Entries Tagged '/etc' ↓

Death by Chocolate

Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies

Are there any other chocolate groupies out there? If you have a weakness for cacao like I do, then check out my sweet wife’s Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies on her baking blog Bake or Break.

If you think it’s worthy, cast your vote for it in the Death by Chocolate contest hosted by Culinate. Here’s the best part, if you vote, you’ll be entered to win as well. What could you win, you ask? The same thing as the victor in the blogger category, a weekend in Napa, California, to attend the annual Death by Chocolate Festival. There are also daily prizes — read all the details here.

Signs of the Times

Jennifer is remarkably adept at spotting poorly crafted signs. With a quick glance, she directs me to the offending verbiage and I extract my iPhone or, if the occasion permits, a more legitimate camera and try to sneak a picture. I’ve been meaning to post some for a while, so here are three recent shots.

Unwelcome
This sign is directly under the light on the podium near the front door at our local Chili’s. It makes me wonder what the valid options are…

Suite
The sign was about 12′ tall and well constructed. Proofread? Not so much.

Life like
I keep looking every time we shop there, but I can never find the cartoon foam coolers. I know it’s technically correct, but every time I see these they makes me smirk. Oh, this is also the store that has their hours posted (in a sign over their doors and, sadly, on their website) that they are open from 6 AM to 12 PM. Seems like bad business staying open only six hours a day… Oh, and this is also the same store that (sadly during the pre-camera-on-cell-phone era) had a sign over a toilet bowl cleaner display that said “Bowel Fresh” that we still joke about. Why would we shop anywhere else?

Win a cheesecake, feed the world

Pecan Pie Cheesecake

Act quickly and a homemade cheesecake like the one pictured here can be yours. For the fourth year, Menu for Hope raises funds to support the United Nations World Food Program. Every year, Food Bloggers from all over the world join together for a fund raising campaign. Last year, Menu for Hope raised over $60,000 for the WFP. As of this writing, almost $50,000 have been raised.

An incredible array of offerings from food bloggers can be won by purchasing virtual raffle tickets. My lovely better half Jennifer has been busy this month on her baking blog Bake or Break, featuring a post a day. Her contribution to the Menu for Hope this year is a homemade cheesecake, one of her specialties.

You can read more about this worthy cause at Chez Pim, the official site. If you would like to buy raffle tickets for Jennifer’s cheesecake, go to the First Giving site and make a donation by clicking Give Now. In the “Personal Message” section, you must specify the prize code (UC21) and number of $10 tickets you wish to assign to each prize. For example, to buy two tickets, use the code 2xUC21. Be sure to check the box to allow your email address to be seen so that you can be contacted if you win. They promise your email address won’t be shared with anyone else.

Act quickly! Raffle tickets are available only through Friday, December 21.

Good luck!

Getting things done

I started reading David Allen’s book Getting Things Done three weeks ago. I didn’t have a crisis of all-of-this-is-crushing-me-and-I-can’t-breathe or some other catastrophe that forced me to seek a higher state of organization. Nothing precipitated this other than reading about David Allen in a recent edition of Wired magazine. I’ve read ramblings out and about on the internet for years about GTD this and GTD that and never gave it much interest. I’ve always been a disorganized, list-weary procrastinating fool.

But no more.

Early on during my read of the book, the GTD approach found a resonance within me and I quickly grew ever more excited. All of my countless previous efforts at getting organized led to the same discouraging conclusion: calendars buried under stacks of stuff never to be referenced again and countless lists dispersed so widely in my personal milieu that I was unable to remember how many there were, let alone where they might be.

The approach of GTD made so much logical sense to me that I couldn’t wait to implement it in my life. Jennifer got on board and over a weekend we generated eleven bags of garbage. We reduced our four drawer filing cabinet stuffed full of unorganized and questionably important stuff into one tidy drawer’s worth of easily findable stuff. I reduced my inbox with nearly 13 thousand emails down to zero by sorting it into about 90 folders. During the process, I found nine emails that needed my attention (a few requiring it a few months ago, apologies again to those folks).

The net result is what David Allen professed: the weight has been lifted. My mind is clearly free to worry about getting some thing done, not about the mountain of things waiting to get done. I’ve identified about 450 actions that I need to do in the near future. Four weeks ago, the mere thought of knowing that number would have made me hurl. Armed with a strong approach for getting those things accomplished, I’m not afraid of them anymore and I know that my productivity since implementing GTD has never been better.

If you haven’t heard of GTD, consider picking up a copy of the book and give the first few chapters a read. If you’ve heard of it and looked into it a little but aren’t sure it’s right for you, I’m another in a large chorus of voices singing out to you that it rocks.

The system is exceptionally hackable and there are many variants of the system, some worthy of their own published book. GTD itself can be implemented using anything that works for you from pen and paper to elaborate software. I’ll write up more about my “recipe” for implementing GTD in a while, after I’ve given it a while to settle into my routine. Until then, I have one recommendation: read through the book before wandering off into variations of GTD. I think it’s worth focusing on the original intent to see if you also resonate with it before branching off.

Road tripping observations

My road trip with Jennifer is winding down (hmm.. Only 420 miles to go) and as I enjoy a spell as passenger, I thought I’d write down some road trip observations.

