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Off the Top of My Head
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Date:2004-10-05 10:55
Subject:Miscellaneous Geeky Things...

I think I'm gonna give up this LiveJournal thing in favor of
my own blog using Movable Type or Wordpress.

I'm now getting interested in CHEESEMAKING. It is another one
of those "ultimate science project" things which looks like a
LOT of fun and can result in cheese much better than store-bought.
Especially cool is that I found a local farm where I can buy
fresh Jersey milk and cream!

A very cool thread is found here:

. (it goes
on for pages and pages, so don't forget to click "Next Page"). It is
about a radical modification of an espresso machine portafilter that
makes a wonderful improvement in the espresso. It's called a "naked
portafilter" or "naked espresso". I think I'll have to try it.

I'm hosting and building the web site for Ted Kooser, who was
recently named the next Poet Laureate of the U.S. Look for it
soon at tedkooser.com.
How often can one say one had a part in working with a U.S. Poet

High school senior daughter Rivkah is a happy camper, having gotten
her braces off yesterday. The dimples are back! Now its time to do
the senior pictures with the nice fall colors.

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Date:2004-08-27 11:07
Subject:I love new words...

I get a kick out of new words

Does that make me a bad person?

I find them quite clever, when done well.
Reminds me of the old HBO "Sniglets" which even come with definitions.
"Fenderberg - n. The large glacial deposits that form on the insides of car fenders during snowstorms."

2 comments | post a comment

Date:2004-08-09 23:37
Subject:A List of Mindblowing Books. . .

Found on another web site with a title that required sanitizing... here is a list of books sure to set your "little grey cells" jumpin'. Authors in BOLD are generally mindblowing, with the books listed under their names as particularly good examples.

So without further ado, The List:

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Date:2004-08-03 16:25
Subject:An Excellent Year for the Perseid Meteor Shower

Wed. night, August 11th is the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower. It is a family tradition to go out with my daughters (and occasionally my wife) to snack on muchies while staring up at the wonderous light show. I recommend driving some miles away from city (and airport beacon) lights. Take a lawn chair/lounger. It may get cooler than you think in the overnight hours so take sweatshirts, etc. If you dress in layers you can always shed/layer to be confortable.

Full Sky and Telescope article
Here's hoping for clear skies!

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Date:2004-08-03 08:43
Subject:An update on my journey to better coffee...

A while back I posted about how one can roast their own coffee (from green coffee beans) using nothing more than a popcorn air popper. This works quite well and I recommend it, however the air popper almost does too fast of a job of it. I desired to slow the roasting process down a bit. I found a nice plan for modifying the air popper. It took about $25 worth of parts and when it was done I had a plastic box attached to the air popper which holds two switches (one for each of the two heating coils in the air popper) and a transformer/dimmer switch which was now controlling the air popper's fan motor. I also got a big metal (dial face) thermometer and put it in the top of the air popper with the probe reaching down into the beans, so I could monitor and record the temperatures.I've just begun working with this this past weekend, but so far I am very satisfied with the results.

My journey into making espresso drinks at home is on hold until I get my coffee grinder. Believe it or not, some people pay $200-$300 (and more) for an electric burr grinder. I was interested in getting the best grind I could, but not interested in spending that much, so I went the "low tech" route and got a well-respected Zassenhaus hand grinder. You can purchase them lots of places, but I got a nice one on eBay and saved about $20. (Hopefully it will arrive sometime this week!) The burrs on the Zassenhaus are made of tool steel and are supposed to last forever. You can vary the size of the grind by simply turning a nut on the top of the grinder, which moves the burrs closer to one another.

I also got a sampler pack (8 different 1/2 lb bags) of green beans. I also purchased two pounds of Kenya AA beans from a local roaster. There is also a green coffee co-op that I may be trying which offers green beans at rediculously low prices. I'm looking at getting some Nicaraguan Segovia for $1.26/lb.

So my Gaggia Carezza & Reg Barber tamper will be getting a workout soon! For now, my home roasted coffee is being consumed via the drip method (using a Chemex). I may be getting the French Press out and trying that again when my grinder gets here.

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Date:2004-07-31 10:34
Subject:You MUST see "The Village"...

