November 2003

13 Nov 2003[link to here]

I thought of something interesting to do with my copious free time. I could make the same meal several times, each time doing more of the preparation myself. A nice home cooked meal is more satisfying than one made for you, right? How much more satisfying can I make it and what will it cost me?

Let's use a simple meal like pasta with pesto. The first time I do it, I might buy some pasta, carrots, peppers, and pesto sauce, cook things up and serve. Mmm. Pesto. Tasty, but it could be better.

For the next iteration, I would make the pesto myself, buying garlic, olive oil, cheese, pine nuts, fresh basil, and salt. This is usually where I stop and call it "home made", but really there's plenty of room for improvement.

The next time around, I would make the pasta myself from flour, eggs, salt, and water, grow the carrots, peppers, garlic, pine nuts, and basil, make the cheese from milk, and make the oil from olives. Ah, the satisfaction of a meal made from scratch. I'm still buying some of the ingredients though. Surely it could be more from-scratch than this.

For my next meal, I would grow my own wheat for the flour for the pasta, get the eggs from the chickens I've been raising in my chicken coop, milk the cow (that I raised from birth) to get milk for the cheese, grow my own pine nut and olive trees (in the Mediterranean branch of my lunch making enterprise), and extract salt from sea water in the evaporation bed in my back yard (which is fenced off to keep out the cow). I'll filter and purify the water after I draw it from the well, and I'll make the olive press myself using wood from trees I cleared to make room for the cow pasture.

Is that enough? Should I construct the soil out of chemical components? Does the cow sufficiently fertilize my field? Where am I getting food for the cow and chickens? Where did my tools come from? Don't even get me started on how I retrieve the pine nuts and olives from my European farm. (Maybe it would be easier to import or construct some Mediterranean soil and a large greenhouse and grow the olives and nuts locally.)

After I've finished a meal (each of which was more satisfying than the one before), put away the dishes, and relaxed on the couch, I'll tally up my material expenses and hours of labor and compute how much extra money I'd have earned working somewhere else and buying my lunch. This will be the price of my satisfaction. Is it worth it?

17 Nov 2003[link to here]

We've moved to a new house. Never underestimate the amount of junk a 2-car garage can accumulate over six years. Due to the predominately avian street names in the new neighborhood, the area must be named Birdland. Consequently, this house is hereby dubbed The Birdhouse, and the concrete barriers that keep people from driving too fast down our street (Canary Drive) are the Canary Islands.

18 Nov 2003[link to here]

Update to yesterday's entry: Lilly tells me that plenty of other people also call this neighborhood "Birdland". Quoth she: There's a Birdland neighborhood association and the realtors refer to it as such when listing houses.. Shared context + common cognitive process => parallel development. (Let this be a lesson to patent examiners.)

21 Nov 2003[link to here]

Amusing quote from the MySQL reference manual: a TEXT is a case-insensitive BLOB. I now have the urge to call someone a case-insensitive blob.

21 Nov 2003[link to here]

I just spelled "bureau" correctly on my first try, perhaps for the very first time.

25 Nov 2003[link to here]

I recently sent 120 CDs through the mail, with jewel cases and liner notes. Including the cardboard box, it weighed about 26 pounds. The same data can fit (without even lossless compression) on an 80GB laptop hard drive that weighs 120 times less.

I moved recently and my CD collection will stay boxed up in storage where it belongs. It's nice that I don't need them for anything. (Now I just need to get one of those 80GB drives for my laptop..)

28 Nov 2003[link to here]

Today, the biggest shopping day of the year, I went to the La Brea Tar Pits. It was everything I hoped and dreamed it would be, and more. There were bubbling lakes of black ooze, an open excavation pit with bones clearly visible, real live paleontologists working on fossils, and on display in the museum were entire skeletons of saber-tooth tigers, American lions (much larger than modern lions), American mastodons, horses, camels (we had camels!), two kinds of bison, ground sloths (two meters tall!), a Colombian mastodon (which is HUGE), bears, hundreds of wolves, and a large assortment of large, scary birds, smaller mammals, insects, worms, plants, and other things less exciting to those of us not in the biz. Definitely worth visiting if you're near Los Angeles. Try not to get trapped in the asphalt that oozes out of the ground.