Archive for December, 2004

I know that this post-Holiday time of year many of us have lighter wallets than usual. But the people who’ve had their loved ones and their entire lives swept away by the Indian Ocean tsunami really need help.

I’ve donated to the American Red Cross via Amazon (as have about 65000 people so far). Their donations have passed $3 million and constantly rising. Unfortunately, so is the death toll. The constantly updated How to Help page on Command Post has many other charitable organizations you may wish to consider.

Beware – some spammer scum have already started churning out fake charity donation emails to take advantage of this disaster. As always, only give money to charities you can trust and verify and use proper channels.

UPDATE: The The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami page has a bunch more links and information.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Apparently unscruplous folks are also using ebay, web sites, and other means besides spam to swindle well-meaning people looking to make charitable donations. Sadly, according to the article, one of these scumsucking bastards appears to be here in Maryland.

Two good places to check out a charity before you donate:

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Conspiracy Theory

Mel Gibson’s character in Conspiracy Theory believed NASA had a secret weapon on the space shuttle that caused earthquakes. I suspect that some of these friendly folks on Democratic Underground would consider that movie a documentary.

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Return to Mount Drash

Having been a VIC-20 fan for many years, I was surprised that I’d never heard of this game: Ultima – Escape From Mount Drash. It was never ported for any other systems  (until recently) and only given only limited release for the VIC. Despite the name, it’s not a "real" Ultima game. They just tacked the popular name onto an already written game as a marketing ploy. I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks like a serviceable pseudo-first-person dungeon crawl. Not too bad considering the VIC’s limitations.

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Here’s a cool site displaying photos of hundreds of vintage teaching devices created to demonstrate various scientific principles like static electricity, acoustics, and optics. The workmanship on some of the devices is really amazing.

Link: Historical Physics Teaching Apparatus.

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Custard Pie

Mmmm. Custard pie. I think that’ll have to be for dessert one night.

One of the many mouthwatering items from the 19th Carnival of the Recipes

UPDATE: I made a coconut custard pie from this recipe tonight, with a simple graham cracker crust. Delicious! You should try it.

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Four years ago I would’ve been hard pressed to cook a decent meal from scratch by myself. But when I moved into a home of my own I decided that I didn’t want to go the route of so many bachelors and subsist to a diet of TV dinners, delivery pizza, and fast food. It’s not good for you, it gets old really fast, and it’s really way more expensive than making food on your own. With some occasional emergency assistance from my Mom and Google I soon learned to be a decent cook. Reading recipes is easy, and when I decide to get more adventurous I’ve found that I have a pretty good knack for guessing which ingredient will taste good together. I’m married now, and while the wife is a pretty good cook herself, I enjoy cooking more than she does, so I still make make dinner most nights. Fine with me.

In the spirit of helping those who may be reluctant to cook on their
own, I’m going to occasionally post what we’re having for dinner. If it’s a recipe, I’ll also post where it came from.

Tonight’s dinner menu was pretty simple:

  • Pad Thai
  • Mediterranean chicken breasts
  • Lima beans (mostly for the wife – she doesn’t care for Thai food)
  • Hot rolls

As I said, like to make most of my meals from scratch. Tonight I cheated a little bit and used a couple pre-packaged items.

The Pad Thai is a boxed mix from A Taste of Thai which includes the dried noodles and the sauce. It takes about 20 minutes to soak the noodles and 10 to stir fry everything together. I substitute peanut oil for vegetable oil when stirfrying, and I forgot to buy shallots, so I used some chopped mild onion instead. I only recently discovered Thai food so I’m not quite confident enough to stray too far from the box directions. Very simple to make and, to my untrained tongue at least, very good. Pretty healthy too.

I was going to cook the boneless skinless chicken breasts (the wife keeps me eating healthy) in a thai coconut or peanut sauce, but I decided to do a marinade instead. was marinated in McCormick’s Zesty Herb mix. Their mixes are a little salty, but good. (It’s easy to make a marinade of your own, of course, but I personally tend to be too shy with my spices.) I used red wine vinegar instead of white vinegar to add a little more depth to the flavor and tossed it all in a ziplock bag for a half an hour while I made the pad thai. After the pad thai was finished I moved it to another container and cooked the chicken in the same pan. I kept the heat high to carmelize the outside of the chicken and then put a lid on and let it cook til done. The lid keeps it nice and moist.

The limas were steamed in a covered tupperware container in the microwave, and the rolls were leftovers from Christmas.

That’s about it. Yummy dinner, cheap, and good for you. With some leftovers for tomorrow. See? Nothing to be afraid of.

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For within those innocent message boards may lurk many dangerous creatures.

Some background might be instructive.

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Merry Christmas!

By the time I finish posting this, it’ll be Christmas 2004. My first Christmas with my wonderful wife Stephanie, who’s made me the happiest man in the world.

And here to help me wish you all Happy Holidays is Santa himself, circa 1982, making a special guest appearance to your home via the Christmas Magic of the Interweb!

TRS-80 Microcomputer News, Dec '82

For other hopeless geeks like me, Santa’s taking a break from speeding around the planet at relativistic velocities to play the Warlords clone Castle Guard on the original TRS-80 Color Computer. And he looks like he’s enjoying it, even if he is holding the joystick all wrong. Silly Santa!

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas, and a Happy New Year!

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A Gallery of GUIs

Back in the olden days there were lots of GUI and pseudo-GUI interfaces for all sorts of of platforms. Some of them were fairly nice, but most of them sucked. Which is probably why they aren’t around anymore. You can revisit the Ghosts of User Interfaces Past at the Graphical User Interface Gallery.

Let’s see, of the older GUIs he profiles, I’ve used:

  • GEOS (the C64 and the later PC version)
  • Desqview (the text-based version)
  • Amiga Workbench v1 and 2
  • OS/2
  • Windows 3.0

There are probably a few other that I’ve forgotten about.

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But NORAD knows Santa’s exact location. It’s their 50th year of Santa Tracking and they have a bunch of cool stuff up on their site. (via Truth Lies and Common Sense)

Santa’s remarkable annual journey has been the subject of much scholarly debate over the years. But no matter how he manages it, we’re glad he makes the trip. Of course, not everyone is happy to see Santa when he arrives.

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