Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Brussel Sprouts!

This will be my first, and hopefully not only, blog post on food, because I love food and recently (thanks to my CSA box) my love of cooking has blossomed almost out of control.

Tonight I undertook the heretofore impossible task of cooking edible brussel sprouts. Mostly because they came in the CSA box and I hate wasting perfectly good CSA veggies. Oh, and I had eaten on raw recently, and yeah. They're awesome.

yeah, that just happened.

However, if this is indeed the case, why is it that so many people consider them decidedly NOT AWESOME? My totally awesome theory is that, besides the obvious "YUCK VEGGIES YAY MCDDONALD'S" conditioning we all go through as American children, the very simple fact of the matter is that most people just really don't know how to cook veggies. This is not meant to be disparaging, as I'm sure all your mothers were a Saint, but how many of you as children ate canned veggies prepared in exactly the same way as a side dish to the meat? Sure, steams green beans are good, but you had the same green beans every time you had pork chops.

Part of this has to do with the desire for consistent food, the primary reason why people will eat at McDonald's when they're traveling. This also, in my mind, contributes to the reason why meat is so popular in the first place (beyond the fact that it's technically a cheap luxury item)...you can cook meat 100 different ways and still be able to tell what kind of meat it is, for the most part. (Good article that touches on this subject).

Besides that, learning how to cook vegetables well is very much a matter of knowing not only a wide variety of cooking styles, but to be able to juggle a variety of spices. Both of these require experience, which requires both time and money, both of which many people are in short supply of.

The solution? No idea. Though the WSJ prediction in this article of meat becoming an expensive luxury item in the future will likely help.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

More OS Tutorials and Motivation


One word: awesome. I'm going to try and spend some time working through these articles in my free time. I've always been interested in OS development but never felt like the topic was that approachable, but things like this and the MikeOS tutorial I talked about before have completely changed my mind about this.

Related to this train of thought...I've been powering through Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. This book is incredible. If you haven't read it, read it. It does a great job of destroying the misconception that successful people just have their knowledge and skills beamed into their head, which is something I still have to tell myself regularly to this day.

Another great link: http://www.ted.com/talks/christopher_mcdougall_are_we_born_to_run.html. This is one of the best TED Talks I've seen in a while, mainly because it very neatly distills the appeal of participating in AustinH3. It also makes me a bit sad at how far we've come from what our bodies are built for, despite all the amazing science and technology we've achieved. But that's a train of thought for a deeper mood.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Sneaky, Ninja C++

Last night I did a few more problems out of How Not To Program in C++ and really liked the last one I did before I went to bed. Apparently in C++, when you have a base class and a derived class, defining a function in the derived class sets *ALL* the functions of the same name to hidden in the base class, no matter what datatypes said function takes as an argument. I loved this problem, it was such a sneaky specification! Every time I do a problem out of this book I'm delighted by all the obscure little compiler rules and datatype issues the deceptively simple programs illustrate. Just out of curiosity, I whipped up a similar program in Java, and it seems to have a similar problem; in fact, the compiler gave me an identical error, which was amusing.

Anyway, besides amusing myself with trivial C++ exercises, I've started reading In the Miso Soup by Ryu Murakami for the second (or maybe third?) time. I was interested in reading it in college, but a friend of mine had divuldged what I felt to be the entire plot, so I was frustrated enough to avoid it until recently, when I decided it was ridiculous to not read a 200-page, well regarded book just because I knew part of the plot. I mean, if that were the case, why bother reading any of the classics I enjoyed so deeply? Who doesn't know the plot of The Odyssey already? So I picked it up from the library, and so far I really enjoy it, though I feel at times the translation may not be amazing...some of the writing just feels forced or stilted. Maybe it was intentional though, I'll have to read more on the author.

Signing off for now.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Update on the Resolution Thing

Unfortunately, as I expected, I haven't been able to keep up with my resolutions. I'm still working on my third (formally second) book (about 84% of the way through, almost there...), and I haven't been keeping up with Project Euler at all. C'est la vie. I'm hoping to make some headway on both this week.

In the meantime, I've started working with the Android platform, which is exciting and engaging. It will be a good base for a personal project I've been thinking about for a while, as well as allowing me to work with Java again, which is always a treat. Not that I'm a huge fan of Java, but being out of school certainly changes your perspective on how "hardcore" you need to be! I will forever tell anyone who will listen that spending your time learning all the low-level magic is absolutely worth it, but it's nice to let your hair down and have a little fun with a slightly higher-level programming language once in a while, especially one you haven't dabbled in for a while.

Anyway, back to work.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Book #2, In far more than a week

I finally finished my second book for my 52 book challenge, but only because it was a "GRAPHIC NOVEL" that was only about 80 pages. Ah well, at least I'm making up a little time. Still working on Stories, about 75% of the way through, but the going has been slow because it's very hard to find time to just sit and read, even though I'm finally starting to enjoy it as much as I did when I was a child.

The second book was Signal to Noise, written by Neil Gaiman and some other guy who isn't Neil Gaiman for some reason. It was a descent story framed by beautiful illustrations; the story involved a film writer who was dying. Very nice, not necessarily easily digestible, but very quiet. Recommended.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Android Developing!

Short post today, but I've started an Android project at work and I'm really enjoying working with the platform. I never bothered to approach it before, since I didn't have a smart phone at the time and I was never interested in general, but I wish I had started looking at it soon. It's very fun and rather intuitive, especially when using the Eclipse plug-in (me enjoying Eclipse? Apparently it can happen). After figuring out the basics, I'm excited to try and start working on a few personal projects for Android. Away!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Low-Level, Shmoe-Level


Yeah. That's what I'm doing tonight. Because seriously.

Low-level is one of my many weaknesses, so things like this really appeal to me. Along with this, I've been working on getting through How Not To Program in C++ and Write Great Code, in parallel, and it has been a wonderful surprise how well the two books compliment each other. I was reading chunks of Write Great Code on an airplane, and when I finally got back around to following the code samples in How Not To Program in C++, I realized I had JUST read a section that almost directly related to the bug in the sample program. Lovely! I can't express how beneficial it is to be reading a book outlining abstract low-level concepts, and go to another book that shows a real-world example of how these concepts play out in an actual programming sample. Sure, the samples are rather small and arguably trivial, but it's a base that I have been woefully ignorant in. Operating systems in particular is another area I need some edumacation in, so I'm hoping that once I work through this example, I'll be able to approach the O'Reilly Linux Kernel book I have sitting in my room right now.

Here's to further education!

UPDATE: I completed this tutorial last night in a highly distracted hour, and it was excellent. Clear, concise, with a great sample, and delivered exactly what it promised...a bare-bones, functioning OS. If this catches your interest AT ALL, work through it and download the MikeOS source code. Very satisfying learning experience.