"So there are Oliphaunts. But no one at home will ever believe me."
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Making history

This very night, at approximately 1915, history was made as uniformed representatives of the United States, for the very first time in Iraq since the start of the war, prepared a batch of peanut brittle. It is believed, on the basis of no evidence, and zero research, that this is actually the first time peanut brittle has ever been prepared by US forces in the entire CENTCOM theater of operations.

Truly, a day that history will little remember and long regret.

May 2, 2010   1 Comment

The Snipe Hunt

This morning, over espresso (how terrible war is), somebody wanted to play with my iPad (again, this war, right now: terrible) and started an impromptu game of Scrabble. We started a “pass the iPad” multiplayer game, and to my surprise the demo turned into a serious contest. Time passed, and finally somebody suggested that it would be great if we had a multiplayer computer version to play on our laptops, taking turns during little breaks throughout the day.

Surely, I offered, some enterprising programmer has created a free version of Scrabble that can be hosted on one computer and played locally with other computers on the same network. Probably, I hypothesized, this programmer had even made it possible to play through your web browser. The other two agreed that this was virtually certain to have happened.

“Well,” said one, “you should probably go back to your CHU to download whatever it is since the Internet is so slow so we can have this set up by tonight.”

“Right,” I agreed.

Six hours gone, and many vast and deep Internet searches later, I had to give up. I realized that the challenge to find this thing on the Internet had been like a perfectly aimed special munition into the very heart of my personal Death Star. A whole perfectly splendid idle Sunday used up in futile sifting through the bed of the web’s Mariana Trench.

“Well played, friend,” I admitted to my new enemy, many hours later.

Perhaps all was not lost. I have been casting about for something to work on to keep my coding skills sharp. A locally shareable game like Scrabble, with an HTML5 client, would have a pretty deep stack of the technologies I’m interested in. So I may pursue it.

Around dinner time I got a late invitation to go barbecue with our Lebanese friends. The food tonight was really, really good. I think that perhaps my culinary interest in Lebanese food has prompted our host to up his game, or it may be that improving economic conditions have made it possible for him to acquire better ingredients and equipment (for instance, tonight he had actual hard wood charcoal as opposed to briquettes). Whatever the cause, it’s great to be able to enjoy simple food, well prepared.

We were going to make peanut brittle afterwards, but everybody was stuffed, and I owed this to the blog.

Tomorrow I start teaching math class again. We learned in the last that having the class five or six times a week was likely too much, so we’re cutting back to every other day and placing more emphasis on homework.

April 25, 2010   Comments Off

Dinner Fabuloso

Planned for 10 April 2010.

As with the last Big Meal I prepared, I cooked this one out of Marcella Hazan’s classic book. We have so many cookbooks, and I have a mildly psychologically defective completist obsession with cooking my way through at least one of them—preferably, all of them. Yes, this is an impossible goal, at least without sacrificing other, more worthy goals. It’s not like food science and human taste buds are changing at an accelerating rate in this modern era, but somehow the embargo against new culinary ideas does not hold. We keep adding to our impossible library.

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April 18, 2010   1 Comment