Archive for March, 2007

Restaurant Sent Sovi — Amazing. Delicious.

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Christine and I headed to Sent Sovi Restaurant. We opted for the Grand Tasting Menu. In other words, beyond indicating preferences, allergies, and a wine budget in a pre-consultation, we left our dinner choices in the hands of Chef/Owner Josiah Slone (who, btw, has a weblog!)

We are open minded folk, have no allergies, and went for a modest wine budget (my palate ain’t trained for wine — tequila? got it). In other words, the chef pretty much had free rein.

And Chef Josiah did wonders! We will be going back Definitely.

The full menu follows in the rest of the post…

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UPS using Postal Service in their ads??

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

Anyone else find it a tad odd that UPS is using music by the band The Postal Service in their ads?

Not just a tad odd, but really damned odd when you look into it.

Seems the US Postal Service C&D’d The Postal Service over the use of the mark. As a result of the settlement that led to the band continuing to use the name, the band played a USPS conference and sells the band’s CDs!!

BTW: The Postal Service’s album is really quite awesome. One of my favorites from the last year or so.

Wii: Sad day for me

Wednesday, March 21st, 2007

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that my Wii was having video problems. Others indicated that it was likely a hardware issue.

I called Nintendo and they sent me a shipping label and instructions for returning it for repair.

Finally did that today. The problem has gradually gotten worse over time. Not surprising for something that is likely impacted by heat.

Sad? Yes. My son and I are nearing the end of Zelda and he has totally gotten into Super Mario World.

And my GameCube has died. The drive has stopped reliably reading discs! I picked up a tool for opening it and will try cleaning it. If that doesn’t work, an optical pickup unit can be had for about $30.

Erase that hard drive!

Saturday, March 17th, 2007
Hard Drive Platter Meets Pinball

Dumb little man (nice weblog, btw) has an entry reminding folks to actually erase the hard drives of their old computers.

He misses two key points.

First, secure erasing of hard drive contents is built into Mac OS X. Launch Disk Utility, click on the volume or drive you want to erase, then click on “security options…”. I just zero out all data, but you can be up to 35 times more paranoid than I am.

If you want to ditch a partitioned drive, I would suggest repartitioning the drive down to a single partition. This allows for a single erase-and-zero pass. Takes just as long but you don’t have to mess with it in the middle.

Secondly, don’t forget to erase the data on broken hard drives! Just because a drive no longer works does not mean the data is inaccessible! Often, carefully swapping the controller board on a drive is enough to restore it to working order long enough to pull off the data. Professional recovery services (and really careful hackers) can even swap the platters from a dead drive to a working drive to recover data!

Me? I take dead drives apart. They have amazingly powerful magnets inside, along with all kinds of very useful screws, washers, nuts, coils, and other fiddly bits.

The platters, obviously, contain the data and they should be destroyed. I run one of the magnets over them upon removal and then keep a stack of the platters around as they have proven to be incredibly useful! The platters have been used for everything as clamp pads for gluing stuff to spacers to level a table or work surface to being used by my son as part of a bug house.

Note that not all platters are made of metal! Some are made of glass! So, if you plan on smacking the platters with a hammer, be careful!!

Or, do what I did when I discovered this: Set up a high speed photog kit and drop a pinball on it!

300 not a documentary?!?!?! Oh, the Horror!

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

So, I was all set to go see Frank Miller’s new flick 300 as I heard it was a completely spot on documentary of the Battle of Thermopylae. I mean, Frank is clearly one of the best documentary directors of our times as he so accurately put down a good chunk of Batman’s life story and Sin City was a milestone docu-drama of inner city criminal activities.

But now I learn that Miller may have diverged from the truth in the telling of 300?

And now the Iranians, gays, lesbians, Persians, brown people, handicapped people, and others are offended by the inaccurate, gross categorical, mistreatment of their particular groups within 300’s plot?


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Cocktail: Muddled Mango Margarita

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

So, now you have a pile of peeled and pitted mango halves. What to do?

Make a Muddled Mango Margarita!!

1. place a half of a mango (yeah — “mango”… not “margarita” like I original said — though that might be a good start, too 🙂 ) in a tall drinking glass

2. add a few leaves of mint

3. muddle well (mango should largely liquify and the mint should be good and bruised)

4. add 2 to 4 ounces of good tequila (Herradura’s Blanco is an awesome choice — rested 40 days such that it is smoother than a regular silver yet still carries all the vegetal agave flavors)

5. add a bunch of ice — maybe fill the glass to halfway

6. If you can get it, nearly fill the glass with Tommy’s Heavenly Margarita Mix. If not, squeeze in the juice of one meyer’s lemon, add about a teaspoon or so of cane sugar (to taste), and nearly fill with either water or soda water.

7. Float cran-raspberry juice on top. Or, to acknowledge current popular culture (because, you know, I just care so much about popular culture), float some pomegranate juice on top (no, pomegranates are not new — ancient fruit — just that pomegranate juice seems to be all the rage these days).

The result is delicious and refreshing. Vary the ratios depending on taste.

Kitchen Hack: Effective Mango Management

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007

I love mangoes. But I hate dealing with them. In particular, the pits are a complete pain to remove. Once removed, you then have to deal with getting the flesh off the skin. A slimy, messy, business, at best.

