Saturday, November 22, 2008

Time for an update

Thanksgiving is coming. Like last year, we are sticking around Wakefield for the holiday weekend, but this year we are having two Thanksgivings.

Thanksgiving#1: On Thursday we are going over to Becky's house for the "official" big meal. We are making mashed potatoes, by special request (the potatoes I made 2 years ago must have been a big hit), and a couple of varieties of pie. We may walk away from this meal with a small quantity of leftovers, but the leftovers from last year's just-the-two-of-us Thanksgiving were so great that we need to do it again for ourselves. Brian, in particular, is apparently addicted to stuffing at this time of year. So,

Thanksgiving #2: I happened to be a lucky winner of the turkey lottery at Casey Farm. They raise organic, free-range, humanely treated, heritage turkeys on this local farm (in addition to much other delicious food), and this year we are getting one. Unlike commercial turkeys, these turkeys actually know how to have sex. On Friday, we will have a second Thanksgiving featuring this special bird and many of the big-hit recipes from last year's big meal. Stuffing included. And maybe I will finally make a pie from the nummy raspberries that have been in our freezer since summer.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Red, Red Raspberries

Mmm, Raspberries. Out in the garden are a collection of raspberry vines, plants, bushes, or something. Whatever, they are producing a bowl of raspberries a day right now. They will be producing for quite a while seeing how many little white berries are still on the bush. We are freezing them and saving for later pie making, well some of them. Mmmmm.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mariner's Travels VIII

Wow, that path is totally confusing. The first leg of the cruise is finished and people will be exchanged for fuel (I think that is right, or maybe they will refuel and exchange some people. That still sounds weird, do you need a receipt to exchange a person ?) The second leg will have them doing some more dredging at Peggy Ridge, which is in the same general area. To get there they need to cross longitude 180, once again.

But first time was spent in Suva for the fuel and people exchange. They got off the boat but not for very long since they were anchored in the harbor for about 12 hours waiting for a berth. Instead of heading straight into town after "finding a parking spot" then hung out on the pier. It was too dark to go exploring the shops and sites. Maybe next time just before heading home.

Back to Sea. Our Mariner is now in charge of where to dredge. Her first attempt came up "mud and pumice :(". From the look of the sad face, it was not a good first attempt. She wants glass, the Mariners gold. Think glassy thoughts for her.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mariner's Travels VII

A slight detour was taken to Samoa, previously Western Samoa, to tend to an engineer who needed medical attention. This is the large detour in the track. The ship ended up in Apia, Samoa but no one was let off the ship at all for a speeding trip back to the Lau Basin. From the docked ship it looked like a nice place to go on vacation.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mariner's Travels VI

As I stated before, swath bathymetry mapping can be totally boring. It apparently can make you sail around in circles, too. But we have some really good news: The Styrofoam cups made it to the bottom of the ocean and came back up *really* tiny and perfect. Ah, science. Also found on the seafloor were

  • A tectonic mess
  • Not a simple spreading center
  • A stack of pancakes
  • Some donuts, hopefully not Dunkin'
  • A Lobster
These are all made of rocks, so I guess the last one would be a "Rock Lobster"

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mariner's Travels V

Swath bathymetry mapping can be totally boring, especially in the middle of the ocean. Back and forth, back and forth. Almost like mowing the lawn. It is much more exciting with volcanoes, spreading centers, and fracture zones. In the end this will help find that buried treasure.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Mariner's Travels IV

Time to cross the International Date Line. It is yesterday, it is today, it is yesterday. After some engine trouble (the wind must have died down) the voyage is quickly back on. Scally wags are getting their sea legs, but no treasure to speak of as of yet. Details are currently slim.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Mariner's Travels III

After dredging volcanoes near Vanuatu, it was time to head towards Fiji. This time the treasure containing precious glass. It is time to head to Lau for the remainder of the voyage. Hopefully, the Fiji treasure will bode well for Lau.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Mariner's Travels II

There is lots of dredging of the sea floor currently on going, but the booty they are looking for still evades them. The food on board the vessel apparently is better than expected, so scurvy *should* not be an issue. Some new sailors are still getting their sea legs, but the old dogs are accustomed to the "just-right" rolling conditions.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Mariner's Travels

The Mariner is out to sea. I have tried to convince her to identify where she is and what she might be doing. She started off in Nouméa, New Caledonia and has headed east. Updates to be coming.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Grades in Excel

Yes, I am using Excel. It does a reasonably good job at tallying grades and summing things up, it is a spreadsheet after all. However, I have had trouble issuing "letter grades" using Excel. In the past I have come across ways to accomplish like this: Write a series of "IF" statements embedded in each other.

Wow. How Ugly and a really ugly function if I got it wrong. I guess I was looking in the wrong place. Should have left out the "letter" when I was searching the interblog. The pretty way to do this is vlookup. Found through, who would have guessed, the Microsoft site.
With the number grades in column B and the Letter Grades in C. No more worrying about writing that horrific "IF" statement, which reminds me of using "goto".

Busy Boy

After posting a record 10 entries to his blog overnight, Eric has ensured that I will not read the first 8. Use your head, Eric!!

