I’m headed back to Boston this weekend for a wedding (congrats Kate & Chris), but I’ll only be around for a little while. Apologies in advance for the folks I won’t get a chance to visit with…

posted October 31, 2005 – 9:13 pm

Made an excellent dinner tonight based on goodies from the Broadway Farmer’s Market: beet risotto from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (made with golden beets), salad, and vanilla ice cream with a sauce of baby kiwis.

I’d never seen the baby kiwi fruits before, but they’re quite excellent. They’re about the size of a large grape, and you don’t need to peel them. I chopped them in half, added a little sugar and lemon zest, and cooked them for a couple minutes. If I’d been a little less lazy, I might have put the sauce through a food mill to get rid of the skins, but even with them in there, it was awful tasty – tangy without being too tart, and a perfect match for vanilla ice cream.

I also made some excellent (if I do say so myself) cookies this afternoon – just the chocolate chip recipe from the back of the Toll House bag with chopped up dried cranberries and some orange juice & zest mixed in at the end. To me a huge improvement over regular chocolate chip cookies.

posted October 30, 2005 – 8:08 pm

Many people have heard the phrase “like watching paint dry,” but today I actually watched paint dry. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t much fun. But, getting paid to do it made it a little more bearable.

posted October 25, 2005 – 5:58 pm

It’s a slow week on the job, so I’ve been doing some work on unfinished projects.

Since I lugged the damn thing out to Seattle, I feel somewhat obligated to put some effort in to getting the robot arm up and running. I’ve been reading a bunch about PIC microcontrollers and motor encoders, and once I get a voltage probe, I’ll start mucking around with some electronics.

Matt’s drawer dividers are coming along. Considering my lack of a workshop, I think they’re coming along quite nicely.

I’ve made a bunch of progress on the light machine – it’s completely functional now, but doesn’t look too pretty. I’ve gotta make some new sheets of patterned cellophane and paint or stain the outside of the box. Maybe it’ll be ready by the holidays?

posted October 19, 2005 – 9:27 am

I’ve been doing some woodworking lately (making some drawer dividers for Matt) and have a much better understanding of the phrase “necessity is the mother of invention.” As you can imagine, a carpeted studio apartment isn’t the best venue for sawing, carving and otherwise creating woodchips. I’ve fashioned a workbench of sorts from a 2×8, and go out on my little patio to work. I’m getting better at figuring out how to make it all happen, but it’s still not the same as having the shop in the garage. Aside from the people, larger living/working space is one of the things I miss most about Boston.

A friend tipped me off about DorkBot – I’m looking forward to checking out their next meeting in November. I’m hoping to get reinspired and start working on the robot arm again.

posted October 15, 2005 – 5:38 pm

I forgot to write about Rif & Anna and my experiment performed during my trip to Boston. Having recently read Blink, in which Malcolm Gladwell writes of the Pepsi Challenge, we decided to test ourselves and see if we could tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi without looking.

The short summary is this: it’s damn hard to tell the difference.

The longer version is that if you just compare a sip of one against a sip of the other, it’s harder to tell them apart than you might think (try it), but not impossible. Statistics is on your side, too, as you can make a more educated guess knowing that one of the glasses is Coke and the other Pepsi. Gladwell suggests adding a third glass in to the mix, of either one (but don’t tell the test subject) and trying to identify all three.

It’s tough. I got all three of mine right, but I suspect there was some luck involved, Rif got one out of three right, and Anna (if I remember correctly) didn’t taste enough of a difference to make a guess. I was pretty surprised how close the two tasted in the experiment. Gladwell writes that on some scale used by the food industry to rank how close two foods are in taste, Coke and Pepsi are just one unit apart, and now I believe it.

posted October 1, 2005 – 5:48 pm
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