Until now.

At left is the OXO Good Grips Mango Splitter. You hold the fruit upright, place the splitter with the slightly oval shaped blade on the end, and push down on the excellent handles (as the brand name correctly implies)! The flesh will be separated from the pit and only a little bit of the flesh is left at either end.

The blade is slightly flexible, thus rendering the tool compatible with multiple sizes of mango.

It really does work! I’m generally not a huge fan of one-use-only tools in the kitchen. Take up too much space. One use only tools have to be damned good to stay around and the OXO Good Grips Mango Splitter is exactly that; damned good at the one thing that it does.

I mentioned the mango splitter tool to Wilfredo Sánchez and Ben Holt. Of course, the subject of what to do with a couple of mango halves came up; how do you separate skin from flesh? There are all kinds of methods — use a spoon to scoop it out, cut a checkerboard pattern and turn inside out, etc… They are all messy typically yields small bits of mango, at best, while losing lots of juices.

Peeling a Mango

Fred’s mango-fu proved superior.

1. Grab a drinking glass. Any old drinking glass will do as long as the top edge is relatively thin.

2. Hold the mango half in the palm of your hand and gently press the edge of the glass into the end of the half, between the skin and the flesh.

3. Slide the half down the edge of the glass, keeping the skin pressed firmly against the edge of the glass.

End result? A perfectly skinned half a mango and a mango skin with no flesh left on it.

Awesome. In one day, my mango-fu has been enhanced ten fold. Mangos will now be a staple in my kitchen.

Swallowtail Whispering

Sunday, March 11th, 2007
Roger And Swallowtail

As I have previously mentioned, my son has a natural rapport with all things bug and bug like.

Last fall, Roger found a chrysalis on a fence at a friend’s house during a party. He carefully collected it, brought it home, and stashed it away in his room. We had completely forgotten about it.

This morning, Roger found the pictured swallowtail butterfly crawling up the leg of a chair. The butterfly had emerged!

So, the morning was spent teaching a butterfly how to fly. It is doing quite well.

Anise Swallowtail

As far as I can tell, it appears to be an Anise Swallowtail common to western North America. The caterpillars eat plants from the carrot family, the citrus family, and the Apiaceae family.

We have seen old chrysalises — chrysalii? — hanging from birch trees, off of various plants, and on fences. Fairly common in the bay area. Keep a eye out for ’em as the caterpillars are easy to care for and the emerging butterflies are both extremely beautiful, very educational for young ones and a lot of fun.

Muslimgauze — Blue Mosque

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

I’m a huge fan of trance music. But not that elevator-esque put-you-to-sleep stuff. I like trance music with an emphasis on beats. Preferably a dark rhythm that borders that yields an edgy bit of relaxation.

Over ten years ago, I picked up Muslimgauze’s Blue Mosque album. Just had a listen again.

Wow. Now that is some intense trance. Seriously heavy rhythm loops with a decidedly middle eastern structure. Awesome bass drone layered on top. Though it begs to be played loud, it is hard to do so simply because the rhythm is so driving and intense that it is pretty much guaranteed to nail the resonant frequency of something in the room.

Muslimgauze is the stage name for one Bryn Jones. Unfortunately, Bryn died of a mysterious fungal infection in 1999. He was incredibly prolific across his career, releasing nearly 100 albums or EPs under the Muslimgauze name. While all similar in nature, it isn’t all as rhythmic (or, in my opinion, as good) as Blue Mosque.

As far as I can tell, Muslimgauze is mostly out of print. The iTunes Store has a decent selection of stuff, though no Blue Mosque. I might have to explore a number of other albums to see if I can find other examples in the Blue Mosque vein of heavy drums

Bryn had some rather strongly held political beliefs. He was a vocal supporter of both Hamas and the PLO. Now, oddly, Bryn was neither a practicing muslim nor did he ever visit the Middle East. He just really liked the music and let middle eastern rhythms and sounds permeate most of his work.


Sunday, March 11th, 2007

Via Netflix, my wife and I just watched Mike Judge’s Idiocracy.

Damn! One very funny movie. Excellent bit of comedic sci-fi.

One could even take away a message about the future of mankind, but… I am not going to go there and type up a spoiler.

The design values in the film are top notch. Throughout the flick there are all kinds of subtle bits of advertising and marketing slapped onto everything. All re-interpreted to fit with the set and setting of the flick. AdamV was kind enough to find and post the link to this set of excellent frame captures and discussion of the corporate logos used throughout the film.

And if you need any more confirmation that it is a quality flick, Fox bought the marketing rights and then failed to properly market it. Too much thinking required for the Fox people to understand the value within, apparently.

“Comin’ up next on The Violence Cahnnel [with a Fox like presentation]: An All-new Ow, My Balls!“.

Maybe Fox was just pissed that Judge “stole”, and then made fun of, their next year’s worth of programming ideas? Yup. Fox was seriously pissed. So pissed that they axed the trailer, released the film as An Untitled Mike Judge Comedy, then canned theater distribution citing weak box office sales. Stupid. While I’m sure this film wouldn’t have been a runaway success on the big screen, it would have done well.