The Guide

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Jul 282004
 

I was only vaguely aware of the production of a new Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy movie. But lo and behold, there’s a trailer available. Oh, how I love the wonders that are the Internet.

Incidentally, if you haven’t read the amazingly expanded, inaccurately-named “Hitchhiker’s Trilogy,” here is a handy link for you. I thoroughly endorse the idea of your buying all five of them. A funnier series of books hasn’t been written, in my oh-so-humble opinion. I’m really looking forward to the movie.

Especially after seeing the trailer for I, Robot. I think the earth’s probably picked up an eccentricity in its orbit from Asimov’s turning in his grave over that one. The first time I saw that trailer, I went right home (after the movie ended) and read the book. I haven’t seen the movie (just like I never saw Starship Troopers) but I’m sure that if you’ve seen the movie, reading the book will tell you just how twisted an idea can become when Hollywood makes a movie “based on” it.

In case you’re curious, try these links out for size:

Unfortunately, that copy of I, Robot is a “movie tie-in” version (i.e., it has Will Smith on the cover). Instead of buying that one, you should go to your local used book store and pick up a “real” copy.

Making cutting boards

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Jul 252004
 

So it turns out that it’s really expensive to make enough cutting boards to cover all of my kitchen counters. I found some nice plans for butcher block cutting boards on Lowe’s web site (via a Google search, of course). So I figure, I’m never comfortable cutting anything on my counters, since they’re too low. Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller fame) has custom-made counters in his house, but I don’t have the luxury of being able to remodel my kitchen. So I whipped out the ol’ tape measure to see what I can find.

I did some quick tests; I have a 3-quart saucepan that is 3 1/2″ tall. I balanced a cutting board on it, and felt a lot more comfortable using a knife on that elevated surface. Which is handy, since a 1×4 is 3 1/2″ wide (it’s a lumber thing). So I figure . . . my counters are about 23″ deep. That’s a good start; I’ll see how many laminate layers of 1×4 I’ll need to put together to make it to 23″. Turns out, that at 3/4″ tall, it’ll take 31 layers of 1×4 to make this cutting board. But of course, I don’t want to stop there. I have just shy of 8 feet of counters (measured left-to-right, and added together); it’s actually 94 inches’ worth (leaving about a quarter-inch between the sides & the walls/sink/oven). This is good, since 1×4’s come in these really handy 8′ lengths.

So I’m adding up… 31 pieces of 1x4x8 lumber. Now, I can’t use pine, because it’s got all that nice resin to leak out of the wood and into whatever I’m cooking. That’s bad, since pine resin tastes really bad. So I need to use a fruit- or nut-bearing wood. The Home Depot next(ish) to my apartment has maple and oak. They’re both a bit more expensive than I’d like; the maple was slightly less at about $13.90 per 8′ length of 1×4. That’s over $400 before tax and glue.

Add on the fact that I don’t actually have any woodworking tools, and it means I’ll either need to convince my parents to let me use their garage (and power tools) for a weekend, or I’ll need to buy a mitre box and saw. I’m hoping for the first, since it’s a lot less expensive.

Maybe I’ll just do one, to see how it turns out. I can probably do that for about $125, since there’s 4 23″ pieces in a single 8-foot board. It’s slightly more than just buying a John Boos cutting board, but this way I get the exact size I want.

Update: The Joy of Cooking is 2 1/2″ tall, and that’s actually even more comfortable than 3 1/2″. So I can make do with 1×3’s instead; that means I can do a 21″x24″ board for about 40 bucks. That’s not too bad.

Foucault’s Pendulum

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Jul 082004
 

A friend of mine recently said something to the effect of “Foucault’s Pendulum is The DaVinci Code, only more complicated.” Now, I read The DaVinci Code several months ago, and I vaguely remember reading Foucault’s Pendulum back in high school. The only problem is, I can’t remember much of anything about it (the latter). So, since we were at Half-Price Books when he made that comment, I grabbed a copy and have been slowly but surely reading it. I’m up to chapter 20 (I think), and so far it does appear to have some of the same plot elements: a main character researches a secret organization, and stumbles onto a “plan” concerning the Holy Grail. I’m less than 1/5th through the book right now, but I’ll certainly write something when I finish it.

Maybe if I’m bored anough, I”ll even write a point-by-point comparison. If I did so, it would definitely be the longest thing I’ve written since college.

The Fourth!

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Jul 052004
 

I went with a few friends out to Zilker Park yesterday, for to listen to the Austin Symphony and watch fireworks. I think it’s safe to say it was the most fun I’ve had in several days. Of course, they played the 1812 Overture; they even had someone (I think it was the Texas Guard) firing an actual cannon. Great stuff. Then a selection of Sousa marches, two of which I recognized (Semper Fidelis and Hail to the Spirit of Liberty) and one that I didn’t. I guess I should listen to Paul’s recording, and see if I can figure out what it was.

I definitely think I should start going to more ASO performances; I think I even get a discount of some kind with my KMFA member’s card.

Oh, and if you’re ever at Zilker Park, and you think “You know, it’s not that far back to the car” (which is parked at 15th and Red River) . . . Think again. It is that far back to the car.

Update: Apparently it was the Texas National Guard Salute Battery.

Midnight mental meanderings

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Jul 022004
 

It’s always so hard figuring out how to start a post.

So I’m sitting here at work, bored out of my mind because I’ve already read all of the webcomics I like (and a few I’m ambivalent about). I feel like I should post something, but I just don’t have anything to say, really. I’m still riding on my week of vacation (last week), so I haven’t built up a hate for users yet; this precludes another “tech support rant”.

I was over at Ryan’s this afternoon; he had so much spyware on his system it was ridiculous. It took like 3 hours to remove it all. I have to say, if I ever meet someonw who actually wrote a spyware program, there just might be an incident involving a baseball bat. the same goes for the guy who apparently thinks I need to get spam in Deutsch.

So now I have a choice; do I:

  1. Keep trying to find something interesting on the Internet?
  2. Play some Gameboy (I have Zelda: Oracle of Seasons in right now)
  3. Read my book?

It’s so hard to decide. I did have to pull the book out in order to read the ISBN off the back, but philosophy is such weighty reading when I’m already bored.

Music in my head

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Jul 012004
 

It’s always weird when I get songs stuck in my head that I know I haven’t heard in weeks. Right now it’s “Human Behavior” by Bjork. I’m guessing it was close enough to “Human Condition” (see the previous post) to pop the song into my subconscious.

Not a bad song, all in all. Just not as good as “Museum of Idiots” by TMBG, which was the one before this.