  • The Earth is really, really huge
  • Spotting a deer on the side of the road will wake you right up
  • A deer vs. motorcycle accident wouldn’t be pretty
  • Counting Crow’s Recovering the Satellites is awesome road music
  • Choosing a pig as the spokesperson for a BBQ joint is questionable
  • Blogging from an iPhone during road trip requires patience
  • The best part of a road trip is having your best friend with you
  • We look forward to a five minute drive home from davak’s instead of 12 hours!
  • Fresh Coat of Paint

    Paintbrush I’ve had an itch to update my theme and it’s finally rolled over. My inspiration for starting this whole process came from seeing this great (and informative) post. That theme is elegant in many ways — and looking at it makes my theme far less creative than it might have appeared. I really liked the stationary sidebar concept since a mobile sidebar ends up either wasting space or overstaying its welcome. Oh, and if you’re curious, I based the theme off of Jelly which has a well organized style.css file that even a certified anti-design code diva like myself can almost understand.

    I’m hoping this will inspire the blog writing juices (and hopefully in ways other than referring to inspired juices, whatever that means). We are working on some cool new sites and I’m eager to talk about them when they get to the talkin’ ’bout phase. I’m also working on becoming more social, or at least a little less anti-social, so if you are a user of any of the drop-me-a-line social sites next to my Wii headshot, drop me a line.

    Reformat your brain

    During an IM conversation today, the topic of an in-law of mine and her reaction to something unexpected (my wife’s instantaneous answer of “microwave” to the question “which would you give up first, our Tivo or microwave?” ) caused a reality shift resulting in an apparent mental blue screen of death.

    Made me think.. if you had to reformat your brain and install a new operating system, which would you choose? And why?

    Apple in the Big Apple

    My wife and I are in the greatest city on any Earth, New York City. To be honest, NYC has ruined all other vacation destinations for us, so we come back here time and again. I must confess that, in addition to being a confessed Apple bigot, I’m also a theatre junkie. NYC is well established as the place to go for musical theatre, but it’s now also a destination for those made for Apple, as well. I remembered reading posts buzzing about when they opened their store on 5th Avenue and had seen photographs, but I completely misunderstood what I saw. Here’s my attempt to capture the scene:

    5th Avenue Apple Store

    I didn’t appreciate the location of the store, although it makes sense now. The red canopy seen through the glass near the bottom is the entrance to FAO Schwartz. They’ve been doing construction there for at least two years to build the Apple store — I just never knew that’s what it was going to be. Pictures of the store certainly do not do it justice. It’s a massive glass cube sitting over an opening in the roof of the store below. A cylindrical elevator is surrounded by a helical staircase. While much larger than a typical Apple Store, the contents were more or less the same (the software selection was larger and there were dozens of most products on display, all surrounded by shoppers). On a Friday afternoon, there was a considerable crowd throughout the store. Overall, it was quite an experience.

    I must admit, the show we saw this evening was a much greater experience. We were privileged to see Company, a Sondheim revival. I’ve seen many shows, but never has an audience been so utterly enthralled by a performance. There were many dramatic (and comedic) pauses in the show and during every one, not even a whisper was heard breaking the moment. I know there were many a husband dragged there against their will, but I saw quite a few people sitting forward on their seats, their gaze intent on the players. If you are unfamiliar with this show, the cast is also the orchestra, each actor playing instruments as well as singing (as was done in the recent revival of Sweeney Todd). The effect of this is as hard to imagine as it is to describe, but it worked well. Raúl Esparza sang the crap out of Being Alive, which was definitely a plus. If you have the opportunity, see it!

    Unix utils for Windows

    For a beloved project (and for few other possible reasons) I’ve dusted off my old laptop..  I needed to test some code on a windows platform.  The things I do for bettering humanity!

    Leaving out the details of the viral contamination that cost me a good 8 hours of productivity, I found it interesting to revisit XP after three months of OS X use.  I have to say, I forgot about some of the many, many little (and moderate) nuisances and, upon experiencing them again, I wonder how I could ever have put up with them.  I wondered if I was on candid webcam for a while as I repeatedly clicked the little popup balloon that said “There are updates…”  It disappeared for a split second only to return again and again.  Who needs that?

    Anyway, after reformatting the hard drive and reinstalling XP (since MSFT’s snazzy Windows Defender didn’t detect the problem, nor did anything else I tried) I got down to business.  Apart from typing ‘ls’ whenever I wanted a directory, I really needed to run a ‘tail -f’ against a log file to monitor and debug stuff.  I don’t know of a good alternative to this.  For those of you who haven’t employed this tool, just using ‘tail’ will output the last 10 lines of a file.  Occasionally useful.  But ‘tail -f’ will dump the last 10 lines of a file and keep it open.  Any new lines added to the file will be output to the screen.  Nothing better for watching log files.

    So, where is tail?  It isn’t.  Very sad.  However, although there are some other alternatives out there like cygwin, which is impressive, I have used these natively compiled GNU utilities for a while now. They are Windows executables, and quite a few of them, that run without any external libraries.  You can copy as many as you want to somewhere in your path (I put them all in \windows\system32, but I love living dangerously).  If grep, bzip2, tar, and, oh, yeah, tail are your old friends, then enjoy.  If not, they’d love to meet you.

    Oh, a nice executable included with the utils is pclip.exe.  This will dump the contents of the clipboard to standard output.  I bet this would be useful for someone… sometime.  And gclip.exe which does the opposite.  Very nice.  Enjoy!  And, if you have to use Windows.. I’m really sorry.

    I'm Back!

    I’ve been good and sick for the last week. Today’s the first time I’ve felt human since last Wednesday, although I did have a narrow window on Thanksgiving day during the big meal (that may have been what I was most thankful for that day). I had two unrelated things going on. And I don’t recommend either.

    Sorry to those of you who saw me as away all week.. I admit I was lurking, but usually for about 10 minutes every few hours. After 10 minutes, my desire to prevent head explosion usually won out over whittling down my feeds and weeding out spam.

    Now I just have to remember where I was before all of this happened..