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11/28/2002

Thanksgiving

Filed under:General — eric @ 12:53 pm

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Today’s Menu

  • Cheese Tray

    • Georgia Chevre
    • North Carolina Raw Milk Farmer’s Cheese
    • American Smoked Mozzerella
    • French Raw Milk Blue
    • Basque Raw Sheep’s Milk Cheese
  • Missouri Spumanti mixed with Cranberry Juice
  • Roast Cornish Game Hens with Wild Rice and Mushroom Stuffing
  • Roasted Local Sweet Potatoes
  • Pureed Creamy Parsnips (from our farm)
  • Broccoli and Pesto (from our farm)
  • Mashed Heirloom Turnips (from our farm)
  • Braised Winter Greens (from our farm)
  • Freshly Churned Eggnog Ice Cream
  • Poached Pear and Almond Tart

The seating area is now full. We are accepting reservations for next year.

11/25/2002

NMT’s Stealth Force Beta

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:01 am

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I’ve just blown the afternoon reliving my college days — or, more specifically, my college nights — by reading an on-line account of the exploits of New Mexico Tech’s Stealth Force Beta. Led by General Sasquatch (who was also known during his student career as publisher of the student newspaper and student body president), Stealth Force Beta got themselves into every nook and cranny possible on campus and performed daring feats of “constructive vandalism” before graduation dispersed the team.

The members of this team were all a year or two ahead of me, but given the small and isolated nature of the school, I knew all of them very well. Thanks to their code of secrecy, I didn’t even know the undercover nature of the group existed, and could only speculate that they were involved in the vandalism incidents. Interestingly enough, my more immediate circle of friends were similar enough to this bunch that we were doing many of the exact same things, often at the same time. Because of that, I got a special joy reading these — I’d been through similar trials or had solved the same problems differently.

The General has always been a great story teller. Even those many of you that have never heard of Tech other than through my ramblings should enjoy what he’s got here.

And maybe in a year or two, when the statute of limitations expires for me, I can add to the Tech lore with stories about the Eaton Hall Social Club, the Office Supply Store, the Midnight Mining Society* , using well-practiced clandestine entry techniques to win Killer and Laser Tag games, and other bits of fun.

One thing that surprised me was the group’s concern about being spotted by Campus Police. Once, while caught in a potentially compromising position during one of my activities, I assumed an attitude of “I’m only doing what I’m supposed to be doing”. The patrolling officer came over to me, shined the light on me, and said, “Oh! It’s you.” And he went on his way.

Techies who were there at the same time as me may enjoy the brief cameo by “Bouncy Ball Jack”. He annoyed the entire student body, and I fondly remember the time I accidentally kicked his bouncing ball a few hundred yards down the longest sidewalk on campus. I wouldn’t have ever done it on purpose and couldn’t have recreated it if I tried, but the event coupled with his reaction to it made it priceless.

* Actually, the cover of that bit of fun got blown wide open when the entire local Search and Rescue team got called out, featuring Schlake in a full anti-radiation suit, just because we’d asked for a rope ladder. After laying low for a bit, we resumed, only to be halted again when the area we used became the target zone for heavy artillery testing.

11/23/2002

Beaujolais Nouveau

Filed under:General — eric @ 4:56 am

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Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivß! So what, says Mike Steinberger in this week’s Slate wine column. If you’ve ever bought a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau, read this.

11/19/2002

Sally Ride’s Imaginary Lines

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:53 am

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During elementary school, there are lots of girls (as many girls as boys) who are interested in math, science and computers. We are dedicated to sustaining their natural interests during the critical years, when so many of them drift away.

Former Astronaut Sally Ride has founded Imaginary Lines to provide support for all the girls who are, or might become, interested in science, math, and technology.

Deal me into Thermodynamics

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:47 am

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The three laws of thermodynamics expressed as a poker game:

  • You can’t win
  • You can’t break even
  • You can’t get out of the game

Here’s an essay that uses that analogy to quickly dismiss the tired creationist argument that evolution can’t happen because “it violates the second law of thermodynamics.”