Saw "The Village" last night with family/friends.


What a movie and WHAT a story.

It is one of the most ingenious stories that I have ever heard/seen. Whatever you do, DO NOT read up on this movie or listen to anybody who has seen this movie before you go see it, if you want the full effect. (They call them "spoilers"
for a reason.)

I will say nothing more here, other than that some may have been concerned that the movie deals with the supernatural/spiritism. I can assure you that it does NOT. That is all I will say.

I think there will may be some Oscar nominations for this movie, and that is something you don't normally hear about for summer movies.

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Date:2004-07-26 10:47
Subject:Anybody need a great espresso machine?

For a while now, i've been looking for a real quality espresso machine that doesn't cost me an arm and a leg. After doing all the research and reading the user reviews, I think the best deal out there is the Gaggia Carezza. They go for $259-269 on Amazon and have a great reputation for giving you the most "bang for the buck". Well last week I stumbled upon a store that had them on sale and bought the whole inventory. These are brand new machines (not returns or refurbished) in sealed boxes with full warranties. I'm offering them on eBay for a whopping $60 less than amazon's prices. All the user reviews and details are in my auction descriptions, so check them out! If you know someone serious about coffee, let them know!

My current machines (available in Silver, White or Charcoal)

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Date:2004-07-22 09:56

Go Ask Alice: Jefferson Airplane

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all

Go ask Alice
When shes ten feet tall
And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know your going to fall

Tell them the hookah-Smoking caterpillar
has given you the call
Call Alice when she was just small
When the men on the chess board get up and tell you where to go

And you just have some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving slow
Go ask Alice
I think she'll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen four feet
And the white knight's talking backwards
And the Red Queen Says off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said

Feed your head
Feed your head

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Date:2004-07-21 13:02
Subject:So what does a 1/2 lb burrito REALLY weigh?

Went to Taco Bell and got a 1/2 lb. beef combo burrito for a buck-twentynine and brought it back to my office to snarf. While I was eating my Fiesta Potatoes (tator tots covered in simulated cheese and sour cream, yum), I decided to find out what the 1/2 lb burrito REALLY weighs. Put it on my digital postal scale and it came in at (drum roll please) 9.6 oz.. That is 20% bigger than the stated size! Aren't you pumped?

Alright, so I'm easily entertained. The only thing more pathetic than weighing your Taco Bell burrito - is blogging about it.

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Date:2004-07-16 11:00
Subject:From the "How Cool Is This" Department: ZORB !

Looking for the latest legal thrill? This looks so cool. Check out the photos.
(As mentioned in today's McPaper). This can't come to the U.S. fast enough for me. What is it about those innovative Kiwis? Go New Zealand!

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Date:2004-07-14 23:21
Subject:Caff-FIEND! Home Coffee Roasting Made Simple (and slightly geeky)

Did you know that roasted coffee starts going stale in a matter of days, regardless of the storage method? You can roast your own beans using nothing more than an air popcorn popper. Sweetmarias.com offers a great selection of green beans including an 8 lb sampler for $4/lb (check out the bottom of the aforementioned page).

Here's some more pages on home coffee roasting...

Some guys who get a little crazy with their air popper mods...

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Date:2004-07-12 12:31
Subject:Demons Attack Kiboga Pupils

Here's your cheerful news story of the day:


The demons reportedly affected primary four, five, six and seven pupils below 12 years. When attacked, the pupils gabble and run around the compound. Others undress and foam around their mouths.

They also shake violently as if shocked by an electric current. Parents also said they had to tie their children on pegs with ropes to avoid their disappearance.

Full Story

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Date:2004-07-08 16:03
Subject:Gmail invitations: $5 Paypal

I've got 6 fresh Gmail invitations to the first 6 replies that agree to drop me $5 Paypal. Comment below.

Gmail is gonna revolutionize email. 1 Gigabyte of space. Fully text searchable. Subscribe to listservs and never worry about deleting a message.

Grab an account before all the good usernames are taken!

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Date:2004-07-08 15:23
Subject:Here comes a Blue Moon!

The month of July 2004 has two full moons, meaning the second is a "blue moon". But will it really be blue? Believe it or not, scientists say blue-colored moons are real.

