July 29, 2007

Crazy people online,

I follow a small number of online forums and newsgroups. It is amazing the emotions that can be raised by, say, whether you steam your milk BEFORE or AFTER you pull your shot of espresso. Or maybe the type of waterplants you have in your backyard pond. I have seen numerous threats ("Come down to Atlanta and I will beat your face in") but never heard of anyone actually carrying them out.

Until now:

Techdirt: Taking 'Flamewar' A Bit Too Seriously: Man Drives 1,300 Miles To Burn Down Home Of Online Critic

I guess the moral of the story is: Don't upset crazy people who don't have anything better to do than drive across the US to burn down your house.

July 28, 2007

Book List

My brother Chas, who recently moved to Wyoming, years ago encouraged me to keep a book list. I have been doing so for about 12 years now.

Through the miracle of Google, I now have that document online. It can be viewed here. This should be (may be?) a live document.

I apologize for all misspelling and typos. This was an unedited document. I’ll fix it by and by.

July 25, 2007

This is why!

A note from my niece:

Go Badgers!!!

Just the fact that I participated in Concrete Canoe and Steel Bridge is an enormous reason for why I've been hired at great firms in the past.

Alors, the UW Madison Concrete Canoe team /*follows the rules*/. This may seem quite simple, however, it takes hours of dedication and some nights of sleeping in the lab to accomplish. A hefty packet of rules comes out each year which has various changes from the previous season.
The majority of these changes pertain to the concrete mix itself (the amounts of water, cement, ash, glass beads, etc). We paid a lot of attention to this and up to 40 different mixes were cast into cylinders, tested under ASTM standards, and documented in the technical report - another portion of the competition. A surprising amount of teams do not entirely obey these concrete mix regulations and, thus, get disqualified.

This is all good and proper, but UW takes it 100 steps further with the amount of time each teammate dedicates to the effort. Let's not forget the races. The paddlers on our team practice together as though they were training for the Tour de France. This is clear if you've ever been to a Concrete Canoe competition.

Another thing that always makes us stick out is that our concrete canoe literally feels as smooth as glass. When I was on the team (and I'm guessing they still do this), shifts were set up so that several students were in the lab sanding the canoe - all day long for many days.
This helps with the aesthetics portion of our score.

Beyond that, the technical presentation is practiced many, many times and the co-chairs always put canoe before everything else for that school year. Several sub-committees are set up to allow for more concentrated efforts on each division of the competition as well as _fund raising_! The companies which support the team are really what allow us to be so successful since, without them, we'd never be able to afford all the needed supplies for the mix and mold. UW takes it extremely seriously, but we have tons of fun (for lack of a much less cliche expression).

Joining the team was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I made in my college career, along with my beloved, but far less known, Steel Bridge Team (which demands just as much time and effort).

Well I tried to make this as brief as possible, but there is much to say about the Concrete Canoe team.

Please do not hesitate with more questions! I enjoy reminiscing.

So why does UW dominate in the concrete canoe game?

Badgers do a 'fivepeat' to rule 20th concrete canoe event

Five in a row cannot be a coincidence. One of my nieces used to compete in this event.

So, Domi, why is the UW the big dog in concrete canoes?

July 24, 2007


(1) King Ozymandias of Assyria was running low on cash after years of war with the Hittites. His last great possession was the Star of the Euphrates, the most valuable diamond in the ancient world. Desperate, he went to Croesus, the pawnbroker, to ask for a loan. Croesus said, "I'll give you 100,000 dinars for it." "But I paid a million dinars for it," the King protested. "Don't you know who I am? I am the king!" Croesus replied, "When you wish to pawn a Star, makes no difference who you are."

(2) Evidence has been found that William Tell and his family were avid bowlers. However, all the Swiss league records were unfortunately destroyed in a fire, and we'll never know for whom the Tells bowled.

(3) A man rushed into a busy doctor's office and shouted "Doctor! I think I'm shrinking!!" The doctor calmly responded, "Now, settle down. You'll just have to be a little patient."

(4) A marine biologist developed a race of genetically engineered dolphins that could live forever if they were fed a steady diet of seagulls. One day, his supply of the birds ran out so he had to go out and trap some more. On the way back, he spied two lions asleep on the road. Afraid to wake them, he gingerly stepped over them. Immediately, he was arrested and charged with transporting gulls across sedate lions for immortal porpoises.

(5) Back in the 1800s the Tates Watch Company of Massachusetts wanted to produce other products and, since they already made the cases for watches, they used them to produce compasses. The new compasses were so bad that people often ended up in Canada or Mexico rather than California . This, of course, is the origin of the expression, "He who has a Tates is lost!"

(6) A thief broke into the local police station and stole all the toilets and urinals, leaving no clues. A spokesperson was quoted as saying, "We have absolutely nothing to go on."