11/18/2002

Leonid Storm

Filed under:General — eric @ 12:31 pm

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The Leonid meteor shower happens this time of year every year as the earth passes through a trail of dust left by the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. As the comet travels through space, it sheds dust behind it, and as this dust hits the earth’s atmosphere, it heats up and glows, becoming a “falling star”. This trail of dust is fairly thin, except for a tiny region along the exact path of the comet. Every 33 years or so, for several years in a row, the Earth passes through that narrow region and a brief but intense meteor storm occurs. Tonight, the earth will pass through two of these regions. The first can be seen from much of Europe and northern Africa, but the second, occuring between 5:30 and 5:45 EST, can be seen from all of North America. Under ideal viewing conditions, one may see several hundred meteors during those 15 minutes. The moon is full (but well away from the constellation Leo, where the meteors will seem to originate), so the dimmer ones will be washed out. Still, it out to be a spectacular show for those up to watch. Due to an unusual series of events during the next two cycles, storms of this intensity aren’t expected to return until 2131. For more information and viewing instructions, read this excellent Sky and Telescope article.

11/17/2002

Promised Land Dairy

Filed under:General — eric @ 12:07 pm

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Earlier this Fall, I noticed a new brand of milk started to appear at all of the area supermarkets, including the Super Walmarts. It came only in one quart glass bottles, had a variety of flavors, and came exclusively from Jersey cows. I finally bought some last week, and now I’m hooked. Promised Land Dairy, out of Texas, makes the absolute best flavored milk I have ever had. I’ve tried the Chocolate, Strawberry, Vanilla, and Dulce de Leche, and each one was fantastic. Today I saw plain and skim too, so I think I’ll have to switch from my regular store-brand skim to this stuff, even if it’s nearly twice the price. It’s worth it, without a doubt.

11/14/2002

Fellowship of the Peep

Filed under:General — eric @ 1:17 am

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Yesterday, the mailman brought me the extended DVD release of The Fellowship of the Ring. Of course, this was something I’d been eagerly awaiting for 11 months now. I did have one problem — the lack of a DVD player. So, after work I trudged to Sam’s Club to pick up a cheapo player, and managed to find one that not only was cheap, but also replaces my CD player (which was good, because there wasn’t any room in my TV cabinet for another box, what with all the space the satellite receiver and the free TiVo were taking up). After an hour or more of rewiring, the setup was complete and I got to listen to Peter Jackson talk over the movie. Hooray!

But then this morning, I realized I didn’t really need the DVD anyway. Not when there’s The Fellowship of the Peeps online.

11/8/2002

Bet the Farm!

Filed under:General — eric @ 3:28 am

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Columbus, Ohio’s Center of Science and Industry claims to be among the country’s most highly respected science centers. Browsing through their website, they do look like a great educational resource for the people of Ohio. One of their exhibits, though, has been co-opted by industry to mis-educate the patrons. Bet the Farm is an on-line board game (requiring Flash) that states “successful farming today requires one thing above all else: making intelligent decisions.” In playing this game, you are a farmer who has to make a series of decisions about what to raise, how to raise it, and how to sell it. Random events add a bit of luck to the mix. So far, so good. From the very first question, though, it was clear whose agenda this educational experience was furthering. Crop and animal diversity was discouraged, preventative antibiotics, hormones, bio-engineered seed, and high levels of fertilizer, herbicide, and insecticide were encouraged. It was not even possible to choose organic methods. Choosing as few of the industrial options as it allows always leads to massive crop failure and financial ruin. It is possible to make a lot of money in the game, hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, but only if you are a good patron of the chemical companies. (It’s not that way in real life, of course.) The exhibit is sponsored by the “agricultural councils” of Ohio, and there is no evidence that natural farming was ever considered.

Play the game some, and if you agree with me, tell them what you think about mis-educating people about the intelligent way to farm.

Found via MetaFilter

11/6/2002

Election Fallout

Filed under:General — eric @ 7:34 am

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When people ask me about my political leanings, I have two answers. Each is true, yet (to most people) each conflicts with the other. One one hand, I am a progressive. On the other, I am a libertarian. The two really do blend well, and it’s a more common belief than you might think. I believe the government should “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” and nothing else. I believe society should work toward making life better for everyone, including future generations. I also believe that the individual should be free to do as he chooses, so long as another is not harmed.