Blue Moon Via your friends at NASA

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Date:2004-07-08 12:39
Subject:Create your own mp3 internet spider...

OK. This looks super geeky but it isn't that tough.

First you need a little program called wget. If you have a Unix/Mac OS X/Linux system you probably already have it. If you are on Windows, you can get it for free here: http://allserv.ugent.be/~bpuype/wget/

Install it at C:\Windows
Once you have it installed, simply follow the directions here:

You will need to create a text file that lists the URL(s) to the mp3 blogs you want to crawl. The textfile is named "mp3blogs.txt"). Save it somewhere on your machine and note the full path to it. For example -if you put your mp3blogs.txt in your My Documents folder:
C:\Documents and Settings\[your username]\My Documents\mp3blogs.txt

Now you can command wget to read the URLs you listed in the mp3blogs.txt and download any mp3 that it finds. Do this by going to your Start menu > Accessories > Command Prompt

In the command prompt window, type the command given in Veen's blog entry (above):
wget -r -l1 -H -t1 -nd -N -np -A.mp3 -erobots=off -i ~/mp3blogs.txt
only you will change the last part to where YOUR mp3blogs.txt file is,
like this (if you put it in your My Documents folder).

wget -r -l1 -H -t1 -nd -N -np -A.mp3 -erobots=off -i C:\Documents and Settings\[your username]\My Documents\mp3blogs.txt

My mp3blogs.txt only contains one blog URL, at the moment:
and in the time it took me to write this post, it downloaded 11 mp3 files (56.7 MB).
How cool is that? And that is only listing one mp3 blog URL in my mp3blogs.txt.

Even if you don't want to use wget, you might find the mp3 blogs listed on these pages to be fun:

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Date:2004-07-01 17:51
Subject:"How Cool Is This?" Department: Inkjet Printer for your Nails?!?

Having your nails decorated with the NailJet Pro is fast, clean and fun! It works on virtually any type or size of nail. And the quality and selection of images is unmatched (you can even add your own art or photos!) It's fast, taking less than seven minutes to decorate all 10 fingers. There is very little clean up required, so you will be on your way in no time. And the NailJet Pro is fun, with thousands of images sure to please anyone!

Oh crap. I have a housefull of women who are gonna want this. How long before they are selling units for the home PC?

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Date:2004-07-01 17:13
Subject:Free mp3: World's Away

Never heard of these guys before today, but I sure like this song:
World's Away by Summer at Shatter Creek.

Your Ever Changing Moods is pretty good too!

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Date:2004-07-01 07:29
Subject:Interesting story disappeared...

This was one of the top stories about Fahrenheit 9/11 in Google News yesterday:

Military, 9/11 families call on Bush to see Michael Moore movie
Newsday, NY - 10 hours ago
By DEEPTI HAJELA. NEW YORK -- President Bush and everyone in Washington should screen Michael Moore's controversial anti-Bush film ...

When I clicked the link, I got a blank Newsday page (everything there but the story). I tried it in multiple browsers and got nothing. Does anybody see a story at that URL? I also did a search on Newsday.com for the story (by author and the word "Fahrenheit" but came up empty). So why was the story taken down? Three guesses and the first two don't count?

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Date:2004-07-01 00:39
Subject:Wouldn't it be ironic...

Wouldn't it be ironic if Micheal Moore's movie, "Fahrenheit 9/11" was SO effective that

  • everyone concerned realized that Bush/Cheney reelection had no chance
  • Bush states that he is not seeking reelection (ala Lyndon Johnson in the Vietnam War escalation days)
  • Republicans reunite behind Senator John McCain
  • who kicks John Kerry's butt in November.

In that scenario, Micheal Moore becomes a victim of his own success.

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Date:2004-06-28 22:21
Subject:Alberta Canada is the New Saudi Arabia...

"Alberta sits atop the biggest petroleum deposit outside the Arabian peninsula - as many as 300 billion recoverable barrels and another trillion-plus barrels that could one day be within reach using new retrieval methods. (By contrast, the entire Middle East holds an estimated 685 billion barrels that are recoverable.) But there's a catch."

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