(7) An Indian chief was feeling very sick, so he summoned the medicine man. After a brief examination, the medicine man took out a long, thin strip of elk rawhide and gave it to the chief, telling him to bite off, chew, and swallow one inch of the leather every day. After a month, the medicine man returned to see how the chief was feeling. The chief shrugged and said, "The thong is ended, but the malady lingers on."

(8) A famous Viking explorer returned home from a voyage and found his name missing from the town register. His wife insisted on complaining to the local civic official who apologized profusely saying, "I must have taken Leif off my census."

(9) There were three Indian squaws. One slept on a deer skin, one slept on an elk skin, and the third slept on a hippopotamus skin. All three became pregnant, and the first two each had a baby boy. The one who slept on the hippopotamus skin had twin boys. This goes to prove that the squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides.

(10) A skeptical anthropologist was cataloging South American folk remedies with the assistance of a tribal brujo who indicated that the leaves of a particular fern were a sure cure for any case of constipation. When the anthropologist expressed his doubts, the brujo looked him in the eye and said, "Let me tell you, with fronds like these, who needs enemas?"

What a difference a comma makes!

Blind, drunk man shot entering wrong home | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle

July 20, 2007

July 15, 2007


We went to see the movie Ratatouille this weekend. If you have not heard of it, you are probably not a “foodie” or a “wine geek” While it is an animated Pixar film (implying that it is aimed at kids) it is in reality a very sophisticated representation of the modern Celebrity Chef and Three Star (not five as in the movie, oddly enough( restaurant phenomenon.

From what I understand, the restaurant that is featured in the film is the Tour d’Argent, a place widely considered to be over the hill by many critics. This is based on the look, and location of the film restaurant.

Thomas Keller, the brains behind The French Laundry and Per Se was a consultant in the movie. It really shows – people (well, pixels) are really cooking in this movie. Guy Savoy and Ferran Adria also helped.

Here is a review from the San Francisco chronicle.

The movie is about a rat (yes, a rat) who wants to be a chef. He is a “super taster” in the rat world, and knows how to combine flavors to make new, and more spectacular food experiences. All he needs is a place to cook. And so on.

One interesting thing is that the rats in this movie look like RATS! Scary, nasty dirty rats. At least for part of the time. Beady little eyes, brown or black fur, scurrying about on all fours.

It was a fun two hours.

July 13, 2007

On a scale of 0 to 100...

I enjoy wine. And if you enjoy wine it is impossible to get away from wine ratings. The following blog puts ratings in perspective:

The Point of It All - The Pour - Dining & Wine - New York Times Blog

Empty Space

The link below is a hydrogen atom. In scale. Make sure you scroll to the right.

Hydrogen Atom Scale Model

That's a lot of nothing!

July 12, 2007

Hot goes on the left.

I always heard that there are only two things a plumber needs to know:

1. 1. Hot goes on the left

2. ((water) flows downhill.

But when you Google this phrase, you get a couple of very funny variations:

1. (water) flows downhill

2. Never, ever lick your fingers

1. (water) flows downhill

2. Don’t chew your fingernails

1. (water) flows downhill

2. Payday is Friday.

So I guess plumbers need to know four things.

This was prompted by the fact that the sink in our new kitchen at the office has the hot on the right.

July 7, 2007

Yesterday's Birthday

Yesterday was my 50th birthday. I did not work, and Doreen took the afternoon off. After the requisite napping, we had two events that evening. One was the wedding of the son of a good friend, the other was my birthday dinner.

It was raining so hard that the wedding was delayed for an hour. We got there on time (thank goodness and the Harris County Toll Road Authority for EZTag lanes) but most of the people didn’t. It was inside, but the weather yesterday was cool. The wedding was nice, and it included a martial arts display. The son is an instructor. The food was good, though we just had a taste due to the dinner we were about to attend.

After that we went to eat at Mark’s American Cuisine. Doreen had one last gift there on the table waiting for me. It was Roy Blount Jr’s new book Long Time Leaving – Dispatches from The South. And it was inscribed to me! She wrote his agent and asked if he would autograph it. He said:

To Dan: Happy 50th. Doreen must love you very much to give you such a great present.

We laughed and laughed about that.

Earlier she gave me the book Timothy by Vernon Klinkenborg

The meal was great. We started with a glass of pink champagne, and it was a seafood medley after that. Fried Puget Sound oysters with some raw oysters as well, covered with some greenery and lump crab meat. I ordered a nice Gruner Veltliner to go with the meal. It was very aromatic. This looked like the photo on this page.

For our main course we had fried soft shell crab. It looked just like the photo on this page. It also had lump crab meat on the side. Oh my, but it was delicious.

For dessert Doreen had a Blackberry and Butter Pecan cake, I had the blueberry tart. My tart looked like the photo on this page. We each had a glass of the 1999 Rieussec Sauternes.