Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Dinner With Ahboo

One of the major perks of the new house is the huge brick barbecue grill that was built by the previous owner.

It took some research to figure out exactly what was going on with this thing, but once I worked it out, I decided to fire it up and cook the crap out of some dead animal carcass.

The previous owner left a stack of hickory logs in the storage shed out back, so I decided I was going to attempt a nice slow cook. I started a roaring fire in the left hearth area and let it burn until it produced some nice coals, then transferred them into the bottom right compartment.

In went the deceased mammal. I was not at all confident that my first attempt using the new grill was going to result in anything edible, so I picked up a rack of spareribs that were on super-sale at the grocery store.

Three and a half hours (and nearly five logs) later, the ribs were ready. The interior temperature had reached a safe level, so I decided to declare them fit for consumption.

Things I learned:
  • Logs are really hard to light, even when you toss them on top of blazing charcoal. It took a liberal application of cooking oil to get them burning initially.
  • It's possible to be way too liberal with the airflow. I didn't have any way to measure the air temperature at meat level, and I'm pretty sure I had it a lot higher than the recommended 225 degrees. Next time I'll definitely have a thermometer ready so I can regulate the temperature much better.
  • I shouldn't stop at the minimum "safe" temperature when slow-cooking. It needs a lot of time for the collagen to break down, and the ribs probably could have gone another couple of hours to get them nice and tender.
For my first attempt, I have to call it a success. The ribs were nowhere near as tender as I'd hoped (it took a good bit of gnawing to get the meat off the bone), but they were incredibly flavorful. We could taste the smoke in every bite, and the barbecue sauce we added after the fact was a nice complement but really unnecessary.

Even Ahboo approves!

Monday, June 23, 2008

The path is cake. The cake is grey.

Over the weekend, friends Adam and Brandy had a joint birthday party. I decided to take advantage of my new kitchen and bake them a cake.

Frosted and decorated:

Adam says "Mess with my cake and I'll cut ya!"

Wait, what's this?

Oh wow, the colors, man. It's like a unicorn barfed!

I didn't want to make just any cake -- I was going for the fabled rainbow cake (of doom). And now, the "making of" pictures...

The hardware and ingredients:

Batter in the pan:

Just out of the oven:

Overall, it was a huge success for my first attempt at a rainbow cake. The colors turned out exactly how I'd hoped.

The rainbow effect was achieved by pouring each consecutive color into the middle of the cake pan -- red first, going through the rainbow. Each color would compress and displace the previous colors, making the cool banding effect. I stepped down the amount of batter for each color after the first; there was about twice as much red batter as violet.

Mission successful. Now if only I could master the barbecue grill -- I'll give an update in an upcoming blog post.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Angus taught me everything I know

One of the many joys of new home ownership is discovering all of the little quirks and poor design decisions that were introduced when building the house.

One such annoyance is the placement of the downstairs air conditioner intake vent. It is nestled precariously over the middle of the staircase, about seven feet above the nearest step. There's no way to access it with a chair or stepladder, and it would take one of those "As Seen On TV" flexible ladders to even get in the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, the previous owners of the house hadn't changed their filters in a while. A long while. I set out to accomplish this task this morning while I was waiting for a maintenance guy to show up to charge the freon.

The upstairs filter was easy enough to change, but accessing the panel above the stairs seemed relatively impossible. No matter how high or low I went up the steps, the panel was firmly out of my reach. Not one to surrender after an initial setback, I went back downstairs and surveyed the utility closet. Broom? Check. Hammer? Check. Duct tape? Hmm...

By duct taping the hammer to the end of the broom, I had an extendable tool that was strong enough to pry open the latches. Getting the filter out was no big deal. Getting it back in, however, required the additional use of a mop and a fireplace poker. I'll leave the specifics to the reader's imagination.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

NO CARRIER Episode 5

It's here already!

NO CARRIER Episode 5

This week's episode is called "Multifarious Mélange", in which we cover a bunch of random, non-related crap, along with the normal healthy amount of Microsoft-bashing. You might recognize my "Site of the Unspecified Time Period" if you've been reading this blog for a while.

Be sure to listen past the closing music for an insight into how our recording sessions usually go.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I've been hypnotized by the TV

It’s funny, now that we don’t have cable anymore, we’ve been watching more television than ever. Thank you, Usenet!

Here’s what we’ve been enjoying lately. A couple of the items are somewhat spoileriffic, so avert your eyes if you’re behind on anything (especially Lost or BSG).

Lost - Wow, what a season. It’s not often that a show keeps continually topping itself, but season 4 was a crazy-ass roller coaster ride. The finale was absolutely perfect – it was a great balance of new unanswered questions and tied-up plot elements. I’d also like to note that I totally called the occupant of the casket after last season’s finale. Sure, my details were way off the mark, but I was still right! Can’t wait for season 5 (acknowledged by the producers as “the zombie season” – or perhaps “the monkey season”).

Battlestar Galactica - This was one of my favorite shows throughout the first two and a half seasons. Then something happened – the show lost its bite. It went from a gritty, post-apocalyptic struggle for survival to… I don’t even know what it is now. It’s almost more like Star Trek – gallivanting around the galaxy without a care. There’s no sense of tension or urgency, like the Cylons could show up at any moment and finish off humanity. Heck, we’re allied with half of them now! Even though I don’t care for the turn the series has taken, we’re getting right up to the end and I have faith that Ron Moore will pull something out. This past week’s episode, “The Hub” was the best in recent memory, so hopefully we’re ramping up for a worthy finish to its final season.

Deadliest Catch - I normally hate reality shows, but this is more of a documentary than a reality show. There’s a very real air of danger to the life of a crab boat fisherman, and you know that it’s only a matter of time before someone we’ve gotten to know throughout the series dies or is severely injured (just this last week we learned that one of the North American’s deckhands lost a brother who was working on another boat). Not that I wish to see that, but it definitely keeps the reality of the situation foremost in the viewer’s mind.

Flight of the Conchords - My first thought when I heard about this series was “oh, so they made a Tenacious D series but without Jack Black”. It’s actually really funny and well-written, though, and the music is great. From the Hiphopasaurus rap to the parody of every David Bowie song ever recorded, the show keeps delivering.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ve got the first disc of Freaks and Geeks sitting in my mailbox, and typing this blog post is wasting valuable viewing time.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

NO CARRIER Episode 4

The new episode of NO CARRIER is now available.

This week, Alex and I talked about the WWDC keynote speech, and what it means for Apple, enterprises, and you. It's short and sweet, clocking in at under an hour (we're going to try to keep them between 30-60 minutes from now on). Check it out and pass it on!

I'm enjoying doing the quasi-weekly podcasts, and I think each one has improved over the previous episodes. I need to stop babbling about something when I don't have my thoughts straight (that's what editing is for!), and really have to work to stop relying on verbal crutches. When I go back and listen to the rough edits, I cringe every time I hear myself say "uh" or "you know".

Still, we're having a blast, and hopefully it's as entertaining to listen to as it is for us to record.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

NO CARRIER Episode 3

Wow, two posts in one day!

Just wanted to let everybody know that NO CARRIER episode 3 is now available. In this podcast, we talk about ultra-portable PC's, the "switch" to Mac, and the lifestyle side of the gaming console war. There's also a guest appearance by Vo0.

Check it out at your leisure!

I'm sorry, I can't hear you -- I've cut off my ears

They put Jimmy Buffett in Rock Band.

Yeah, I don't know what the fuck either.