Archive for July 2009
It is my most heartfelt private crusade: never use Starbucks’ absurd size terminology. Ever. Even though you buy their (admittedly very good) coffee several times each week, it’s a medium, not a grande. My only slip-up was some weeks ago, before a 6:00 phone call. Never again!
Click the picture to the left to see a new gallery of photos that Nancy (Christie’s mom) took this week during her visit. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, but never got around to it. Thanks, N!
Boiling the wort. It was a bit stressful trying to decipher some cryptic instructions (how do you “crack the grains”?), but I think we’re out of the woods.
Today was the planting: just a jalepeno plant from the farmer’s market. I’m going to make the spiciest pickles you’ve ever tasted.
Tomorrow is the brewing. I felt nostalgic for my days in college, when brewing beer was at once a bonding activity and end-run around the Law. Neither of those things is really the point these days, but in order to recapture that youthful feeling I “invested” in the Deluxe Beer Making Kit from the local homebrew supply shop. Really, you can consider it an investment – a full batch of beer yields about five gallons, or about 50-odd 12-ounce bottles. A pre-constructed set of ingredients costs between $30 and $35. At worst, that’s about $4 per six-pack, give or take. Add in the sense of pride, and the fact that people are utterly amazed at its homemade origin and generally want to see what all the fuss is about, and the Price Per Util is substantially smaller than with store-bought brews.
The start-up cost (equipment, books) is approximately $130. If we say that I pay an average of $8 for a util-equivalent six-pack bought at the store, and that I pay an average of $32 for each batch of ingredients, and that a batch contains 8 six-packs (a conservative estimate), then I’ll break even after about four batches ($130 + $32 * x = $64 * x –> x = 4.06). Supposing I consume 3 six-packs per month, that’s about a year’s worth of beer.
Anyway, if I’m successful, it’s another reason to visit.
I posted a few months ago about my initial impressions of the Kindle 2. Since then, I’ve read the Wall Street Journal most weekdays on the train to work, a small part of a computer programming book, and 37% of a long novel (The System of the World, by Neal Stephenson).
e-Book readers don’t keep track of pages. The advantage of this is they can change the size of the text on the fly, re-paginating everything in the process. Note that this advantage is lost on PDFs, which have fixed page layouts. To increase the font size on a PDF, you have to zoom in then scroll around the page to see all the words. In other words, a bother. Since novels usually have very simple layout and typographical requirements (a single typeface, flush left/ragged right, the rare footnote), pagination can be arbitrary without sacrificing any readability. So I don’t see the Kindle’s lack of native PDF support as any big deal.
All this to say, I know that I am 37% of the way through my book because that’s how the Kindle shows progress. Instead of sitting down and thinking “I’ll read 20 or 30 pages before bed,” it becomes “I’ll read 1% before bed.” This is especially satisfying with respect to long books, where a single page feels like infinitesimal progress. I think this would also appeal to those of us for whom finishing many books is more interesting than finishing many pages. The best case, of course, is to finish many books each consisting of many pages. The percent-based progress bar helps here, as well, since it removes the intimidation factor of so many sheafs bound up together.
One (bad?) habit of mine that the Kindle suppresses entirely: looking ahead to see how many pages I have to read until I finish the current chapter.
I chose the Wall Street Journal as my Kindle newspaper because [a] I already read the New York Times online during my lunch hour and [b] the WSJ has a pay-wall online (except, oddly, when you link to a story from a Google search). The subscription costs $15 per month, conveniently and silently billed to the credit card tied to my Amazon account. It’s been nice to have – auto-wireless-delivery really must be the future of periodicals – but I think I won’t continue the subscription. I just don’t get enough out of it that I don’t get from reading the Times for free.
My brother bought the Sony Reader – similar to the Kindle. It has some nice features – small size, native PDF support, cool design. It could be the e-reader for you, especially if you live in a place without Sprint cellular network coverage (the Kindle’s connection to the outside world). If you live in the US, though, I think you’ll find that the Kindle’s wireless delivery (“WhisperNet”) is too good to pass up.
I have very rudely never shown anyone the photos Greg and I took in Thailand this past spring. I’ll post a few at a time on this blog – keep an eye out.
In this series, Greg and I are at the Grand Palace in Bangkok on our first full day of the trip. Really, our first destination at all. The palace was built in the 18th century when the capital of Thailand was moved to Bangkok. It’s more like a compound than a palace – there are dozens of individual structures. The most interesting object, the Emerald Buddha, cannot be photographed.