Meanwhile, back in RI, B and I bought a house and are poised to move in. After the fridge gets delivered on Wed., we will move the kitty and the TVs and will finally live in the house that we own. Woo!

We also bought some fancy chairs.

Oh, maybe I should have followed Eric's example and turned this into 27 separate entries, all posted at the same time.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Hello iphone

Both of us recently got iPhones and I was informed I needed to post
from the phone. They are as cool as advertised. :)

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, February 21, 2008


It appears I am not as my evil twin appears. According to "scientists", I may not have the exact genetic makeup (DNA) as my evil twin. To state it plainly, it all comes down to copying. When the DNA is copied it can sometimes be, well, wrong. If a piece is missing or it gets reordered you get differences, some call them mutations. Whatever you call it in the end, the copy is different than the original. This important fact is being used to detect the genetic location of specific diseases, mathematical optimization problems, and why copying on computers, even across the ISH, are checked for mistakes or underhanded evilness.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Squash Risotto

Also at Eric's request:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 small ACORN squash, peeled, seeded and diced to ~ 1/4 inch
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (Pinot Grigio or similar)
4-5 cups chicken stock, kept at a simmer
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for sprinkling

In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and squash, cooking until the onions have softened and are translucent but not browned 8 to 10 minutes. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until toasted and opaque, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the wine to the toasting rice, and then add a 4 to 6-ounce ladle of stock and cook, stirring, until it is absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladle at a time, stirring constantly and waiting until the liquid is absorbed before adding more. Cook until the rice is tender and creamy and yet still a little al dente, about 15 minutes. Stir in the butter and cheese until well mixed. Portion risotto into 4 warmed serving plates, serving with extra cheese.

Sweet Corn Risotto

At Eric's request:

2 ears fresh sweet corn
3 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 cups Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine (Pinot Grigio or similar)
1/4 cup unsalted butter (in pieces)
6 oz. Asiago cheese, finely grated
1 small tomato, finely chopped (we used grape tomatoes cut in half)
1/4 cup chives, finely chopped

Working in a shallow bowl, cut off corn kernels, then scrape each cob with a knife to extract juice. Place the cobs in a small saucepan with the water and broth. Bring broth, water, and cobs to a simmer and keep at a bare simmer. In a separate 3-quart heavy saucepan, cook onion in oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute, until the grains begin to toast a little. Add the wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until mostly absorbed. Add 1 cup of the simmering broth and cook at a strong simmer, stirring constantly, until the broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding broth to the rice mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition become absorbed before adding the next, until rice is creamy-looking but still al dente (it should be the consistency of thick soup, and the grains should be firm but not gritty), about 18 minutes total. There may be leftover broth. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the butter cubes and 1/2 cup of grated cheese. Gently fold in tomato, corn, and chives until the butter and cheese are melted, then season to taste with salt. I sometimes also add a few small balls of fresh mozzarella at this point. Thin with leftover broth if desired and serve sprinkled with remaining cheese.

Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

1906 Earthquake Cows

While putting together my Earthquake lecture, which I just started teaching today, I am reminded of the story of "The Cow" and the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. At the USGS the story is retold. Unfortunately, there are not pictures, but the quick story goes that during the earthquake the ground opened up and swallowed a cow. There are some choice quotes in the retelling. At first it was told that the earth really gobbled up the unsuspecting cow:

"The earth opened for miles, right back of the house it swallowed up a cow — all that could be seen of it was the end of its tail. "

In the process the cow "kicked the bucket", somehow. Reporters came to interview the family who owned the cow which was swallowed up by the earth. After a while, 60 years or so, the truth eventually came out

"Look Pax, the cow had died, and we had to bury her. That night along came the earthquake which opened up a big crack and tipped it in, with the feet sticking out. Then along came those newspaper reporters and when they got the idea that the cow had fallen in we weren't about to spoil a good story. Why spoil it now?"


Saturday, February 09, 2008


For those out of the loop, basically everybody, we put agreed on a price for a house and are entered Escrow. Below are few house pics and a general timeline of how this all happened.

Two Saturdays Ago: Meet with our Real Estate Agent
Last Saturday: Toured Seven (7) different homes
Monday: Put on offer on the House
Wednesday: Counter offers and price Agreement
Thursday: Sign the Contract

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Radioactive Haiku

Uranium Ore
Outside My Door, Do not lick
As it turns out I have some Meta-autunite sitting outside my door. Using Geiger counter we determined the radioactivity of the sample behind glass. If you are very close to it the reading is high, but two feet away the reading is not above background. This quick dissipation is normal for alpha decay, which Uranium-238 undergoes. To be safe, we also checked the radioactivity near where my head is normally and I get more radiation from outer space through my window.

For reference, the Russian dissident was killed in England with Polonium-210, an alpha emitter, after he ingested it.

Health Warning: Contains uranium - always wash hands after handling. Avoid inhaling dust when handling or breaking. Never lick or ingest. Avoid prolonged exposure in proximity of the body. Store away from inhabited areas.