I think I’ve stated that so simply that most everyone would say “I think that way too!” The devil’s in the details — how do you define “harm”, “general welfare”, “better”, and “individual”? to a large degree, those definitions are what separates the parties. Between the two major ones, I tend to agree more with the Democrats more than the Republicans. This is in large part because, despite professing to the contrary, the Republicans tend to have no respect for the rights of the individual. But there is plenty to take the Democratic party to task over as well, so at election time I vote based more on the candidate’s beliefs than the party represented. More often than not, minor parties get my votes.

Yesterday in Georgia, the Democrats fell from power. It was an odd campaign season, kicked off by the Democrats legally redistricting the state in closed door legislative sessions (without the Republicans present), emerging with textbook gerrymandered maps. Local interests were sacrificed for the single goal of extending the Dems control over the state, and they had no apologies. The governor spent an obscene amount of money on TV, radio, and print ads that credited him with everything good that had happened in Georgia, even those things that he had opposed before they happened. They were insulting to anyone with a memory. On the other hand, you had a Republican challenger whose initial campaign was fueled by anger over the change in the state flag. Though he distanced himself from racism, his vocal supporters weren’t so tactful. [He blew all that tact away, however, when during his victory speech, as the first Republican governor-elect in over 130 years, he exclaimed “Free at last! Free at last! Thank god almighty, Free at last!”]. The greens had a candidate I should have voted for (but didn’t).

As went the governorship, so went the state senate. The Athens-area senator was a great progressive in his first term. He stood for environmentally friendly smart growth and other progressive causes. His opponent was a real estate developer. The developer ran a brilliant negative campaign, focused his efforts on the extremely Republican suburban areas, and was helped a lot when the senator claimed he had an endorsement that was easily shown to be false. The Republican victory here, coupled with the (still not officially announced) switch of three senator’s party affiliations, have helped the Republicans take control of the state senate for the first time.

In Athens proper, there was a complete progressive sweep. The mayor and all the council positions up for grabs landed on the progressive side. Good things may happen in town.

Oh… Athens was in one of the newly created congressional districts, carefully engineered to be in Democratic hands. They then proceeded to get a truly horrible party hack through the primaries and managed to lose the seat altogether. I’d rather be represented by the left in Washington, but I was glad to see the Dems get what they had coming. Actually, since the district was so tightly drawn, I wasn’t a part of it. The district I live in is concentrated Republicans.

The US Senate race here was odd, too. The Republican won, but only after he questioned the courage of his opponent, a standing senator who lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam. His win helps put the Republicans in charge of the US Senate. Given how the Democratic senate caved on most everything, I don’t suspect much will change. Except for the appointment for life of judges who don’t seem to respect the rights of the individual, that is.

So, that’s my recap of the election. How’d things go in your neck of the woods?

11/5/2002

Eminem’s been Snookered

Filed under:General — eric @ 12:26 pm

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Eminenya is one of the greats in my MP3 collection, but now he’s been snookered. So so good!

Fancy pants tool

Filed under:General — eric @ 10:33 am

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POPFile is happily catagorizing my emails and discarding all my spam. Catagorization is very useful! I’ve also been catagorizing the webpages I run across that I want to come back to later. I had been using good old fashioned bookmark&tm; technology, but when I started throwing everything into the same bucket, it devolved into a gigantic list of links that was less than useful. So now I’m using the research, note taking, fancy pants tool CatClip to do the work for me. Even if I didn’t know some of them personally, I’d still say the developers of this tool have hit upon a good thing.

11/4/2002

Computer Voting

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:05 am

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Electronic voting will be Georgia’s chance for fame or infamy 11/04/02. Tomorrow, Georgia becomes the first state to have a state-wide modern voting system. We’ll be using touch screen computers with magnetic cards. They’ve been demo’d all over the place for the last few weeks, and they’re really quite nice. No more lever pulling!

11/1/2002

Bye bye, Spam!

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:04 am

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Hate email spam? Want to sort your email into different categories? Then you may agree with me that POPFile may be one of the best programs ever. It might soundlike a bit of work to set up if you’re not a whiz on the computer, but don’t worry — it’s not. And thank to recent hig-exposure press, it’s getting even easier.