Category Archives: Randomness

The Northern Most Performance of Thriller

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Sarah B is up in Alaska for her third straight summer. This year she may have quite possibly participated in the northern most performance of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance ever — 68°38′ N. I really should have been an environmental scientist.

Chocolate, Part Deux

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Today was the last session of my chocolate making class. (For Brandy — we’ve been using Noel brand chocolate.) Unlike the previous two sessions, we were not as focused on making delicious fillings and chocolates that tasted amazing. Instead, we were aiming for our “chocolate display pieces.” We could only be so creative, given that we only had the giant molds that the school owned. But I still did okay, choosing to use the creepy dwarf with two children and a dog mold. There was a debate about whether or not the “dwarf” was in fact supposed to be Santa Claus, which would explain the children and the sack, but not the dog. I wanted it to be one of the seven dwarfs… and after my cocoa butter paint job, all of us in the class agreed that this dwarf was named “Creepy.”
We unfortunately ran out of time to make the “plastic chocolate” roses, but I did manage to make a little bow with some of the scrap pieces. “Plastic chocolate” is regular chocolate mixed with corn syrup and has a fondant like consistency. I took some home with the intent to try to make a rose… Chef Delphin made it look easy. I have a suspicion mine will not be as nice as his!
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Creepy the Chocolate Psychedelic Wizard
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Thistle truffles and a “chocolate plastic” bow
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Chocolate Dolphin
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A large (hollow) chocolate ball… just because

Chocolate!

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I did not think it was possible to become too full to eat another piece of chocolate. But tonight I took the first class of “Fine Chocolates and Fillings I” at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, and I’ve discovered that it is possible. I’ve also discovered that it’s possible to have purple chocolate with passion fruit jelly and dark chocolate ganache inside. Oh, but the maple ganache made with maple syrup (inside the dark chocolate with red, yellow, and green highlights) is my favorite by far.

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Overall, I came home with quite the haul.

Who’d have thought Iowa would be so progressive?

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I never thought I’d find myself saying this, but way to go Iowa.
In other Big Ten state news, my plan to select a heavily Big Ten weighted NCAA finals bracket actually has me doing better than Barack Obama, primarily because of Michigan State’s upset over Louisville. Unfortunately, while I do have the Spartans going on to the championship game, I ultimately picked Minnesota to win it all… and they were eliminated in the first round.
(This was a pool for no money or prizes. Had anything been on the line, I most likely wouldn’t have picked a Final Four of Minnesota, Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue.)

Multiculturalism

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Via rubinc’s blog… Crayola has come along way since the flesh color, now known as peach. Apparently if you are not careful when ordering what you think are multicolored crayons, you can wind up with multicutural crayons — 8 shades of brown! (Also, even if you don’t know her, you should check out Caroline’s blog about her Teach for America stint. It’s sometimes hilarious, sometimes tragic, and, unlike me, she’s pretty consistent about posting every (school) day.)
As an aside, I swear I remember coloring with crayons labeled “flesh,” but apparently they haven’t existed since 1962. Maybe I used crayons at my grandmother’s that originally belonged to my dad and his siblings. Dad, is that even possible?

Happy Zune Year…

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Some of you will remember that a few years ago I won a Zune. Sometime in 2007 there was a firmware update and it sucked — I no longer had the ability to add a single song to my “Zune library” which was frequently all I wanted or needed to do with the software. Thus, I vowed never to bother with firmware updates again since I had a free player that worked (mostly) how I liked it and I didn’t want to risk losing more features.
Well, today I am very grateful that I never bothered with the 3.x version of the firmware. One of the key features of this update was that, for the first time, the Zune got a clock (and also lost the “QuickList” feature — equivalent to “Playlist-On-The-Go” for iPod users). However, it seems that those fine programmers over at Microsoft forgot that 2008 has 366 days and Zune’s of my model everywhere are freezing up and freaking out. Google trends even indicates the problem (see 41, 53, 82, 88, and 94). But, according to Slashdot readers, it’s a firmware issue and those who never updated are fine. The official Zune site also claims that as long as you didn’t connect it to a computer before Noon GMT today, you’re also fine.
Way to be Microsoft. Didn’t the whole Y2K “crisis” teach you how our calendar works?
Luckily, my version 2.0 firmware is currently cranking out K.T. Tunstall as we speak having experienced no such problems… if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Edit: The Guardian appears to have uncovered the specific lines of code that caused the bug and indicates that it’s not really Microsoft’s fault — well, not the fault of their programmers anyhow. The QA department is a different story.

You say what is your birthday?

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I was, for highly appropriate reasons, just googling the phrase “The Beatles Birthday” because as of twenty-two minutes ago it is a timely day to find that song on YouTube and listen to it. (My mp3s are not on this machine, my external harddrive, which was the back up, is dead, my Zune speakers are in another room, and the White Album CDs which I, er, “borrowed” from my dad in 9th grade are in my car. YouTube is just faster sometimes, especially when you want to hear a specific single song.) And yet, instead of the first hit being the YouTube video, as is usually the case since Google bought them, Google seemed to think I wanted to know what the Beatles birthday was… and gave me “1962.”
That is just wrong, Google, for so many reasons. (Okay, mainly three: 1962 is not a birthday, it’s a year; the Beatles actually formed and existed as a group before 1962, so it’s not even the right year; and finally, I’d bet good money that most people doing that search are looking for the song, not some arbitrary date.) Edited to Add: If you check Google’s “source“, they list the birth-“day” as 1960 (which I think is more correct because that’s when they stopped being The Quarrymen — seriously, my off-hand knowledge of this band is freakish). Google fails big time.
However, on the second hit, I did get what I was looking for…

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