Thursday, July 29, 2010

An excellent talk by Douglas Adams

I was perusing the talks on the ted site (a wonderful site by the way if you aren't familiar with it) and I ran across this gem, it is a bit long but very entertaining.

I never knew Adams was an ecological activist.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Great Stelline Recipe

A while ago we purchased some star shaped pasta named Stelline. I tried out a recipe using it and it turned out great, so I am going to share.


  • 12 oz box of Stelline pasta
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable soup base*
  • 2 leaves fresh basil, chopped

*I used some stuff called "better than bouillon vegetable base" which rather obviously is a bouillon substitute and I am not sure how this would translate into bouillon, but you could definitely use that instead or replace the soup base and water with an appropriate amount of vegetable broth (or chicken broth if you don't care about the dish being vegetarian)

1) saute the onion and the garlic with the olive oil in a saucepan until the onion is slightly translucent.

2) add the zucchini and red bell pepper and saute 4 minutes

3) If necessary move the mixture into a pot large enough to contain all the ingredients (My saucepan is too small to accommodate everything). Add the water and the soup base and bring to a boil.

4)once the mixture begins boiling add the stelline and cook for 4 minutes constantly stirring.

5) mix in the basil and let sit for 5 minutes.

6) enjoy (parmesan cheese is great on top!)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Turning a sphere inside out

I first encountered the problem of turning the sphere inside out in a class on knot theory some time ago. At the time I saw just a small clip of the procedure they show in this video but I didn't really understand exactly what was going on, I just thought the video was cool. I ran across this video quite a while ago and I must say it is extremely entertaining and they explain the problem very well.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The keys to the kingdom, Lord Sunday

I finished reading the last of the books in the keys to the kingdom series today and I will say this is probably one of my all time favorite series. I've never read anything by Garth Nix that I didn't like and these books are no exception.

If you want to read the books I highly recommend them and they don't take long to read they are written on the level of a children's book and you can read through one of the books in just a few hours. If you don't care to read the books or have already read them then read on otherwise consider skipping this post until I won't be spoiling the books for you.

The essential plot of the series is that the universe was created by a being called the architect who also created a whole other dimension called "The House" which watches over the universe. The House is divided into 7 realms corresponding to the 7 days of the week and particular denizen of the house is given one of seven keys giving them power over one of the days of the week in the universe and that corresponding domain within the House. After a nice long 15 billion year run the architect decides to call it quits and commit suicide. Apparently the architect is unable to commit suicide herself since she imprisoned a part of herself in a prison which she made to last until the end of her creation. Unable to kill herself without taking everything else with her she breaks herself into 7 parts each one being a part of the "will" of the architect. Which we are meant to take in the sense of "last will and testament". These 7 parts of the "will" are given to the 7 rulers of the days. Each part of the will telling a different ruler to relinquish their power to a mortal "rightful heir". Whereupon all of creation would be destroyed and the "rightful heir" allowed to build a new universe as they saw fit.

There is a bit of a complication in the carrying out of the will since those entrusted to carry it out decide not to commit suicide and destroy the universe. Instead they lock away the different parts of the will for 10,000 years at which point the story line of the books actually begins when one part of the will escapes and manages to dub a mortal rightful heir. The rightful heir then goes on to slowly gain power and dominance in the house collecting each of the keys and each part of the will in turn. All the while blissfully unaware of the fact that the ultimate goal of the will of the architect is the destruction of everything. Our hero Arthur, the rightful heir, works over the course of all 7 books in an effort to save and protect which he does seem to manage to do at least right up until the last part of the last book when all of creation is expunged.

I have read rather few books where the entire universe gets destroyed. I must say I didn't expect that to happen what with the heroes generally managing to save the day, especially in a children's book. I must say though a 7 book series has got to be the most elaborate suicide story I have ever heard. (though since the true purpose of the will is concealed right up until the last few pages of the last book the books really read just like any other children's adventure story).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I want to go to other stars, but the moon will do.

Looking up at the stars at night and looking out at the sunset I often feel a strong desire to visit other stars and see alien sunsets. It doesn't even really have to be me that visits these other stars it is inspiring just to think that at some point a pair of human eyes will be watching a sun set that is not our own. It ultimately doesn't really bother me much that humanity will one day perish. But it is somehow deeply saddening to think that by humanities end we might never have stepped away from our home planet.

I dearly hope we will prove ourselves capable of leaving our home solar system but while I think humanity hopefully will spread to other stars one day such a feat would be nothing short of the most monumental undertaking in human history. But humanity needn't go to another star to leave home we needn't even head off to mars (though that would be fun too). We simply need to go back to the moon and put down some roots.

The other day at sunset I was aching with the desire to go to another star system and the impossible distances involved. The moon happened to be out as well and I caught a glimpse of it looking beautiful and suddenly so very alien itself. Going to another star will remain a distant fantasy all my life but going to the moon is something I really could do in my lifetime. So I'm going to add another long shot goal to my list; set foot on the moon.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Bad Jokes as a passtime for waiting in line; or 10.1 tropical fruit jokes

While waiting in line for rides at a theme park me and my companions were entertaining ourselves by inventing bad jokes of a particular strain. Since this pastime rather reminds me of the 101 themed jokes posts a friend used to make I shall reproduce a part of them here as 10.1 tropical fruit jokes. (I always thought that 101 bad jokes on a theme was really too many for a blog post)

Q. What tropical fruit gives the worst diarrhea?

A. The Poopaya

Q. What is the most religious tropical fruit?

A. The Popepaya

Q. What tropical fruit do plumbers prefer?

A. The Pipepaya

Q. What tropical fruit do people smoke?

A. The Pipepaya

Q. What is the spikiest tropical fruit?

A. The Porcupaya

Q. What tropical fruit is the best at karate?

A. the pap-HI-YAHH!

Q. What tropical fruit would you want on your team for a tug of war?

A. The Pullpaya

Q. Which tropical fruit is the hardest to keep from peeing on the rug?

A. The pup-paya

Q. What tropical fruit is the most agreeable?

A. The papayeah

Q. What tropical fruit do you use to go to the bathroom?

A. The Portipaya


A. The Pollpaya