middling, and some fairly experienced, who are just now ramping up in order to contribute to the next release of our product suite. This good fortune is tempered by the fact that we find ourselves needing to literally dictate to these motivated, intelligent, and creative people how they should implement their ideas.

We do this in order to establish a reasonable commonality of expectation amongst our developers. "We should comment our code heavily, we should name variables clearly, we should...", yadda^3. These decisions are, of course, made for the benefit of the team as a whole as opposed to an individual developer but people tend to be reluctant to change especially if what they've done previously worked for them. Sometimes they can be so reluctant as to resent such 'temerity.' I don't think we've got to worry about that too much; however, as we've previously only informally laid out these standards it may be some of our tenured developers who find these strictures presumptive. In any case, some of the coding standards items are required compliances and some are simple suggestions, and none appear to be too outrageious with the possible exception of expecting our engineers to give variables easy to read (albeit more time consuming to type) names. I'll need to finalize this document next week and then the complaining (even some valid complaining probably) can begin.

Hopefully, the team will seem them in a positive fashion and as a synergystic methodology as opposed to a barrier or hurdle they must overcome. I'm also trying to keep this document from being a list of my developmental 'pet peeves' (with one notable exception, do NOT put C++ implementation code in a header file unless it is truly necessary -my debugger and I thank you.)

Today I was the biggest loser...

...but that was a good thing.

Periodically at our offices one of us decides that we've become a tad, shall we say, 'porcine' and decides that it's time for a 'biggest loser' contest. Everyone is then invited to participate. Those who do not voluntarily participate are alternatively cajoled, coerced, intimidated, or triple dog dared' (which is an obvious breach of etiquette to go straight to a triple dog dare.) Participants donate $10 and whoever loses the most weight by percentage after a 12 week period is the "Biggest Loser" and claims the accumulated donations.

Happily for me, the past two contests have coincided with a personal desire to look less like a football (proper football) and more like an athlete. Judging by the results of the past two contests I've only got another 4 or 5 contests to go and I'll be svelte...

Just as it's always better to go to the gym with a friend, losing weight is the same way. Everyone wants to know that others are just as miserable (if not more so) than themselves, so I have to say I couldn't have done it without my fellow competitors. Their unhappiness and commiseration was the key to my success along with the candy bucket in our office which I managed to... mostly... steer clear of (I can hear those damn Gummis calling my name down the hall 'Kommen Sie her und essen Sie mich!')

Note to self: Have pizza for dinner tonight... Gotta bulk up for the next iteration of The Biggest Loser.